CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Ensenada Honda
18 18.318' N, 065 18.008' W
For nearly nine months now, Prudence
has not been connected to dry land. Not once. Not even for water or fuel. We have lived a life exclusively at anchor or on mooring balls since leaving Oriental, NC on November 1, 2007.
Imagine living on an island which is 35-feet long and 11.5-feet wide. The desire to go to land with a bit more room to stretch one's legs does occasionally grab us. However, every trip to land means boarding another vessel or taking a long swim. As you can see in the lead photo, even as close as we are currently anchored to the municipal dock (the concrete structure with the white awning perched at the end), it is still a considerable trip across the water.
Sheryl and I have three 'dry' options for making that journey:
: This inflatable is our first and foremost tender-to-Prudence
. It was selected with durability and stowability in mind. Achilles
is one of the best names in inflatable boats and I really wanted to be certain to get a dinghy made of hypalon (more sun-resistant than other materials). Affording a new Achilles was out of the question. Finding a used Achilles was a difficult task, as most used dinghies seem to get sold with the mother boat, but we finally found our Patience
at a small boat dealer in South Carolina. The price was certainly right, considering that she came with a 3-hp Evinrude outboard motor. The best part about Patience
is that she folds up and fits into our port side cockpit locker. When not in use, the boat is not in the way or exposed to the elements. Currently, she is stored for the summer and before she is re-deployed, her wooden floorboards are in need of a fresh coat or two of varnish.
: With a noisy, smelly 2-stroke outboard as the primary driver for Patience
, we both knew that we would need something a little more serene in which to explore the natural beauty of our water-based surroundings (and the Achilles doesn't row well with two aboard). Enter the Advanced Elements
inflatable kayaks. Having now owned them for over a year, I can already say that they have been worth the expense. Their inflatable nature not only makes them easy to stow on a boat when not in use, but they were easy to throw into the back of our car when we lived a slightly more terrestrial lifestyle. Here in Culebra, they remain inflated all the time. We store them on deck in order to keep growth off of their bottom, and we cover them with sunbrella to keep the UV rays of the sun from fading them toward nothingness. The single most frequent question we are asked by other cruisers and people standing along the shoreline is, "How do you like those kayaks?" Answer: We love these things.
: We looked at the amazing foldable Porta-bote
when we attended our first boat show in Annapolis (October 2005). We seriously considered purchasing one; however, they just didn't seem quite sturdy enough for the price they were asking. After spending a month in Culebra, we met the owners of Southern Cross
who had just purchased their second
Porta-bote. The first one that they had purchased used was over 10 years old. There were some minor features of the boat which had not stood the test of time well; however, it still floated. We decided that it would be the perfect boat for us to use here this summer. With higher freeboard, it would keep us dryer than Patience
, and it was light enough to be pushed by our current outboard. A little bit of repair with duck tape and 5200 took care of the imperfections, and we had an inexpensive tender for the summer. We have yet to fold it down, and we may never have cause to do that, but for an inexpensive runabout, it does quite well for us.
So, our fleet is fairly well founded. There is currently no risk of us getting 'stranded' aboard. The weakest link in the fleet, however, has got to be the Evinrude. It is a 1991 model engine with a 16-year history that is totally unknown to us. Since it was practically a 'gift' included in the purchase price of our Achilles, we have more than gotten our money's worth from its efforts over the past year. But we do know that the drive shaft is a little worn and we have purposely decided not to replace it. When it finally goes, we plan to get another (more powerful) outboard.
I have been wondering, lately, if we should go ahead and purchase that newer engine now and keep the Evinrude as a backup. Looking around, though, we would have to find space to store yet another outboard. And, who knows, maybe the Evinrude will last another 17 years. It is like trying to decide if it is time to begin shopping for that new car yet. Do you think we could find a tender with power windows, air conditioning, and anti-lock brakes?
In my more immediate future, though, this morning Sheryl has taken off to Sea Glass Beach. She took the Porta-bote. Therefore, I have a decision to make once I complete this blog. If I want to take a walk or go for a swim (the water in the harbor is not as clear as I like for swimming), it means I have to get off the boat. Patience
is clean and stowed, so there she will stay. Which leaves the option of a kayak. I have no problem uncovering and lowering a kayak into the water by myself; however, there is always the easier alternative of simply staying on the boat and reading. I finished one book this morning and there is another waiting which I am anxious to start.
As you can see, there are many difficult decisions we face every day here aboard Prudence
. Some are as weighty as spending hundreds of dollars on a new outboard and others as simple as whether to spend the afternoon reading or do something more physical. Perhaps I'll just get another cup of coffee and think about it some more.