We had planned to leave for Puerto Escondido with Catspaw and Mapache, but the weather had shifted a bit, and we were facing some northerly wind with some decent swells. Having already bashed our way through something like this at an earlier date, we decided to stay put for a few extra days, and wait out a break in the weather. Unfortunately, both Catspaw and Mapache had reasons they needed to be on wifi in short order, and the wifi available for a fee from the small tienda in Agua Verde wasn’t quite strong enough to meet their needs, so they made their way north through the waves. This was actually a really good reminder that even when we ‘buddy boat’, we still need to review each situation and make our own, independent decisions that reflect our own circumstances, needs and comfort levels. It is easy to be caught up in what everyone else is doing, or to want to stick together, when maybe it isn’t necessary. In this case, putting ourselves, the girls and the boat through a day of bouncing along the waves, when we had no real reason to do so, was worth taking into consideration. It did allow us an extra day to take the girls over the hill next to us for a little walk in the arroyo.
So, a few days after our friends departed, we pulled anchored and followed. It was a calm passage, without much wind, so we were able to play with our sails a bit, and pull the spinnaker out once again.
We radioed ahead as we approached Puerto Escondido to check in with the marina and confirm they had a spot for us. There are two options when staying in the incredibly sheltered spot that is PE, either tied to a mooring ball (a floating ball that is already anchored into the sea floor), or on the dock. While it is considerably less expensive to be on the mooring ball, there are a few advantages for us being tied to the dock. First, we’re able to access a high-speed Ethernet cable, so Stu can get work done at all hours of the day without having to leave the boat every time to access the Wifi on shore. Being tied to the dock means a very easy a frequent walk to the pool at PE, which is a huge help as the girls always go a little nutty when we’re at the dock, without regular trips to the beach, and we have to have our heads on a swivel at all times with the various dangers that arise.
Returning to the dock at PE felt a little like coming home to a familiar place, as all the staff at the marina recognized us and welcomed us, and took the time to stop and see how we were doing and say hi to the girls. We also ran into several people we’d met previously, which made for some fun catch-ups as well.
Our first night there, our friends on Catspaw, Mapache and Wahina Toa joined us at the restaurant at the top of the dock called La Brisa for a tasty meal that none of us had to cook! Getting to share our respective tales of the day’s sail while sitting around a table (instead of crowding around someone’s cockpit) felt quite civilized – and the margaritas weren’t half bad either.
It was a short stop in PE this time, but still enough time for some re-provisioning (grocery shopping), socializing, for some catch up on the morning radio ‘net’, and for Stu to dismantle the old watermaker and start installing the new one. Radio nets have been a regular part of the cruising life for decades. They take place either over VHF radio or single side band (SSB) radio (for those people who have HAM radio licenses). A cruiser in the area acts as the ‘net controller’ and leads an ‘on-the-air’ gathering through a radio call, and there is generally a pattern to the discussion:
- They’ll ask if anyone has any medical or other emergencies, and then whether anyone heard anyone else with medical or other emergencies to pass on
- There is sometimes a general ‘check in’, where everyone on the net introduces themselves, their boat name and sometimes a note about where they are or the conditions where they are
- Someone will give a weather report for the area and a report on the local tides
- There is often a call for ‘local assistance’ so anyone who needs help with something in the area can ask and those participating can answer (such as, ‘where can I get a COVID test before flying to ___’, or ‘hey, I need someone to do a repair on this sail, who should I talk to’ etc.
- Here in Mexico, one is not permitted to sell anything without a proper Mexican business license, so there is always a part of the net dedicated to ‘swaps and trades for coconuts’ (basically, no one is supposed to advertise anything for sale, whether it be parts or services, but the reality is they get in touch after the morning’s net and talk dollars and cents under the radar)
Truth be told, the useful information we can get from a radio net is relatively minimal, and it is often a place for the salty dog sailors to chat about nothing in particular. The radio nets are becoming less frequent as everyone has cell phones or satellite connections, with more frequent access to cell service and social media, so they’re finding ways to connect directly for information. While more convenient, I personally find it sad to see this but of nostalgia that was so particular to the boating world dying off. I distinctly remember getting up in the morning while out on a sailing trip with my Dad, waking to the smell of coffee percolating over a propane stove, and the sound of the morning’s radio net telling us what the day’s weather would be, and all the other tidbits of information. Plus, it is always entertaining to find out what you can get for some ‘coconuts’ (the best so far being an inversion table – you know, that thing you strap your ankles into and turn upside down? Who has room for THAT on a boat?!)
Having offloaded our old watermaker to another boat who were short on funds but clearly stocked with technical knowledge (the old watermaker had some work that needed to be done to it), we had a quick visit with our buddies on Red Rover, topped up our water tanks, filled up the dinghy gas tank and prepared to head out to meet up with our friends from the boat yard in Puerto Penasco, SV Alegria and SV Cavu.