Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Journal Entry – March 23, 2005 – Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta 20°42N 105°17 W

Author: Scott and Pam

We arrived at the entrance of the marina channel at 12:30 pm after making great time from Tenacatita. The biggest part of the trip that concerned us was Cabo Corrientes, the point you have to go around to enter Banderos Bay. The winds can be very strong and not favorable around this point. As forecasted the winds were mild and it was very uneventful. As we approached the entrance to the Paradise Village Marina we radioed ahead to Dick Markie, the marina Director for instructions for entering the marina. He gave us specific information and told us to call again when were just outside the entrance and he would send a panga to guide us in. The panga arrived just after we had surfed passed the jetties at the entrance, respectively praying a wave would not send us into the rocks. One of the panga occupants boarded Tournesol and guided us to our temporary 100 foot slip. Tournesol looks like such a peanut in these huge slips. We will move tomorrow when a slip becomes available. We are thrilled to find ourselves at another beautiful marina, associated with a very nice hotel. We went exploring this afternoon and discovered the pool with the two alligator water slides, the yacht club, yummy ice cream, the mall with restaurants (including McDonalds, Scott was thrilled) and a lavandaria (laundry mat). Now that we are here it feels like an excellent place to prepare for the puddle jump. Including running into quite a few people that we know already, some of which are making the crossing. This will be home for at least the next five weeks.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Journal Entry – March 21, 2005 – Happy Hour in Tenacatita

Author: Scott

All good things must come to an end, and thus our time at Barra de Navidad had to end. We have a Dr. to see in PV and a puddle jump to prepare for. We regretfully turned in our towels to the hotel, see ya later Mr. pool. We scooped up our scrumptious baked goods from the French Baker and prepared the boat to hit the road again. We did not have a lofty goal for today, just ten miles up the coast to Tenecatita, but a ten mile journey still requires a lot of prep work. When all was ready, we looked around the dock for some willing victims to help us with our lines. I was thinking, “hey you want to see something really neat, come watch these blind folks pull out of this tiny channel in their tough mama of a slug boat”. Backing out is never easy but with the boat sticking out behind us and the thin fairways we were in for a test. Wouldn’t you know it that both Tournesol and the two of us rose to the occasion and zipped right out and we were off, weeeeeeee doggie (as Amy would say)!

The trip over to Tenecatita was quick and we were visited by a few other sailboats, and even took some pictures while others took pictures of us. We knew that there would be some other boats that we know at Tenecatita and we decided we would have an impromptu Happy Hour Party to help ease our pain of departing Barra. Upon arrival we squeezed ourselves in among the other anchored boats, and managed to snuggle up close to the mouth of the Iguana River, in a perfect spot (at least it seemed perfect, but later we would realize that the mosquitoes also liked the spot). We called over to Mija to see if they wanted to swing by and we also called up Mamouna since we knew they were around. Both agreed to come by, and would bring an appetizer along with them. We put together some simple appetizers and made a CD for the party.

The party was a hit, Mamouna brought some cheese from Ecuador and Mija brought a yummy artichoke dip. Even though the two other couples had never met, we soon all settled down in the cockpit for a night of munchies and boat stories. Doug and Lisa told us of their escapades in South and Central America and their recent return from the Galapagos Islands. We all stayed up way past our bedtime, and had been unaware of the feasting the mosquitoes had done to us. It was a great night in one of our favorite spots, and exactly what we had hoped the cruising life would be like.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Journal Entry – March 17, 2005 – St. Patricio

Author: Pam

We have decided after a day lounging by the pool that we made an excellent decision to stop here for a few days. With your slip fee you receive privileges to use the three pools at the Grand Bay Hotel, next to the marina property. They also have hammocks hanging from the palm trees down by the beach, it was an excellent place to read if you are Scott and nap if you are me (I think I may have read two pages). We ran into Hal on the sailing vessel Fennalla while we were exploring this morning and decided to go to the celebrations being held in Malaque in honor of the patron Saint Patricio. We met Hal and his crew member Charlene at 17:00 and took a water taxi into Barra. We stopped by a local bar to check out the American version of St. Patrick’s Day being held mostly for the cruisers. A corned beef and cabbage meal was going to be served, but we only stayed for one drink. Scott was thrilled to find a Guinness, we won’t say what he paid for the luxury in Mexico. We took a cab to the neighboring town of Malaque to find the streets full of people beginning to celebrate the holiday as a parade went through town. After having dinner, that did not consist of corned beef we headed back to the town square to watch the festivities. There was a very loud mariachi band playing, followed by several dance troops of children. I had worn a shamrock sticker on my cheek, which intrigued the three little girls who were to perform first. I had brought extra, so I asked Charlene (she was also wearing one) to go give them some. They were thrilled and added them to their faces and costumes before their performance. I don’t think the shamrock holds any significance in Mexico, but they were young girls who obviously thought stickers were cool. We headed back to Barra around 22:30 only to find out the next day we had missed the best part of the celebration. Apparently there was a fireworks show unlike any other, including coming uncomfortably close to the crowd. We were disappointed we missed the highlight of the celebration, but the entertainment and energy we did experience was tons of fun. I wonder where we will be next year on March 17th.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Journal Entry - March 16, 2005 – Barra de Navidad – 19°12N 104°42W

Author: Pam

After a night of dodging ships around Manzanillo, we are happy to be out of the major shipping traffic of this area. We have seen more ships on this leg of our journey so far, not our favorite way to spend our watches in the middle of the night wondering what direction is that big dude going? As the morning approached we began to feel slightly concerned about the fuel consumption it took to fight the wind, waves and current on our nose. We left Zihautanejo without a completely full tank of fuel, which was a first. The only fuel dock is at the pier in Zihautanejo and is very difficult to get into due to the breaking waves and current. We chickened out trying knowing there was a fuel dock 240 miles away in Barra. This was the first time on our journey we have felt the slightest concern about our fuel. As we approached Barra de Navidad, the needle was sitting on E, not our favorite letter in the alphabet. We made the right hand turn into the channel and headed for the fuel dock. It was a welcome sight. After getting diesel we decided to investigate the options for staying in Barra. We were planning to continue the ten miles to Tenacatita and anchor for a night or two. Since we had already explored Tenacatita and we had a few days to spare, we thought it would be fun to add one more spot in Mexico to our itinerary. With that thought, we headed on foot over to the marina to check out options for a slip. When we walked down on the docks we were greeted by the narrowest fairways we have ever seen. Yikes, not the best variable for comfortable parking. So, we headed back to the boat to try to find out the scoop on anchoring in the lagoon, the other option. Scott called on the VHF radio to the fleet in the lagoon and requested info on anchoring. His call was answered by the sailing vessel Effie and basically it boiled down to lining up with palm trees etc… to avoid getting stuck on the sandbar. Yikes again, we decided it probably wasn’t a good idea for us to figure out which palm tree was the target (even with the GPS waypoints he offered). So, we decided to walk back to the marina and talk to the Harbor Master to see what options he could offer. If we didn’t feel comfortable going to the marina, we decided we would go with plan A and head to Tenacatita. The Harbor Master walked down on a dock with us that had a bunch of open slips, he said “we could have any slip we landed in.” Well, who could pass up that offer? So…. we hiked back to the boat and headed for the marina. On the way down the channel we had several people offer help catching our lines, but unfortunately they could not get to where we were going from where they were. Once we made our left hand turn feeling very large for once, Scott headed for the second open slip, started to make the turn and then we discovered there was a dinghy parked on the left side (it was a double slip), so much for our wide open hopes. No worries, Scott did a great job parking and a couple of guys working on a boat across the way caught the lines. I am very grateful to the many people who seem to come out of nowhere to help when we are parking, muchas gracias. After we got all settled and checked in and of course took a shower we decided to go check out the town. Barra de Navidad gets points for the best water taxi service in Mexico. It costs 10 pesos (not quite a dollar) per person for a very fast, less than five minute ride to the pier in town. It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed a sunset walk on the beach and dinner at a very good Italian restaurant (however our waitress was French). The town of Barra de Navidad is a very quaint beach side town, we are thrilled we needed fuel and decided to stay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Journal Entry – Tuesday March 15 – Crawling Squalls

Author: Scott

It is early morning (03:00) and I am on watch. Over the past two hours we have had a great light show as lightning flashed dramatically off in the distance. I know that sighted people can actually see lightning come down in lighted tendrils, but to me it just looks like flashes of light. As I would look at the radar I noticed that there were some really large targets and it looked like we had squalls in the area. The winds have been calming down as the squalls approach (down from 15 kts to about 8 kts). When I later checked the radar we were about to be engulfed in a large target that was slowly crawling across the display and as the squall approached the rain started falling. We have only seen rain in Mexico a few times with the last rain when we were anchored in z-town and we haven’t had any at sea since the start of the Baja in October. As the squall passed overhead it dumped heavy rain on the boat (and hopefully cleaned our main a little). When I wake Pam at the end of my watch, in about 45 minutes she will learn that she missed the crawling squalls and the light show.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Journal Entry – Saturday March 12, 2005 – Headed North

Author: Scott

We woke up early again, but today we could have easily slept in, the last few days of preparation for the trip north must be catching up with us. First thing for me was to clean up my mess from painting the anchor chain and stow the newly painted chain back into the chain locker on the boat, and Pam started out working on food for the voyage. As I started to feed the chain onto the boat, the momentum of the chain caused the excess chain to start to feed off the dock and into the water. I figured that this would be okay because now I could see how well the paint showed up on the chain when it was wet. I asked Pam to come out and help feed the chain over the bow roller and as we pulled the chain up from the marina bottom we soon realized that the entire chain was covered in thick black mud, gross! With the chain coated in this thick black syrup there was no way I could see the new paint or allow the chain back on the boat, so we had to hand pull the chain back onto the dock and spray it down with the hose. As I worked to pull up the chain I kept thinking about the many ingredients that comprised this awful mud despite my best effort to think about other things, I knew that crocodile poop must be high on the list, ewe! On the second attempt to stow the anchor all went well and the paint looked great. I continued to prepare the boat while Pam finished up her food preparation chores. When the boat was ready we packed up our shower gear and headed to the marina bathrooms for our final land shower until we reach PV. After showering we met Abe and Amy for final lemonade. None of us had too much to say, for me it was strange to think that we would finally be saying so long to these great friends we met on our adventure. We knew that sooner or later we would be heading our separate ways, but here we were actually preparing to move on and not just for a few days when we would meet up at another anchorage. We stopped by Eleytheria and took a few photos and then jumped in their dink and headed over to Tournesol. The plan was for Amy to follow in the dinghy while Abe guided us onboard Tournesol. We gave Amy a big hug and headed out of the marina. Our departure from the dock went smoothly and conditions were fairly calm out the main channel into the Bay. We gave Abe a final hug and sent him over the side to join Amy in the dinghy. As we headed out Abe called out to us “hey the good guys ended as the final champs in Spades”. We watched them motor back into the marina and then we turned to face the open sea.

The rest of the day went well with calm seas and light wind on our nose. We actually made decent progress despite our concerns for monotonous bashing to weather. We feasted on Pam’s premade spaghetti and settled into our trek up to Tenacatita, our planned stop on the way to Puerto Vallarta.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Journal Entry – Friday March 11, 2005 – Last Night with A Squared

Author: Scott and Pam

It is nice to have a plan even if that plan is to head back north, at least we are not waiting for answers to questions any longer, but today would be our last chance to hang out with Abe and Amy (aka A Squared). Last night we had decided we would go to Bogart’s, a very swank Ixtapa restaurant that had Château Breanne on the menu. So, after a day of boat work (I decided that today was the day to paint new markings on our anchor chain) we gussied up and met A Squared for dinner. It is strange to wear anything but shorts and t-shirts, and at the same time it is nice to put on long pants and step out of the cruising uniform, wearing socks even seems like a treat. We had the plan of eating at Bogart’s, seeing a movie, and then playing a final game of cards (all the things we like to do together) but in the end we only had time for dinner. The restaurant was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with lush plants, fountains, and beautiful architecture. The Cesar Salad was awesome! The steak was very good with yummy sauces and fresh veggies, but unfortunately the service was terrible. We were abandoned at our table with no way to get our check as hopes of seeing a movie dwindled. Abe finally got the check and we were freed. If you ever find yourself in Ixtapa, stop in to Bogart’s and have them whip up a Cesar Salad for two and then ask for it to go! In the end just spending time with A and A was what was really important. We have shared so many experiences and all learned so much about cruising together, it is hard to believe we are actually going to be heading off in a different direction from our good friends tomorrow (they are heading to Central America). I know we will find our way to their boat again down the way, so it is only so long to A Squared, besides the girls will need the chance to get even since the guys won the final game of Spades last night.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Journal Entry – Wednesday March 9, 2005 – Back to Ixtapa

Author: Scott

We were up early this morning to continue the food inventory and organizing project we started yesterday. We spent a good part of the day pulling out all of the food on board and making a spreadsheet, we had lost track of what we have and need to figure out what we need and want before leaving for the South Pacific. We had left everything all over the boat yesterday when we left to meet Abe to make the phone call to Dr. Ortiz. We got it all put away again and are now ready to plan our provisioning needs before we go to San Francisco, there are many things not available here in Mexico. Just after finishing this task around 10:00 we heard the first May Day of our trip. A woman’s voice came over the VHF with a lot of static pleading for help; her husband was in the water and being swept by the current to the reef near shore. Instantly, members of the local cruisers group jumped into action. They were anchored out at Isle Grande about nine miles from Zihuatenejo and she had thrown him a floatation device. She was trying to reach Marina Ixtapa hoping they could contact a water taxi in the area to rescue her husband. The Port Captain was contacted, he apparently has a fast boat in his fleet, but he said it would be faster for someone local to reach him. Amy answered the call and Abe was the one to run up to the office at the Marina. A 70 foot power boat also answered the call and was headed out to the rescue from the Marina. We were sitting on the boat listening and holding our breath. This is one of everyone’s biggest fears that you or someone you are with will be swept away from your boat. His wife finally waved down a local panga and he was safely rescued. Later in the day we learned, he had gone out to dump the coffee grounds overboard, dropped the coffee pot and had jumped in after it without assessing the conditions. It was a good lesson reminder that though the water may be beautiful and warm, its power should never be ignored or under estimated. While this excitement was going on Gary from Pegasus was busily scraping the sea life and hairballs off of the bottom of the boat and prop. It is amazing how quickly and what grows on your boat in these warm waters. However, he reported our bottom paint looked better than most he had seen lately, that was good news to hear. After Gary finished cleaning the bottom we prepared the boat to move back over to Marina Ixtapa to get ready for the trip back to PV. It was an easy trip over to Ixtapa and once again we were met by Abe and Amy at the entrance of the Marina. It got a little exciting entering the marina, we felt like Moon Dogy shooting the curl into the Waikiki beach, with breakers pushing us through the marina channel. Even though we were right in the middle of the channel with room for error, it is disconcerting to feel the stern lift up and see the bow slope downhill as the waves toss you forward into the marina, cowabunga dude!!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Journal Entry – Tuesday March 8 – Decision to Bash to PV

Author: Pam

Two days ago I talked with Pamela Thompson (we met her while Scott was in the hospital) in Puerto Vallarta regarding Dr. Ortiz’s response. She has been helping as an intermediary and translator, which of course has been very helpful. According to her Dr. Ortiz has sent responses to all of our questions, but I have not received his e-mails. Time to give up on e-mail and take a more direct root, time is passing us by so quickly. Abe speaks fluent Spanish and agreed to help make a call to Dr. Ortiz. Within an hour we had the answers we needed to move forward with making our decision. Unfortunately, the procedure can not happen until March 28th, we were hoping it could be sooner. After looking at all of our options (which has taken up a large part of every day), we decided it makes the most sense to take the boat back to PV. This will not be one of the most pleasant legs of the journey. We will most likely have winds out of the north-northwest, right on your nose and this is the least comfortable ride in a sailboat. Also, we will probably have to motor almost the entire leg or sail at angles well out of our direct course. This decision comes with much disappointment, it felt so right to make the jump from here. We have also been trying to plan a trip back to San Francisco to take care of some business and last minute details before the crossing. It just feels too complicated to coordinate all of this from Z-town. It also makes the most sense to go back to Dr. Ortiz in PV, it would be complicated to coordinate with a Dr. in the US at this point and would most likely cost significantly more. On the way to Zihuatanejo we were not sure if we would cross the pacific from here or go back to PV, we were here only a few days when we felt we were meant to cross from here. Now since the earliest we can leave is April 19th (after my three week recovery), most likely all of the puddle jumpers would be gone by then. Most everyone is planning to leave between mid and late March. On a positive note, Puerto Vallarta is a better place to leave from to catch the trade winds, you get to the trades 100 miles sooner from PV. We will begin our preparations tomorrow to leave in a few days, weather wind permitting.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Journal Entry – Monday March 7, 2005 – Puddle Jump Potluck

Author: Scott

Nothing like getting your day started to the fine smell of boiling eggs. Toss in that you are tired from the 30 Something party the night before and you have a deadline to transform the stinky eggs into something edible and you can pretty well picture our morning. Today was the Puddle Jump Potluck and we had decided to bring deviled eggs after Pam found a cute sailing deviation from the old standby. Pam read in a cruising guide that you could decorate your deviled eggs to look like sailboats by using toothpicks and triangular pieces of paper, you could further enhance your egg boats by writing the names of the boats attending the party on the sails of each egg. So there we were frantically boiling eggs (pew), peeling, slicing, scooping, mixing, filling, cutting, taping, writing, and finally stepping the masts of our dream boats.

Once we finished the eggs we scurried off to meet Grasal at their boat so we could follow them to the party, we heard the dinghy landing was a little confusing. It was very interesting touring another 32’ boat and we got some great safety ideas. We also got to meet Keltie, the ship dog. We all jumped into the dinghies and set off for the party. There are two entrances to Los Gatos Beach which is protected by a reef with an opening at each end of the beach. To enter the beach you have the choice of the southwest entrance which is wide open but can have very rough surf, or the northeast entrance that leads you into a shallow lagoon full of swimmers and tour boats. We opted for the crowded entrance and crept along the beach at a snails pace. We had to wade in with our engines out of the water when it got too shallow and then drag the dinks quite a ways up the beach because the tide was very low, but we were there without a single egg-plosion.

The party was held under a large beachfront palapa and the view was magnificent. We turned in our potluck contribution (Martha Stewart eat your heart out) and everyone was thrilled with our little sailboats, people took pictures and everything, they were a hit! We spent the afternoon nibbling and talking to cruisers. We were a little sad because we knew we would not be leaving with the group, but we managed to meet some very nice people by attending the Puddle Jump meetings and we are sure we will see at least some of these people over in the South Pacific. After taking a group picture Pam and I headed home, but first we had to drag our dinghy out into the lagoon (Pam did something to her shoe on the rocks that now makes it squeak whenever it gets wet). When we got back to the boat we realized there was nothing to eat so we headed into town and had a yummy pizza dinner at a new Z-town restaurant find.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Journal Entry – Sunday March 6, 2005 – 30 Something Party

Author: Scott

There are not that many 30 somethings out here doing serious long-range cruising. By this I mean that there are not that many 30 to 39 foot boats, and not that many people in their thirties cruising. In general boats have grown in size over the past twenty years. Back in the 70’s and early 80’s there were far more stout 30 foot boats like the West Sail 32, the Pacific Seacraft 32 and of course our beloved Valiant 32, but as time marched on and materials and of course pocketbooks evolved in the 80’s and 90’s, so did boat sizes. It is now common to see 40 foot, 50 foot, and even larger sailing vessels cruising the world. If you remember I chose Tournesol for her size (and my visual limitations when docking) with my original intention of sailing her around the world single-handed. We have also noticed that a majority of cruisers are in their late forties to mid sixties, enjoying the fruits of their many years of hard work that made their dream to come cruising a reality. Well, we fall into both minority camps with Tournesol measuring in at 32 feet and with myself at the tender age of 38 and Pam a bit more seasoned at? (never give a woman’s age, especially when it is greater than your own), let’s just say that we are on the younger end of the cruising age scale.

When we learned that there were three other boats in the 30 foot range heading to the South Pacific we decided that we should host a 30 Something Party! We also felt that getting to know the other 30 foot boats would be great because with shorter waterlines we would all be at the back of the pack together. We invited Graysal and Moana (both 32 foot boats) and Costa Vita (36 feet) over for a party on Tournesol. Today was the party and it was a heap of fun. Everyone brought a yummy appetizer and we provided additional food and beverages. The party lasted from 5:00 to 11:00 and we ate and drank just about everything. We all had sailing stories to share, and ideas for the upcoming passage. I think we would have all stayed up even later if we didn’t have the Puddle Jump Potluck tomorrow. For one of our first forays into the boat party hosting role, we think the party was a hit, and it was really nice getting to meet some new friends that we may see and will surely communicate with over SSB throughout the South Pacific.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Journal Entry – Thursday March 3, 2005 – Dinner with the A Squared Folks

Author: Pam

You know your parents are one hundred percent behind what you are doing when they travel from Tennessee to Mexico to visit you on your boat. We had the pleasure of meeting and having dinner with Amy’s parents this evening. They came to Mexico and were planning to sail back to Puerto Vallarta with Abe and Amy, but as plans go this is a bit up in the air. Unfortunately Amy’s Mom’s back acted up just before they were planning to come and they are not sure if bashing up north would be a good idea. Apparently, no one within three degrees of separation can come near our proximity from the US without being asked to bring something. We did not have time to design and print boat cards before leaving, but once again thanks to the wonders of the internet we were able to order cards on-line. Thanks to Amy’s parent’s delivery service we are thrilled to finally be able to give out our contact info on something a bit snazzier than an index card or paper napkin. Scott did a great job designing the cards, they look fantastic. We feasted at Diablo (devil) and Gabriel’s (angel) on steak (again) prepared tableside (very popular in this area) with a delicious blue cheese brandy sauce. I thought before leaving one of the foods I would miss is meat, but in Mexico that has not been the case. I am sure after 30 days at sea, that and many more things will be on the list. Actually, we are both missing salad and veggies (that one may have just shocked my mother). It is difficult to find a good salad here and the “fixins” sometimes have little to be desired. We are still waiting for a response from Dr. Ortiz and feeling more and more up in the air everyday. It is difficult to move forward with your plans when you don’t know exactly what is going to happen next.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Journal Entry – Wednesday March 2, 2005 – Puddle Jump Meeting II

Author: Scott and Pam

The Puddle Jumpers met again this morning with laptops and software in hand. Joshua Slocum (the first person to sail around the world solo) would roll over in his grave with overwhelm with what is available to sailors these days. The women in the group also met to discuss provisioning and everyone brought recipes to share. Unfortunately, I was under the weather and was not able to attend this meeting, but Scott did make it to the computer meeting and dropped off three recipes to contribute to the group. We are looking forward to more recipes that are deemed seaworthy and to spice up the menu for our big crossing. It will be challenging for us to store as much food as we would like to bring, after eating out of cans for a few months, I am determined to have more options on board.

A visit to the internet café today also brought news which is likely to have an impact on our upcoming plans to cross the pacific. We have been waiting for several weeks for the results of a biopsy I had just before leaving Puerto Vallarta, the news took the wind out of our sails today. Unfortunately, I will have to have a procedure before we can leave, which involves at least a three week recovery... Just this morning we were so excited to have strengthened our bond with the group of people leaving from Zihuatanejo for the puddle jump. It felt like it was all coming together and we were moving forward to leave for the South Pacific by the third week in March. This twist presents us with decisions and changes to our plans we will most likely have to make. We have sent the Dr. an e-mail to find out more information, it could take a few days for him to respond. He speaks very little English, but once again we were more than impressed with how progressive he is, including an almost one hour office visit (almost unheard of in the US). Based on what we know now, it is already clear we will not be able to leave until at least the first week of April. We are feeling very disappointed, we were getting so excited about leaving within a few days of other boats heading across, especially since there are two 32 foot boats in the group.

Journal Entry – Wednesday March 2, 2005 – You go Scarlet!!!

Author: Scott and Pam

Today was very significant for us. During the morning radio cruiser’s net in Zihuatanejo the boat Scarlet announced they were leaving they bay but they had made a decision to completely change their route to continue south rather then sail home. They stated they had been inspired by the woman who just set the around the world sailing speed record and by Tournesol with the visually impaired folks aboard, so they were going to continue to keep sailing because if we could do it, then so could they. This is important to us because it clearly shows that at least a few non-disabled people are seeing disabled people a little bit differently because of our voyage.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Journal Entry – Tuesday March 1, 2005 – Dinghy Hell

Author: Scott

While training for our departure to sail around the world many sailing skills were tested and refined, but who ever thought that dinghy driving in adverse conditions would be so important. Just throw an engine on that big blow-up raft and you are off to shore… In retrospect (like so many other lessons learned on the voyage) we would have spent a little more time learning to master the art of dinghy driving. Sure we have improved our skills along the way and I would now say that we are at least average in our dinghy abilities, but then out of nowhere comes reminders that a tad more dinghy diligence would have paid off in many ways, take today for an example:

We headed out for town in our dinghy ready for a full day of errands and the conditions seemed calm and the weather was beautiful. We had approached the dinghy landing now a few times and we were not at all concerned because thus far our dinghy landings have been in calm and benign surf. To make matters even better there is Nathan who assists cruisers to land their dinghy and then guards dinghies for a five peso propina (tip). We were making our final approach amidst a slew of pangas anchored just off the beach with Sparky and Jim just behind us in another dinghy. Everything seemed in order and Nathan was standing in the surf ready to meet our dinghy. Then in a split second I caught a large breaker out of the corner of my eye (my good eye) and the next second I was thrown off the dinghy and splash right into the water. I felt the dinghy continue on without me and fortunately the engine died because I am in the habit of wearing the safety shutoff key on my wrist just for these occasions. I pulled myself to my feet, covered in sand looking like Sigmund the Sea Monster and trudged onto the beach. Apparently my artful back flip from the dinghy provided the necessary counter balance to the force of the rogue wave and the dinghy managed to surf the remainder of the way into the beach leaving Pam high and only half wet. As I was brushing off the sand another cruiser came up to us and told us that the judges on the dock had awarded us with a 9.5 and that we now held the prize for the narliest dinghy landing of this Z-town season.

Now let’s move forward into the evening. All of the excitement of the earlier dinghy debacle was forgotten over dinner with friends. We had retrieved our laundry from the local Laundromat and we were preparing to head back to the boat. Again the breakwater was calm and we waded out into the surf to launch the dinghy. We must have pissed off Neptune or perhaps the lesser laundry gods because no sooner had we got the dinghy out into the water than a wave broke right over the bow of the dinghy filling it and completely swamping our once clean and pristinely folded laundry. At this point we just stood there laughing frozen with the giggles over our day’s tender trouble, when a second wave came along to provide us with an instant replay of the first dinghy swamping. Still giddy with the absurdity of it all we just climbed into our new salt water Jacuzzi and slogged off with our motor working overtime to push us along in our tub. Back at the boat we bailed the dink (cruiser slang for dinghy) and managed to get our waterlogged laundry on deck to await its return to the Laundromat.

We are now warm and dry on the boat, our laundry sits outside waiting for the ride back into town, and I am wondering why I share stories like this on our journal. I think it is because it is the silly stuff like today’s dinghy fiasco that truly illustrates the spirit of the cruising life. Each day is a random set of challenges and accomplishments and there is always something new to learn. Each cruiser has a hundred stories to share about the challenges but nobody wants to hear about the nine out of ten times that you have a perfect dinghy landing. So, if you are thinking of cruising the world in a small sailboat remember to practice your dinghy launches and landings and then you might have a slightly better than fair chance of staying dry some of the time.