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.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thar She Blows!


Whales, Captain! Whales off the starboard bow!!

We are just approaching the lighthouse south of the point and saw blow spouts off our bow. A sleek pod of Humpback whales, perhaps eight or more, were working their way across our path. We were amazed and excited, and very lucky to have seen them this early in the season.

We slowed our speed and grabbed our cameras, each of us clicking away as they got within thirty yards of our boat. Robert snapped a beautiful shot of a tail clearing the water, and Robinson snagged the shot of two breaching together. We could hear the slap as its tail hit the water, and the pop and swish of their lungs as they exhaled, blowing water ten feet into the air. It was a rare sight and one many folks pay considerable amounts of money to witness.

We slowed to a stop, and watched for several minutes as as they swam past, going off to whatever it is that preoccupies Humpback enough to cause them to swim thousands of miles at a time. According to the folks in P.V., this is where they mate, the Sea of Cortez being a sort of a "Club Med" for whales, where singles meet and greet. I'm not surprised at all, given what the turtles have been getting up to. I can only imagine why the dolphins are grinning so much. Maybe P.V. is a "get lucky" kind of place, I know the crew is looking forward to getting here, and AnnMarie is scheduled to meet me here this weekend!

We rounded the cape just as the winds and sea started to pick up, but as we head into the bay we got further and further out of the Northerlies and things started to calm down. We were all a bit anxious to get onto land, as we'd been bashing up the coast for longer than was comfortable, and we were all looking forward to a quiet berth and a good meal. Unfortunately, we were still several hours away from Marina Puerto Vallarta, and the time seemed to drag on as we approached.

The bay was flat, the winds were light and it was very sunny and bright as we approached the entrance to the marina. There is a long and narrow channel you follow to get into this marina, with numerous docks and boats at anchor along the way. We pulled in two a large circular marina with docks going off in all directions. We couldn't figure out where to go, so we tied up to one of the vacant end ties (the furthest most part of the dock that faces the water) and walked around looking for the harbor office.

It was three o'clock, and it was closed for siesta until four. We sat down at a near by restaurant and relaxed over burgers and fries. They weren't very good burgers, nor fries, but after Nicaragua, they tasted great. The entire harbor is ringed with tall condos, with store fronts opening out on to the sidewalk that runs around the water's edge. We waited until the office reopened, then asked about a slip. The woman who worked in the office was, as are most of the Mexican women down here, quite attractive. She smiled warmly at Robinson, who did all the talking.

They had a vacancy large enough for our catamaran, which was actually two slips next to each other, over at M dock. We motored over there, and as we negotiated our way in, noticed some folks sitting out on their boat, two slips over, called "Fire Escape". "You folks need a hand?" they asked. "Sure thing!" we yelled back, and they dashed over to take a line as we backed Triton into the slip. Their names were Randy and Margan, and they have just started their cruising adventure on their Island Packet. Randy just retired from the Canadian fire services, and Margan was an avid bicyclist from Colorado, and were traveling with Randy's ten year old son Mitchell, and their dog.

We were then joined by Joe from "Ziagara Due", a spectacularly pretty stink pot (we don't hold it against him) as well. Everyone pitched in, without the slightest hesitation. They offered advice on where to find things, rides into town, and cold beers for our arrival. Not what you'd expect from strangers back home, but it is typical of the cruising community.

We thanked them for all their help, and they invited us to a dock party that was happening later that day. Apparently once a week or so, Scott on Christina, a spacious DownEaster 38, drags out his deep fryer, and everyone brings some beer and fish, or potatoes, or whatever they'd like battered, and hangs out to chat.

We brought some watermelon that needed eating, and as the sun went down we got to meet our new neighbors. It was a delightful way to arrive and our spirits were much improved for the experience.

I have to admit I'm always surprised at how tight the sailing community is, especially in foreign ports. I guess I shouldn't be, but we've had nothing be great hospitality since we got here. I'm yet to meet anyone, regardless of the price of their boat, who hasn't been outgoing, cheerful and friendly. You may not hang out with them, but we just haven't run into many folks with their nose in the air.

The next day, Joe graciously offered to drive us to the Port Captain's office (which was only a block away) and the supermarket. We checked in (again taking less than ten minutes) and there were no fees or other complications. Mexico has really improved its cruising rules and I believe it will greatly encourage more tourists to discover what an amazing and beautiful country it is. Maybe that isn't a good thing, as more Americans means more American stores (there is a Walmart within a few blocks) and it probably means less diversification, but in a global market I think this kind of change is inevitable.

The supermarket was no different than any you'd find in California, with the exception that there were far less yuppies looking for dates, everything was spelled wrong, and they sold Cactus in the vegetable isle. The check out baggers were all wearing red Santa hats, which, coupled with the bright green trim on the checkout counters, added an odd, almost surreal holiday effect. Especially since it was about ninety degrees out. "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas" kept running through my head.

We bought several shopping carts worth of food, seltzer and octopus, loaded them into Joe's car and headed back to the boat. It took several trips to get everything aboard, and put away, but eventually we got settled in and could relax. I spoke with AnnMarie on the SatPhone the night before and made sure she was on track to meet us here. She was bringing down two sacks full of equipment and food, and the SailRite sewing machine. We had ripped the jib and trampoline coming up the coast and would need it to repair them.

I went to pick her up on Friday at the airport. It was less than five blocks away and the taxi ride there cost four dollars. I waited no more than ten minutes for her to clear customs, and there were no problems getting in. Getting a taxi back out was quite different. They wanted over twenty dollars. We argued with them, but they have a captured market and its a racket. We grabbed our stuff and lugged it a block away, and paid six bucks to take us back. Still a ripoff, but we didn't want to keep dragging a heavy sewing machine any further.

It was wonderful seeing her, and we spent most of the next three days not seeing the sights, not experiencing P.V. and not getting out of bed. Neither of us felt at all deprived by this. She didn't even go swimming. About the most touristy thing we did was walk along the sidewalk and take a picture of what is either a marina repair man or a lizard. It is hard to tell because they both move at about the same pace. I think its a lizard, because the repair men don't seem to have opposable thumbs.

We did go for dinner on Saturday evening with both Robs, Randy & Margan, and Erik, an American who has been traveling for a bit through Mexico and picking up work where ever he can. We've eaten at a few of the restaurants along the esplanade, but our favorite is a place quite close to our slip, where their specialty is octopus. You would think I'd eventually grow tired of it, but it remains my favorite comfort food. Afterward Randy, Margan, AnnMarie and I went for drinks at the lighthouse, the tall circular building that overlooks the entire marina. P.V. doesn't really have that great a skyline, but we had a really nice time chatting and watching the boats. Later that night AnnMarie and I sat on Triton and cuddled. It was a beautiful, romantic night, and we held each other and snuggled. Life is good.

Ann left on Sunday afternoon, it was much too brief a stay, but she needed to get back to work. That evening Robinson, Robert and I sewed the sail and the tramp. The machine worked beautifully and I was amazed at how effortless it was to repair everything. I only wish I'd brought this down from the very beginning. As it was, Ann had a hell of a time lugging it around the various airports, and it would probably have been damaged or "lost" if we'd shipped it, but it's great to have now.

Tomorrow is my fiftieth birthday, which I'm not looking forward to and hoping to ignore. Time seems to have sped up, and I find myself looking in the mirror at my father and wondering how I managed to live this long. I've certainly had a great time so far, and will do my best to continue in that vein or die trying.

Until then, I wish everyone a happy holiday season and hope to see you all by next year!




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