Sunday, December 4, 2005

"Damn it - I forgot to learn Spanish. I knew I was forgetting something!"

At anchor in Bahia Todos Santos inside the breakwater (Ensenada) after departing Cruiseport Marina at 05:00 this morning so we wouldn't have to pay another slip fee (higher than the States!) Colin is grinding the bondo on the new anchor locker door, Ryan is playing guitar in the cockpit and I'm down below at the nav typing this to you.

I think I have some observations and notes I can share with you up till now:

Those who choose to live in a boat on the ocean might find that their houses are small but their backyards are nearly infinite.

As complexity increases so does vulnerability.

Once you move unto a boat and give up your slip you automatically become a conservationist - water, electric, propane; none of it is limitless any longer and it all comes at a price of sweat and pesos. Unplugging from the grid is literally and figuratively what we did. You watch tv (I know Blintz - not you) and we watch our amp hours on the solar panel and battery monitors. We check temp and pressure gauges. We live by the compass.

We have two radically different lives - we refer to them as "Live" and "Passage" modes. In Live mode things are rather loose. Things are casually placed on bunks or counters and urgency takes a back seat. We do however spend more time watching our energy expenditures since the engine isn't running and the solar panels can only do so much and then only during the daylight hours. I reckon the generator costs about $2 per hour to run so even though it isn't as loud as I thought it might be we would still rather not run it to refill our batteries. Passage mode usually entails running the engine for a bit so that's a great way to recharge the batteries and is why we don't need to conserve so much in that mode. However, a change that is almost visible permeates every motion and expression as we morph into Passage mode. Passage mode has it's serious moments. That's obvious right? The GPS, autopilot, depthsounder, wind indicator, knot meter, nav lights, radar and radios all get turned on and tuned in before we pull the hook or slip the lines. The charts and the nav tools come out and courses are set, positions are fixed, way points are entered. We work smoothly with clear communications to one another. We are a team. We have a common goal. The ship is a series of opposing forces and our job is to keep them all in balance while enjoying the sublime finesse of the ocean's rules. A fellow surfer once said to me after an enormous outside closer rag-dolled me, "On land you never know who your friends are, but with the sea you always know where you stand: she is at all times trying to kill you." I always loved that quote and we smile as we repeat it aboard Barraveigh.

A couple small changes: The drivers license is not the chosen form of ID any longer. Only a passport works from here on out. Also - my phone has been replaced by a VHF or walkie talkie. I don't own a car any longer (sold the Tracker for $1900 to a Serb girl. Threw in my waterproof surf maps for her to start her new dream life), or have access to my house so the key chain is gone.

A couple words about my roomies: Colin is a sub genius who can design and articulate almost anything. Watching him pantomime is sometimes as beautiful as one of those Polynesian story dances. He is always willing to chip in and the dirty jobs don't scare him at all. His sense of humor is advanced, refined, and quick as can be. He doesn't mince words or suffer fools and his patience will end with little warning. That's fine with me - it seems to be a good pressure valve and he just walks away to come back later refreshed. Ryan needs to have a flag that says, "Chillin the most." The guy has the best disposition, a gentle way about him that puts one at ease. He is always willing to help, generally upbeat and pleasant, and has the most thorough and logical approach to problem solving. We only disagree on his choice of music. Country music. Hmmm. Well - I'm trying, and some of it is actually getting through my thick resistance. He is 13 years younger than Colin and I and his enthusiasm and excitement seems to be about 13% greater. Age has diminished it in Colin and I (don't forget - he and I met when we were 24 traveling around the Middle East together) and part of the purpose of this trip for me is to regain that wonderment that maturation distills out of you.

I'm having a blast. I smell. I smile. I think of my friends and family often.

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