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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quick Robin, to the "Batwing" Mobile!


Hey All,

We've been hanging out a lot with Ron & Diane on "Batwing". Diane is a tall, athletic woman with a deep tan and a bright smile. She seems quite poised and refined along side her husband Ron, who is about sixty, looks maybe late forties, and has the exuberance, humor and enthusiasm of someone just entering puberty. He loves to kid, tease and harass everyone, and will clown about without the slightest reserve, which usually results in the rest of us groaning at his antics, and Diane rolling her eyes. But, he is disarmingly charming, makes friends everywhere we go, has become the self appointed mayor of the marina and both Diane and he have spent a significant amount of their time getting to know many of the marina workers, offering them classes in English andhelping out where ever they can.

I drew this picture of them, using the above photo as a guide, and gave it to them when they left. Diane is an excellent artist in her own right and does beautiful water color postcards. It is amazing the level of talent we've come across among the folks we've met while cruising.

They are both delightful folks to be parked next to and consummate low budget sailors, giving us many tips about the best deals in town, best routes, cheapest gas, etc. While I really appreciate all the information and help, I don't think Ron quite approves of my approach to sailing. He has almost no electronics (and little expertise about it), spends almost no money unless it is absolutely necessary and makes everything last as long as possible. When I showed up he was amazed at the gear I had on board, the level of technology I wanted to make part of my sailing life, and the size and cost of my boat. We've had many discussions about our different approaches, and while I very much admire their approach, and it does work well for them, it would never work for me. I'm not a sailor for the love of sailing, or a traveler willing to forgo the comforts of home. I like having lots of gear. They don't. To each his own, but we love teasing each other about it, and it makes for a constant low grade sniping. I call him a failed Socialist; he calls me a raping Capitalist, we both make cutting remarks about the other and we enjoy every minute of it.

They been sailing the last few years on a "Junk Rigged" boat called Batwing. Now, junk rigged may sound like it has torn sails, or a duct taped mast and fouled lines (which, in this case isn't too far from the truth), but it is actually a style of sail rigging that eliminates the
need for guy wires (the forestay, backstay, shrouds, etc.) that normally attach the mast to the boat. This approach has lots of advantages, which Ron will recite for you continuously and without cessation. He is an evangelist for it, and knows more about it than anyone I've ever met. He will rattle on about its origins (it dates back to ancient China, as does Ron), its current state of technology and the various uses on sailing vessels, dingies, kayaks, canoes and probably a skateboard. Within minutes of meeting them, he was showing me vast amounts of documentation he had collected over the years. When Robinson came aboard last week it wasn't long before Ron was trying to make another convert. Here is a picture of him preaching to us about the wonders of a junk rig. I'm just surprised he doesn't have a T-shirt that says "Ask me about my junk rig", but on second thought, that might not parse quite the way its intended.

What is most amusing though, is that despite their intention to go low tech, they still have a strong dependence on some technologies such as GPS, SSB Radio, RADAR and their laptop. In the short time I've been with them, they've had problems with almost all of it. In some cases, I could fix what was wrong, but their low budget approach means that their gear is usually very old, rusted, and in desperate need of replacing. A case in point was their SSB Radio, which was made during the last world war, and was never intended for marine use. And it didn't work. No matter how I tried, I just couldn't convince Ron that it made sense to get a new, modern one. Instead they rely on a small, portable radio to receive reports, but they can't transmit a message except on VHS, which is only good for line of sight. I guess for them this is okay, they really enjoy the aesthetic of being "out of touch", but in the mean time, they are carting around about twenty pounds of extra junk. To each his own, but so far, I'm pretty happy with my approach.

On the matter of communications, we've had a few problems using the local infrastructure. Nicaragua is a temperamental country where power is concerned. There is almost always a black out during weekdays, and getting electricity is sporadically available during evenings and weekends. That coupled with a pretty bad internet service provider at the marina meant that we could hardly ever get email or download weather data. The HAM/SSB radio has only been marginally useful at the dock(they don't work well within harbors or near other tall masts, trees or buildings) so I've had to rely on my Motorola Satellite Phone, which has worked flawlessly. Of course, the downside is that it is expensive, but getting to say hello to AnnMarie and let her know I'm still alive is more than worth it. We met another couple, Jeff & Stephanie on "Musetta" who had a different brand of SatPhone, I believe it was called Global Star, and it has never worked for them and been a huge disappointment. This is exactly the same experience that most of the West Marine customers I met had. If you decide to get one, make sure its the Motorola version .

Well, that's all for now. I have crew coming in soon, and need to get this boat cleaned up a bit. Hope all is well back home and I look forward to seeing everyone shortly.




1 comment:

Batwing said...

Hey! WE are in Puntarenas with great email!!! Finally saw your blog--great job--we just don't have much time for such things. Yours is fun and the post about us is fun. We had a good laugh and fond reminisces. sp???
Anyway hope all is going well.
love you guys
Diane and Ron