Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in mexico (65)

Monday
Nov122012

getting ready to get underway again

We took on a bunch of fresh water today, which actually got hand carried down the dock in five gallon cans. We hold 80 gallons in the tank and another 15 on deck; the whopping price was about $20. I felt so bad for making them haul all that weight that I slipped a couple Ballast Point Sculpin IPA's their way. 

The tap water in Ensenada (either via hose at the marina or faucet in a business) is brackish, and the idea of loading up a hundred gallons of the stuff and tasting it all the way down the Baja peninsula just wasn't that appealing. It's not quite salt water, but it's also not quite something you'd want to make your tea out of.

Getting ready to go, and having a brief moment of silence after Charlotte and Cora have gone to sleep, I'm reflecting on leaving tomorrow. 

Basically every time we get underway, I get a little jittery. I talk myself through the undocking procedures. Which way will the stern kick out? Can I spring off something? Will the bowsprit rails nail a pylon? What happens if everything goes sideways and I'm totally screwed? 

I look at the boat. I think of every repair and installation that I've done and wonder: will it hold? What about the things that I haven't addressed yet. Some I know about, some I don't. 

Brian Toss said that there are three types of sailors: dead, novices, and pessimists. Indeed one can argue that a core aspect of seamanship is scrutinizing everything in sight, believing everything will fail in ways you can hardly imagine, then drafting up solutions. These solutions usually highlight a missing tool or skill, which you quickly add to your arsenal. 

The balancing force, I suppose, is that you can always come up with reasons not to do something. And with a boat, with the hundreds or thousands of fittings and doo-dads, there is always something that needs attention. 

If paralyzing over-analysis is on one side of the coin, a deep husky voice telling you to shit-or-get-off-the-pot is on the other. 

If I was smoking hash on a mountain top somewhere (which would be great, by the way) I think I would arrive at the notion that you need to use your pessimism and doubt as helpful voices that point out problems. What they can't be, and what they always want to be, are the final decision makers.

Goethe said, "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too."

So, we leave tomorrow.

Tuesday
Nov062012

newsflash: food in mexico is cheap as hell, and good

Pat and Ali on Bumfuzzle have commented about this before, and I'm sure I'm not breaking any new ground here. 

Some things in Mexico are very expensive, particularly if you need a specific boat part. Expect 2x-4x the US price tag, and that's using the base of already "marine grade" pricing. So that $100 doodad might be $300 now.

We took a free shuttle (a guy in a little Ford Tempo) into downtown Esenada and looked for an authentic Mexican restaraunt. We kept walking until we barely saw any white people, and glanced through a window that looked decidedly non-American but at the same time non-rip-you-off-tourista style. 

It was with great joy that I was presented a bill for $11. Food for all three of us, a beer, and a soda. Finally, I have found something in this whole boating thing that is indeed cheaper than living on land back in San Diego. Eat your wallets out, San Diego.

I tried my Spanish on the way back, asking a man sweeping the sidewalk for directions to a taxi. He of course replied quicker than I could understand so I just nodded a lot and said "si" on repeat. Charlotte was there to translate, forunately. 

A ~$8 cab ride back and we had a terrific evening for less than twenty bucks. Seriously: viva la f'n Mexico.

Thursday
Nov012012

holy crap: less than 48 hours left in the USA

I still can't wrap my head around it, and I think until we cross into Mexican waters I really won't believe it. Weirder still is that I don't think we'll actually be able to stay, or something will go wrong between now and then.  

I've been to Mexico dozens of times, and taken sport fishing boats and sailboats in and out a bunch of times. Distance wise, we're just going to Ensenada which should be about as boring of a short transit as there ever was.

But as Charlotte mentioned to me this evening, it's not so much about the sailing and the water as it is the life shift. If anyone out there thinks I'm adventurous, let me be clear: I'm a pussy. Ten times out of ten I would much rather sit in a nice warm environment, resting comfortably, reading a good book or watching an action movie. Someone else (with a stunt double) can do the exciting stuff and I'll just sit back and drink my glass of milk, thank you very much.

But now that the paperwork we were waiting on is here, we're out of excuses. The boat is pretty damn close to ready (no boat is ever really ready), the weather is so benign it's frankly boring (knock on wood), and my wife isn't going to be getting any less pregnant. 

I went for a walk today and tried to remember what it was that had me originally thinking of doing all of this sailing stuff. When I was a really little kid (maybe 8) I had a little globe and I dragged my finger around it, thinking it would be amazing to do that on a boat. Years later in my early 20's, it was an escape route. A way of bailing from a life (both the culture and my own doings) that I couldn't seem to extricate myself from.

As I got older I learned more about myself, I started a family with Charlotte, and here I am: a semi-grown up guy who actually has a really nice life. My existence isn't my tangled mess of garbage that defined most of my young adult life. It's nice now. I'm relatively fit. My wife is great. My kid is awesome. Lyra will probably be rad too. I have a great job and work with great people. I live in America's Finest City.

I think part of what motivates me still though is that all of those things I have: my family, my career, my friends, I have because I worked at them. I like creating things, I like making things, and I like learning. 

I really don't have a cohesive point I'm trying to make other than to capture the thoughts that are rushing around in my head right now. 

To my friends, thanks. I'd put down names but in doing so I'd alienate others and honestly the list of people who've either motivated me or put up with my bullshit would make this already rambling blog post even longer.

Here's hoping that after Saturday the next post comes from Mexico.

Monday
Oct292012

hurricane decisions

Two interesting things are happening at this very moment. First, the 2012 Baja Haha fleet has left for Mexico. We had planned on beating them by a week, but due to delays with the USCG and hurricane Paul it looks like we'll be leaving after the flotilla by a week.

At 10:00am this morning, 147 boats departed San Diego headed down the Baja peninsula. 

Hundreds of miles south of Cabo San Lucas (the lower tip of Baja), a tropical cyclone is possibly developing: NOAA gives it 50% odds. If it does form, the track has it headed out to sea (the "1" in orange there) and dissipating. Here's NOAA's actual message as of this morning:

 

1. SATELLITE DATA INDICATE THAT THE LOW PRESSURE AREA ABOUT 700 MILESSOUTHWEST OF MANZANILLO MEXICO HAS BECOME BETTER DEFINED DURING THELAST 24 HOURS. HOWEVER...UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE BECOMING LESSFAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT...AND THIS SYSTEM HAS A MEDIUM CHANCE...50 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48HOURS AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH. 

 

2. AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER HAS FORMED ABOUT 500 MILES SOUTH OFMANZANILLO MEXICO.  UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE ONLY MARGINALLY CONDUCIVEFOR DEVELOPMENT BUT ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME LESS FAVORABLE WITHIN ADAY OR SO.  THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMINGA TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES SLOWLYWEST-NORTHWESTWARD.

 

I'll leave the question open for my maritime friends as to what they would do in this situation. Odds are even (and reducing) of it even forming, and the track has it headed safely out to sea. In the wake of hurricane Sandy, and a yacht currently sitting on the beach in Mag Bay because of Hurricane Paul, this formation got me thinking a little bit.

Thursday
Oct042012

sixteen days until we leave the country

What, you don't keep 7 shaft zincs around?Our planned departure date is October 20, 2012. Although no one is going to shoot us if we don't leave then, there are paperwork reasons for leaving on a specific date. More importantly though is something I learned in corporate America: what gets measured gets done. If you're doing something more complicated than making a ham sandwich, you better put a date on it or you'll never get it done.

Being that this is my blog, I figure I get free reign to throw out my feelings so in no specific order, these are the things that I've been dealing with so far:

Who would have thought sailing a boat around the world would be so expensive?

There are people sailing the world's oceans on the cheap but if you look at even a meager vessel (I'd put us in that category), it costs a lot of money. Just routine engine work and rigging, nothing fancy and not repairing anything that was necessarily broken, will top out around $10,000. Bottom paint, thru hulls, seacocks, basic electronics, and some used sails bring the refit costs up around $20,000 - $30,000. That's a lot of money. Granted, we saved up for this trip for years, but it's pretty impressive watching that much cash slip through your fingers. Even more impressive is knowing that you could hit a rock and sink the whole damn boat, making it a really fancy artificial reef. Money is relative of course. To one person $10,000 is pocket change, to someone else it's a life-altering sum of money.

I'm really glad we're doing this.

Believe me, there have been some challenges, and in a lot of ways our biggest challenges have yet to show up. Even with that, it just feels right. We spend more time together as a family than ever before. Cora grows up around adults doing things right in front of her. Ask anyone with children and they'll tell you how fast time goes. I heard an expression that in parenting the days never end and the years fly by. It's true and although I'm not an old man (yet) I'm in my mid 30's and time is zipping by faster than ever. There will be a point in our lives, hopefully not for a very long time, where we simply won't be physically able to sail a boat around the world. 

I really had no idea what the heck I was getting us into.

Any event in life that's so big that it is truly transformative simply cannot be fully prepared for. No one is ready to have children, no one is ready to be married, no one is ready for a loved one to die. You can think about them a bit, run some thoughts through your head, and then you go back your normal thinking. A transformative event is one that's so different and consuming that it forces you to change the very nature of your cognition and the way you perceive the world. Anything you can wrap your head around in advance, by definition, is not transformative. 

Your life isn't as delicate as you think.

The really bad stuff in life that can ruin you is outside your control. Asteroids, revolution, global pandemics, horrible car accidents, death of loved ones, etc: you can't control those. People think they have way more control over their lives than they really do. If you play it close to your chest your whole life, you'll never really know what you can accomplish. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if it wasn't for the fact that you're going to be dead. Sooner than you'd like to think. Don't spend your life managing to over extend yourself as little as possible. 

Work, in and of itself, has value.

Taking pride in something can only happen, or should only happen, if you've done something good enough to warrant it. Because you're not really taking pride in the object, you're taking pride in your work. When you see someone working hard on something, you're drawn to it. You want to help people who are busting their ass: we respect hard work and the people who do it. People who work hard motivate us and help to clear mental obstacles. 

Never (or rarely) back up and look at the whole thing.

Years ago I walked into my then-boss' office and had a minor meltdown, freaking out about all the work I had to do. He sort of laughed at me and said, "What a second, you actually looked at everything you need to do? Don't ever do that man, it will blow your mind!" It might sound weird, but it's true. You want to check out the big picture every now and then to make sure that what you're doing lines up with it, but the only way things get done is by breaking them into small pieces. Not only do you need to make huge projects manageable, but often there's enough complexity in the small individual steps that they will require your total focus and you can't really spend a lot of time thinking about everything else. 

On the one hand it's Mexico, on the other it's only 1000 miles away.

One place we're going to, Turtle Bay, is 140 miles of dirt road away from the first paved road, which is still in the middle of nowhere. It's a dying fishing village where the stores are actually the living room of people's homes. So there's remoteness in that regard and some genuine BFE stuff happening. But in Puerto Vallarta there is an airport right in town with 4 hour flights back to San Diego for $388. So yeah, we're leaving the country, but the world is much smaller now. Even in that bumpkin-ville of Turtle Bay there is a little Internet cafe where you know Charlotte and I will be uploading photos.

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