Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

 

Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

By Ron Parker

An Aspen Power Catamaran C120 continues an enterprising cruise of over 10,000 miles. David and Sue Ellen Jenkins the proud owners of Knot Wafflen’, a new 40’ Aspen Cat, have teamed up with Captain Blake Eder and Larry Graf founder of Aspen Power Catamarans to take their boat on a shake-down cruise like no other. They are delivering their boat over water (and land) from Seattle Washington to Annapolis, Maryland.

This episode details the transport of Aspen’s 10,000-mile tour boat from Guaymas, Mexico, overland, to Galveston Texas. The team, after having explored Alaska last summer, ran her down the West Coast to Cabo San Lucas and then up to La Paz for some wonderful winter exploration in the Sea of Cortez. After 7,000 miles in the Pacific, it was time to cross over to the Gulf of Mexico and on to the Atlantic for the final run to Annapolis.

This overland phase of the trip involves more than charts and navigation typical of a water adventure. Crossing Mexico requires a full-sized Semi truck with a special boat hauling trailer. To meet highway height requirements, the flybridge of the boat must be removed. Aspen designed the flybridge to be detachable to accomplish this portage.

Larry and his associates from Aspen Power Catamarans drove a pick-up truck towing a trailer with a custom rack to help cradle the boat and hold the flybridge during transit. Their journey lead them 1,600 miles from Washington State to the Mexican border crossing at Nogales, AZ. Once across the Mexican border they traveled another 250 miles and discovered that the road to Guaymas, where the boat lay waiting, was undergoing major reconstruction. A temporary bridge built over a river only 15-16 ft wide was passable with the pickup and trailer, but normal semis were having trouble there. This clearly could not serve as a route for the 14-foot-wide truck and oversized 75’trailer that would be carrying the boat.

Upon arrival in Guaymas Larry consulted Jose, the owner of Takata Trucking to see if he knew about the bridge problem. Jose had found out when he got his permits and quickly developed an alternate path for our wide load. His alternate route ran South into central Mexico then turned North East and back up to Laredo, a huge but necessary detour.

Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

As Knott Wafflen’ was blocked for transport, Larry arranged for crane service to lift the flybridge and began the necessary disassembly. It is a modular design, but nearly every system in the boat has a connection to the flybridge including engine controls, navigation lights, hydraulic steering, chart plotters, NMEA 2000 bus, and even the stereo. All these had to be disconnected, capped, and secured for the overland journey. Six bolts that attach the flybridge were removed and 20 feet of bonding adhesive carefully cut. Aspen uses a cross-linked urethane that is very strong. In some areas it is accessible to cut, in others, small holes are drilled, a piano wire passed through, and two men saw on either side to release the hold on the flybridge.

The next morning the truck arrived, a newer Kenworth with a custom extendable trailer. With the trailer stretched 10’, pre-made steel cross beam sockets, 4” box tube cross beams and rubber padded hull grip fixtures at all four corners were mounted on the trailer and prepared to hold the boat. Knot Wafflen’ was carefully hauled on the travel lift and set down on the cradle with her bows near the trailer gooseneck.

With the hulls resting comfortably forward, a raised steel support was erected at the aft end of the trailer, and wood flybridge support fixtures were secured in the cockpit and swim platform so that the flybridge could be lowered down onto these supports.

Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

The crane slowly raised the flybridge, and with control lines, we worked it aft despite the wind gusts trying to turn this 600-pound 22 ft x 10 ft piece into a kite. The bridge was flying now 16-18 ft off the ground creating a bit of excitement but after a few close calls, and a bit of radical swinging, we got her over the fixture and managed a touchdown.

We now strapped the boat to the trailer and secured the flybridge to both the boat and trailer. Aspen hulls have high strength bow and stern eyes through bolted through strong points laminated into the hull (some 3” thick) creating solid points of attachment that helped keep the boat from moving in any direction. Jose our trucker told us that in 20 years of hauling hundreds of boats he had never seen a such a well-engineered easy-to-use system to support a hull for transport. Knot Wafflen’ was prepped and ready for land transport and would soon be underway. After 7,000 miles cruising at sea from Alaska to Mexico, she would now travel over 1,500 miles overland from Guaymas to Galveston, Texas.

Follow along the rest of this story at http://aspenpowercatamarans.com/10000-mile-tour/

Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

 

Re-entering the U.S. and re-assembly in Galveston, Texas

Larry and the guys hard returned to Washington State, and six days and 1,600 miles later our trucker was at the border in Laredo, Texas. He had been stuck on the Mexican side of the border due to a trailer tail light that was found inoperable on his exit inspection (it was a special part not easy to find netting a 10-hr. delay). Then 200 feet farther along he was quarantined at the US side of the border. US customs would not allow Mexican wood into the US without a “green tag sticker” proving it was bug-free. Our wood did not have such a sticker, and it was supporting the fwd. 2/3rd of the flybridge.

They wanted him to turn around. Then what? How is he supposed to fix this problem with the 600-pound flybridge sitting on the wood structure 10 feet in the air? He called, surprisingly calm, wondering if we had any ideas. The wood was from Home Depot in Burlington, WA and we had a photo of the truck and trailer at the top of Snoqualmie pass in the snow showing the fixtures. We texted him the photo and went to the factory after hours to try to find the paperwork. With some help from Aspen’s materials manager, who helped us by working into the night, we were able to find and send an electronic copy of the receipt, showing the US origin of the wood. Twenty minutes after forwarding the information to the driver he was in the USA, but a massive thunderstorm was in progress that would delay things further.

 

Re-assembly

The next day Larry flew to Galveston, Texas and called Jose, the driver, only to find he had been slowed again by weather. Texas has rules about traveling with oversized loads in bad conditions forcing him to wait out the storms. Brandon and Rick from Aspen had flown in the day before to meet the boat and to begin rigging the flybridge. Since the boat had yet to arrive, they had done some sight-seeing in Galveston for a day. Now along with Larry, they had another half day to kill waiting for the boat and then two days to make up in what was supposed to be a 3-day re-assembly plan. We would have only about a day to get the boat ready for a scheduled departure with the senior editor of one of the nation’s largest magazines.

Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

We decided to go check out Pier 77 Marina. We met Robbie and Gary and talked about our schedule problems and asked if they could lend a hand when the boat arrives. They were awesome! Open, welcoming, and very flexible. They don’t get many trans-continental boats traveling through the marina and were interested in the trip and the boat. In minutes we bonded in the way that boaters do. This marina is BIG in a Texas way and services all kinds of boats from 22′ sailboats all the way up to 120’oil industry crew boats. It has a huge travel lift, cranes, metalworking shops, engine rebuild shops, and woodworking shops. Pier 77 is a full-service marina/yard, and for our trip, they agreed to take on the boat’s bottom paintwork as well as the detailing and cleaning to make her ship shape again. Team Aspen would handle all the electrical, mechanical, re-assembly items.

Crossing Mexico On Aspen’s 10,000 Mile Tour

That afternoon our trucker finally arrived. Knot Wafflen’ was undamaged but incredibly dirty from the long slog through Mexico and the highway trip from the border! She had seen a lot of weather, miles, mud, and bugs along the way. Robbie of Pier 77 offered us their 5,000 PSI pressure washer to get the first round of mud and bugs off and warned us to hold on, “It has a Kick.” This was a pressure washer like no other, you had to lean into it, or it would knock you over. We had to be careful not to be blown off the boat while also not damaging caulk or gaskets, but boy did it clean.

We unstrapped the flybridge while simultaneously cleaning the bonding surfaces. Our plan was to crane it in place before the whole boat was lifted off the truck. Pier 77’s crane operator had the right touch, but again we had 15-20 Knots of wind to make things exciting as we maneuvered the flybridge in place. After 30 minutes and three tries, we had landed the bridge and secured the bolts in place.

We still had to unload the boat off the trailer, but it was getting dark, and the marina team was already on overtime. We discussed the situation with our friendly trucker and asked if he would mind staying in the marina for the night.

He agreed, and we bought him dinner before going back to work. After dinner, we set up work lights and ladders, to better access the boat. It was a little before midnight when we decided to call it a day. We are sweaty, dirty, and tired but have caught up at least one of the two days we are behind.

The next morning, we are on the boat and working again at 7 am. Our trucker needs to go, and the travel lift schedule is tight as Pier 77 is squeezing us into a completely booked schedule. The offload goes smooth as silk, and we are blocked and ready to continue working in the yard by 9 am. We move on through our rigging details and work through the owner’s punch list, zincs, swim ladder tune-up, cockpit lights and other details. One pier 77 team starts detailing while another takes on the bottom paint. This is the third bottom paint for Knot Wafflen’ in 10 months. The first failed from a batch problem and the second looks to have worn a little thin from thousands and thousands of miles at higher speeds. This time we are switching to SeaHawk Biocop which is a blend of Copper and aggressive Biocides to keep slime and grass from growing. The team at Pier 77 says it is more expensive than some other paints but works well with higher speed boats which is just what we need.

By 8 pm things are beginning to look ship shape and the team at Pier 77 agrees to come in at 7 am Sunday morning to splash Knot Wafflen’ so she can continue her 10,000-mile tour to Annapolis. The next leg will lead us from Galveston to New Orleans with Captain Bill Pike, a top marine journalist from POWER & MOTORYACHT magazine. (look for his upcoming story of that adventure.) The staff at Pier 77 clearly has gone above and beyond the call of duty working alongside the Aspen team, and we are grateful to them and to Jose at Takata Trucking for being such supportive partners.

Larry heads to the store for provisions as he will be heading out on the boat to New Orleans. We are back on schedule!

To follow Larry and his team as well as Knot Wafflen’ owners David and Sue Ellen Jenkins and Captain Blake Eder on the 10,000-mile tour watch for stories in your favorite marine publications and blogs and go to http://aspenpowercatamarans.com/10000-mile-tour/

 

 

 

Original Source: Sportsmans Lifesyle.com

 

 

 

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