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.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blood, Sweat & Mud


Hello from Puesta Del Sol,

Well, it has been an eventful day. It has finally stopped raining enough for us to chance driving the dirt road out of the marina. Ron, Diane and I managed to get the little rental car out Puesta Del Sol, but it was dicey to say the least. There was a tractor involved, lots of mud, a Nicaraguan guy who did even more horrible things to it getting it through the mud puddle, but we made it out. That poor car looked like a Baja road race entry by the time we got to the main road. In addition I'd managed to rip off all four wheel well covers, and the skid plate. I was really worried about bringing it back to the rental agency in that condition. On the way into town Diane noticed a car washing service, so we stopped and cleaned off the inches of caked on mud. I even asked that he clean inside the engine compartment and underneath the drive train. It cost two dollars and thirty cents, and may have saved me several thousand in rental charges. It was amazing how good it looked. If ever there was an item you need to own in these parts, it was a pressure washer...I'm having AnnMarie bring one down for the boat.

When we got to Chinadega we drove around a bit before we found the rental place, but they barely glanced at our clean, shiny car. He did check under the hood, but never said a word about any missing parts, which, as far as I'm concerned, weren't there when I rented the car. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. We discovered that they didn't have any 4x4's so we ended up getting one from another place, a Nissan 4x4, four door white pickup truck, with A/C!! If ever you are in a third world country, always, always, always rent the four wheel drive pick up truck. Trust me. I was very worried that I'd have to pick AnnMarie up from the airport in that little car, and knowing I've got the truck has really put my mind at ease.

We then ran a bunch of errands in town (the mean decibel level in town is about 130db) and with our ears ringing, we finished at about sundown. We headed back and were stopped on the main road by a large bulldozer blocking the road. We waited for about an hour. Suddenly we were hit from behind. Well, I looked quickly in the rear view mirror, but the truck behind us was still ten feet away. We jumped out and looked around the vehicle thinking that something must have fallen on us. Nothing was amiss. Then we noticed everyone else looking around-- at first we thought "earthquake", but there were no aftershocks. Eventually, we realized that it was an explosion set off by the road crews. Not long after that we were on our way again, but it was dark.

As we drove back, we almost ran over a stoned-out teenager walking along the middle of the road in the dark. He was pretty far gone and although we stopped and yelled at him, he was so out of it he didn't understand or particularly care. It was pretty close, and scary, (no harm, no foul) but in Nicaragua people die on the road all the time. Just in the short time I've been here I've seen several recently wrecked vehicles along the road. And some of them were pretty bad, including two trucks that hit head on, clipping each other along the drivers' sides. They must both have been going over seventy miles per hour to have managed the destruction that resulted. Both cabs had their driver quarter panels (including the wheel assembly) sheered back well past the driver's seat. I doubt anyone survived it. I've seen taxis, buses, and cars all similarly crashed. Life is cheap down here.

Eventually, we got back to the gravel road leading into the marina and the mud patches along the way. Most spots were better, but we almost got stuck at one point; thankfully we had four wheel drive and could muscle through. We were making jokes about how funny it would be if we got stuck in the truck, but it almost happened. Then we came to the worst spot (about 600 yards from the end) that was two feet thick mud. There were several pickup trucks and vans parked on the road, and plopped down in the center of the road was a giant yellow school bus, buried up to its ankles in mud. The moron driver thought he could get it through. There were about twenty people waiting around. After about forty five minutes, the marina tractor showed up and barely managed to pull it out, but that is pretty typical of the attitudes towards driving down here. Folks attempt things that no sane person would ever try.

Once the bus had been pulled clear, we watched as a few other vehicles try to go through, but it was clear that this part of the road was still pretty wet with deep mud. Everyone was going slowly but ultimately getting through it. The problem was that the mud was so thick (several feet deep) that if you stopped for any reason you would just slowly sink down into it. Most folks were trying to get over it by going slowly, because there were also very large rocks and boulders in the road and you could smack up your undercarriage on one if you weren't careful. I had a rental and got the full insurance, so I gunned it and took the strip at about thirty miles an hour. It scared the shit out of Ron & Diane, but got through no problemo!

It is frustrating because this stretch of road really should be better cared for. There are plans to pave it within the year, and what is now a several hour drive out of the marina to the main road will take maybe twenty minutes. In the meantime, I think their motto here should be "Nicaragua! Come for the rain, stay for the mud!" Well, that's enough Cal Trans talk for one day. Hope everyone is well and keeping to the pavements.




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