Why am I still here?

So I’m in the United States. I’m suppose to be on my way down the 1 highway through Baja but I’m laying in the back of my packed Jeep, kayak and all, at the beach waiting for a doctors signature so I can be on my way with this trip that I’ve been talking about for the past 6 months.  As you may imagine, it’s frustrating to be stuck here but not so much for the reason that I’m actually stuck here. I’m frustrated because I’ve told everyone that I’m leaving on a certain date for months now and here I am pushing the date back for the 2nd time. When I say I’m going to do something and spread the word to everyone, I make sure that it happens. Telling the world that I’m moving to Mexico has left me with a lot of doubters and people saying I’ll be back in a week. If anything, that’s only been motivation to get me to leave sooner!

So why am I still here?! Well the reason is good, though ridiculous. If you’ve read my last couple of blogs, you know I was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident. This accident left me pretty crippled for good deal of time. Well as a result of being disabled, my license was taken away for fear that I would be a dangerous driver and unable to safely respond in traffic. Since being pulled over in Mexico is pretty much part of the culture, there’s no way I would leave the country without some kind of Driver License. Now I know what you’re thinking right now. “Well if the accident happened 7 months ago, why didn’t you just take care of the issue months ago?” Excellent question!  It’s because they just recently decided to suspend my license, 7 months after the accident!  It all happened while I was at the DMV being a good citizen and registering my newly purchased Jeep. It was February at the time and I was still in my wheelchair. While talking to clerk at the DMV, I was asked why I was in a wheelchair. While I was surprised that I was being asked this question because I figured it was seen as a rude question to ask in the world, I went ahead and explained what had happened to me. Months later, when I was certainly no longer disabled I receive a letter that I my license was suspended. After inquiring about why this was, I was informed that the gentleman at the DMV had reported me but a tad bit late and caused this whole fiasco.  Now I agree that your driving abilities should probably be questioned if you’re in a bad accident. However, I think the doctor is someone a bit more qualified and capable of making an educated decision on how disabled one might be. My doctors had more than one chance to say no more driving when I was actually too disabled to operate a car but it wasn’t seen as a big enough issue. I now need to get a doctor notes for the DMV and must wait a few weeks for them to process everything so I can get a new license. Getting through to my doctor is turning out to be a bit more difficult that expected so I’m expecting to be here in the States for another 3 weeks at least.

In the meantime, I’ve been invited to race on a team in the San Diego Beer Can races on a Thomas 35′. For a while now, my interest has been migrating towards racing sailboats over cruising on them. I’ve mainly just been wanting to experience sailing on the next level and hone in my skills a bit more so I can become a better sailor altogether. I’ve also been sailing on Hobie Cats a few times a week and those babies have given me the need for speed on the water! The beer can races are a summer race series that takes place every Wednesday evening in the San Diego Bay at 6pm with all different classes of boats. Last night was my first time racing in one of the Beer Can races. I’m an experienced sailor and I’m not afraid to head out in any seas, but when it comes to racing I feel like a complete amateur… Which technically, I am when it comes to racing sailboats. Aboard a race boat, is the most hostile environment I’ve ever been in. People are yelling the seconds to start, yelling at other boats, yelling about possible collisions with approaching boats, moving fast, tripping on lines, hiking over the side… Did I mention yelling? Sailing has always been a very relaxing passion of mine, even in bad weather. 80% of the time, I have time to analyze what needs to be done and execute in a timely manner. Racing, on the other hand, is constant and fast! You’re constantly adjusting the sails, you’re debating on which line to sail on, you’re avoiding bad winds from other boats, and always debating on if it’s a good idea to tack now or tack later. All of this is happening simultaneously and it turns a very familiar activity into an almost foreign one for me. But I love it! It’s almost like learning how to sail all over again! With all that being said, I did really good out there.IMG_0549

My position on the boat was trimmer. I’ve always been pretty anal when it came to trimming sails so I think it’s a good spot for me on the boat. No complaints about my performance and as a team we all did really well. We actually placed 5th out of the 16 boats in our class. Regardless it was fun and the team wants me back to race again next week so I have no complaints. Another cool thing was that the actual designer of the Thomas 35′ was on the boat and skippered the race. At 86 years old he was still living out his passion of being on the water and racing. And what better person to have sailing the boat than the actual designer himself! For photos of the race, click here.

So I’ve got a little bit more time to take care of any leftover business/goof off for a bit so I’m taking advantage of the extra time and making sure there’s nothing else that can keep me from leaving again! However, after looking at the weather, I’ve noticed Hurricane Andrew having some fun around Baja and it’s looking like it’s going to be delivering a little bit of weather to the Peninsula. We’ll see how strong it picks up and if it’s going to be another road block. But for now, most of my days involve waiting in some kind of doctors office or urgent care trying to make some kind of progress and see a doctor. It’s been proving to be one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever taken on. So much so I’m almost ready to get in another accident so I can see a doctor immediately! But I suppose some extra time sailing in the states won’t hurt me too much either. If you or anyone you know is a doctor with a Medical License and care to help me out with your signature, PLEASE contact me at your soonest convenience! MY email is scseanhall@gmail.com! I’ll make it worth your while! In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on my trip status and my racing results!

Fair winds,

Capt’n Sean.

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The Plan

I’ve been been traveling to and from the depths of Baja, learning the culture, the language, and the lifestyles. With a future boat on my mind, a business plan, and a passion for adventuring, the itch to move down to Mexico has never been so itchy! Everyday, it is the first and last thing on my mind. If I hadn’t just committed myself to something for the rest of the month of April, I’d probably follow my impulses and leave tomorrow. So what’s the plan?

IMG_3947Originally, I was planning on heading down to La Paz and spending the month of June house and dog sitting. During this time, I would work on building my connections, shopping for boats, looking at properties, exploring my new home town, and of course, relaxing out on the tropical waters of Mexico. What would happen after that month was all to be played by ear. Simply put, I was going to see where the winds were blowing and head that direction. While all of that is still the current plan, that one month has turned into 5 months due to 2 more house sitting opportunities. And knowing what I’m capable of accomplishing with 5 months of time, it’s a safe bet that I won’t be coming back to the U.S. to live anytime soon.

While I have a few options for side work while I’m down there, my main focus, in terms of work, is on starting up a touring company. These past few months, I’ve been driving back and fourth across the border to explore the depths of Baja and familiarize myself with all the little towns and attractions. I won’t be going too far into detail about this touring business that I’m working on but I’m shooting to have a solid game plan by the end of this year and be able to begin giving tours throughout the Peninsula by the beginning of next year. I’ll write more about this in the future when there is a more solid game plan. Another option that I’ve been working on creating for myself is getting my Captain License and finding a boat that I can captain. A few months ago I began studying for my Captains License and after reaching out to a few people, I’ve come across the owner of a Cheoy Lee 42 in need of a new captain for his boat. I’ve met with the owner twice now and after an interview a few nights ago night, it’s looking like there will be a nice future sailing this boat around the Sea of Cortez. This too will be talked about more in future writings.

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After having to cancel my plans to go cruising in October, the main thing on my mind was to get back on a boat immediately. Being boatless is a scary way to live my life. Everyday of my life is relative to boats in one way or another so I’ve had a sharp eye out all over the World Wide Web for my next vessel. How can a man fulfill his total potential without his own ship to sail on? With the help of a few contacts down in La Paz, I’ve been introduced to a 1972 Rawson 30. She’s not the prettiest of boats, nor is she in the best shape. In fact, she’s probably a boat that I normally wouldn’t take on as a project. However, given her price tag, my level of motivation to just be and work on my own boat again, and the little fact that she’s being sold with the ownership of a mooring ball located in the harbor of La Paz, I’m making a few exceptions here. Worse comes to worse, I can use the boat to live on and have a free place stay in La Paz and rent out the mooring to other cruisers. So I’m undecided as of now and will go through my list of deal breakers once I get down there and see the boat in person. I certainly won’t be making any impulsive decisions that will result with me owning a boat that never leaves the dock. And In the unfortunate case that I can’t find a boat that I want to buy right away while I’m down there, I’m coming prepared with another boat.

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This past month, I’ve been working with the fine people of Aqua Adventures down in Mission Bay, San Diego. With their help, I’ve been able to get my hands on a 17.5ft Necky sea kayak, the Looksha IV, and the gear necessary to go on some great paddling adventures. I’ve also been taking a few classes to learn some of the different skills necessary for open water kayaking from strokes to capsize recovery and rolls. Aqua Adventures has opened many more doors and introduced a hobby to me that I never knew I would fall in love with. They’ve also introduced me to some great people associated with not only paddling but also resourceful contacts down in Mexico. So I’d love to show my appreciation to them and look forward to a future of paddling with them. If you ever find yourself in Mission Bay or La Jolla and are looking for a good day out on the water, stop by their shop and meet the team. They’ll give you some of the best and knowledgable service and point you in the direction of a great adventure. You can check them out hereIMG_3834

Currently, I’m trying to find someone to join me on the adventure down. I plan on spending a week or so making my way down to La Paz. In that time, I want to stop along all the nice beaches, kayak around the clear waters, search for whale sharks to swim with, and eat all the fish tacos that my stomach can handle. Preferably, I won’t be doing all of this fun stuff alone so if anyone is interested in joining me for the trip down, please let me know. Airfare back North is only around $100 so it’s reasonably affordable. You’ll have to be flexible on time as I can’t guarantee anything but if you’re interested then shoot me an email at scseanhall@gmail.com and lets go further into depth.

This post has been particularly hard for me to write. While I’ve had dozens of opportunities come my way, I’ve had to turn a lot of them down because they interfere with one another or some aren’t even set in stone enough for me to start preaching about them to everyone. While it may sound like I have a lot of things figured out, until I get down there I have a lot of uncertainties to still figure out that definitely leave this trip capable of throwing a few curve balls my way… as preferred in any of my adventures. What I do know for sure is that I’m creating a really great future for myself. While there will most likely be some pretty gnarly speed bumps that I come across along the way, I know that things are only going to get better and more opportunities are going to manifest from each previous adventure. I look forward to sharing each and everyone of those with you all and hopefully having some of you along for a few of my adventures.

The Haul Out!

So the big engine haul out! It’s been the number on thing to do on my to-do list and it’s finally done. A few days ago while hiding from the storm, I decided that I would finally begin to disconnect everything from the engine and begin prepping it for a haul out. Now that seems to be a pretty simple thing to decide but I knew once I started, I would not be turning back and the engine did run just a little bit after all which can be nice in an emergency. I was essentially cutting out a safety net and one that I really enjoyed knowing I could turn to if I needed.

Now, for those who don’t know, the whole purpose of this haul out is because my engine is pretty much crap. It’s a Universal Atomic 4 cylinder engine. The problem; the valves were all burnt up and she only ran on one cylinder and had horrible compression. The head was also rusted on and preventing a rebuild, from inside the boat anyway. She also leaked oil and a long list of other issues. Like I said, she was crap.

So I began removing all the wires, unplugging all the hoses, releasing all of the engine mounts, draining all the fluids, and disconnecting the prop shaft from the transmission. She was just an engine sitting in a boat at this point.

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The next day, unexpectedly, was haul out day! After borrowing some straps and a come-along, I was ready to jump into this huge project! I hung the come-along over the boom and wrapped the engine in chains and began hoisting away! Sure enough she freed right up and lifted without too much problem. Of course, my patience wasn’t the greatest and the rain decided to dump one last time on San Diego before saying goodbye. And with the engine suspended from the boom through the companionway, the rain welcomed itself right into the boat! If any lessons were learned today it was a lesson on the importance of patience!

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I started the haul out at 4pm and 6 hours later around 10:30pm, I had finally managed to rest the engine down on the dock! I like to think it took 6 hours only because I didn’t leave anything to chance once this engine was up in the air. I definitely didn’t want any 400lb engine smashing through my hull and sinking my boat!

At this point, I’ve got the engine room washed down and cleaned up pretty nicely and Im currently drying it out. Definitely needs some good heavy duty cleaning before I start to put anything I care about in there. I’m planning on turning the whole engine room into a storage room since this particular boat has very, very limited storage! The gas tank is staying in there and I plan on rerouting the fuel line and using it for an outboard.
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My plans for the engine room are to cover the wooden walls with something to protect them from absorbing water. Varnish or fiberglass possibly? I’d like to paint the walls white so it’s a bit easier to see with the small amount of light in there. I’ll also want to mount a light in there to further help with visibility. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the prop shaft just yet but I will be removing the prop to prevent drag and any unnecessary wear and tear on my packing gland. As for now, I’ll just caulk around it with some silicone to prevent any drips and puddles.

Although this was a long and very dirty project, it went way smoother than I imagined and was nice to not have any awful obstacles get in the way for once! Below are pictures of the process and finished project.

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