Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To the City of Peace
By Michael

This is Torrey Pines, a hang gliding mecca.
We kept the girls from running off the edge
of that cliff as they weren't strapped to a
glider. Unfortunately, the winds were more
northerly than westerly, so nobody was flying.  
The boom drama continues…and it’s taken a contrarian turn.

We’re leaving San Diego as we came, our boom broken. We’re going to try to get it repaired in Mexico.

Absurd? Crazy?

Maybe. I can’t find a knowledgeable person Stateside who thinks we’re doing the right thing. But that’s not to say we’re acting without reason, only that we’re acting against the grain.

There are three ways to address our broken spar problem: fix our boom, swap it with a used boom, or buy a new boom. Now, there are a lot of sailboats in San Diego, and a whole lot of businesses that have hung a shingle to support them. You’d think this would be the best place in the world to deal with a problem, I did.

But the single area company riggers turn to when they need a spar replaced doesn’t want to fix ours (and it would cost $300 just to transport it back and forth to their L.A. shop). And I’ve called around for suitable used booms and have come up empty-handed. There are a few that could be made to work, but each has a complication that requires too many $80-per-hour hours to make it cost effective. “You’re better off buying a new boom” is what we hear. But that’s a $2,000 proposition.

And I look at my 17-foot-long aluminum spar with a crease in it that simply needs to be repaired. Why can’t I just get it repaired?

A week ago I began emailing mechanically-minded friends who know La Paz, Mexico like the back of their hands. And I emailed their friends. And I emailed the Shroyers who own Marina de La Paz and who have spent decades in the city and who used to build boats there. I’ve sent photos and I’ve learned enough to believe we can probably get our boom repaired in La Paz. And we’re gonna sail there (carefully) and find out.


In February, 2001, Windy and I bought our first house. It was a fixer-upper—with a capital F-U, really bad. A couple of the problems seemed formidable: a retaining wall outside the basement entrance had failed and the first-floor fireplace was leaning into the living room. You can’t believe the tens and tens of thousands of dollars that engineers and contractors said were required to address just these problems. We agonized over this for the first year while we went about addressing less-formidable repairs.

The girls surprised their cousin, Kat, at LAX.
Then I met Dickey. He was an old-timer I’d seen building brick walls in the neighborhood, a real craftsman. He was a one-man operation with a 1972, red Chevy pick-up. I asked if he could stop by and take a look at my failed retaining wall. He told me he could replace the wall and walked me through the simple, straight-forward approach he intended. He said it would cost $4,800. Skeptical, I asked about all the complications and issues raised by the others who’d quoted three times that amount.

“Young man, I been layin’ brick for 45 years…”

The wall Dickey built was beautiful and could have served a bomb shelter.

Inspired, I removed the basement ceiling, borrowed a couple of Dickey’s 12-ton bottle jacks, lifted our living room fireplace, through-bolted some massive sister joists, and then called a company in to rebuild the cracked fire box for $1,800.

Ten years later, the retaining wall and fireplace were still solid.

I’m looking for the nautical Dickey to fix my boom and I think I may find him in La Paz.

Absurd? Crazy?



We toured the Taylor guitar factory near San Diego--fascinating
and free. The girls played with Baby Taylors in the shop afterward,
but we left empty handed.

The girls kayaking through the San Diego mooring field
near our anchorage.
Eleanor pictured with Rosalee, her first cousin once removed
(I think that's right, I looked it up) and her great aunt and
great uncle. Rosalee hosted us and 23 others for an
amazing Thanksgiving dinner. We spent two nights at
her home.

The girls' Auntie Jana took them to a spa one day.
They loved it.


  1. Mike, I think you're headed the right way. If I had a dime for every time a "professional" said "It can't be done" before I or someone more innovative and inventive went ahead and did it anyway - successfully - I'd be a wealthy man! Fair winds to Mexico!

  2. 72 hours...snort.... Anyway, here in NZ they call the people who fix car dents "panelbeaters," because they fix things here and are loathe to simply throw them away and replace them. I bet you'll find a boombeater in Mexico, 'cause they are like that too. I can't believe you'll be back in La Paz soon you lucky ducks. If Stella's is still around, have a marg for me...or three!

  3. My Grandfather always found a way to fix something when it broke no matter how daunting. Now when Molly and I get in a pickle we ask ourselves how Grandpa would have fixed it. I think you are making the right decision.


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