Meeting Duck Breath
25 November 2013
November 24, 2013
There is this wonderful way in which cruisers create a community all throughout Mexico. They have what are called cruiser's nets. This is where all the boaters of a particular area listen to either the VHF radio or the SSB on a decided frequency at a certain time and share information. In Ensenada, the cruiser's net is on six days a week, Monday through Friday at 8:00 am and Saturdays at 9:00 am. Each morning we monitor channel 69 and wait for our host to begin the check-in.
It always starts with her/him asking if there are any emergencies or if anyone is in need of help. Next it is time to check in and everyone listening announces their boat name and from which marina they currently reside. (There are three main marinas in Ensenada; Marina Coral, Baja Naval & Cruise Port.)
After everyone has checked in she asks if there are any new arrivals. If so they introduce themselves saying where they came from, where they are going, how many crew on board, etc. When that is finished, she asks for departures and any of us who are leaving will notify them at this time.
Then there is a whole list, or rather script that they follow, of items that might be of interest or help to cruiser. For example:
Anyone willing to take mail or passengers, either around town or to "the dark side" as they call the US.
There is Treasures of the Bilge - Anyone having something to sell or need something. Swaps & trade.
Any updates about cruisers who have left Ensenada, where they are, how they are doing.
Announcements, events, and recommendations. This is when you find out all the wonderful things going on in Ensenada, like the Baja 1000 or the jazz festival, the Spanish classes or the Mexican history lecture given by the Spanish teacher's husband, a retired architect. They also have a women's group that meets for coffee on Tuesday mornings. They celebrate holidays together like Thanksgiving with a pot luck and barbeque at Cruise Port. All are welcome.
Trivia. (You can find some interesting information here.)
Then the host will turn it over to the infamous "Duck Breath" who provides us with weather and a tidbit of news.
"Why Duck Breath?" I ask Jay one day. "Duck Breath is such an odd choice. I have to know the story behind Duck Breath."
My curiosity was fueled further when we were walking through Gringo Gulch and came across a smart car with the license plate, DUKBRTH (or something like that). In the back of the car, through the window, we could see some rubber duck feet - as if there was a rubber duck upside down in the back of the car.
"OMG! Duck Breath!" I exclaimed. We were so curious, Jay and I even went so far as to walk through the stores asking if anyone knew this man called Duck Breath. Of course they looked at us like we were crazy.
Then, Thursday when we were listening to the net, we heard a man named Stache come on and announce that he was having a computer clinic at one of the local sports bars in town. "It is a free service. Come and bring your computers or questions at 4:00 pm today and we will try to help you out. If by 5:00 pm we haven't been able to help you there is always happy hour and you can drink your problems away! There is Thursday night football, as well, should you decide to stay for that." There was also some discussion about whether or not Duck Breath and Broadway Joe would be showing up too. They would.
I looked at Jay and Don and said, "That 's it! We can't leave Ensenada before we meet Duck Breath. Let's go." So, when 4:00 pm came around, off we went.
"Do you know where to go?" Jay asked me.
"Um, I think so. Something about McDonalds and First Street, turn left and it will be the first bar sticking out on the street." This time I actually did know where to go.
I just started looking for a group of people who spoke English. There they were sitting around a table as soon as we entered the bar. Stache welcomed us warmly and invited us to sit at their table. I would say there were about eight people total who were present. All cruisers with different stories. There even was a man, Jake, whom Don knew who had brought his boat from Channel Islands. Small world.
I looked at Stache and said, "We've come to meet Duck Breath. We have to meet him and find out the story behind the name." Stache smiled and said he would be there shortly. "Are you Broadway Joe?" I asked. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eyes. "No. No. He will be here shortly too. Come, sit down and join us."
It ended up Jay did actually have a few computer questions and Stache was quite knowledgeable and helpful. Then Duck Breath arrived with a few of his friends and sat at one of the tables outside. Stache went to get him to make the introductions.
He was not at all what I expected. Now you have to understand that Jay and I play this game when we listen to people on the radio. "What do you suppose he looks like?" He will ask me. And then I make a guess and he makes a guess. It is interesting how someone's voice alone gives a totally different impression than the one when you marry the voice and the physique.
Duck Breath has a very soothing voice. He is articulate and clear and definitely, has a sense of humor. His accent told us that at one time he lived in Canada. I pictured him as tall and slender, with a long face, strong, chiseled features and no facial hair. In fact, he was shorter than I had thought, had a round face with soft features. He wore round wire-rim glasses, a beret and had facial hair. I can't remember what Jay had guessed, but I knew it was closer. I leaned over to Jay and whispered, "I think you win this one."
Duck Breath (and we never did learn his real name) is a retired pilot who lived in Canada. He has always loved ducks and used to raise them. One morning when he was coming home from work at dawn, it was very cold. Really, really cold. His ducks were outside in a cage and were very glad to see him and were quacking to greet him hello. The sun was coming up behind them and the way it was shining, he could see their breath. "That's duck's breath." he thought to himself. From that day on, whenever it was freezing cold, he would say, "It's cold as duck's breath in here." And it just kind of stuck. So now, that is his call sign.
Duck Breath moved to the hill overlooking Ensenada about six years ago and loves it there. I am guessing his love of weather from his years of piloting is why he continues to share his knowledge with the cruisers. And we are very grateful, too.
"So who is Broadway Joe?" I ask, thinking it's another gentleman with a great story.
Duck Breath presents me with his duck. A long, skinny, naked, rubber duck.
"Oh, we saw him upside down in the back of your car!"
"No. That was his friends. Go on, squeeze it." He says as he lays it on the table with his naked bum staring into my face.
I stare down at the table. Really? I think to myself.
"Go on." Stache encourages me.
Everybody pauses and waits. I squeeze the duck's bum. It quacks. There is much laughter.
It seems I am the amusement this day.
I told you Duck Breath had a sense of humor.