The cruising lifestyle is innately fickle. Living on land we were creatures of habit and schedule. If we made a decision about something, we did it. Now, we don’t even feel bad about not being able to stick to a plan anymore, it’s normal… and actually unreasonable to expect. We never know what we’re doing from one day to the next, one hour from the next, and we change our minds in an instant to stay or go somewhere due to…I can name a million things: definite weather, possible weather or even the slightest inkling of weather, new cruiser intel, sicknesses, boatwork (there’s always boatwork), the nebulous nature of searching out ‘boat bits’ or hiring craftsmen in a foreign country, wanting to see something new and unexplored. Frankly, a fluid agenda is all we can ever really hope for.
We’re Leaving Tomorrow – Yeah, Riiight
“We’re leaving tomorrow” is a statement to be taken about as seriously as Justin Beiber. We’ve heard this phrase over and over… then something happens, and so and so is still in port a week, a month later. Recent examples: One boater schwacked their keel hard against the shallow canal floor leaving Mazatlan - back to the marina to check if the hull was cracked. Another couple had to turn around because they didn’t check the dredge times – back to the slip, there’s no room to get out the channel. Just prior to heading south, someone accidentally filled his water tanks with gas (ouch, that’s a big one) – back to the dock for days and days of a cleaning nightmare. Several boats remained in town for Carnaval, based on local advice that it was a worthy once-in-a-lifetime event, in spite of their initial plans to stay in Mazatlan for merely a week. We know one couple who delayed departure simply due to fatigue; the morning of their slated passage south (it’s an overnight to get anywhere from Mazatlan), they just didn’t physically feel up to the rigors of sailing for 24-hours… and ended up not being able to get out due to windy conditions for over a week. (It’s smart not to push it when your lives and your home are on the line). On and on and on. Plans change. Every minute of every day.
Staying for Carnaval and Canvas and Welding
Our original plan was to stay in Mazatlan until the end of January, one month. Carnaval would begin a week later resulting in a 2-week delay… but the lure of such a spectacle was too strong to miss. After we decided to stay, we took advantage of the extra time to get some canvas work and welding done while we waited.
The Stainless Welder
One project was to replace 4 lengths of lifeline with stainless steel rails welded to the stanchions at the front of the cockpit. (Brian had wanted to do this before we left, but ran out of time.) We spent a week trying to persuade one welder to do the job. We’d seen his impressive work on other boats and contacted Mr. X who said he’d come the following day. No show. We’d call or email to remind… “Oh yeah, I’ll come tomorrow”. We’d wait ALL day in the boat, afraid to go ANYWHERE for fear we’d miss him. No one came. After 2 days of this, with a day in between each definite “I’ll be there” day, totaling 4, Brian went to his shop and spoke to him in person. “OK, I come mañana”. Again…NADA! Wasting a week, we finally gave up and found Alfonso who actually DID want the work; he did an excellent job to boot – and in only one afternoon! Nearly every day, as I lean on its support stepping on or off the boat, or grab when walking forward as we are sailing, or steady my camera on it, or watch Brian lean over it to pee off the boat when sailing (no, you just can’t train them)… I reflect on how much I absolutely LOVE my new steady handhold.
The Canvas Guy
Living on the boat full time results in constant sunshine and salt grating into our 12-yr-old Eisenglass dodger windows. We could barely see through the faded, pockmarked, sunburnt plastic. I had tried restoring the material via a special polish to no avail. The best canvas guy in town is Ruben - if you can get his time, you are one fortunate person. Cuba Libre had brought down sheets of polycarbonate window material (forget about buying this stuff down here) to have Ruben remake their dodger. After Ruben completed their job, he managed to have a sheet left over (lucky for us!). So, we had Ruben replace the windows in our dodger and make Sunbrella covers to protect our new investment. The timing worked perfectly - we got the finished product back just after Carnaval. Thanks to Cuba Libre, we can see clearly now, the fade has gone! Time to leave. Right? Riiiight.
Those Darn Wishy-Washy Cruisers
After Carnaval, we were all set to leave. I had even bought groceries for the overnight trip south to La Cruz and then on to Puerto Vallarta. Then it happened. We flip-flopped. AGAIN. You see, a man named Beto had been refinishing the exterior wood trim on Mopion, a sailboat across from us at Marina El Cid. Each day, we’d gaze longingly over at their shimmering teak caprail, glossy and ornate spindles shining in the sun. We watched as Beto sanded it all down and then applied coat after luscious coat, day after day. Ah, if only our own teak could look this beautiful, this “bristol”, once again. I admit… we seriously coveted their varnish job. But please, if you have ANY teak on your boat, don’t TELL me that you DON’T covet another man’s perfect varnish. You’d sooo be lying.
Beto Brings It
We began to ask ourselves the inevitable question. Hmmm. We hemmed and hawed. Brian chatted with Mopion about the workmanship, whether he was happy with the result (he was). We hemmed some more. We’d amble over to B-dock and stare at Mopion’s teak as we passed by... sigh…sooo pretty. We worked up enough nerve and got a quote. Ouch. Beto couldn’t start for another 10 days. Then it would take an additional week to finish the job. We hawed again. Finally, we jumped. We’d much rather have our hideous, orange-peeling varnish fixed here in 1 week (Beto is not only good, he is FAST) as opposed to doing it ourselves in 3 weeks in the hot, oppressive and sandy boatyard in San Carlos this coming November (our original plan), severely cutting into our cruising time that we were supposed to spend in the sea with our friends this fall. That made it a no brainer.
So Long Puerto Vallarta
But it cost us timewise. By the time our varnish would be finished, we’d have to head north to get the boat up to San Carlos and us out of the country by April’s end. So long PV. Maybe next year. Fickle? Wishy-washy? You bet. Over the past year and a half, we’ve learned that cruisers are inherently wishy-washy. It is an acquired trait. But a necessary characteristic we have learned to adopt in order to keep the boat and our health and happiness maintained (that includes our sanity). The best part? We now possess crystal-clear dodger windows through which to navigate, protective window covers, stainless rails forming a more secure cockpit, and beautifully varnished teak caprails, eyebrows and rubrails! As a glassy-eyed Will Farrell from “Elf” might say: “It’s glorious!”