Thursday, November 28, 2013

Feliz Cumpleanos en Ensenada!


We arrived in Ensenada just before sunset. I’d e-mailed one of the marinas in the area in hopes of securing a reservation. But I hadn’t heard back from them, so I didn’t know if we had a spot to stay. The marina looked pretty full as we pulled into a long guest dock and prepared to go ashore for information. Before we could hop onto the dock, a uniformed official walked up to the boat. We ventured a few words in Spanish and a few more in English and set off for the marina office, pretty sure that’s what we’d been told to do.
At least one of the office staff spoke excellent English and we got a slip assignment and instructions to be back at 9am to check in to the country. We’ve heard the check-in process has been much simplified in the past few years, with all the necessary offices in one location instead of scattered around town. But we were still grateful to have some help navigating the multi-step process, especially since I still felt insecure about my limited Spanish.

Our marina lay adjacent to the cruise ship dock and though there wasn’t a cruse ship in currently, we could see several security checkpoints and yards of fences surrounding the area. We wove our way out and walked over a small bridge to the tourist district. We spent a while wandering up and down to see what we could see. At certain moments, we could almost believe we were just exploring the next new destination in the United States, but in the next moment, a sight, sound, or smell would remind us—we’d made it to Mexico! We tried to take in our surroundings without tripping on the uneven sidewalks or falling into a gaping hole in the street. The streetlights blinked in patterns deceptively similar to those in the U.S. and more than once, we found ourselves rushing across the 6-lane crosswalk as drivers patiently ceded their right-of-way. Flashing signs hawked their wares in Spanish and English—Churros! Tacos! Jewelry! Viagra! We pinned the churro stand on our mental map and walked back down to the taco stand we’d seen on the way up. It seemed plenty busy, with not a gringo in sight, always a good sign for a foreign eatery. We stumbled our way through ordering and paying but had no trouble tucking away the savory tacos.

The next morning, we bustled around the boat getting ready for immigration. We dug into our clothes bag for dressy duds and tried to look a little more presentable than usual. Meira and I spent a few furtive moments tying up birthday gifts in colorful scarves and I pulled out a couple of birthday cards that were sent along by forward-thinking family members. We didn’t have time for a full-scale celebration, though. I gathered our paperwork and we walked up to the office to wait.

Enrique, our guide, arrived a few minutes after 9, and we hung out in the lobby with some other cruisers while he helped their captain arrange his paperwork. I picked up a brochure on the table and idly flipped through it. I happened to read a list of required paperwork and noticed that it called for our engine serial number. Bryan ran back to the boat and tore apart the engine compartment to get access to the number, molded into the engine block. He wrote it down on his hand and rushed back just in time.
I’d made plenty of copies of our passports and Coast Guard Documentation before we left, but had failed to print out proof of our Mexican liability insurance, a requirement to travel in Mexican waters. Enrique set us up on an office computer and we tried unsuccessfully to print it from a USB drive. Finally, I resorted to pulling it up from my e-mail. I fought with the unfamiliar keyboard and picked my way through familiar-but-foreign websites, hoping I chose the right buttons to click.
When we were all ready, Enrique shuttled us over to the customs and immigration office. We’d heard that clearing immigration is a bit of a pinball game, bouncing back and forth among the different office windows. We started at immigration, relinquishing our passports and filling out some paperwork.

They sent us over to the bank window to pay our $25/person entry fee.

We took our receipt back to immigration and got our passports stamped.

Then we moved over to the port captain’s window.

They sent Bryan outside to a little room jutting out on the side of the building where he made some copies of his tourist visa.

We had to pay the port fee at the bank where we’d just used our visa, but the port office didn’t accept credit cards. We hadn’t yet picked up any pesos; we’d been told that we could use our credit card for all the fees. We rustled up the $20 USD fee, grateful that we had a little cash on hand.

At some point, we’d spotted another family in line and wondered if they were visiting on their boat too. When they had a minute to spare, they came over and introduced themselves and their 3 kids, one of whom was celebrating a birthday that day too. We only had a few seconds to exchange boat cards with our contact information, but I’m sure we’ll run into them again along the way.
Next, but still at the bank (are you lost yet?) they walked us through the paperwork for a temporary import permit for the boat. This permit is required if keeping a boat in the country more than 3 weeks, but the fee was nominal and the permit is good for 10 years. I started translating the information on the disclosure form, which asked about equipment we have aboard the boat, before realizing that the form was printed in English as well. We paid our import fee, this time with our visa again, and were sent over to the customs window. By now, the other cruisers had finished and Enrique had left to take them back to their boat. The customs office was easy, though, just a bit more paperwork and a tense moment while the official had Bryan push a button on a stoplight They use the light system to randomize boat inspections, but our light came up green—no tedious inspection for us!

We’d taken care of our Mexican fishing licenses in San Diego, so we skipped the “pescadores” window altogether. Before Enrique came back for us, we had finished making emergency copies of our tourist visas and were waiting on the curb when he pulled up.
Back on the boat, Hannah opened her cards and gifts. I was glad she seemed pleased with the books we’d gotten her and the spending money from her grandparents.

Bryan went looking for a place to fill our propane tank while the girls and I took a walk along the harbor. An expatriate liveaboard couple offered him a ride and helped him negotiate a fair price for propane. I don’t speak a ton of Spanish, but he knows even less, and we were glad to have help topping up our tank.
We met back at the boat, walked up to the bank district, and found a bank with an ATM. Again, the menus were familiar, but, when presented with several options, we didn’t always know which one to choose. “English” wasn’t one of the options. Finally, with pesos in hand, we walked on down the street, past shoe stores (“Zapateria Especial!”) and other shops. At one point, I noticed a couple of women carrying bags with yarn and was pleased to see, just a few doors down, the shop they’d just come from. All down the coast, Hannah had been looking for some yarn and some buttons for a couple of projects and she was so pleased to run across what she wanted here—in Mexico, on her birthday!
We walked back down toward the harbor and meandered past a souvenir shop. All 3 of us girls needed new shoes and the leather flip-flops caught my eye. The shopkeeper called in English and Spanish, “Come in! Come in! I have more inside!" He helped us calculate our size conversion and chatted with us agreeably while we flopped around his small shop trying out various styles. “Those would be better for walking a long distance, but these,” his eyes twinkled, “are for a night on the town!” We each settled on a pair and Bryan brought over a small turtle he’d been eying. We cobbled together the appropriate amount from a mix of USD and pesos (we still had mostly large bills from the bank, too large for most small merchants to break for us.) When he heard it was Hannah’s birthday, he offered her a choice of several small key chains. She chose one with a tiny leather pouch and he made a show of wrapping it for her in a sparkly gift bag. We’d heard of tourists feeling taken advantage of, or harassed by hawkers but we’d been treated fairly and kindly. If anything, we owed him more for the language practice and his friendly questions about our trip than for the merchandise we’d purchased.

On our way to the bank, Bryan and I both had spotted a restaurant that looked a little more authentic than some of the options closer to the water. We walked back there for a birthday dinner (complete with candle-topped chocolate cake!) and managed to order and pay without feeling ridiculous. Bryan even found his way to the men’s bathroom, despite its missing sign.

After dinner, we walked another block or 2 up to the supermercado. We were almost out of oatmeal and we picked up some boxed juice (a favorite boat treat, but hard to find in the U.S.), some cheese and a few other things. We forgot to get oatmeal after all and I had to come back the next day.
We’d stopped back by the churro shop—a literal hole-in-the-wall establishment—on our way to the restaurant, but they’d been closed. Now, on our way back, we stopped again. This time, we were in luck.

We each ordered a churro, hot, fresh, and filled to order with chocolate, caramel, cream, etc. They were so sweet, Hannah and I couldn’t finish ours.

And we still had one more stop to make! We’d promised the birthday girl a bag of kettle corn from a stall by the sea, so, even though none of us had a bit of room to spare, we stopped and bought a couple of small bags and took them back to the boat for another day.
Bryan’s birthday was filled with boat prep and a Thai dinner with friends in St. Helens on the first official day of our voyage. Now we’d celebrated Hannah in style on our first official day in Mexico. I wonder where we’ll be for my birthday or Meira’s!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Morning in Mexico

From my journal, November 11, 2013
I woke this morning about 3am to the cheerful sound of reggae music and chirping frogs, my ill-chosen cell phone alarm. Bad enough at the best of times, at 3am, it was, well, alarming. We'd gone to bed late after several last minute phone calls. We don't have cell service in Mexico and we wanted to take the opportunity to talk to our families directly. I talked to my mom last. We've always been close, and beyond her words, I savored the sound of her, the primal voice in my life, until far too late at night. I went to sleep feeling a little bit sad and fighting a lot of pre-trip jitters.
Meira got up to make sure Bryan didn't go back to sleep, and after we were both sure he was firmly awake, she crawled into his warm spot in bed with me. I heard him make a cup of coffee, smelled his early morning fried-egg sandwich, and stayed awake through all the clanking above my head as he pulled up the anchor. I made sure he was back, safe in the cockpit and tethered in, then cuddled down into my pillow for a few more hours of rest.
I woke about 7 to a beautiful sunny day. I called up, “Are we in Mexico yet?” Bryan left the autopilot steering and came to greet me. “Welcome to Mexico!”
He still had plenty of energy, so I took my time getting up. Somehow, most of my stress had evaporated overnight. I made a cup of tea and fried up an english muffin for breakfast. The kettle and a cast iron skillet live on our stove top, held in place by a pair of vice grips on the stainless bars.
I stepped up into the companionway for a peek. The Coronado Islands rose brown and bare to the west, and the buildings of Tijuana glittered underneath the morning sun. Behind the city, the mountains of Baja traced a row of beginners cursive on the sky—rmnvm. An empty line trailed hopefully behind the boat, the silvery lure jumping out of the wake occasionally. The slightest of breezes pockmarked the sea in patches, here a collection of ripples, there a glassy pond suspended in the blue.

The Last Nice Day

We planned to sail directly from Dana Point to San Diego. We wanted to come into San Diego in the daylight, so we planned to leave Dana Point well before sunrise. Despite the summery weather, the days are growing considerably shorter. Bryan got up and got us underway early, but we must have hit a back eddy of the typical southern current because we weren’t making anywhere close to our usual 5-knot average.
A couple of hours out of San Diego, I called the harbor patrol to arrange for our anchoring permit. San Diego has several anchorages available, but they all require a permit and each have slightly different rules. The La Playa anchorage is only open on weekends. Gabriola Anchorage is a long ways from onshore amenities. The A-9 anchorage, specifically for cruisers, requires out-of-town ID and an inspection. We thought staying in the cruisers’ anchorage would be a nice way to meet other boats headed south, but when I called, I was told that the inspection had to be carried out in the daylight. At our rate, we wouldn’t come in until dusk, and we didn’t want to risk coming in too late and needing to find (and pay for!) moorage. Mission Bay, near the northern end of the San Diego metropolis, was just a few miles out of our way with a highly recommended anchorage just inside the jetty. We hung a left and pulled in, setting the anchor well before sunset. We were a little disappointed not to make San Diego, but it was delightful to have a restful evening in the quiet bay.

Meira testing batteries and being generally Meira-like
The next morning, we took off early. I was glad we hadn’t tried to make the last few miles in the dusk. There were enormous kelp beds and fishing buoys all over off Point Loma. I stayed busy trying to miss them all and hoping we didn’t get something stuck in our propeller. It’s a fairly common sailing emergency and often requires a crew member to dive down and clear the obstruction by hand. I’d be shocked if we escape the trip without wrapping our prop at least once, but I’d like to be in warmer water before it happens!
Once we were in the channel, we no longer had to worry about kelp and buoys…just stay out of the way of all the navy ships in the area. There were several small boats patrolling a perimeter around docked military vessels, and one large warship heading out to sea to perform an anchor test.

We spotted helicopters, airplanes, and even a submarine in a dry dock. It was fun to listen to their very proper radio chatter as we came into the customs/inspection dock. I especially enjoyed getting to see San Diego Bay from this perspective, as my dad, who ran sonar on the destroyer the USS Black, spent time there before shipping out for the South Pacific during the Vietnam War.
Look closely...there's a submarine in there!

Our inspection took an hour and a half—30 minutes of waiting for the officer to arrive, 5 minutes of talking to him, 45 minutes more waiting as he copied our paperwork (technical difficulties and a conversation with a detective about an ongoing case waylaid him) and a very few minutes of him peeking at our fire extinguishers and oil-free bilges. We understand the need for the procedures; too many anchored boats end up derelict, spilling blackwater or oil into clean harbors. And abandoned boats have historically been an expensive problem in this harbor, with its strategic border location. But by the time we got away, filled our tanks at a nearby fuel dock, and found our way to the crowded anchorage, we were ready to relax!
Earlier in the month, when we’d ordered some equipment from Amazon, we couldn’t have everything shipped to the Amazon Locker. The solar showers we needed came in boxes too big to fit in the mailboxes there. We discussed trying to find a San Diego marina that would receive mail for us or having something shipped to a post office (tricky to do if it comes UPS or FedEx). I’ve been a part of an online women’s sailing forum for several years now and thought I’d see if anyone from that community could help. Within seconds of posting my request, I had a response. Within minutes, several more chimed in and by that afternoon, I had a mailing address and the offer of a car to run errands while we were in town.
The morning after our arrival, I called Helen, our ersatz mail lady, and made arrangements to meet that evening. We got ourselves together and rowed past the Coast Guard station, to the dinghy dock. Bryan headed out on the folding bike in search of Mexican fishing licenses, a West Marine, and a haircut. I needed to do a little research about current Mexican clearance requirements and make some copies of our documentation, so the girls and I set off on a walk to the San Diego Central Library. It was a pleasant day and our walk took us along the harbor and through the charming gaslamp district. We stopped for lunch at a place called Smashburger! They say “Hunger is the best sauce” but I’m pretty sure we would have thought the food fabulous even if we hadn’t been pretty hungry.

The library was enormous, with 9 floors to explore. Hannah found the teen section and Meira planted herself in the 530’s with all the physics textbooks and Richard Feynman writings (she’s a recent new fan). I did enough research to reassure myself, but stopped before I found out enough to freak me out (always a tough balance to find) and navigated my way through the multi-step printing and copying process.

By early evening, we were all back at the dinghy dock. Bryan and Hannah rowed out to LiLo to drop off our day’s haul (he’d picked up our replacement autopilot and a few other things along the way) and Meira and I waited in the twilight to meet Helen.
Bryan and Hannah made it back before Helen got there and we all rode back to her house. She and her husband, Glyn, have 3 lovely girls and right away is was obvious that our girls would much rather hang out at their house than run errands with us. We’d sent their address to our families so there were several letters and packages to open—”Like a birthday,” Hannah said, “but with brand new friends to help us celebrate.” Bryan and I left them happily sharing take-out and we loaded up the trunk with necessities from Grocery Outlet and a local drugstore. We’d heard mixed reports about the ease of major provisioning on the Baja coast, so we wanted to be prepared to go several weeks without a trip to the store. We got back right at bedtime, and the girls didn’t want to stop playing with their new friends. but the family was planning a trip to the weekend-only anchorage in their sailboat that weekend and we arranged to join them then.
By the time we got back to the boat with all our groceries, we were too tired to deal with them.

They ended up all over the place and we just went to bed and planned to deal with them in the morning. But the next day, we worked on a few boat projects and by evening, there was still so much stuff everywhere the crew was on the verge of mutiny. We’d planned a family dinner out to celebrate making it to San Diego—the last port in the US!—and decided it was the perfect time to splurge and get off the boat. We dug out some granola bars to fortify us, rowed the 1/4 mile to the dock and walked the 2 1/2 miles back to Smashburger. The girls and I had raved so much about our culinary find, Bryan didn’t have any trouble agreeing with our suggestion to go back. By the time we got back to the boat, the mess didn’t seem so overwhelming and we tucked away most of the groceries and went to bed.
Sailors are always discussing the weather and everyone has an opinion. I think it was Thursday evening that someone warned us confidently, “Today was the last nice day.” We were planning a few extra days in the bay so we hadn’t looked at the forecast for a day or so. We braced ourselves for colder weather, maybe even rain.

In the morning, under beautiful blue skies, we moved over to the La Playa anchorage, hoping to get a good spot before it filled in with the Friday night crowd. A fellow sailor stopped by to chat and gave us directions to the laundromat so we loaded up our laundry for a trip to town. We beached the dinghy on a nearby beach and walked up a few blocks to the cleaners. We fit 3 heavy bags of clothes into 2 huge washers and left the girls to watch it while Bryan and I walked down to the marine store. We still had a few things on our before-we-hit-Mexico list and we found several of them there, including the very important Mexican courtesy flag. We fly the American flag off our stern, but when we’re in a foreign country, we also fly their flag off the side of the boat. We couldn’t wait to get to Mexican waters and raise the Mexican flag!
We walked back to the laundromat to switch the clothes to the dryers (you keep saying you want a taste of our real lives aboard—this is it!) and Bryan and I walked to the other marine store in the area for some fishing equipment. We all like fish and look forward to catching and eating some on the trip, but we also want to have the gear on hand in case an emergency ever kept us at sea beyond our food supply. While there, we checked out the snorkels but we needed the girls to try theirs on before we made any final decisions.

We walked back to get the girls and our laundry, did the now-familiar walk to the dinghy/dinghy to the boat/unload the stuff routine.

And then we did it again in reverse. We rowed to shore, this time securing Splitpea with our new dinghy anchor—perfect for those times when there’s a sandy beach with nothing on shore to tie her up to—and walked back to town for snorkels. None of us are tremendous swimmers, but we know we want to be able to take full advantage of the underwater wildlife…once the water gets warmer! We’d forgotten to consider, however, that the girls wouldn’t be able to see through their new masks. Bryan and I wear soft contacts, so we would be fine, even if one got salty or lost. But we don’t want to risk Meira’s hard contacts in the sea, even with a mask, and without her glasses, Hannah won’t be able to see the fish at all. We stood around in the aisle thinking it over, quickly consulted Google, and made a plan. We hadn’t planned to take our new friends up on their offer of a car for the weekend, but this was worth the trouble.
As we walked back to the dinghy, we could see fog blowing in over the water. We’d been joking all day, the whole warm, lovely day, about how sad it was that yesterday had been “the last nice day.” But now, it looked like the sailor had been right, if a day late. The weather was shifting. We rowed out in the low clouds and then walked back to the local coffee shop. We still had a shocking amount of prep to do to get all our weather and communications devices working and most of the prep required internet access. And, of course, we wanted to make sure all our apps and podcasts were up to date. We walked back to the boat, surprised to see the evening fog had lifted already. Maybe it hadn’t been the last nice day after all.
Saturday was to be a restful day, but Bryan walked back to the coffee shop for the morning while the girls and I folded the laundry and did the dishes. Powdered laundry soap had spilled all over our clean clothes, so we shoved the bags up through the forward hatch and shook them out and folded them in the sun on the foredeck. Then Hannah and I moved the dishwashing operation to the cockpit and knelt in the sun cleaning every last dish. A good rinse in salt water kept the wash water clean and a final rinse in a small amount of fresh water helped conserve our limited resources.
That evening, Bryan and I walked to town again for dinner fixings. We were pretty well stocked up on non-perishables, but we picked up some meat for the grill, garlic bread, and salad. By the time we were back on the boat, our friends were arriving in the anchorage, so we cooked our dinner (pausing to chat with the sailors who had ended up anchored uncomfortably close to us—they moved over a bit and we all slept better) and rowed it over to share with Glyn and Helen. We banished the kids to the cabin and sat out in the cockpit chatting until the rumpus below escalated to a cacophony. Do I even have to mention by now that we had beautiful sun and warm weather?
Sunday started with coffee and tea at our new favorite haunt. Around mid-morning, we declared ourselves ready enough and went back to the boat. Helen had left her car keys with the girls so we walked in the warming sun the mile and a half up to her house and picked up the car. We found our way to a scuba shop that, thankfully, had prescription snorkel masks in the girls’ prescriptions. We stopped at the Trader Joes for coffee (and a couple-many other things) on our way back to the boat. We left the girls at the dinghy, watched as they rowed out and boarded LiLo, and drove up to Target. We loaded up there and then I finished provisioning at the grocery store next door while Bryan walked to the Home Depot for just a few more things. We hadn’t been able to shop this easily since before we left and we were making the most of it!

While we were gone, our friends came back from their day sail and our girls rowed over to join them. We arrived at the beach to see Splitpea rowing around the anchorage with a passel of kids. They spotted us and Hannah dropped off her passengers at their boat and then rowed over to pick us up. We somehow fit the 3 of us and all our purchases in the dinghy and dropped Hannah off on the fun boat while we went back to put stuff away. We knew we’d need to be ocean-ready before bed, as we were planning to leave around 3am. But we wanted just a few more minutes with our new friends. So we rushed around, wedging things in here and there, grabbed some appetizers to share and rowed on over. We sat in the cockpit and enjoyed the warm evening. All the kids were tired and we needed to get some sleep before our early departure, so we didn’t stay too long. We’d promised Hannah that we’d do our best to leave in time to celebrate her birthday in Mexico. But the quick friendships we’d formed in this corner of the sailing community had us wishing we could stick around longer. Whether or not it was the last nice day, it was our last day in San Diego.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Now We’re Cool!


I’m sitting in the shade in San Diego on a surprisingly warm November day. We’re beginning to get the boat (and ourselves) ready for the warmer weather ahead. Here, Bryan (in a new, very short haircut—don’t get your hair cut at a military barber, that’s all we’re saying) is installing our new fan and Meira is working on getting our windscoop to stay open (a windscoop is like a tiny little sail that hangs from a halyard and funnels breezes down our forward hatch and into the cabin.)


We left Catalina Island mid-morning on November 1st and immediately shook out our reefed main and raised the drifter in the light winds. We were hoping the afternoon would bring us stronger wind and it did, just a little. But the seas were calm enough we could enjoy (instead of just endure) the travel time, so we were in no hurry to get in to Dana Point. We sailed wing-and-wing in the west wind for several hours. About sunset, the wind died and we started the engine. Before we could get the sails down though, the wind filled in again from the north and we turned the engine back off and eked out another few minutes of peaceful travel.

Bryan took the last watch, bringing us in to Dana Point with the help of the myriad navigation lights marking the channel. I’m sure the anchorage areas fill up in the summer, but this day, we were one of just 2 or 3 boats behind the jetty.

Back when the trip was still in the planning stages, I had looked up information about this stop. My family visited many of the Californian missions on a childhood trip to the area, but the mission at San Juan Capistrano was the most memorable and I wanted to take the girls there if we could pull it off. We rowed to shore, found a safe place to tie up the dinghy, and walked a mile and a half to the bus stop. We found an ATM, got some cash and bought a couple of cold drinks so we would have change for bus fare. We counted stops and watched for unfamiliar landmarks and got off the bus at just the right place.
Yes...there's a beautiful beach there behind those reading girls.

Enjoying the city art on the way to the bus stop

In my online research, I’d found a coupon for a free guided tour of the mission. We arrived with an hour to walk around first and we thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the gardens and the grounds.

At 2:00, our tour guide met us and took us on a fascinating tour through the history of the mission area. Her passion for the subject was contagious and when the tour was over, the girls went back to some of the historical displays for more information. We stuck around until our hungry bellies could take no more and then reluctantly tore ourselves away.


We walked around the corner to a church that had been built in the “spirit and form” of the original stone church in the mission (destroyed by an earthquake in the 1800s) We peeked in to get an idea of what the original might have looked like. A church service was just beginning, and we felt a little bit bad about not staying. But we were soooooo hungry! (We’d gotten pretty low on portable food and hadn’t packed a lunch. Have I said how hungry we were?) We felt a little better about it when we saw the sign on the way out—the service would be conducted in Spanish. I’m pretty sure we’ll have more opportunities to join in on a Spanish worship service.

While on the tour, Bryan happened to glance across the street and he saw what he though were lemon trees in a vacant construction lot. So on our way to find dinner, we took a quick detour. We made our way over to the empty lot and found several oranges trees, full and dropping fruit everywhere. What had fallen was just rotting on the ground; clearly no one would care if we took a few. We ate a couple on the spot—so fresh and juicy—and took a few back to the boat, grateful for the bounty.

We grabbed a quick dinner and found our way back to the bus stop, back to the other bus stop, back to the dinghy dock, back to the boat, taking turns carrying our pilfered oranges on the way. That evening,, Bryan and I decided to take a walk to the top of Dana point, named for the Dana who wrote Two Years Before the Mast. He came through here on a ship transporting cattle hides—an industry began in the years of the Spanish mission—and tells stories of tossing the skins down from the top of this cliff to the crew on the beach below. Apparently, at one point, he was lowered down over the cliff on halyards to loosen the hides that had gotten stuck on the way down. The view from above is very different now, but spectacular still. We snagged coffee and internet access in this year’s date-night tradition, staring at our own devices, downloading in a hurry with not a lot to say that hadn’t already been said in the 23 other hours we’d spent together that day. We returned the next morning and Bryan finished up some work while I found my way to a local yoga class.

Life aboard offers so many opportunities to problem solve, hardly any activity is straightforward and I find it hard to break the habit. One day, while walking up to a fast food restaurant, I started trying to figure out how we would buy a taco, since we didn’t have a car to go through the drive-in, momentarily forgetting that we could just walk right in. And I laughed at myself when the same day, with rare steady internet access, I was trying to write a blog post on my computer without the offline blog editor I’ve been using on Bryan’s laptop. I briefly forgot I could just write a post online, the way it always used to work.

Silly photobomb series alert…

I felt a little vindicated in my brain’s attempt to constantly problem solve, though, that afternoon when we got back to the dinghy dock. The ramp was at such a steep angle, I considered climbing it backwards, like a ladder. We managed to to walk down sideways, holding on to the rails. But it was a reminder of the challenges of living in this fluid world of boat travel.