Friday, 31 July 2009

Mermaid or Whale?

I admit to having received this in my email box this morning from a lovely young Australian woman whom we met last season. I SO agree with the sentiment expressed within this...

Right on Maria!!

Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:


A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym:

To Whom It May Concern,

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Barren Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia.

Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don’t exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don’t have a sex life, because they kill men who get close to them; not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they do not have kids either. Not to mention who would want to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store? The choice is perfectly clear to me--I want to be a whale.

P..S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a coffee with my friends. With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that, when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren’t heavy; we are enormously cultured, educated and happy. Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror, I will think, "Good gosh, look how smart I am!"

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The meaning of life.

Do you ever question the meaning of life? I do, at least daily! Not sure that I am any nearer the answer though even after so many years of the same question. Guess the closest I have come is "42", you know, as in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy".

It's a funny thing aging. Yeah all the usual, weight gain, wrinkles, body parts making, and reaching, that far South destination. When God created woman she sure made some cockups in the design features, wonder if I could sue.....

And yet I am finding a curious liberation in the whole process. I rarely look in a mirror these days(many would say that explains a lot), I struggle to mind what people think of me, social acceptance is no longer a prime mover in life. Is that good or bad? Who the f... knows!

Childhood, puberty, adolescence, love, marriage, childbirth, divorce ,remarriage, crisis, bereavement.
All part of the great order of life. How come we get such different experiences each time??What I mean is why is it that my take on each moment of life can be so utterly different from the person standing next to me? Talk about "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus"! Still(shrugs shoulders) c'est la vie!

Last night I saw the movie UP , nice look at not leaving things too late, quite a good film really. And how relevant to our life as sailors. So often we see those who leave things too late, life full of regrets and yearnings for what might have been.

I may have many things wrong ( well I really don't think there are that many!), but as I said to TBH at the end of the movie, at least we can't say we didn't try it!, Even if it didn't always work out quite in the way we imagined!

Monday, 27 July 2009


We have been back a week, time enough to begin assimilating the changes in the three months that we have been out sailing.

As we came up river we were struck by the numbers of canoes out fishing. Was it a sign of a deepening recession or simply a response to the better weather?

We decided to stay in a quiet bay overnight and then continue up to our old haunt at Mario's. It would be nice to see our friends and catch up with the gossip...

Well there are some obvious changes here. For a start the number of BIG boats in the marina has mushroomed. Far more 50 footers than in previous years. Makes you wonder how the docks will hold up to these big brutes when the tsunami's come through. Most surprising is how few actual real live cruisers there are around.

The Rio has always seemed a strange place to me. Large numbers of Americans from the Southern States who only visit their boats for a few months a year, an overly large percentage of societies dropouts and misfits, but this year there simply are hardly any occupied boats in the marina's.

I wonder if that is due to the economic downturn? In the years of wild extravagance that we have just experienced it seemed like everyone and his mate were buying large yachts and heading off to 'live the dream'. Has the fantasy palled? Have the realities of the hard work and real expense of life aboard disillusioned the crowd that were always looking for the next party, the next social event?

It can make you question your own choice in lifestyle, are we like those people?? God I hope not.

We meet fewer and fewer 'real cruisers'. People who live on their boats 24/7 whilst traveling the world. Doing their own maintenance, seeking a self-sufficient lifestyle. Thank goodness we have met one or two boats this year who are.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Life is good.

So here we are safely back in the Rio. Licking our wounds from the nastier experiences of the season and savoring the better ones...

One of the truisms of this cruising life is that you really never know what might happen next. Just as everything is falling apart around you a bright spot appears over the horizon. I have learnt a lot this season. A lot about myself, about TBH and about the boat. Some good, some not so good and some quite gobsmacking.

Our trip back was a mixed bag, a nasty squall caught me unawares about 20 miles south of Placencia. I was happily watching the ocean occasionally tweaking the self steering gear. There was a patch of dark clods out to the North East but it didn't look like much. No strong line of darker clouds, no deep steel grey colour. We had a reef in already and were sailing along in 10 knots of wind. I was keeping an eye on it when wham! Winds buffeted us from the beam and the rain poured down, then the thunder started to crash and we could see the lightning forking to the ocean rather too close for comfort. Bugger, got it wrong again. This seems to be a bit of a habit.

It wasn't nice and I got cold and wet but it was copeable with.

We crossed the bar an hour after high tide and with the help of our new fishfinder were encouraged to see the shape of the bottom for the first time. I love this piece of technology.

Our reward came a couple of days later as we left Gringo Bay to head up river towards mario's. A gentle breeze blew us serenly across the lake. With less than 5 knots of wind it took us 5 hours to sail 10 miles but it was bliss. just using the yankee, we didn't even take the mainsail cover off, we gently drifted up the lake and even up the river with a couple of long lazy tacks. Coming to anchor in a small bay near to mario's marina.

It's times like this that make everything else worthwhile.

So now we have got the boat in order again. New parts winging their way to us, thinking about hauling out, reaquainting with old pals. Life is good.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Moving on...

Our time here in Belize is nearly over as we start to wend our way back to the Rio to hole up for the remainder of the hurricane season. In fact TBH is busy checking out as I type this note!

It hasn't been the experience we were expecting, but somehow that isn't too much of a surprise!

I am still not sure what I think of this country. The people have a VERY laid back attitude, which is great unless you want to get something done. Then it quickly becomes a pain in the proverbial.

I guess they are really suffering from the economic downturn, with a main dollar earner in tourism everywhere is quiet and there is an air of desperation about the place. Businesses seem to be closing everyday, terrific cheap deals at all the hotels, great value specials in the restaurants and yet with the high taxation on just about everything it makes a dollar not go very far.

There are still a number of backpackers around but far fewer of the high rolling buck spending visitors that a country like this wants.

The anchorage is just about cleaned out. Just 3 cruising boats left here and two of us leaving imminently. The weather has been wild at times, winds of up to 50k through the anchorage certainly sorts the men from the boys! And yet we have been charmed by a family of dolphins who come to the boat regularly. We love 'The Pickled Parrot' bar where I have indulged my cravings with magnificent lobster burgers...

It will be a different season for us on the Rio, no marina this time. Rumour has it that everywhere is very quiet, with most boats left unoccupied for the season. We will see!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Rolly nights.

It's been a rough week, literally. Every night we have had a pretty hefty squall blowing through the anchorage. Winds 25 plus knots and a massive display of thunder and lightning.

The night hours are punctuated by a new routine...

Put the computers, hand held instruments and telephone into the oven. It acts as a faraday cage and should protect them in case of another strike. Disconnect the boat VHF. Turn off all electrical systems. Tie down the blades of the wind generator, that does a good impersonation of a landing helicopter when wind speeds exceed 25k. I find the noise adds significantly to my stress level!

We then move from our usual at anchor berth in the bow of the boat into the salon and our sea berths.

It constantly amazes me how one minute the sea can be a roaring mass of waves and the air filled with the howling of wind through the rigging and then almost immediately all goes quiet, the wind drops and very quickly the sea calms... It's like magic!

Last night was one of the worst we have had. The winds came from the south for a while, the least protected part of this anchorage and we were subjected to a sizable swell. That's not too bad and we have a lot of chain out so hobby horsing is livable with. Then of course the wind moves into the East leaving us broadside to the waves, nasty!

We had a significant roll going last night, thankfully we always keep the boat in 'sea-going' mode and apart from the odd loose book and rattle of china there were no nasty surprises. A couple of hours after it began it was all over.

Coming ashore this morning though we realized, once again the power of the water, the fuel dock has now totally collapsed after the earthquake damage. Most of it is underwater. The diving school next to it is also fast disappearing beneath the water line despite the owners strenuous efforts to rebuild it faster than it's sinking!

Friday, 3 July 2009


Hard to believe that it's almost 3 months since we left the Rio....

We have come ashore to use the internet and I have been taking the opportunity to catch up on the latest news. My goodness a lot seems to have happened; coup in Honduras, President of Guatemala accused from 'beyond the grave' of murder, and the death of Michael Jackson!

Our big news is that we have bought a fishfinder to act as a depth gauge. It's a wonderful bit of kit that we have now got up and working. It offers so much more than the plain old B&G kit. I can actually see the fish swimming under the boat!

We had bought a spare transducer for the boat system when we were in Florida last year. the existing one had gone a little 'deaf' with age and we thought it time to renew. Of course after the lightning strike, which took out that bit of kit too we set about replacing it. It was the wrong part number doh!

Well at least we tried...

It's been a trying time as we have faced a series of problems, I begin to see why folks get worn down by cruising. However TBH has helped by allowing me to let of steam verbally and understanding my frustrations and fears. On balance though we would far rather be doing this than anything else, so happy we remain, most of the time!

If you were not of a practical bent though I can see just how hard this lifestyle must be. There is an intreresting thread on the YBW liveaboard thread talking about the stress of the cruyising life. Sure, it's unrealistic to imagine that sailing is stress free. But to us this is 'real' strees. Dealing with problems and situations that have a limited time span and a real solution. Unlike the unquantifiable stress of a bad boss, uncertain job market etc.

No its not for all but it seems to continue to be the right lifestyle for us....