Follow the boating adventures of the Elston family as we begin a new chapter in our lives. We are becoming full-time cruisers. We will explore the coasts of WA, Oregon, CA, and then Mexico!
It is choice, not chance, that determines your destiny.....
Saturday, June 20, 2015
June 10, 2015 - A trip to the USA to buy an RV
We debated for months about what our boating future would
be, mulling over several appealing options.
We went back and forth many times.
In the end, we decided that we would like to continue boating in Mexico,
but we do not want to be here during the extremely hot summer, which is also
hurricane season here. So, we will be
leaving the boat in San Carlos Mexico, in a dry-storage lot for the
summer. Unless Kathy finds a good job
while we are home for the summer/fall, we plan to return in the fall after
hurricane season is over and the temperatures cool down again. If Kathy lands a good job, then we will explore
other options for getting our boat back home, like trucking it to Ensenada
Mexico where Steve could then bring it back up the coast with help from
friends, or putting it on a transport ship that will deliver it to Victoria BC,
very close to home. We will cross that
bridge if we come to it.
After the decision to leave the boat in Mexico was made, we
then had to figure out what we were going to do with our 3-5 months away from
the boat. Only one option seemed to make
real sense to us; go back home to La Conner.
The kids can see their friends, attend the first part of the school year
in thier school, and Steve can work full-time to replenish the “cruising kitty”. The most logical method of getting us (including
our cat, and our belongings) back home is to buy an RV, bring it to the boat in
San Carlos, and then transfer our “stuff” from the boat to the RV and drive
home via some interesting places like the Grand Canyon. We have met quite a few cruisers down here
that are doing exactly this, and they all are loving it.
After the decision to buy an RV was made, the next question
was “where do we go to get an RV?”
Arizona has a large used RV market, and it is very close to Mexico. Phoenix is about a 7 hour drive from San
Carlos Mexico where our boat will be stored for the summer.
A few weeks ago I flew out of Loreto Mexico and landed in
Phoenix to begin my search. I rented a
car for 4 days and drove nearly 900 miles during that time looking at dozens of
RV’s. As the end of my trip to Arizona
neared, I feared that I was not going to find a suitable RV in our price
range. The day before I was going to
leave, an RV that I had seen online many times (private seller) got an updated price which was greatly reduced. I
called and arranged to see it immediately as it was only about 20 miles away
from my hotel. The seller was retiring
from work in just a few days, his house was sold and he needed to be out of
that in a few weeks, and the RV had to go.
Interestingly, he and his wife are moving to Seattle to be near their
grandchildren, and they are all interested in switching from RV’ing to
boating! So, the seller and I had a lot
to talk about. He was a great guy and we
worked out a deal that afternoon. I was
the proud new owner of a 34’ Winnebago.
Yikes, that’s bigger than I ever intended!!!
Our "new" RV. Man this thing is big!
We finalized the transaction the next day and he picked me up at the
airport after I returned my rental car.
He then drove me around to the bank to notarize the title and bill of
sale, to the DMV office to get a 90-day out of state vehicle registration, and
even to a few stores to buy some last minute items. The 90-day out of state registration allows a
non-Arizona resident to buy a vehicle from Arizona and get a temporary license
plate and registration. You then have 90
days to get it back to your home state to get it titled and registered in your
home state. That couldn’t be more
I drove off in the RV mid-afternoon headed for a small town just a few
miles before the Mexican border so I could cross into Mexico early the next
morning. Things were going well for the
first hour or so. I stopped at a rest
stop and then got back on the freeway. A
few miles later the engine just quit! I
pulled over (no power steering or brakes) to the shoulder and parked. After about 10 minutes of diagnostics I was
able to determine that the fuel injection fuse had blown. I put in a new fuse and started the
engine. It ran great, for about 3-4
seconds, and then it died again. The fuse
had blown again. I called the seller and
he offered to come down to help me. How
nice! I accepted his generous
offer. While I was waiting I called several
RV repair shops and towing companies. By
the time the seller arrived I had pretty much made the arrangements to have the
RV towed to a nearby repair shop in Casa Grande AZ. This is
not how I wanted to start our RV experience.
Thankfully the breakdown did not occur in Mexico!!!! The seller drove me to a local hotel and
waited to make sure I got checked in.
The problem with the RV was a seized up fuel pump, which
unfortunately is located INSIDE the fuel tank.
Lots of labor to replace. While
they were at it they replaced the front tires which had been wearing at a rapid
pace due to blown out “air bags” in the front suspension, that allowed the
front suspension to sag and cause uneven pressure (and rapid wear) on the
tires. Now the RV was all torn apart,
and the shop was waiting for parts, and I was staying at a hotel in Casa
Grande. The seller felt so bad about
this situation that he paid for a fair portion of the repair work, and also my
towing, bus to Mexico, and hotel expenses.
How VERY nice. Thank you Tim!!!
Being towed to Casa Grande Arizona
During this time, Hurricane Blanca was developing and
threatening to hit hard where Kathy and the kids were on the boat. I decided to leave the RV behind and catch an
overnight bus to San Carlos MX (actually Guaymas 15 miles away), then hop on an
overnight ferry to get to the Baja side, and then another bus to get to
Loreto. It was a 43-hour ordeal just to
get back to the boat, but the storm was still a major threat and I am thankful
that I returned. The RV would not have
been ready in time for me to drive down and catch the next ferry over to Baja
(two days later), which meant I could not get back until after the storm had
passed. Not an option!
I spent my day back on the boat preparing for a
hurricane. I added another hefty line to
the mooring ball. I added chafe protection
to our mooring lines. I removed the
exterior canvas and secured all items on deck.
I laid down the antennas. We
charged the batteries and ran the water maker because typically after a major
storm the water becomes so polluted that it’s not a good idea to run your water
maker. Fortunately, the storm weakened
substantially by the time it hit us. The
winds reached a maximum of 42 knots where we were, and another boat near us recorded
a peak of just over 50 knots in his more exposed location. It blew hard for 24 hours then began to
subside. We survived just fine with no
We are now in San Carlos, getting the boat ready for
storage. In a few days I’ll catch
another bus up to Phoenix, pickup the repaired RV and drive it down to San
Carlos. The repair shop says the RV is
in great shape now and should serve us well for a long time to come. I sure hope so!