The big job of clearing the channel
24 January 2016 | Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico
Leading inland from the Tenacatita anchorage is a super-cool, slow moving river, dense with mangroves on both sides. It's like our own mini-Amazon complete with egrets, crabs in trees, fish, and crocodiles. It is about four miles long, goes behind rolling hills and ends up at a beautiful sandy beach and anchorage. It is way too tight for a sailing vessel, but has always been a great dinghy shortcut.
Unfortuately, the big hurricane last year, hurricane Patricia, knocked over so many trees that the second half of the channel was unpassable. Allan on s/v Sea Boa took it upon himself to coordinate some of us cruisers with the local Mexicans to cut the channel back open. We wanted it for the shortcut, the Mexican's want it so that they can take local tourists on tours in their pangas.
A couple of days ago we loaded nine of us gringo cruisers, with our machete's, into a couple of pangas with some of the locals with their chansaws. Imagine, a couple of Mexican's with chainsaws, plus several gringos with machetes, mostly 60+, in each panga swinging and chopping for all they are worth. Together, we were determined clear the 2+ miles of blocked channel while coming home with as many fingers as possible.
I quickly lost count of the Workers Comp regulations that were being broken. Chainsaws were screaming, machetes were flying, and we all were ducking when necessary! Our safety equipment consisted of tank tops and flip-flops. Yes, blood was spilled, but nothing too serious by Mexican standards.
Dozens of trees both above and under the water continually blocked our path. All of these had to be cut up, loaded in to the pangas, and taken to another spot to be dumped. As soon as one blockage was cleared, another appeared a few feet ahead. The underwater trees were the worst, especially because we have all seen the crocodiles that live here. We each had to make sure that we didn't hack of our buddy's fingers, while imagining the crocs lurking unseen in the opaque brown water ready for a snack.
Eventually, after about six hours of extreme punishment, the gringo contingent was completely worn out. Even though each of us outweighed our tiny Mexican friends by double, we were spent and they were just warming up. Holy crow could these guys work! We were shuttled back to the shore while they headed back in to keep working. The next day, they didn't pick us up for another day of work due to a "communication issue" and loaded the pangas with more Mexican's instead. Yeah, I get it. We weren't up to the job!
The end result, after one day of gringo / Mexican work of work and 2 more days of real Mexican work, all four miles of the channel are now open! We haven't been up in our dinghy yet, but that is on the agenda for tomorrow.
What did I learn? I really value my while collar desk job!
I also learned that a 100lb Mexican with a chainsaw is an unstoppable work machine.