Team Momo to the Rescue

Monday 22nd March: What a crazy day we’ve had! It started off with Bernie filling out the paperwork for getting his NZ residency visa transferred into his new passport and me taking him in to go to DHL to send it and collecting Kyla at the same time. She went to the beach yesterday and ended up staying ashore. By the time we went in, mid morning, the wind had got up. It was wind against tide so the sea was pretty rough, making for fun in the dingy! Kyla and I got soaked coming back into the wind! She loved it.

She had to pack, as her flight was going at 2pm. That done we went back in and parked ourselves in a restaurant to wait for Bernie. After he arrived and we were having drinks, Kyla got a lesson in using Ding to top up her phone. As that was happening we felt a splatter raining on us and I exclaimed “God, a gull pooped on us!” In fits of laughter, we used paper napkins to wipe it off! One large dollop had hit the side of Kyla’s glass. Not an addition to your vodka you really want!

Then the fun began. We’d noticed a yacht very close to the beach, with an old dude on it. I’d commented that it must have a retractable centre board earlier. At this point two young guys came into view at the water’s edge and took off their shoes. Then in jeans and shirts, waded in and started pushing the yacht out. The guy aboard started his engine, an outboard, churning mud like mad, and after it was deeper motored off. The young guys watched a bit then left and we didn’t think much more of it at that point, and we’re only idly watching.

However, as we did we saw he was going all over the place, round in circles, and moving from the helm to the anchor and back, over and over. Then he untied the dingy he was towing behind and tied it forward. I said to Bernie “why the hell is he tying that on the bow in this weather? He’ll sink it.” I swear it was 5 seconds later and that dingy was filling with water and then submerged under the yacht, the old guy totally oblivious. It started pulling the yacht round, so he tottered up the starboard side and saw his dingy gone. By this stage we were half laughing and half horrified.

Kyla announced she was going to help him. Bernie was of the opinion we should keep out of it but I couldn’t let her go alone, as she really doesn’t know much about boating! So she went in in her knickers and t shirt, while I had my skort and bra on! We swam out to him and while I retrieved the oars, Kyla tried to get the dingy out from under the yacht. The guy was zero help and in fact still had the motor running. I yelled at him to turn it off, with slashing motions of my hand across my neck! I tried to get him to follow instructions but it was immediately clear he was drunk out of his skull. Kyla managed to untie the dingy painter and pull it clear of the yacht, though still submerged. I started towing the yacht out of the shallows into deeper water. Once in enough water to be safe, I got him to hand me his anchor and swam it out further. Then I dived and dug it in before telling him to let out lots more rope. He had very little chain on it. However it seemed to hold, so I went to help Kyla take the dingy to the beach and empty it out. As we finished doing that, the crazy old bugger waded in and started yabbering nonsense at us. No thanks! Feeling we’d done enough, he was anchored and safe, we went back to where Bernie was sitting, watching the whole drama.

However, that was not the end of it! Hot damn if he didn’t then start trying to row back out to his yacht in the dingy with only one paddle. Going against the wind he very nearly got carried off but just managed to make it, get on board and tie off the dingy. At the stern! Next, to our disbelief, he started the engine and, with the anchor still over, motored off. Abandoning the helm he went to get the anchor up and the yacht started driving itself on a very erratic course. Horrified we watched him almost run into a number of other boats, going in crazy circles. At this point, I got a waitress and asked her to call the Navy /coastguard before he did serious damage. Unreal! Then Kyla had to rush or she was going to miss her flight back to Hermosillo.

23.03.21: That wasn’t the end of the day’s drama. Later in the afternoon as Bernie was resealing the starboard forward deck plate, I heard him talking to someone about borrowing food. I went topsides to see what was going on and see if he needed me to help. He was talking to a chap on another yacht that was circling us but then took off. Bernie did he’d looped round a couple of times and asked if he could buy food off us. It was all a bit odd but I put together a few things in a bag, and we watched him.

He dropped his anchor and pulled it up a number of times. Wondering if he needed help we went over in the dingy, me with the food. He said he was fine but the anchor wasn’t holding. We came back but after watching a bit longer decided he had no clue how to anchor, so went to offer help again. Bernie got on board and drove his yacht, with him on the bow. Once in position, he let go the anchor, only about 20 feet, not enough to touch the bottom even. I was calling out from the dingy “más, más, más!” (He’s Mexican) He had a manual anchor winch and it was obvious he didn’t want to let much out because he’d have to haul it up by hand! But with me yelling “necesitas más!” he did! Bernie dug it in and put on a snubber. And, surprise surprise, it held! So he had a good night’s sleep! As did we! His name is Marten and he’s just got the yacht. He wants to sail it to Mazatlan where his partner lives. God help him! He was super grateful for our help and the food, a sweet guy, but no sailor!

Matt, Meg and Me!

It’s March 14th and I am, most wonderfully, with Matt and Meg again. They surprised me with the news they were coming to Mexico not long ago. So here we are in a truly gorgeous Airbnb called Bungalow Salamandra in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. I flew in from La Paz via Mexico City and they flew British Airways into Cancún. Then we hired a car and drove down, finally finding this delighting secluded place late in the evening. Our hosts are the sweetest people, cooking for us unplanned that first night, and helping us learn Spanish! Their food is so good I think we’ll all head off heavier than on arrival! Well, me anyway! Probably the young things will shrug off the extra calories!

Their property is a meandering gathering of beautiful apartments hiding amongst the jungle. We’ve seen many lizards, an iguana right outside our unit and terrapins in the pond. We’ve swum in their pool and sat outside listening to the geckos calling at dinnertime.

Yesterday we drove to Cancún as Meg needed to see a dentist. Poor lass has to have some pretty knarly work done but it’s efficient and much less expensive here. She’s positive and it’s worked in with their other plans nicely. Matt and I hung out in a restaurant bar while she did that. I had a cocktail called Tidal Wave. Not as good as a margarita!

Last night, as we were sitting on our balcony having after dinner drinks, our host, Guillarmo, came up and said they would like me to have my own room, next to Matt and Meg. So I’m now in a beautiful big bed with my own gorgeous bathroom. So lucky. They really do like us! They’ve done this place with so much heart, lots of little touches that set it apart.

Today we drove south a bit to Cenote Azul, fresh water pools in the forest which you can sit/swim/snorkel in. I snorkeled with my underwater camera. There were terrapins. And lots of fish. A very pretty place. Now we’re chilling in this stunning Airbnb again, unwilling to venture further. It’s so perfect! We’ve seen more lizards and iguanas. Meg and Matt saw two iguanas scrapping!

Monday 15th March : It’s midday and we’re sitting in the car at the front (happily) of the line to get on the ferry to Cazumel. We checked it out yesterday luckily, and were told to be here 3 hours prior to departure as its first on first served, and the ferries have been full lately. Apparently there’s only two a day, with covid, whereas it used to be one every hour. So we brought games (Matt & Meg), reading and I’ve been doing my duolingo Spanish practise! The car is running so we can have the air conditioning on. There’s a ute parked under a tree with a sheep on the back. She’s wearing a lead harness like a dog’s! And her owner brings her water in a big cup, plus she has branches to eat on the tray. I went to visit her!

Our apartment here on Cozumel is fantastic. Matt & Meg are so good at finding excellent places. The view is outstanding. Matt and I went swimming after we’d settled in and had a couple of bevvies on our deck. The snorkeling is great with the most extensive array of soft corals I’ve seen outside of the Great Barrier Reef. I’ll take my underwater camera in next time. We were treated to a stunning sunset as we sat outside with our drinks and nibbles.

It’s 1330 on the 16th March and we’ve decided to do the loop road around the island. First stop was Playa Palancar, a renowned snorkeling area, but its too windy and rough. So we sat on the beach and had lunch and limón daiquiris! I had a wee snorkel and Matt and Meg splashed about on a wooden disk!

The East Coast of the island is wild and more deserted, very beautiful too, though.

We rested up once we got back to the condo, and I watched a YouTube video on using my new camera. Then I went snorkeling with my it, to practise a setting I’d learned about. It seemed to improve the pics too. Fabulous snorkeling.

The evening involved a walk to a little restaurant on the beach called La Monina. Matt and I had mojitos, the first I’ve found here! So good. The waiter was awesome and the food excellent so we left a decent tip. We watched yet another stunning sunset. On the way home we poked our heads into a wee jewellery shop. I fell in love with a silver and blue larimar Sting Ray set so…. what can a girl do!

Thursday 18th March: Yesterday was our last full day on Cozumel. We decided to hang out at our apartment and just enjoy the beautiful spot. I made breakfast quesodillas again. After lunch I decided to get a mani pedi, probably the last opportunity until Fiji! The girls must’ve been bored with fewer tourists than usual because they spent literally hours, giving me an amazing experience, doing a beautiful job and helping me improve my Spanish as well! I really love my toe colour!I took a couple of water front pics in the town too.

We went out for dinner again, to a place called Hemmingway. I didn’t think we could improve on the previous night, but yes! I had a surf ‘n turf meal which was divine. Matt was impressed I finished it but thankfully I hadn’t eaten since breakfast! It would’ve been a crime to leave any!

Saturday 20th March: We’ve just left Casita Jabin. Boy, these guys are amazing at finding cool places to stay. It was a little place in the bush with a pool on the terrace. We’ve had two nights here and on the first day went to visit Chichén Itzá, the famous Mayan archaeological site. Its pretty awe inspiring. I bought a little obsidian healer’s carving as a momento.

Yesterday we went to two different underground cenotes. They are super cool, with wonderfully shaped stalactites and bats living in the ceiling. We got some epic photos in the first one, as the sun was making spectacular rays!

22.03.21: So, I’m back on Momo. The kittens and Bernie seem pleased to have the PIC (Pussy in Charge – Shane’s name for me!) back! I hated saying goodbye to Matt and Meg, of course, but it has been a wonderful week. Such a bonus when I didn’t think I’d see them till Christmas time. Thank you for visiting Mexico, you gorgeous pair 💖💖💖🇲🇽

Goodbye San Carlos

It’s Thursday 4th March and we said goodbye to our home away from home, for the last time, this morning. We went over to say bye to Kim first thing and were underway by about 0915. It’s now 1240 and we’re doing around 7 knots on a starboard reach. It’s a bit rolly and both Alex and I have been seasick!

My first ever actual throwing up over the side kind of seasick! What is going on? Why now? There’s only two things I can think of that are different. One, I’m on Fluoxetine. And two, I have a very blocked right ear which I’m hoping to sort out in La Paz. So if its neither of those things, I’ve no idea why I’ve suddenly started getting seasick. Hot damn. It’s not on!

Yesterday Nancy, Kim and I went to Hermosillo to pick Dawnda up, then had lunch before returning and meeting up with Bernie on the dingy dock. Bernie, Dawnda and I went to Hammerheads for our last margarita there. Kyla, Tyr, Dillon and another lady we didn’t know were there so we got to say farewell to them. I really like Tyr. He’s a cool guy. Sweet and caring, I think.

Then the three of us went out to Momo and introduced Dawnda to the yacht and the kittens! To my delight, they responded perfectly to bribes and love her! She bought them toys! We had sundowners on the bow, our last in San Carlos harbour.

1650: Dawnda and Jack are snuggled up in her sleeping bag, Bernie is resting in his cabin and Alex and I are on watch. We’re both feeling a lot better. It’s pretty wild outside but we’re speeding along nicely, averaging 7 knots. If this keeps up we’ll do the trip in record time and be on anchor again in the small hours. The winds building, the sea too, but its not particularly uncomfortable. We had a laugh when Dawnda asked if this was bad and we said no, it’s really good. Her face was a picture! Sailing 101; it’s the opposite of motor boating! Not fast. Not noisy. Not even keeled. Not predictable! I made lunch during one of the gentler periods. Just spuds, asparagus and pork chops. Pretty good though, and it’s all stayed down! Winning!

March 8th. 1400. Had a marvelous couple of days. We anchored in San Juanico around 0130 that first night. After a good sleep in, we set out to explore the beach. Its a really pretty cove. There’s a cruisers shrine there so we went to look at it, but in all honesty, I reckon it was just a Bush with junk hanging off it and looked like a rubbish dump. We climbed to the top of an outcrop and took photos of the bay. It was pretty windy the first couple of days so we didn’t swim or spear fish.

From Caleta San Juanico we sailed to Puerto Ballandra, having to motor the last 10nm when the wind dropped right off. It was a great trip though, warm and beautiful to sit on deck. The bay itself is a very sheltered spot from all directions except West. It’s stunning and with the water a bit warmer, Dawnda and I enjoyed a “shower ” on arrival! Bernie spear fished successfully too. Then, naturally, rather a lot of sundowners

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Yesterday morning we snorkeled. Not huge numbers of fish, but lots of different soft corals and small life. About 4 species of star fish and way too many puffer fish for my liking. They’re creepy buggers, if you ask me. Even their skeletons are creepy.

In the afternoon we did a short boost to Bahia Marquer, arriving in time for sundowners. The motor boats came later and anchored in the bay with us. This morning Bernie went spear fishing again and got three fish. He got a trigger fish after going through a snapper! Two for one shot! So I made cerviche again for lunch and we’ll have the snapper tonight. We have to lock Jack and Alex below when Bernie is filleting the fish as they really do not help! Their little beaky noses are half an inch off the knife and in danger of being trimmed! While Bernie was fishing, a huge pod of dolphins cruised by. What a treat. Dawnda was stoked, and I for her.

After Bernie had dealt with the fish and I’d put the cerviche in the fridge to marinate, we went ashore for a walk. It’s a lovely beach with interesting volcanic rocks and terrain. I got a good pic of a very red star fish chilling in the shallows. And a nice pic of Momo on her anchor. We’re now motor sailing to Bahia Agua Verde, about 20nm. I’m on watch. We’ve eaten our cerviche, which was great, if I say so myself!

My favourite snack at the moment is Jicama (pronounced hicama). Its a Mexican turnip but is crunchy, juicy and tastes like a cross between a pear and a radish. Really hard to explain but so good. I wish someone had introduced me to them sooner! It’s yummy added to cerviche too.

March 9th @ 1500. This morning we motored, due to flat calm conditions, to Puerto los Gatos. Very appropriate really, though I don’t think our cats appreciate the subtlety! It’s apparently named for a family of wild cats, pumas, that used to live here, but they died out years ago. It’s a stunning bay with fantastic geology. We had lunch on arrival and then put the dingy in to go fishing /snorkeling. It was awesome. The most beautiful reef I think we’ve found in the Sea of Cortez. Wonderful diversity. I tried my new underwater camera again, as the water is so clear here, and got better results I think. I’ll put them on the laptop later. No luck with the spear fishing. Some steers have just come down to the seaside. They’re drinking the sea water and are really skinny. Not a great sign for their general survival, I wouldn’t think.

While we were snorkeling, a Dufour anchored way out in the bay. After Dawnda and I came back to Momo and Bernie disappeared off to try for fish, the skipper came over in his dingy to ask me if I thought they’d be safe to anchor closer in. They’d hired the yacht in La Paz and were obviously very inexperienced. He didn’t even handle the dingy confidently. I asked how much they drew, and said it was not far off low tide, so he should come in next to us. They did, but later when the northerly wind got up as expected, he radioed us. I took the call and he asked about the weather forecast. I told him it was likely to stay in the North and he should be fine where he was as long as he’d dug his anchor in well. We’re not on a lee shore here. So it’s now 7am on the 10th, the wind has died and everyone is still in the same spot! However we did leave the VHF on overnight, in case he needed us again!

It’s now just after 1100 and we’ve been sailing a couple of hours. There’s a ESE breeze of about 10 knots and we’re doing 6 knots, so all is right in our world! Earlier, when we were in lighter air and only doing about 3.5 knots, we tried letting the kittens out, with the new rescue net handy. However, after about 15 minutes they got cocky and Alex raced the length of the yacht before leaping onto the guard rail, with a view to climbing the Yankee sheet! That was enough for this mother. Protesting cat under one arm, I closed the hatch and shut them below again! We might have to try training them to wear harnesses. Two month at sea shut below will drive them crazy.

I’m reading, among others, a beautiful book given to me by Ashe, off Distant Star. It’s called Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It’s a story of indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. It’s a really lovely piece of writing. The chapter I’ve just read is about how the indigenous people of the Americas started each day with an address of thanks to all aspects of nature. It appeals to me a lot. Thanks is offered for the cycle of life as people, to mother earth, to the waters of the world, to fish life, plant life, berries, food plants, medicine plants, trees, all animal life, the birds, the power of the four winds, storms, the sun, and the moon and stars. I heartily recommend it.

1640: We now have quartering winds and have for the last 20nm or so. Making good time, if not the most comfortable. We’re more than half way to La Paz and if this keeps up will be there by midnight. We’ll probably anchor in a small bay before the entrance to avoid the narrow channel in the dark. The kittens have got a bit more relaxed about being in a roller coaster ride. Alex even climbed onto the spud basket and was most disconcerted. It looked hilarious, as he was swinging wildly and got off fairly promptly!

11.03.21: What a crazy 24 hours. As we approached La Paz, I saw a post by Tyr saying Kyla had been robbed and lost all her documentation, phone, money, everything. He’d had to catch a plane from La Paz and was worried about her there alone with no money or passport. I messaged him and said we were nearly there and would find her. So we went ashore asap and I rang the Airbnb he’d left her at. They agreed to bring her to the marina, bless them. When she got to us she was literally trembling, poor thing, so frightened and upset. Between the three of us, we managed to calm her and assure her we’d make sure she got sorted. She’s going to stay on Momo with Bernie while I’m gone.

It was a lovely last evening with Dawnda. Kyla was very quiet, not the chatty girl we’re used to. A hard lesson. I’ll be sad to say bye to Dawnda but she vows she’s going to join us in Fiji! That’d be epic.

More Than One World

I’m not sure I want to ever relinquish this life. The freedom to go where I want, to be at one with the environment I’m in, to welcome all people and cultures into my life, to play with animals as if I’m one of them, to offer my services in a community where I speak little of the language, and yet, I’m very aware, in this current climate, I have one of the most wanted passports in the world. I can go home any day and be safe. I’m blessed with a good upbringing, education, skills, a loving family and friends.

I can sit on the bow of my dear friends’ yacht (Michelle and Bernie) as crew, all care and limited responsibility and enjoy the challenges and privileges of this life style. I get to meet amazing new friends, with similar life philosophies, but can always know I have a beautiful bolt hole.

Not everyone gets that lucky.

This is what keeps me honest, real, when I’m drowning in grief over losing my beautiful son. I try to remember Danny packed so much into his young life, just like I always encouraged my boys to. “You’ll seldom regret saying yes”, I always told them. I’ve regretted saying “I’d love to but I can’t”, realising too late there’s always a way. So, knowing my boys experienced so much together, before Danny left us, it helps. Some of the time.

Matt made my day today. He and Meg are coming to Mexico. Oh my god, I’m dancing on stars. I didn’t think I’d see them till we all got to New Zealand! But I’ll see them here and they might come to sail with us. So so amazing. I’m thrilled beyond words. It’s February 23rd today and they’re arriving on March 12th. Not long to wait. 🤸💃💖

25th February :  A beautiful day yesterday and a howling wind today! Kim came over last night for drinks. We sat on the bow until long after dark, shooting the breeze, before scurrying inside when the temperature dropped. The kittens remember Kim like she’s their granny. They’re very sweet with her. Every other visitor gets the cold shoulder, especially kids! 🤣 They positively hide. They absolutely love their sisal scratching pole – the world’s biggest, I reckon

We had lunch today with Kyla, Tyr (from Iceland) and Dillon, a guy from Alberqueque, who’s moved down here only 8 months ago. It was fun and good spirited. Afterwards Bernie went to shower (coz he didn’t last night!) and I went to buy some of the gorgeous Mexican pottery for Fizz. And me!

Tomorrow we’re dining at Patrick and Ellen Booths place. They recently bought a casa out near the ranchitas. They’ve had some incredible murals painted on the patio walls so we’re looking forward to seeing the finished product. I’m making salads. I’m hoping Kim comes too! I’m going to miss that lovely woman. She has a heart of gold. Then on Saturday night I’m cooking for Nancy, Glenn and Kim. At their place though as they can’t climb onto Momo. So we’re catching up with everyone before we leave.

Today I finished resealing all the scuttles. 12 of them! It’s not a hard job and I quite enjoyed doing it. And I’ve just smeared clove oil on the African statue to try and stop Jack from biting off the beads and leather tassels! Little wretch! 😻

Distant Star splashed yesterday and Ashe just wrote to me that they’re anchored in Puerto Ballandra, near Loreto. I hope we catch them up. She, Kyla and I had a girl’s night out before we splashed Momo. It was fun and a wild ride home on the back of a ute capped it off perfectly!

We splashed last Thursday, so been back in the water just on a week. No drama really except we had to wait for the tide to come in enough to motor out of the bay. We anchored by the fishing fleet again. I don’t like that bay. It gives me the heeby jeebies! Bad spirits there.

I dreamed about Danny a couple of nights ago. It was wonderful to see him and hear his voice in my head but I was pretty upset for the following day. I miss him so much.

March 2nd – Tuesday! My lovely friend, Dawnda, arrives today! I’m so looking forward to sailing with her on board. I can’t believe our time in San Carlos is at an end. Tomorrow we leave to make our way to La Paz. I’ll miss all the friends we’ve made here, Kim in particular.