17/02/2012, Marina De La Paz
Now that I have spent some time with her I can tell you what I know.
Yep she is in her 30's and American! She seems like an old soul who has been here before, lots of knowledge of the wind and water because she's from San Francisco and we all know the wind never stops blowing there. She is very traditional in all aspects of boating. Being very tall and with a good reach (let's hope that is a help not a hindrance). Mum you will love her, not only does she only ever wear green as she also has a French name. She is solid but elegant. As is plenty of room on board that is not a problem. People will tell you that sharing space can be difficult but she seems generous so all should work out well.
It is too soon to elaborate as she hasn't shared a lot with us yet but I am sure as time goes by and by her manner she will ease into it all without a hitch. I would call her the strong silent type bordering on stoic. She is far from a show pony . I can see people noticing her wherever we go out and is the centre of conversation before too long. This sometimes annoys me but hey, she is who she is and I am going to have to learn to live with that tiny flaw. No one is perfect - right?
Her name is La Condesa Del Mar ~ so if you think you are crew material then there is a small line up.
15/02/2012, Marina De La Paz
The People You Meet
We have returned to La Paz Mexico ~ we flew in last night and found our boat and nestled in. Valentine 's Day is half over but we sleepily turn on the VHF radio to the sound of chatter across the water. The first a lengthy conversation between 2 Americans all about cats, it could have been an episode from Sesame street featuring the letter 'C' so much detail about the C A T. Switching channels, we hear there is a meeting for all "Puddle Jumpers" (that's us) ~ held at 4pm today. So, off with the radio and on with the jobs of work for the half day that is left.
We head off to see there are those stragglers who haven't yet left the club house after the 7.30am boaties coffee meeting as they are engrossed in horror stories, I heard something about 'pepper spray and if they grab you by the neck'! I swiftly posted my note on the wall looking for an old bike so I could get on with my daily ritual of errands into the centre of town for the weeks that follow. We wander up to brunch and see the (long waisted/short legged) Mexican boy delivering roses to the shy pretty Mexican girl who works in the milk bar, sweet valentines. There are couples bonding over the spare parts in the Marine Centre, not us today but will be tomorrow. There are those who are toiling over the chores on board together and those who laze in the sun chatting to passers-by. The passers-by who have finished their chores - or not, have a tale for everyone all enjoyable... tall as they sometimes may be. There are those who you can see through the open hatch under the bed bag as you leave, and still under the bed-bag as you return. In the meeting room there are people from all walks of life and you can pick the Aussie without even speaking to them. (it's funny how you are drawn to them and they to you). Surrounded by age and wisdom, weather beaten sea salts to fresh faced newbie's who I found out one girl has only had a 12 hour course for experience. We all shared our planned set sail date between the perfect window of early March - End of May 2012. We mentally ticked the people we needed to see post meeting, as they had info we both thought we should know. Then there was this young, eager, fun loving rogue who spoke about his grand experiences last year through the south pacific. Had him ticked until he told us he left in July on the tail of a hurricane to make the crossing. Yikes, that is either brave or stupid pending which way you like to live your life. He looked the better for it in his contagious energy and boyish looks but that trick could put some people in a cardiac arrest and rightly so. After a demonstration by a passionate rock climbing, yachty about how to get yourself up the mast safely and how to rescue someone twice you weight who is in trouble up the mast in the only climbing gear you have. As the sun sets 'he' passionate, rock climbing, yachty decides we all should go through that one again next meeting, as most attendees surrounded the room with frowns. We make our way back to prepare for a quiet dinner and walk through the same line up of sundowner drinking couples who sit along the arm of our dock at the same time daily. Yesterday we were probably sized up, today we were invited to join, and tomorrow we will.
So we close the first day with a valentine's dinner at a restaurant set on the nearby sand with hurricane lamps, digesting all the information we had absorbed for the day (make that half day).
ARE YOU READY?
....and I now wonder how many times in our lives we question ourselves. It is probably something we all do several times a day without even knowing. However, when it comes time to put yourself out there and do something that you haven't done often, then that question feels heavily loaded. The biggest fear of course is the great unknown. Funny isn't it that we can worry about something that hasn't happened yet? So for now, I am going to place my faith in what I do know and run with it. We are preparing for the big crossing ~aka 'The Puddle Jump' by ticking lists, attending courses and buying every safety feature that one can have. My wardrobe will now swap for anything reflective...yellow... and has a whistle or automatic inflation device attached. Someone once said "the vessel will stand up to anything it is the crew that could falter" (he probably said 'would falter' but for the sakes and purposes of inner strength I shall use my terminology).
Therefore the biggest safety factor in this equation is oneself and one's mind. So I guess (although it has never been discussed) we are heading off with a healthy amount of trust in each other. It is more than likely going to be the good, the bad and the ugly, but what a mind shift! Ha! Stating the obvious, but I am keen to see where this journey it takes us. Imagine the big blue wonder and being free enough to let ones thoughts take you away. That sounds appealing to me.
I liken this adventure to the feelings we all have before becoming parents. Everyone is excited leading into that unknown journey- aren't they? You plan, prepare and head off with assumption that you are ready for what it will throw at you. You aim to stay ahead of the game and you go off day by day, growing and learning in the new existence of surviving and caring for something new.
So I will apply the same game plan to this venture and it should turn out a magical time just like parenthood.
People have asked us why we bought a boat in America when there are a million for sale here?
Good question... and it does have a reasonable answer. Like anything you really love or enjoy you are in search of the 'Perfect One' and so the challenge to fine one keeps one occupied for many years ..... decades... and for some, a lifetime. I can tell you by the number of Trader Boat books that have come into our lives with 'he who hums' and have been secretly wheeled out of our lives by 'her', that the search has been occupying someone for some time. To me, trade-a-boat well.. they are a bit like reading the latest yellow pages, but to 'he who hums' it is his favourite tool of reference. It scares me that he can quote much detail and by year from these 'reference books'.
However it was via the internet that helped find a Ferro schooner in San Francisco back 2005/6, and communication with the owner at the time created a special section in his mind just for "La Condesa Del Mar" it seems. The 20 page survey file adorned with images of her under sail and the inside motors and working parts (only a mother would love) was at the ready whenever a boat thought crossed his mind. On the other side of the coin the passion was contagious and I was beginning to enjoy this venture especially when it meant a trip to San Francisco to buy her should we love it. Well the San Francisco trip happened in 2006 and would you believe, as we were in the air to go see her, a contract was signed from another party, much to the owner's angst. The broker signed up an American couple (Bill and Karen) who wanted her too. Now, you might think that everything turned ugly when the news broke over dinner. But alas ~ No. He who hums' believes that everything happens for the best and so stated that when they were finished with her in 5 years we will be ready. Really? Fast forward five years and a worn out image in his hip pocket and an email from our boating friends on SV Red sky arrives ~ Subject: La Condesa Del Mar! ~ Opening line:"guess who is on the Bahha ha ha rally with us? I open the attachment and there she was in full sail looking better than magnificent. I quickly shut the image and replied that .... "it took him 5 years to get over her so if she was not for sale then kindly no more photos please". Two weeks passed and a message for us to contact Bill and Karen as they are interested in letting her go, if we were still interested. HA! Still interested they say? So this is the beginning of past owners/new owners communication about coming to Mexico to see the boat (again) with the prospect of buying the boat (again) this time it is October 2011 and the deal was done. So 'he who hums' is happy, and this, my friend is how you get to buy a boat in Mexico when there are millions for sale here in Australia. Does that answer the question?
04/01/2012, Guaymas to La Paz
In October 2011 we sailed the Sea of Cortez..completed the sea trial ....finally signed the papers for La Condesa Del Mar and locked her safely in the Marina De La Paz awaiting our return in February 2012.
I knew we would learn a lot on this trip and the working systems of the boat were just part of the journey. We learnt a lot about the eclectic community on the water and the wonderful people living on the coastline of Mexico. Couple of lesson, most important was to back up my computer. Log lost! Actually more than a couple of lessons but that is boating. Yeah?
The 350 nautical miles from the 40 degree heat of Guaymas across to the old mining town of Santa Rosalier and cooling down as we made our way south to Marina de La Paz. After a week on the hard stand we headed out for a shakedown across the sea. An initial hiccup, with a few vital screws not replaced on the fuel injector and reverse gear where mechanics had been previously. Once they were identified and sorted the sail was problem free and we set sail again 24hrs after our first attempt. The ying and the yang of the sea produced a myriad of situations to test our skills. With a journey of the warm-winded days with magical sunsets on a daily bases, the crystal clear night skies easing silently into the crisp fresh sunrises. I wondered how many photos of the breaking of day and setting of the sun one could have before you have doubled up. There were days of little to no wind in contrast to the days filled with adventure and full sails to keep us hopping across decks and up and down to the serenity of below. Sailing the most eerily quiet nights crossing open flat waters to the big northerly's giving back slapping 35knt wild seas through narrow passages that put the fear of God in most of us and eventuating with sea sickness for a few of the crew. However, Condesa stood up to everything that she was faced with and the beauty of her lines and big sails added to her power on the sea.
The rugged Mexican coastline of craggy mountains dotted with the 'compulsory' cacti's and miles of orca rocks were interrupted with unexpected stretches of white beach and aqua waters that became whiter and clearer the further south we sailed. This sea trial was turning into more of a holiday as we ate freshly caught seafood and relaxed as we discovered the land and the sea together (ex owners and new owners). The more we got to know each other the faster the days were passing enjoying their company and the quiet moments equally. The ex-owners (Bill and Karen Gates) have poured their love and attention into this boat and shared stories about what they had achieved so when the conversation came to an unexpected halt we realised that parting with Condesa was not easy. This made us love her even more and determined to take her further afield to places she deserves to sail, waters she will lap up, winds where she can fill her every sail . From the first moment we saw her sitting proud on the hard stand in Guaymas we saw she was better than we had remembered from 5 years back.
So as I sit here in the midst of Christmas aftermath and the packing up of our life as it is in Brisbane. I feel the effects what we have started and the excitment of what lies ahead ~ The contrast of our lives from inner city living with friend and family at our fingertips to the vast blue ocean crossing adventure is a reality check ~ just us and the big blue wonder.
12/10/2011, Brisbane Australia
Friday 13th October 2011 - We are 3 days out of leaving Australia for Mexico .... all is poised ready to be packed. Boat books, passports, files and paperwork are spread across the unit in readiness for the big voyage next March. Luggage open and sitting in the walkways where we add to (way to often) and will be zipped up in a day or two for us to head on the 3 leg flight Brisbane - Los angeles - Phoenix - Guaymas.
This trip to the Sea of Cortez is to complete the sea trial and sign the purchase papers for SV Condesa Del Mar. The the voyage begins when we set sail from Guaymas Sonora to Puerto Vallarta. This is where we get to learn all the new systems on the boat that differ to our last boat 'Shalom' Once we have reached Puerto Vallarta the boat will be locked down and left in the secured marina to await out return February 1212.
Mark has been planning this in detail for the past year and dreaming of this for the past 5 years. So now it has come time for us to action all the planning and begin stage 1 of our adventure.