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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heading North, We Stop In Asuncion


Hey Guys,

Although, I wonder if the plural form of "guy" is appropriate here. Perhaps the only person reading this blog is myself? I hope not, because the self discipline required to sit down and write out each adventure is something that definitely doesn't come easy to me, and the talent to make that interesting is still a skill I strive to master. Especially when there isn't much to tell that is out of the ordinary, or the trip has gone smoothly. Oh, sure, I can invent all sorts of complicated lies about pirate attacks, or found treasure, or UFO sightings, but these days folks want pictures to prove it, and I'm just not up to speed on PhotoShop yet. I intend to take a class, and soon I'll be learning how to create photographic evidence as good as anything you see in the National Inquirer. I figure by this time next year I'll be sailing around the Horn of Africa with Elvis, rediscovering the lost city of Atlantis, and uncovering the secret government base where they train dolphins to attack Russian subs. In the meantime I'll just have to make do with describing what has been going on, and add in as many lies as I can get away with.

My two new crewmates, Mike and John, arrived, and brought with them several hundred pounds of goodies that AnnMarie shipped down, including a second shaft seal and the missing set screws from the first one. She also shipped down four huge containers of her famous "wheat free" chocolate chip cookies. Sadly, she mentioned this to Mike when she dropped the bags off with him, so only three arrived, and they were all pretty light at that. I told her not to let on that there were treats aboard (hoping to stash these away for myself) but now that the rest of the crew know about it, nothing is safe. Unless I stand next to the counter all day long, they seem to disappear much faster than I consume them. Drat! At the time of this writing, we are halfway up the coast of Baja, and there are three cookies left. It could very well be the plot for the next Kane Mutiny, with the crew setting me adrift in the dinghy clutching a tin of tall house cookies.

The new guys arrived on Thursday, and we spent most of it having dinner, shopping for boat parts, and all of Friday getting the boat finished. The new prop seal is installed and has worked well. We added redundant bilge pumps, fixed broken float switches, resewed the Bimini, and got pretty much everything else we needed to set sail, except for gas and ice, which we would get at the Cabo fuel dock. The two items we couldn't find was anyone that could refill our oxygen bottle, or sell us a scuba tank. I had brought down all my Paramedic Equipment including an O2 rig, but we have never been able to find anyone that could refill the bottle-- apparently getting oxygen is not possible in Mexico, which is surprising because there are any number of hospitals, clinics and emergency services located all over the area. Well, we wouldn't have O2, but we thought we'd at least be able to find a scuba tank. This trip Mike brought down a "Spare Air" which is a mini scuba tank with a regulator built right on top, that you can fill directly from a regular scuba tank. They give you about 14 breaths under water and are wonderful to have aboard if you need to dive the anchor, or clear the prop of kelp or tangled lines, or have to stay in the same cabin with the captain if he has had wheat. We looked all over town but couldn't find a scuba tank for sale either.

Friday night we went to an "open house" event on Slowdance, and had a great time talking to many of the movers and shakers of San Jose. David's mother (who owns the boat) and her best friend Maria (who was the star on the television show "Three's Company") were both there to help out as well. They did a great job, and over the course of the evening there must have been ninety people on board, including prospective clients and brokers. They even had a mariachi band. It was quite swank, and will probably drum up a lot of future business for them. We wish them great success and have no doubt that they will soon be taking folks out nightly.

At one point I started chatting with a charming woman named Caroline who runs the local American newspaper called the Gringo Gazette. She turned out to be the wife of another neighbor on the dock, Ernie, who sells fractional rentals in the area, rebuilds huge boats for fun and profit, and is involved in various real estate ventures. Ernie is one of those folks who you just immediately like. He is friendly, outgoing, witty and fun. We had started kidding around as soon as we met, and he was always offering tools and help whenever he came by the boat. We mentioned to them that we were getting ready to leave that night and I asked if he knew where we could buy a scuba tank. "Oh, here, I've got one you can have" he casually said. To a cruiser getting ready to head up the coast this is like saying "Oh, sure, I've got an extra tent, backpack and four wheel drive truck you could borrow" to someone going hiking in the desert. We were floored. I rode back to their apartment to pick it up, and was amazed by their place. They live in a beautiful home overlooking San Jose, and it is filled with oil paintings, mostly done by Caroline. She had studied music in college, was a guitar teacher for many years, but has now taken up painting (while running a newspaper), and is doing wonderful work. I must say I was very impressed with both of them. They are people who have achieved great things in their lives. Better still, they were gracious, warm and friendly to complete strangers. We hope to see them up north sometime soon and repay the kindness.

So, with scuba tank in hand, we set sail for Cabo. Well, almost. We discovered that the fix for the Bimini wasn't going to work. The velcro was completely dissolving from constant exposure to the sun, so we spent another two hours hand sewing it into place. Once done we motored down to Cabo in light winds from the north, arriving at dawn and pulled up to the fuel dock. It was still early and the regular circus of tourist clowns hadn't hit the water yet, so the bay was calm. We topped up the tanks, filled the freezer with ice and headed out for the long trek north. We were a bit apprehensive because rounding Cabo Falso can be one of the hardest things you can do in this area. The last time I was here (fifteen years ago) six boat tried it the week before us, and only four made it. One was blown back and the other went up on the rocks, killing one of its crew members and seriously injuring another.

The weather seemed very calm, so we headed up. Much to our surprise and delight, it was dead flat. We went around the rocks at eight knots, and headed up the coast with no headwind or chop. It was a fantastic start to our journey, and continued that way for many more miles. We made incredible time going north, and got to Mag Bay much sooner than we had intended. Having had only small swells and mild chop, we decided to push on for Turtle Bay. The weather reports were all looking good, and it seemed like we were going to dodge the dreaded "Baja Bash". As soon as we started getting confident, Mother Nature decided to remind us that she doesn't approve of gloating by slamming us with twenty knot winds, six foot seas and chop coming from three directions at once.

We pounded along for most of the night and a large part of the day. Eventually it calmed down, but we were low on fuel, so stopped in the middle of the ocean and filled our tanks from the jerry jugs we'd brought along, then started on again. The weather kicked up about fifty miles north of Mag Bay, and we were bashing along, being thumped by waves each time we past one. We reduced speed, but it still took a lot to push forward. We were being beaten on and burning fuel faster than we wanted. It also got cold, so standing shifts was no longer fun. In fact, it sucked. No glorious sunsets, no dolphins off the bowsprit, no whales breaching close by could make up for the fact that it was cold and wet and bumpy. We tried sailing against it but we couldn't find a favorable wind that helped. It stayed that way most of yesterday. By today we were still many miles below Turtle Bay, the wind (and thankfully the waves) had died down and we didn't have enough fuel to motor directly there. That meant turning east, losing both ground and time by heading for one of the harbors along the way. We were contemplating our options when the wind backed around a bit and picked up, giving us enough push to point towards Asuncion Bay, just south of Turtle Bay, where we wanted to go to refuel.

We motor sailed the rest of the way there, pulled into the harbor at night, and hailed Shari Bondy, one of the local ex-pats who is cruiser friendly. She gave us directions and GPS coordinates for a good anchorage and we dropped the hook just off shore in thirty feet of water on a sandy bottom a hundred yards from shore. Even before we'd put the anchor down we were greeted by a dozen seals, all splashing around our bow and happy to see us. We were pretty happy to see them too, and Mike commented that it was worth the whole trip just for this one minute. Personally, I think he could have saved a lot of travel by just going to SeaWorld, but he thought this was somehow better. Go figure. We made steaks on the barbecue, had a great meal, relaxed and got to sleep comfortably for an entire eight hours. What luxury!

The next morning we contacted Shari, who picked us up at the shore, drove us to the local gas dealer, filled our jugs, took us shopping, showed us around town, then brought us back to her place for breakfast and offered us showers to boot!! We were once again humbled by the good will of folks we've met. It is amazing and astounding the hospitality we've been offered in Mexico. It is truly a friendly country. We later met her husband Juan (who had been out fishing) and is also a talented musician and radio technician. They are great advocates for this area, and know most everyone. Between the two of them you can get help with just about anything you need. They also have a website if you want to learn more about the area. If you are ever in the area, give them a shout on channel 16 (Sirena, pronounced "sea rain ah") and tell them Robb Triton sent you.

Asuncion is a sleepy little fishing village along a bight of land facing the Pacific. It will one day be a glamorous vacation resort where folks spend thousands for a week's worth of relaxation. Right now it is mostly dirt roads and cement block houses, but the folks are warm and friendly, helpful to a fault and the kind of people you'd love to have for a neighbor. It's a bit off the beaten path, but the views are spectacular and the weather can't be beat. I'm smitten with this place.

Well, we'll be heading up to Turtle Bay soon, once we've fixed all the little things that broke on the trip, pour the diesel into the tanks, and clean up a bit. In the meantime I wish you all safe harbors, warm water and even warmer friends.




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