Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What a difference a harbor makes.


Ahoy, Ahoy,

Well, I've moved the boat a few miles further north to a small town on the western shore of Baja called San Jose. It is about twenty minutes further north (by car) from Cabo San Lucas, and I'm staying at a a brand new marina called "Marina Los Cabos". In fact, it is still under construction and won't be finished for another two or three years, so there are only limited facilities here. They haven't finished installing the water or electric lines, but at one quarter the price of Cabo San Lucas (and ten times the pleasantry), it is still worth the money.

The harbor manager is Jim Elfers, author of "The Baja Bash", a book about sailing north up the coast of the Americas. It is extremely detailed, and provides excellent insight into what it takes to get "to the barn" as they call San Diego when going north. He has copies for sale in the marina office, where he will gladly autograph one for you, or you can get them on line at As an added treat, you will get to meet Claudia, his secretary, who is stunningly beautiful, charming, warm and very helpful, and the rest of his very nice, helpful staff. Would that all marina managers, harbor officials and government employees as nice, I'd have nothing to write about.

The harbor itself is just about as different from Cabo San Lucas as heaven from hell. There are no ugly American tourists, no jet skis, no ski boats pulling yahoos, no whores, no drunks, no throbbing music until 2AM. In fact, it is a peaceful, quiet, well protected harbor with a very pretty view. They dug the harbor out of the ground, effectively "made it from scratch" and although I think they should have made it even bigger, it's clear that it will be a very nice spot to stop when south of La Paz.

About the only down side (besides it not being complete) is the town's decision to install an "art" monument on the adjacent hill. Something that would put them on the map, so to speak. When San Francisco tried this we ended up with that "arrow through the heart" eyesore thing. Unfortunately, the guy that does all of Mexico's other bizarre bronze statues was back on his meds and therefore unable to come up with anything surreal enough to qualify, so the job went to the lowest bidder instead. The result is a cross shaped blackened metal super structure, made entirely of bronze (of course) that looks like something off the set of a Mad Max movie. The locals call it "the dagger in the soul". I call it "Soulless Frippery Masquerading As Art". Or, "Look Mom, I Learned To Weld!"

It is situated atop a highpoint of the town, visible for miles in every direction, especially from the marina, over which it looms. Looms in the sense of Lurch, the butler from the Adams Family. It is finished in a mat black, has strange appendages jutting out, and give new hope for Atheists everywhere. It really is quite appalling. In sunlight, it appears burnt out. At night, they light it with floodlights. That makes it even worse. Then it looks like a guard tower after the Dresden fire bombing. The cruisers joke that eventually it will have a neon "Modello" sign on it. I think that would actually be an improvement.

Other than that one particular drawback, I think this marina is quickly going to become the choice spot for fishermen and cruisers alike when heading south in Baja. It is really well laid out, will accommodate just about any sized boat, and is extremely well protected. I'd choose this place over any other Baja marina in a bad storm. It is easy to navigate into, lacks any really dangerous rocks or hidden gotchas, and once completed will be a wonderful alternative to the town of (last) resort I call "Cabo Sans Lucidity".

When I arrived at Marina Los Cabos they explained that all the currently built docks were full (they were busy installing water and electric to one of the few unoccupied docks) and that there wasn't an empty slip large enough for my catamaran. They directed me to the 100yard long fuel dock instead. I was told to park just behind "Attessa", a mega-yacht of unbelievable proportions. It was seven stories high, had a draft of over twenty five feet, the compulsory helicopter parked on the top, and a hot tub large enough for ten. It dwarfed over my boat. In fact, their tender (from the latin "ten-er" or "big bill", a word meaning enormous dinghy for expensive yacht) which was almost as large as my boat, could hold about twenty people comfortably. That is my boat there in the picture above, just behind Attessa. It dwarfs my boat. Their radar domes are as high as my mast. I used to think I had a big boat, but all guys do. Other cruisers would hassle me about buying such a large yacht all the time. Now I know I didn't. Talk about being a small fish in a big pond.

After I tied up I went up to the first mate and said "Okay, who do I complain to?" He smiled and said "What seems to be the matter?" I explained that since I'm usually getting shit for having the largest boat around, I wanted to give them some. He laughed and said they got that a lot.

While I was there, the owners and a few select guests arrived, and the ship (it ain't a boat if it has a tender) left harbor for La Paz. I would have been curious to look around inside, but my understanding is that tours of mega-yachts are harder to get than face time with the president. It is still one impressive boat, especially when seen up close. I'm not sure it's how I would have spent my money, but I admire the quality of the work and attention to detail. There was always three or four crew continuously working on the boat. I must have met at least a dozen of its staff, and I believe there were more. It probably costs more per year to just operate it than I will spend in my entire lifetime on sailing. Oh well, it ain't my money, but it ain't my problem either. I'd hate to have to fix that boat continually.

That night I walked across the street and had dinner at Tommy's Barefoot Cafe. While I was waiting for my food, I started chatting with the owner, who goes by the name T.J. He was a character with quite a colorful past, and had just opened the restaurant that week. His son was the cook, and T.J. managed the establishment. It was a great atmosphere and although they were just getting started, you could tell that this was going to be a fun place to hang out. While I was ordering, another cruiser walked in. His name was Skip, and he had dropped the hook right next to me when we were anchored off the beach in Cabo. He is also a machinist and welder and has done quite a lot of work for Atessa, and several other large ships in the area. We got to talking, had dinner together, and were eventually joined by T.J. as well. We swapped sea stories and tales of misadventure, wasted another perfectly good night, and had a great time doing it.

The next day I found an open spot further in the marina. It offered better protection, great neighbors (which means better security) and internet connectivity so I moved over there. Unfortunately, I've just discovered a slow leak in the port propeller shaft seal, so we are trying to figure out if we can get a part flown down here in any kind of reasonable time frame. It is a mechanical type seal, and is only dripping slightly, so it doesn't mean I couldn't leave without fixing it, but I'd rather get it fixed if I can. AnnMarie is running around town looking for the right part even as I write this. Naturally it is located in the bilge, and requires disconnecting the propeller shaft in order to fix it. The other side isn't leaking noticibly, but I've no doubt I'll be fixing that. Some fun, huh?

Last night I met my neighbors David, Edgar, and Ana on Slow Dance, a beautiful 80 foot charter boat for day sails and overnights. It was built in New Zealand, and is stunningly engineered. I think it could sail through a hurricane without noticing. The interior is gorgeous, spacious and their galley is larger than most apartments. They are just getting started in this marina, so if you happen to be in town and want to take a a ride on a fabulous boat with wonderful crew, check them out. They have been fantastically great neighbors, offering rides, help with mechanical issues and even taken me out to see a movie. The friendliness and generosity of the cruisers I've met never ceases to amaze me.

In the meantime I'm adding additional bilge pumps, a high water alarm, some other indicator lights, sealing hatches, etc. There are a lot of little items that need to be done before I'd feel comfortable setting out, but it should only be a few days time for me to get everything, as they say, ship shape. I've rented a car so I can run into town for parts when I need to, and got my cell phone working so I can call folks when I have to without spending precious satellite phone minutes. Even though there is so much work to do, and such a daunting task ahead, I find myself in much better spirits. I hadn't realized how much stress being around two other folks who were continually inebriated was creating for me. With the horrors of Cabo's "no holds barred tourist town idiocy" behind me, the previous crew's party/pass out/pout cycle broken, and the nagging doubts about their ability to stay sane and sober for the trip north removed, I feel much happier and the change has done wonders for my mood. I've even smiled a bit, though it would cheer me up no end if a few cruise ships full of fat, obnoxious, jet ski renting, pasty white Americans sank.

So, on that rather dour note, I will leave you all to whatever reading you should have been up to instead of wasting another perfectly good ten minutes scanning my blog. Surely you have better things to do with you time? I know I'm supposed to be fixing something or other. Well, it's back to the sea salt mines for me, and perhaps for you charter accountancy, or Java programming, or filing forms or whatever it is you do instead of boat repair.




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