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 by Eric (392)


12 hours to think in JFK airport

This morning I got out of bed at 5:00am NYC time in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, or 2:00am San Diego time. Oddly I couldn't find my departure terminal listed on Delta's online checkin. But no bother, I grabbed a cab and left the island, headed for the airport.

Whoops, it turns out that my return flight is for March 20 (next month), not February 20, which would be today. As the suicidal cab driver violated innumerable safety laws, I had a half an hour sans a functioning seat belt to consider the situation. Even better, after discussing the situation with a friendly Delta call center employee in India, and paying an additional $300, I only have to wait here at JFK for about 12 more hours. 

Fact: I make about 20 flights a year.

I checked, and that's about my average. I'm not one of the serious road-warrior travelers who spends most of their time away from home, but for a non road-warrior I'm gone a decent amount.  I've flown in little single engine prop planes, a sleeper from LAX to LHR, and more middle seats than I want to remember. I took a couple of sleeper train cars across the US, my bed right up against the window as I watched Main Street go by. 

Fact: I screw up about one flight a year, or 5% of the time.

What often happens is that things move. A meeting that was scheduled for one day shifts to another, then shifts again, and you have multiple trips you're juggling. Trying to line up with other people, trying to think about how to not be screwed when living out of a bag for a few days in a different town: these are the monkeys in the wrench. 

I imagine a lot of frequent travelers screw up, but they probably don't admit it. At least that's what I'll tell myself. I'm not a terribly stupid or irresponsible person, so my megalomaniac view of the world tells me, "Don't worry Eric, you're fine buddy." I smile and say, "Thanks, Eric, that's really considerate of you. By the way, you look terrific today."

Fact: I've been working really hard lately

Sitting in my uncomfortable airport terminal seat, and last night staring at my laptop, it occurred to me that although going sailing on Rebel Heart was a pretty decent accomplishment (minus the part at the end there), the current bar is a bit higher: do it all over again. Except better.  Starting with less money, bigger bills, and more baggage (literal and figurative).

And so with that I must end this post and go back to work. My shitty twelve hours at JFK is 12 hours more that I get to dig and scrape towards where I want to go. I will have plenty of time to screw off later, spending a week at anchor in some tropical locale with a decent long board break. Work like a pack mule now so I can exist like a three toed sloth later. 



Capital in the Twenty-First Century

We're not here to save the fucking manatees, guys.I've been reading the phenominal book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It's one of those rare reads that really lays bare a topic, piles hundreds of years of research into the mix, and unfortunately leaves the reader with a cold reality that they might not want to know. 

A fundamental tenant is that the rate of return on capital always grows faster than wage increases. It's a documentable and research backed argument that makes clear the case that so many of us have been wrapping our heads around: the rich get richer, and actually the poor get richer too, but not at the same pace. Or said otherwise, the gap between those who make a return on capital is ever widening over those who earn wages. 

For millions of people, “wealth” amounts to little more than a few weeks’ wages in a checking account or low-interest savings account, a car, and a few pieces of furniture. The inescapable reality is this: wealth is so concentrated that a large segment of society is virtually unaware of its existence, so that some people imagine that it belongs to surreal or mysterious entities. That is why it is so essential to study capital and its distribution in a methodical, systematic way.

Trust me: I like money as much as the next guy, and probably more. But even if you'd like to entertain the idea of pulling one's self up via the proverbial bootstraps, arguing ideology against data typically has results on par with chieftans claiming magic shields that will stop bullets. In short, you argue against reality to your detrement. 

Capital in the Twenty-First Century is alreadying being regarded as a seminal work, and has ushered forth a new dialogue. One in which we're not foolish enough to adhere to laissez faire capitalism nor find solace in Marxism, but instead are forced to confront the data and trends that our decisions have brought to us.

We should be beyond arguing ideology, or at least entertain reality as much as we do our political fetishes. 


nothing good to write, hello 2015

Like most people, I have nothing important to write about these days. But like most writers, I won't let that stop me from clicking away at the keys.

There have been some rather heavy things on, but like normal when I compare my big list of problems they pale in comparison to that of others. While one of our biggest goals is to get back on a boat, a good friend of mine is fighting for his life.

I lack the eloquence to describe my last year. It's been a time of amazing adventures. Almost exactly one year ago I had crossed the Sea of Cortez for the third time, and made amazing new friends on the mainland of Mexico. 

The biggest concern for us was whether we should go to New Zealand or Australia, and I think Charlotte and I even had an argument about it one classically hot and sticky tropical Mexico night.

I rode a horse (alone) around a tiny Mexican town dodging dogs and cars at night, I've peed into the great big ocean, and I've seen such magnificent beauty that I try not to think about it during the day because it drags me out of my needed focus and reminds me of where I want to get us back to.

Another thing to remember is that we had lived onboard for around 8 years at the point where we lost Rebel Heart. Charlotte and I both kicked around ideas of things we would do when back on land. Simply put, some things are much easier to accomplish when you aren't sailing around. We had planned on doing those things in ~5 years or so, hopefully after we reached the east coast of the United States. 

So once the shock wore off, I realized for me that the time to feel bad was done and the time to seize the opportunity was here. It's corny as hell, but it's true.

Boatless might mean we can't go offshore sailing, but plenty of people with boats can't go offshore sailing into the sunset forever so it's not really just a boat thing. It's about your money, your lifestyle, your expectations, and how you structure yourself overall. If you live like a normal person you will continue to do so, and you'll die as such. If you want to break the mold, get a fucking hammer out and start smacking shit up today.

The biggest and scariest thing I learned from our two years at sea was that I really could do something I put my back into. It might not be easy, it will be harder than I imagine, I'll need help, and I'll want to quit along the way. But I have the ability to change my life and point it in the direction I want it to go.

And knowing that fact, knowing that I am indeed capable of making manifest that which is in my head, is a really powerful thing. The side effect is that if I do have the control, then there's no one to blame but myself if I don't get to where I want to go.

If I was writing a 10K and spelling out my yearly aspirations, I would put it like this:

  • I hope I can see all of my friends again on a beach somewhere tropical. I want them happy and without fear or pain. Extra points if there are no mosquitoes.
  • I hope my family continues to stay healthy and strong, and we can appreciate every day for just how special and fleeting they are. Raising two young children is really quite difficult but Charlotte and I will look back at these years with a special fondness, for the rest of our lives.
  • I hope that I remember how powerful and significant every single day is, and try to fill those waking hours with work towards the future and appreciation for what we have at present.

To my friends, I'm sorry for being a shut-in and not really doing much of anything but working and parenting. Please know it's me over here, the same guy you know who would much rather be laying on a beach somewhere nursing a cocoloco than in the heart of American business. But money makes the world (and boats) go 'round, and you need to build a big ladder to climb out of the rat race and escape the laboratory. 



the tale of maria darling's credit card fraud

A few months back, I helped to set up the e-commerce site for Nutrimart. It's a great family owned business in San Diego, I've been a customer for years, and I was able to knock it out pretty easily. 

This weekend I just randomly saw an email flash by about an order, and it piqued my interest a little bit. On first glance, it looked pretty normal.

The stolen identity. The card and address is Maria's, but phony contact info is supplied.She had purchased a gift certificate for $100, which is great. People have health fanatic friends, and a gift certificate really isn't a half bad idea (wink wink, in case you're ever wondering what to get me for Christmas).

I checked the IP address and it came back as being from NYC; so that checks out to some degree.

But then I checked the phone number and it belongs to the Pulaski Public Library: a quick phone call revealed that no Maria Darling worked there. Still, no smoking gun. Maybe she just typed the phone number in wrong. 

A classic dead drop: out in the middle of nowhere, easy to see anyone who's watching you.Then shortly thereafter, like within 12 hours, the gift certificate is redeemed by someone in Aurburn, Washington. I google the address, and a dead drop shows up: a location where deliveries can be made and contents picked up. The classic un-inhabited rusted out old business where drug deals happen in a movie.

The people who stole Maria's info are racking up orders all over the Internet, having them shipped to locations like this. If the police are there, no one bothers to stop. If the coast is clear, the inventory is loaded. 

Other details start falling in line as well. The shipping phone number rings directly to an un-setup voicemail. The email seemed a little weird too, and googling it brought up the glaring red flag of references to Russia. 

Russian reference in the email, dead drop shipping address, phone that rings to voicemail: spooky.Also if you note the shipping method, they paid $32 to have a jug of protein mailed to them. This could have been $10 if they had gone with UPS ground, but when you're spending other people's money who really cares?

So armed with this information, the first thing I'm thinking is Maria Darling, out there in New York, needs to know that her identity has been stolen. Someone has her credit card and her address, and a rather sophisticated con is going on. It's borderline guaranteed that these folks are racking up huge tabs on her account, and she's going to have a nasty mess of a problem to solve.

Remember, all the contact info (minus her adddress) is fraudulent, so I can't contact her directly in a quick manner.

My first call is to the San Diego police department.

Unfortunately I was told that since the crime happened out of state, it's really not their jurisdiction and I should talk to to the FBI.

So then I call the FBI in San Diego. A very nice lady said I should fill out the report online, to which I replied that we have evidence of a crime currently being committed and this lady is actively being defrauded right this very minute: perhaps someone should let her know. I ended up on hold, shuttled around between half interested parties for 20 minutes, and eventually hung up on.

Then I ate a cookie and thought about what else I could do. 

Visa! In an ironic attempt to prevent fraud detection, I don't have access to the card number, but certainly if I call up Visa with a lady's name and address, and inform them they're being defrauded, they will contact the card holder. No.

I'm sorry sir, without the card holder's card number I can't help you.

Try as I may, I could not get the local police, the FBI, or even Visa to care enough to do anything in this case. So to Maria Darling, short of booking a flight and waiting at your doorstep with the news, there is absolutely no way I can let you know in a timely manner that right now, as I type this, your finances are being ransacked. 

The next time you hear about identify theft and wonder why it's happening at the scale it is, let me provide the answer to you: because it's easy. The distributed nature of these cons, the insulating techniques like dead drops, and the high volume economy we live in makes most of these things incredibly resource intensive to solve.

My guess is the product that would have gotten shipped probably would have ended up on eBay or something similar. Purchased for free, sold at 100% profit, so many steps and layers between all the movements that it would take days of investigative work to put the pieces together. 

I wish there was a positive spin to this story: the best I can offer you is to make sure you practice good identity and finance discipline and hope you never fall into the cross hairs of folks like this.



sailing and stackoverflow make a frankenstein 

If you write code, you know stackoverflow. It has become the defacto question and answer resource for software developers around the world. Then stackoverflow morphed into the larger stackexchange network, and spinoffs started appearing. 

I'm a frequent contributor to the site, and recently I created a proposal for creating a sailing stackexchange site. If you agree, please head over there and follow it, and ask some questions. The site will only be created if there's enough interest.

Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: SailingStackexchange sites aren't perfect, but there are some clear advantages.

This is not to say that forums (cruisersforum, sailinganarchy, etc) or social networks (wws) are dead: far from it. But on those platforms, the focus is on discussion. If someone asks a question about changing the oil on a Yanmar, you might get twenty replies and half way through the discussion flips to why Yanmar sucks and whatever else is better.

On the stackexchange world, you spend time crafting a proper answer, supporting it with links, references, and source material. It's just different. 

Additionally although there are some regular participants on stackexchange sites, the real value is for the non-regular. It's for the person just looking for an answer to their damn question without having to wade through 50 pages of bored arm chair sailors sitting in Kansas arguing about whether toilet paper should unroll from the top or the bottom.

If you've used the stackexchange network you know how great it is, but if you haven't, check it out.



sorry you're so mad, bro

(all of the quoted text is from comments I or we have received in the last few months)

Don't get me wrong: I am guilty of Internet trolling. I was 18 when AOL was in its full glory, and I learned the careful art of driving people nuts by egging them on. I was young, it was entertaining, and I'm being honest. After a while, I started to blur the line between me being able to deliver a perfect zing and me actually being right about anything. 

Put more simply, having a cool Internet persona doesn't really mean your positions have any merit. Plus, the general (but often only supposed) anonymity of the Internet has us saying online what we would never say across a dinner table in front of friends and family. I really don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Perhaps it's societal advance or at least cathartic that we can lash out at our fellow citizen with vitriol that would leave us embarrassed if known to those whose respect we cherish. 

I suggest that you take your blog off of the internet. Your scam is becoming quite apparent to any real cruiser out there. You don't know shit. Go back to trying to blaming everyone else for your mistakes and trying to find someone else to pay your way.

So it is to you, anonymous mad person on the Internet, that I direct this particular post. I, unlike you, have a face and a name, and have to reconcile anything I type or say with the real world. My life for better or worse is fairly open and up for public opinion. I don't blame anyone for this of course, as no one put a gun to my head and made me maintain a blog or participate in social media. 

Click to enlarge: the hard knock life of an Internet troll.

And I can't judge you too harshly: I've been that guy. Partially stealing from Tom Corchrane, I've thrown so much shit around "...there ain't a shovel big enough in the world that can move it." 

You're a fucking moron.  I hope that you learn from your mistakes. But you probably didn't. Because you're a selfish, arrogant cunt.

I must however admit that I usually confined my trash talking to low grade degenerate cess pools on the Internet. It never occurred to me to directly contact someone and wish them ill, but perhaps I simply wasn't committing myself to incivility as much as I could have. My teachers in grade school were right: I just haven't been applying myself enough.

You two should be thrown in jail for child endangerment!

The silver lining to all of the spittle flying out of gnashing teeth is that I've learned to truly handle it. I've actually read every single email and comment that has ever been sent or posted to this site. Ignoring the frothing vitriol was actually easy: no matter how much self doubt or second guessing I subject myself to, I'm pretty sure I can claim the moral and intellectual high ground over someone who is rooting for my whole family to die.

I hope you 4 dumb fucks all DROWN!!!

In the end, what's kept my head sane is actually exposing myself to all of the e-thuggery. Let me be really honest: I have some amazing friends. Parents, trans oceanic cruisers, trans oceanic commercial captains, medical professionals, diy anything guys, marine engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers, business leaders, and many who are are in multiple categories. 

When those guys sit me down and have a talk, I listen. When you send an email or type some comments on the little box, I chuckle. The thing is, it's entirely possible you're totally right, but I would be dumber than you think I am if I actually evaluated anything you said. I mean really, if I just started grabbing random anonymous people off the street and had them scribble down some theories about you, how would you react? Perhaps with thoughtful consideration? Or maybe some deep introspection. No, you'd roll a spliff from it and pass it around at a dinner party.

So really, I am sorry you're so upset. One of us is spending time reading about the other, and I'm not reading about you, so you can guess who's on what end of the equation.

If it makes you feel better to defecate on my e-persona, go right ahead. If you feel like you are warning people about how [insert your favorite derogatory adjective] I am, the comment box is there waiting for you to elucidate all of us.



hurricane odile slams into la paz, baja sur

Hurricane Odile's eyewall an hour approaching the Baja coast. The outer bands were already lashing La Paz.Last year, when we spent the summer in the Sea of Cortez on Rebel Heart, we left La Paz and spent some long weeks up in Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is, delicately speaking, a dump. But right or not I had it in my head that I didn't want to experience a strong hurricane in La Paz. In truth no sailor wants to experience a strong (or weak) hurricane anywhere, and even a "safe" hurricane hole in a strong upper category storm is going to be various shades of extremely dangeorus.

The weeks that followed for us became one of the more hilarious weather moments. "Dangerous" La Paz got a few drops of rain while up in "safe" Puerto Escondido we got slammed by half a dozen cyclones.

Hurricane Odile however decided not to play favorites and slammed directly into Cabo San Lucas, marching directly over the peninsula, laying waste to everything in its path in all directions. As I type this up in San Diego, a thousand miles north, we're having a hot and humid night because of the magnitude of this storm.

I finally got some first hand info and pictures tonight. These quotes, the text below, and the pictures are from Shell Ward at La Paz Yachts.

The big thing is that we are getting the Navy to help us search for 4 missing people. Gunther on Princess, was last heard from last night with water up to his knees saying he was leaving the boat.


Our good friends Paul and Simon on Tobasco II are missing as well. Their boat sunk sometimes in the night and all we can see the masts sticking up. 


There are at least 20 boats up on the shore incliding my old one EROS.
 We also saw an 8 man liferaft on the beach which we hoped belonged to Paul and Simone. No one was in the liferaft, so we are hoping they went and found a place to stay on the Magote. 
Believe the winds were worst at 2am when Autum said her anchor chain parted. 
By some miracle I have Internet. No phone and 110 only because we are running a generator. So this is the only way to get a message out. We are OK, and my boat is fine, but a lot of people are not. There are at least 20 boats up on the shore incliding my old one EROS. The big thing is that we are getting the Navy to help us search for 4 missing people. Gunther on Princess, was last heard from last night with water up to his knees saying he was leaving the boat. Gabriel on Damiana, which is a Mexican kid on a steel boat, have not found him or the boat yet either. Our good friends Paul and Simon on Tobasco II are missing as well. Their boat sunk sometimes in the night and all we can see the masts sticking up. When wind laid down some, earlier today Mike and I went out in the dinghy (wearing lifejackets!) and picked up 2 people stranded on the beach, Autum off of Rascel and Doug on Starduster. We also saw an 8 man liferaft on the beach which we hoped belonged to Paul and Simone. No one was in the liferaft, so we are hoping they went and found a place to stay on the Magote. There are some people over there in their houses, but we have not been able to reach anyone because the cell phone service is down. Tom on Colisto and Tim on Rock Bottom are both on the beach but OK as well as several other people. Tichard on Toloache and Paul on Cementress are both stranded on the sandbar without dinghies (blown away during the night). Believe the winds were worst at 2am when Autum said her anchor chain parted. 
We could use some help down here to get things cleaned up. It will be a long week! Thanks for all your prayers and please keep them coming for our missing friends. Over and Out.



back squats: life's answer to most of your problems

If you know me personally and have talked to me for more than thirty seconds the subject of back squats probably came up. 

Indeed it was one of the saddest parts of leaving the United States for me two years ago: saying good bye to Olympic training equipment, a coffee can of chalk, and power cages. Gyms in Mexico generally look like something time warped out of the 1980's: strength training has not caught on there and most folks are varying forms of Cardio Princesses (and Princes), spending countless hours on ellipticals and treadmills wondering when they'll look like the airbrushed model on the front cover of whatever magazine lied to them.

A few days ago I finally pushed myself a bit too hard. Although I've been slowly ramping back up, the cocktail of adrenaline and creatine in my blood stream pushed me over my limits and I wobbled away with stressed knees. My glutes were so banged up I could relate to beta male prison inmates.

Tuesday I had the day off lifting, but walking back and forth to work (roughly one mile and change each way) had my legs feeling banged up in the non-good way.

I entered the squat rack today with some hesitation. Actually I first stared at it in dismay because some clown had slid the flat bench in there and was doing 1/4 ROM bench presses.

So after that interesting fellow got out of there I racked some lighter weights, and gave it a go.

I've heard people say that "my church is the gym" and although that sounds ridiculous, I would say that for me the power cage is a pretty miraculous place.

You need to focus when you're doing this stuff. You have a lot to worry about, and it all comes down to your ability to control your mind and body. Especially when you start getting near your upper limits, you are in 100% concentration mode with neurons firing all over the place taking care of pain tolerance, muscle activation, balance, and coordination. 

At heavier loads, your body is quite literally about to be crushed under hundreds of pounds. It's akin to having a refrigerator on your shoulders: screwing around time is over, now it's time to focus if you want to get out of this one alive. You need to be in an extremely narrow zone of concentration and in a really scientific way much of your power comes from your mind's ability to physically generate electrical impulses. The raw volume of electricity your mind can send into your body is an extremely large component of your strength. Weight lifting truly makes your central nervous system (a.k.a. your brain) better.

Adaptive changes can occur in the nervous system in response to training. Electromyography studies have indicated adaptation mechanisms that may contribute to an increased efferent neuronal outflow with training, including increases in maximal firing frequency, increased excitability and decreased presynaptic inhibition of spinal motor neurons, and downregulation of inhibitory pathways.

So not only do my knees and glutes feel better after some nice moderate back squats, but my mind does as well. It's not just about endorphins: peer reviewed research studies at this point have piles of evidence showing that resistance training can be just as effective as psychotherapy

If you're feeling blue, get in that cage with your shoes off and an empty bar. Slowly pack on the plates until you reach that zen'd out moment. It's cheaper than church, and everyone's invited.


more stories

Below is an email I got today with another example of's track record. I've redacted personal information. If you have any such stories please share them with me. If you'd like me to keep them private I will, or I can pass them on to our attorney, just let me know. 

In a previous blog post, I noted a bit about our lawsuit with On April 3, 2014, while waiting for the US Coast Guard to call us back, terminated our service. Initially, they had this to say about it when interviewed in Latitude 38:

We would never do that. These phones are used for emergency purposes by 80% of our customers. Legally, I could not do that. 

We did a television interview, and our local ABC reporter called, to which the reporter was told (by a lady who wouldn't give her name) our service:

[was disconnected] because of a billing issue, something to do with a credit card

Hilariously enough, in addition to my account being up to date, I was actually billed the exact day that my service was terminated, April 3rd. This is a screen shot showing the money coming out of my checking account for $120. The other amount was my balance at the time.

Faced with the unfortunate problem of factual evidence, a retraction of sorts had to be stated in a San Diego Union Tribune article:

[the attorney representing] also clarified that the Kaufmans’ account was in good standing ... The employee who made that comment to 10News was mistaken, he said.

I've omitted some of their wording about my credit card getting declined a few times throughout the year: I lost my card in Mexico and simply wasn't able to provide another one, but brought it current well before our departure and had been a customer for years. So that part is true and if I should get publicly scolded for my card declining a few times, lead me to the town stocks so that I may serve my time. 

So now Whenever/ is on defense strategy number three. The first simply being "we'd never do that", and the second (from someone who wouldn't give her name) "we did it because he didn't pay his bill." Now the third has moved to an odd mix of admitting they knew about the deactivation, admitting they had a duty of care in notifying people, and admitting they didn't notify us.  

Regardless of what happens with our case, if you're an offshore sailor or adventurer of any type I think you should seriously consider the statements and actions of Whenever /


USS Vandergrift FFG-48 On Station

I think this photo has been posted before, but I recently stumbled across a USB thumb drive that we had put our pictures on and handed around onboard the Vandergrift. This was on the morning of April 6, 2014, 10N 34', 122W 57'. The Vandergrift had arrived earlier the previous evening but it was determined that waiting for sunrise would make for a safer transfer from Rebel Heart. 

The picture gives you an idea of the seastate. The obscured decks are roughly 20'-30' above the waterline, hidden by swells. The Vandergrift assumed this perpendicular position as to create a slick to leeward (note the RAM lighting). Rebel Heart stayed properly hove-to through the whole operation. 

The helicopter on the back, an SH-60B Seahawk was flown by the HSL 49 Scorpions. That exact helicopter was the first US asset we saw after the California Air National Guard 129th. The Scorpions stayed airborne through much of the night, bridging radio traffic between Rebel Heart and the Vandergrift. 

Roughly 45 minutes after this photo I scuttled Rebel Heart.

The vast majority of people who have contacted us in regards to the loss of our vessel have been overwhelmingly supportive and positive. 

When the details emerged about our lawsuit against our satellite phone company (, aka Whenever Communications), a more complete picture started to emerge as to what exactly happened out there one thousand miles into the Pacific Ocean.

In the coming weeks and months I'm looking forward to more light being shed on the case. Several people have already contacted me about service interruptions of their own.

I can't get Rebel Heart back. I can't put my family right back on the trajectory that we had worked towards for eight years. But I am still a mariner, and I have many friends who make their living on the sea. I very much look forward to peeling back all the layers of the onion and letting sunlight in on the day of April 3, 2014.