We’re growing barnacles on our hull. When we left San Carlos in December we had a brand new bottom job. Naturally we had hoped that this would see us through the year, at least. But we’re just ignorant that way; and also still accustomed to the colder waters of the Pacific Northwest, I guess. I mean, why else would we have what has turned out to be unrealistic expectations? Friends here in this anchorage with us left San Carlos with a new bottom job at about the same time as we did and they, too, have barnacle growth to attend to. Maybe that’s normal in these waters.
It’s not that there are big huge creatures attached to our precious hull, it’s that they are small and numerous and I know we cannot leave them to grow. So I find myself in my snorkel gear, earplugs firmly intact, using a flexible cutting board as a wide scraper, swimming along the side of the hull removing hard growth and attracting myriads of smaller fish who are pleased with the growing smorgasbord in the water. I was using a smaller putty knife but it doesn’t remove enough material at once. I’d be there until Christmas that way. I’m kind of ready to hire someone to do this for me, actually.
One of the many things about this lifestyle that has taken us a little by surprise, because we just didn’t think much about it, is how you have to constantly adjust to new environments. I don’t mean the usual ‘finding the grocery store here’, or ‘which place has the best tacos’. I mean the change in climate, water temperature, air temperature…all that stuff.
The difference between our lives here in Banderas Bay (because it feels like we live here now) and our life in the Sea of Cortez is profound. We are dealing with humidity, increasing heat, and we are enjoying the warmth of the water, which means we swim almost every day. It’s a whole different world. This, apparently, has exposed us to new and exciting organisms that, while invisible to the naked eye, find hospitable purchase to grow in our bodies. Everything seems to grow here with wild abandon.
Here are our two lessons we’ve learned the hard way so far: always clean your ears out with hydrogen peroxide after swimming, and always wear a full mask that covers your nose when swimming. In other words, keep the salt water out of your orifices. Who knew? Well, I guess we do now.
We had been here about 2 weeks when Mike began to feel ill. He actually had a fever, which is pretty rare for him. Lethargic and with a painful jaw on one side he wondered about an infected tooth, but none of his teeth hurt. I wondered about a sinus infection, based on my considerable experience with those. He felt like crap and slept a great deal.
Giving him the once over I discovered increased blood pressure for him, and an increased pulse. Hmmmm. No bueno. I decided to take a look in his ears. In what turned out to be a prescient move, I had invested in a cheap Dr. Mom otoscope when we were back in the states. It was an impluse purchase that I felt would come in handy. I checked the ears and found, to my horror, that he had what appeared to be a bulging, red and purple weepy area on the ear canal. It was not behind the ear drum, but it was definitely not something that belonged anywhere on a human body. Something alien was in my beloved’s ear. This meant a definite trip to the doctor. Immediately.
There are two places to see a doc here. One has an office attached to the pharmacy in town. I understand the fee there is extremely reasonable (read: cheap) and you can get your prescriptions filled right there. The other is a 24 hour clinic that is more focused on the tourists in the area and is quite a bit more expensive. We went by the pharmacy doc’s place first, but he was out to lunch and Mike felt too ill to wait for him in what was turning out to be a very warm, humid day. He was fading fast. We went to the emergency clinic. Mike was seen immediately.
About 100$ later the doctor had given him antibiotics and some steroid drops for his ear and told him that an organism had found its way under the skin probably due to some tiny scratch in the ear canal. It had created an ulcer. He said it happens frequently and we should wash our ears out with hydrogen peroxide on a regular basis, and especially after swimming. Huh. We aren’t in Washington State anymore, I guess. Although you could never have paid me to swim up there.
The antibiotics helped over time and I kept a close eye on that ear, checking it everyday. It took about 11 days for the thing to heal enough that it didn’t look like an open wound. We feel like we were lucky to catch this because his ear didn’t hurt and it was only because his jaw was hurting that I thought to look in the ear. The doctor made it clear that had we waited much longer, this would have been a serious infection and much more difficult to treat. Damn. Way to put the fear of the gods into us.
So Mike is fine and back to swimming and practicing standing up on the paddle board. Thank goodness for good medical care that is affordable. In the states, we probably would have avoided going to the doctor longer due to cost. The freedom of not having to worry about the financial implications of treatment is considerable.
Soon as he was well, I got sick. What?? I feel sure that my bottom-cleaning antics are to blame because I made an unwise decision and wore swim goggles, which do not cover your nose, rather than my full face mask. Even as I was sideways against the hull with organism debris all around me, that little voice of wisdom in the back of my head was telling me this was not a great idea, that I needed to keep the salt water/debris out of my nose better than this; that keeping air pressure in my nose wasn’t cutting the mustard. I hate when that little voice is right AFTER the fact. I got a nasty sinus infection, which I fortunately had antibiotics for on board the boat. I’m better and back to swimming (WITH my face mask, thank you very much), but between Mike’s illness and mine, we’ve been kind of growing attached to La Cruz. It’s not a bad place to be stuck, but I’m wondering if we need to check our own bodies for barnacles, we’ve been here so long.
One of the good things about being in a place too long is you make more connections with the people who are here. And that leads to some opportunities. In our last post we talked about how we realized we were looking at inflatable dinghies with longing. (Well, it wasn’t actually the dinghy we wanted, it was the ability to move faster and with more power. Frankly if we could do that with our Pudgy we’d be happy.) But anyhow, if you are following us on Facebook you’ll already know that very shortly after that post Mike was chatting with a guy at the dinghy dock and somehow it came up that we were kind of thinking we needed to be looking at other dinghies. People always ask about our Pudgy and admire her, so these conversations about dinghies are common. This guy had a dinghy he was selling for 100$ but it was deflated on his foredeck. His woman was seriously ready for it to be gone because it was taking up space. He was feeling the pressure.
Mike took a look at it but was pretty unimpressed. It looked like it had seen way better days and as a rule, we believe you get what you pay for, although we are completely open to gifts from the Universe, as it were. While not really interested in the dinghy, Mike kind of felt for the guy and realized he was under pressure from the wife. So he offered to come the next morning during the calm water time to help the dude just get the thing off the deck, get it in the water; just cruisers helping other cruisers. That would at least move the situation along and take the sting out of his complete disinterest in moving forward with that particular dinghy.
That afternoon the guy pulled the dinghy up to our boat and said, ‘Here, give it a try. Don’t worry about paying me. Just see if you can use it.’. Well… OK. I guess that was a bit of a surprise, but why not?
It was a sad looking boat, let me tell you. Filthy, no seats; it was like my first bicycle that I pulled out of the trash at the tender age of 5. It only needed everything to be just perfect. Still, it was floating, it had a fiberglass double floor with a drain, it was hypalon (not PVC), and it was the right size. Having invested nothing, we had nothing to lose by trying it out. It was made by Avon, which has a really good reputation for lasting decades if cared for. We went down the research hole on the interwebs and determined that based on what we found, and on the feedback I had received on the Women Who Sail forum, we would see if we could save this apparently worthy dinghy. Hey, if you know S/V Rubicon, this used to be their tender long ago.
We soon found a leak on one side, so that would need fixing. We took it in to the marina and talked to Horatio, the local dinghy repair chap. He looked it over and came up with a plan to fix that leak, then we could determine if there might be more, smaller leaks that would show up after this one was fixed. He said after he fixed the leak, we should use it like that for awhile and see whether it held air and if we liked it before spending more money on restoring it further. I liked this guy. He was clearly looking out for our interests as much as his own and I felt he was honest about what he could do for us. He didn’t want to see us invest a lot of money in a dinghy that turned out to be a poor investment. If we decide to keep it, he can replace all the seams for us. It also needs a new rubrail, but we will have to get that from the states.
So we played with it a bit and we enjoyed how big and comfortable it was. We put the Octopus engine on the thing and even though our engine is a 2.5 hp baby, it pushed that dinghy along much faster than the heavier Pudgy can go. It cut our time to get to the dock by at least a third. It’s a way wetter ride, though. Maybe with a larger engine that can get it up on a better plane, the ride would be a little drier. But inflatables have a reputation for being wet, something we had not appreciated about our Pudgy as much as we should.
At this point we are not ready to give up the Pudgy, but we’ve got Andrew and Jill (check out their cute blog) coming to spend time on the boat in September and if we are lucky Claire and Dan may make an appearance this spring. This dinghy will be grand when they are here. That will give us enough time to use it and see if we want to invest in a larger engine with this dink, or if we need to look at other inflatables once we get to the states. Storage is the only issue, but what else is new? We think we have a plan but we haven’t tried it yet. I mean, we’re already well into the Beverly Hillbillies vibe on our cabin top, so what do we have to lose? We’ll see.
While we had planned to spend the summer on board, once more that is not happening. We need to go to Tennessee to visit Mike’s family. And since we’ll be in the states we will go see my family as well. We plan to get our car in San Carlos, pray it still runs, and drive that to Tennessee where we will stay for a few weeks. We’ll then need to drive the car back down to the southwest and store it somewhere, probably near Tuscon I’m guessing, so we can fly home to Washington. We will leave the boat here in Banderas Bay at Paradise Village Marina. It’s a good hurricane hole.
We think we are almost ready to go exploring now but I hesitate to say that out loud. We plan to spend a few days in Paradise Village Marina before we leave as they have potable water. Have I mentioned here that a water maker is high on our list of requirements for going further with this whole cruising gig? Hey, mentioning the dinghy paid off in spades, even though that guy has never heard of this blog. I have nothing to lose by throwing it out there that we need a water maker, especially for when 4 of us are aboard. Bring it, Universe. Bring it.
S/V Galapagos, standing by on channel 22a.