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.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour


Greetings Land Lubbers!

Well, the saying in India was that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the heat. Given that my crew mates are both Englishmen, that makes me a mad dog. Now we still aren't really clear on how Robert Thorburn found out about our trip, or that we needed crew, but somehow he did. The best we could guess was that Robinson mentioned it to some folks he met in a bar, and they wrote it up on a wall in some hostel that Robert happened to be staying at in Leon. We got a note from the marina saying he had heard we wanted crew and would be interested in coming along.

Another more likely possibility is that some other cruiser, perhaps months earlier, had been looking for crew and put up flyers around Leon, because someone told Robert about having seen one, although he could never actually find any of the posters when he looked. A more ominous possibility is that Robinson already knew him, but didn't want to admit it because, lets face it, you get more than one Brit in a confined area and you get very dangerous levels of wit and sarcasm.

Now, having one rapier tongued Brit on board was a bit much, but having another join the crew would mean I was outnumbered. I was a bit apprehensive, so we asked him to come out and meet us at the marina, check out the boat while we checked him out, and then we'd make a decision. What showed up was a proper English lad. He was polite, well spoken, friendly, a bit naive and given his overly polite behavior, downright cute. He had been working for Frontier, a nature conservatory. His job was to set up turtle hatcheries, and to do surveys on bats, and anything else that came up. Unfortunately, the last few months of rains had flooded out most of the area, and his project was canceled for the next three months, so he was stuck in Nicaragua with nothing to do.

He had little prior ocean going experience, but he had grown up around boats and lakes (his dad was an avid sailor) and was upbeat, enthusiastic and energetic. We needed crew, he seemed like a good fit, so we invited him along. As his first job we made him clean the props. The only problem was his name. Three crew members named, one named Jodie Allan Robinson (went by Robinson or just Rob), myself (nickname Robb) and Robert (nickname guess what?) was going to get confusing. So we decided to play a practical joke on him by way of sus'ing out how easy it would be to get along with him. We decided to pretend not be able to remember his name, each time referring to him as Dave, Vance, Jerry, Hal, etc. We were interested in seeing how far this could go before he caught on.

He showed up a few days later, the same day I needed to go to the airport to pick up our latest crew member, Rain Hayes. I'd been emailing back and forth with her about the possibility of her coming along, at least until our first stop in Mexico, about six days away. She wasn't really sure until the last minute, but it was great to have more crew and although I'd only met her once or twice before, she was a good friend of my lawyer Michael B. (aka "Blackie), and he has excellent taste in friends (present company excepted) so I wasn't really worried about anyone getting along. Unbeknown to me, AnnMarie had told her about our practical joke on Robert before she boarded her flight down here.

The next day I left for the airport to pick her up, but padded my schedule by about two hours to allow for any road problems, head on car crashes, corrupt cops, or washed out bridges. Naturally, everything went smoothly, so I had three hours to kill before she would arrive. I checked emails, Skyped home, and munched on snacks at the Mercedes Hotel, just across from the airport. While sitting in the lobby yet another Englishman (they're really all over the place) sat down next to me, and we starting chatting about Nicaragua. Inevitably, as we asked about each other's reasons for being there, the question of employment came up. "Oh, I work for Lewmar." he said, "we made most of the hardware on your boat." It's funny how weirdly stratified the world is, but it keeps coming up that I meet people with very overlapping interests (I've now met a half dozen folks out cruising that live in the same marina as me) or have work/hobbies around sailing, especially related to what we are doing. We sat and talked about the boat for a bit, then I realized I needed to go across the street to find my newest crew mate.

Waiting outside for her I was surrounded by twenty or more taxi drivers all holding up signs with names on them. I grabbed a piece of paper, drew a cloud with little rain drops coming out of it and stood there waiting. When Rain walked out of the airport, she looked exhausted, didn't even notice me and walked straight past. She didn't even see my sign. I walked up along side her and held it in front of her face. She stopped, looked at me, then laughed. "You look tired" I said. "Yeah, it was a long flight, I didn't sleep much." I grabbed her bags and we headed off to the truck. On the way I explained our little practical joke. She turned and said "That is so funny, my real name is Robin." I look at her sideways, she laughs, and says, "Well, when AnnMarie told me about your joke, we both thought it would be great if I said that." Okay, right off I know she is going to fit right in.

We jumped in the truck and headed off for the marina, stopping only for dinner at a hotel/casino in Managua. Apparently airlines no longer bother providing a vegetarian option (these days you are lucky if you can get a seat with a cushion), so she spent the last fourteen hours living on a few snack bars she brought along. I'm not sure which is worse, being allergic to gluten, and having to avoid eating most foods because they make you sick, or choosing not to eat meat, and therefore not being able to eat what is available out of sheer will power. I don't know that I could keep up that kind of voluntary restriction, especially given how much I've come to love gray, extruded hamburgers. Now that I think about it, there probably isn't any meat in them anyway.

The trip back to the marina wasn't bad, except that we needed to go much slower. At night in the Nicaraguan country side it is normal for folks to lie down along the roadside and have little coffee clutches, or let their animals (pigs, cows, horses, mules) wander around the middle of the street. If you hit a horse going fifty miles per hour, no amount of pressure washing is going to hide that fact. So we crept along, almost rear-ending a donkey (insert joke here) but didn't get back to the boat until after midnight. The next morning she met Robinson and our most recent addition Vance...I mean Robert, sorry about that, I don't know why I can't get that right. Throughout the rest of the day we would refer to him as Bill, or Shawn, or Charlie. Each time he would smile politely, then said "Oh, um, it's Robert" in his delightful, oh so proper accent. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm terrible with names!" we'd all apologize, then immediately call him something different.

For the next two days, we all continued to call Robert any name except that. He never once got upset, and you could see he was a bit puzzled about it, but he was far too polite to say anything. This treatment would still be going on but eventually Rain said she thought we were hurting his feelings, so we came clean. He took it well, explaining that he just wrote it off to our all being "a bit slow". It was still pretty funny, and from that point on he kidded back without reserve. In fact, by the end of a week he was giving better than he got. It didn't take long for him to realize that polite conversation doesn't happen much on boats (at least not this one), and giving someone a ration of shit is the norm.

For instance, we somehow got started teasing Rain about her weight, especially her enormously fat ass. Now, Rain is a size zero, and has about as much body fat as a tree. You could hold her ass cheeks together with two fingers. Three days on the boat and Robert was suggesting that perhaps the three guys all sit on one side of the dinghy to compensate for Rain's ass being on the other side. On yet another occasion I quipped that he owed me $10.00 for explaining some obscure fact about sailing. He retorted by explaining (in the most proper and polite English accent) that he would roll the bill up and place it between the cheeks of his ass. I was welcome to extract it with my teeth. It was absolutely unexpected, like suddenly having a duck you've been taunting turn and begin to savage you. It might hurt, but you just stand there laughing. After a few more days he was as rude and sarcastic as a New Jersey bus driver. The transformation was amazing. I fear that by the time he gets home his family isn't going to recognize him.

So we've got four almost able bodied seaman aboard and are getting ready to set sail. I've been feeling like death warmed over, have been taking antibiotics for what might be the plague, and sleeping a lot. Robinson has stabbing pains in his right ear. Rain isn't feeling that well. It is ridiculously hot out, and we are getting very little accomplished each day. We'd hoped to leave on Friday, but it is looking more like Sunday. All the other cruisers have left the marina, and the internet has been down for the last week. Outside of the occasional satellite phone call to AnnMarie, we are stuck with each other. We've gone into town, done a bunch of shopping and are about as well provisioned as it is going to get, but accomplishing even the most mundane or simple tasks is an effort.

There are a million little details to take care of before we set sail, and hopefully we've covered most of them. I'd like to install the radar, as the further north we go the more we will need it, but right now we're too tired, sick, or busy to deal with it. I'm thinking we'll get to that once we arrive in Mexico. Robinson's ear ache has been getting worse, and Rain seems to be a bit under the weather as well. Not the most promising start, but we shoulder on.

Our next stop will be Hualtulco, which is about six hundred miles away, but we need to cross the dreaded Bay of Tehuantepec to get there. That means hugging the coast to avoid the treacherously strong winds that blow through there. Making sure everything is stowed away properly, and all the loose threads are tied down, will occupy us for the next day or two. Then we leave Nicaragua and head north.

Until then, fair winds and following seas!



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