Florida to Mazatlan, Mexico
Back in Florida it was hard to concentrate on work. We began ordering
equipment for the boat. Planning the paint scheme, looking at charts and
thinking of distant horizons.
It was finally going to happen.
Now came the task of wrapping up our affairs in Florida, moving
everything to Arizona where we had to wrap up even more stressful
We departed Green Cove Springs, FL in early August 2006. Teri was towing
our much overloaded 36 foot travel trailer (our home) with our Ford Diesel truck. I
was driving a rented Penski truck and towing the overloaded Sea Ray
Teri had never driven a truck with a large trailer behind it and so the
first few miles were really tense.
Actually, as it turned out the trailer NEVER towed correctly. It was a
white-knuckle situation all the way across the country.
The Penski truck was another situation. Seems that the rear wheels were
set so far forward that the slightest load in the cargo box would make
the front end raise so high up in the air that there was near zero
weight on the front tires. Consequently, steering and stopping were a
very exciting event!
We headed north toward Georgia to visit some friends of Teri's. Our pace
was very slow. Averaging about 50 mph while we each learned to handle
our vehicles under the present situation.
We spent the first night with friends Allen and Faye in northern
Alabama. Such wonderful hosts to accept two vagabonds that looked more
like the Clampits moving west than anything else.
We arrived late and were greeted at the driveway by Allen who directed
us up the long driveway where surprisingly we were able to park both
very long rigs.
Great food and conversation settled us in for a peaceful and much needed
couple days with Allen and Faye and we hit the road again. Teri with
both dogs in the truck and towing the RV which refused to stay in a
straight line over 60mph.
I trailed along behind with the Penski truck and the boat. At every rise
in the road, even the slightest uphill grade, the Penski would bog down
to 40mph and start this dance of downshifting into passing gear.
At first I took pity on the damned thing and nursed it over the hills
only to let it loose on the downhill side in an attempt to catch up with
Teri and get back in radio range once again.
After a few hours of this non-sense I just pressed my foot to the floor
and held it there. It was the same at every hill. Seventy miles per hour
downhill only to be brought back down to 40 mph on the next rise. The
whole while the engine just screaming like crazy. Downhill and the
transmission came out of passing gear and we were off. Then another up
grade and back into passing gear while the engine screamed like crazy. I finally began
praying for the damned thing to blow up so Penski would have to bring us
While I battled with my rig, Teri continued the fight to keep the truck
and RV going in a straight line westward for Arizona.
We fought with wind, rain and big trucks trying to blow us off the road.
It really was turning into the trip from hell.
We drove as long as we could stand it. Then stopped to walk the dogs,
eat something and even attempted sleep in the RV. But no matter where we
decided to stay for the night, be it in the RV or a motel, there was
always a freight train rumbling by to wake us up.
Somewhere in Arkansas we drove late into the night and decided to find a
place to park off the road for the night.
Why pay for hotels and fight over them allowing the two dogs when we
could stay in our own little 36 foot home that Teri was towing?
We took a side road, found a nice clear place to park both rigs and
crawled into the trailer and our oh-so-comfortable bed. Immediately the
mosquitoes descended on us. We closed all the windows and vents that
didn't have screens. It was August and the heat was nearly impossible.
But finally we dosed off for a short time.
Then out of no where came this incredible rumbling noise. It grew louder
and louder until at the very moment it was beside the trailer, a
deafening blast from a horn nearly knocked us out of bed! We were parked
a short distance from a railroad track and this train was at least two
miles long. So, in the middle of the night, we moved once again.
Where do all these trains come from?
For years I have made
trips coast to coast towing boats and RV's. But never has any trip taken
me more than two and a half days. This time and at this rate we were
looking at maybe 7 days!
One day while crossing Oklahoma on I-40 we decided to find a room for
the night. Teri spotted something from the highway while she was some
distance behind and called me on the radio to have me take the off-ramp.
It was drizzling rain, the road was rough as hell and I was finally
moving at a decent rate of speed.
made my move toward the off-ramp. Hit some rough spots and immediately
the truck would not steer in the direction I wanted. I touched the
brakes only to discover that the boat trailer brakes were not working
nor were the rear truck brakes having any effect at all.. The front
wheels were bouncing over the tops of the chuck-holes in the road and I
simply went right past the off-ramp with no brakes and no steering.
We made it to the next turn-off and discovered that the hotel wouldn't
So we did a u-turn and went back to the missed off-ramp, got a room and
crashed out within minutes.
Next afternoon we were finally passing thru Oklahoma City. I always buy
fuel at the Flying "J" truck Stop West of Oklahoma City.
We pulled both rigs in to the pumps and filled the tanks. On this day we
had actually made good time and things had been going well all day.
While filling the tanks I took a walk around the trucks and the trailers
just to inspect everything before we hit the road again.
Damn!!! I found the right front alloy wheel on the truck had a huge
crack in it!
Immediately we got on the phone and started looking for someplace that
might have a replacement wheel. None of the shops we called could help.
Add to that it was Friday afternoon and we were looking at an extended
stay in Oklahoma.
Then Teri found one guy that said he might have a wheel. He was on the
south-east side of town. It was 4:00pm and he closes at 5:00pm. We
quickly un-hooked the travel trailer, parked the other rig in the lot
and headed to the guys shop.
Arriving at 4:45 he started a search thru thousands of wheels to find
one that might work.
At 5:45 and one hundred dollars later, we drove away with a big rusted
hulk of a wheel on the front of the truck.
Back at the Flying "J" we had dinner and headed out again.
As we entered Texas, Teri was fed-up with the air-conditioning problem
in the truck.
It was August and the heat was too much.
We stopped in Amarillo and had a tech look at the unit. He fussed around
with it, got it working a little, but never to a point of keeping Teri
comfortable. So we started driving at night from then on.
In New Mexico we stopped to visit Teri's sister. Spent the afternoon
visiting then went to a great Mexican dinner in Albuquerque before
heading out on the highway again.
Driving at night made things a little more bearable. Especially with the
We did make it into Fort Mohave, Arizona the next evening. Seven days
after leaving Green Cove Springs, Florida.
The trip from hell was over at last.
Now we could get down to the business of finding an assisted care
facility for my step-dad and selling all the stuff in storage and at the
We did finally arrive in
Bullhead City Arizona, found a nice RV park where we could setup the
trailer and live comfortably while we tackled the task at hand.
We unloaded the Penski truck and returned it. Thankful to be rid of the
Then we set about finding an assisted care facility for my step-dad. He
had been living in the house in Arizona with a live-in care
provider/friend. A lady that had been helping herself to his finances
for over two years. So the situation was not a good one and it was going
to get nasty before it got better.
Fortunately we found a nice place within a week or so and started
moving him into the new home.
Once I had him settled in the care facility, I then took great pleasure
in throwing his thieving lady friend out onto the street.
We then started packing
and cleaning and sorting out what to sell, give away or toss out.
I had tons of tools and boating stuff for our Sea Ray powerboat all
stored in the garage.
In the end we decided to hire an estate auction company to come in and
sell everything we didn't want.
We found a storage facility and put everything we wanted to keep into
organized and labeled boxes all to be taken to Teri's mother some time
in the future.
I became an eBay Power-seller. Listing and selling everything
imaginable. Including our 36 foot travel trailer.
Our plan was to move everything out and place the house on the market
ASAP. Once that was accomplished we would take a short trip to visit
family and friends before heading south to Mazatlan and Flying Cloud.
I decided to purchase a
small enclosed cargo trailer to take all of the gear down to Mazatlan
for Flying Cloud.
After we returned from Mazatlan the trailer could then become our
storage locker and we would simply tow it to Teri's mom's place where we
would store the truck, trailer and the Sea Ray.
The travel trailer sold on eBay at full price and the fellow asked me
if he could hire me to deliver it to him in Oklahoma.
As it turns out, we were planning to go to Oklahoma to visit friends
and to meet up with a truck driver who was delivering our new cargo
trailer. So I agreed to deliver the travel trailer. This would more than
pay for our trip to visit friends and family.
It was near the end of September 2006 and the travel trailer was loaded with
stuff to take to Nebraska where Teri's mom lives.
We left Arizona in 110 degree temperature and later that night found
ourselves in 29 degree temperature in New Mexico! What a shock.
We were also traveling with three dogs now. My old buddy Rusty had been
living with my step-dad and then we had our two Corgi's, Shorty and
Sissy along with us too.
The plan was to find a home for Rusty and Sissy and take Shorty with us
on our cruise.
Shorty, Sissy and Rusty
We traveled along highway 40 and came to Amarillo Texas where we saw a
sign that said you could have your meal FREE if you could eat all of
their 72 ounce steak in thirty minutes! I had seen this sign for years.
But never took the time to stop.
There was a great RV park just down the road from this restaurant. So
we took a space and the restaurant sent a limo to pick us up.
Neither of us would dare try to eat that 72 ounce steak so we ordered
from the regular menu and watched some guy on stage as he attempted to
eat that monster hunk of meat with all the fixins and a drink.
We left before the end and never found out if he actually did it.
While we were at the RV
part in Texas I decided to check email.
I was totally set aback when I opened an email from the fellow we bought
the boat from.
Before leaving on this trip, hurricane Lane had made a close pass on
Mazatlan and I was concerned about the boat. I had emailed him and asked
that he check on the boat and advise me ASAP if everything was alright.
It was part of our contract that he would take care of the boat until we
arrived in November.
But this email was something we never expected.
"Len, I went to the
boat to check on things. Tried to start the engine. It wouldn't crank
over. Called mechanic who found water in two cylinders. Had the engine
dismantled and two cylinders are seized. We are making an 'A' frame so
we can tilt the motor on it's side and hammer out the two pistons. Will
hone the cylinders and re-assemble the engine. I feel some what
I about lost it right
then and there.
I made a phone call to the broker in Mazatlan. He acted surprised and
said he would go to the boat and take photos then email them to me.
We went on with our trip and at a later time I opened the email to see
pics of our salon area with greasy engine parts all over the floor and
in the sink. There was oil running across the floor and trash from fast
food places all over the place.
I called Ray back and told him to lock the boat immediately and that no
one was to go onboard.
He promised he would do it.
We then went on with our trip and arrived in Oklahoma City where we
stayed with friends for a few days.
The broker was going to "dig into this situation" and report back to me.
Meantime we delivered the travel trailer and then had to hit the road to
go meet with the truck driver that was delivering our new cargo trailer.
He had broke-down somewhere and now we were attempting to meet him
somewhere along Interstate 10 as he headed west and we headed east.
We met in Shreveport, LA around 11:00 PM and he off-loaded the trailer
for us. We put the trailer behind the truck and headed for a hotel.
Cargo trailer now behind the truck we decided to take a route back up to
I-40 that seemed to parallel the Arkansas state line.
I figured it would take around 6 hours to get back to I-40 and then we
would back track to the turnpike going north to Tulsa.
It was a gorgeous drive. We saw country so beautiful and such cute small
towns. But it took nearly 15 hours to make the drive! I had no idea that
we would be slowed to 25 mph about every 30 miles as we went threw yet
another little town of some sort.
As we drove on north I was still trying to sort out what had happened
Why did this idiot decide to dismantle my engine?
We did finally make it
to Fort Smith very late that night.
So now we were running a little behind and the decision was made to
continue driving late and see how far we could get.
We grabbed a hotel room later and the next day continued thru what I
would say is the flattest land I have ever seen anywhere.
Nothing as far as the eye could see.
We had an appointment with a fellow from Indiana that had purchased some
of my graphics equipment on eBay. I had agreed to meet him along the
road somewhere and he would take my piece of equipment and I would take
his in trade.
We met at a truck stop I believe in Kansas and completed our deal.
I liked the guy so much that I stayed in touch with him and he is now a
major part of my online business. Funny how chance encounters can turn
into something more.
We continued on toward Nebraska and the road seemed to go on forever.
Two lanes of back country road and rolling hills.
I had made contact with the broker again regarding the situation in
Mazatlan. The seller had agreed to cover part of the engine rebuild. He
figured that he shouldn't have to pay the entire thing because, after
all, I did buy a boat with a used motor in it!
Something didn't set right about this whole thing and we talked
constantly about it as the miles rolled by.
Eventually we did arrive
in Gordon Nebraska and I met more of Teri's family.
We spent a little more than a week seeing the sights around the area.
Went to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.
I enjoyed visiting the Fur Trade Museum and Fort Robinson.
One of Teri's family had actually been a carpenter for Fort Robinson
when Custer stopped to pickup new horses for his ride to the Little Big
Teri took me to see her grandfathers cattle ranch (under new ownership
now) and told me stories of roaming these hills with him.
Teri's family were early settlers in this area and cattle ranching had
been their mainstay.
We took a drive to Sundance Wyoming and looked at property. Thinking
that after our cruising days were done, we would build ourselves a
self-sufficient (off-the-grid) little ranch someplace rather remote.
I fell in love with this part of the country and decided this might be
where I would like to settle after cruising.
That is, IF cruising was ever going to happen now.
had a phone conversation with the broker in Mazatlan and the seller of
Flying Cloud. I demanded that he pay for a new engine and thought that
it would only be fair that I take care of some of the installation since
I would be benefiting from a brand new engine.
He reluctantly agreed. I located a factory new, complete engine in
Cerris California. The seller wired the money and I called and ordered
The plan now was to head for California when we were finished in
Nebraska, pick up the new engine in our cargo trailer and go back to
Arizona where we would load all the other stuff and head to Mexico.
Time had been flying by
as we toured the Indian reservations of the Lakota Sioux and drove thru
It was time we headed for California and made ready to go south to
As we drove out of Nebraska and headed toward Wyoming the weather turned
a little cold.
We traveled thru so much history and as many people can relate, I
wondered just how the pioneers ever made it to California.
We past by trading posts and historical spots where wagon trains had
made their final stop before heading into the mountains and who knows
what in regards to weather.
Comfortable in our big diesel truck and covering more miles in an hour
than they could cover in two days. Wow!
Reaching I-80 we turned west and picked up speed. In Cheyenne we got a
room and it was really getting cold now. A little ice on the ground and
a few snow flurries starting.
Next morning we hit the road early wanting to cover as much ground as we
We were about 90 miles west of Cheyenne cruising along and talking when
all of the sudden a loud whirling sound came out of the truck. I noticed
something wrong immediately and headed for the shoulder of the road.
"I think we just lost the transmission".
pulled off the highway and raised the hood to check the transmission
fluid. It appeared low. So with a lot of wishful-thinking I got on the
phone and called AAA.
I asked that they send a tow truck and to bring along a couple quarts of
transmission fluid just in case I could fix the problem by adding fluid.
We waited and waited. I was sure they said they were only fifteen miles
away. Still we waited.
Finally a pickup pulled in behind us and a young fellow got out wearing
a uniform from the tow service.
I asked where the tow truck was and he said "we didn't think you wanted
a tow. Just fluid".
OK, so I poured the $14.00 a quart fluid into the tranny and we decided
to try it.
The young fellow (a
couple bricks short of a full load) tagged along behind as I discovered
I only had second gear.
I took the next off-ramp about five miles up the road and pulled into a
small truck stop.
From here we tried to locate the nearest transmission shop.
Teri searched while I paid the driver for his service call. Seventy
dollars on top of the twenty eight for two quarts of fluid.
Standing by his truck I noticed that it smelled like a skunk and asked
him if he had run over a skunk somewhere.
Teri came back with bad news. The nearest shop was in Fort Collins
Colorado. Some 95 miles back. We checked out the road map and discovered
that it was a back-road and mostly downhill.
We then talked to the manager of the truck stop about leaving the
trailer in his lot.
He told us to take it out back and park it where he could see it from
his bedroom window.
We were in the middle of no-damned-where and here we were with a dead
transmission and leaving our brand new trailer with some mountain man
that manages the only stop within 30 miles or more! But, we had no
As we rolled along at 40 mph on the shoulder of I-80 I called AmCo
transmission in Ft. Collins.
The guy was great and said he would wait for us if I called him back
and advised him of our arrival time.
We reached the highway heading southeast and took our time driving on
the shoulder and actually having a great time sightseeing along the way.
Some of the most beautiful country you could ask for.
Then we passed a couple of log home builders and could see some of the
homes in progress from the highway. This really interested us and we
began talking again of a self-sufficient ranch somewhere.
We made it to Amco around 4:30 and the technician took the truck for a
test drive. We waited in the lobby for the bad news when he returned and
asked if we had hit a skunk someplace?
I thought that odd since the service truck up on I-80 smelled like
So we rented a car, found a hotel and thanks to Shorty we were in less
than the upper class accommodations.
The next morning back at Amco, I went into the shop with the mechanic
and the entire placed smelled of skunk. They were busy opening doors and
I inspected the truck. It smelled like skunk. But could find no
evidence of hitting one.
Oh well, off to play tourist and let Amco deal with all of it.
We took a drive up the
highway from the direction we had come from.
Soon we were wading thru muck and mud in a building yard where there
were a couple log homes under construction.
Meeting the owner of the company, a very nice young man, he proceeded to
educate us in log home construction techniques.
His work was beautiful and he used traditional methods of construction.
No nails, etc.
He gave us a CD with plans and info on his company and as we left I was
seriously considering just asking for my money back on Flying Cloud and
get started on a log home right away.
All in all we were in Fort Collins three days. A very nice little city
that we might like to visit again.
The truck was ready, still stinking of skunk, but with a working
We pulled out of Amco with happy hearts and lighter pocket books. No
matter, we were going to try to get back to the trailer that night and
drive as far as we could. It was around 4:30 when we left Fort Collins
and all seemed as it should be.
The trip back to the
mountain truck stop took no time at all at the speeds we were now
I hooked up the trailer, thanked the folks for their help and we pulled
back onto I-80 westbound.
Mile after mile went by and we talked of all we had seen over the last
month or so.
My God, we had towed all our stuff from Florida to Arizona, a mis-adventure
to say the least, sold a ton of stuff from the house, placed my dad in a
care facility, headed half way across the country again with a 36 foot
trailer and three dogs now, been down into Louisiana and then up to
Nebraska and down to Colorado and now on our way to California before
heading to Arizona and Mexico.
Hell we were already cruising!
Later we stopped for dinner and as we left the restaurant I decided to
check the fluid level in the transmission. But as I walked up to the
truck I could see a huge puddle of something under the truck. I started
the truck and moved it forward enough to investigate the puddle. Hell,
it wasn't a puddle at all! It was a perfect imprint of the truck
undercarriage, on the pavement, in transmission fluid! It was
everywhere. The truck was dripping fluid and so was the trailer.
I checked the fluid level and found it to be right on the mark.
I called Amco. Closed and it was Friday night. I left a message.
We were now 300 miles from Fort Collins and still had a transmission
With nothing else to do, I bought more fluid and put it in the camper.
We decided we would continue and just check the fluid level frequently.
A hundred miles later, the fluid level was fine and we left our
impression on some poor guys driveway in a truck stop.
The next hundred miles. Same story. Then again and again.
We were painting I-80 with transmission fluid all the way across the
country and not loosing a drop from the truck!
We reached Salt Lake
City around 2:00AM. Got a phone book and found an Amco in Bountiful, UT.
Now there's a happy name for you.
Heading north out of Salt Lake now we spotted a Motel 6 and got a room
at 3:30 AM. By 6:00AM we were up and looking for Amco which as it turns
out was just around the corner.
I didn't dare pull in his driveway but rather chose the vacant dirt lot
I told him the situation. He looked at me oddly and then said he would
put the truck on the rack and see what was wrong.
In the lobby we waited for the results of his inspection.
He came back and said "you have a transmission leak". No shit!
Then he said that he thought it might be a seal. Ok, that's brilliant.
Then he told me that he could get to my truck next Wednesday and see
what was wrong.
No way man. We're not staying in Bountiful for five days!
So, we checked the fluid level and hit the road again.
By now I had decided that the best way to go about this was to just
drive until it blew up. No need to stop and check fluid. Hell, the truck
was manufacturing the stuff. We should be finding a way to bottle it and
sell it back.
The Amco in Fort Collins was busy trying to find a shop along our route
that could get us in and fix it. No luck. So we drove on. It was under
warranty after all.
In Reno we got another strange room, had an awful dinner and turned in.
Next morning we drove thru the Sierras and on over to Sacramento California. Still producing tranny fluid at an alarming rate.
One good thing though. The tranny fluid washed away the skunk odor!
We made it to Cerris, California and the fellow came down on the
weekend to load the new diesel motor for Flying Cloud.
From there we went to Fremont to stay with some friends of mine.
Since we were in the area, I wanted Teri to see a little bit of
So we left the trailer with my friend Terry and drove to Halfmoon Bay.
From there we went up the coast to San Francisco, over to Sausalito and
across the Richmond Bridge to Point Richmond.
I grew up in Pt. Richmond and there was a lot of history in this area.
We went out to Point San Pablo Marina. A very quaint little spot where
as a kid I used to play on square rigged ships, river boats, barges,
ferry boats and old abandoned fishing boats.
It was an ideal setting for a kid with an imagination that lent itself
I remember playing on these abandoned ships and riding my bike up the
hill to watch the whalers come in and carve up a whale.
The ships had been brought in to form a horse-shoe shaped breakwater
that would become Pt. San Pablo Marina.
Returning to my friends
house we spent one more night and started early the next morning for
The truck was still producing transmission fluid and it was running just
fine. So, on we went.
In Bullhead City, we located an Amco shop in Lake Havasu.
So the Amco guy in Colorado rented us a car and we left the truck to be
Thinking I would like to visit Minnie's Used Marine in Newport Beach, we
took a day and drove over to see what he had available that we just
couldn't live without.
Finishing up at Minnie's, we hit West Marine and a few other stops in
the area. Then back to Arizona.
Once again we started sorting thru boxes of stuff. What could go with us
and what had to stay behind. Having to haul a new engine down to Mexico
meant we had to make room for it by leaving other items in storage.
we continued with all the packing, we decided to take the truck to a
local mechanic that I knew and have it worked over so we knew it would
be dependable in Mexico.
him jack the truck up all around and told him to replace every wheel
bearing, hubs, brake rotors, brake calipers, u-joints, drive shaft
bearing, air-conditioning, new alloy wheels and Michelin tires. New
shocks and basically make the thing a new truck. Now with all this work,
the new transmission and a new motor that was installed before we left
Florida we had total faith in the truck, It was a lot of money. But
we knew we would have a dependable vehicle while in Mexico and
eventually be stored in Nebraska ready for us to use any time we came
back to the States.
Finally the truck was ready and we set a date to head out.
I had setup a platform with an air mattress in the trailer just in case
we had to stop somewhere un-expectedly.
Down to Phoenix where we bought 20 yards of Sunbrella sail cover cloth
and many more of those last stop in the US items.
Then down to Benson and over to Tombstone.
Hell, we had been everywhere else, might as well stop in Tombstone.
We enjoyed some of the sights and especially since it was the off
The Birdcage Theater is one of the better attractions in town. It is
still pretty much the way it was in the 1880's and the days of Wyatt
Earp, Doc Holiday and the OK Corral.
From Tombstone we cut across country on the back roads to Nogales, AZ.
Entering Nogales, AZ
We arrived in Nogales,
bought Mexican insurance and then made our try at crossing the border
with the truck and trailer packed full of boat gear.
Leaving the insurance office we drove the few short blocks and followed
the signs that said "Mexico".
Teri was scared and worried that we were going to get stopped and have
problems over the stuff in the trailer. I assured her nothing would
We waited in line and soon we were about the second or third car back. A
US Border Patrol Agent came to my window and started asking questions.
First he assumed we were in company with another pickup in front of us.
"Traveling together, right?" No, "I don't have a clue who those people
Then he wanted to know how much money we were taking into Mexico. Then a
series of other odd questions and it was time for us to cross. I've never
been asked questions by a US Customs agent when going INTO Mexico!
Driving thru we got the green light which meant we were free to proceed
But, some little fat guy in uniform flagged me down and wanted to see
inside the trailer.
He saw the new engine and wanted to see the paperwork. We had paper work
from the Mazatlan Marina that should get us thru.
It didn't. In the language confusion I understood him to say that he
wanted $4000 duty on the engine. So, I called the yacht broker in
Mazatlan to get someone that could sort all this out in Spanish.
While I was making the phone call he walked up beside Teri's window and
began asking where all the "pistolies" were. He was sure we were hiding
them in the back seat and that Shorty was guarding them from discovery.
I handed him the phone and he talked at length with the marina manager.
Then he told me I had to turn around and go back to the states.
At this point we were all of 100 feet into Mexico with four lanes of
traffic coming from behind and he wanted me to make a u-turn and pass
thru a chain link fence to the US side.
At first I said I couldn't make the u-turn there. But he insisted and
said he would stop traffic for me.
Then it hit me. Stop traffic! You bet. I can make this a real show for
this little worm. So I backed up the truck and started the u-turn. Each
time I went forward or back I only turned the wheel a small amount.
I made what would have been a no-brainer u-turn into a major traffic jam
as he had to stand in the street as all these cars horns were blowing.
Then he opened the fence and I drove thru and into the second position
in line to enter the US.
As I pulled up to the window the Customs agent said, "Ya have anything
to declare?" "Are ya nuts! We never got into the country. Couldn't you
see us being turned around?" Oh well, they are government employees
So now we found out that if we went to a different crossing (where
commercial vehicles cross) we shouldn't have any trouble.
All went well and we were finally on our way to San Carlos for the
Excited that we had finally made it into Mexico we couldn't wait to get
a room and spend the night getting some much needed rest.
In Hermosillo we discovered a new Spanish word. "Topes"
It was dark and we were winding our way thru the town on the Mexican
highway 15 when I came around a corner and there it was! A Topes! It was
too late to hit the brakes so I screamed "hang on" and the entire truck
and trailer went airborne!
We had just discovered Mexico's version of the speed-bump. They are huge
swore the entire undercarriage of the truck was gone. But everything
seemed Ok so on we went with our eyes open wider for obscure little
signs that say "topes".
Of course at each Topes there are Mexicans just sitting around watching
and waiting for some dumb-ass gringo to come around the corner and
destroy his vehicle so they can snag all the parts right on the spot.
They even paint these speed bumps black so you can't see them at night!
San Carlos had no available rooms. So we parked in a dump of an RV park,
paid twenty dollars US for the privilege and slept in the trailer.
Next morning we found a place for breakfast and got on the road again
with hopes of seeing Mazatlan that evening.
The highways are two different types. Free and Toll. The GPS said we
should follow the toll road and we did. Then came the first step in
understanding the exchange rate for pesos/dollars. Most of the time it
worked out fine. But on a couple occasions we later realized we had paid
maybe twenty dollars for a five dollar toll. Oh well. We were learning.
In addition we now had to deal with kilometers instead of miles per
We called Ray and Jeannette (the yacht brokers) and they said that we
were going to stay with them that evening.
They met us at the marina and after dinner we had a great visit and very
What would tomorrow bring?
The next morning we went
to breakfast with Ray and Jeannette. They were reluctant to take us to
the marina. Knowing what we would find and anticipating our reactions.
They had just cause to worry. Flying Cloud stunk of rotten left-over
food still in wrappers and laying on the floor. Oil and engine parts
everywhere. The sink was full of parts and some had punctured small
holes in the sink.
The toilets were both full of crap and no one had flushed them. We were
ready to just turn around and go home. But, we had no home to go to.
Flying Cloud was our home now and she was un-livable.
We spent the morning assessing the situation. Ask Rick Cummings (the
mechanic that was maintaining the boat) to come talk with us about
installing the new motor.
I needed prices and time lines as we still had to sit down with the
seller and settle up.
I played like I didn't know much about boats and asked Rick some pretty
I told him that since he was the person that took the engine apart, I
felt he was the only logical person to finish the job.
He explained how and when all this had come about.
It seems that he was on vacation in the states and Gene discovered water
in the cylinders. Gene called Rick and according to Rick was told to
fill the cylinders with diesel and wait until he returned in a month.
he then said that Gene didn't follow instructions and by the time he
returned the engine was froze-up.
He also said that this happened back at the end of July. Something that set
off red flags since Gene had led me to believe this had just occurred in
Rick gave me some prices which led me to believe that I was being setup
for the big rip-off. He also said that the work could not be done in the
we ended our meeting and I knew immediately that he was a crook and
there was no way he was doing any work on my boat. If it was still to be
We checked around and found a couple other fellows that could do the
job. We also found out that all the promises back when we bought the
boat, about being able to do our own work in local boat yards, was a
bunch of crap. Not one boat yard in Mazatlan would allow us to work on
We met with Bob Buchanan and he seemed to be very straight up with us.
He didn't try to snow me with crap that would open the door for
additional charges in the middle of the job. Turns out he was a surveyor
and had done a survey on the boat a year earlier. So he had enough
knowledge about Flying Cloud to know what we were getting into.
Still he did not divulge much info. Simply gave the suggestion to go to
Ray and Gene with some sort of settlement and get them both out of the
We found a small bungalow that we could stay in and keep Shorty. it was
comfortable with a little kitchen and a nice landscape area out front
and not far from the marina.
Once settled in the bungalow we talked about what we could do at this
Teri just wanted our money back and let us go to the states.
wanted to see if we could salvage any of this and still come out OK.
We talked about what it would take to put the boat back in condition to
At the boat we surveyed every inch of her. Especially the engine room
now that there was good access.
We made lists of parts and calculated time lines and living expenses
while the work was being done.
We had a meeting scheduled at Ray's office to discuss with the seller
what was to happen now.
Gene arrived and we all set down at the table. He opened the
conversation with the obvious belief that we were going to accept his
purchase of the new engine as a full settlement on the deal.
I stopped him mid sentence and advised him that we were coming from a
different perspective now. I asked Jeannette to give me the closing date
of escrow when we bought the boat.
I started with a series of questions to see if he would be honest with
me in regards to how and why all of this came about. He waffled around
and never committed to anything.
Finally I told him that as far as I was concerned he had pulled off a
fraud here and I wasn't going to take it.
He then turned on Teri and I had to get in his face to cool him down.
Then I explained to him that there were three ways to settle all this
and I wanted to present them to him. I also explained that there would
be no deviation from what I was presenting.
I gave him a choice of going to litigation and possible facing criminal
charges for vandalizing my boat after the purchase. He made it clear he
didn't want that.
Then I gave him a choice of buying us out by refunding every dollar we
had spent on this effort from July forward. Or. he could give us a cash
settlement that we felt would cover the expense of fixing Flying Cloud
and he could then disappear forever.
The next day he settled with us on the latter and we concluded the deal
for Flying Cloud.
Now came the task of putting it all together in time for cruising
season. We wanted to be on our way south by late February 2007.
Rick Cummings had appeared in the middle of this meeting and threw some
kind of temper tantrum outside Ray's office. He stormed off like some
spoiled brat in a rage.
I knew it was regarding me and asked Ray what was going on. All he said
was "I'll handle it".
Later we would find out that Rick heard we were going to use Bob to do
the work. So when I demanded that he bring back all my engine parts he
had carted away, he showed up with an invoice wanting me to pay for the
work the previous owner hired him to do. In addition he wanted $175
consultation fee for talking with us in the cockpit for fifteen minutes
or second day there.
I told him what to do with his invoice and that started a biff that
continued the entire time we were there.
Even so, we hadn't seen the last of Rick.
For the most part, having worked in boat yards and marinas for so long
we generally understand the politics of such places.
But Marina Mazatlan was going to teach us new stuff before we could