ANZAC DAY 2020

This day has had special meaning for me since I went to Gallipoli in 1988.

It was not a tourist destination back then. We had to sweet talk the local military guard to even get on the peninsula. You could wander anywhere. There was shrapnel and bits of bone amongst the heather. The poetic monument, a message from Turkey to the Allied Forces’ families, was incredibly emotional.

Since then I’ve attended Anzac Day parades almost every year. I did it in uniform for 9 years. I’ve taken my sons, they even walked at the head of the Darfield parade one year, as I was the only Navy representative there, and “the Navy is here. Ma’am, lead the parade” I was told by an old salt!

But this morning. I’m not even sure I can find the words to describe my feelings. I wasn’t in uniform. I wasn’t wearing my medal. No colleagues were with me. My sister, bless her, got up with me. I’ve said or listened to those words we all know so well – “age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn…” but this year they held a particularly poignant sense of time and place.

I now know exactly how the parents of all those lovely young men and women felt, who’s sons and daughters have died before their time. Because my Danny will never know the ravages of time, will never get to leave his legacy in deeds and descendants. His memory will be forever young, though we grow old.

Matt and my friends/tenants in Ohope took Danny’s photograph and my medals and did their bit at the front gate. They sent me a gorgeous picture of the two of them rugged up for the occasion. I appreciated that.

We will remember them.

In pursuit of “more” resilience

8.04.20

It’s nearly 5 months since Danny was killed.

Time is weird. It feels more immediate now than while I was on Momo. I get that it’s because the world is in this crazy limbo, with Covid-19 keeping us within strict borders. But it has a strange irony, because Momo was my escape /relief/coping strategy and yet that name is from the main character of a book about time! Read it!

I feel like I had resilience. I feel I was doing quite well. I feel I was helping the whole family cope. I could see a way forward. Positive action. Don’t wallow. Do what I think Danny would want. Look after those around me. Must eat. I thought I could do all the legal stuff, organise all Danny’s estate, get the house sorted, managed it all alone. I’m used to that.

But this enormous limitation put on us all, on top of Danny’s death, has taken the wind out of my sails

I can’t do it all. By myself. I’m drowning. My struggle between empathy and compassion, that I’ve always had, has collapsed.

Still, I guess, no, I know, this recognition means I can do it. I can. Kiwis don’t die easy! I can act on the strategies other health professionals have identified. I have a head start.

12.04.20

I was supposed to leave for Europe yesterday with my new tattoo, a copy of Danny’s, on my arm. If course, neither of those things has eventuated.

But I’m making new friends down here, enjoying the time with my sister, Fizz, and niece, Kelly. It’s a beautiful place to be stuck in, if one must be. So lots of walks.

I’m putting a new pic on my wallpaper each day, on my phone. Friends from round the globe. I was using pics of Danny but it’s too bitter sweet and I think I need to stop.

Here’s some of those wonderful people who’ve touched my life positively in the last 2 years. Apart from family, of course!

Home South

26.03.20

I arrived at my sister’s place in Alexandra yesterday. Air New Zealand kindly took on my overweight bags! Probably because there were hardly any passengers. In fact, when I arrived at Rotorua to check in there was NO-ONE in the terminal. It’s a bit freaky. My bags were full of Winter clothes! I’m distinctly nervous about how cold it is down here! There might have also been a new bottle of Ardbeg in there!

It was a beautiful flight down and I got some lovely photos. I felt quite a lot of the anxiety and sorrow I’ve been overwhelmed by this last fortnight, fall away as I headed south. And now I’m here, I do feel much better. Fizz is so happy to have me here, I’m wanted, and I can relax.

I snuggled in bed for a very long time this morning, hoping the air temperature would have warmed up by the time I emerged! I had two cups of coffee and long conversations with Matt, Mum & Dad, and my northern friends, Brett & Raewyn, before piling on three layers of merino and braving the day. (BTW, it’s 1520 and 14 degrees!)

Fizz and I had eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach for brunch. Then I went for a long walk along the river. I reacquainted myself with this stunning and demanding part of our amazing country. It was after all part of my formative years, having grown up in the high country at Lake Tekapo, and holidayed down here annually. So in a way I’ve come home! My walk was grand. I saw, with joy, the plant life of my childhood: Viper’s Bugloss (often known, erroneously, as Borage) with its prickly stems and enchanting blue flowers, which I used to freeze in ice cubes at Christmas time and Lamb’s Ears (mullein), nature’s softest toilet paper substitute (might need that!). Of course, as everywhere down this way, lots of weeping willows, sweet briar, wild thyme, lupins, poplars, sorrel and stone crop. And the pathway was naturally paved with the colourful stones and sparkly schist of this region. I also saw some good sized trout in the river which I felt would look good on the end of a line, but…. better not. Out of season!

I was keen to go mushrooming too, but Fizz reckoned the local boys in blue might not see that as essential forraging! She could have a point. Bummer, as I know some good spots near Wanaka. Lots of rabbits around too, that would go well in a pot, if I could get my hands on a 22! I suspect we’re not going to starve, isolation notwithstanding! We have decided we should attempt to limit our alcohol intake to Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Mmmm. Time will tell how well that goes!

I think I’ll miss the sound of the Tuis though!

Pile it on, Universe, why don’t ya!

20.03.20:   Do I start with the rant now, or slip it in part way through, subtly, or just end with a roar?

Difficult decision. Not worth the effort anyway, perhaps! One of my “direct your energy” things. More on that later.

Well, isn’t 2020 shaping up to be…. Mmm, what’s the word I’m looking for? Interesting? Challenging? Oh, that’s it, a Shit Show. For once they had it spot on, on TV.

I’m learning a lot about grief. I mean, as a health professional you get a fairly unique perspective on that, and you kinda think you know a fair bit about it. Well, hell NO, baby. Take a back seat prior knowledge, you actually know fuck all (sorry, Ella, another $1 fine).

I have a mantra running through my head most of the time. A couple actually. One of them goes “Why Danny? Why us? It’s not fair. I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.”           Then there’s the rational brain that kicks in with “Why shouldn’t it be you? Why should you be exempt from the horror and pain others endure? Get a grip woman.”

I know there’s no right way to do this. I know there’s no time line on grief and how you get through it. I know it’s important to accept the fact he really is gone, that no amount of wishful thinking or bargaining will change that hard fact. Any one of us in the family, of the generations up from my boys, would swap places in an instant. I’d give my life for theirs 100 times over. But that isn’t how this works. Bugger it.

So, as I’m not very good at sitting around doing nothing, my coping strategy has been to do things, like joining Momo for a while. Now I’m back I’m trying to be busy getting the legal side of things wrapped up, help in the house since I know the flatmates didn’t bargain on having me home, get maintenance done, do exercise each day and eat healthy food. It’s hard being forced to stay home when I had so many plans, especially as I don’t feel welcome.

But it’s tough titties really. Just one more thing I have to suck up. And this Covid-19 is a million times worse for those in China, Europe and the USA. I guess it’s because having seeing Matt to look forward to was keeping me positive, and now I don’t even have that. I’m trying to find positives in really small things. So it really hurts when, because I smile over one little win, those around me stare at me as if to say “How can you smile? You’re supposed to be so unhappy you can’t do that.” The harsh judgement of those who have zero idea how it feels to lose a child is bad energy I can’t deal with.

My lovely friend, Raewyn, has invited me to stay so I’m here at her place for a few days. We’re going sailing for the weekend, which will be wonderful and healing for my further bruised heart. Her family is wonderful; strong and independent grown kids, like mine. There’s animals and a stunning view. It’s a good place to be and I’m so grateful to her. Her granddaughter, Ella, is fund raising for the Girl Guides Jamboree next year and is fining everyone $1 per F bomb! Hence my earlier comment! I’m trying to substitute Foxtrot. The boys just pony up in advance, they tell me!

Part of me feels I should be trotting along to the nearest operating theatre and offering my services, but I tried working at the local dementia care unit the other day and couldn’t deal with it. I was clock watching after a couple of hours. The sorrow of the place made me want to cry. How can I care for others if I can’t manage my own emotions yet? I’d be better with emergencies where you don’t have time to process, just act. Best of all would be my boat job back, but that’s impossible just now. This is why I said earlier that I’m trying to place my energy where it will do most good, not where it’ll drag me down. My stamina is still a work in progress.

My heart goes out to all the people whose jobs are on the line, to those whose age and health puts them at higher risk. The healthy and strong among us will have to step up and look after them. I’ll have to shelve my feelings for a while. It’s interesting (and normal) how the fear of this uncertain future is making many people react unkindly. One of my tenants is a pharmacist and said customers are being so rude she doesn’t want to be at work. That’s sad. Allied health workers have no choice but to continue to help and should be supported, not subjected to unkindness. Matt said this morning that he’d seen the same thing in England. I suggested he offered to be a bouncer for the local pharmacy!

0400 Thoughts. Some good, some not.

0415 3rd March: My sleep patterns are totally messed up. I’ve been trying really hard not to resort to temazepam since Danny died but eventually I have to force sleep on myself. Mostly I try to meditate, which I’m useless at by the way, take valerian (legal everywhere) or bufti (depends where in the world you are!), read my book or listen to a podcast or music. Usually I get between 4 and 7 hours, not enough, but then I’ll wake at 1am and that’s it for the night. That’s when I get out my slide of the hard stuff the next night. One slide of 20 lasts me about a year! I’ve got 4 left from last March’s prescription!

One thing Matt and I decided was that losing Danny, who we loved more than even we realised till he’d gone maybe, gives us the right to do what we like for a while. For a start we’re both blown away at how much it’s affected us mentally and physically. Both of us have pretty good brains and can usually remember things without much trouble. But I feel as if my brain was resected the moment I got the ghastly news. For the first month I couldn’t remember anything for more that half a minute. Literally. If that. Matt said he was the same. It’s slowly coming back but I still can only deal with one day at a time. I write absolutely everything down. Then there was the complete loss of physical strength. If you’ve not experienced this you cannot imagine it. I wouldn’t have understood what someone was telling me before having had this happen to me. I had no strength at all. I went from being really fit after 6 months on Lucky Wave, to barely able to climb a set of stairs without stopping. Overnight. Faster, in fact. A completely physical reaction to an emotional trauma. I’ve always thought stress to be a bigger factor in our general health than we realise. Now I know it is.

From a nursing perspective its fascinating, but by God, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s as if my mind and body have totally shut down in response to this intensely painful emotional trauma. I consider myself to be fairly resilient. And I brought up my sons to be also. But nothing prepares one for this. Over three months down the track, we are slowly climbing out of the abyss but neither Matt nor I feel ready to be pushed in any direction.

Which brings me to my next thought, next point of discussion! As you may remember, I started my yacht master offshore last year but had to stop when Carly’s greedy attempt to get at my life savings upset and distracted me to the point I couldn’t focus on the course. So I still plan to do that at some point and Bluewater have been really understanding about it all. But there’s no way I’m in the head space for it yet. However a family member, having being told once already that I wasn’t going to do it yet, decided to really push me. “you must” blablabla. I’m the end I burst into tears and said to damned well leave it alone. It’s up to me to decide when I’m ready. And I’m not. I couldn’t. I can’t remember things yet. But I was angry at him for pushing me when I’d already asked him not to. I need, at least from those close to me who should understand, support not judgement. I’ve lost my son. You don’t just snap your fingers and get over that. I’m doing my best, dammit.

One of the common statements I hear being made against the use of social media is that “people only show the good side of life”. I don’t actually find that to hold true, when you randomly scroll through Facebook. More so, perhaps, on Instagram where its primarily photos. Anyway, I’m being pretty straight up here. It’s certainly not all high tea and dancing lately, don’t you think. I’ve gone from being in one of the happiest times of my life, to the absolute worst. And to feeling I’ll never get that back, never be able to fill the huge void Danny’s death has left inside me. I still, many days, feel he’s just in another country. I wish. It’s unbelievably unfair that such a beautiful person was taken from this world. There plenty of black hearts to choose from, so many people who are selfish and cruel. And please don’t any religious proponents tell me “god wanted him back home”. I have zero time for religious ferver. Everyone is welcome to their beliefs but keep those ones to yourself. A modicum of common sense and scientific learning is enough to show the error of those ways! As far as I’m concerned religion and knowledge are mutually exclusive concepts (wait for the outrage!). Apart from anything else, religion is responsible for more death and heartache than any other one cause throughout the centuries, I’ll be bound.

Well, it’s nearly 6am, a roughly normal hour to be awake. I’m going to get up and pack. Ohope today. Flight leaves 0930.

2031. Really tough day. Give me another please. I can’t do this.

Wednesday 4th March. 0230ish.         So, yesterday was even harder than I knew it would be. Brett collected us from Rotorua, bless him. It felt great to get here really. The climate is so welcoming, softer than the bracing challenge of our southern region! We immediately got lunch and a rose, and toasted Danny and other absent friends. Later, after Brett had gone home to Tohora, Fizz and I walked to the beach, had a wonderful swim and lay in the sun. Then we went to Cadera for Tuesday tacos. And that’s when I came crashing down. So early to bed in a messy heap.

2120: We’ve had a lovely day actually. Into Whakatane early and got a few jobs done which was satisfying. Then lunch and a good walk round the estuary to the beach and back, a swim, shower and then dinner with Finn and Nicola. It was lovely to spent time with them and hear the news. I’m tired now so bed. We plan to walk round the sea to Whakatane tomorrow.

0515 Saturday 7th March                      Can’t sleep again. I’ve been trying for the last two hours. I give up. We’ve had rain in the night which will make everyone happy. Fizz and I have had a good few days. Both my nieces, Hannah and Kelly are here now, Kelly arriving yesterday. We all went to the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant last night for dinner. Raewyn and Brett joined us too which was awesome. So good to see them both. The restaurant has changed a lot. Tom has employed a manager and he takes a more relaxed role I guess. Only saw him briefly. And Elias has taken over as chef. He’s doing superbly too. He’s a real gem, that guy. I hope Tom pays him an outrageous sum! I popped into the kitchen and said hi quickly. Other than that, we’ve gone for walks, had a couple of swims and I’ve got the odd job done. Slowly ticking off my jobs list, though new ones have cropped up too.

I heard from the local policeman who’s in charge of Danny’s case. Hope, the girl who killed him, is now home recovering. I have mixed feelings about that, which is not very nice of me, even if it is understandable. Why should she get to go home and have a chance at a normal life again, when she took that chance from Danny. I think they’ll be interviewing her soon. I wish they could charge her with murder. That’s what it is. She drove like a maniac, wilfully putting others at risk. But she’ll be dealt with by the youth court and will no doubt get a slap with a wet bus ticket.

I was in the garage yesterday and found the container Finn dropped off with Danny’s work gear in. It made me cry.

It’s 0708. I might go and make coffee.

Road Bumps & other stuff

1st March 2020

I haven’t written since leaving Momo.

No prizes for guessing why. She was a safe haven, a port in a storm that proved to be so much more, in the aftermath of losing my beautiful son, and Matt’s best friend and brother, Danny.

So I flew home courtesy of Hawaian Airlines, surrounded by a Kapahaka group speaking Te Reo and making me feel like I got a personalised escort home. By the time I reached Christchurch and family I was emotionally ready to face the memories I knew would push my buttons. And they have.

Tomorrow is my last day here. It’s hard to leave such wonderful family and friends down here, as it was hard to leave Momo, hard to leave France….. I seems to leave bits of me around the world, to be pieced together like some crazy human jigsaw puzzle, as I go round again.

I’ve been delicate today, prone to tears. It’s not rocket science. On Tuesday I go back to the home Matt, Danny and I had made for ourselves, built together, in Ohope. Part of that equation has been ripped from us, a third of the team stolen by selfish stupidity. I can’t dwell on that or the destroyer of peace, anger, will seep in. I don’t want that. Danny wouldn’t want me to let that dominate. I won’t. But some days, fuck it’s hard.

I miss him so much. I miss both my darling boys but Matt and I are here and must soldier on. And we will. Just without our wingman. It’s a bit hinky, but I talked to Bernie today, and he said the whales haven’t hung round the boat since I left. Maybe Danny really was there in spirit. Brett said his spirit animal was the whale. Maybe they’ll be off Ohope Beach when I get there.

I was going to add photos but WordPress have changed the format and I can’t work it out. WhyTF must they change what works already? Not helpful.

Edit: The only way I’ve discovered how to add photos now, is an eight step process for every single picture. How stupid is that.

Sunday/Mondayitis

Sunday 09.02.20 @ 0520!

If Bernie had a dollar for every time I’ve wailed “I don’t want to leave yet”, he’d probably have enough to cover all the work he’s got planned for Momo before sailing to New Zealand!

Reality is staring me in the face and I’m not ready! Being here has been wonderful on so many levels and got me through the toughest time imaginable. I’m intensely grateful to Bernie. He’s been the best of friends and shipmates that I could ask for.

We’ve spent the last few days trying to get the TIP (temporary import permit) for Momo. At least, Bernie has, and I keep him company and offer empathy in the many frustrations that have ensued! The right hand of Mexican officialdom doesn’t know what the left is doing, it seems. We’ve traipsed up and down the coast from Puerto Vallarta to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, being shunted from one person to another. Still haven’t got the TIP.

On the bright side, I got a cup to add to the collection from round the world that Matt started.

A very necessary accessory!

Then there’s the amusement I get every time we take the tender ashore. Bernie taunts the roosting pelicans on each return. They are always lined up on an old boat moored close to the beach we head to. He loves to make them lift off, lumbering into the air like overloaded cargo planes. They’re not the most elegant of birds!

We had an evening out at Ana Banana’s again, with more civilised results (in other words, we can remember getting home in much better fashion than last time!) and equally good live music.

And, massive treat, as we were sitting in our usual evening spot on Momo’s bow, with our sundowners, a couple of whales cruised close by us. Like really close! And they just lounged about slowly, looping under the bow so close to our anchor. I was super excited, which I believe entertained Bernie as much as the whales!

The video’s dreadful, spoiler alert, because I was too excited to concentrate on the camera! But I did get the whale at some point!

Such a nice way to end the day, under a full moon. Even if I am feeling melancholy about leaving.

Monday 10th – my last full day 😭

We had a really lovely day yesterday. Bernie worked till about 1100, then we headed ashore to get the buses to a little place up the coast called Sayulita.

Upon getting to shore in La Cruz, the first thing I saw was a VW with the Tomorrowland emblem on its door. What’s the chances of that here!

Karen, off SY Utopia, had recommended Sayulita as a nice day trip. And so it was. Quaint and supremely picturesque, with colourful art work everywhere. We were both thoroughly enchanted and had to keep rescuing each other from oncoming vehicles or holes in the ground (everyone wanders along in the road & the pavements in CHC are smooth compared to here!) we were so distracted!

Note the kid under the skirts of Senora de Guadalupe! Not sure what that’s all about! Couldn’t read the Spanish.

The beach is a famous surfing beach, which is why we bussed there instead of sailing, and taking the dingy ashore. Plus, local buses are always an experience! Ours broke down yesterday and we all got sardined into an already full bus!

Calm day though so Ohope Beach like waves!

We had lunch local buffet style, which as Bernie bemoaned, was meat heavy, but I was a happy carnivore as we’ve not eaten much meat the last two months! A couple of Bloody Marys washed that down. We caught the bus home feeling content and rather overfull.

It was a much less eventful return journey, I’m pleased to say, and I think we’d have both snoozed if the suspension in the bus hadn’t been so bone jarring!

Andrew messaged me as we were nearly back in La Cruz, to invite us to listen to a live band playing at the Green Tomato bar. So we met him there and dammit if the band didn’t stop two songs after we arrived! So we finished our drinks and went back to Utopia to see Karen.

The American couple we’d met with them in Punta Mita turned up too, and Andrew & Karen’s youngest two kids, Max & Ava, were there. So it was great to catch up with them all before I left. I’ll miss them all and hope to see them in NZ later in the year. They all plan to sail out this year, arriving around November.

But I’m going to miss this special friend, shipmate and partner in wine crime most of all! Thank you so much for letting me be here, Bernie. The worst time of my life has also, weirdly, been one of the best.

And no day on Momo is complete (at anchor) without sundowners on the bow!

It’s 0611. I think today’s plan is gentle! Bernie’s got to do some translation work as trying to chase the TIP has kept him away from that rather more than he’s happy about. I’ll do laundry and pack. 😭😭😭😭

I must remember Lola and Jana’s wetsuits, which they need back home in NZ.

The Weather Gods are Laughing

03.02.20 @ 0335!

I’ve been awake for 2 hours listening to the rain on my hatch. Rather nice actually. Bernie is awake too and has opened the water tanks to catch the rain water now the decks had a decent wash down!

We’ve had a very productive few days. The sail is mended, Bernie has made a new wind vane. I’ve been up the mast twice – once to retrieve the old vane fitting and retape the spars and once to install Red the Rooster! I’ve also done some sikaflexing of the deck and whipped a few lines. Bernie’s translated and done other maintenance jobs.

We had planned to sail either yesterday or today but the weather gods have decided yet again to tease us. There’s very strong winds forecast and the bay we plan to head to doesn’t offer much shelter. So we’ll stay here a bit longer. Its a nice place to be anyway. We can swim by the boat and watch the whales and dolphins swim around us!

Might have to do a wine run soon though! Our day usually ends sitting on the bow together with a drink, solving the problems of the world, then stretched out on the settee watching a movie or TV series. Meals are a bit hit and miss. I usually make a cooked breakfast around 9am. Then lunch is anytime from 1300 to 1600! And dinner can be popcorn if lunch was late, or tortillas if we’re hungry! This is when we’re at anchor! All bets are off at sea. Things happen when they happen, under way! We’re not big on routine!

I’m not looking forward to leaving. Momo has been a good fit for a heart broken Mum. I am looking forward to seeing everyone at home though. And can’t wait to see Matt in Malta in April. I might have to come back!

Tuesday 28.01.20

Plans keep changing! Bernie discovered the Yankee (forward most of the two fore sails) needs some serious repairs. So yesterday we took it by taxi to a sail loft to get that done. But it won’t be ready till Thursday. To expediate things they suggested Bernie organise the line needed for the reinforcing in the leading edge. They wanted him to buy some 8mm pre-shretched line from a shop in La Cruz. However, upon sussing this out, Bernie found they charged twice what it costs to buy in the US. Intensely irritated by this obvious price gouging, he remembered some similar line he’d bought and had stored on board. So we rigged it up the mast and Bernie put as much pressure on it as he could to see if it seemed OK to use. And that’s a cost saving right there, people!

I love all the bright cheerful flowers around here.

On Sunday we went ashore so Bernie could do a few odd jobs he wanted to in town. I didn’t feel like traipsing round hardware stores, so I checked out the markets which were on the sea front. It was fun. Lots of cheerful bright colours and live music. I bought a few psychedelic items to keep for Tomorrowland! Couple of groovy mini skirts that will be back pack friendly!

I also got a hair cut, from a lass I met outside the hairdressers (which was closed) but she said she’d do it at home in her courtyard. So I sat with the dog and parrot while she did my hair. It came out rather shorter than I expected but as I haven’t had a proper cut in two years, it’s likely a good thing. Feels weird though. Light!

Then I settled into a local bar called Ana Banana’s. Bernie joined me not long after a bunch of local expats started playing country music and my first margarita was 2/3s gone! It was a great atmosphere and we stayed for a couple more margaritas.

Bernie and Michelle had actually been there years ago when it was still a bar on the beach. Now there’s a huge marina and the bar is in the Bush! One lady actually recognised Bernie and remembered Momo. I can’t remember what happened five minutes ago half the time, never mind 15 years ago!

Not having eaten much all day we both were a bit tipsy by the time we headed back to Momo. Especially mon capitaine! Getting home entailed getting the dingy back in the water (the tide was out so it was high and dry on the beach), finding the key in the depths of my dry bag in the dark, getting the engine down (it’s sticking badly and requires encouragement with a screw driver) and navigating out through the waves off the beach. By the time I’d got Bernie’s drunk ass in the dingy and all that accomplished, I was soaking wet from my arm pits down!

I actually don’t know how we got ourselves and the groceries back on board without disaster! It was bloody funny though. I had new bruises and grazes in the morning and the contents of my dry bag were wet! Apparently I didn’t close it after finding the key! My phone wouldn’t charge until it’d been in rice for ages and sprayed with WD40! I was starving and had dinner as soon as I’d dried off but Bernie crashed and burned!

I was fine in the morning, Bernie was a tiny bit delicate but all in all, we were less hung over than we deserved to be! I made cooked breakfast to energise our abused bodies! To be fair, we hadn’t actually drunk that much, just not eaten, and probably hadn’t drunk enough water throughout the day either. We’re pretty good partners in crime, gotta say!

Apart from the Sail trip into La Cruz, Bernie worked on his translation a fair bit and I washed his sheets (a mission by hand) and our towels, and worked on a spare sail to get the clips working again (more WD40 and a pair of pliars!). Watched some Outrageous Fortune before getting an early night!

I’ve also booked my flight to LA from Puerto Vallarta, mainly because its way cheaper from there than from Mazatlan. So the current plan (haha) is to catch up with some friends of Bernie’s about 60nm up the coast later in the week. Then I’ll probably bus down to catch my flight to the US.

Bahia Banderas

25.01.20 @ 0930

Were currently under way on engine to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (pronounced wah-nah-KAHSHT-lay), another town in this big bay. Bernie is chasing spare parts for the Perkins. Apparently there’s a guy with an old one here, which he sells parts off. Bernie’s hoping he has its thermostat still. Plus we’ll get supplies for the next leg of the journey.

We’ve been anchored at Punta Mita, which I imagine was a cute fishing village before Americans (largely, we’re told) bought up and dandified the whole place! Its still cute but there’s an obvious disparity between locals and incomers.

Some Aussie friends of Bernie’s are anchored next to us, and we’ve had a fun couple of evenings with them. It was Andrew’s birthday yesterday so Karen, his wife, and their kids made pizzas and pavlova! Of course, there was discussion about the origins of the Pav!

It rained really hard for about half an hour this morning, enough for a fresh water wash down but not long enough to open the water tanks! It’s drizzling now and I’m on deck on watch in my wet weather gear!

We’ve seen so many whales. It’s incredibly heartening. One put on a real display for us all, while we were aboard Utopia last night. A mother and baby, the mum leaping out of the sea over and over. Totally showing off and having fun. What a birthday present!

1025. Bernie just called me up on deck (he took watch at 1000) because we had two whales cruising right alongside Momo. Just WOW.

1925. We’ve had a semi successful day. We forgot it was the weekend, lol, so didn’t see the guy about engine parts. But we got groceries and negotiated water with the marina guy. Bernie’s not feeling a hundy, so I’ve tried to get him to rest (haha) while I did the water runs etc. Actually, he must be feeling pretty shitty because he’s let me nurse him to the point of agreeing to medications, something he normally refuses.

There’s loads of pelicans here and they roost on everything possible! In fact, the birds life is great, I’m just no good at identifying most of them!

It’s been a cooler 24 degrees Celsius today, with rain hovering over the mountains much of the day. We did get our phones topped up too, so now we have data. I got quite a good pic of Momo silhouetted against the stormy sky. Pretty Momo!

Mum and Dad were asking where we were headed next! This happens to be a moving target, each time we raise the pick! However, current thought is we hope to go to Santa Rosalia, where Bernie’s friends are now. So, on the map I’ve put here, we’re currently near Puerto Vallarta and you can see Santa Rosalia in the Sea of Cortez.

Tenacatita North

21.01.20 possibly Tuesday! 1530 – We lifted the pick and sailed of the anchorage about 1230 I think. Beautifully done, Bernie! We’re heading north for Puerto Vallarta at this stage. It’s weather dependent how much further north we go before I have to leave.I’ve booked my flight home, departing LA on the 13th Feb. I’ve got very mixed feelings about leaving Momo. I’m loving it here and Bernie is easy company. But I also very much want to see the whanau before returning to Europe for the next Mediterranean season. And I need to sort out Danny’s affairs and get things done for Carly too. But I’ll be very sad to leave here.Matt and I are planning a wee trip together before I go back to work. We’re thinking to go to Cyprus at this stage. He hasn’t been there and I didn’t get a chance to explore really, when we took Lucky Wave there. So I’ll probably fly straight there to meet up with him, then on to France afterwards.Oh, the dolphins have joined us. I’m on watch, Bernie’s asleep, well I hope so. He’s been working very hard the last few days. Just got a lovely yacht motor sailing down our port side. We’ve passed the Rocas Los Frailes and approaching Punta Farrallon. On a port tack doing about 3.5 knots.

22.01.20 @ 0715

Damnably uncomfortable night, with little wind and lazy rollers tossing us all over the show. The boom thumping, sails snapping, my bed trying to evict me every few moments! I don’t think either of us got much shut eye. More than once I rued the fact my dear skipper dislikes using the engine! Still Dawn has arrived in all her usual glory, the Southern Cross has gone to bed and I’m thinking “coffee”.

Tenacatita to Puerto Vallarta

23.01.20 @ 0120

I’m on watch, though I suspect Bernie is awake. Conditions are not conducive to sleep! We finally have wind, probs around 20 knots from the North (naturally, that’s where we’re going!) and sea state rough! So we’re tacking and taking turns on watch, but really we’re both awake 90% of the time. I’m sacked out in the salon, partly because my bed is wet from a leak somewhere and partly because it’s not as bouncy in the centre of the boat.

I started out writing when we left but today my phone did something weird and lost it all. This yacht sailed by yesterday.

Were heading up this coast and round the point at the top into Bahia Banderas.

Some OTT houses en route!

0230 and I’m still on watch. Bernie is tired so I’m trying to let him sleep but every time I look he’s got his phone in his hand, so I guess he can’t relax enough. The weather has either been so light (the day before yesterday), sailing has been demanding or so heavy as to be equally demanding, in a different way. So we’re both lacking in zeds and tired. Bernie has a deeper store of patience than I do, though. As always, that’s a work in progress!

It’s 0715 and Bernie’s been on watch since 0400. In spite of the tossing Momo, I’ve slept rather well. Bernie wakes me to help tack, then I just ly down on the sofa seat that’s most comfortable with the heeling of the boat.

Were both fairly feral, not having been able to shower since leaving Tenacatita! Luckily neither of us gets too sniffy! You know how some people are more prone to BO than others!

We’re now inside Bahia Banderas, a huge bay housing La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta. The sunrise promises to be extra special this morning, so I’ll go up on deck shortly.

0950

The sunrise was spectacularly disappointing! A bunch of clouds rolled up over the hills and blocked it. Yesterday’s sunrise was better! On the plus side we caught a Skipjack for breakfast. Bernie filleted and I cooked it. The fishing gods seem to smile on us every time we’ve just about run out of fresh food.

Bernie’s gone to catch a kip, hopefully, and I’m sitting on deck hoping to spot the resident whales. The sea is more settled inside the bay.

It’s much cooler today. I have Danny’s jersey on. I haven’t had the heart to wash it yet, but I have to admit the smell of him is nearly gone. Feeling a bit sad today. Well, on a sad scale that runs daily between 7 and 10 on the devastation rating, it’s maybe 8.5 today. I wonder how long it takes to drop below 7. Months? Years? A lifetime?

A grey and silver day, Mercury falling. Appropriate. A small front approaches.

The front didn’t come to anything and we ran out of wind, came in on the engine and have just dropped the anchor and had a late lunch. Its 1430. We’re having a 20 minute nanna nap, before putting the sails away etc.

The best bit is we saw whales. Lots of them. So so awesome. Bernie said there were humpback whales living here but I didn’t expect to see them straight away. I even saw one leap right up out of the water. Twice! Marvelous.

Some friends of Bernie’s are here too so we’ll go and have sundowners with them after a swim, later.

Momo Restored!

20.02.20

The engineer is to be congratulated! Bernie spent all of yesterday upside down or twisted like a pretzel, or both, with a tiny amount of help from me, and has got Momo’s engine back together and running better than before!

We went to La Manzanillo the day before yesterday to collect the injector pump and use the Internet. On our return, we’d literally just sat down to relax, Bernie gazing happily at his shiny restored part, when he leapt up with an anguished “oh no!” it turned out they had put the thing back together backwards.

Once he’d got over the initial horror, Bernie radioed on the local net asking if anyone had a 12 point socket set. That produced positive results and the clever guy turned the offending part to it’s correct orientation. So panic over.

That left him back on track to install it and it really did take most of the day. There’s so little room to manoeuvre in the engine space, so it’s damnably hard work. I didn’t envy him. I did laundry, and after lunch, dived on the hull to clean it, before we sail again. I was actually really nervous, because I haven’t dived since my course, and I was diving alone. I couldn’t remember half the stuff which didn’t help my peace of mind. But Bernie helped me gear up and checked everything.

With a mental toughen up lecture, I went over the side. I was fine but found it quite a challenge. The tide kept pulling at me and it took a lot of concentration to stay where I wanted to be. Great buoyancy control practice! Also Bernie’s BCD is too big for me and it kept trying to wriggle off my body! But I managed to clean the hull adequately I think. (21st-apparently not!) Doing the absolute bottom I did rather enjoy. It’s the worst bit with lots of barnacles and growth, plus you have to hover upside down to do it. Also I wasn’t very deep, only 4 or 5 metres I’d say.

I was tired afterwards though! Once back on Momo, I helped Bernie finish the engine and gave him deserved praise when it ran nicely! The only thing that was a bit off was that the guys who fixed the injector pump have put something (tmi for me) back to front inside it and now idle is forward on the throttle, and power is backwards! Counter intuitive, but it still works! Bernie just said it adds to Momo’s individuality! Very noble attitude!

So I guess today we’ll get water and ready for sea.

Oh, and we have our Tomorrowland tickets! Very excited. And Matt, bless him, booked me cheap as tickets from LA to Auckland. I get home on February 14th. I just have to organise the local flights when I know where we end up. And a flight to Chch.

Time to get up and make coffee. Crew’s job! And the engineer deserves some tlc!

21.01.20

I’m having a lazy morning coffee while Bernie gets some translation work done before we sail, hopefully anyway.

Yesterday was quite busy with Bernie doing other maintenance things and me simply following behind cleaning the boat! He also dived to replace the zincs. Apparently my hull cleaning looks like it was done by someone who couldn’t control their buoyancy very well, lol. Can’t say I’m surprised, I did find it hard to stay in one place and be methodical.

We had a fish treat yesterday too. A huge school of travelly congregated around the yacht, hunting schools of smaller fish. It was amazing to watch. Very dramatic.

We went ashore later in the day to collect the water drums we’d left a couple of days ago to be filled. Unfortunately the truck hadn’t been so we’ll have to wait till Puerto Vallarta to get fresh water. But we decided to have a margarita, which turned into 3 margaritas, at the bar there. They must’ve been bloody strong because we were both as silly as chooks, thoroughly hammered, by the time we got back to Momo!

In the spirit of this high good humour we decided it was an equally amazing idea to have a night swim. This is largely my fault, as I’ve been begging Bernie to join me for a night swim almost daily. The bioluminescence is incredible here and it was wonderful. Well worth it! So beautiful.

Luckily I’d made dinner earlier so we ate, which I reckon is why we are both undeservedly well this morning! Very grateful about that! I’ve had a nice long chat to Matt. And will get to work readying Momo for sea shortly.

Tenacatita, Mexico

14.01.20

January is half gone already, along with two months since Danny’s passing. I still feel like I’m living an alternate reality. I also feel as if I’m escaping or hiding from that reality by being on board Momo. But this has been wonderful for me and I really am in no rush to leave. However, a letter from my lawyer regarding Danny’s estate reminds me I have obligations to fulfil and so I must return home in the not too distant future.

Bernie and I are anchored in the Bay of Tenacatita, South of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s a lovely, sheltered bay and popular with cruisers, judging by the 28 yachts already here when we arrived. As I said in my last blog, I think, we’ve got to get the injector pump fixed so yesterday Bernie took it to some guy he heard about on the local boating radio net.

We took the tender across to La Manzanilla and Bernie took a taxi from there, to meet this bloke. I explored a bit, made a few touristy purchases, and took advantage of the local restaurant WiFi.

After we got back to Momo, lighter by one pump but having replenished fresh produce, we decided to go snorkeling off some rocks near our anchorage. It was magic. So many different fish, corals, abundant kina and I even saw a huge black and white striped sea snake. We only got out because we were getting chilly.

Today we got ourselves up and doing early, to go on a dingy trip up the Tenacatita mangrove creek. High tide was 1030 so we wanted to be doing this an hour either side of high tide. It was fantastic. The most stunning array of bird life, some of which we don’t recognise but including herons, Ibis and roseate spoonbills. My phone camera couldn’t really manage the long shots but Bernie got some good ones with his good camera which he’ll put on a USB stick for me.

Bernie’s been working this afternoon and the most energy I’ve expended was cleaning the dingy! And swimming. It’s hot. Again! I need to think about dinner at some point.

Matt is booking my tickets for Tomorrowland. I’m so excited to be going this year. We’ll all be going hard out on Danny’s behalf! I’ve booked an apartment in Antwerp for the week at the end of July. Matt and I are also planning a trip together, just the two of us, in March maybe. A start to making our new memories. See, we’re trying hard.

At the Whim of the Wind

January 10th @ 0842.

I’ve just seen that on Xmas eve we thought we’d make Puerto Valarta in 6 days or so. Haha. The weather gods must’ve laughed their butts off. 16 days later we’re still not that far north! Bernie says its the slowest sailing he’s ever had, lol, such incredible light winds, day after day.

We’ve just arrived at Tenacatita, dropping the anchor around 10pm last night in the dark after creeping ever so slowly in, trying to see the rock in the middle of the bay the chart told us was there somewhere. We didn’t spot it till it was past and well off to our port side! Of course, with no engine available as back up, we had to sail onto our anchorage, but it went smoothly and the minute we were holding we literally dived on the bottle of wine I had sitting waiting below! Then I made tortillas for dinner. Bernie is so easy to please on the food front which is marvelous. Y’all know how much I love cooking! We had rum for dessert. As usual.

Neither of us, pair of stinky sailors that we are, having crashed without showering last night (probably just as well our rooms are at opposite ends of the boat!), have put our heads out the hatch yet this morning. I’m lying in bed contemplating coffee, lazily hoping Bernie might do it first! He’s likely thinking the same thing! We’ve been going for a week, pretty much, so deserve a little tlc.

We’ve had a bit of cell phone coverage the last two days, as we’ve tacked close to land and there’s quite a few biggish towns along this part of the coast. But none in this anchorage, dammit. So I guess we’ll have to go ashore.

0925. I made coffee!

Poked my head out to see the beautiful bay we’re in. We’re anchored a long way away from the other vessels, lol. It looked so close in the dark. Better safe than sorry! We can move when there’s enough wind!

I have a confession to make. I’ve been using this pretty little china mug without a handle for my cold drinks. Upon announcing, a while ago, that it was my favourite cup, Bernie admitted it was Michelle’s favourite too. But I’ve broken it. 😦 I lost my balance coming down the ladder and dropped it. I feel very bad. Bernie was just relieved I did it and it’s not his head on the platter, charmer! We exonerated me a little by deciding it would’ve survived the 2 metre fall onto hard ground if not for the little chip in the lip which must’ve weakened it!

Did I mention we thought we saw a whale a couple of nights ago. Bernie spotted it but by the time I got topside, all I saw was a flick of the fluke as it dived. But it was a very large tail!

1512. It’s 34 degrees outside. Decent breeze so we’ve moved into the bay a bit more. Bernie’s asleep. I think worrying about the engine has worn him out.

It looks like we’ll be here a while, as Bernie has to order a reconditioned injector pump for the engine, then wait for it to get here to install it. I think he can do that himself. So I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to leave Momo, really, but on the other hand I probably need to get home with enough time to see if there’s any legal stuff I need to get done before the Mediterranean season starts again. Or I could stay until March, fly straight to join Matt for a bit, then go home. Or stay in France. Don’t know!

11.01.20

We had some potentially good news this morning. The local boaties do a radio net each morning at 0915 on channel 17. They check arrivals in the Bay and who’s leaving, ask if anyone needs assistance of any sort and mention any social things. It’s pretty good really. So Bernie piped up and said about our injector pump woes. Blow me down if a guy didn’t radio in to say he might have one not too far from here. So we’ll see how that goes. Bernie’s going to check it out. Today he’s taking ours out.

This morning we noticed huge fish in the water near Momo. So we got in the water with snorkeling gear and the spear gun. Bernie got one first shot. I was very impressed with his Hunter abilities! So we’ve added trevalley to the menu. It’s a very dense red meat, almost like beef! Much appreciated. He’s going to smoke most of it I think.

I dreamt of Danny last night, more precisely, of our last night together. The night before I left for France last March 31st was a lovely balmy warm evening. Danny and I sat outside on the deck at Ohope with wine and bufti, chatting into the small hours. How I wish I could have that back. Needless to say I woke up feeling a bit delicate and every little thing has set me off today. Just one of those days.

I just talked to Matt, which makes me feel a lot better.

I can’t remember if I mentioned that I had a hard fall in Acapulco. We were striding along a street and there was a water leak across the footpath. It turned out to be slimy and I went flying. Took a decent chunk out of my left knee, bruised my tail bone, but the worst of it seems to be my left shoulder. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a rotator cuff tear. Hot damn, it’s sore and weak, plus I can’t sleep on it and it keeps me awake. Bloody nuisance but can’t do much about it at present. The main problem is I find it difficult to haul myself back on board after swimming. That aggravates it too!

I’ve seen a few beautiful jelly fish in the water. They’re apparently not dangerous and change colours so prettily when you get close. Nature really is the coolest. I need an underwater camera!

En Route to Mazatlan

Sunday 5th January

Lovely sailing 48 hours into our leg from Acapulco to Mazatlan. The winds are fairly light, giving us SOG (speed over ground) of not more than 4 knots, often less. They also back and veer depending on the time of day.

But we’re getting to see the Mexican coast unfold, parts of it reminding me very much of the foot hills of Canterbury. They’re rugged but with bits that have been cultivated and bits still forested. Beyond you can see the silhouettes of the bigger mountain ranges further inland, much as the Southern Alps takes over at home.

Our charts tell us there’s a lot of small estuaries and little lakes too, but we can’t appreciate those from here. You can just see the bush clad surrounds that hint at rich water ways. And some nice wild, lonely beaches too. Last night I could hear the waves crashing on one long stretch of sand, though we were a good three miles off. The depth went from 70m to 7m fairly close to the shore, hence the serious wave action.

And, as seems to be usual here I’m happy to say, so many dolphins, mostly Pantropical Spotted dolphins. They’re quite big. We’ve also seen lots of turtles. This continues to thrill me!

I’ve been very up and down, emotionally the last couple of days. In a way being at sea is therapeutic but it also seems to make me feel the pain of Danny’s loss more keenly. Maybe just because there’s no one to see my distress and judge my lack of control, and because I feel Danny had a very similar feeling towards the ocean that I have. The fact that the whale, Tohora, is his guardian spirit, kai tiaki, emphasises that for me.

6.1.20 @ 0730

I’m on watch. A frustrating night of damn all wind. Again! We are coming up on Ziahuatanejo (Zee wah ta nayoh) which means we’ve done 110nm since Acapulco! Slow going, huh!

The promised Internet has not arisen which is bothering me as I need to get in touch with Fizz.

I just tried to raise a ship, a fuel tanker, on the radio to let them know we were on their port bow with a CPA (closest point of approach) of 0.13nm, but no reply. So we prudently altered to starboard. She’s a lot bigger than us!

7.1.20 @ 0417.

My watch again, though Bernie and I have been sitting up together as we’ve rounded a very prominent headland, Punta Mangrove, with a massive shipping port on it. Lots of vessels anchored off as well, so we watched together for a bit. Safety first!

We actually made reasonable way yesterday, looping in close to Ziahuatanejo, to get the Internet long enough to catch up with everyone. Timing was fortuitous and I spoke to Matt, Fizz, Mum & Dad, Johan and Mehrez. And a lot of messaging and emails as well. Fizz isn’t coming, sadly, but I did wonder if the cost would prove prohibitive at short notice. We’ll catch up when I get home!

I saw a beautiful sea snake during the afternoon. One of those yellow and black stripey ones, like we get in Fiji. It was just lazing along on the surface. And lots more dolphins and turtles. I forgot to mention the display the dolphins and Sting rays put on last night. Just on dusk, Bernie and I were sharing a beer on the aft deck, and both species started leaping right out of the water, high in the air, doing graceful airborne manoeuvres, before disappearing again. Wonderful treat to see. One dolphin shot up right next to Momo, easily as high as the boom, literally a metre from the side of the boat!

I’m reading three books at present. One called ‘Momo’, a kids story and the source of this yacht’s name, another on the history of South Africa and one of my warry stories!

1817. Slow but steady going all day, with the odd patch of no wind at all. I was just contemplating a swim when Bernie noticed lots of tiny jelly fish in the water. So decided against! We’ve watched a couple of documentaries and generally been pretty quiet. I washed a few clothes. It’s easier to do a little each day. I live in singlet tops and shorts. Bernie lives in Thai short trou. Neither of us bother with underwear much! Too hot and more washing!

I’m struggling to get enough sleep. I’ve never been good at sleeping during the day, was a useless night shift nurse, losing weight hand over fist. But I cannot expect Bernie to do all the night watches. So, yes, I’m losing weight again! But we eat well so it’s fine. It doesn’t help that every time I close my eyes, images of happier times with Danny in our lives pop into my head. Sometimes I feel I’ll never work properly again. It’s so terribly unfair. I wish I could turn back the clock, get home earlier, see my baby one more time. Or switch off my work ethic and have just left Lucky Wave and visited the boys in Athens. One more hug. One more “I love you, Mum”. Fuck, its hard.

8.1.20 @ 0637

I came on watch at 0500. We’re about to round a headland, Punta Tejupan, hugging the coast line. Less than a nautical mile to port is a big ship, somewhere from 50-100m long judging by her navigation lights. Looks to be on the large end of the scale! I gave her a quick call on the radio to let her know a sailing yacht a fraction of her size was ahead of her! We don’t have AIS. I also put our deck Nav lights on, not strictly legal when we have a masthead tricolour but I’d rather be seen! Dawn isn’t far away. I’ll stick our fishing lure out now.

A New Year – for better or worse

Wednesday 1st January 2020.

I’m finding it hard to utter the words “happy new year”. As Matt said, it felt wrong to leave behind the last year that we had Danny in it. Life will never be the same. I can’t wrap my head round it.

Bernie and I took our rum and lime up on deck just before midnight to watch the fireworks. We’d seen the barges in place earlier in the day, a dozen or more dotted around the bay. One was moored very close to Momo so we were lined up for a front row seat.

Acapulco is lovely at night and the display really was spectacular, with just enough breeze to take the smoke away as it progressed. We stayed on deck, yarning, with another rum, long after the fireworks were over. Boats started returning to the marinas, weaving around us.

I happened to look out over the starboard bow and saw a boat heading directly for us. I said to Bernie “That boat needs to alter course. Right now” and got to my feet to start yelling at them. Bernie joined me but they kept coming. The boat was overloaded with passengers and, way too close for comfort, some noticed us and relayed, presumably, to the skipper. They slowed but didn’t stop and the only reason they didn’t hit us was because Bernie and I both leaned out and fended them off. We physically grabbed their bowsprit and pushed them off to the side. The skipper finally got his dumb head into gear and went into reverse, yelling that he couldn’t see us.

Well, duh! I think we got that point loud and clear. The dickwad was steaming along with all their interior lights on and no navigation lights at all. Plus there were so many people on board he wouldn’t have seen through the throng ahead of the vessel. Idiot. It was no bloody wonder they couldn’t see us. We certainly had our anchor light on. I tried to get the boats name, to identify it for today, but they turned off all lights and went completely dark. So I couldn’t read the name.

We were a bit nervous after that so stayed on deck with a hand held light that we shone towards any boat heading our way. To be fair, it can be hard to see anchor lights against the back drop of the city, but that is exactly why you stick to the pilotage channels and don’t fucking drive right through the middle of a designated anchorage. And you keep a decent lookout and use your navigation lights. WTF! These things are in place for a reason!

So we’re feeling like we dodged a bullet this morning. Poor Momo would’ve been in rough shape if they’d rammed us. Not to mention the very real possibility of drunk guests from their boat either injured or in the water, or both.

This is a typical taxi here! Picture 6′ Bernie and me and groceries folded into one! And the name of this fast food outlet made us laugh. Do you think something got lost in translation?

3.01.19

We sailed off the anchor and exited the bay around 1615 this afternoon. The wind is WNW so we’re having to tack our way north. Its slow going but Momo is tripping along nicely. Its nearly 1900 now and I’ve just sent Bernie off to rest. It’ll be hard on him with all the tacking non stop. It’s a beautiful evening though.

We’re heading to Mazatlan first, probably, where I’m trying to persuade Fizz to meet us and join for a bit!

Acapulco, Mexico.

New Year’s Eve 2019

Momo is anchored the better part of a nautical mile from shore in the lovely natural harbour that makes horse – shoe shaped Acapulco Bay.

We entered in the dark, about 0530, I was on watch, and it sparkled with Christmas – like cheer, complete with fairy lit trees on the highest peak above the city. Rugged mountains frame the city, making it a very protected harbour.I roused Bernie and we stood on deck appreciating the beauty, while trying to orientate ourselves to the various marinas’ locations. It took a while to get a reply on the radio from the harbour master, about 0930 I guess. By then we’d chosen an anchorage close to two similar looking yachts. Luckily we were told to anchor pretty much where we already had, so Bernie just said “yes, OK” and we stayed put!We got most of the entry paperwork done that day, most importantly, customs and immigration. So with passports stamped we were free to roam. That was Dec 28th.

Since then we haven’t done a lot. I get land sick every time I step ashore which Bernie finds very amusing, I think! I usually head straight to a wee cafe with decent coffee and Internet close to where we get ashore. So I’ve managed to catch up with everyone except Mehrez.BTW, Mehrez, you’re still in top spot for being my hottie! No competition over here, chéri! Central Americans seem to be, on average, a good two inches shorter than me and twice as wide. And Mexicans really are 90% very overweight. I was rather surprised but Bernie told me that they’ve knocked Americans off the top spot for being fat.

Still, the atmosphere of Acapulco is very positive and happy. I guess life here is pretty good. For us, though I suppose not for locals, it’s very cheap. We got a bottle of rum, a bottle of wine and some fruit and salad stuff the other day for US$22. And a full provisioning of the yacht yesterday for both of us for two weeks was about $110.Bernie and I have just taken the local bus into town. Bloody hilarious. The very young driver (he looked about 16) played super loud EDM, real bangers and hash stuff, which I totally enjoyed. Bernie was highly entertained that I got Shazam out! And he pulled the tail on a stuffed monkey to make the horn work! Great experience!Another thing is, there are so so many different law enforcement agencies, armed men everywhere. They’re carrying serious weapons too, and often have face masks on, so quite intimidating, potentially. Even the banks have armed guards.The town is bustling and lively and I find the atmosphere good for a fractured soul. Music non stop, smiles and bright colours. There’s worse places to be!

2019 is a wrap.

As I said to Bernie last night, this year was a really good one – right up until 0600 on November 13th when I heard about Danny’s death.In that moment it became the worst year of my life.

I’ve done a lot this year. The boys and I had a wonderful summer together in Ohope and on our travels around NZ during the holiday period last Summer.My season in France was, on balance, great. I had a lovely boat to work on, I made wonderful new friends and spent special times with the ones I had already. I saw more of the French countryside thanks to Mehrez. I saw a lot more of the Mediterranean thanks to Lucky Wave.I got a trip to Prague and ABGT350 with Matt and Meg.I didn’t get my captain’s qualification thanks to Carly.

I did get my open water divers qualification in Koh Phangan thanks to Reefers and Lukas. I had a marvelous week with Ruth, and then looked forward to another incredible experience with Ruth, Orgest and Nina on Koh Phi Phi.And that’s when it all came crashing down.So Matt and I, along with all the family and wonderful friends, have said goodbye to our beloved Danny, in our own special way.So here I make a pledge to my sons.

To Danny – my beautiful baby, I will try to find peace in my heart again, joy in the simple things that came so easily before you died. I will miss you with every breath, every day, but I promise to try and be of good heart again for your brother. And because you were such a joy.

To Matt – my wonderful, brave first born son, you and I will make new memories as a duo, without our wingman. I’ll always have your back. We’ll carry Danny in our hearts and memories on this difficult journey forward without him. We will let his loving heart and positive energy live on in our thoughts and actions. I will love you enough for both of us, always.

Back to Plan A!

Boxing Day 1200

We had a plan change early this morning, after an intensely frustrating night of little or no wind. Again. Before we left Bahia del Sol we’d thought to take the coastal route via Acapulco to La Paz. Then Bernie felt it was better to skirt the strong winds created by the Tehuantepec and go offshore heading directly to Puerto Valletta. (btw, my nursing friends, this place is affectionately known as PV! Hahaha. I snort every time Bernie says it and now he understands the joke, he all but rolls his eyes)

However after losing so many days to no winds both before and after the Tehuantepec, and being low on food supplies, we’ve started the engine and are going directly to Acapulco. Poor Bernie! He sees this as a sailor failure! He uses the rags 99% of the time and loathes having to get the diesel out! Still, what can you do with no wind to fill said sails! Of course, yours truly has a healthy respect for all forms of power, and consequently am suffering zero pangs over getting that baby diesel going! So I’m happily on watch and have sent mon capitaine off to catch up on zeds.

Emotionally I’m really struggling. I feel like I’ve been chopped into a million pieces and each bit is on life support, can feel the pain of the torture but can’t find a way to put it’s parts back together. Alive but not functioning. Recognisable but not responsive. Breathing but brain dead. The ocean around me looks like the emptiness of my life stretching endlessly before me, navigable but featureless. Without a destination.

I daresay some of you will think “but you still have Matt” and thank god for that, but I’d bet you anything you like he’s feeling the same only 10 times worse. He has 50 or 60 years without his beloved brother. I face a mere 25 or so. And the three of us have grown up together, a tight trio, fighting our battles together, always having each others backs, knowing we could rely on one another 100%. It’s just so bloody hard. And yes, I miss Matt terribly right now. I wish he could join me on Momo for a bit! I’d like just the two of us to do something together in the near future.

1840. Back on sails for a bit as we have enough wind and Bernie wants to check the oil etc. The wind has backed a bit so its on our port beam. Lovely sunset as usual! We’ve just been sitting on deck yarning. As usual!

27.12.19 @ 0600. The sailing didn’t last long as the wind died again, but it w nice to have an hour or two of quiet, sitting on deck talking with Bernie. I did watch from 2100 to 0200 and am back on now. We don’t do changes in any formal way. Just get the other person when we get tired. So some nights I do more and some Bernie does. It works for us.

1700. I’ve just had my “shower” on deck. Much needed as it’s been sweltering hot today. Bernie has been doing sail repairs and I’ve done odd jobs and read my book. About once an hour poor Bernie laments the engine! I’m used to it. But there’s still no wind so a good decision and we should get to Acapulco tomorrow.

1950. Bernie and I were sitting in the shade of the sail having our dinner around 6pm,when Bernie commented “I can’t believe we haven’t caught a single fish.” Literally seconds after he uttered the words the fishing line took off! We looked at each other in disbelief and shot aft! There was a beauty marlin on the line! I wound it in and Bernie gaffed and landed it. Food! Just the day after we’ve run out of fresh food. Thank you Mr Marlin!

29.12.19. I’m ashore in Acapulco, my mission to find a laundrette, an Atm and sim cards, but I’m doing a bit of internetting with coffee in a local cafe overlooking the bay first! The waiter speaks English so I’ll pick his brains before I go.

I’m sure some of you will lament our catch of the marlin. We do too somewhat, but as we’d run out of food except rice and tinned tomatoes, we appreciate nature’s bounty and every bit will be used. Bernie is smoking and canning as I do this.

I talked to Matt last night briefly which was marvelous. And I’ll ring Mum and Dad later, at a sensible time in NZ!

Happy New Year, everyone.

Don’t forget to love each other. Love past the stars xxxxx