Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If You Stay In A Fancy Hotel In Bora Bora Expect A Gecko Scream--Or Part 6 Of Our Travels

Internet picture

Chris did sail from Mazatlan to Papeete, Tahiti with two other fellows.  (He will write his own blog about that.) After he arrived in Papeete he decided it would be a good idea to fly to Spokane, get me, and bring me back to cruise around the South Pacific.  When I went to the Spokane airport to pick up Chris, he arrived sporting the beard he had grown during the crossing, and wearing his big hat. I didn’t recognize him.  I wondered why this strange guy kept smiling at me as he exited the plane.

He arrived just in time to fix a couple of things. I had managed to break the washing machine in Jes’s rental house in Spokane and Jes’s roommate had bashed a hole in the wall in the stairway when he was moving a desk.  So we spent the next few days buying a used washing machine, spackling the hole, and painting. (Jes and another roommate got their rental deposit back when they moved out because everything was in perfect order.)

Our crew, Rex, was boat sitting but Chris wanted to rush back to Tahiti in time for the Bastille Day celebrations. Since Tahiti was a possession of France we assumed there would be at least a parade. Chris had been in France one summer to see the celebration in Paris. 

Photo by Bobbi

We checked into a hotel right across the street from where Flyaway was moored.  The morning of July 14 nothing happened.  Above is the view from the hotel window.  I assume they don’t celebrate July 14 in Tahiti.

Our first lunch cost about $50.00.  We ordered two sandwiches and two sodas. That was the last lunch out.  Everything is outrageously expensive.

Chris with $25.00 sandwich

We decided to sail to Bora Bora.  I was seasick the whole way.  I had never been that sea sick in my life.  I assumed it could have been that flying so much had ruined my ears, or that the jet lag got to me.  Open water did not agree with my stomach so we stayed around Bora Bora and ate once at Bloody Mary’s. Chris and Rex would take the dingy to town for supplies.

Photo by Bobbi

 Dinner at Bloody Marys
We chose our entree from the display

Bloody Mary's ladies room sink 

We also attended church there.  All the women wore hats and the men wore flip-flops and leisure suits.  Each village sat together and each sang a few songs for the worship time.  The cruisers had a separate section on one side of the sanctuary.  The pastor preached in 3 languages.  After about an hour we decided to slip out and get something to eat.  When we walked past the church 3 hours later, we again heard singing -- they were still going strong.

Post card

 I think this is in Papeete

 Church in Bora Bora

I think this is the church we attended

When it was time to sail back to Papeette Chris arranged for me to stay in the Bora Bora Hotel and then fly back while he and Rex sailed the boat back.

 Post Card

Chris in hotel room doorway

Chris spent the first night with me in the hotel but the second night I spent alone as the plane only flew occasionally.  That night I heard a terrible scream!  It had to be a gecko, I figured.  I had never heard one scream.  I must have scared him, but he scared me worse!  I figured he wouldn’t come anywhere near me so finally I was able to get some sleep.

I took this from the airplane window

I encouraged Chris to keep going to Australia or wherever he wanted to go.  Rex agreed to crew for him. But instead we decided to ship Flyaway back to the states and buy another house.  (Ugh! Horrors! I hate houses!) Chris had no desire to be a long term sailor.  So at that time our choice was to buy a house.  We sold it 4 years later and bought a condo.  It is easier for me but tougher for Chris.  He is on the condo board.

I’m so grateful to God that He enabled us to have the finances to go on this wonderful adventure.  I'm thankful for a safe journey every step of the way. But now I’m ready to be an armchair sailor.  I will now watch all those travelogues my mom sent me before we went on our adventure.  It was her way of trying to convince us to stay home.  So now we will!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Never Walk Between Parked Cars In Mexico--Or Fifth Blog About Our Sailing Adventure

 Chris and Flyaway

This is the fifth blog, in a series of blogs, about Chris and my adventures sailing the “high Seas,” on our boat “Flyaway.”  If you haven’t read them in order, and would like to, click on this link http://stowellbrown.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to the first one called, “Of Whales, Aircraft Carriers, and Storms,” or click on the link to the right, and start reading from there.

After living in La Paz for awhile I learned that many people in La Paz left their dogs in their cars, rather than locking their cars, and that a dog will bark wildly if you walk next to their car, and also that if you walk on the sidewalk next to a fenced yard there is most likely a dog in the yard who will guard his territory by barking violently.  To solve the problem of dogs in parked cars I would ask Chris to go first between the cars so that the dogs could bark at him.  To solve the dog in yard problem, I just walked in the street.  We believe that each homeowner owned the sidewalk and had to do their own maintenance on it.

When June came it was time to put “Flyaway” to bed, and to fly up to Seattle until September, or until the sea in Mexico cooled down from body temperature to a nice 80.  Each year we either stayed with our daughter in Seattle or eventually we bought a condo in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.  We sold the condo after eighteen months as we decided that we are not “island” people.  I was spending most of my time riding the ferry and driving down to Seattle to go to specialists because of my health, and Chris had no Home Depot on the island.  So we really only stayed in the condo a total of about 8 months during breaks from the heat in Mexico.

Our next step after a hurricane free summer in Mexico was to return to La Paz and have the bottom of Flyaway painted.  Chris supervised and was fascinated by the Mexican engineering.  The solar panels were ready to go.

Solar panels on Flyaway

The most fun I had in La Paz was when I decided to invite a couple from another boat at the marina along with their grandson to play board games with us on New Years Eve.  Suddenly the party blossomed, and a couple from the “English” church invited us all over to their compound for board games.  We ordered pizzas and played Mexican Train, Balderdash, and other games.  I had so many laughs I count it the best New Years Eve ever.  The teenage grandson made up so many funny definitions of words for Balderdash I couldn’t stop laughing.  I had prayed that our crew, Dan and Debbie, could meet Milton and SuSu, a Christian couple who had been cruising for years as a captain and cook on a 105’ Mexican Yacht.  God worked it out by their inviting us all over. We were warned not to go outside at midnight as the Mexicans shoot their guns in the air to celebrate the New Year.

English church

Then, I don’t remember the date, four friends showed up to help us cross the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan.  The first night after we started out we stayed in Partida.  As I recall a whale fell in love with “Flyaway” and swam around us all night.  He was a loud breather too. 

At seven knots we made steady but slow progress across the sea.  At night the water lights up with luminescence. Four or five out of the six of us went snorkeling in the middle.  (When we got to Mazatlan were were asked by other cruisers if the sharks had bothered us!)  We avoided colliding with unlighted pangas rafted across a large area in the middle of the crossing also.  

  Internet photo

Mazatlan was a much bigger city than La Paz. It had many more marinas to choose from.  We elected to stay at the El Cid Marina.  The bus stop was right in front of the hotel and Time Share Salesman only occasionally propositioned us.  They would ask us if we wanted a free ride to town.  If we accepted we were taken to a Time Share Presentation, which was only about 4 hours long.  We were offered a free meal, which also was about 4 hours long. 

We had several more friends come from Florida and Washington to stay on the boat with us or at time shares nearby, and enjoy the hot tub, riding the bus to the Golden Zone to shop, many restaurants, Old Town, and Central Market.

Internet photo of golden zone

We didn't buy any meat at the market.

We bought masks at a shop in Old Town

Of course we attended fiestas.

Photo by Bobbi

Photo by Bobbi

We enjoyed meals out with other cruisers.  After Chris was finished fixing other peoples boats he began building “Mexican Train” games and painting tiny locomotive game pieces.  Later a group of cruisers got together and rented a bus to take us to Carnival.  We had bleacher seats for the parade and a balcony from which to watch the fireworks.  We saw conga lines of young men running through the crowd, which was shoulder to shoulder with no room to pass, but they passed anyway!

Us with cruiser friends

We thought the floats looked top heavy

They used poles to lift wires so the floats could fit under them

It was around this time that I decided I had, “been there and done that.”  I was not feeling like I wanted to live the rest of my life on a boat.  I encouraged Chris to keep going and sail to the South Pacific and on to Australia if he wanted to.  I flew to Seattle and then our son drove me to Spokane to live in his rental house while his roommates were gone for the summer. 

Next blog will be on the Tahiti trip.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Near Life Experience--Part Four Of Our Cruising Adventures

Us at the marina office

Living in Mexico is like living in an alternate universe.  I don’t speak Spanish or understand their strict visa laws.  When we first entered Mexico we had to find a little off ice for immigration to check into the country.  Then we had to find the payment office to pay our fees.  Then we had to go to the Port Captain and have all our papers stamped.  When we decided to stay in Mexico long term we wanted to “import” our boat.  Two men came out to inspect our boat.  They didn’t speak English so when I offered them a glass of aqua they didn’t know what I said.   But we passed inspection anyway!
Karl and Chris getting groceries

Grocery shopping was another challenge.  There are about 100 types of peppers, Spam is in the gourmet section, milk is radiated, and of course everything was in Spanish.   To shop we took a cab, rode a bus and got off when it turned away from where we wanted to go, or bought fruit from the produce man who came to the marina.
Karl and Chris with produce man

Communication was another stimulating test of abilities.  If we mailed a letter it would take weeks to get to the U.S. E-mail was by ham radio or satellite. We didn’t have an address so the only news we got from the States was when one of our friends would bring mail down with them.  Our daughter sent us an Easter basket down to us by way of our son one year.  Phone booths were everywhere but calls were expensive.  I felt very isolated, as I had nobody I could identify with.  No Moms in Prayer groups here. (One trip down I brought some booklets in Spanish to pass out to moms.) No churches were available for English speakers. (A TEAM missionary in La Paz, who was planting Spanish churches, would preach his sermon in English to us at 8 am on a Sunday morning before he preached to his congregation.) We immediately signed up for Spanish lessons.  I was able, after a year of living in Mexico, to understand what was being said in Spanish but I still could not answer in Spanish. 

Pictures of phone booths I shot

We used the marina facilities so as not to pollute the water in the marina.  Every day a maid scrubbed the showers for hours.  I had never used such clean showers.  For this I was thankful!  For laundry we bought tokens from the marina office.  The laundry was next to the cruisers library where we took a book and left a book.

When we anchored out instead of in a slip we would take our dingy into shore to eat at the marina restaurant.  

Pictures of dingies I shot

Eating in restaurants was cheap though fattening.  We always ate cooked food though—never mayonnaise or any dressing that required refrigeration. The only time I got sick was when I drank a drink on the street that had fruit in it.  We think it was an allergic reaction as a shot of adrenaline from a hotel doc cured me in about ½ an hour.

Internet photo

We enjoyed meeting other cruisers and are still in touch with Don and Diann Vis of Lady Diann, and Clavey’s of Touché.  We had “dock” parties.  One time we all got together for an Easter dinner.

Chris at dock party
Cruiser friends at Easter dinner.
 A few times we cruised out to the islands to have potlucks with other cruisers.  We would see fishermen in their "pangas" out fishing.  Sometimes they would be almost 50 miles off shore with no safety equipment or radios.

Panga and a small friend

Fishing camp

Chart from the internet

As summer set in we had covers built for Flyaway to protect her from the sun.  We chained her to the dock very securely in case of a hurricane.

Our Flyaway covers

Next blog will be on our crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cruising Life--Part Three Of Our Adventures

Chart from the internet

As I recall, Dan and Debbie flew down to San Diego from Seattle, about the first part of January 1998.  They helped us ready the boat with food and supplies for our next leg of the trip.  By this time I knew what to expect—no showers and no hot food.  We could manage to boil water for hot drinks though.  Karl had prepared a gourmet dinner including medallions of pork during the frantic speed of the boat through the impending storms on our first leg.  He had also read us stories from Pat McManus’s books we had on board.  We would miss his presence.

We could have joined the Bahaha (http://www.bajahaha.com/HowTo.html) but opted to not go with that group.  After talking to one fellow who cruised down with them we were glad about our decision.  The boat he helped sail down was not sea worthy and did not have emergency equipment. Because of Chris’s training he would have probably spent most of his time repairing and helping the sailors install safety equipment.  “Flyaway”, was new and built in Sweden, so it was well made.  We had installed all new equipment on her also.  The only thing that broke was the water maker.  In our cruising around Mexico we heard horror stories about how boats crossing the Sea of Cortez had been dismasted.  The only thing we broke was a thingy for the engine transmission and Chris was able to use “a good Mexican fix” on it until we could buy a new part.

The weather cooperated and we were able to catch a few tuna, which Dan filleted.  We were told that Dorado mate for life then found out later that this is a myth.  I don’t recall that we caught any however.

After hours and hours of the droning of the engine the first stop was Turtle Bay.  I opted to stay on the boat as any climbing, walking, or use of my arms caused more pain from my fibromyalgia. The stop in Pirates Cove was made because of concern for topping up the fuel tank.  We anchored in pitch black with only the radar screen for light.  The next morning revealed that old fishing boats and tankers surrounded us.

Internet photo

Finally we sailed around the tip of Baja and opted not to stop at Cabo San Lucas.  Next stop was La Paz.  As soon as we arrived we signed up for a slip at Marina de La Paz. Debbie and Dan flew back to Seattle. We rented a storage locker and loaded extra stuff off the boat into it. We ate our next meals at the marina restaurant.
Storage we rented

Next blog-- our adventures in the Sea of Cortez.