Hauling out in La Cruz

We’d planned to pull our boat out of the water in Chiapas. That would have been a year and four months in the water without checking out the bottom, and we knew the paint was wearing away; but tsunamis wreck stuff, and despite hanging out at the marina for almost two months, the travel lift wasn’t working in time for us. The cheapest option after that would have been to do the work much further north in the Sea of Cortez, but we didn’t want to sacrifice any time during our last few months of cruising to yard work if we could avoid it. Things are still a bit chilly and blustery in the Sea, so we decided to haul out  at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz.

Heading into the lifting well

Heading into the lifting well

The travel lift here is a monster.

The travel lift here is a monster.

We stopped cleaning the bottom about a month ago, in anticipation of hauling out. Most of that time was spent in a marina, where the water doesn't move the slime off the boat. Check out that need for a raised waterline!

We stopped cleaning the bottom about a month ago, in anticipation of hauling out. Most of that time was spent in a marina, where the water doesn’t move the slime off the boat. Check out that need for a raised waterline!

I wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact of viewing our boat as a boat. When we’re living aboard, our boat is our home, and I see it the same way I usually saw our house: sheesh, I need to do those dishes, who left their hat in the cockpit, we need to wash the windows, why can’t I find a pen? But pulling her out of the water reminded me that she’s a boat, just like all those other boats we see on the hard; and I couldn’t stop feeling proud of how strong and capable she is. We have put so many miles under her, and if anything, she looks better than she did when we left. Apart from a tiny spot of baldness on the leading bottom edge of the keel, she’s no worse for wear, despite being stuck in the mud more than once. Did we find blisters on the hull? We did not. All the prep Michu did to the boat before we left has really paid off, and she looks fabulous.

Leading edge of the keel. See that tiny spot of rust down there, where the barrier coat actually got scraped away? Neither do I. More interesting: the scrapes along the leading edge from the fishing lines we've run over.

Leading edge of the keel. See that tiny spot of rust down there, where the barrier coat actually got scraped away? Neither do I. More interesting: the streaks along the leading edge from the fishing lines we’ve run over.

Post sanding.

Post-sanding.

By the time she goes back in the water, she’ll look even better. Two new coats of paint; two new zincs on the prop shaft; an epoxy touch-up to the afore-mentioned spot on the keel (which showed almost no rust, despite the fact that our keel is iron instead of lead); a raised waterline to better accommodate a loaded-down cruising boat (three coats of paint on the new stuff, just to make sure); and a pretty buff and wax. Yeah, we plan on selling the boat in a few months, but we’re happy to take good care of the boat that’s taken such good care of us.

You guys! She's looking so good!

You guys! She’s looking so good!

As far as spending a little extra money to haul in La Cruz, we’ve got no regrets. It’s a lovely town, and F and T have been enjoying some serious kid time. Peter Vargas and his team have been doing an awesome job, coming in ahead of schedule and under budget, if you can believe it–how often does that happen? And once again, a little time on land has made us eager to be back on the hook, away from the noise and heat, dust and bugs, costly cold beers and creaky hotel beds of land life.

Streets of La Cruz

Streets of La Cruz

Casa Mango--our current home-away-from-home

Casa Mango–our current home-away-from-home. I’m typing from inside the turret.

Neighborhood dog. Strong brow game.

Neighborhood dog. Strong brow game.

F has moved on to violin instruction. Music Con Brio techniques, of course!

F has moved on to violin instruction. Music Con Brio techniques, of course!

Put the boat back in the water a day early, you say? OK!

Put the boat back in the water a day early, you say? OK!

Ready to get back out here.

Ready to get back out here.

Learning locally

Last week, I had the privilege of tagging along in the kitchen while our friend Coqui made tamales for her Friday night special.

Starting to knead in the quart (!) of lard

Starting to knead in the quart (!) of lard

Starting with four kilos of fresh masa, we went through how to prepare the dough; whipped up different batches of meat–one chicken, one pork; and assembled and steamed over 80 tamales for her restaurant’s dinner service. She also gave me a quick tutorial on how to whip out tortillas with a press and quick hands (something that will take years of practice to really master), and showed me how they make their incredible barbacoa.

Chicken to the left, pork to the right, deliciousness everywhere

Chicken to the left, pork to the right, deliciousness everywhere

DSCF3605It was a pretty exhausting morning. Once upon a time, I used to spend 12-hour-days churning out food in a commercial kitchen; but cruising has made me soft, and my fingers have lost that asbestos hardness that let me manipulate food on the griddle without pain. Coqui has no English, and her Spanish is fast and idiom-filled. Her techniques are not easy to replicate on our boat, either–a blender is crucial, and we don’t have one. But the whole day was amazing, learning both the recipes and how they operate their fonda (casual restaurant), and when we’re feasting on tamales back in Wisconsin, we’ll be remembering our time in La Cruz.DSCF3606

Social overload

We finally made it to La Cruz, a focal point for cruising families. The marina hosts a kids’ club that’s becoming pretty famous; we’ve been told since Panama that once we arrived, our kids would never want to leave. Fortunately, the anchorage is rolly enough that I don’t think that’ll be a problem, but we do have quite a bit of time to spend here before pushing on to the north.

F works out her CPR technique

F works out her CPR technique

And that time will be action-packed. Before we’d even arrived, we signed up the kids for activities. Scuba Ninja ran a CPR clinic in the marina lounge, and both kids got to run through their first drills on a resusci-Annie—if they’re anything like their parents, the first time of many. This immediately rolled into a slime-making workshop by the pool, with more cruising kids that we’d seen since the Bahamas.DSCF3562

T overcomes his short stature with a boat hook

T overcomes his short stature with a boat hook

The next day, Kat from the marina had organized a kids’-only camp out on the beach. We dropped our kids off with what gear we could scramble from deep storage, and stuck around to watch the kid-led construction of an elaborate base camp structure—maybe not up to building code, but enough to keep the morning dew off. As the parents went off to town in search of tacos, we could see the flames from the bonfire reaching up over the trees. In the end, the intensive kid together time proved to be too much for our guys to handle, and they opted not to stay the night, retreating to the calm and quiet of our boat.

Structure taking shape on the beach

Structure taking shape on the beach

After a day off to regroup, they were back in action, with a movie in the VIP lounge, plus some hosting of kids on our boat. One of the big advantages of a monohull over a catamaran for family sailing: we can rig a swing from our halyard. Our neighbors took full advantage, and we sent them home covered in bruises but smiling.

Another cool activity run by the kids’ club lets cruising kids get some restaurant experience by taking over service in a local place for part of an evening. T opted for the kitchen, learning to mix up guacamole and plate tacos, while F worked the front of the house in tandem with an eight-year-old buddy. I wouldn’t say that things went smoothly, but our kids had a really good time, and T has been using his new skills to assault all the avocados on the boat. He was also really proud to be the most fluent Spanish speaker among the kitchen kids, and did the bulk of the translating.

Kat gives the kid/servers the 411

Kat gives the kid/servers the 411

F joined in to some grown-up activites, as well, jumping in with the Wednesday afternoon musicians and joining me at the Women Who Sail meet-up on Thursday. One week down, seven activities attended, and we are just about maxed out for social events.

There was a lot of Grateful Dead.

There was a lot of Grateful Dead.

The packed calendar!

The packed calendar!

We’re feeling like we occupy a weird middle ground here among the cruising hierarchy. Most of the people we’ve met have come down the west coast of the US, either from California, Seattle or Vancouver; and while that’s a challenging stretch of coast to navigate, they haven’t done a lot of boat travel to other countries. The other side of the coin is the circumnavigators—a small group that’ve gone around the world, or around the Pacific Rim, and returned to hang out in lovely Mexico. The long-term sailors are in the minority, though, and when we mention how we find Mexico to be akin to the US in terms of availability of goods and services, we’re met with gaping stares. Honestly, we feel like there’s so much English spoken here, so many tourists, expatriates and cruisers, so many American chain stores, that we’re really understanding how distinctive our time in Central America was.

That’s not to say that we feel like awesome, worldly cruisers. We don’t feel much different then when we left, although we don’t worry much about the anchor dragging any more, and a three-day passage isn’t disconcerting. But it does make us look back on the last year and a half and realize that yes, we’ve seen a lot of stuff, and learned a ton. We’ll always have more to learn, but we apparently can’t think of ourselves as newbies any more.

F on the radio; the kids have their own cruisers' net following the regular net--no grown-ups allowed!

F on the radio; the kids have their own cruisers’ net following the regular net–no grown-ups allowed!

By popular demand: another fart joke, by T

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Cost to Cruise: January, 2018

Boilerplate disclaimer: this is not what it will cost you to go cruising.

My feelings about free public art, personified by a statue

My feelings about free public art, personified by a statue

People’s constant advice, discussing cruising finances, always seems to be: It’ll cost what you have. We did not find this helpful in our planning, however true it may be. What we’re trying to show is the cost to us, more or less, for one month to go cruising. We’re going for monthly expenses, because they’re easier for us to track; so you won’t see the boat insurance amortized, you’ll just see that expense when we pay it. It won’t be what you’ll spend, but it was the kind of information that helped us out when we were trying to wrap our heads around that magical number for our cruising kitty.

Living in high resort style this month. Fortunately, we have extremely generous family who treated us like kings.

Numbers for January:

Marinas: $695.14
Grocery: $538.90
Restaurant: $448.54
Supplies: $198.36
Booze: $92.39
Laundry: $57.90
Communications: $176.90
Fuel: $62.05, diesel; $28.75, propane for the grill
Ice Cream: $24.56
Transportation: $101.98
Water: $14.89
Boat Parts: $92.57
Grand Total: $2532.73

This is not nearly enough to account for the massive amounts of restaurant food, ice cream, and booze spent on our tribe by our awesome family. Still, we did some damage. Let’s take a look:

  • New record for restaurant meals! We ate out a shocking number of times. Remember all of those months in remote Panama and the Bahamas, when we were only eating out a couple of times a month? Me, neither. You’d think that would make me happy to spend more time in my own kitchen, now that it’s just our family again, but you’d be wrong. I miss people bringing me things.
  • It’s possible that the numbers for booze are…less than accurate. We may have lost track. Ahem. Moving on.
  • We’re paying for water again. Some marinas in Mexico have potable water, but they’re the exception. We filled our tanks for free at Paradise Village, but from here on out, I think we’ll be buying water more often. Many people cruising Mexico have water makers to get around this problem; others fill their tanks with non-potable water, and carry bottled water for drinking. We hope to keep our tanks topped off with the good stuff, and will happily pay for the privilege.
  • “Communications” was up, due to our continued love of the sat phone and a disagreement with Telcel. I’m just gonna’ say it: the Telcel app is garbage. For the first time, we are finding the local phone company to be really inconvenient. If you’re headed this way from the US, we recommend buying a Verizon plan, instead of using an unlocked phone and the local SIM card. On the plus side, we’re getting what we call the “NAFTA special”—unlimited free calls and texts to the US (and to all our friends in Canada). Unfortunately, after a year and a half of traveling and being pretty out of touch, we’ve forgotten how to use a phone for calling people.