Setting Sail Tomorrow

And not today because you never leave on a trip on a Friday in the sailing community. Today we learned a lot, some good things, some bad things. But I suppose learning is always good.

Tim and I went into town to get a few more items before we take off including some gasoline and oil to use our Honda generator, a few more food items, drinking water and some money.

Gary stayed behind on the boat to run the engine to repower up our batteries, which unfortunately took longer than we expected. Gary was able to track the progress on the charging cycle, so when we got back we had an amp hours lesson. We have to be very careful not to overuse our batteries. We will likely be a couple of power hogs onboard, but as long as we balance our usage out, it should be OK.

We also talked about maintaining the bottom of the boat. We will likely need to get some sort of diving gear, something simple and cheap if we can. That way Tim can go down and scrape the barnacles off the bottom of the boat and clean the rotor and propeller. It’s quite a job that will take several days once a month. Gary also said if Tim doesn’t mind that work, he could easily charge other cruisers a dollar a foot (our boat would be $35) for the service on their boat. It could give us a few more “cruising chips” here and there.

Some other things we learned were not so fun. Since we have been sitting here on a mooring at this little marina in Puerto Escandido we have been using up water and power, etc. We decided to fill up our water tanks and our “jerry cans” with diesel before we take off. We sat at the dock filling our water tanks. We notice it seems to be taking a long time to fill up our port side tank. We begin to wonder how big it really is and joke about it filling our boat. Tim gets down inside the boat and starts looking and listening for leaks inside. And there it was. Filling up our bilge, the lower belly of the boat. That is what the bilge is for – catching leaks, but we were just pouring water into it. So we found out two VERY important things from this: our water tank has a pretty big leak, and our automatic bilge pump to remove the water, doesn’t work. Interesting. Well the pump does work if you turn it on, but not automatically if there is a leak. This will have to be fixed immediately when we get to La Paz, and based on the amount of water we were using on board, I would say we will want to fix our water tank too. What is that saying… BOAT stands for Break Out Another Thousand. Yup, we are experiencing a bit of that. But we are very happy to have figured these problems out right away, especially while Gary is on board to tell us what to do.

I can’t imagine ever trying to start this life at sea with no help or guidance. You would have to have a captain Ron or ease into the whole idea for years, which I suppose is the more practical way of going about this.

Getting Groceries (aka Provisioning)

After our first night on the boat eating nothing for dinner the night before and nothing for breakfast, we had planned to meet with the sellers Doug and Ann so they could run through some key items on the boat with us, like no one can except the previous owners. They were prompt on time of arrival which was at 8:30 a.m. This was great, except for the fact we hadn’t really planned for eating at all. We went through all the systems and all the little quirks with the boat very thoroughly. Come 1 p.m., we were both about ready to fall over. Good thing I wrote down what Ann said because I could barely retain any of it.

When they left we unloaded all of the items from our car we had brought down for it and finally got some water. We had two dinghy loads of stuff that had to go from car to dinghy to cockpit to cabin. Then back for more. As Gary has said, “No task is simple when on a boat.”

That could not be more true than when it comes to provisioning. I really have my work cut out for me here. I have never cooked for more that 4 people (2 on the regular) and not stocked up in the store for longer than one week usually. We attempted to provision the boat for the first time today. We went into town, about 15 mins away, and hit up a small store for the cheaper prices on items we wanted. We got cans of everything we could and avocados galore. A few odds and ends including muratic acid for the toilet (more on that later). Then we went down the road to the larger supermercado for the items we couldn’t find elsewhere. Pretty much shopping as normal… only the challenge begins when you get back to the marina and have to put all of these items and three people into the dinghy. Not fun! We stacked it all in and all piled on. It wouldn’t be a huge deal, but today the winds are in excess of 15 miles per hour. That is a lot on a tiny boat full of crap. We crashed into a few waves along the way, soaking Gary, Tim and several bags onboard. Gary showed us how to unload everything, letting us in on the fact that salt water doesnt really every dry out here, so we can NEVER let salty, wet items into the cabin. Oh my. What a fun game. let’s go live in a house surrounded by this stuff you can never let inside the house. Anyway, so we wipe everything down before taking it into the cabin and then stock the fridge and pantry the best we can. Staying organized in a small space is key to making your space feel bigger.

The winds are way to strong today and predicted to be the same tomorrow, so we will wait for the weather to tell us when to go.

Arriving in Puerto Escandido

We made it to our destination! All the traveling to get here went pretty much as planned. We left Durango as early as possible and made it to our friend Gary’s in Copala a bit early. We gained an hour and didn’t realize it, so that really helped in the long run. We were able to tour his wonderful little home with the best view in Copala. We headed down to Mazatlan to catch the ferry. We were on the ferry for 18 hours including loading and unloading. It took a little getting used to the motion, but we were so tired from all the traveling that we just crashed. We napped for a couple hours, woke up for a couple more and went back to sleep. The ferry was nothing like the pictures online. I don’t know why I thought it would be… This is Mexico. It was a very small everywhere. There was a tiny cafeteria and “lounge” area with a ton of small recliners for people to sleep who did not have a cabin. Luckily we got a cabin. It wasn’t much to speak of, but it had a door, 3 tiny beds and a sink.

When we arrived in La Paz we and the car had to endure some light searching before we headed out to visit Shelly and Mike with La Paz yachts. They squared away some paperwork for us and let the sellers, Doug and Ann, know we were heading that way. We took a little longer than we should for lunch and visiting, so we knew we would be to our boat after sunset. A big no-no in Mexico. Tim “drove us into the land of no return” into the mountains in the dark. Although it wasn’t as bad as I expected like everything else down here.

We got to the dock to find the ponga (little boat) to take us out to the boat for our first night on it. We were driving around and around and the man began flashing his big spotlight on every boat to see which one we were to board, and none of them were it! I was thinking “Oh great it was stolen or floated away before we could get here! Of course I am a bit dramatic. We found it, boarded it and all was fine. Gary showed us how to turn on the lights. we poked around with what we could in the dark before we were so tired. Gary slept in the cockpit (outside near the wheel), which is a common practice for cruisers on a warm night. Tim slept on top of the cabin, a little less common, but had more breeze to keep cool, and I slept in the V-berth with the fan on blast. It was a pretty decent night of sleep except for my dream that we were just about to hit the trimaran in front of us.

Pictures are on their way… it is tough to get enough service to publish images.

In Transit

We hugged our families goodbye on Saturday with a few tears from our heartfelt mothers and hit the road. I had been rather emotional about leaving over the past week – as you saw in my last couple posts – but for some reason I could only think happy thoughts on Saturday when we left. I feel like everything will be fun, and it will seem like we just left when we get back. I don’t know how long we will be gone, but I think it will seem short. It is merely a droplet of time in a lifetime.

The drive on Saturday was actually a little leisurely because we only wanted to drive to the border and stay on the Texas side. We were told by several experienced individuals not to drive at night in Mexico, so we planned to cross the border at dawn. So Saturday morning we had a delicious breakfast with Tim’s parents and headed down to meet up with my family in Austin for a little bon voyage lunch. Then, only 3 more hours and we made it to Eagle Pass – a recommended crossing town.

This morning we awoke at 6:30 a.m. and we on the road by 7 a.m. We crossed into Piedras Negras. We were not quite sure what to expect at the border because we have a new car (traded in the good ol’ Honda coupe for a Toyota 4 Runner to fit all our stuff) loaded down with crap. I had no idea if they would question why we were driving that far or how long we were going to be in the country or possibly go through every bag of stuff we have. NONE of that happened. They did not even look at our passports. We were kinda shocked. It seemed way too easy. So we headed on thinking – awesome! About one hour into the country we come across a checkpoint. I was thinking it was similar to the other ones we had gone through on our last trip where they poke around your stuff and send you on your way. Well, I was wrong. This is actually where they want all of your documentation and information about your trip. We drive up and are directed to a man at a station where it looks like he is about to look through everything we own. “Oh boy, this is gonna take a while,” I’m thinking. He asks us if we have our permits in broken English. I, in broken Spanish, offer up our passports with our Mexican Visas inside. No, no, no – for the car. hum…

These are close to his actual words, “I hope you understand me when I say this. Without this permit this car now belongs to me.”

Stomach drops. Excuse me? You mean you are going to take this car from us right now, and I will have to walk back to my home country so I can call my family.

Ok, it wasn’t that serious because he followed that with, “I will let you turn around and go back to get the proper permit for this car.”

As it turns out, the imigration and permit office was right behind us, we just didn’t know we were supposed to go there first (no signage, of course). We were able to get the proper permits for the car and check into the country with little hang ups. It took about an hour to get it all taken care of. We went back through the checkpoint and spoke with the same man who was happy to see we were keeping our car. He looked in the back seat and didn’t touch anything before he waved us on through.

The rest of the trip here to Durango was fairly uneventful. We made pretty good time and stopped only a couple times for gas and pesos. We did get a bit turned around in Torreon (a city we passed through) for a while.

Now it it time to kick back and watch the World Series en espanol before we wake up early and continue our trip to the Luckiest. Next stop: Copala to pick up (and finally meet) our sailing mentor and friend Gary!

 

One of the Small towns we went through. The mountains are the backdrop.

 

We made it! At Los Arcos Hotel in Durango, mx


Almost

Wow, leaving is actually upon us now, and I could not have anticipated these feelings. I am overwhelmed in all forms: physically with packing and moving, mentally with all our tasks to accomplish and emotionally with the thought of telling all the people I love and this place goodbye.

I do ok with the day-to-day activities and chores. As long as I can check it off my list I don’t seem to have a problem with it. Visas- check, storage unit- check, garage sale- check, packing the house- check. All the while these items I’m checking off are propelling me toward leaving. When I stop and think about being gone or telling any particular person goodbye for a while, tears well up in my eyes. Then to keep myself together I go back to my checklist. Today I realized, “oh my, what we are doing is a little crazy… Hum.” oh well we have come this far, might as well keep going.

We are heading to dinner with Tim’s parent’s house to celebrate his brother’s birthday. It’s nice to take a break and enjoy company, just like it was on Saturday night with our dear friends.

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Last Week Here

As I drive around the metroplex running familiar errands in these familiar places I can’t help but feel nostalgic about it all. This could be the last time I run to the Dillard’s at the Parks Mall for a little cocktail dress. Something I have done well over 100 times in my life but somehow today, on this Tuesday before I leave the country for an undetermined amount of time, it makes me want to cry a little.

I know I will be back here, if not to live, to visit, but I know even more that I have a drive to see and do things that are new. Particularly for traveling places I haven’t been before. I wonder what gives me this drive? Who gets this drive and why do others not have it? I am driven to go out of this country and see how other people live. I have had this drive for some time. I studied Spanish in Spain and I think it might have sealed the deal then. It might be like tattoos… Once you get a taste of travel there is no going back and you will forever be looking for something else to tattoo on yourself. Before you know it you have an armsleeve of passport stamps, and where did all the time go? What makes this life desirable to some and scary to others? I feel a deep burning in my gut that says if I don’t go now, I will forever lose this dream. Despite my sadness for leave my friends and family and all that is familiar to me – even the Parks Mall – this seeking will not go away. Maybe it will one day, but then I hope to show my children the world. A perspective on life that I am just barely beginning to taste. I’m certain these next few years will carve out mine and Tim’s views and beliefs about the world we are shown. Everything we know about our world now is about to change. We are on the cusp of something very exciting and nerve wracking.

Here we go.