This is the diary of our family sailing voyage aboard a 46 Foot Sailing Catamaran. We are Michael and Barb, with our children Danielle and Harrison who were 11 and 8 when we started in October 2009 from San Diego. We've been cruising through Mexico and the next leg of our travels takes us to the South Pacific.
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My sister Maureen and her family joined us for Passover, and here are their impressions:
We have spent the last week or so interacting with the crew of Whatcha Gonna Do, and we now have a better understanding of what, in fact, they do.
The conservation of water, power and food supplies has more meaning now, especially as we lived on board with 4 kids and 4 adults in Barra de Navidad and had to watch our usage. We were commended by skipper Michael for only using 3/8th of the water he had made en route, since we were anchored in a murky lagoon which does not allow for making fresh water. Despite feeling very environmentally conscientious, skipper Michael has forced us to shower in every public shower available (and those actually not available) to us. We hear they have a stand up shower on board (in one of the three ‘heads’), but Maureen only got to use it once, when skipper Michael was not around.
The boys (Daniel, age 6 and a half and Zachary, age 4 and a half) have learned how to relieve themselves sitting down in the head and off the back of the boat, without falling in (either).
Washing hands and dishes with short pulses of water still gets things clean.
Opening up the fridge/freezer as few times as possible to ensure the cold air stays in is a skill that requires good planning. Defrosting the freezer, on the other hand, was an exercise in patience and ingenuity (ice doesn’t stay frozen, and chicken breast supply was frozen solid in huge bags that couldn’t be pried apart without herculean strength.)
We spent evenings playing Mexican Train (a Dominos game – not sure what it is called outside of Mexico) (thanks to Fagel for picking it up). We are still a bit unsure of the rules and we forced Danielle to stay up late with us, because it is so fun to giggle with her.
We spent the first few nights in the Blue Bay Resort, with Whatcha Gonna Do anchored close by in the bay. We took a bit longer than planned to meet the gang on shore. To make a long story short, and not to embarrass the guilty, Michael, Barb, Danielle and Harrison had to sneak out our balcony and dodge the security guards of the resort to get back to the boat. It wasn’t one of their finer moments. After a follow up visit to our hotel room by the body builder security guards, we had eventually negotiated that the hotel would service us by setting up for our second Seder on our balcony.
First Seder on the Big Boat
Second Seder on our balcony
Our memories of Passover in Mexico on the boat were worth the trip in itself. The boat, despite all the sweeping and attempts to clean, does look as if it has confetti sprinkled all over from the Matzah crumbs. Our first Passover Seder meal was on board the boat. The ceremony that requires dipping greens in saltwater and recalling the parting of the Red Sea had significant impact this year, as we were floating in the ocean. We held the second Seder on the balcony of our hotel room, although we had to delay the start for a bit as the hotel was prepping for a bonfire disco that evening, and the speakers were just beyond our balcony. We eventually were able to complete the steps of the ceremony, including lighting candles that sat in sandbags, and hiding (and finding) the Afikoman (final piece of Matzah) in the hotel room- repeatedly so that each kid could find it independently. Our hotel room looked like it too had confetti spread all over.
Daniel is Moses in our
annual Story of Passover skit
As we stayed at the Blue Bay Resort for the first few nights and traveled back and forth to the Big Boat, we got the full experience of the dinghy beach landings. As the dinghy is like the car that gets you from home to where you need to go, it took time, like all family car trips do, to prepare, load and unload for each ride. Dry bags were essential to keep various cargo dry, as all the skill and experience of skipper Michael did not prevent the splashes and soaking that we all received almost every time we travelled in the dingy crossing the surf. In fact, in coming from shore to the Big Boat for the first seder, Michael, Jason, Danielle ,Harrison, Daniel and Zachary were soaked through and had to change out of their nicer clothes. Of course, as in Passover past, Maureen and Barbara had stayed behind to prep for the meal and ceremony, which was fun, but rocky.
While in Tenacatita Bay, we took a dinghy ride down the Jungle River that connects with the bay. We were going in while a strong tide was going out so that the dinghy needed some manual guidance. The first to jump in was Danielle, as Barb was still looking for her footwear loose in the dinghy (or was it that she didn’t want to get wet?). Danielle almost got pushed over, and eventually, Barb and Jason had to get off and pull us into the passage to get into the river. Through the river, the kids counted 62 crabs, and we almost got impaled twice with sharp branches as the dinghy had to yield to larger Pangas that held other tourists.
We had the sailing experience going from Tenacatita to Barra – only a 30 minute car ride, but over 4 hours by boat. After 3 of the four land-people complained of borderline-motion sickness, on the way back to Tenacatita Bay, Michael decided we should leave early in the morning, and we ended up motoring the whole way. Nonetheless, Michael and Zachary now have a special bond, one that only comes when one vomits on the other. You can guess who did what to whom, after eating peach yogurt.
We spent some time in the local towns, shopping, getting ice cream, and playing at a waterpark. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the local bus travel, with bumpy cobblestone roads and all. On one trip, we shared the bus with members of a Mariachi band, with their jingling pants and instruments on hand. On another, we sat with a couple of clowns. It’s Semana Santa, one of the busiest holiday weeks in Mexico, so apparently it has been much much busier than usual with mostly locals, which for us has been a treat.
At first our VHF handle name was “Rubinoff Land”, then too boring, switched it to DanZack del Mar and then to “R-G Canada” and at times, were known as the “secret agents” and various numbers like “300 – calling 400” etc. We caused enough of a ruckus on the VHF public line (channel 22) that other cruisers made fun of us for our crazy names. (refer to the blog explaining the VHF radio if you need help understanding this part).
So, we survived the visit on Whatcha Gonna Do – gained amazing experiences on board and a new appreciation for living with only what you need. The land-people are looking forward to the last few nights in Puerto Vallarta at the Sheraton and will quickly get over our guilt of flushing after every deposit and keeping the water running while washing our hands. We may, however, continue to avoid the clothes dryer. Recharging our electronics on a daily basis, though, is another story.