Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some unlikely friends

It's been over a week since we left our 'buddy boats' in La Paz to make our crossing to Mazatlan and south. Several of you have asked to hear more about our friends, and we find them fascinating people.

Gypsy Wind's crew consists of Harvey and Kim Chernoff and their three kids Nikita (16), Kiya (15) and Noah (6). They call Nelson, BC their home, which is about a 9 hour drive from Vancouver, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Harvey is a luxury home developer and has left his business in the care of his brother-in-laws. Kim is an artist and runs an artist's co-op. Gypsy Wind is a gorgeous 47 ft Vagabond (1986) ketch - interior is beautiful wood and very roomy with a great galley (kitchen) and some Persian rugs. Of all the boats we've been on, theirs feels the most homey.

On land, they live in a very tight-knit community with Kim's family, including her 99 year old grandfather who lives with Kim's mother. They are Dukabors, a group of Christians that left Russia around the turn of the century to avoid fighting in a war. As a community they are very peaceful and live a simple life. I remember learning about Dukabors in junior high school in Calgary as there were Dukabor communities close by. Dukabors are vegetarians, so given that we are keeping kosher, we've had a lot in common. In addition, Kim makes verenikes, latkes, blintzes, borscht and other Jewish comfort food, given their Russian roots. They had decided to catch fish and eat it along the way (essentially drawing their own 'kosher' line), but had such a traumatic experience killing their first one, that they've gone back to being strict vegetarians. For Jews, it would be like deciding to eat pork for a short period but killing the pig first. I feel for them. But boy, could we ever use some of the fish they've caught and then thrown back!

Meshach's crew consists of Thor and Tanya Temme, and their two kids Tristan (7) and Sienna (4). They sailed to San Diego to start the Baja Haha all the way from Hawaii where they live (Tanya grew up there). They live on Kuai, and surf and sail. In fact, Tanya's father started a surfboard manufacturing company. Thor rebuilt their trimaran over 4 years before this trip. It's a very cool looking boat, with some really inventive components. For example, their trampoline is actually seat belt canvas woven together. Tanya is a great cook, which is even more impressive given that they do not have a fridge or an oven on board.

Ten years ago Thor and Tanya sailed Meshach for a few years to the South Pacific. It turns out that Mark McNulty, our crew until Thanksgiving, had been aboard their boat in French Polynesia ten years ago. The cruising world is very small. Thor and Tanya also have incredible stories, including one where someone they had crewed with sent them a letter asking them to pick up the $40,000 he hid in the bilge in a boat that was being impounded due to his criminal activity that had landed him in jail.

Cruising gives you the opportunity to get to know some really interesting people. We are all out there helping each other out with information, sharing food, and whatever else there is to share. I suspect having a hunger for adventure and the unknown is what brings us together, but I certainly feel that our voyage is enriched by getting to know people like the Chernoff and Temme families.

And while we are on the subject of friends, we were joined last week by Harrison's buddy Kenji Greenberg and his mom Natsuko in Mazatlan. We did some exploring in Mazatlan, and set sail a couple of days ago for a 27 hour trip to San Blas (21 degrees 32.617 minutes N; 105 degrees, 17.612 minutes W). On the way, we saw dolphins and a very active and beautiful whale. Kenji has been participating in Harrison's homeschooling and it has been going so smoothly! The boys are in heaven being together again. I call Natsuko our resident healer and sushi chef. She has been an amazing crew member, massage therapist and cook. For those of you who know her from back home, she has an amazing gentle way about her, and it has been calming to have her aboard. Of course our highlight was when we caught a pompano on our way into San Blas marina. Within minutes, we were making fresh sushi rolls. It doesn't get much fresher than that!

We'll meet up with Kenji's dad Jonathan and his brother Tomo in La Cruz in a few days, and hopefully will share some more adventures with them. Tomorrow we are hoping to meet up with Alex and Sonia Bernstein (friends from San Francisco, CA) and their 3 kids, who are vacationing a bit north of Puerto Vallarta in a surfing town call San Francisco/San Pancho. We were hoping to anchor off the beach there, but because the surf is so high, we'd never get our dinghy over it without capsizing, so instead we'll meet them somewhere close by. Finally, our friends Mimi Arfin and Bob Rebitzer and their girls Elana and Maya are meeting us in Nuevo Vallarta, a bit north of Puerto Vallarta, until new years eve. We are all totally psyched to see them too, and hope they don't have to do too much explaining coming into Mexico with a large suitcase full of items we asked them to bring for us (all legal)!

More later.
Signing off underway somewhere in the Pacific on our way to Chacala Bay
21 degrees, 12.601 minutes N; 105 degrees, 14.453 minutes W


  1. Amazing-I am the 1st comment for the first time! I missed not getting your blogs last week-now I'm happy! Michael's shower story made me laugh everytime I thot about it. Then his blog about Mazatlan followed by Sandi & Bronna's comments made me cry!-good reading.
    Everyone sounds good. I was SO happy to speak to all today.The experiences are too incredible-"How you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paris"?-lyrics from some musical! What will Menlo Park be like?
    I would have loved to have seen Mazatlan & all the changes but maybe the memories are best left alone-do you hear Felice Navidad everywhere?
    All the new acquaintances sound SO fascinating. My life is such a bore in comparison but even if I were able to do it all over again I don't think I'd have the guts!-good for you guys! It is all so impressive.
    I'm so happy that Harrison has his friend visiting-great opportunity for both of them. It will good to have old friends around for a while for all of you-enjoy & say "Hello" from me.
    It is cold here but no snow. I signed up for x-country skiing starting Jan 6-just need snow up north. Hope I can go 2 or 3 times-that would be perfect.
    So, feel well, be safe & above all HAVE FUN!!
    Love you all. Hope to see you soon.
    Hugs & kisses Bubie Mom Fagel

  2. Your friends sound incredible. I can understand why you bonded with them just from your writing. I'm also so happy for Harrison and Kenji, such good friends, and finally being together.
    I love your writing, so interesting, descriptive and organized! Ever think of taking up writing?
    Are you travelling with any other familiar boating families now?
    We'll be in touch...can't wait to see you all...Love and kisses until then... x x x x

  3. Great to read the next chapter of The Amazing Adventures of Mitgang and Gottesman...ha ha. Sounds like you are all having lots of fun with friends...just what you like to do. And how exciting that Kenji came to visit, and then the Arfin/Rebitzers. I am sure you will all have a great time together.

    We are going out to sushi tonight (not Naomi, but our new favorite place in Redwood City). I am sure the fish will be fresh but maybe not quite the same as your onboard sushi feast. Sounds like it was terrific.

    We are heading to Colorado on Sunday for a week of fun in the snow at a dude ranch. I am excited but I hear it is cold there (hence the snow)...I am kind of liking this 60 degree weather we are having at home.

    Bye and happy sailing!!

  4. It all sounds great! I guess my big question is...what do they all know about all of us?? :-)

    We have been having a very low key winter break. Kids have been sick a bit and have really enjoyed just hanging out. So have I. The pace is always so rushed to get out the door to get somewhere, and especially now with winter and the hassle of snowpants, boots, hats and mitts each morning, it is nice to light a fire and stay inside as a treat for a day!

    We are off to a movie this afternoon and then to a friend's place for dinner. Will probably take the kids swimming at the gym tomorrow.

    Miss talking to you guys...call if you can.

    Love you and miss you...

  5. Hi from Montreal, we are sitting with Freda and Allan, who are on their way to visit family.
    We will now be following your blog.
    Enjoy your exciting adventure.......

  6. Hi Guys - we just picked up Jonathan's bar mitzvah invitations and felt a pang as we put your envelope together. I guess you have a legitimate reason for not being able to come. We will most definitely miss you all. We continue to enjoy reading your blog and look forward to photos.
    Margo and the boys (all 3 of them)

  7. Everything sounds amazing; what an experience.

    The Schlesinger's (Montreal)

  8. Enjoy reading about your adventures! Have a Happy New Year!!!

  9. Fantastic descriptions of the adventures! We love following along vicariously! Had no idea you were with Alex and Sonia - we'll check in with them to hear more stories...
    Happy and healthy New Year!
    The Popp's