Morning Watch

It’s 0453. 18th, maybe! In the Navy this period of four hours from 0400 to 0800 is called the morning watch, so I guess I’m subconsciously on duty! For whatever reason I can’t sleep anyway. I had nightmares when I went to sleep and am now awake again with a bit of an upset tummy. We went out for drinks with Jamie & Steph, and another couple from another boat in the marina, Josh & Morgan. I hadn’t met Morgan before and she seems like a nice girl, but we’d both met Josh before. Bernie’s really funny about Josh, doesn’t like him much at all! I don’t think he’s too bad but he is a bit of a blow hard! So, we had a couple of margaritas and some finger food. I guess that’s what upset my tummy. It’s not bad though. I’ve always found, when travelling, that it’s best to cook your own food. Especially in countries like this!

Once we got home, we sat on deck, on the bow, as we often do. Most days, in fact. We had a good long chat about the future, where we thought things might go, and so on. Didn’t solve much, lots of “don’t knows”! But good to toss stuff round. I find Bernie easier to talk to, on just about anything, than any other man my age I’ve met. He’s incredibly non judgemental. It’s refreshing.

On a totally different thread, I’m cat sitting for Kim at the moment. She’s gone to her place in Tuscon for a few days. She has four cats and the sister to our boys, so I’ll go twice a day to feed them etc. Our kittens have really settled in and love it here now, I think. In fact, when I got back this afternoon, they were calling to me, happy to see me, and Alex did that kneading /sucking thing wee kits do. I forget how young they are. Normally they’d still be with their mum. Bernie and I sat on deck watching a TV series and they stayed close all the time.

Alex and Jack are getting bold though, and have nearly gone over board chasing each other or attacking halyards! They seem to think the whole yacht is a fancy playground designed just for them! We laugh so much.

On Monday we took the dingy and went exploring the harbour. The ride was a couple of hours before high tide (springs) so we went up the river a ways too and saw a beautiful white Ibis (I think, lol). Then we hopped ashore on the isthmus to the west side of the harbour. It was actually pretty spectacular and I couldn’t resist a swim in the fresher cooler sea on the other side.

24.09.20: I’ve been feeling weird this afternoon. On edge. Emotionally delicate. It’s not all Danny this time either. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I haven’t earned any money for nearly a year and it worries me to be living on savings that have taken a life time to earn. I don’t feel I can say anything really. Bernie has enough on his plate right now. He needs me to be supportive at the moment, with things in NZ giving him sorrow. So I get that it’s on me that I’m letting it ride for now. Though I did mention I’d applied for a job in Fort Lauderdale.

We had a nice night out with Steph and Jamie this evening. They’re Christian and we aren’t and it’s never been discussed between us. I don’t know how it came up tonight but next thing I know Bernie is really getting into one of his passionate dissertations. He’s so educated and articulate about it, it’s impossible to argue with him. I was embarrassed. I think they’re entitled to be left alone regarding their belief system. So I’m feeling a bit fed up. I hope it doesn’t affect our friendship cos I love them to bits. They’re great people.

I don’t know. I just feel in limbo. Like I don’t belong anywhere any more. The jigsaw is a bit shakey just now. If it wasn’t for the kittens making me smile today, I might’ve given in to a good old sulk and grump session!

It was a gorgeous morning though, with stunning light on the sea at sunrise.

I’m still not feeling 100%. When a girl can’t drink her happy hour margaritas, you know there’s something wrong! I did get some grocery shopping done this morning though, so at least we have fresh goods again. But had to ly down when I got back.

Sunday, 27th September.

Where has this month gone! There’s a lot of local traffic in the bay today and many of the ignorant a-holes are screaming past us so close, making Momo bounce all over the show. You can tell I’m in one of my really tolerant moods!

We’ve both been productive today. Bernie’s been filling screw holes in the shower cubicle, readying it for painting, and I’ve cleaned the whole deck and done a ton of laundry. It’s too hot to do more now. It’s 36°C. I wonder when it starts to cool off for the Winter. I’ll be happy when the sea temperature drops. It’s almost the same as the air!

Alex and Jack are doing well. I rather suspect Kim has incorrectly sexed them. I had a look for myself now they’re happy with us handling them. I think Jack might be a girl and Alex a boy but I’ll see what the vet says when we take them in for their first rabies jabs. We’ll have to do that soon, though they never go ashore to have contact! But we’ll need the record for sailing to other countries.

Kim took us for drinks and nibbles at some friends of her’s house two nights ago. Nancy and Glenn. What a cool couple. We had a great time. They live in a lovely place between here and Guaymas, overlooking the sea. They also have rescue cats from Kim! And two dogs. They’re educated, articulate and a ton of fun. Great attitudes to life. Glenn is a psychiatrist and Nancy managed health care facilities for indigenous populations, I think. Really interesting to talk to. Glenn is now involved in running a local medical clinic and three ambulances. It’s free to use and supported by donations. The staff are paid so it’s a well run, successful local enterprise. I offered to work for them while I’m here and Glenn was very keen for me to. He was keen to have me do some education and go out on the ambulances. Bernie was very supportive which I appreciate, because if I do it, I will be exposing us to Covid-19. No doubt about that. Glenn said its prevalent and killing people regularly here.

We both went in to hang out with Steph and the kids for a little while this morning. Bernie needed to collect his tools. He’d been helping Jamie do some work on Arena yesterday. Steph had had fun with her two older girls, putting temporary hair colour in their hair. They’re great kids. While there, Ada found a sick young sparrow. I helped them try and pipette some sugar water into the poor wee thing. But it didn’t live so they asked us to do a burial at sea for it on our way back to Momo!

What day is it?

One or other of us asks that every day, I’d say! The days are blending together. We’re getting things done though, slowly, Mexican time. I’ve learned that everything will be done “mañana” – tomorrow! Today could be Tuesday, I think. I could look on my calendar but I rather like living in this zone. I’m sitting on the bow, it’s 0630ish and the kittens decided we should come on deck and enjoy the extraordinary calm.

The stanchion bases we took off and got an engineer in Guaymas to strengthen, are back on. Momo’s engineer did a great job with help (holding screwdrivers etc) from his deckie. The deckie also tidied up, she’s good at following the engineer round and mopping up stray tools and filthy cloths! All that’s left to do on that job is restring the netting, not a job I’m looking forward to as it requires me to be bent double for long periods. It kills my back.

We bought some garden type solar lights the other day and I’ve put them on the bow and either side aft, as a precaution against idiots at night. The commercial sight seeing boats aren’t too bad, but the sea fleas (jet skis – bane of a sailor’s life) are ridden by total eggheads. That’s me being polite about them. They rocket round at 30 knots, so close to us, unlit at night. Et cetera. Loathe them. I’ve asked the skipper, repeatedly, for a 50 cal to mount on the bow, but it must be on back order, coz I’ve yet to see it. I could’ve had so much fun with that… The fringe benefit of mounting the solar lights is it’s stopped the pelicans from sitting (& shitting) on the bow, something that gives me perverse pleasure!

We had Kim for dinner last night. She’s a neat lady. She raised the kittens. Alex was so happy to see her. It was adorable. Jack didn’t seem as engaged!

I think Alex is the more sensitive of the two. I was having a wee weep over Danny’s absence today and Alex came into my cabin and snuggled with me, doing that kneading thing kittens do, purring, meowing and being just so sweet. It made me feel better and I couldn’t help thinking how much Danny would’ve absolutely loved these kittens!

They’ve worked out they have cool as cat doors all around the yacht! The scuttles seem to be their favourite mode of getting in and out!

We watched a documentary called The Social Dilemma, about the effect of social media on us. It was disturbing, to say the least. Worth a watch. I found it more disturbing than A Private War, which really got under Bernie’s skin. He got pulled down by that and I actually felt bad. He’s missing his daughters. They’re not great at keeping in touch and that hurts, understandably. I told him he just has to keep trying because a) they’re teenage girls who see things in black and white and think it’s all about them most of the time, and b) they’ve got different lives they’re focusing on but will one day raise their heads from and see him there again, as long as he keeps trying. I hate seeing him sad. The same way he hates it when I’m having a melt down about Danny. But that’s our lives and the reality of it, so all we can do is support each other. It doesn’t really help, I guess, that my family are all so close and talk /message every day, or that Matt and I call each other every few days and talk for hours. It throws the lack of communication from his family into rather sharp relief.

I’ve had lovely talks with my nieces, Hannah and Kelly, in the last week or so. Both are doing so well, as are Suzie and Elsa, though I’ve not talked to them lately, just messaged. I’m very proud of all my nieces, and nephew, Sam. Such lovely young people they’re all growing into, navigating the trials of life in their own ways and with increasing maturity. ❤️ I’m going to do something a bit special for them all in the next few months. It’s a secret! Not telling yet! Matt has another wonderful idea, too, for when we both get back to NZ.

2030 on the 16th September. We’ve just come in from our usual Sundowners on the bow with the kittens. They’re getting very bold. Jack is an absolute greedy guts and I have to watch him like a hawk at dinner times. He eats five times as fast as Alex and will steal his food with zero compunction! Would you believe, I haven’t taken any pics of them today. 😉

I went into the marina at lunch time today to fill the water drums and collect the laundry. But I met up with Steph, from Arena, and we went for lunch together. Nice girl time. She’s such a honey. I really hope they get to NZ next year too. They’d Canadian and want to emigrate.

Yesterday afternoon I took the dingy out to the heads, then went in with snorkeling gear, towing the dingy, and snorkeled my way back. It was nice to get the exercise and cool off, though the water is almost at air temperature, but the sea life is so disappointing here. The impact of the hugely increased human population is so evident. No fish, no sea plants, zip. Pour visibility, a grey sludge over everything. Amazing, when 80nm away at San Marcos island the wild life is abundant. But no one there. Remote. Just incredible. I want to go back.

My back is giving me gyp at the moment, not sure why really. My beds too hard but not enough to cause this much grief I wouldn’t have thought. Oh well. I’m looking forward to getting my fancy topper mattress though. The kittens had me up on deck for sunrise this morning. It was a good opportunity to ring Johan too. We haven’t caught up for a while and it was great to hear his news. I’m so happy for him that his new job is going well.

Marina San Carlos

04.09.20

We’ve been here a week already and I did say I’d fill in the gaps! First, though, Brett sent some more photos of my taonga which I’ll put in. It’s very beautiful and thoughtfully made. I will certainly treasure it.

Since arriving in San Carlos Harbour, Bernie has got on with his next translation job and we’ve started on a few maintenance things. We’re preparing for the Pacific crossing next year. We’ve ordered bits and pieces online and getting them brought down from the USA by a lady, Debbie, who does that a lot for cruisers. I’ve ordered a mattress topper as I find this bed too hard and my back complains. It was damned expensive but at least I know it’s a good one. The couple on the yacht Kyrie have one and let me try it! Bernie’s ordered a new battery charger. We’ve also taken the stanchion footings into Guaymas to get strengthened and if the guy seems to do a good job we’ll get him to make a couple of new ones as well.

We did take the dingy out the harbour mouth to snorkel around a big rock there. It wasn’t amazing snorkeling but was nice to freshen up in the cooler sea. We saw some as yet unidentified birds.

We’ve been pretty social, spending time with Arena, Kyrie and meeting a few “locals”. Kim, on The Cure, who has the kittens, is mending our dingy cover. Hopefully.

Did I mention we are adopting two kittens? They’re tortishell males which isn’t common. It was Bernie’s idea and I totally second it! I tidied out a kitten zone for them today, in my cabin!

5th – Jamie and Steph have gone into Guaymas and messaged they’d get litter and food for the kittens. So we might be able to get them today. Super exciting. I only have a photo of one at the moment since they were hiding when we visited Kim yesterday.

We watched the French movie The Intouchables last night. I’ve seen it before and I was pretty sure Bernie would love it. The deckie was right again. We both laughed our way through it. Such an awesome film. Last time I watched was with Matt and Danny at Christmas and I fell asleep with my head on Danny’s lap.

We talk a lot. The weirdest things, or thoughts, provoke long philosophical discussions, which I love. Bernie has a very wonderful way of seeing the world, partly because of his historical education, partly their life of sailing and partly because he’s one of the most self questioning and introspective people I’ve met. He has better insight into himself than most of us achieve, and with humility. I very much appreciate it. Its good for me too, when my less tolerant side wants a say! The meditation, while not quite as routine as we hoped, is going well. I enjoy it and Bernie has helped me learn to settle into it. I was really struggling with the concept but he’s explained it in a way that makes sense. We go and sit on the cabin roof, get the air on our faces and feel the sea beneath us, close our eyes and tune into our (not quite) daily lesson!

I’ve been slowly going through all the cupboards, cleaning things out and generally making Momo easy for me to operate in. I wasn’t sure about doing this at first, because she’s not my boat, but Bernie gave me the go ahead since he wants me to stay. We’re quite different in how we approach things. I’m a neat freak and very methodical, but do know how to pick my battles! Bernie leaves stuff all over the show and manages to lose incredible amounts of stuff on 13.3m of yacht! I get endless amusement from watching him look for things. He’s huffing and sighing, going “oh god” in his lovely Canadian accent, and I’ll say “lost something”? knowing damned well he has. 9/10 I can either see it from my seat or can tell him exactly where I last saw it! So I guess the deck/nurse has her uses! I’m usually rewarded with a sheepish grin.

We’ve both had messages from Michelle and Bernie had a long chat with her yesterday. She and the girls really like Dunedin, which is great, and her literary endeavors sound wonderful. She’s a very clever girl! I think it’s so good they’re still close friends because it means they can talk over things about their daughters and parent together still. I wish I’d had that level of support. Bernie set up financial support as a matter of course, he’d never not do that, whereas I had to beg and fight for every little thing. So unnecessarily exhausting. Still, it’s all in the past and not worth thinking about, except as context.

It is very hot. We literally drip! I’ve washed all the seat covers and we’ve got towels on them now. Easier to clean those! Sheets are not needed at night, only to ly on, and even then you feel wet! I can’t say I mind. I’d so much rather be hot than cold. Though I’m also glad we’re not labouring physically in this heat. The light grey shade cloth strung above the boom makes a huge difference and every little breeze is appreciated! We have fans too. I’m glad a brought a stack of surgical sponges with me as they make great mop cloths. Yeah, I know, gross!

9th – The kittens have been here four days now and have settled in beautifully. They’d never been outside so their first two ventures on deck with us were interesting. It was a mixture of abject terror and ‘eyes on stalks’ intrigued. The great side effect was they suddenly put us in the “good guys” zone, realising we’d save them from any Mexican equivalent of the Loch Ness monster!

11th – I’ve had nice long chats with everyone back home over the last few days, as it was Pip’s birthday on the 9th and Lucy’s is today. Also Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary is the 9th, this year 59 years. Wow! Matt has rung a couple of times for long catch ups. I miss my big son so much.

Bernie and I went with Kim (off the Cure) into Guaymas yesterday. Got things for Momo and the cats, and passport photos for Bernie. Unfortunately they aren’t the river size, when he got back and checked the Canadian requirements. So we’ll have to try again. We also started putting the stanchion bases back on, a messy job. The guy, Luis, who fixed them did a good job.

I’ve started doing Spanish on Duolingo, which is fun. At least I can do greetings and basic stuff like that now! We’re going to be here a while so I figured I should at least give it a shot!

Kim told us about the cartels and their influence in this area. Apparently their families traditionally live or holiday here so there was a bit of a no go zone for killing each other, but the truce broke down recently and they’ve been murdering the police and each other again. Bit scary. I have no desire to get caught in their cross fire. The quicker we get our maintenance done and foxtrot oscar, the happier I’ll be.

The kittens have worked out how to get up on deck and back in my cabin scuttle, jumping down onto my bed. They’re so small it scares me that they’ll try to jump through the hatches. But so far they’ve decided it’s too high. Thank goodness.

I’ve just worked out what the hell WordPress does with my photos. It automatically crops them. So maddening. I have to deselect “crop” every time. Still, at least o know now.

Isla San Marcos to San Carlos.

02.09.20

Our faith in Windy App is a bit shakey just now! Either there is a ton of local anomaly or they just get it wrong all the time. Whichever, the wind we’re expecting seems to be continually at variance with what actually is! So, as my captains in the Navy used to say “look out the window, sailor!”

I think it was the morning of the 28th, we got up to a strong NNW blowing us onto the lee shore of San Marcos island, the anchor pulled up tight. I said to Bernie “I don’t like this much” and got some sort of a grunt in reply as he was (again pretzeled) wedged on the nav station floor mending something. I went outside and started readying Momo for sea, not wanting us to be caught out not ready in a difficult spot. All the weather forecasting apps were giving different info, with Accuweather being least wrong!

Mid morning I went below and told Bernie I thought we should make tracks. The weather was looking increasing awful and I really do not like being blown towards rocks. Not healthy. He came topsides and decided I might have a point so he tidied up below and we lifted the pick around 11am, heading out on the engine. I took the helm and Bernie got the sails up but there really was little wind, bizarrely, once we got out into open water, though the sea was rough and confused. Another plug for lots of variance in local weather in this area. Mon capitaine (I might’ve mentioned he only likes to sail!) bemoaned the engine noise and suggested we turn it off, to which I replied it was up to him but I wouldn’t just yet! There wasn’t really wind in said sails and we were still not clear of the island which boasts grand rocky outcrops just begging over confident sailors to get too close! We kept motoring.

Initially the waves were quite big and coming from two directions, so not wildly comfortable, but once we cleared San Marcos and were heading east of Isla Tortuga, the sea was less confused and there was a decent breeze from the ESE. Bernie happily turned off the engine and we were sailing close hauled nicely on the auto helm. It was mostly overcast and we’d even got a solid, though short, bit of rain which freshened up Momo and ourselves. Bernie forgot to shut one scuttle in his cabin, though, and his bed got totally drowned. Luckily the couch in the saloon is also a comfy bed!

We sat together on deck for a long time, yarning, then Bernie went to kip and I stayed up till about 2100,when he took over watch. Having expected  20+ knot winds, we ended up having a lovely sail all night, with mostly 10-15 knots, sometimes even a bit less. I took watch from 0100 to 0500,then had a wee sleep before we stayed up together again as we approached the Eastern coast of the Mexican mainland. And very spectacular it was.

The closer we got, the more inspired by the rugged mountainous coastline we were. There was some debate about where we would be rounding into harbour. The deckhand was right 😜!!

Thursday 3rd September @2100

I’ll go back to fill the gaps but I have stuff I want to get off my mind.                

Today was a pretty good day but ended in a rush of emotion I should’ve been prepared for.

We had an easy start with Bernie making crepes for breakfast, then we both worked online till lunchtime. Around 1530 we went ashore to go see a yacht which is looking for homes for kittens. We’ve discussed having a Momo cat and both of us are keen. Of course, we’re both soft as, so I was pretty sure once we saw them we’d end up wanting one! Turns out the two male tortishells (yes, I know that’s rare – so cool) are super close mates so naturally that’s what we want most. There’s really been almost no discussion about the wisdom of this move. I’m pretty sure we’ll just do it! We’ve been researching (well, Bernie has coz he’s like Matt and is the research guru while I just go “sounds awesome”) boat Cat bed /litter systems. It’s a thing – who knew. I have a feeling you’ll get photos before long. Of the new kids 😜

After that exciting interlude, we used the fresh water shore showers, not an everyday luxury we’re making the most of courtesy of Arena (they’re regalvanising their anchor cable so have to be on a berth).

Then went to have a few bevvies on Arena with Steph and Jamie. Had a great time but then I got a text from Brett saying he’d just done the marae visit on my behalf, receiving the taonga from Hope’s family.

I don’t know why it threw me but I did rather lose the plot. I knew it was on the 4th but its the 3rd here and I just hadn’t quite factored that in. I’m not sure if I explained before but Hope (the girl who killed my Danny) has an uncle who is a respected carver of Maori Taonga (treasure, things of value, usually culturally). He offered to make a piece to represent Danny and be a memorial. I so badly wanted to be there to receive it myself but can’t be. And I wouldn’t want to rush him in making something so special, to get it done before I left NZ. So my very dear friends Brett and Raewyn stood in for me. However Raewyn wasn’t well so Brett went on his own. I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures.

I’ve talked to Raewyn and Fizz since then and feel much better. Bernie’s gone to bed but I’m sitting on the bow. My brain is still wide awake. I’m listening to country music, missing my boys but in a better place. Fuck it’s tough, this road to learning life without Danny.

Steph and Jamie are just a gorgeous couple. They’re so kind, generous and I’m really happy they’re here with us. They have four adorable kids who are learning life in the most amazing way, just like Bernie and Michelle did for their girls. Ada is their oldest daughter at 14, then Riley at 12, Bronwyn is 10 and their only son, Lachlan, I think is 6. Steph is a nurse too, so we can swap notes! Then there’s the other yachts we’ve been anchored near the last few weeks. Utopia are an Aussie family (yay, cuzzies!) of Andrew and Karen with three of their four kids on board. Tristan is 19, Max is 17 and reminds me of Danny (he is who he is and adorable with it) and Ava, their gorgeous little sis! Love & Luck (Mark and Julie) I think have three kids and I haven’t spent enough time with them to get it all sorted out! Pretty sure it’s Fenton, Lucy and Heidi, but I’ve never been great at getting it right straight off!

Since I’m being all open and honest with rum on the bow by myself, I might as well state that I reckon Bernie and I have a good chance of making a great team going forward. Apparently he told Michelle that already, before I even knew he was thinking it! I arrived here originally after Danny died, not even knowing they had irreconcilable differences. I was simply crew. I came back in a similar mind set but have come to realise things are quite different. We have talked a lot and though it’s early days, we do get on well and are good, caring shipmates. That’s enough for now. I appreciate Michelle and the girls coming to Danny’s funeral very much. I think it would be wonderful if we could all be supportive of each other in our lives, though the dynamics might have changed more than I ever envisaged. God knows I realise life can change on a dime.

In a way its similar to the changed relationship between Richard and Sarah, and I. Danny’s death has brought us all together in way that would not have happened otherwise. I mean, I’ve always tried to work in with them, but it’s not entirely been reciprocated. But losing a child has a way of stripping away those petty games. For the first time ever I feel they’ve recognised I gave my every atom of my heart and being to my boys. I love them so very much and this has taken the pieces of my life apart and I don’t know how to put it back together. But I will. For Matt. For everyone else I love. For life, because we’re lucky to have it.