03/19/2010, Now anchored in exciting la Cruz de Huancaxtle, Bahia de Banderas
So little time now, and still many things to do, so just a brief note - We hope to leave for the Marquesas in 2 days, on Wednesday 14 April.
Off to arrange a bottom cleaning and then our last shopping trip. Once underway there will be time to tell of the last week or so.
03/19/2010, Now anchored in exciting la Cruz de Huancaxtle, Bahia de Banderas
I was watching a movie the other night, with Adrienne, it was a remake of the old western 3:10 to Yuma. Australia's own Russell Crowe starred as a bad man who enjoyed himself in such a captivating way that we were on his side, and he did have a good side. The thing that struck me, reflecting on it the day after, was that yes - of course the actors were actors, but on top of that, the characters were actors too. Playing us. The characters of the baddies and the goodies have changed over the years (now the baddies are not all bad and the goodies are not all good) but they play out for us our own conflicts, in a form that entertains us for an hour and a half. Maybe it helps that the characters are clichés - clichés are not avoided in westerns, they are embraced .
There are times when any human enterprise - every stretch at a worthwhile goal - seems a fool's errand. The Titanic, the Hindenburg, Donald Campbell, Evil Kenevil, Vietnam, Gallipoli, Scott's icy expedition, Leicharddt's trek, Apollo 13, Chernobyl - all the same, all failures, in the end. So many of our best attempts end in the mud, or worse. Jonestown. Mai Lai. Waco, Texas. We have our personal versions, of course.....
There are places we would rather not revisit, because failure there is still palpable. Is there hope - of genuine hope? Beyond all the mistakes? Beyond our personal humiliations? Our divorces, our unfinished schooling, our family separations, money lost, the boat never built, the failed business, the dream lost? Somehow it MUST be possible, at least in another form. Only in the movies, a novel, or lived out while asleep and dreaming? No, more than that!
It seems to me that we have all tried to blot out all this - whatever you like to call it - with pot or booze or tobacco, pills or sex or gambling, loud music or buying new clothes or . . . add to the list if you will. Does any of that work?
I am sitting on board the good ship Bluebottle, a masterfully built 49 ft ketch, with THE WIFE, dear DEAR Adrienne, an orally obsessed California chick with a heart of gold and an intelligence you don't want to tangle with, in Bahia de Chamela, on the west Pacific coast of Mexico and I hear the sigh of the surf, and the sound of a tuba playing by the palapa on the beach, and I wonder ... if ... I can start the reversal of this feeling of life as a dead-end street, as a kind of inevitable, downward trajectory - with just this: the tuba! There seems to be no other instruments (no, I hear something faintly!) and every beach at which we anchor there is a tuba! A bloody TUBA! Everywhere in Mexico! Maybe not in Zee-what, but in Santiago bay, and in Tenacatita, and here in Chamela. A tuba. Surely your heart lifts at the sound of a tuba? A little smile wrinkles your lips? I once played in a band with a tuba. It was actually a sousaphone, a form of tuba with the bell (ring that bell!) poised above the player like a halo, invented for American marching bands. Instead of cradling the cold, hollow metal baby in their arms, heads down as if suckling it, tuba prodigies now held their heads high and their instruments even higher! Talk about seventy-six trombones - imagine a wall of Sousas, glinting in the sun! I played the banjo, another ridiculous musical gadget, and our third member was a clarinetist with an almost obsessional need to talk to anyone, so as to play a tune from their country. Comedy was imminent! Three-Play we called our band (we never got the hang of foreplay somehow), and we played for fun and for money, and we got rich - no, the last bit's not true, but we had a lot of fun . until, one day, at a rehearsal, at my music studio back in Tasmania, Australia, our tubaman, let's call him Brian, refused to go busking (street performing, if you didn't know) when challenged by our intrepid clarinet wielder, who was becoming more and more insistent, that we MUST busk!!. Well, a minute later after a bit of to-and-fro re busking ("I won't busk! Don't ask me!" Fred Astaire would have sung) Ubertuba heads for the door terribly emotionally aroused, sousaphone under the left arm, right hand reaching for the doorknob. I'm out of here, enough of this, not another word!! Well, as he reached for the doorknob Brian's right knuckle hit the latch and unwittingly snibbed the lock - know what I mean? locked from the inside! My, my! Now anger becomes fear, and Sousa is locked in, against his will, with a crazed clarinetist forcing busking down his throat, and no way out!! Whoa!!
Well, we never saw him again. Never played with him again. No more foreplay with Three-Play, no thank you. Musicians are not as cool as they look, I can tell you. Moral? None, but a good story. Yes, moral: let each come and go as he pleases, like good jazz. Brian and I are still good friends, as am I and the banjo. (The clarinetist and me, too.)
Do you hear the surf? The tuba now has a vocalist, faintly heard. The mountains ripple in shaky waves like a seismograph or the hand of a dedicated drunk. The yacht rolls a little. Look around you now, and listen. Utilize no judgment whatsoever, or you will miss the point entirely and merely end by getting angry with me, justified perhaps, but pointless. As we motored our floating home up the Mexican coast from Tenacatita (try the name aloud - Ten-a-ca-TI-ta !) - I stood for a long while by the main shrouds on the starboard side and watched as the boat's bow nodded to the waves, shouldering a small breaker out to the side each time she nosed downward, a small boatlaunched arch of surf, lacy-edged, resolving itself into gurgling wriggling archipelagos of frogspawn a moment later, and disappearing, now repeated, but different. The flaring fuse of the present moment! One is present with it! And now, coming in to harbor, mid-afternoon, two big ketches anchored here, and one of them is leaving, laden with children, surfboards, kayaks and uncles, we take its place, honored by the GPS. Hence the pangas, all pelicanned in, blue roofed, garrulous Spanish heard across the water.
Our friends from Sea Bear, we had Margaritas with them last night in a different bay, have caught a yellowfin tuna on the leg up to Chamela, and have invited us on board tonight, with mes amis Francais, Anni et Didier who have kindly gone shopping for us - surfing ashore in the two-foot waves, to bring back an onion, three tomatoes, six cerveza, two leche/lait/milk, ne pas avocado, but le pain Francais, Oui!
My friends! Can you join me in saying .. We are Immortal. We are Free. You may not believe it yet, but somewhere inside you know it. No problem. I never mentioned God once.
03/18/2010, La Cruz
I have slept. We have slept. (They ... ... .) The wind blows a constant but gentle - enough to keep the yachts in line - ten from the west, neither cool nor hot, a fraction below body temperature. Our boat bobs at anchor, hook dug in, and the sun is about to go down.
Location, La Cruz, Bahia de Banderas, pacific coast of Mexico. Time, six o'clock, and also, the last four weeks, before setting off, on the biggest planned adventure of my life. The biggest UNplanned adventure, for me, was having five children, and of course the Biggest of All, planned or not, is unable to be spoken of, that of returning to the roots of one's own true being. There is no acceptable language for that here. A hint or two, for the awake or the fearless ones, that's all. Between the lines 'tis written, or as Emily Dickinson said: "Tell it slant".
Each wave as it passes speaks. An outboard motor sings the high final note of an orchestral piece. Birds talking waste their breath for I can't translate. My body is stiff, my back aches, but with my feet propped against the wheel and ice in my glass (refrigeration depends on the motor which ran more or less constantly for twenty-four hours) I call it perfect. Don't get the wrong idea - motor-sailing a seventeen ton boat against short steep seas, pounding and flying, lurching unpredictably, is hard on the body, and night peacemaking hard on the mind. Miracle! I am SURE I typed passagemaking and I look and see the word peacemaking there. What magic is at work here?
Cabo Corrientes has a reputation of strong weather. Don Anderson tells us each day on the Amigo net what the wind will be doing here, and it has been very windy lately. We popped through a weather window. By the way, tomorrow Thursday morning at 1400 Zulu (8 am local time) I will switch on my SSB radio, tune to 8.122 Megahertz, and talk with Don in Oxnard, California, and with boats on their way to the Marquesas or in El Salvador or on the Baha, and in the Sea of Cortez - this is my role, as net controller for the Amigo net. It will be all about weather and position reports, from boats underway.
We pass Cabo Corrientes last night with the lighthouse shining its powerful white flashlight at me at around four in the morning. Just then the auto pilot stopped working. In the dark, close to the infamous cape, hard onshore, and with Adrienne asleep below, and steering becoming almost impossible somehow, the mind beleaguered. - the makings of a disaster story were present. With admirable presence of mind I stopped the boat, and thought it through. How could this be? What is causing the Autohelm to flash NO LINK over and over? Remember Joe! only a few days back it did the same! We had taken some old wind speed instruments off the cockpit bulkhead, and disturbed some (old) wires from the machine. So I fixed it! Opened the engine instrument panel and shook the wire! We are back on track! All night we had bashed into it - boat rolling and bitching, bucking, twitching - but enough of the hardships, all self-chosen.
A yacht just passed me here named Destination Unknown. I think they are lost. Another is anchored near us, named: Endure. They are suffering. What ya Gonna Do is a boat name I heard on the radio many times. This is Sirius! Cried a voice from the VHF - What Ya Gonna Do? This is Serious! Boat names! Lovely Rita, Gotta Go, Simple Pleasures, Sea Bear, Hopalong, Endless Summer II (what happened to the first endless summer?) you hear them talking to each other, sometimes abbreviating; Lovely Rita becomes "Lovely" and Eyes of the World becomes "Eyes'. Over and over, we hear "Lovely ... Eyes..." ... "Lovely ... Eyes..." I couldn't resist calling Ladybird on the radio using the boat name "Flyaway Home", the way it works is you put their name first, and then your own boat name. The couple on Ladybird were lovely people, we spent a couple of evenings with them and with dear Jo and Rob of Blue Moon, playing guitars, ukuleles, penny whistles singing... fun folks, more friends-for-life, met so many!!
Getting darker now. This night will be different from the last. The mountains have veiled themselves in dense air. Tomorrow they may show themselves in their Chinese watercolour transparencies. And tomorrow we go ashore to buy avocados, milk, bread, cerveza, Agua con Gas (that's mineral water). I hear the urgency of seabirds, and the swish of cards as Adrienne plays solitaire in the cabin. Oh yes, and now I hear the tuba ...
As reported, Adrienne and I left Manzanillo last Sunday. Headed for La Cruz, Bahia de Banderas via a couple of anchorages, a stop for a night's rest. Raising the anchor at Las Hardas at around 8:45 in the morning we headed out from Manzanillo, never looking back, passing pangas with fishermen, outbound for Tenacatita. Adrienne had a hard time pronouncing Tenacatita at first (try it.). It's a lovely bay, as you enter you go around a rock in the centre, called Roca Centro (!) which at low tide looks like a top hat. We found our good friend Perry had already arrived. Sleeping, as single-handers do.
Right now we are already entered and moving across an unknown bay in the dark at 6:15 am. The dawn is just beginning to show. The charts agree it is safe to enter here in the dark, but one chart says the coastline is actually 1.4 nautical miles East of where it is shown. So we motor in, rolling quite heavily. I see a ship on the radar (also it's lights are visible) off on our port bow; it is on a closing course, probably headed for the same place we are. We have rounded Cabo Corrientes an hour ago. As I approached the Cape, the autopilot failed! What a place for it to quit! I tried to steer to the waypoint, without much success; because of the bimini I couldn't see any stars ahead to steer by, and keeping a straight line to the waypoint on the electronic chart plotter soon had me giving up. I stopped the boat and fixed it.
Leaving Tenacatita early the next morning we headed past Las Hermanos, and two whales crossed our path. Next stop Chamela, dropping anchor there at 2 in the afternoon. Sea Bear had caught a fish, and we were invited to dinner. Our lovely French friends were there too! Next day Didier and Annie headed out for a direct hop to La Cruz, 157 miles away. We followed, leaving around noon. It has taken 19 hours so far and 23 miles to go.
I wrote the above as we approached La Cruz. Since then we have anchored and and today checked in with the Capitania de Peurto. Cost 1 peso, for photocopying. Right now lunch with our friends from Isis, that we met in Z - town, Burke was the musician. In 3 or 4 weeks we will head out into the blue pacific. Much to be done until then, the boat is not shiphape yet.
03/17/2010, Underway. Outbound manzanillo, inbound La Cruz, Banderras Bay
Briefly: Left Manzanillo early Sunday Morning, 14/03/10 Arrived Tenacatita Sunday afternoon, stayed overnight. Left Tenacatita Monday morning early, arrived Chamela same day, stayed overnight. Left Chamela today, Tuesday, around midday, still underway - position 19 deg 58' N, 105 deg 56' W - heading for La Cruz.
03/09/2010, Las Hardas
Two lovely young women came paddling by one sunny morning, their British accents chirping across the water. They were from a cruise ship, anchored for the day in Manzanillo, where of course we were too. Their kayak was yellow as a canary, and wearing bikinis and life-jackets and exclaiming all the while how wonderful and amazing was the boat, they clambered aboard.
We gave them a tour of the boat and they were just like a couple of kids! We had some chilled grapefruit juice and a had a lot of fun hearing about life on board the cruise ship. Rebecca, Ashleigh - I can't remember which of you was a hairdresser and which was a masseuse, I'm sorry! But we had such a good time talking and laughing with these new friends.
Eight days straight, twelve hours a day, that's sounds like a lot! But you enjoy it! Thank you for your visit. Life aboard is about meeting new friends, and we met two sweet friends that day. Stay in touch, bon voyage!