“Did you feed your pet this morning?” This is Mike’s question as I pop my head up the companionway, coffee in hand, ready to listen to the VHF radio net which is our morning entertainment. There is a certain comfort of familiarity in hearing the same boat names check in each day, even if we have never met any of them in person.
“Of course I did! I am a good mother. In fact, I am a bread mother. I am the best bread mother ever.” The idea that I would forget to feed something depending on me for food is ridiculous. I should be insulted. That’s right. We have a new pet of living organisms aboard the boat. It’s my sourdough starter. Tired of feeling envious of all the other boat dwellers who have furry friends on board, I decided to start a little life of my own, a little colony of yeasts that look to me for feeding. I’m imagining watery-eyed yeast creatures waiting for their daily slurry of flour and water. Yes, it’s come to this. I’m not going to say that boat living doesn’t come with costs.
This sourdough thing has opened up an entire new world of opportunity for baking so today I will spend some precious interwebs time adding sourdough muffin and bread recipes to my recipe app. I’m so excited and easily amused. Sourdough banana bread, sourdough gingerbread, sourdough cinnamon muffins, sourdough Irish soda bread, sourdough naan… so many delicious things! And best of all will be the sourdough sweet potato pancakes that I will serve with ginger syrup that I made when I candied a bunch of ginger lately. So tasty. I’m saving that for a special day. I’m not sure when that day is going to be. Probably after we eat the Spinach Feta Egg breakfast muffins I have ready to pop in the oven for departure day. I hope I bought enough flour. Maybe one more package and another dozen eggs. Sometimes I forget there are only two of us aboard when I’m planning all these things.
Oh, for those of you who got excited about our cilantro experiment whereby I packed chopped cilantro in lime and oil, I’m not sure it’s going all that well. I mean it still smells good, but that nice fresh green color is gone. I may need to just freeze some. A life without cilantro is less pleasing. Especially because we will be catching fish.
And now, in a move that makes this all feel extremely real suddenly, we are checked out of Mexico. Technically that gives us 48 hours to leave, although if it takes a day or two longer, which it undoubtedly will, no one will care. Checked. Out. Of Mexico. I’m not sure how to feel.
See that group of uniform-clad men looking official on top of that cement bulwark? That’s Mike and friends getting us checked out of Mexico, getting our zarpe. A zarpe is a piece of paper that says that you’ve taken your boat over to another marina, waited for officialdom to walk down and take photos of your vessel and compare the serial number of your engine to the one they have on record, then stamp all the things in sight with their big authoritative stamp. The stamping of paperwork here in Mexico is next level. I love it. They take your little FMM form that says you are in the country legally, stamp your passport, stamp all the other papers, hand you a fancy document, and then you are cleared out.
No one came aboard. Two of the three men never even approached the boat. I’m not sure they even looked in our direction. We had a representative of Customs, Immigration, and a Navy guy. I mean, I tidied up below and got our off shore life vests out in preparation for an official visit. I was mildly disappointed. I would have offered them ginger candy had they come aboard.
We pulled off this checking out business without a hitch. It was completely no drama from the initial visit to the Port Captain’s office, to the docking in Nuevo Vallarta (thanks Mika and Jim for catching lines!), to the check out process, to the leaving the dock, and getting back to our anchorage to the exact spot we left. We even got back before the afternoon thermal winds kicked up. Woo hoo! Nailing it!
Our list is getting very short. Things are looking good here for getting this passage started. Yesterday I made it to the Mega Foods and was not turned away because of age. And frankly, there were many people in that store who were very clearly much older than me so… I got my fruits, vegetables and meats and took an Uber back to the marina. I love Uber and am grateful when it’s an option. I will miss the prices in Mexico’s grocery stores. And their fresh produce.
Mike had gone to Nuevo Vallarta, again by Uber, to get the paperwork started for the check out today. We both finished up at around the same time and met back at the marina just as the winds were piping up for the afternoon game of ‘is this anchorage crazy or what?’. It’s always a thrill getting onto the boat from the dinghy in these windy and wavy conditions, especially with heavy bags of fruit, vegetables, meat and liquor. Timing is everything. The wave comes up: quickly hop onto the swim step and hold on tightly. The wave goes down: wait, hook leg around sturdy ladder for stability. The wave comes up: Mike hands one bag off to me and I swing that up onto the deck. The wave goes down: wait. Repeat until all bags are stowed safely on the aft deck. You see that a person needs good rhythm to do this safely. We don’t want those liquor bottles broken.
But wait! Liquor? Indeed. Where there is a will there is a way and this whole rule about Nayarit being dry right now (no alcohol sales, even beer), and Jalisco right next door being, as it were, WET, is a rule that, well, we shall say that rules get bent regularly. I mean, one man’s rule is another man’s opportunity. And so we will not leave Mexico without tequila and rum. Maybe the choices were limited, but we do love that Centenario tequila so that’s going to be cracked open when we land in Hawaii and we will just hope that some of our limes are still good by then. Wait! I know! I will juice them and freeze the juice. Yes!! Thank you enterprising local entrepreneurs! I have a few pesos left over and there will be no place to spend them between here and Hawaii so mañana I may go back for another bottle of something or other. Something for here. In this anchorage. Right now.
Tomorrow we will dinghy into La Cruz and walk around, maybe make a few last minute purchases (see previous paragraphs) to help the local economy along. And then we will be turning our old Family Truckster dinghy, the old Avon, over to Walter. (Recall that we were given this dinghy here in La Cruz last year. In fact, we are anchored behind the boat who gave it to us.) Walter is the guy who owns a sister ship to Galapagos. He keeps her in San Blas where she is awaiting a new engine just like ours. We are glad to pass our dinghy onto him and hope he gets as much use out of it as we did this year. It’s the perfect snorkeling platform even if it does need to be plumped up every morning. Now we are going to be back to using the Portland Pudgy, which we couldn’t bring ourselves to get rid of, and it’s a good thing we didn’t.
So now we have a conundrum. When do we actually leave? And this is where I think I may have made a grave error in judgement. I have already shopped. I am currently staring at a hanging bag of ripening bananas and avocados. My mixture for those Spinach Feta Egg muffins is already mixed and ready to bake. I checked my lists and checked my recipes. What I did not check was weather. Arrggh!!
For the next several days our wind is, in a word, nonexistant. Ordinarily this would not be an issue. We would just shrug and begrudgingly turn on the engine and motor off into the sunset. However, that will never do for this trip. We don’t want to burn that much fuel up front. We have about 2800 miles between here and the next fuel stop so every drop of diesel is precious to us. This is the first time we’ve had to consider this particular issue and it kind of snuck up on us, to be honest. We carry 222 gallons of fuel, which is a lot for a sailboat. But we don’t want to waste any if we don’t have to. So we can afford to wait until we can sail at least fast enough to keep us from wallowing in swells. Meanwhile, those bananas and avocados are going to keep getting ripe. I might have to rearrange the freezer once more to fit in some mashed fruit.
The other thing I overlooked is the fact that we don’t carry any insurance except Mexican liability, which is required and is cheap. We (along with hundreds of other folks) lost our hull insurance after the last hurricane season. Have we ever made a claim? Nope. But our boat is old, paid for, and (on paper) worth less than what the insurance adjusters consider important. We aren’t even going to shop for hull insurance right now (or maybe ever). But we do kind of need liability insurance in the litigious United States. So while we wait for some wind, any wind at all, to fill in, I’ll be on the phone shopping for that. If you know anyone who might cover us for liability only with no survey, let us know. And remember, our boat is 1975 solid-as-rock fiberglass.
So until the spirit moves us out of here we have time for uno mas garbage run and maybe time to buy more tequila and rum. How I fondly remember all the times when it was “Uno mas* margarita?”, to which the answer was almost always , ‘Yes, please!’. Mexico, you have treated us so well.
S/V Galapagos, standing by on Iridium Go
* “Uno mas” is Spanish for “one more”.