Me, Matt & Meg in the USA!

FRIDAY 13TH NOVEMBER

Yesterday was Matt’s 29th birthday. Hard to believe I have a son a heartbeat away from 30! I feel so much for him, his birthday forever inextricably interwoven with Danny’s loss. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing him tomorrow.

Today is the first anniversary of Danny’s death, something I’ve been dreading for all of us. But we got through the day, as with all the other “firsts”, no choice in it! I did pretty well really. It was a weird day. I went on the bow by myself in the morning to listen to some of Danny’s music and just reflect. Hearing an anchor being dropped, I looked up and saw, to my delight, Arena setting her pick near us. I bounced up, waving to Steph on the bow, tears of pleasure in my eyes. I was so happy to see my lovely friend.

We got in the dingy and went over to see them straight away. They’d decided to surprise me, hoping they’d arrive before I left to join Matt and Meg. Four hours to spare! I got a big tearful hugs from Steph. I miss hugs. Bernie’s not much for physical contact, even between friends in need. And I’m so tactile, sometimes it’s hard. I was so so pleased to see her, even if it was brief.

Kim picked us up at 1pm and we headed for Hermisillo, where I was to fly from early the next morning. She and Bernie dropped me at my hotel at 3pm and I hid out for the rest of the day. I listened to music, had wine and food, shed tears and generally thought about how life can change in an instant and your reality is forever different.

I will miss you always, Danny. Our lives are forever less without your beautiful spirit in it. 💖

SATURDAY 14TH NOVEMBER

Today was manic. I got a cab to the airport at 0630 and with my flight not leaving until 0850, thought I had plenty of time! However, after a total lack of signage, coordination, zero English speakers among airport staff and three different queues, I finally was checked in to the correct place and aboard my flight. The first leg of the trip was to Guadalajara. We were 20 minutes late arriving, turning a one hour turn around into a very tight connection with my next flight to Las Vegas.

Presenting my passport and Mexican visitors visa (FMM) to the check in woman as I went to board, she refused to let me on, saying I had 10 minutes to go and renew my FMM. I literally ran to the opposite end of the terminal, downstairs, back to the other end on the bottom floor, and panting, found the Immigration officer. He was awesome, filling in my new one in record time. I raced back to gate B2, certain I’d be too late, and saw the woman who’d sent me off beckoning at me to hurry. Rueing my lack of fitness, I made it on last, the doors shutting behind me. God, I was lucky. That’s the closest I’ve come to missing a connection. All because of an FMM which had run out a few days earlier and shouldn’t have been a problem. Every website said not to worry, as most offices are closed due to Covid-19 and its impossible to renew unless you’re leaving and returning. Oh well.

My travel drama was not quite over! I cleared customs in record time, got my bag and was joyfully heading out to find Matt, when I nearly got stopped at the last hurdle! At the last check point, the guy asked how long I’d been in Mexico and where I’d been. I told him the exact truth and he said “you’re lucky, if you’d been to Mexico City or living ashore, I’d have had to make you quarantine for a week.” As it was, he sent me on my way.

And suddenly, there was Matt. After almost a year, a horrible heart breaking year, I had my boy in my arms again. Such joy and relief. After a bunch of three way hugs, we hit the road.

The plan was to drive to the town of Williams, and visit the Grand Canyon the next day. The Hoover Dam was en route so we checked that out, just on dark.

We stayed the night in Williams, a town just west of Flagstaff and a short run into the Grand Canyon National Park. Viewing this astonishing work of nature was the day’s plan for the 15th. We didn’t get there till around midday, as we all slept in!

Matt’s got a dodgy ankle so we stopped at various places to look and admire, rather than doing any of the hikes. It really is truly breathtaking. You’d be seriously annoyed, as an early settler, coming up against that impasse, completely unexpectedly! We saw some elk in the forest on the way out, which was cool.

MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

We stayed last night in a wee town called Gallup. The hotel was nothing to rave about but comfortable enough for the decent price of $57 for the one night for three of us. It was a long drive from the park and we didn’t arrive till after 8pm.

A lot of miles covered today! Matt was happy to be passing through very interesting and diverse geology. Incredibly long straight roads, and the young ones took turns at driving.

Meg and I are pleased to have Matt’s expertise to explain the volcanic geology! We found the local Walmart, after checking in, as I needed jeans and we wanted food and wine for the evening. Ticked all those boxes, then relaxed with a vino!

TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

We stayed stayed last night in the town of Alamogordo. It was a great hotel with a very good breakfast. We have them grateful feedback on the way out. I rang Bernie before we left and had a catch up, as well as talking to the kittens.

We went to the White Sands National Park this morning. There weren’t many people there so we were able to have vast areas of these beautiful white dunes to ourselves. Matt and Meg took some gorgeous photos for their Instagram. I just took holiday snaps!

The five hour drive from White Sands to this city of Lubbock, now firmly in Texas. The Trump mad population have put flags up everywhere. Nauseating. However, the endless flat, desert-like terrain en route was very interesting. There were massive ranches, though barely an animal did we see! Then there’s endless miles of oil fields, which was rather sobering, oddly. Its a bit creepy to see the pumping arm (horse head) of each little oil well bobbing up and down. Another feature, was the cotton fields which have just been harvested. So there were round bales of cotton, not hay. We went through tiny, barely – there towns with names like Tinnie. That particular town (don’t blink!) was set in a gully with one of the few rivers we’ve seen. So there was a narrow strip of greenery and then it gave way to arid desert again. The town of Roswell had little to remember it by, except for its obsession with UFOs! Even the McDonald’s was UFO themed. And there was a diner called Big D’s Downtown Dive!

Tonight we are in a big town called Lubbock. Not a very nice name! We’re all a bit tired, covered a lot of miles the last few days. 1048 miles, in fact. So we’re just chilling to my music. Might hit the hay soon.

18TH NOVEMBER 2020

Today we were up earlier than usual to get to a Covid testing place at 9am. Meg had to get one done. I’m sure it’ll be negative. Then we hit the road and busted out the 5 hour drive to Dallas, stopping only for food and loo breaks. Meg teases Matt about how often he goes to the bathroom but he says he listened to his Mama and takes every opportunity that presents itself! Good lad.

The terrain has been endlessly flat, though the vegetation changed slowly from desert to tree clad, autumnal acres. Lots of cotton fields also, in the process of harvest. And the never ending oil wells and wind turbines. At least wind turbines don’t give me the heebie jeebies.

Today was one of those days. I was constantly on the verge of tears. Once we arrived at our hotel (a very nice La Quinta) I had half a gummy of sativa which improved my mental space 100%. It’s great being able to take it, knowing exactly what you’re getting, that it’s safe and regulated, and the effect is predictable. Man, it irritates the hell out of me that NZ missed this opportunity. We’ve had a lovely evening, the three of us just chatting. Nice to know we don’t have to rush off tomorrow. Meg’s appointment isn’t till the afternoon.

Where now?

13.11.20

One year ago my younger son, Danny, and Matt’s brother was taken from us by a drug driver.

I feel as if I’ve conducted myself with as much strength as I am capable of. Matt and I both felt we were allowed to do whatever we needed to get through (is that even possible?).

I’ve read a lot of books dealing with this loss, I’m a nurse so I’ve seen it first hand in other people, I’ve tried really hard to control how I react. I’ve had to deal with all the legal stuff by myself, because both Danny’s father and Matt didn’t want to. It’s understandable, but I gave birth to him, I raised him, I’ve loved him with every atom of my being from the moment he’s popped into the world. I’m the ONLY ONE who can claim that.

Yet, so much has been expected of me.

Finally, one year on, I admit I can’t do it. I’m adrift. I’m alone. I regret so much. I’ve tried so hard.

I have to find a new focus. Start over.

I wish I could swap places with Danny. He had so much to offer. I loved him so much.

Bahia Algodones

It was with joy in my heart that I hit the “up” button on the anchor winch this morning! It’s Sunday November 1st and I’m so so happy to put a few miles under the keel today! We’ve been at anchor in Bahia San Carlos so long that the anchor chain had spun itself round and round. We had to bring it up slowly, going up and down a few times to get the kinks out! The kittens handled the engine starting and anchor coming up like pros. Not too perturbed at all! I popped ashore quickly before we left to take the rubbish and get wine. There’s a nice trail from the dingy dock to the town. One of the things I love about Mexico is the colour and pattern they put into every day things!

I drove us out while Bernie checked a few engineer type things! We rounded Punta Doble and headed due west towards Punta San Antonio, the south western point of Bahia Algodones. The dramatic Tetakawi mountain, Tetas de Cabra, makes a wonderful backdrop looking back to shore as you cross the bay.

The kittens decided the best spot for them was in the well of the cockpit, though they got their courage up to watch the world go by a bit later. Then Jack discovered a great spot inside the bimini! We did wonder if they felt a little bit sea sick at one point. It was quite swelly, more than anything they’d experienced on anchor. But they’re fine now and totally chilled.

We hoped to tuck in behind the highest hill on the island to the northern part of this bay but couldn’t set the anchor there. So we had to move closer inshore where its sandy but more exposed.

Bernie’s new set up with the solar works perfectly. He’s pretty chuffed, I think!

Bernie made these potato pancakes for dinner, a childhood favourite he tells me. They were good too. He had sugar on his! Crazy man! He’s such a sweet tooth! After eating, we sat in the cockpit, out of the wind, yarning. The kittens did sprint laps round Momo. At one point I found Alex in the dingy, which we’d winched up for the night. These cats will age me further!

It’s full moon at the moment and it was enormous and red as it rose behind the mountains. I got a cool shot of it a couple of nights ago.

2.11.20: We went snorkeling this morning in hopes of catching food for the next couple of days. Bernie got one fish but the sea life is pretty minimal here. This side of the sea of Cortez has definitely suffered from the higher concentration of human beings taking more than they should! But it was nice to get in the water and get some exercise. Jack was fascinated by the fish when we got back, wanted to play with it.

4.11.20; This time last year I was heading to Koh Phangan with Ruth for my diving course. What a wonderful trip that was, the last truly happy week of my life.

Yesterday Bernie and I had a lovely day. It dawned flat calm so we lifted the pick and headed north early. The prevailing winds are northerly at this time of year, and tend to get up later in the day, so we wanted to avoid that. We’re trying to acclimatise the kittens to boat travel gently. It was an interesting coastline, with very volcanic, contorted rock formations. Little gullies had palm trees and other greenery too, so there must be the odd underground spring.

We spotted a particularly attractive spot and I suggested stopping for a snorkel and wander ashore. So we did that and what a treat it was. There’s a lot more sea and bird life as we get further from San Carlos /Guaymas area. We even saw sea lions and a seal. Bernie got lunch and I made cerviche & rice. Delicious.

Still with perfectly calm seas, we motored the last stretch to Bahia San Pedros, our destination for the next few days, probably. I took the helm and Bernie set the anchor this time! He took the opportunity to let all the chain out, get the twists and kinks out, and give it a wash! Then we settled on 150 feet out in about 25 feet of water. More than enough.

This bay is postcard perfect. It’s almost circular, the entrance fairly narrow, has a lovely sandy & pebbly beach, stunning mountainous backdrop and there seems to be so many fish, as they’re constantly jumping. There’s a small motor boat here, as well as a fishing panga, and a large motor boat turned up at dusk, unfortunately, as they anchored really close to us and have their genny running. (it’s 0500 as I write this)

We went for a walk after lunch, finding a rough trail across the peninsula to the next bay. Climbing a small hill gave us a great view over both bays. Sadly, we found a disgusting amount of rubbish on the beach and in the scrub behind the beach. Likely local fisherman, judging by the endless fish carcases on shore.

The kittens have been hilarious today and given us both multiple heart attacks with their wild antics! They’ve really found their mojo and show little fear, especially at anchor! There’s a lot more insects here and they chased them with concentration and a lack of respect for the yachts boundaries! Until Jack nearly fell in! The closest either of them has come, and a stunning recovery he made, hanging off the steel railing on the extreme bow! We were sitting up there, in the half light, had smoked a pipe and it totally set me off. I was in fits of laughter. Well, we both were but Bernie announced he felt Jack’s momentary fear and was fairly concerned, whereas I simply found it hysterically funny. Maybe because I’ve had more experience with animals? Even if he’d gone in the drink he’d have been fine! It’s a short swim to the rescue net. It subdued him though and he stopped haring around for the evening! We’d also noticed Alex was a bit quiet and hadn’t eaten much dinner. Bernie, while holding him up for a snuggle, spotted a bee sting in his lower lip! I pulled it out and he seems right as rain.

God, I’d love some rain! I actually dreamed it rained earlier this night! In my dream, I was delighted because Momo was getting a really good fresh water wash down! A real deckhands dream, lol!

Thursday 5th November

It’s nearly 8am and I’ve just climbed back in bed with a coffee. There’s a bee buzzing up in the hatch which can’t be opened at the moment. The kittens can see it from my bed but can’t get to it. So they’re jumping in and out the scuttles trying to get it from above! Which, of course, won’t work because it’s inside and they’re then outside! So funny! They’re very fiesty this morning and I don’t intend to be caught in the cross fire!

Yesterday morning we took the dingy and slowly motored round the next couple of headlands. The geology is incredible here. Matt would be in his element and able to tell us what we’re seeing. There’s so many colours in the cliffs, layers of red, yellow, orange, brown, white; just beautiful. The bird life here is impressive too. When I hopped up on deck first thing this morning, there were hundreds of pelicans and cormorants on the water, sheltering out of the wind. And during our outing yesterday we went very close by a group of perhaps 20 baby pelicans. They are totally adorable and when they feel threatened, all duck dive as a unit. Though there’s always that one kid that’s like “hey, wait, where’d you all go?” before disappearing beneath the waves!

Bernie went spear fishing after we returned from our jaunt. I didn’t feel like it and stayed here to cook lunch. He was gone two hours and in that time the wind got up a lot. We dragged the anchor and the motor yacht anchored near us started swinging wildly on hers (without the deep, stabilising keel Momo has). I wasn’t happy at all with how close we were getting. I tried to attract Bernie’s attention but he goes off in his own world when he’s spear fishing. I got pretty pissed off actually, that he never checks in with his crew, just disappears. Anyway, I tried to call Good Lack (stupid name!) on Ch16 but she wasn’t keeping a listening watch (queue the eye roll) so that was zero help. Deciding I’d get ready for any necessary action before it became totally necessary, I opened the fuel and sea cock lines below and started the engine, took the snubber off the anchor chain and came up on the anchor a bit. Then, with 150′ out, I reversed on it and tried to set it in hard again. It seemed fine and we were a healthier distance from Good Lack. Still, not entirely happy since I couldn’t see Bernie and was here alone, I turned the engine off but left it ready to start again and the anchor free for manoeuvreing. However the chain was being pulled from the drum now and then, which shouldn’t happen. We should be able to ride on the winch. Of course, you don’t usually as that’s hard on the gear, but it should be possible. But there wasn’t more I could do for now and we seemed OK. Not long after I saw Bernie haul himself into the dingy and start to head off round the headland. I tell you, I was livid. It obviously didn’t occur to him at all to check in with me, look at Momo and notice the weather was worse, just because he was right under the shelter of the cliff. Jeeeez! I yelled and waved my arms at him and eventually he noticed and came over, to be met with a fairly pissed off deckhand, who was trying not to let fly the temper! Poor man!

Once he was on board I explained everything to him and to be honest, I don’t think he believed me. With a very dismissive “Oh, well, that makes no sense. We shouldn’t have dragged. We set it well.” he wandered forward, put the snubber back on, mucked around up they’re for a while, then upon returning aft said “The winch was loose, don’t know why, shouldn’t be. I’ve tightened it so the chain shouldn’t pull through now.” I was standing there, keeping a tight rein on my ire, and said “yes, I know that. The problem here is less about this situation, which I handled by the way, but the complete lack of communication. You’re off for two hours, no radio, because guess what, that doesn’t work either, and never once thought to check in with me. And you would have disappeared round the corner without even telling me, if I hadn’t seen you going.” He saw my point and apologised for stressing me, but I still think he reckons I was over reacting.

Perhaps I was, but he needs to remember I’m used to really big ships, with a full crew, well maintained, with an anchor that can be operated from the wheel house if necessary. Also, he and Michelle have had 15 years to get used to how Momo works, and know every detail about her. I’m sick of being expected to be on that level, being compared to Michelle and found lacking. In fairness, I don’t think he even realises he’s doing it half the time. He only notices what directly affects him, not how it might affect me! Such a bloke, lol!

I made a hot pasta dish for lunch but I think it was a bit spicy for Bernie. At least it would’ve helped warm him up after fishing. I’ll have to tone it down. Shame, I love it hot!

11am. Oh my goodness, the cats are wild today. As my Californian friend, Dawnda, would say “they’ve got a wild hair up their ass!” They’re leap frogging round the interior after winged beasts, a mixed blessing since some of those are bees! Then wrestling like sumo fighters with each other, and getting totally in Bernie’s way as he’s trying to go locker by locker cataloguing what he needs in spare parts. I came on deck to do a little laundry and they followed me up, giving Bernie brief respite. Of course, as its windy, everything is flapping most satisfactorily! You’ll see, if you look at the photos taken along the yacht’s waist, that the guard rails are two stainless steel rails with netting inboard. Except on the extreme bow and stern. Well, Jack has discovered he can stand on these rails, back paws on the first and front paws on the top. Most nerve wracking for parental watchers.

We have the bay to ourselves today, rather nice. The winds shifted from overnight stiff northerlies (30+ knots) to a steady north westerly of about 18 knots, I reckon.

I’m very cross with myself as I think I left my good deck sandals on the beach when we swam the other day. Of course they’re not there now. So I only have slip on $3 floppies and some cutesy jandals. I’ll have to go buy some runners or something similar before going to see Matt and Meg. I have tickets, did I mention? Very excited and feeling better within myself for having a plan, a date. Every parent loves to see their kids but I tell you, when you’ve lost a child, seeing the only remaining baby is super important. Even if they are packaged in a 6’2″, highly intelligent and independent adult!

5.11.20: We had a few bevvies sitting on the bow last night and a long talk about the future, options and what we hope for. It was productive. Bernie, very kindly, told me he thought I was an intelligent and amazing woman and he admired that I was modest with it. Well, I’m not used to being told that by men and don’t really think of myself that way, but it was sweet of him. He is certainly way smarter them me, and I reckon Michelle is too. I’m just me. A simple country girl! At one point, in a lighter moment, Bernie asked when the cats have to be speyed and if they’d start marking their territory. I laughed and said at about 6 months old and that, no, they wouldn’t. He remarked it was funny because he always felt the need to pee over the side of Momo each time we anchor! I howled with laughter. I stayed on deck after Bernie went to bed and had a wee melt down over Danny’s loss and being on my own for the anniversary. It had to hit me sooner or later. I’ve been coping OK the last couple of weeks since being ashore. But this was always going to be a totally shit time. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing Matt soon. I’m still feeling delicate this morning. It’s a gorgeous day and I’ve been sitting on deck again since sunrise. We’re still here on our own and it’s peaceful. Good spirit food. Alex has caught two bees that I’ve seen, without getting stung! Goodness knows how.

11am. Bernie is climbing the hill on the edge of the bay, so I have Momo to myself at the moment. I couldn’t go, having stupidly lost my only decent footwear. We looked at Michelle’s stuff she left behind but she’s got bigger feet than me. Bernie said I could borrow some of her warmer gear too and I’ve grabbed a couple of tops and a fleece, but she’s much bigger than me round the waist so none of the trousers or shorts fit, unfortunately. I’ll have to go to a second hand shop.

I’ve done the laundry, having decided the water is much cleaner here than in Bahia San Carlos. So Momo is lined with flapping clothes! The wind has got up from the south but we’re ok for now and I’ve seen Bernie on his way back.

1300. Bernie got back, a bit worried I’d be stressing about the wind, after yesterday’s drama! But I was fine. Anyway, we decided to move to the other side of the bay where its more sheltered in this wind. Its a nice spot too, and I’ve had lunch. I made chicken masala. When I say I’ve made something definitive like that, it is usually doctored in some way, as I seldom have the exact ingredients! So this had whisky instead of sherry! Still tastes really good!

7.11.20: We had crazy gusty winds overnight and were up and down checking our position. No worries, though an annoying swell from somewhere is hitting us broadside, even though the wind is on our nose. The dingy got flipped over. Luckily we’d taken the engine and fuel out last night. But all our snorkeling gear was in it. We recovered what was floating but Bernie will have to dive for the rest. On the plus side, I’d tied the dingy anchor to the dingy (as well as the painter) so we have the location to dive marked! We had some of the fish Bernie got yesterday for breakfast. Very good too.

8.11.20

It’s 0440 and I’ve had a restless night, don’t know why. I woke at 0030 and popped my head up on deck to check our position. The wind had flipped into the north and we’re in a better position now. We moved back to the North side of the bay last evening, though it was still southerly, because it was forecast to change around midnight and we didn’t want to have to move then. So we risked a lee shore for a few hours. It was actually more comfortable anyway. I reckon the southerly swell swings around the point of the bay and turns as it enters, making for a broadside swell at the bottom end of the bay.

We got Momo ready for sea last night, so plan to head back to San Carlos first thing. I’ve had about an hours sleep so would be happy to leave now, lol! I think Bernie’s still asleep though! I’ve got Alex sleeping on top of my legs and Jack wrapped round my head! They are funny! Jack has an obsession with grooming my face that I don’t really share! They’re due for their second round of vaccinations, poor kitties.