Mar 7, 2016

A Non-Splashy Kind of Splash

Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage.

Anais Nin

From niece of MV Misty Haven

1-2-3 ~ Silent entry into the water, the right kind...

Déjàlà, our home again, is back in her element after 2 years and 5 months up on stands in the desert environment of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, at the north end of the Sea of Cortez. She stayed behind while we sailed to French Polynesia, visited Hawaii, and took care of some business in the US.

We had many concerns or questions as she was slowly lowered in the water:
  • Would the new electric inboard motor work? No way to try it out of the water.
  • Would the 600+ pounds of extra weight we took off make her a bit unbalanced? Did we distribute the rest of the weight evenly?
  • Would there be any leaks?
  • How about surprises?
Déjàlà went back in the waters of the Sea of Cortez on Friday, the 19th of February, 2016 at high tide, around 12:30pm. Many sailors are superstitious about starting any trip on a Friday, not good luck they say, not sure going back in the water for our next adventures counts as that - live dangerously I suppose.

Astilleros (boatyard) Cabrales treated us like royalty on our way out too. Brand new slings were used to safely and cleanly support Déjàlà. Pepe, the lift operator, was very gentle. He kept us in the slings a bit longer than needed awaiting to hear the familiar sound of a motor gushing with cooling water, not realizing an electric motor is silent and doesn't need cooling water. He had to be convinced that it was fine to let us go!

She is so small compared to the usual traffic of the area
Brand new slings
Backing Out
Wake behind us, going 4 knots...
Boat to upper left, our escort, just in case
As for our concerns or questions, the motor works great and we identified that the prop walk is to port. All we had to do was loosen the packing to let a little more water in to lubricate things. She seems leveled and happy without the extra 600+ pounds as we went from 10 to 4 batteries, a complete overkill in our first experimental design. Now we have to feel the difference in how she'll sail. There was a small leak, our mistake, it was fixed right away. The surprise was that the radar that was tested and worked a couple months prior was now silent. Thankfully it was just wire problems but it took a whole day of testing, trials, errors and cussing before it was fixed.

So much has been done to Déjàlà that she seems like new. It would take too long to list but suffice it to say that it took the two of us five solid months to get it mostly done. All this without smelly, oily, blackened hands... We kept a few projects for Mazatlán (where we are headed next) while our caprail is being rebuilt by a very competent woodworker.

We are happy to finally be away from 'Gringolandia' especially with the election circus that takes hold of all news outlets.

As Déjàlà gets in the water, we already feel the start of a disconnection to this town we have called 'home' for so many months. The Cabrales treated us like family and shared their love of the area, their culture, and their lives. We leave with many great memories thanks to them. We would be amiss not to also mention Juan and Carlos, the guards who always welcomed us and kept us safe; Oscar, our favorite captain on Tempo with his stories and continued generosity. Many more friendly people made us feel at home.

We already began to see Puerto Peñasco with different eyes, the eyes of short timers. This is the last chance we have to check this or that out, to do this or that, etc. This is the last time we shop at our favorite bakery, eat at this great local restaurant, walk the malecón, watch the fishermen get ready for their next day of work... So interesting how our views are changed by the mere thought of knowing we will soon leave.

Before leaving Arizona, Mike took me on a tour of memory lane, showing me all the local sites from when he was a small kid. Here's where we had haircuts, here's where mom shopped for clothes, here's where we lived when I was first married, or here's where I went to school. Most places didn't exist anymore or had new functions but the little backyard bungalow where Debbie and Mike lived was still there. The owners then lived in the house out front and were in their 90's. In those days they were proud to claim that no black person had lived in it! It was 'safe' to rent! The selling point of those days!

Neighborhoods have changed a lot. What were once slums are now mixed gentrified areas with art, music, great restaurants, fancy loft living and condos, etc. It was fun to spend 2 days reminiscing.

Pelanque de Gallo, Cock Fighting Rink
Closed down by the authorities before ever being used!
Love this mural in an older part of Phoenix
Her Secret is Patience
by Janet Echelman, 2009
Inspiration from monsoon clouds
At Night

Back in the water we are readjusting to constant movements and are reminded to stay ever so vigilant. At the entrance of the port, a shrimp boat hit the ground coming home the other night. They say the captain fell asleep. Thankfully the tides are really high around this time and they managed to get Papa Nene off the rocks. It has no working rudder or propeller, being towed to a boatyard for repair, the boat comes within feet of ours as they try to corral it to safety. Heart is pounding. Things can change so quickly and easily.

We have seen many seasons here. "No fishing" season, shrimp season, hake (a deep bottom fish) season, tourist season, then back to no fishing season. The town ebbs and flows with the sea, the weather or holidays.
And we think it's hard work to splice rope
Try 1" steel cables!

Circus is in town. We won't be sleeping while the nightly music booms over the marina. We walked over curious about several people-size balloons tied together at one end of the fairgrounds. Turns out they helped lift a woman trapeze artist way above the crowd to do some acrobatics, some highlighted with red smoke. Quite the contrast between the white and lilac soft balloons and the industrial surroundings of the boatyards full of steel.

Our last walk watching fishermen get ready for the day, all tanned, strong, wrinkled from sun, wind and hard work, joking, talking, drinking coffee, many in their white or yellow rubber boots and orange slickers. Some have been working all night unloading a boat by hand with the help of a few ropes and blocks, something that with the proper equipment would have taken only a couple of hours. A puppy chews on the nets piled at the stern of the boat, oblivious of the heavy cargo floating above its head. I never knew dogs to be aboard fishing vessels before.

One man stands out. He is dressed up in a black suit and doesn't seem to fit the scene. Finally a clue, he is heading towards the Virgin, takes out a candle hidden under his vest and kneels to pray to her. She will grant him good fishing, or.... A very peaceful and quiet moment amongst the day's preparations.

A dredger is deepening the entrance to the port. A sign of more tourism coming here. Large cruise ships requested the port be made deeper so they could come to this area. Not sure it is for the best. Only time will tell.

I write as Mike is in Arizona to store our car at his sister's for a while. Time for us to head south winds permitting, hoping to make Mazatlán before Semana Santa and its large crowds of Mexican tourists invading the beaches.
We often say they drive like cowboys
Some dress like them too
Yellow slickers and white cowboy hat
Bright yellow on a sea of blue and whites
Few tidbits:
  • Owner of shrimp boats get 79-80% of money from fishing. Of the remaining 20-21%, the captain and engineer split 50%, the rest of the crew (between 6 and 8 of them), split the rest of that 50%.
  • Cock fighting still exists in Mexico but is more and more frowned upon. Two weeks ago, a cock fighting rink was built (for about 25,000 pesos or 1,500 dollars). A few days later, after the authorities got involved, it was taken down. Not one fight took place...
  • We already mentioned how one of the traits of Mexicans is NEVER to say they don't know something. At a hardware store, Mike asked about pressure treated wood. The clerk asked him "What kind of pressure was he looking for?"
  • When we talk about something expensive in the US, we rub our thumb and first two fingers as a sign for that. In Mexico, they make the shape of the letter C with their hand instead.
  • This year, many shrimp boats came limping home with bad vibrations coming from the propeller/shaft area. Seals or sea lions get caught in the propeller, damaging them while killing the animal involved. There are two theories as to why this is becoming more common. One is that the seals/sea lions are getting smart yet lazy and try to steal shrimp off the boats, following too close and getting caught. The other is that the seals/sea lions are starving and not being as cautious while around fishing boats, a theory that may be very plausible in an El Niño year.
  • Maybe I'm the only one that didn't know this but empanadas come in the sweet (usually for breakfast) variety and the savory (for other meals or snacks) variety. Sweet ones include, apple, pineapple, cream, yam, sweet potato, cream cheese. Savory ones include peppers, chipotle, ham, mole, chicken, tuna, etc, etc, etc... Good ones are as flaky as the best French croissants.
  • Fishing boats sometimes get pirated too. The cartel has its hands in many areas. Met owner of a shrimp boat who had his ship boarded by cartel pirates in Topolobampo. They left that area missing $15,000 worth of shrimp but alive! Sinaloa area pirating a boat from the Sonora area.
  • Speaking of cartel, they have taken over some small fishing villages. Once they do, the fishermen can only sell to them, locals can no longer buy fish directly from the fishermen.

  • As a Mexican, if you have been deported back home from the US and are stopped by the police, they will ask you if you have been deported. If you say yes, they will keep you until they can verify that you are no longer wanted in the US. You will not be released until cleared.
  • Newborn girls can have their ears pierced at the hospital a day after they are born provided the parents bring in the earrings.
  • They grow asparagus nearby - yep, in the desert, depleting the water table... First they burn the fields then they harvest a few weeks later. For about 6 weeks, these farms are surrounded by smoke. All for the foreign market so they have to be perfect specimen. Non perfect ones are eaten by the locals.

  • Capirotada
    We just had from street vendor

    Capirotada de vigilia is a traditional Mexican food similar to a bread pudding that is usually eaten during Lent. It is one of the dishes served on Good Friday.

    There are various preparations of the dish. It is generally composed of toasted bolillo (like a mini French baguette) and soaked in a mulled syrup made of whole cane sugar (piloncilo), clove and cinnamon sticks. Some of the typical ingredients include nuts, seeds, and dried or fresh fruits, among these are: apples, dates, raisins, apricots, peanuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts and walnuts. In addition, aged cheese is added. The ingredients are largely the same as those used during the 1640s to make breads and cakes.

    1 comment:

    1. It was good to get caught up with your blog today - you always have such interesting insights about Mexico! Thank you for sharing -- and best of luck with the new engine!


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