Welcome to our mid-life crisis! These are the chronicles of Laura and Patrick, their young son Jack, and their goofball Labrador Retriever named Evinrude (Rudy), as they travelled the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico in their catamaran. We went cruising in search of a change of pace, a closer knit family, and peace of mind. We found all three and more. The fun all started in October, 2008 and nearly four years later the Mexican adventure came to an end August 3rd, 2012. With our mid-life crisis cured in Mexico, we are excited to start a new adventure - life back in America.

Patrick has since joined the Sales Team of Marine Servicenter as a boat broker. Whether you are looking to make your dream of sailing away come true, or ready to sell your boat he can help. He can be reached at http://marinesc.com/about/crew/patrick-harrigan

Candeleros Chico

Candeleros Chico
Just another beautiful day at anchor on the Baja. 2010

Dolphins at play in the bow wake 2011

Dolphins at play in the bow wake  2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sometimes all you can do is laugh or cry - Part 1

It's hard to even know where to begin this post. So much has gone wrong that it's hard to remember what happened when and what came next. When last we left off, we had packed up the car, left Santa Rosalia and even before the city limits were reached, we turned around with a broken car. We drove straight back to the marina and moved back on the boat for the night. We thought we would be leaving the next day.
The next morning, Patrick started playing with the car to diagnose the problem. It was definitely the alternator gone bad. He went to two auto body shops and asked them if they could fix our alternator. Both said "Yes" at first and then said "No" when they found out our car was a Volvo. Volvo cars are not common down here on the Baja. We knew before we started that we could run into problems having an unusual car, but we thought it wouldn't be that bad. We thought wrong.
The next step was getting on the internet to find out if the alternator was going to be specific to Volvo or a more common brand. Turns out it was a Bosch from Germany, but several other brands could be used instead. With that info we went walking into town to a ferreteria (hardware store) that had lots of alternators in stock. No Bosch's in stock or the other kinds that could be used. We asked if they knew of anyone who could rebuild the alternator and just as they were writing down the guy's name for us, the very man walked in the store. He agreed to meet us at the marina to see the car in one hour. We were excited, everything was going so well. The man showed up, we jump-started the car and drove it to his shop.
And there it sat. Day One. Day Two. Every day that went by, Patrick was calling the mechanic asking what was going on. Communication was a real problem. Patrick had some of the marina officials helping him by calling and asking questions. We just got a lot of run around. Day Three. Patrick is told that the regulator is shot on the alternator and it has to be ordered from the USA since no parts are available down here in Mexico. That afternoon, Patrick takes the broken regulator around to 1007 ferreterias and is directed to a different mechanic. This mechanic takes one look at the regulator and goes over to his pile of goods. He pulls out a regulator that is almost a perfect match, but has just one connection that is different. No Problem for him. He takes out a soldering gun and adds a couple wires to it and VOILA! it's a perfect match. We pay him about $50 USD for his 10 minutes of time and the part and take that to our first mechanic. If we could have just retrieved our car and given it to the second mechanic, we would have. But how? We didn't have anyway to move the car. So instead we delivered the jerry-rigged regulator to the first mechanic for him to install. We left it with him that afternoon.
The next day, nothing is done when Patrick calls in the morning. He goes there with a cruiser who speaks fluent Spanish. The car is just sitting with no-one working on it. They leave. Then at 3 pm they go back and get the car. The mechanic has installed the jerry-rigged regulator given to him. Patrick and the mechanic look through the engine that he has put back together. The mechanic pulls on the hoses. Patrick pays him the $50 USD that he charges and drives the car away and brings it back to the marina.
We all cheer and start loading up the car. After two hours of intense work, we all pile into the car to start our journey again. Patrick turns the key in the car and......Nothing. The car is dead.
The next installment - The Journey - and it goes downhill from there!


  1. So far it sounds like a great story to be able to share, looking back on it in time, when the frustration wears off. Good luck guys!

  2. Hi Pete and Kathy,
    Yes, that's the mature way to look at it. But I have been sorely tried these last few days. If only I had a camera I could take pictures of us broken down by the side of the road in six different locations! All I can say is, Patrick is amazing!

    Laura, s/v Just a Minute

  3. Hang in there! Sometimes crappy things happen and you guys are smart, energetic, creative and surrounded by friends. I hope part 2 has some positive upswings for you all!

  4. Oh, Laura... Not laughing, at all. But I think it may be something in the air right now--because over half the boats we know have trip-stopping breakdowns going on (ranging from saildrives being lost in transit, to new windlasses being built in the UK, to being stuck on the leeward side of an island with no motor...). At least you are not several thousand miles from the nearest continent--right?:)

  5. What's the difference between Boat Cruising and Car Cruising?

    Seems not much lately...except that the Car has no Autopilot and no bilge!

    If I see a Volvo on the side of Mex Hwy 1 when I drive to Santa Rosilia tomorrow morning I'll be sure to tell the folks stripping about the bum alternator!

  6. Zada just looked at the pictures from this blog and said in a sad voice: "oh I want to be them". MY thought was, why didn't big old Jack go be an elephant seal hugger...hell, being a tree hugger is easy!

    We miss you. 2 days of overcast and rain today (not too much though) so we're enjoying this cool weather thanks to Dora!

    Ethan home tonight with new motor....YEAH! xoxoxo N&Z