Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Costly

Starting off with the Good, I have my mid-morning break on the boat: an Almond croissant and expresso...

The French Baker, those of you who know Barra can attest, is a fine man. He gets up at O-Dark Thirty and bakes lovely things for his admirers throughout the anchorage and marinas. Around 8 am, he jumps into his panga and motors out to these places, selling his baked goods to us at reasonable prices. Once he's made his rounds, he returns his panga to Cabo Blanco, where I keep my boat, BLISS. So if I miss him at 8 (because I'm usually on the ham radio, getting weather reports and forecasts) I can catch him when he returns.

The Bad is the Cabo Blanco marina, which is largely occupied by sports fishing boats and some panga fishing charters. The marina charges about one fourth the rate of the Big, Rich Marina at Grand Bay (which is home to several megayachts). Because these are the cheap seats, nobody pays much attention to the infrastructure of Cabo Blanco. One of the main uses of the marina is as a water ferry station between one end of town (the barrio) and the Grand Bay Hotel, wherein stay the likes of the Governors of various US and Mexican states (Arnold comes here). The cheap labor from the barrio gets their ride to work here at Cabo Blanco. As long as the docks don't totally collapse, the rest of it is ignored. The marina manager is middle aged woman who knows nothing about boats or marinas and sits in her office eating and watching soaps on Mexican TV and once a month, collects the money for the slips. Don't take her a problem, she'll just shrug, if she's even there. A sweet job. So, like most places in Mexico, if you need a job done, you do it yourself... like when the electricity goes out.

The costly.
Following that train of thought is the repairs on the Nissan Quest I drove down this year. When I go over a tope (speed bump) in this car it tends to bottom out. I took the car to a shop in Melaque, gave them 1,000 pesos for a deposit on the parts (MacPherson struts on the front, shocks on the back) and waited for two days while they didn't touch the car. When I went back to pick it up, they gave me the 1,000 pesos back... an ominous sign (you NEVER get refunds in Mexico).

So I drove to Manzanillo with the part numbers I got off the internet from Autozone. I found the best thing to do is search Autozone US for the part, get their stocking number, write it down and take it to the store in Mexico. They punch the number into their computer and the part pops up. No complicated translation.

Autozone had the rear shocks for the car so I bought them: 900 pesos for the pair. The struts, though, can't even be special ordered. They say they don't exist in Mexico... so I got directions to the big Nissan dealer in Manzanillo. Their parts department says they can get the struts in 5 days at a cost of 3,525 pesos +16% IVA EACH ($323 US). I laughed and walked away. They're available on eBay at $63 each, and evidently Northern Auto Parts (eBay) will ship to Mexico for around $83 for the two. They also sell an install kit that I should consider as well, for about $50 each delivered to Mexico. I just need to have a visible address to ship to. And I'm thinking that since Grand Bay Marina runs Cabo Blanco, sort of, maybe I can have the parts shipped to a "vessel in transit" in the marina, bypassing Aduana (customs) and the snares of imported parts. Today I'll buzz over and talk to them if I can get the outboard running. But no hurry. The other thing I could do is call Autozone in the states and see if they'll ship the part to their Manzanillo store. It would be safer that way.

And I still haven't checked with the Ford dealerships, since the car was also made as a Mercury Villager... but now I see why the shop in Melaque returned the job and the money. The whole thing turned out to be too hard to do for the price he quoted. I would still prefer that he do the job at least on the front of the car. I also realize the car has to be completely empty when the final adjustments are done and the nuts torqued down. So, if I can get the parts delivered here, I'll take them to him to do.

1 comment:

1st Mate said...

The Ford dealership sounds like a possibility. Hope the dodger project goes smoother than the vehicle project; you can always get the vehicle work done when you get back from your farflung adventures.