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!

You can click
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, October 23, 2007

Looking for the Heart of Satruday Night


Hello Again,

Robinson (the bloke we met in the San Blas Islands and who came with us on the last leg) has arrived from the states, looking relaxed and as dapper as ever. He is quite the charming ladies man and has no problem finding friends wherever he goes. He is actually very photogenic, even better looking in person, but I've thrown this shot in just to make up for all the compromising photos he's taken of me. Here's one of him doing his best "Bill Bixby" imitation.

Although he hails from Manchester, England, (which makes him a Manchurian) he is so tan that he looks Latin. Given his proficiency with Spanish we've taken to calling him The Mexican. He looks Mexican. He often dresses like a local. And he is good at manual labor and works cheap. Natives are often surprised when they hear his accent. They never believe he is English...or Chinese!

His abilities as an interpreter have turned out to be a real asset when dealing with the various officials and merchants. Most of my conversations in Spanish are of the "Me Talk Pretty One Day" variety, so anything more complicated than saying hello or ordering French Fries usually requires his assistance. I make one attempt, just for the pure joy of watching the other person's expression as I mangle their language. Invariably the official/merchant/waiter/whatever is amazed by my approach to communications, which involve about ten actual words of Spanish, significant amounts of pointing and gesturing, and a completely unjustified look of hopefulness on my face.

After several minutes of this Robinson usually wanders over and explains that I'm really quite harmless and to not worry about the drooling. Their conversations usually consist of him explaining whatever it is I'm trying to convey, then a brief discussion about the cost (there is always a charge, no matter what it is) then a closing moment where the official, merchant, waiter smiles at him and says something slightly condescending in Spanish. He then shrugs, as if to say "what can I say, he's the captain, even if he is a bit retarded" and smiles. I usually just stand there and look stupid. It's what I'm best at.

We've been working on the boat, trying to get it ready for sailing. This has included putting up the solar panels, fixing the windlass controls, checking out the engines, rigging, etc., and cleaning the bottom of the boat. For this we hired the local divers that work for the marina. They showed up with the oldest compressor I've ever seen, completely rusted, and patched together. One problem with it was that there was no exhaust pipe, and the air intake pipe was broken off. It was located just below the exhaust manifold. This meant that the exhaust gas from the engine was being sucked back into the air being supplied to the divers, which is a life threateningly dangerous setup.

I spoke to the marina about it, and their solution was to add a piece of exhaust pipe instead of doing anything about the intake, which meant that even more of the exhaust gases would make it to the intake. This probably accounts for turned out to be a complete waste of money on getting the bottom cleaned. They didn't scrape anything below about three feet deep (I guess figuring we wouldn't be checking any deeper than that) and left the keels ridge lines (the most important part to get clean) with barnacles on them. They did an even worse job on Ron & Diane's boat Batwing, the day before, using a metal scraper on their fiberglass hull, removing a lot of their brand new bottom paint. Having seen the job they did on Batwing, I told them not to touch the props, I didn't want to chance having them screw up something that important.

We "shocked" the water tanks, adding a strong dose of Clorox bleach, letting it flow through the entire boat's plumbing, then flushing it out. The water has a bit of the swimming pool taste to it, but at least it isn't contaminated. The water in Nicaragua is not always safe to drink. We just found out that the area has been suffering from an outbreak of Leptosporosa. About thirty people have died from it already. You get it from contact with water, food or mud that has been contaminated with feces of certain animals. The symptoms are flu like, with muscle aches, fever and headache. That was a wonderful thing to discover after we'd spent that much time walking through the mud getting to and from the marina. Oh, and I've been feeling like dog shit ever since I got here. Cold, flu, muscle aches, headache.

Wonderful, it could be that I'm dying of the plague, or I might just have a cold. To be on the safe side (and on the advice of some medical pros) I've decided to treat for plague. Fortunately, Nicaragua has no restrictions on buying antibiotics over the counter, so I went in and bought enough to treat everyone on board. Robinson was having problems with an ear infection (probably from going in the water) so we got drugs to treat that as well. We are both feeling under the weather, and finding the enthusiasm to work on things like the radar, or cleaning the props is difficult. I'm also a bit disheartened because several of the folks who had originally said they would like to join us have had to since back out. This means it will only be the two of us going through the Tehautepecs, which is a difficult place to sail through.

The other thing that is getting me down is the lack of good food. I've been spoiled by the S.F. bay's plethora of great restaurants, AnnMarie's great cooking, and an abundance of healthy, cheap and most importantly, varied food. Down here there isn't much to eat, and what there is, is always the same. I can get rice and beans with chicken at Juan's place, or I can have the cheese burger and fries at the marina restaurant. Now that wasn't bad at all when we were in Shelter Bay, where the meat was grown for the U.S. market, but in Nicaragua, good beef (or fresh vegetables, or plump organic chicken) is unknown. When you picture a cheese burger, no doubt you have something thick, juicy and freshly made in mind. Ah, I bet you can even hear the sizzle. In Puesta Del Sol, this means a gray, square patty sliced off the end of an extruded block of meat that was packaged during the second world war, and covered with a plasticine slice of Velveeta. Even after several days at sea, you quickly get tired of gray burgers. If you are eating out, order a cheese burger and think of me.

Oh well, nothing for it but to keep on keeping on. We seem to have changed seasons now. It is no longer raining constantly. It is mostly hot, sunny and humid. We spend a lot of time in the pool, and even more time just lying still. When we get bored we go over to Batwing and give Ron a hard time. It may not be the Heart of Saturday Night, but it still beats life in the fast cube. Besides, AnnMarie will be arriving in the next few days! Not only does that mean great sex, but we can stop eating gray burgers for a few days as well.

I hope all is well back home and your days are more productive than ours!




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