Thursday, April 1, 2010

Essays by Joshua Morrison

Crocodiles of La Manzanilla


One of the days when my aunt and uncle were visiting with us we went to La Manzanilla to see the crocodiles. We got to the first place where you could see the crocodiles and we got out of the car that Larry’s (my uncle) brother drove us around in. We walked up to where you could see the crocodiles. I noticed that at some places there was no fence and you were just on a raised surface. Everybody was a little freaked, besides my parents, they had been there before. It was definitely a first for me in the respect that I had never been so close to crocodiles that big. I wanted to get some food for them from a place that sells fish for that very reason but mom said later.

We then went over to the north end of the pond where you could see the crocodiles. Even though they were farther away than the (sort of) fenced place there was nothing stopping them from walking right out to the heavily populated beach. It was a huge risk and we all thought “Never see anything like that in the States”. We sat down at a palapa restaurant and had refreshments. Since I was so psyched to feed the crocs we went got some whole fish (when my parents were here last there was only parts of the fish). The crocs weren’t really excited for fish at all but it was still cool seeing them lazily eat the fish. When we ran out of fish we got in the car and went back to the hotel.

It was a dark and stormy night
It was another beautiful day in the Barra de Navidad/Melaque area. The weather had been perfect, not too hot, not too cold with a nice afternoon breeze. It was great weather for my aunt and uncle visiting from New Mexico. We spent the day exploring Melaque and La Manzanilla. It was fun to feed the crocodiles and watch them lazily try and find the fish. We stayed that night with my aunt and uncle at their hotel instead of going back to the boat. The next day it was raining and that is quite unusual for that area. The next morning we bid my aunt and uncle goodbye, and headed over to the Barra lagoon. We took a panga in to the mother boat to find that she was wet because we had left some hatches open. Also to my mother’s horror we picked up a mouse somehow. That afternoon was filled with mopping up the boat and more rain.

Later that evening we were watching Mission Impossible III (good movie) and we started hearing thunder and seeing the outside get a lot brighter. We went outside and gazed in amazement at the incredible display of thunder and lightning. I felt sorry for the people in Tenacatita, a couple miles north of Barra, it looked like they were getting some of the lightning right above them. We eventually went in to finish our movie and I went off to bed. I didn’t go to sleep because I was a little freaked when it started raining and blowing so much it made the boat heel. I got out of bed to see that my parents were already securing items and my dad started the engine. My dad steered the boat so it stayed pointed into the wind to avoid the wind catching our side and using it as a sail to make us heel. My mom and I looked for any boats that might be dragging. I stood up in the back of the boat when it started to die down and commented that I should go get my shampoo and take a shower. After the ordeal I thought, ”it’s my mom’s fault for the wind” because she said earlier that “We’re in a calm anchorage” while she held up glass wine glasses. When we started heeling, they were on the side of the counter and just slid off the counter onto the floor, SMASH! PIECES!! . I blamed my dad for the rain because he ordered some drinking water from the store so Mother Nature said “OH!!! I’ll give YOU water!!” and that’s how we got rain.

Racing in the Banderas Bay Regatta by Joshua Morrison

When we were in Chamela on the way back up to the Sea of Cortez we were invited to go over to s/v Gato Go for dinner and a movie. Since it was a bouncy anchorage we didn’t put the motor on the dinghy and just rowed over to GatoGo. GatoGo is a big Kenner 43 foot catamaran, that’s a boat with two hulls instead of one, so it’s a big boat. When we got to their boat my mom started making dinner with Craig and Bruce the two guys onboard. While we were eating dinner Craig asked if we wanted to crew with them for the Banderas Bay Regatta and we said “Sure, why not”. When we got to La Cruz they gave us some papers that we would need to get into the party and so we could be crew. So for the kickoff party they did some folk dancing at Paradise Village (a very very expensive hotel resort) and I was thinking “I’m glad I brought my computer if this is going to go on for a while”. We met up with Craig, Bruce, and the other crew that they had, Tom and John. Then the party kind of dispersed to the yacht club and/or any of the restaurants around. We went back to our boat to sleep and get ready to go back in the morning for practice sailing on Gato Go. The next day we got to the marina at Paradise Village with Tom and John then set out for a practice sail. For the first part we practiced our start and got a bearing on where everybody was going to be and who would do what. After scaring ourselves half to death with how close the boats got we went out into the bay and practiced using the screecher (a big sail that’s kind of like a spinnaker). After practice we went in to go eat and go home.

The next day began the races, for the start of racing there was a parade of boats out the channel doing all kinds of stuff; we dressed up in various costumes. For the start instead of having 55 boats start all at once which would lead to sunken boats they had six classes leaving at different times. The slower boats did shorter courses than the faster boats. The course for that day was a lot of upwind sailing and catamarans don’t go upwind very well. We just tried to go as fast as we could on the upwind so we could catch up on the downwind. Of course that never really happened but we had fun getting almost last place. After the race, we hung out in the pool at Paradise Village and had dinner at another restaurant then went home. The second day we were happy because it was a course with supposedly not much upwind and a lot of angles good for catamarans. Although we didn’t finish we still had fun. We all got a little mad at one boat that completely didn’t go around one of the marks. The last day of racing was the same course as the first day so we knew we weren’t going to do very well. To make sure we didn’t finish the wind died right when we were headed up to the last mark. The committee boat gave us an offer to turn around and not go around the last mark and they would give us the points for last. The other option was that we could try and finish, so we took their offer and turned around. Not even five minutes after we turned around the wind picked up so fast that I had gone downstairs for a little bit and when I came back up it was windy! We were saying “couldn’t it die down and pick back up after we finished”. So we just went in with last place and the awards ceremony was next. I’ve been to enough things like that to know it’s going to take twice as long as they intended to. After dinner, I decided to see if any of the little kids wanted to go to the pool because they might have been bored, but none of them wanted to. So I ended up walking around and went to the boat and played on my computer for a while until everyone got back from the awards ceremony. Gato Go is so big they had two extra staterooms to spare so we spent the night on their boat.

On Sunday, instead of taking a taxi we went over to La Cruz with Gato Go. We had fun getting into the marina from their boat in the anchorage because it was very windy which made the water choppy. It was fun racing on Gato Go in the Banderas Bay Regatta. That is all the racing we’re going to do for a while. We won’t do any with our boat ever.


April Fools'

Well, here we are in La Cruz - the trip around Cabo Corrientes was definitely not flat.  It was probably the most exhuasting watch I have had in recent memory.  It was windy (15-20+knots) and bouncy and of course we were heading right into it.  To add to it, there were 6 targets on the radar all night long.  At about midnight as I came on watch s/vGatoGo passed us by, then Persistence and several others.  Throw some big ships in the mix and it felt like the sailing version of the 580 on a holiday weekend!  We made it in to La Cruz by mid afternoon, the sailing was fine as soon as we rounded the corner.  Seems like just about everybody we have ever met sailing was here or has come since. It has been interesting watching the boats we know complete their preparations for the puddle jump and take off.  I have decided that I am glad that we are not doing the jump this year, but am definitely taking notes!! The last of the puddle jumping kid boats that Josh hangs with (s/v Totem and Capaz) are leaving tonight.  The kids are cramming as much video game time in as they can, we'll probably have to pry the controllers out of their little hands....Tomorrow will be a quiet day for Josh, but today our boat looks like the "Evergreen home for video game addicted boys".  I am way outnumbered

WHY WE ARE STILL IN LA CRUZ

We will be here well into next week due to a dead fresh water pump for the engine.  It was not rebuildable and not one to be found here, so we are flying a new one from San Diego via Tiajuana on Monday. Thankfully we discovered this issue here and not under weigh - that would have been no fun.  For an engine that is 27 years old with as many hours as it has, it really has not had too many issues, and we have bascially had no problems since La Paz. And as Dave from s/v ExitStrategy reminded me today - Cruising is all about doing boat maintenance in exotic places.  La Cruz is also very comfortable -especially when you are in the Marina, which we are.  The town and people are friendly, the kids can run around safely, the food is good, there are big stores close by to provision from and it is great fun to socialize.  So what's not to like?  The only downside is that when we finally do leave we will have to go to the Sea of Cortez more directly than we had planned - not necessarily a bad thing, just another lesson in flexibility.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MEXICAN TOURIST VISAS

When we arrived in Cabo San Lucas last November, we were issued Visas good for 180 days.  Back then, it seemed like an awfully long time, and I didn't do the math.  As it turns out, our Visas expire on May 7.  Our haul out date in San Carlos is May 15th. HHMMMM!  Well, we had heard that you could get a 30 day extension, and the internet talked about extensions. So Kevin (s/v Albatross) and I decided that since we were here, we would go to the airport in Puerto Vallarta and see about getting extensions for our families.  Quite the adventure it turned out to be and in the end, no extension for the visas.  Four hours, 3 immigration offices, 1 port captain, 1 marina and lots of bus time were all we had to show for our efforts.  I polled some of the more experienced cruisers the next day and found that yes, sometimes if you're livning right, the moon and stars are lined up and the person in the office is in the right frame of mind, you might get an extension.  Try Mazatlan..... And the consensus is that as long as you are not flying out, no one looks at the tourist visa anyway.  The general suggestion was to not worry about it, and if we get caught play dumb and pay the fine.  More on that later.....