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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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cabo San Lucas, Dante's Bad Dream.


Dear Readers,

The following is my less than positive review of Cabo San Lucas. As a tourist destination, it has set new lows. In fact, you'd have to get a shovel and dig down further just to find the bottom of the low this place set. We arrived here on the 30th, just as the sun was setting, passed by the famous rock arch just at the tip of Cabo, and pulled into the marina fuel dock. We'd tried to raise the marina staff by radio as we were coming in, but they never responded, apparently there is something wrong with our VHF, but we tied up at the fuel dock, found a security guard and he radioed over and got us a slip.

We motored into the marina and tied up on an end tie. That was our first mistake. We were happy to be on a dock again, and there were places to eat within twenty yards of the dock gate. We were tired, needed a shower and some solid ground after being that long on the boat. We went out to dinner and had an absolutely reasonable meal but paid four hundred dollars for it. Yes, that was four hundred dollars for what was maybe a two hundred dollar meal at a great restaurant in Berkeley, but without the really great food. Okay, its almost New Year, we knew it was a tourist town, what the fuck, let's celebrate. Then we started looking around. That was our second mistake.

Forget what you've heard about fire and brimstone. Ignore those warnings of eternal suffering. Blow a kiss to Satan and wish him the best, he's last year's news. Hell has been outdone, and it surpasses anything in any of Dante's seven circles. Worse still, if anyone was going to do it, you guessed it, it was done by us, America, the Great Satan, with the help of our Mexican cousins. This place is everything that is wrong with America and Mexico combined, but compressed into about two square miles.

Yes folks, step right up to Dante's All Night Eighth Circle Special Reserve Takeaway Pit Of Despair [All The Ennui You Can Eat!!], and abandon all hope. There is no place on earth I have been to that compares with the horror that is Cabo San Lucas. I have been here four days, and I've only smiled once, and that was only because a fourteen year old drunk Oklahoman jet skier crashed into an extremely overweight Louisianan para-sailer's tow boat, cutting the line and crashing him onto the stern of a glass bottom boat loaded with cigar touting Texans, sinking all aboard, but not before first careening into a Floridian fishing boat, which hit a cruise ship unloading Californians and burst into flames. Ah, that was a moment I will cherish for a long time.

"But no!" I hear you cry, "Hell is God's own punishment, nothing could be worse!" Gentle reader, sitting there in your comfy chair perusing your computer screen, do not be fooled. Oh, sure Perdition might have demons, and pits of burning tar, and souls roasting on a spit; but Cabo has that on Tuesdays during the off season, except there is a cover charge. And unlike Cabo San Lucas, Hell has class. Say what you want, but Lucifer knows a thing or two about color schemes. Search all through hell and you won't find a single fallen angel who is overweight, pasty white and wearing pink Bermuda shorts, black nylon socks, gray loafers and a T-shirt that says "I got laid at CaboWabo".

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. In fact, there is no hope. At least in Hell you know that there is the slight possibility that God will intervene on your behalf. Not even God would bother with Cabo. It's as if the producers of "Married With Children" were allowed to build an entire theme park and got the Jerry Springer show to handle reservations and talent.

Imagine Puerto Vallarta, done in the style of Las Vegas but without a single head liner act. Drain away any semblance of class, refinement or taste. Next remove all laws around noise, drugs, prostitution, pollution, or operating motor vehicles while intoxicated,. Double the prices, reduce the quality, lower the I.Q., deep fry it, add day old soggy chips. Then, inject several cruise ships worth of Red State Americans, and their teenage children who hate their parents and have all the self restraint of severe Tourette's syndrome patients, and give them all credit cards. Sprinkle generously with twenty three year old bimbos sporting huge fake tits (the kind that cause back problems) in low cut mini-skirt dresses and their thirty something lawyer husbands smoking bad cigars. Add several thousand gallons of alcohol, cocaine and pot. Mix thoroughly, then garnish with unbridled consumption.

Oh, and I forgot to put sewage on the list of ingredients. Cabo smells. I have a lousy sense of smell (if it isn't rotting for a week, I won't notice) and I can smell the septic system wafting out over the waterfront. I thought the boat was on fire last night, or maybe something died. I went around sniffing several pairs of shoes I owned before I realized the smell was coming from shore. That's bad. We are one hundred yards from land, and the hotels are three deep behind that, and I can still smell it. If I can notice it, it's bad.

Oh, and everything is expensive, but on an absurd scale. The Cabo San Lucas marina charged two hundred dollars a night. Now, I'm all for free market capitalism, but what you get for that a facility no better than Puerto Vallarta but with a Gestapo-like system of guards, gates and restrictions. You very much get the feeling that the blue shirts aren't there so much to protect you as to make sure you don't violate their long list of rules. They sure didn't stop someone from stealing the stainless steel anchor lock pin from my bow roller, or, according to the guy in the boat across from me, a dingy and motor off his boat. But it does mean that there will be someone standing on the dock in a uniform at three in the morning shinning a light into your boat to see if you are home or not. Now, I've been to quite a few marinas, seen quite a few harbors and believe I have some reasonable yardstick to judge by. This place is worse than hell!

The marina itself is surrounded by tourist bars, restaurants, jewelry stores, street merchants, the ever popular homeless, natives selling trinkets (the same trinkets are for sale in all the schlock shops that are just outside the marina), drug dealers and hookers. Lots of drug dealers and hookers. The two guys pictured here offered me coke every time I walked by. I've been propositioned every night I walked down the dock for illegal drugs or sex. Now, in California, most folks think I'm a cop. I look like a cop. I walk like a cop. Other cops often think I'm off duty. So I was a bit surprised to be asked continuously if I wanted to partake in any number of illegal activities. That was until I noticed the same folks offering their contraband and services to most of the families that were here on vacation. Just exactly how many Nebraskan doctors bring their kids along when they buy a hooker and an eight ball of coke is anyone's guess, but I'm betting it's a small number. How do they do it? VOLUME! You ask enough families from Nebraska, eventually someone will want to snort a line with the wife and kids.

One of the most annoying things are the street merchants that line to boardwalk around the marina. These are almost all native Indian women over the age of sixty (or maybe they are twenty three but have been dessicated), with at least two children under the age of six. They each spread out a small blanket, fill it full of small junk dolls, various carvings, cheap necklaces and other bottom line jewelry, and flutes. The flutes are small round clay pipes that have several holes called an ocarina. They are a native indian instrument. You play them by placing your fingers over the holes and blowing into them. You can achieve numerous different sounds by lifting various combinations of fingers. No one selling these flutes has learned how to do this. Instead, they blow into the flute and wiggle one finger on and off one hole. It produces exactly two notes. Deedadeedadeedadeeda. This is all you hear as you walk down the boulevard. Deedadeedadeedadeeda. There is one every thirty yards. Deedadeedadeedadeeda. Then another. Deedadeedadeedadeeda. And just one more before I can reach the marina office. Deedadeedadeedadeeda.

Look, I'm not expecting the Ode To Joy, but they are selling a musical instrument that a five year old could play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in about an hours worth of practice, and none of the hawkers have learned to play anything more complicated than a police siren. The same two notes, every thirty yards. And, if you don't want to buy, they beg. The hand out, pleading look, holding up their child for sale kind of begging. It is beyond disgusting. It wants to make you rip out your soul and have it washed, dried then dry cleaned. Deedadeedadeedadeeda. Hell should take lessons.

We spent a second night at the marina. It was New Year's eve, AnnMarie was leaving in the morning, plus it was just that much easier for her to get to the airport from here, then having us ferry her back from the boat in the dinghy once we were out in the harbor. Since it was New Year's Eve, Cabo was packed with wild and crazy guys looking to party. There was thumping music all night long, revelers in the street, and drunks everywhere. There was a great fireworks display as well. In fact, that might have been the only non-tacky thing about our time in the marina. A fireworks display we could easily have watched from someplace else.

Oh, and the bands. No doubt "I want to stay at the Y.M.C.A." is still a big hit throughout the world, but watching it performed by a middle aged, overweight Mexican in spandex pants accompanied only by a karaoke machine was gut wrenching. If ever they decide to make a musical of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, I nominate this guy for the sound track. This marina was chockablock full of bands of all flavors and varying degrees of mediocrity. Even the best of them (see picture above) had at least one guy who was obviously bored out of his mind or over medicated. It looked like the vibes player was going to fall asleep at any moment except he never blinked. You very much got the impression that the entire marina was trying to hold a party but had never been to one before and didn't really know what was supposed to go on. There were a startlingly large number of middled aged couples sitting around looking bored, tired, over fed. This might probably have been the one right wing event in the northern hemisphere where Janet Jackson flashing a nipple would have been applauded.

Ann and I walked around a bit more, but there was just nothing going on. For all its hype, this town just doesn't know how to party. Trinidad on a Tuesday was more fun. We did find a titty bar though. At least, I think that was what it was. Either that our they sell bolt-ons.

We left the next morning and motored out into the harbor and dropped the hook. That was our third mistake. The harbor runs along side the beach that lines the western side of Cabo, just inside of the small spit of rocks that jut out and give some protection from the Northern swells. They give absolutely no protection from the cruise ships that anchor a few hundred yards away, and regularly discharge (I'm using this word in the sense of an open wound and puss) tourists who then rent every conceivable water vehicle available and give them to their children.

We were continuously surrounded by fourteen year old boys on jet skis doing doughnuts around our boat (not just ours, every other boat in the harbor), ski boats pulling either skiers, dozens of idiots on rafts shaped like bananas or morons hanging from a parachute, power boats racing by at top speed dodging in between everything else, water taxis loaded with tourists leaving three foot wakes, and garbage floating in the water. At sunrise it would be quiet, calm and serene. By ten it was bedlam and stayed that way until sundown. I began devising ways of stringing razor wire between the cruising boats, but quickly realized that decapitating a tourist would have no noticeable effect, it might even improve their IQ. Hell doesn't have a circle that comes close to this.

The only bright spot in all of this was a coffee shop I stopped into a few blocks out of town. I had been wandering around trying to find a place to get internet access since we were out of the marina and stumbled into Cabo Coffee Company. They served good coffee, decent ice cream and had a great internet connection. I ordered a cup of coffee and some mocha ice cream and sat down to use their wireless. Unfortunately, this was the moment my credit card company decided all my cards were stolen. I was cash poor, five pesos short of my bill, but the cashier wouldn't take any American quarters, he just smiled and said not to worry.

I sat there working on the net when Denise, the manager came in. She had just done her first ever sky dive and was there with her instructor showing the other workers the video of it. She checked in to make sure everything was fine and that I was happy with the service. It was the first decent customer experience I'd had there. So far it is the only one. If you are ever in Cabo, look her up and mention my name.

So, we are on the hook again, getting ready for the long trek up north. There are numerous storms battering the northern coast of California, which is actually good for me, because the low pressure systems mean Southerly winds. I hope to be out of here in the next day or so, we need to reprovision, add Jessica to the crew list, and get everything ready for the Baja Bash. It is the perfect ending to our time in hell.

So, on that cheery note, I will bid you all farewell, and hope that your New Year's resolutions include never coming to this hell hole.





Anonymous said...

you are obviously not well traveled. Anyone that would prefer the Taliban of San Francisco over free spirit of Cabo San Lucas is a moron.

The On Going Saga Of S/V Triton said...

The author responds:

I never said I was well traveled, nor did I ever say I preferred San Francisco over Cabo. In fact, I dislike both cities for very similar reasons, although their underpinning natures are perhaps polar opposite.

Oh, and anyone reading this blog should be able to figure out that I'm a moron. Who else spends their life's earnings to buy a boat, then describes his follies, mistakes and embarrassments (with pictures) for all the world to see?

Shame you were too lame to actually use your own name though.

Jesse Branger said...

I'm from a red state, wyoming in fact and I'm very much a republican. I also thought cabo was a little abrasive. Question: Why you hating on red state inhabitants

S/V Triton said...

Hi Jesse,

I'm not "hating on red state inhabitants" any more than, say inhabitants from blue states, which I don't particularly care for either. Pay taxes in the United Soviet Socialists Republic of Berkeley for any length of time and you'll find yourself beginning to wish for the next big quake.

On the whole, my comments aren't a treaty on politics of any kind. My apologies if it came off that way, I was trying to be amusing and clever while writing a blog about something others might find interesting, which is a lot harder than it looks.

Sorry (but not surprised) to hear that my opinion of Cabo wasn't that different from yours. On the other hand, Wyoming is a fantastic state, aside from its lack of coasts. I'd bet the ocarina sales force there can play whole songs! :-)



chuppie said...

This is very funny. You're a good writer.

Anonymous said...

He is a good writer and a major league jackhole! His only smile was when "a fourteen year old drunk Oklahoman jet skier crashed into an extremely overweight Louisianan para-sailer's tow boat," Nice!!!, deriving pleasure from others' misery. A vacation destination is way over priced you say? OMG, stop the presses. If you don't like Cabo, don't go. I can;t recall ever reading something as smug, elitist, and arrogant ever.

S/V Triton said...

Dear Anon,

You don't mind if I call you Anon, do you? Interesting how the most vitriolic attacks always seem to come from folks unwilling to give their real name. Shame about that, I'm sure they all come from good families.

First, Anon, thanks for the compliment on the writing. It is much harder to do than it looks.

Second, this is a travel blog (which means it is basically just the ramblings of some guy in dirty shorts) who has tried his level best to give an honest opinion of various places we've been, as well as talk about the realities of sailing (hopefully in a humorous way) and mostly poke fun of himself, the crew, and everyone and everything encountered along the way.

But the bottom line is that we didn't like Cabo, especially compared to so many other great sailing destinations we encountered in Mexico. If you think that is smug, elitist, or arrogant than I think you've missed the point.

BTW, on the whole we think Mexico is a fantastic place to visit! We also think the United States is great, but we wouldn't recommend Las Vegas, for pretty much the same reasons.

You may very well feel otherwise, and you are entitled to your opinion about it, and I encourage you to write your own travel blog about your own adventures. It is a demanding but rewarding experience.

And as always, my most sincere apologies if any of this upset you.