While cruising México during the last seven years, I have learned a few tricks that may save the new World Cruiser a few steps, bus or taxi ride. México like most third world countries is developing around us. It has many conveniences, but the handy Starbucks on every corner or a marine supply store in every city. West Marine, Fisheries Supply and others are an Internet click away, but getting our precious purchases into México and onto our vessels has many drawbacks. There is a time for those consumer marine stores products and that is usually when we travel back home or we know someone who can Mule or Burro items into México for us.
During my years of cruising México, I have learned that applying the conventional thought process for finding a stainless steel fastener, special fitting or other marine specialty item is lost. Yes, there are a few Ferreterías scattered throughout México and yes most of the old salts know where they are located. One in particular looks so much like a West Maine inside it is scary. Sometimes putting a patch on something to get by is an option until you can get to one of these stores. Sometimes a patch isn’t going to work.
Consider your options. If you have a hydraulic issue you won’t easily find a B & G hydraulic ram for sale much less the parts you need to effect a repair yourself. But, hydraulics are used all over México and there is usually a hydraulic shop that you could have a pump rebuilt or purchase parts necessary to do the repair yourself. The same thing goes for bearings and shaft seals. Just because there isn’t a ProFurl outlet near by, doesn’t mean that a tienda that sells seals and bearings isn’t available. I have seen hydraulic hoses and hose fittings at a welding shop that also work on farm equipment.
While on an outing looking for a fastener or other specialized part, it is not unreasonable to visit four, five or even more tiendas until you find what you are looking for. While in those tiendas along the way, take your time and look through them. You never know what you might find.
If you are like me, I have a list of projects that is constantly growing and ever present. This is the list of things that I like to call, “Good to do when I get a ‘Round Tuit!’” So when looking through the tiendas along the way with this floating list in my brain, something on a shelf, peg boar or bin will silently shout out making me stop and contemplate the possibilities of completing one of those less critical items on the list. I was looking for some carbon brushes for a DC water pump in Santa Rosalía. I found them in a hardware store that sold lighting and plumbing fixtures. Go figure! What you seek is not always where you think it should be and thus thinking outside the box results in a victory if only for one item on your list.
Costco Shopping Mentality. Most folks know what shopping in a large warehouse store is like. You know the large quantities of items stores with the 40 pound package of raisins, the 55 gallon drum of laundry detergent, etc…? Well, I can tell you that I have more than once, while shopping there, seen one of those shiny items on the self and thought I would like to have it, but I wasn’t prepared to by it at the moment. You know that item guys, the thing on the shelf that is illuminated with a blinding light from the heavens above with six arrows pointing to the item? I usually convince myself that I’ll be back to Costco next week to get it after I measure and figure where it will get install or stored. Almost every time I’ve gone back to get that item it has been sold out. I tell myself that I was stupid and that I know better. Folks, if you see an item in México that you remotely think is something you need, BUY IT! Because when you return the Costco Penalty of “Not Available” will grace you with its presence. There won’t be anymore lights from heaven on that shelf until maybe your next visit.
I thoroughly enjoy the adventure part of looking for an item as it gets you off the boat, interacting with the people in the community and adventure is part of the cruising culture.
So, here is how you find what you need. There is a wealth of information rattling around the heads of those that have been cruising México for multiple years. Most are willing to share the knowledge they have obtained from their adventures. If you can tap into this dusty well of information your adventures will take less time for actually finding what you are looking for. Browsing through tiendas along the way can broaden your knowledge base of what is available along the way and perhaps make your next adventure easier.
Just a few tips from off the decks of Dazzler.