The Adventures of Sarken

By Len Molloy


Larry and I met over 10 years ago, and have been co-workers, business partners and more importantly friends for the entire time. Every challenge we ever faced together, we considered an adventure (like the time we both took up Ultralite flying, but that’s another story). Every adversity we ever faced was always with humor and the November cruise was no exception. I hope that I can recount the adventure in such a way that you can enjoy it as much as we did.


We arrived at San Carlos Marina on Wednesday afternoon after trailering “Sarken”, my Catalina 25 from Tucson. Larry started the preliminary boat preparation, and believing that we needed to check in with the Marina, I headed to the office.

A polite young Mexican male was filling out my particulars, name, address, etc., when he asked the name of the boat – “Sarken” I replied. “Sunken?”, he asked. I said “No, No, Sarken”. “Sunken?” he asked again, I said “No” spelled out “S-A-R-K-E-N” and told him it wasn’t “sunken” yet!

When I got back to the boat, two Mexican guys arrived to help Larry and I step the mast (for a fee of course). Once the mast was stepped, we discovered that the starboard side lower aft shroud had a major ‘kink’ in it and the turnbuckle T-Bolt had sheared in two. Now, we had prepared well for the trip and had backup parts for most any situation, except for a turnbuckle T-Bolt and a shroud!


One of the Mexican guys that helped us with the mast felt that we could find a replacement in one of the marine/ hardware stores in San Carlos. Not convinced but “dead in the water”, we had no choice but to try. I drove Matteo wherever he pointed while Larry optimistically continued to prepare the boat. In each of the five marine/ hardware stores I listened intently in English while Matteo explained in Spanish what we were looking for. After extended discussions with the store personnel in Spanish, he would look at me and with a sidewise motion of his head would say “Come on” the only two words of English he knew! Then off we would go to the next store. When we ran out of stores he suggested that his father would be able to solder the bolt back together. I headed back to the Marina.


Getting desperate and knowing that our chances of going on the cruise were quickly diminishing, we happened upon Rex Weedon and Chris Edmonson. who had just put Rex’s boat in the water. Chris suggested that we try and contact Fred, a local character who lives aboard his boat in the Marina. Fred apparently knows everybody that is anybody in San Carlos and over the years has turned his boat into a floating used marine hardware store. As luck would have it, we finally found Fred and explained our dilemma. Fred, delving into his gold mine of used parts came up for air with a couple of turnbuckles and T-Bolts but they were1/4”dia. instead of the 5/16”dia. we needed.

Fred is a thinker and recognizing this, we kept him talking and thinking for another 20 minutes or so. All of a sudden he disappeared back into his boat and emerged with a throttle linkage mechanism that, you guessed it, had a left handed threaded T-Bolt 5/16” dia. Ecstatic, we headed back to “Sarken” – we had life again!

On the boat we switched a good turnbuckle assembly from the port side to the starboard side so that our jury-rigged turnbuckle assembly would be on the leeward side for the crossing. Larry installed the throttle linkage only to find that it was an inch short of reaching the turnbuckle. Undaunted, we have to find a spacer. The spacer comes in the form of a stainless steel Bimini bracket. Larry performs his “McGuyver” magic – drills, files, bends, stretches and somehow completes a turnbuckle assembly we can rely on. We are back in the cruise.


We left San Carlos Marina on Friday Nov 4 at about 2pm for the crossing to Bahia Conception and specifically to Sanispec. Once we cleared the headland we raised the Mainsail and a 150% Genoa, set the autopilot and enjoyed a great sail. We were sailing at 5.8 knots and heeled over about 20*, perfect. Everything was very civilized so it was time to break out a new bottle of Bailey’s, which we finished in short order. After 2.5 hours of sailing the wind started to diminish and once we slowed down to 2 knots we started the motor (it did work at this point) and motor-sailed the rest of the way.

Once it was dark, the moon lowering on the horizon cast a beam of light across the water while the stars were so plentiful and bright it appeared as though you could reach out and touch them. A pod of dolphins appeared out of nowhere and began “playing” with the boat. The water glistened on their backs from the light of the moon as they swam alongside. It was surreal, dolphins swimming with us, shooting stars everywhere, the Sirius radio playing old country music, and, we still had alcohol.“Does sailing get any better than this”?

Daylight arrived and we made our way into Bahia Conception and to the Sanispec anchorage. Those of you that have been to Sanispec will know how beautiful it is, those of you that have not been, should. It was an uneventful crossing, we had taken 2 hour watches through the night and now that we were anchored with the rest of the T.S.C. boats we relaxed for the afternoon. Besides we were going to the Mulehe pig roast that night.

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