A Cross Ocean Experience

Seven thousand miles of outstanding cruising since November 2008 means it's time to do a little renovation and more planning for the future. Find out what ...

20 February 2013 | Fishtail, Montana, USA
15 March 2011 | Swallow Falls State Park, Garrett County, MD
07 January 2011 | Deep Creek, MD
01 January 2011 | Tacoma, WA
17 December 2010 | Sierra Madre, CA
12 December 2010 | Leucadia, CA
12 December 2010 | Leucadia, Ca
12 December 2010 | Ramona, CA
06 December 2010 | Ramona, CA
06 December 2010 | Ramona, CA
20 November 2010 | New Orleans, LA
13 November 2010 | Lexington, KY
09 November 2010 | Louiville, KY
05 November 2010 | Lexington. KY
01 November 2010 | Deltaville, VA
29 October 2010 | Deltaville, VA
22 October 2010 | Deltaville, VA
08 October 2010 | Deltaville, VA

Thank you Jo and Julia for the wonderful books

11 July 2009 | San Juan del Sur, Nic
Rivers run through me
mountains bore into my body
and the geography of this country
begins forming in me
turning me into lakes, chasms, ravines,
earth for sowing love
opening like a furrow
filling me with longing to live
to see it free, beautiful
full of smiles.

I want to explode with love ...

(Giaconda Belli)

I love my sister dearly but have to admit that in my anticipation of her recent visit to us in San Juan del Sur, the stack of books she brought with her was almost as eagerly awaited as the time we would spend together
In the crush of specifics that our final few months of preparation for this trip became, charts, cruising guides, travel guides and fix it manuals were all accounted for, but Fuentes, Paz, Neruda, Dario and the myriad of other voices of Spanish America were hopelessly omitted.
Much as we love to sail, the true motivation for this journey was to explore and discover for ourselves. In the crisp New England words of Joshua Solcum " If the Spray discovered no new continents on her voyage it may be that there were no new continents to be discovered; she did not seek new worlds or sail to powwow about the dangers of the seas. The sea has been much maligned. To find one's way to lands already discovered is a good thing ...."*
To this end books provide incremental keys to enter by stages deeper into newly visited places. Most simply the charts and cruising guides allow us to choose, find and enter safe harbors. For the most part they are dry and emotionless though detailed and essential as well as being ubiquitous amongst all cruisers and therefore somewhat herd forming. Their view is by design near sighted, pushing back from the coves, bays and estuaries only a mile or so. A broader view is gained with the addition of travel guides such as Lonely Planet or Rough guides, which though corporately branded reflect directly the personality of the individual writers and rise or fall accordingly. The "Lonely Planet Guide to Puerto Vallarta and the West coast of Mexico" was beach-centric, culturally deserted and stylistically dull whilst the "Lonely Planet Guide to El Salvador and Nicaragua", our copy of which is now more thumbed than Bush's Bible, is slyly humorous, insightful and replete with historical and folkloric anecdotes.
With just these, an enquiring eye and time to linger it is possible to get an idea of the people amongst whom we find ourselves. In Mexico this was particularly true since we arrived pre-informed by prior Mexican acquaintances and travel and the luminous openness of the people and towns makes a little understanding easy to come by. El Salvador and Nicaragua are different. In the hotter, wetter, jungle shaded villages the people are quieter, more reserved, less open to strangers. Whether it is the geography, the different ethnic mix, for Nicaragua is more melting pot than even the U.S., or the cataclysmic effect of fighting out from underneath 45 years of brutal dictatorship only to then have to fight the might of Reagan's Central American ambitions to hold on to their country is impossible to know, but Nicaragua is less easy to see into than Mexico and thus the lack of books holding the voices of local writers was constricting.
Cruisers, with little space for bookshelves, conduct brisk business in book trade. At every major town we visit, after the market and the laundry, the next service sort is the book exchange. But the choice is limited and well picked over. But now armed with our new haul of Ruben Dario "Selected Writings", Giaconda Belli "The Country under my Skin", and Carlos Fuentes "Diana" along with erudite outside observations in Joan Didion's "Salvador" and Salman Rushdie's "Jaguar Smile" we hope to be able add a little to what we have already observed. And with Columbia and South America not so far away now we can look forward to Marquez, Borges and Neruda. It's as exciting as pointing Mandy's bowsprit over the horizon to new lands.

* he finishes "... and the Spray made the discovery that even the worst sea is not so terrible to a well appointed ship" I omitted that to be re-inserted when our journey is safely completed!
Vessel Name: Mandy
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol Channel Cutter 28 - http://www.capegeorgecutters.com/BCC28/index.html
Hailing Port: San Diego, CA USA
Crew: Richard & Virginia Cross
Having spent 30 years in the racehorse business we felt it was time for a different kind of adventure. Both originally from England we have sailed for fun for over 30 years. We have owned MANDY for five of those and are planning to head south for Mexico etc. in November 2008 - ready or not. [...]

There Goes Mandy!

Who: Richard & Virginia Cross
Port: San Diego, CA USA