September 24, 2009

It is GOOD to be back

It is GOOD to be back
Originally uploaded by behang

It is so good to be back at home on board Totem!

Jamie and I stopped in Hermosillo to grab a quick bite on our dash back to Phoenix in a rental car to pick up the children and our things at my Aunt Glenna's home. These steamed tacos were amazing- in fact- the photographer *cough* seems to be so taken with them, she cut off Jamie's head in the picture. Oops...

We've been stuck n San Carlos a little longer than expected. I guess we can blame hurricane Jimena for that, although really, we were left unscathed. But not so the utilities at the San Carlos Marina Seca (dry storage). Our friend Ethan on Eyoni has offered to be the mule to bring down our wind generator, and we ain't leavin without it.

Making limonada out of limones, though: with unlimited power and flat water in the Marina Real, Jamie has been hard at work on a pile of boat projects. This partial list gives an idea:

- realigned the engine
- installed a new flexible shaft coupling
- moved our big heavy water heater tank to a new position
- reinforced the engine "room" as part of water heater movement
- opened up access to storage under the forward cabin
- replaced a dead compass in our autopilot (hello, warranty? AAAARRGH, this was our bane last year. hand steering gets old)
- installed new cabling to help our instruments talk to each other (a translation NMEA 2000 to NMEA 0183 device, so the GPS and autopilot can shake hands)

This of course is all on top of the major cleanup and re-commissioning to get Totem back into liveable shape again. I would mention the weevils, but I'm still a little broken up over all the sushi rice I had to throw away, and I don't think I can talk about it yet.

The children are doing incredibly well. Towards the end of our stay in the states, it was clear they needed the stability of a family routine. We had an amazing summer, but they shuffled through a lot of different beds and spent a lot of days stuffed 3-across in the back of our rental sedan.
back to boat shenanigans
Here, the imaginary play is back in high gear with the girls. Niall sometimes joins in, but he's been too busy making stop-action lego movies. We've having family reading time in the afternoon that is a nice break for everyone, and perfect for beating the heat. Personally, I'd vote for a siesta, but they can't stop moving that long yet!

We haven't found any luscious steamed tacos nearby. A downside of the Marina Real is that you are far from stores or services. The cruisers who spend the summer here all seem to have cars. On the other hand, fishermen stop by with shrimp on a regular basis, and we're re-stocked on our favorite piquante sauce.

Life is so, so good!

September 21, 2009

Can you help with Jimena relief?

Our return to San Carlos has hammered home the images we viewed the Internet of devasation from Hurricane Jimena. Sadly, mass media in the US abandoned stories of the impending disaster before it even struck, so word has not gotten out the way should to help bring in relief.

Please consider donating goods or funds to assist in emergency relief effort. S/V SolMate has a fairly complete listing on needs and on places to give. It is simplest to donate to one of these organizations. For people in the Southwest, there are a number of places taking donations of physical goods: an active expat-oriented forum on San Carlos has also regularly updated resources for giving, especially useful for those in Arizona- local drop points from Tucson to Flagstaff where goods from blankets to food can be delivered.

This has been a terrible crisis for the communities hit on Baja and the mainland- please consider giving what you can. We have heard reports of upwards of 35,000 homeless on Baja. For a visual of hte impact, search for 'huracan jimena' on YouTube.

September 5, 2009

Going home

We’ve been in the states for nearly three months now, road tripping our way though some beautiful landscapes and great visits with friends and family. Our time north of the border has brought new appreciation for the cruising life, and helped the differences in our lifestyle this past year into focus. We’re ruminating on those and will have more to share about the differences later.

One of the biggest realizations is that the boat is internalized as home for our family. It sounds obvious to some, and not to others- we do still own a house, and feel very connected to loved ones back on Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest. But the emotional pull we’ve all felt for distant Totem is undeniable. Where ever she is, there is home.

We’ve also felt a pull to return south of the US border. In Colorado a few weeks ago, we found ourselves behind a Mexican family while walking around Red Rocks. Listening to the rapid-fire Spanish that drifted back to our ears, we looked at each other and almost simultaneously said “I miss Mexico!” We’ll only have another six or so months back there before crossing to French Polynesia, but we all look forward to getting back.

There are sweet memories to take back with us to Totem. This has been a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family. I am immensely grateful to have had the time to make the visits we did- there are indelible memories of good times, and building more bonds as our children grow older. They have a sense, now, of the people, relationships, and ties of our extended family. I’m equally grateful to the dear ones who let our busy family descend into their lives. We aim to be low maintenance, but there’s a certain amount of action that accompanies a family with three young children- no matter how easy-going!

Lessons with Auntie Melissa

We planned to return to Totem during the first days of September, but at the moment we’re not sure exactly when we’ll get back. Hurricane Jimena has lost the attention of the US media, now that we all know Cabo was spared, but the impact in Mexico has not been insignificant. Although San Carlos, where Totem is snug in a slip, was spared the brunt of the weather – there were historical rains (we hear 30” in 12 hours) and winds sustained at 60 knots (that’s about 70 mph for you non-nautical folks). Reports are that Totem appears fine, but at the moment, the Marina Real where she lies in San Carlos is cut off. It’s not possible to get there from Guaymas, the nearest large town, thanks to a 20’ deep hole where a culvert collapsed. It sounds like even Guaymas may not be accessible, as we hear that several bridges connecting it to Hermosillo are washed out. And considering the mountains backing up to the marina, rain of biblical proportions has probably translated to a mess in the water- getting out of the marina could have some challenges too. It may take some time for us to get back.

It’s difficult to be far away when your home is in danger. We’ve had reports from fellow cruisers on the same dock, who checked her for us and have kept us appraised. It’s a huge relief to have them there! The marina has lost power, but we’re able to get reports from Frank and Linda on M/V Discovery through their single sideband radio. So we wait for news, but lucky to be with our very understanding family in Phoenix.