La Duquesa, a 3 weeks restoration project

In Baja Sur, Lepirate met a new friend named Normand. Within an hour after they had a chat around a cup of coffee, he offered to help out for current Norm’s project. It consists into restoring an old, artificial reef ready, panga into a state of the art diving vessel! Head first he jumped into the project. Everything needed to be redone and fixed. The major problem consists in fixing major leaks in the hull which caused the stringers to rot. Countless hours of sanding and glassing was needed to fix all the different cracks, broken pieces, re-enforcement of weak sections, anchorages and patching imperfections. The restoration in itself was an endless process. To this was added every other little thing that will make the difference to the future customers/divers satisfaction. The canopy has been fixed, handles have been added and also cup holders (not to say beer holders). New backrests have been made from scratch to improve the comfort during the long boat ride. There was a lot of custom work done, Greg and Andres are real artists. Using whatever they have on hand to create some awesome add-on, like a ladder, handrails, canopy support and beaching proof hull protector. Making functional was a major criterion for this project, but make it look nice was also important. It has to stand out from the other pangas. It took a while and lot of discussions before the choice of colors and design is finally apply on the canvas.

Endless sanding

What was estimated to maybe take a week to be completed, finally took 3 weeks for the hull itself. Challenged in many ways, it was a slow process work. The strength of the sun was making it difficult to work during the middle of the day. The morning was also hard, due to little flies called Bobos which fly straight in your eyes and ears. They were there to challenge the strength of the mental. Added on top of that the catalyzing time of resin and Bondo which is greatly affected by temperature and humidity. Without forgetting that they are in Mexico and everything takes more time, shops are closed on Sunday and supply are not always easy to gets.

Fiesta de la Raca en Todos Santos

Between all those hours of hard labor, they still found time to go for some surf sessions, enjoy some fiestas in Todos Santos, shoot some pool and have countless dinners prepared by chef Gregory.

Steak and Fried Prawn with Chef Gregory

Too bad, Lepirate left the Baja and his new friend before La Duquesa even touch the water. He will have to come back one day to see the final result from his own eyes…

One of the many sunset on the Baja
Before leaving Baja, a little excursion to Balandra

You can book a trip on El Duque, the Mother Ship, a 45' live-aboard in La Paz. Captain Norm won’t disappoint with his underwater knowledge and his hilarious humour.

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