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S.V Condesa Del Mar
23 meter Herrishoff Schooner built in Wilmington Boat Yard California 1970 onwards. Fittout completed mid 1990's. Mark and Jenny Gaskell purchased Conmdesa November 2011 and crossed the Pacific Ocean in 2012.
Jenny g
25/02/2012, Bravo Markets La Paz

At last I found the markets I was looking for. You know the ones where there are people gabbling around you and bumping into you because they are more intent on their selection. The selection it seems warrants staring as it travels from the display into a bag onwards via the distant cashier and back through a few hands into their possession where they can relax and bury it deep into their trolley. Some people shop like a dog watching the dinner bowl their focus is so intent, I think that is why they must shop alone. I have he who hums in toe and not sure it was the right move.
I would like to try the mystery dishes served in the stalls and when I suggested it I think I saw him slightly regurgitate before he said "sure - didn't you have breakfast?" We move away from the slapping of the meat being tenderized and I perch on a stool where everyone is head down eating. I watch the girl clap the thin pastry from hand to hand, tacos made with the blink of an eye. This looks like the one for me, so I manage in my limited Spanish-for-cruisers to pick the fish dish and confidently wave my hand with a 'Si dos gracias' when asked if I wanted tacos too. He who'd hum would have been impressed if he hadn't been handed down the sentence to eat with me. I pass him the spoon and a taco but I do note from the corner of my eye he delays making his taco until I have started, swallowed and survived. There is no instantaneous combustion so all is well. We share a fresh juice, I agree with confidence to all the Spanish words she asked, I assumed were for fruit and vege (how could I go wrong).
We strolled around some more - me taking it all in, he thinking of a place he had to be. Got it! He soon states he had to get back to order the lettering for our new dingy. Oh ok. I walk him out from the dark den of bulk produce out into the white light of the street called Bravo. He is back on Saturday midday. Shame...
But I immediately return and head to the next isle where I am surprised to see a grotto of Mary immaculate, huh I guess you never know when you may want to drop to your knees in the middle of Saturday morning haggling, in fact I should! I have been left here alone my silent prayer was answered. I am sure he is humming all the way back to the Marine shop, as might I around the Bravo Markets and beyond.

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waiting waiting waiting

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We Go Here and There
Jenny g
20/02/2012, Marina De La Paz

I Take Her Here And There
I wait by the gate under the tree, the yachtie club to the left and the restaurant to the right. The steep slopped gang way is starting to liven up as the day breaks. First it is the tradesmen going in the gate - the steel man...the canvas man.... the electrician....the wood work man. Eventually I see the squinting faces of those rising from the hatches like they have been hibernating. Then they start to come out of the gate and make way to the smell of coffee at the little club house, soon the murmuring elevates to chatter with time.
Sometimes she is late, but each day it is becoming more 'Mexican time' not 'Australian time'. As she leaves the boat, it may take a while pending how many conversation happen on the way. She arrives and I always get a warm greeting. I can tell she is still thinking about the plan of attack, red floral bag into the tray, my padlock is unlocked and we are off out the gates of Marina De La Paz, passing Rafael the taxi man as we go (he is thinking something ever since I arrived).
Yes, as usual we are going along the Malecon La Paz taking in the fresh cool air. The beach to the left and hotels, Port administration, Customs, Bus stations, Military hospital, Hospitality and Tourist businesses spread along to the right. We won't go the full 12 klm today I took her there yesterday. Today she has plans to find the perfect markets; I can tell buy the string bag she carries. So up past the money exchange and into the street named 'De Mayo' and a right into 'Revolucion De 1910' past the cathedral (no stopping... we did that Sunday) we cross the street called '16 De Septiembre' and we spot the farmers markets. Because of a tip off about the bakery, I am parked at a lamp post close to the smell of fresh goodies straight across from the markets and I lose sight of her.
Meanwhile "he who hums" will be walking up 'Abasolo' where he has worn out a track and then left into '5 De Febrero' stopping at each marine shop again. Not sure how he will go on his own in the Marine centre as the lovely white haired man there tends to almost nod off when getting the information. You have to reignite the conversation when the breathing becomes laboured and the finger stops running down the small printed page.
Soon "he who hums" will be wondering where we are as he waits at the new little street stall for fish or shrimp tacos. Definitely he will have bag of something else tucked under his arm, some thing that we hasn't already got in his tool room and likely not what he headed out for entirely. But hey, pastries weren't written on our list either.

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New Crew
jenny g
17/02/2012, Marina De La Paz

Finding Crew

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.

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The People You Meet
Jenny g
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).

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Are you ready
Jenny g
11/02/2012, Brisbane


....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.

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Finding her
Jenny g

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?

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