You Want to Tear Your Hair Out!

It gets very frustrating trying to do the simplest boat projects out here. There are four major places to get hauled in Cartagena. I liked the look of Club de Pesca's lift. It would be gentle on the boat, close to the water for a bit cooler temperatures, and we'd be the only boat around so we wouldn't have to eat sanding dust. Well, they have a three-week waiting list.

So I'm off to my second choice, Manzanillo Marina Club, to see if they can get us in quicker. Of course, their tiny lift requires us to unrig the roller furler and forestay--at least--and maybe undo some of the mizzen rigging. At least they have a pressure washer, which the other yards don't have. Of course, there is an extra fee for that, and we have to negotiate prices with other teams of workers for various jobs.

First I need to get some antifouling paint. I wanted blue, but that is almost unavailable. The last two cans were taken at the Hempel dealer. Plus Hempel's prices were sky high. So I found someone who could get Sigma at a discount, but only in red. Yuck! I wanted black as my second choice, but now I'm down to my third reluctant choice.

Oh yes, the boatyards will only take payments in cash, which of course is dangerous to carry around in large amounts. A French couple was relieved of about $5000 last week while on their way to pay a boatyard bill. Their taxi was stopped at gunpoint, so someone tipped off the thieves. The saga will continue...

I'm Back!

The marine climate is tough on computers, and electronics and Cartagena's climate is tougher than most. My laptop seems to be gradually succumbing, while I madly try to back up what I can during the 30 minutes or so of operation I get before it crashes. Then I wait a day before getting another 30 minutes of normal computing. Aargh!

The only slight consolation is that just about everyone else in the cruising fleet seems to be going through the same contortions with their computers. Today's cruisers' radio net brought a call for help with a balky Pactor modem connection (for SSB email). Yesterday someone was looking for a computer cable to replace a busted one. A friend has retired his monitor after the first one expired.

And, this stuff isn't easy to get here in Cartagena. I don't dare have something shipped in as it may not arrive, and if it does the cost to get it will be very high. I was quoted $80 to have a one-pound package sent via FedEx, which is the only reliable shipper.

My advice is to make sure you have at least two computers onboard and have reliable backups for critical things like charts or email. I carry paper charts and print paper backups for electronic charts. I also have Web access to my email. If my computers totally fail I can get email from an Internet cafe or someone else's computer. Back up! Back up!

Life on the Hook

Life on the hook is generally good. We prefer use our anchors, while some like to tie up in the floating ghetto known as a marina. It's a nice ghetto, but it is still a ghetto.

In other words, I like to be able to toss a cold cup of coffee overboard without dousing my neighbor. I like to get up in the middle of the night to check out the weather in my underwear. I like to lie on the deck and enjoy the cool evening breeze.

I don't like telling someone to please stop fiberglassing at 10 PM. I don't like asking someone to please drown your dog before I do it. I don't like joining the party unless I want to join.

Sure, there are nights when I have to sleep in the cockpit to keep one eye on dragging boats, and my wife would love to have air conditioning. But, we do swing into the wind, when there is any, so we get whatever natural cooling there is. On the really hot days I don't see much of the marina folks--they stay huddled around their air conditioners. I do think that they get air conditioned bodies that melt when exposed to tropical air. You can see it on their faces--they're thinking "why did I come outside?"

You participate in the weather when you live at anchor. If it's windy, you know it. When it's hot, you sweat. When it's sunny, you roast. But, you also get the best of the best moments. You wake up at dawn and see the sun rise, then you watch the sun set over the water while those ashore enjoy their air-conditioned cocktails and watch TV. I like the connection with nature. It's why I go boating. The bad times just make the good times seem that much better, and you get used to dealing with whatever is dished up, which makes the bad times gradually seem less and less bad. Got that?