Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in rambling (46)

Wednesday
Aug242016

to start something, you must end something else

To walk into a new room you inevitably have to leave the one you're currently in. To start a new adventure, you need to tie off your old one.

When we lost our boat two-and-some-change years ago, it was a real blow to the gut. Quickly overshadowing the loss however was the real work that had to be done as a father, husband, and grateful friend. Also, the overwhelmingly supportive response that literally came from all corners of the globe was humbling. 

We quickly decided to get ourselves a new catamaran, in the high 30's / low 40's range. Used, but in good shape, we started imagining all of the things that we would do with it. Nothing extreme: just the combined knowledge of living aboard for 8 years, and spending 2 of those sailing offshore and living in the tropics. There are two things that I think any offshore voyaging sailor knows:

 

  • Keeping a vessel in passage-ready condition is hard work and a significant amount of money.
  • You have to commit to it, and by doing so you close off other options.

 

I very much loved watching our girls grow up at sea, and I've written literally tens of thousands of words to that effect. I love the culture of the waterfront and offshore sailors, almost without exception, share a common unbreakable thread that has run through seafarers since the first intrepid soul set out beyond site of land. 

Since being back on land for the last two years, we did what I've advised anyone considering a journey to seriously consider (waterborne or otherwise): No one is going to give you a trophy or buy you a beer because you sailed a boat around in tough conditions. Whatever adventure you want to do, make sure it's what you really want. Make sure you're not just replicating the curated-for-eyeballs published accounts of other adventurers. Live your adventure. 

After we lost our home, specifically as the person who scuttled Rebel Heart, I very much was scarred with the reality of making my family homeless and relying on generosity of friends and strangers. Humbling beyond words, the show of decency and compassion we received as a family will be with me until my last breath. But I also committed to trying my hardest to not making my family couch surfers again. I wanted an address in the United States that we owned. Maybe it's a little too domestic for readers of this website, but it's the truth.

Initially, we of course considered San Diego. Our adopted home town, one of our children was born here and I'll keep my 619 phone number with pride forever. I wrote a bit about why I wanted to leave San Diego, if you're interested.

Over the last couple of years we've spent more and more time up in the Eastern Sierra. With a good friend I backpacked (most) of the JMT last year. My daughter and I spent weeks up in Mammoth and June, snowboarding. I brought friends to places in the South Eastern Sierra that I was lucky enough to be brought to as a child. The mountains have always held a special place to me and they have a lot in common with sailing.

 

  • Mountains, like the ocean, are combined displays of majesty, peace, and nature in unbridled power. You cannot insulate yourself from the forces around you; rather, you learn to work with them.
  • People in small mountain towns help each other because often they have no choice. Ties are slow to form, like on the waterfront, but long lasting once forged. 
  • In our particular town, it's a deterministic place to live. No one "accidentally" moves here. You're here because you really want to be here. There's a bit of pride to it. 

 

And so last week we moved into our new home in Mammoth Lakes, leaving San Diego behind. Our boat plans are on hold. The idea of being on a catamaran sailing the high seas is as enjoyable now as it has ever been. But walking my kids to school in a small town, knowing all my neighbors, and listening to the wind rush through the pines sounds pretty good right now too. In fact, at this place in our life, it sounds better. Plus, we're at the foot of one of the nation's best ski areas, and being able to bike/ski/snowboard/hike together as a family are daytime routines I'd put up against many of our sailing days. 

I thought a lot about whether I wanted to write again about our experiences here in Mammoth. About whether or not I wanted to grab an Internet-podium and hop back ontop of it again. This website and the popularity it garnered was a double edged sword. It gave fuel to the rather small group of folks who vocally disagreed with how we handled our affairs, but at the same time I met countless people who drew strength from what we did, as I draw strength from the trials and experiences of others. Plus, I've learned a few things about managing popularity both in a functional sense (like turning off comments) and in philosophic one (like how to handle large volumes of feedback spanning the supportive-to-hateful spectrum). 

And with that, I don't see any further updates to this website from me. If you're interested in following our new high altitude journey, you can find me over at mammothlife.wordpress.com. Otherwise I'm sure we'll run into eachother somwhere on top of a mountain or in the middle of a raging sea. Good luck on your efforts, and don't let anyone but you define your life.

Monday
Jul272015

austin stephanos and perry cohen currently lost at sea

Right now, there are two teenage boys missing in the Atlantic Ocean. Their exact fate is unknown and as the time goes on the most terrible of possibilities gains more and more traction: these boys aren't coming home.

I haven't bothered to wade through the horseshit that is certainly being shoveled at the parents right now. Without a doubt, critics from all circles are embracing that most American of pastimes: turning into a puritanical mob hell-bent on leveling moral vengeance. 

The clicks-and-eyeballs-ad-revenue news media fuels this behavior. People want drama and controversy, and modern "journalists" are happy to provide it.

Fortunately my fifteen minutes of fame is long over, so let me pick apart the critics of these families a bit. 

Leaving firearms, alcohol, and motor vehicle deaths aside, we'll just focus on drowning in general. Every day in the United States, roughly ten children die from drowning in swimming pools. Every two and a half hours, every day, a child drowns. Even more brutal is that plenty of life-altering permanent neurological damage occurs for children who survive but suffered lack of blood profusion to the brain for a sustained amount of time.

If the spittle-flying critics really are concerned with the safety of children then surely the shockingly high death rate from backyard pools would be the top of their list. But they're not, and the media doesn't really report it, and sort of like black people dying in Africa (5,500 children a day is the number, by the way), our whole society puts our collective fingers in our ears and ignores it.

But man-oh-man, when something juicy comes along like two boys lost at sea, or a family crossing an ocean, well now there's some info-tainment for you. I don't know about other countries, but here in the US of A we take a certain pride in publicly lecturing those who we feel step out of line. 

  • It has nothing to do with safety.
  • It has nothing to do with a true assessment of risk.
  • It has everything to do with novelty and the treating of our fellow citizens like they are a reality TV show for our entertainment. It's not just an opportunity to criticise, we feel like it's our duty. 

Let me raise an even more blunt point: oceans are better than swimming pools for raising children. Do you know anyone who developed lifelong confidence, connection with others and the environment, and a profound understanding of life via a backyard swimming pool? No, and you never will. 

But if you know any sailors (I use the term to include all who crew ocean going vessels), you'll know these people are deeply and permanently affected by the sea. It is a powerful teacher, taskmaster, and perspective-bringer. 

So not only are backyard pools (and firearms, and alcohol abuse) a much more serious threat (by any math) to the children of America, but you don't even get a lot of positives out of them. I digress, but the ocean doesn't have a lobbying group as where pools, firearms, motor vehicles, and alcohol do. 

So to those of you who shelter your children from, but at the same time expose them to, mortal danger, and then hop on your high horse to denounce others, I squarely write in big bold letters that you're a bad parent. 

Your children will enter the real world one day, and that world isn't the kumbaya singing fantasy land that you're conditioning them to grow into. It's a real world with life and death, beauty and danger, pain and comfort. No matter how much you want the world to be a safe place, it isn't. 

That the critics of this world don't jump all over you when your children are injured in a non media-publicized way simply means your life is in the same cattle chute with everyone else and while it's easy to throw stones at people unlike you, it's terribly uncomfortable to look at your own problems and see them as such. 

If the parents of Austin and Perry ever read this, first and foremost I hope they are found safely. As you've indicated in the press, sailors know the ocean and there are countless search and rescue operations that have yielded jaw dropping results

If your children are gone, I cannot even let my mind go to that place because of the anguish that it entails. But as parents I look at you through a lens that although not popular these days, is what even your critics regard as courageous and noble, when they can arrest their own desires to defend their complacency. 

Monday
Jul062015

i think i [still] want to sail a boat around the world

One year and some change has gone by since our big drama on the high seas. I've had a few people ask me, probably just trying to be nice, if I was going to write a book about it. For me, I didn't want the loss of our boat to be the end of a story. Maybe there would be an additional chapter padded on at the end with some obligatory nods to the future, but essentially it would be a story about loss and disaster.

A larger and more significant crisis averted, but a substantial loss none the less. I just can't square that narrative as being my story, even if anyone would want to read it.

Rebel Heart as seen from the HC-130, smoke grenades deployed to the right in the water.I went backpacking with a friend a few weeks ago for Father's Day. It was terrific, although I'm afraid I didn't shut up the entire three days. While rambling, I heard myself say out loud a truth that I've been formulating in my head for a while: my children will have a better life growing up as sailing kids. And I'm not being the father I should be by keeping them from that.

There are some realities that I'm sure you know better than I do. Realities that no matter what I argue, you know in your bones to be a certain way and you've arrived there through a lot of experience and reflection. The kids on the boat are one of those for me. 

My daughter picked up a penny yesterday from the ground and put it in my pocket, saying "Here dad, this will help buy our next boat." She already gets it: a goal that is so much more massive than nearly any other. A goal that not only consumes you but also one that's worth being consumed by.

And that version of life is frankly better than the alternative. Charlotte and I talk about it a lot: it's just so damn easy to live on shore. In a year's time sailing we would have made dozens of new and interesting friends. We would have had close calls, seen amazing things, turned our backs on not-so-amazing-things, and done it all as a family.

Some days being in boat world is quite terrible, even when you stop and smile for the cameras. Puerto Escondido, mid summer. The years we spent on Rebel Heart, especially our last two spent really sailing and putting miles on, were some of the best and hardest of my life. In not-that-many years from now, our youngest daughter will be-not-that-little anymore. There are some realistic reasons for waiting until kids are a little older: sailing life is hard with 0-4 year olds. But after a certain age, those reasons devolve into excuses. 

If you've never seen that the grass truly is greener in the sea, I can understand why it doesn't call to you. But for those of us stung with sailing heroin, we just can't shake it.

Friday
Jan162015

nothing good to write, hello 2015

Like most people, I have nothing important to write about these days. But like most writers, I won't let that stop me from clicking away at the keys.

There have been some rather heavy things on, but like normal when I compare my big list of problems they pale in comparison to that of others. While one of our biggest goals is to get back on a boat, a good friend of mine is fighting for his life.

I lack the eloquence to describe my last year. It's been a time of amazing adventures. Almost exactly one year ago I had crossed the Sea of Cortez for the third time, and made amazing new friends on the mainland of Mexico. 

The biggest concern for us was whether we should go to New Zealand or Australia, and I think Charlotte and I even had an argument about it one classically hot and sticky tropical Mexico night.

I rode a horse (alone) around a tiny Mexican town dodging dogs and cars at night, I've peed into the great big ocean, and I've seen such magnificent beauty that I try not to think about it during the day because it drags me out of my needed focus and reminds me of where I want to get us back to.

Another thing to remember is that we had lived onboard for around 8 years at the point where we lost Rebel Heart. Charlotte and I both kicked around ideas of things we would do when back on land. Simply put, some things are much easier to accomplish when you aren't sailing around. We had planned on doing those things in ~5 years or so, hopefully after we reached the east coast of the United States. 

So once the shock wore off, I realized for me that the time to feel bad was done and the time to seize the opportunity was here. It's corny as hell, but it's true.

Boatless might mean we can't go offshore sailing, but plenty of people with boats can't go offshore sailing into the sunset forever so it's not really just a boat thing. It's about your money, your lifestyle, your expectations, and how you structure yourself overall. If you live like a normal person you will continue to do so, and you'll die as such. If you want to break the mold, get a fucking hammer out and start smacking shit up today.

The biggest and scariest thing I learned from our two years at sea was that I really could do something I put my back into. It might not be easy, it will be harder than I imagine, I'll need help, and I'll want to quit along the way. But I have the ability to change my life and point it in the direction I want it to go.

And knowing that fact, knowing that I am indeed capable of making manifest that which is in my head, is a really powerful thing. The side effect is that if I do have the control, then there's no one to blame but myself if I don't get to where I want to go.

If I was writing a 10K and spelling out my yearly aspirations, I would put it like this:

  • I hope I can see all of my friends again on a beach somewhere tropical. I want them happy and without fear or pain. Extra points if there are no mosquitoes.
  • I hope my family continues to stay healthy and strong, and we can appreciate every day for just how special and fleeting they are. Raising two young children is really quite difficult but Charlotte and I will look back at these years with a special fondness, for the rest of our lives.
  • I hope that I remember how powerful and significant every single day is, and try to fill those waking hours with work towards the future and appreciation for what we have at present.

To my friends, I'm sorry for being a shut-in and not really doing much of anything but working and parenting. Please know it's me over here, the same guy you know who would much rather be laying on a beach somewhere nursing a cocoloco than in the heart of American business. But money makes the world (and boats) go 'round, and you need to build a big ladder to climb out of the rat race and escape the laboratory. 

 

Sunday
Sep212014

sorry you're so mad, bro

(all of the quoted text is from comments I or we have received in the last few months)

Don't get me wrong: I am guilty of Internet trolling. I was 18 when AOL was in its full glory, and I learned the careful art of driving people nuts by egging them on. I was young, it was entertaining, and I'm being honest. After a while, I started to blur the line between me being able to deliver a perfect zing and me actually being right about anything. 

Put more simply, having a cool Internet persona doesn't really mean your positions have any merit. Plus, the general (but often only supposed) anonymity of the Internet has us saying online what we would never say across a dinner table in front of friends and family. I really don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Perhaps it's societal advance or at least cathartic that we can lash out at our fellow citizen with vitriol that would leave us embarrassed if known to those whose respect we cherish. 

I suggest that you take your blog off of the internet. Your scam is becoming quite apparent to any real cruiser out there. You don't know shit. Go back to trying to blaming everyone else for your mistakes and trying to find someone else to pay your way.

So it is to you, anonymous mad person on the Internet, that I direct this particular post. I, unlike you, have a face and a name, and have to reconcile anything I type or say with the real world. My life for better or worse is fairly open and up for public opinion. I don't blame anyone for this of course, as no one put a gun to my head and made me maintain a blog or participate in social media. 

Click to enlarge: the hard knock life of an Internet troll.

And I can't judge you too harshly: I've been that guy. Partially stealing from Tom Corchrane, I've thrown so much shit around "...there ain't a shovel big enough in the world that can move it." 

You're a fucking moron.  I hope that you learn from your mistakes. But you probably didn't. Because you're a selfish, arrogant cunt.

I must however admit that I usually confined my trash talking to low grade degenerate cess pools on the Internet. It never occurred to me to directly contact someone and wish them ill, but perhaps I simply wasn't committing myself to incivility as much as I could have. My teachers in grade school were right: I just haven't been applying myself enough.

You two should be thrown in jail for child endangerment!

The silver lining to all of the spittle flying out of gnashing teeth is that I've learned to truly handle it. I've actually read every single email and comment that has ever been sent or posted to this site. Ignoring the frothing vitriol was actually easy: no matter how much self doubt or second guessing I subject myself to, I'm pretty sure I can claim the moral and intellectual high ground over someone who is rooting for my whole family to die.

I hope you 4 dumb fucks all DROWN!!!

In the end, what's kept my head sane is actually exposing myself to all of the e-thuggery. Let me be really honest: I have some amazing friends. Parents, trans oceanic cruisers, trans oceanic commercial captains, medical professionals, diy anything guys, marine engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers, business leaders, and many who are are in multiple categories. 

When those guys sit me down and have a talk, I listen. When you send an email or type some comments on the little box, I chuckle. The thing is, it's entirely possible you're totally right, but I would be dumber than you think I am if I actually evaluated anything you said. I mean really, if I just started grabbing random anonymous people off the street and had them scribble down some theories about you, how would you react? Perhaps with thoughtful consideration? Or maybe some deep introspection. No, you'd roll a spliff from it and pass it around at a dinner party.

So really, I am sorry you're so upset. One of us is spending time reading about the other, and I'm not reading about you, so you can guess who's on what end of the equation.

If it makes you feel better to defecate on my e-persona, go right ahead. If you feel like you are warning people about how [insert your favorite derogatory adjective] I am, the comment box is there waiting for you to elucidate all of us.

 

Friday
May302014

building back up with worn out tools

A college professor of mine regarded Rudyard Kipling as a Hallmark poet: not the kind of high brow writing that a serious literate would adorn their book shelves with. Still, Kipling's poem If has been rotating around in my head ever since we hit the EPIRB. In particular, the second stanza.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.

The last two years of our adventure was the most glamorous part: the high seas, a foreign country, and new horizons. It was a magical world and for those out there who are planning their own adventures I think to some we served as motivation or at least a reference point.

But what made those two years possible was the decade before it. It was acquiring a lot of sea time. Buying a boat. Paying down debt. Long hours in the office. Getting my commercial license. Many, many hours of physical labor. 

Those were not sexy years. They do not capture the eye with pictures of amazing sunsets or tropical paradises. But the reality for most of us is that if you want to achieve something you need to put some serious time in at the grindstone to get there.

So more than anything, that's what I'm trying to embrace again right now. Whatever we want to do next, whether it involves a boat, a cabin, or a spaceship, it will ultimately come down to having a plan and following it. 

One of the biggest things that I learned through our experience is that every single one of us, you and me included, are capable of achieving any goal that's even remotely possible. It really comes down to putting a plan together and working towards it. Every day, bit by bit, chiseling away and making progress.

The responsibility to pursue our ambitions and make them manifest is ours: the locus is internal

And with that, aside from the random thoughts about the loss of our boat, I'm starting a new chapter in my mind. 

You can't help it if a bird flies over your head, but you don't need to let him make a nest in your hair.

Those words, spoken by Martin Luther, have been helping me over the last couple of months. It's natural, normal, and healthy to run through all the emotions following trauma. The thoughts of guilt and self doubt battling away with confidence and sureness of direction. 

Ultimately though, I need to control what I spend time thinking about. If I only have sixteen or so conscious hours a day, will I spend those hours in a true and honest pursuit of a dream, or will I hamstring myself by occupying my mind with thoughts and emotions that serve no constructive purpose. 

So, happily, back to the grindstone I go. From this point forward you can expect content that will be un-exciting, work-heavy, and without a sense of finality or closure: exactly what's required to take dreams and turn them into plans, and then eventually reality.

Wednesday
Apr302014

captain's log, april 30, 2014

If you're writing cathartically or just to document, you don't really need a cohesive point. But whether or not there's an answer to "what is the author trying to say?" can be the difference between good writing and rambling rhetoric. 

I've struggled a lot trying to make sense of the loss of our dream, our home, and our way of life. Short of a press statement issued in the throws of a media circus, I honestly haven't known what I wanted to say and in large part I still don't. 

I know there are people, many people, who have suffered far worse fates than my own family has. Roughly $20,000 dollars was unsolicitedly raised for us. To put that in context, more than 40% of American workers make less than that amount annually

My parents used to remind me of the old saying, "I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met the man who had no feet." Not trying to equivocate on it, but where does that logic end? "I felt sorry for myself because I had no feet until I met the man who had no legs?" Maybe no one in a bad breakup should feel sad because hey, they could have gotten their legs chopped off too, so turn that frown upside down.

It's helpful to put our loss into perspective, but I'm trying to stop short of engaging in Oppression Olympics where we're only allowed to feel bad if we have the trophy awarded for Greatest Loss Suffered Ever. 

One of the hardest things for me personally is that we've been out of mainstream American culture for roughly two years now, living in an adventure. Everything we did was generally difficult but incredibly rewarding. Our adventurous sailing friends are literally going wherever the wind blows at this very moment, and I'm sitting on my laptop imagining our home of eight years sitting 6,000 feet under the water. 

My child's Buzz Lightyear doll, if it floats, is probably banging against the overhead in the cabin, forever unable to escape and there it will remain for hundreds or thousands of years, gently bobbing in the near current-less waters of the deep Pacific basin. These images, and others too painful to bring to the forefront of my mind, will be racing around my head for some time I imagine. I actually try to slowly remember more and more of the ordeal, and of our home sitting on the bottom of the sea, as a way of revisiting the memory and making it less traumatic. 

I of course was the one who cut the hoses myself, sinking Rebel Heart, so metaphorically and literally, I sank our dream, watching water lap over the floor boards as I said my final goodbyes to a ship that had protected us, taken care of us, and allowed us to see thousands of miles of ocean and coastlines.

Moreover, Rebel Heart allowed us to see ourselves for who we were. We learned what we really could accomplish. We learned that chasing down dreams and doing the impossible is actually quite possible, and not just for other people. We learned that we could be so much more than we thought. 

So to Rebel Heart, our beloved boat resting, I hope peacefully, at the bottom of the sea, I want you to know that you will always be a member of our family and that we continue to draw lessons from you. Your impact on our lives and the time we had with you has forged bonds that the years will never be able to undo. 

Even now you allow us to see the generosity and decency of people, who from all over the globe have offered us support and kindness in whatever shapes they can. 

Thank you, Rebel Heart.

Sunday
Mar162014

wednesday, not friday

A few years ago I almost crewed on a boat bound for Hawaii, departing from San Diego. The owner onboard was a lazy drunk who didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, but he was damn sure not going to leave on a Friday. 

For those who don't know, the general consuses was that Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday. Because we like to to pick and choose mythology in our consumer based society, sailors picked that one as an unlucky day to depart.

Which is utterly ridiculous if you think about the amount of commercial ships and warships that leave whenever they are required, Fridays included, for as long as boats have been on the water. Leave it to the knuckleheads with the lowest amount of sea time to lug around superstitious mumbo jumbo up there with angry gods sending fire out of the tops of mountains because an insufficient quantity of virgins were sacrificed.

The don't-leave-on-Friday bullshit is especially absurd if you think of the practical and pragmatic pressures on vessel schedules: official entry and exit requirements, weather, tides, visas, and much else.

Personally I'd prefer to leave on a Friday just to imagine the head shakes and tssk-tssk's that would emerge from hardened seafarers (crossing their fist ocean, just like me). 

This is a long way of saying we're slated to depart Wednesday night. Hoping to grab some showers, wait for the wind to die out, and motor out of the bay once the chop has died down.

Thursday
Mar062014

getting ready to say good bye to mexico

Just me and my shirtless male friend touching each other.

I've lived in Mexico now for a year and a half. My Spanish has improved and I can accomplish most anything I need to, albeit I probably have the equivalent grammar and vocabulary of a four year old. But still, I have a dual citizen Mexico-United States daughter. I flipped through my passport and saw that in the last sixteen months I've accumulated eight re-entries to Mexico. I've written a book about my experiences here.

I've singlehanded Baja and the Sea of Cortez, and sailed across it twice more with the girls. I drove a van from Tijuana to San Diego, then back down the Baja peninsula to La Paz. I flew in a twin engine prop plane across the Sea of Cortez, twice, missed a flight in Cabo, and have collected every type of passport entry method aside from a train (which I'm not sure even exists in the US-Mexico border). 

I've surfed, paddleboarded, scuba dived, hiked, ran, snorkled, crewed a race boat, gotten drunk, ran into old friends, met new friends, did other things I can't put on this blog, lived in two apartments, and raced down a lonely Mexican highway in the middle of the night with my wife in labor as a police pickup escorted us.

A possible route for us, in manly pink.

A weather window has materialized allowing us to sail the 3,000 miles to the South Pacific, meaning that multiple days of decent winds have shown up as far as the forecast models will go. This, coupled with the pilot charts and general sailor-wisdom pointing to mid-March through mid-April as being optimal times to cross, means that no matter how you slice it our time left in Mexico is pretty short: possibly only a few more days. 

I'm not sure how I feel about Mexico. Because my daughter was born here, both Charlotte and I are eligible for permanent resident status. For most of my friends back in the USA, the idea of living long term in Mexico might seem rather absurd: it's a narco cartel ridden back water that's dirty, dangerous, and poor, right?

Well, not really. Talking about "Mexico" is a lot like talking about the "USA". Can you really compare Detroit, San Diego, Manhatten, and rural towns in Appalacha and Wyoming? They're incredibly different and most of the people living in one of those places probably wouldn't get along well with the folks from the others. Mexico, while certainly not as culturally or racially diverse as the USA, still has many layers and it's frankly ignorant to imagine a country so large and involved as being nothing more than our backwards and poor neighbor to the south. 

Zooming down the highway with Charlotte in labor, some unknown woman's car, police escorting us.Still, it will be nice to leave, but for me personally it's because I have a fair case of wanderlust. As you travel around by boat, in every harbor or bay someone will undoubtedly tell you that their little slice of the world, the one you're in at that moment, is the best.

I know seven people who've sailed around the world, and they came back here and said it was the best they'd ever seen.

I've heard that above line (with startling little deviation) in San Diego, Catalina, Puerto Escondido, La Paz, Mazatlan, and Bahia de Banderas. Personally I think the various boosters and self proclaimed admiralty of whatever bay are well meaning, but their attitude is akin to a townie who views any departure as treason, sensing the threat that if people want to leave the spectre is raised that perhaps that little slice of Earth isn't really all that special. Or at least not so special as to keep you from finding happiness somewhere else, albeit on a different set of merits.

More to the point, the only reason I've seen so many amazing places and done so many amazing things is because we got off our asses, pushed ourselves hard, and went into unknown (to us) territory. Sometimes the results were spectacular: La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and San Blas come to mind. Sometimes the results were mixed: Mazatlan and La Paz. And sometimes the place was an absolute dump that should be used for storing nuclear waste: Puerto Escondido. 

Despite Mexico's faults, and like any nation it has a long list, it has treated myself and my family well. The people have been warm, generous, and kind. I've traveled in the USA and returned to Mexico over a half dozen times, and right along with the knock-down heat I get a smile on my face and feel at home.

So Mexico, thanks. 

Sunday
Feb162014

this internet connection sucks, my torrent won't download fast enough

Sitting in the "VIP Room" of the marina in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle it's a great lesson in why we as a people are selfish assholes and need to be policed. 

Sailors and broadband are quite hilarious. What should happen, in an egalitarian world, is that we would all recognize that the marina's Internet connection is a shared resource. We all need to use it, we're all frustrated it's not fast enough, and we'd all like to have some basic web browsing / email sending / social media'ing. And if we restricted ourselves to that the Internet connections would be speedy, clean, and wonderfully reliable. 

But no, we can't all just agree to that. Because the minute we get on a fast-ish connection we decide to take our pants off and shit all over our fellow sailors by opening up uTorrent and downloading the latest season of Walking Dead in HD. 

We could, of course, simply hop on the VHF and ask if anyone has it (to which ~50 boats would reply affirmatively), but instead you, I, and ten other boats are sitting there sucking down torrents, porn, and having video Skype calls while we bitch that all three aren't fast enough.

So please, fellow sailor, if you're in a marina with me and would like any Kindle books, pirated movies, or TV shows, please check with me first. I will gladly hand you a thumb drive loaded with gigs of data that now will not need to be transferred through the marina's pipe.