Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Most Sailing Fun Per Dollar?

The Highlander 18 by Selway-Fisher

This boat pic keeps grabbing at me.... probably since we once had a little 15 foot open centerboarder like this one and used the hell out of it. Ours was on a small mooring on the bay flat right in front of our bayside house in northwest Florida. The tide range was about 15 inches or so and the mooring was a 5 gallon bucket I'd affixed chain inside and filled with cement then buried down a foot or so. The boat would dry out once a day but you can't put a price tag on just being able to wade out 30 feet or so with oars and a few bits, disconnect the bow coupling, and sail off when the wind is just right and you have a spare hour or so.

It's like the difference between living on a boat or on a coast overlooking a surf break or having to drive to one..... you surf a LOT more.

Small beach cruisers are great for camping out. Between our little day sailer and the various rowboats and kayaks I have owned I have done a LOT of tent camping on fairly wild beaches with no one around for miles. With a handy little boat like the 18 footer pictured above you can also sleep aboard with a boom tent in case the beach is more settled with dirt dwellers. And for a expedition of a few weeks or so they are awesome.

This small boat sailing tale is a modern book classic. His 18 footer made some great voyages down the pacific side of the baja peninsula and out to Californias Channel islands. Very well written too. Plus he surfed all the way.... what more could a aging waterman ask for in a armchair read?

Great beachorages await.......................... toss in easy to handle ground tackle, or being able to pull the boat out above the tideline at night, and getting into waters keel sailors could only dream about, and it's pretty darn enticing. No bruising cruising.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

R.I.P. Leon Russell!! "Stop All That Jazz".

What a nice body of work he leaves us. Shows we're ALL getting old and better make hay while the sun still shines, brothers and sisters!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Morejohning a Bolger Advanced Sharpie....

You gotta love the simplicity and brute strength of Chris Morejohns bluewater sharpies. The Bolgeresque 31 advanced sharpie we owned for 5 years was of similar shape but had radically reduced scantlings compared to the CM sharpies.

The above sharpie scan buoys me when my wife rails on me about packing my old sharpies two chinese lugsails down here to Mexico. "You're never going to do anything with them.... they're just collecting dust. Why can't I use one for a nice patio wind break?" Like asking a guy if his winchester rifle can be used for a door prop. Sooner or later I mean to use these sails again and I have the full running rigging to boot. 

Sorry.... back to badass bluewater sharpies. For example our chine log was simple 1.25" X 1.25" stock, the walls a single layer of 1/2" ply, and the deck a layer of the same 1.25" square stock edge glued and nailed and covered by fabric. The bottom was tough though: three layers of 1/2" with 1/4" copper plates amidships (thinning fore and aft).

Luna 31 AS variant dried out

But not a boat to feel comfortable in out in the wild blue in a gale. It had no stringers or ribs to speak of. The designer-builder, Dave Zeiger, did a super job for what she was designed for, archipelago cruising in Alaska.

Chris Morejohns sharpie scantlings

Over on Chrises great blog site he mentions that when his boats settle down and dry out on a tide they make no creaking sounds at all. He's gone to windward in big ocean chop with few problems, for days at a time. He has proven that a box hull, stoutly built, is entirely bluewater able.

15' sharpie "Little Cruiser"

This little 15' Mat Layden designed sharpie has repeatedly crossed the gulf stream and also ridden out a few gales. Sven Yrvind has also proven small box hulls on ocean passages as being safe, secure, and comfortable due to less rolling with their sharp, pronounced chines.

My query then: why not a standard Bolger AS just beefed up to Chrises scantlings? Including interior bulkheads and furniture so as to avoid stringers. Chris is apparently heading in the direction of formal plans for his sharpies (and few are prettier really) but, for now, how about a set of AS plans and just beef em up?

Oh..... and Bob Wise sailed his Bolger AS39 across the atlantic and survived some buttkicking weather in the med too. One could only imagine a Chris Morejohn scantling application to a AS39 as putting it possibly into a roaring 40s vehicle.

Just sayin.........

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Trusty Lady Dentist Just Got Nailed With Zika Here.....

Wrapping up my 200 buck crown today (gotta love the peso going 20:1 against the greenback) my dentist tells me she has Zika when I first reclined in her modest office chair. "Really?!?!" I said. Actually "Realmente?!?!".

Her eyes were very bloodshot and she showed me the rash all over her arms. I asked how she knew and it seems a epidemic is raging through the city right now. Despite me saying I could easily come back she said let's do it. A epidemic up here HAD to happen really..... coastal dwellers and visitors come back and forth from Oaxacas mosquito diseased ravaged coast all the time. And we have a more than healthy population of rainy season mosquitos up here in the high valleys.

My dentist, 61 like me, just works part time really. She also has a really nice B&B. When I asked her why she didn't put together a package for yankee dental tourists she just looked at me blankly. She didn't have to say "Fuck that capitalism work to the bone crap, gringo."

I told her I admired that she had even kept the appointment. She fine tuned the fit and cemented it down, lamenting that the 20:1 peso woes were jacking her up because her high tech gear all had to be paid for in dollars. Yet another reason the dethroning of the dollar as the worlds reserve currency can't come soon enough...... IMsemiHO.

It's all a trade-off, happy watermen campers..... luxuriate in bath tub waters here but swat disease laden mosquitos journeying up the beach or wear a thick rubber carapace up north in cold water but damn the disease vectors. I still maintain the best waterman locale down here is Peru and Baja since the cold current offshore and desert coast gives eternal spring weather and keeps the bugs at bay. 

That and 18 pesos buys a shitkicking jolt of custom coffee at Mexicos equivalent of Starbucks...... the Italian Coffee Company. If you get it figured call the orifice.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Peso is 20:1 now: Here's To Beautiful Women With Filthy Thoughts During the Collapse!!!!

At 5 bucks a six now that the peso has gone to 20:1 Bohemia is one of the centuries bargains. Since all indicators are flashing red that the collapse trigger has been pulled by the powers that were this week here I sit at 11 am (Sunday Sept 18, 2016) swigging a Bohemia weizen after a big stocking up trip into Oaxaca city from our country remove.

The buttmunch cynical old expat who once decried that Mexico is like someone you just fucked and they are still under you better reconsider now that the peso is sucking air badly on the world stage. Supposedly now latin americas 2nd poorest performing currency from supposedly latin americas number 2 powerhouse economy. Argentina is said to be the worst. Guess Venezuela is now just not even considered since it's almost weimar hyperinflation there now.

Anyway: we are soon to move into a little casita (tiny house) here in the campo (country) for just $120 a month. Power runs about 20 bucks a month in the place since the altiplano requires no heat or air conditioning. Well water and I may have to set up our wind gen and solar panel and dust off the deep cycle battery. Fairly good organic produce dirt cheap locally from the numerous small, indigenous communities outlying in these mountain valleys. And a (tiny) bit of silver one ounce libertads laid in since mexico has a history of realizing silver is actually money and not ridiculous paper notes we might just be OK here during the big credit seize-up. Our landlord is a borderline local mafia don and I actually like the guy and he likes me. When one of his errant sons counseled the ex-wife/mom to bring suit against him to move on some of his property he merely threatened to disappear both and bury them with his backhoe..... suit dropped.

It is what it is, aye? The last time the financial system alarm bells rang so loudly was in 2008 when Dave Zeiger and I made a last minute order from CostCo and stocked up in Sitka. It almost did go down then and now, despite dumbass QE salve, the wound is raw and infected and soon to go terminal. When it seizes up where you are is where you'll be while the big reset and shakeout (shakedown?) proceeds. I'd rather be on a steel sharpie in the Fijian out islands but so be it.

Peace be with yas in the latter part of 2016...... looking to be a barn burner and pivotal societal moment worldwide.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Oaxaca Funtimes Dream Sequence: micro-dosing on LSD and bus pickpocket victim deliriums

The kid bumbled into this campground we caretake here at 5100 feet with a box of Trisquits he'd just squeaked thru the USA-Mex border customs: each laced with a hit of what this young mental journeyer proclaimed as ultra smooth acid with profound visual elements. How he landed here in the campground, this far off the border, without mishap, is a choice mystery but he was woefully unprepared for camping or latinolandia in general so when I supplied him a tarp for his tiny tent during one of our weekly afternoon rainy season downpours he reciprocated by laying two of his prize trisquits on me later. He proudly displayed the box and  its added psychedelic bouquet of dried psylocybin mushrooms he'd pulverized to powder and which looked like the usual triscuit bottom of the bag residue except a bit browner.... a seasoned young rainbow camp proslytizer.... now adrift south of the border without a clue.

So, curious about microdosing LSD, which supposedly upwardly mobile (deluded) silicon valley denizens are using to give them a competitive mental edge creatively, I pulverized one triscuit, carefully divided it into 8 sections, and wolfed one down Hunter Thompson style with a quart of beer and hunkered down for some supposedly elevated operation. 

Well..... 20 years out from any experiential base comparisons it was indeed a bit of the old here and now but no profound breakthrough realizations beyond enjoying the usual dusk ball toss with the dog a bit more. I'll try it one more time though: some morning after a good nights rest with good coffee charge and no people in the campground to confuse the effects like buzzing gnats. I love our international visitors but nothing like minimizing outside sensation, much akin to a sensory deprivation tank. Maybe I can actually plot out that civil war novel about a scow blockade running, fiery, tempestuous heiress to a anarchist plantation and her old, black, ultra salty first mate.

Call the orifice for the news flash.... elusive as the green flash, bud....

It had to happen: after 4 decades jacking about in Colombia, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Brazil, and dear old Mexico I finally got pick pocketed by a pro team of old ladies here in Oaxaca. I carry all my important stuff in a inner secure pocket but they got my carry wallet after craftily hemming me in in the back of the bus, causing a sudden traffic jam at the rear doors I had to (politely) push through, and the gringo alights on pavement minus his dutiful carry wallet and 40 bucks less (about 700 pesos) I carry on, older and wiser.

A long time since pros have jacked me and the inherent rage is spent like a hurricane swell against a seawall.... beautiful but effervescent and temporal. Oh well.... it's still far better than the clever thieves pillaging the USA fed economy right now.

Peace out happy camperos.................

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

No Epoxy 3rd World Strip Planking for Low Budget Dummies

The decadent 1st world method.... with epoxy...

Ain't no epoxy to buy down here in Mexico. And I have looked thoroughly in two state capitals now (Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas and Oaxaca city, Oaxaca). Of course, as a somewhat bumbling gringo, I might be overlooking some industrial suppliers.

Why even mess with it? 

Strip planking afficionados herald a good quality, clear stock core glued between strips with epoxy then a liberal coating with fiberglass cloth and epoxy. Or even a further layering up with wood veneer cold molding strips or even a few more layers of thin plywood.

George Buehlers take on cheap core strip planking

George Buehler suggested ripping 2X6s in half for the inner core of this 64 footer. No glue or bedding between strips but roofing tar between the outer plywood layers. Then a coating of cloth and epoxy.

But let's go back to the poor, hapless, somewhat idealistic and hopelessly romantic 3rd world builder who can't get epoxy. This marine construction sinner needs a frickin BREAK. He has access to great cedar stock locally and for way cheap too. He could do a Chris Morejohn type polyester outer coating but, once again, why? Why mess with all the goo in the first place?

One logical point made by a seasoned boatbuilder stuck with me: all this edge glued stock, of possibly different densities and porosity, expanding and contracting, with a hard glue trying to contain all this. Something is going to move and crack that hard glue. Heavy fabric and glass might do the trick to keep it all tamed, or layers of ply a la Buehler.

Then I came across a forum post from another fellow deluded marine architecture obsessed dullard who asked for opinions on going epoxy-less. And a old hand weighed in to suggest the TRADITIONAL way of strip planking: no epoxy, no fiberglass, no outer coverings. Just the strips, bedded in thickened paint or a good waterproof polyurethane compound (PL Premium, etc). Here's his exact reply:

#1- Have you gave any thought to planking the boat in the traditional strip planked fashion, instead of some form of sheet planking. Very solid and sound, simple to do, easy to get materials. You can use the P.L.Premium and ring shank boat nails either in bronze or 316 stainless.On the outside, sand it and give it a good coat of cuprinol, a few days to dry good and followed by several thin coats of a good oil based paint, like maybe kirby's. No epoxy and no fiberglass cloth.On the inside, clean it up and coat with cuprinol, thats it, install drain plugs and floor and sides, no need to do more.

Then other folks supplying stories of the longevity of similarly stripped craft with service lives well into three and four decades with no leaks, no separations, etc.. Just the occasional repainting with oil based paint. The wood strips are allowed to swell and move as they will but essentially are nailed with ring shank nails on 6" centers by staggering the nailing schedule and insuring nail lengths that go through 2.5 strips.

I would add that hard chine boats seem even better suited to such a method due to each strip seating essentially flat with the strip below it and thus sealing even better with whatever material is chosen between strips. And, overall, it is a ideal way for a single builder to work with relatively small pieces that won't herniate you like chuffling around 4X8 sheets of ply. Frames can exist on 2 to 3 foot centers thus quite economical of frame stock overall. Strips can be scarphed traditionally or even with a sufficiently deep birdsmouth joint:

I'd double plank the bottom and perhaps stagger the layers and maybe even go diagonally with a nice bedding of roofing tar between the bottom layers. But this might suffer on a really wide bottom, like a scow or a barge unless sufficient stringers were laid in.

Food for thought for those poor dough headed, 3rd world mired, hopelessly romantic boat builders who can't get epoxy locally and don't want to pay the astronomical freightage to get it south of the USSA. And who can take advantage of the fine, raw, local stock of quite nice wood. And are dunderheadedly oblivious to the ravages of marine borers.

It's always SOMETHING, aye?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Latin Waterman Locale #472: Analyzing Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca

Population 3050 country folks and 4200 feet up off the pacific coast

Just spent a week in Pluma Hidalgo, a small coffee production oriented town just 25 miles off the pacific ocean coast in Oaxaca state. It nestles in super steep terrain on the ocean facing slopes of the southern sierra range. Cloud forest country often bathed in mists and fogs as it rises up the mountains. From here the awesome southern sierra rises onwards to over 12000 foot heights before dropping off into the oaxacan central valleys inland to the north.

The little town square where nothing really happens until Sunday market day.

My criteria for a good workable waterman town down here is centered mostly around cool weather with few bugs.... mostly to please my wife, who refuses to live down on a hot, muggy coast. Pluma offers the ocean 45 minutes, and about 25 miles, down a steep, curvy (marginal!) paved road yet has very cool nights and pleasant days up at 4200 feet. Night sleeping often required a blanket for me.

And nicely off the standard gringo runs down at Bahias Huatulco on the coast. There are just 6 other gringos living here, 3 married couples. Authentic, small town atmosphere and a chance to fit in if you choose to participate. But with the option a relatively quick run down to the very developed Bahias Huatulco tourist zone for shopping in full sized grocery-department stores (a Soriana), artisan international dining, and playing on the coast. Many of the bays are still undeveloped and offer great skin diving, small beach cruiser style sailing, and, of course, epic point and sandbar surfing breaks up and down this coast.

Coastal clouds collide with rising mountain slopes: cloud forest terrain.

I rented a huge, one room apartment (no kitchen) for 2500 pesos a month, or about $139 U.S., and everything was included except internet. I'd run into a missionary couple who befriended me and introduced me to the town doctors wife, who was active with the missionarys wife in a local ministry. The artists currently living in the room were leaving in a week so I lined it out for June.

Here's a video I shot of the apartment and the view off the back porch. The whole town is one big tangle of steep streets and pedestrian trails. Sitting on the back porch was like a constant people show and I counted 51 houses in line-of-sight. The mists would come and go all day and night, often so foggy you could only see about 100 feet.

The locals are pretty friendly overall. Some outright gregarious and others the classic country reticence but, overall, no racial resentment I could fathom. The usual tiny contingent of town drunks, a couple of village simpletons, roguish romeos, proud oldsters, etc. you'd expect in a tiny town of 3050 folks. It is surrounded by small coffee farms and ranches. These folks come into town on the weekends, as do local farmers, and a fair bit of trade occurs. Otherwise it is super sleepy, overall.

Good hiking about and often in cool mists.....

The kind of place your standard yank needs a pursuit to stay busy with because a side effect of such a tiny burg is BOREDOM. Missionaries Frank and Marilu are busy with the lords work and are 80 and 70 years old. Another expat couple in their 60s have a wood shop at their house. A young couple are just making it economically and just had a set of twins born to complement 2 other kids. What they do to stay busy I do not know.

Drive SLOWLY and CAREFULLY in the sierra.....

I thought the road to the coast would be a piece of cake. It is NOT. Check out a google earth view of the area to see how squiggly the road line is: a serious drop in just 16 miles down to Santa Maria Huatulco, a very old, somewhat inland town that you then pass through (poor signage and easy to get lost but thankfully small) to get on out to highway 200, the coast road. From there you pass the Huatulco International airport and another 5 miles or so you're in the Bahias Huatulco developed zone. I drove it twice and each time it took me a bit less than a hour to hit highway 200. Mexican roads require full on concentration: pot holes, washouts, suspension busting speed bumps, cattle and goats in the road suddenly, a felled tree...... whatever.

No joke...... be ready for ANYTHING on sierra roads.....

Here's the rub, for me anyway:  despite its awesome charm I found it CLAUSTROPHOBIC.  Despite being able to look down the valley and actually SEE the pacific ocean on clear days (a simply stunningly beautiful sight) I felt hemmed in and way too far off the ocean to just do waterman things on a lark. No afternoon fishing sessions, no spontaneous surfing go-outs with friends stopping by, no daysailing session when it is just perfect conditions for a afternoon. And the clouds sock in with fog often for HOURS at a time and everything is damp, soggy (but refreshingly cool), and grey. Having a business in the sierra would be problematic supplies wise but do-able.

Selfie from a trail above Pluma, looking back down to it....

For me a realization it's living right on the coast, or, better yet, on a boat. For someone else though maybe a AWESOME place to live. Super tranquil, low crime, amiable locals to enjoy the culture with, cool climate overall, lots of cheap organic food grown locally, relatively close to the coast and international airport for good dining and supplies, and very, very beautiful setting. Oh...... way cheap houses to buy too.... for now. The housing market could go either way but I suspect HUGE bargains once the bubble pops (and it cometh right soon, brothers and sisters.... AMEN).

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Killer Gringo-Burger in the High Sierra

Ecstatic to find a great hamburger at 8000 feet up....

Finding a good burger down here is tough. Finding one on the high sierra road down to the pac coast is even tougher. But glory be.... in the little high pine forest village of La Venta exists "Gringo Burger", run by 2 Wyoming expats who live farther up the slope. I'd heard of it so finally stopped in.

Love my 88 one tonner with 350 V8.....

A easy pull off hwy 175 and sure enough some alto grasa (high fat) offerings to make a expat yankee explode in cardio-seizure joy. Of course I got the house burger: the GRINGO BURGER. 

A 1/4 pound of local beef, smothered in cheese, a healthy helping of tocino (bacon) and finally a massive dollop of sloppy joe mix seasoned nicely. Mayo, lettuce, sliced onions. 

Fries didn't come with the burger.... odd. So I ordered a side of the hand cut babies that were advertised as being lovingly fried in cerdo grease (pig fat.... oh yeah.... a muslim terrorist bomb to be sure). Turns out the fries could have easily fed me and T both. Good fries are tough to come by down here too.....

Yeah.... gringo prices too but way cheaper than the USSA....  about 7 bucks all in.

OK then.... back on the road and I was off to the races with fluttering heart. Some parts of the road are above 9000 feet and actually chilly at mid day and a few hours later you're sweating your cojones off on the coast. Amazing country really.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ditch your travel computer: portable OS in a waterproof case.


{NOTE:  This article was written almost two years ago and, since then, puppy linux is still the OS (operating system) on our little netbook. When our bigger laptop developed some problems  I booted the big laptop into puppy linux to salvage all our unsaved data from the hard drive.  THIS IS A LIGHT, EXTREMELY PORTABLE, AND POWERFUL OS, AMIGO. 

And one more prime attribute: internet banking (much as the whole global banking infrastructure is repulsive) is safer with puppy. All your breadcrumbs go up in smoke when the OS disappears from RAM.}

(Original Article):

No need to carry a laptop on your next foreign trip or even to your aunts house in Alabama. Just the handy flash stick shown above and a copy of the linux operating system variation “puppy linux”. That’s it.

A full operating system in a tough, aircraft grade aluminum tube and skip carrying your computer with you. Include a ton of your personal pix, maybe a few videos to show some friends or foreigners who are curious about where you live, a copy of skype for video calling, a web browser for surfing the internet, a word processor, maybe a movie player. Very easy to get all this and more by just installing puppy on a flash stick.

Plug the flash stick into a old, clapped out computer at a dodgy internet café, or your uncles ancient machine which is choked by malware, and boot from it into puppy linux. Puppy runs in RAM only so is lightning fast. Even really old machines come back to life since puppy runs only in RAM. You never touch the hard drive of the host machine so get none of its viruses, malware, or slow speed. Any files you download or create go right on the flashstick you carry puppy on. Since puppy only takes up about 120 MB of space even a 4 GB flashstick is plenty big for the typical web surfing fool.

Here’s a good run down on why it makes sense to carry a complete operating system in your pocket, including all your personal files you choose to travel with:

The Survivor case pictured above runs about 19 bucks on and is waterproof to 200 feet and extremely shock resistant. It has a handy dandy attachment point so you can carry it on a keyring. Pop into the library, boot up one of their machines into puppy (try not to freak out the librarian), and have all your favorite programs at your disposal, along with pix, files, etc.. 

Save all downloaded material to the flashstick, use a small antivirus program to weed out the remote possibility of virus infection (rare with any linux OS), and head out with only a small 3” long aluminum canister in your pocket or purse. This one is USB 3.0 ready so pretty darn fast data transfer wise.

Oh….. Puppy linux is FREE. Open source is the niftiest thing since true free love in the hippie days.  And a huge library of free programs is available to flesh out the program for your individual needs. So, for about 20 bucks you have a full operating system you can use on the road via friends computers or internet café pooters. Or get a salvaged older machine once you get somewhere and use that for ultra cheap while you're there then donate it to a school.

Great travel method. Super for areas of high theft.  Perfect for the nomad traveling fast, cheap, and light!! Or the sailor dingying in with no worries about soaking or damaging the laptop.  Lovely.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Brutishly Strong Swiss Overlander Vehicle Here

Actually custom made in Germany for a swiss couple....

This RV park we caretake is like a anchorage for world cruising sailboats. This swiss couple have been traveling from Chile and will end up in Alaska finally after a 4 year journey.

500 kilos of battery bank alone.......

Apparently they went pretty far off road in Chiles Atacama desert (the driest one on earth). Pretty gutsy folks but not full of themselves and very friendly and buoyant with a nice take on life. Maybe in their early 60s.

Changing a tire must be quite the operation....

The RV behind them is a younger couple from Spain who have traveled from Uruguay with three kids aboard. Also a delightful batch. Of course T has taken the kids under her wing and already done art sessions with them.

You gotta appreciate these folks nomadic spirits to be doing this for a LONG time and still just enjoying it to the max. We are one of only two RV parks in the local area and field many of the RVs coming through. The other park is closer into the city and has far more appeal than this one in many ways except raw, open space which this one offers in spades. So far most of the folks stopping by are serious overlanders coming up from the south. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

40' Trilo-Proa Design: tropical speed demon box.

Quick-n-dirty..... 100 grit sandpaper and less.... uh huh.....

Gotta say I'd go a extra 8 feet to 48 to fine out the ends to knife edges. All flat surfaces would technically be under water until a ocean chop began to jar out your molars.

Essentially a giant Wa Paa outrigger canoe (GDierking design). And basically a single hander despite the length with occasional visits by the queen.

Multiple rig choices. I see no reason not to go with the traditional crab claw rig.

Super fast to build with that great multihull ride. I have sailed enough leadmines, offshore, for long enough periods to know I severely dislike that ride and interior functionality. But picture this baby in a tropical lagoon with nice awnings and supreme, well ventilated sprawl space.

Not to dismiss Oregon dorying the hull with a bit of flare to the topsides. That extra 2' on the top beam (6' top and 4' bottom) would give a huge bit more interior space and like most Oregon style dorys the bow could then naturally flare up when pinched in.

Food fer thought. Talk about economical and fast to build. I don't think it would pound all that much and it would be wicked fast at 12:1 beam-length ratio. Track really well too and shunting tacks don't mind that long underwater straight run.

Kawabunga, happy sea campers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

VIDEO: lunch date with sexy redhead in Oaxaca

So shoot me, melon farmer..... we take our small pleasures up here at 5100 feet and latitude 16.9 N and for the same silver survivalist sailboaters pay up in the states. What?!?!   I know..... I KNOW: nothing like a quiet downwind ghost on your own boat or a point break session with a few buds and no one else out.

But..... still..... pretty darn nice up here in the land of eternal spring.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"All I've Found"...... classic surf tripping

The "Mad Professor" of surfing made this short surf tripping film back in the late 60s. Band of Frequencies supplied the muzak.

Friday, April 8, 2016

3 Prime Reasons Keelboaters Can Chortle The Rancid Spunk Cheese

My junk rigged Pearson 32.... NOT wallowing in a offshore swell......

#1:  Above pictured vessel about 15 miles offshore of Cape San Blas just south of Port St. Joe, Florida. Hove-to overnight and engineless (then). Sixty feet over a vast limestone sand shoal. Sickeningly wallowing in a leftover 5 foot swell and in the trough. Maybe anchoring out on super long scope could have solved it. I doubt it. Lead mine swinging below. Unfortunately a Apalachicola seafood dinner gone bad is making me hit the bucket every hour or so. Forget that! A widely spaced multihull would ride SO MUCH BETTER. Probably would have made port instead of this crap due to better speed overall..... oh well....

#2: Helping a guy deliver his well appointed 37 keeler sloop from Mazatlan up to San Diego: the classic "Baja Bash" against wind and current in cold ass water. Boat heeled over constantly with sickening corkscrew motion. A interior that just doesn't function heeled over: ridiculous! A classic teak palace in port but screw actually going to windward (gentleman don't sail to windward, they get blown by $1000 a night hookers in a Bangkok Hilton. Wait.... no, that's gentleman global bankers.... sorry.....). The guy has morphed into a control freaker to boot and I bail in Bahia Tortuga halfway up...... Screw that!!!!

#3: T and I are sailing our recently engineless Pearson 32 south down Apalachicola bay with a finally favorable norther softening into a manageable tailwind loveliness. Just short of the dredged cut in the notoriously shoalie bay a recently silted in (uncharted) bar stops us just short of the jetties and cut out into the gulf of mexico. The north wind hip-hop bumps the keel 4.5 feet down slowly into even more shoal water. Wimping out we call Sea-Tow. In his wisdom the big HP tugger dude tows us even more over the shoal and into the jetty cut but not before laying over and shipping water well over the rails. Forget that!

Keelers blow!!!! Big time.

Anyone who has sailed any kind of shoalie (sharpie, multi, scow, etc) knows just how wonderful they are. Run aground? Put on the coffee and wait for the tide change. Offshore on a multihull said coffee rests on a shelf and doesn't fall off even in a major swell and chop. Anchored in a swelly harbor? Much better over on the fringes and just rocking a bit and if those leadmines drag down on you they'll hit bottom well before plowing into you.

Once you go shoalie...... you'll never be a lead miner again.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dog Pack Attack on Oaxacan Back Street

About the size and composition of my new backstreet buddies....

For goodtime fun-pack joy I occasionally take a ramble here in Oaxaca citys outlying barrios and surrounding countryside just to soak up some of the common folk culture and get some alternate exercise. Mexican dogs are, for the most part, pretty civilized. I take this as a good result of the mexican class society and dogs are way on down the rungs and they know it.

But I still carry a stout walking stick because I know if it comes to THAT particular dog something better come between me and super-Fidos teeth. My stick is a stout hardwood stave about 2.5" at the top, with a slight taper, and maybe 40" long. A major head rapper if need be. Because this block headed guy is gonna need it:

Light eyed pit..... ohhh boy.......

In fact, for a guy like this, a sawed off 12 guage might be a better choice. Not that all pits are badasses. But, based on the meat ripper this bad boy sports better to err on the side of caution.

So the other day I am rounding a large hillside in a small idyllic stretch of campo and enter a small hamlet and immediately am righteously yelled at by a pack of barking dogs who start closing the gap right away. Not running but sure confident. The lead dog is a lab-shepard mix (mostly) and a pretty confident lout and its clear he is coming right in to take a bite so I laid the thick end of my staff to the side of his head quite soundly. No conscious choice on my part, just instinct kicking in. Not near hard enough to spill his brains but quite the crack. He backed off, stunned, collected himself in seconds, and rage spread across his face for a second then he reconsidered and slunk off to a nearby garage, still barking a bit but also whining.

The others were still surrounding me but now backed off a bit and out comes a new champion. Looking kinda like this guy:

Hello there....... may I help you with something?

Serious intimidation right out of the gate. My version was jet black with some husky tossed in. This guy was seriously motivated but was only slowly closing the gap so I used some classic dog encounter strategy and started back tracking sideways with limited eye contact but still he kept coming with his buds close behind. I leaned down and picked up a good sized rock and they all knew what this meant and retreated a good 10 feet. That's all I got though so I kept backing up and after 50 feet or so and starting to get around the bend that seemed to placate them enough. And I kept glancing back a good bit afterwards.

Dog pack attack is nothing to trifle with! Google those keywords and see some grisly images. I'd say a serious semi-urban hiker might carry a canister of pepper spray, a dog whistle, and a even stouter stick. With the good sense to figure out a threatening situation a lot earlier than I did in this case. But I have done a LOT of hiking about this way and this was the first set of mexican dogs I've had problems with. We have a pack of street dogs who hang out just down the street, by the OXXO convenience store, and they are almost invisible they are so peaceful. Go figure.

In the least...... when walking carry a good walking stick and do not be afraid to use it. Chances are it is all that will keep you from a series of painful anti-rabies shots in the end.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cancelled USA Passport? Use this World Passport you Anarchist Waterman, you!!!



You do know that Johnny Fed can cancel your passport now for bogus reasons? If merely ACCUSED of tax evasion, even if a computer glitch, the State Department can cancel your "slave card". Bad news for you, Bonzo! You probably won't know until you try to cross some national border. You freaking criminal, you!!!



Let's say you're avid waterman surfer Fred Q. USAnik and you have this nifty life living 6 months at a shot, on the Peru tourist visa, surfing the awesome northern beaches and their great point break waves. Every 6 months you take a day trip up to the Ecuador border and cross right back with a new 6 month stamp. Fred.... you are AWESOME, bud. You got it nailed.




Mancora, Peru waves.... delightfully cool but not cold water....


But in the foul bowels of Johnny FedDom something jacks up. You've dutifully stayed well under the $100K income level where you don't have to pay USA taxes as a expat and filed every year. But.... you freaking insidious criminal you... a computer somewhere says you owe some back taxes. And your passport gets cancelled.



Enter the World Passport. Issued by the World Service Authority based out of Washington DC. A PRIVATE organization. These wildasses feel passports are bogus and issue you a passport as a "world citizen" for $100 for 10 years. You supply the little passport pix, as normal, and prove you are you. Looks like a passport, smells like a passport, doesn't scan microchip wise like a passport (sorry!!). Or $75 for 5 years. Takes 2 months usually but you can get it quicker for a fee: $40 for 20 biz days or $150 for 2-3 biz days (for you Assange types).



Sorry Fred Q. USAnik...... accepted by just a handful of countries worldwide. But, glory be, one of them is.... Ecuador. Dig it.



Here's the rub. You can't get back into Peru with it. And thus you'll have to disappear into Ecuador until the whole sorry world passport system either collapses, the USA is recognized as a police state and asylum is a no-brainer almost globally elsewhere, or you marry a local. Lucky for you, groovy waterman type Fred, Ecuador has great waves too. You can call your buds back in Mancora and have them bring your stuff up for you.



But..... at least you won't be deported back to the motherland for tax dollar cavity searching by the IRS and Homeland Securitys finest. Because they feel they own you as their tax slave and you went off the designated reservation somehow. Thank the Great Maker you had a bit of vision, Fred. Oh yeah, it was your girlfriend who lined it up for you but so be it.



That's about it. A back-up plan for those who do not want to jump through the flaming hoops of gaining residency in another land and thus, eventually, a second passport. For you "permanent tourist" types or those who just can't afford all the fees and costs of getting residency and a second passport.



Even Doug Casey has one and has used it successfully here and there. Seems to depend on the border situation, like, for example, some remote andean crossing between Bolivia and Argentina along with a quart of good scotch.





  Worth a shot...........................

On Surviving Cancer 20 Years Now....



Almost 20 years now since stage 4B Hodgkins. Never thought I'd last this long. Oh the things I have seen and done for the last 2 decades that I would not have otherwise. I am very lucky to have enjoyed more planetary time in this embodiment of the Great Spirit.

Each year I live with no real long range plans. For 20 years I have tried to live simply, with low stress, and tried to be happy. All this adds to a good immune system. So no Captain of Industry endeavors. Lots of boatbuilding, a fair bit of sailing, and great traveling and living some cool places with a bang-up wife. It's worked so far.



Remission stats were something like 50% after 5 years for a guy with my severity of cancer. I had gotten down to 160 pounds on a 6-3 frame, had lumps all over my body, sweated the bed horribly each night, never could get warm, and had about zero energy overall. I attribute it all to one night I severely ODed on epoxy paint fumes while painting a ships galley in the merchant marine with no respirator.



One 6 month round of chemo looked good then failed. A second 6 month round, this time with a shitpot of steroids, failed. My original doctors bailed. My asshole wife of the time bailed when the money ran out (a relationship going south anyway). I signed up for a experimental regimen for a bone marrow transplant. Free.... but you had to sign off on it. That culminated in 24 hours straight of IV burnout chemicals, me flipping around in the bed semi-mindless like a catfish fillet in a deep fryer. Each day for a few weeks after I forced myself to push my little IV cart around in the halls for as far as I could walk.



That one took. I remember going in a month later to be tested and got the all clear. In the basement hallway of Shands hospital (UF Gainesville) I sagged into the wall in relief. My parents helped me out with a place to stay and for that I will be eternally grateful as I needed time to get my head straight from that and divorce. Time in Mexico helped too.



Stress is a weird thing. I kept a stiff upper lip for most of it. But during a stint as a sub teacher (to stay busy during the first round of chemo) I had a flat tire on the way to the school. I was weak already and changing the tire was exhausting. Once I got to the school I was walking up the stairs and just started crying. A teacher asked me what was wrong and I choked out "I don't know what's wrong". And didn't. But I see now that you can only load up so far then you have to unload. The ole emotional battery thing. I cried heavily a good 5 minutes straight. Then was OK again.



You can see this in cinema in the WW2 tank battle movie "Fury" with Brad Pitt. As tank commander he is war weary but, at one point, after keeping his shit together before his men after a tough moment, he walks off all tough and ducks behind a building to just cry. He gets it out and continues on.



Anyway...... it took months to get my energy back. My white cell count was below the normal bottom for a long time. It still is barely normal. I'll take it!



So anyone who wonders why I don't have a shitpot of money can figure it out now. I've had a lot better things to spend money on over these past 20 years, and better things to do with my time. And I could relapse tomorrow. I'm going to try to be true to my waterman pleasure because that's what makes me happy and when I am happy I am healthy. Period. Helping others makes me happy. T makes me happy. This hobby blog makes me happy. Surfing and sailing make me real happy. I am happy as a clam when boatbuilding. So sue me.... I am going to try to stay happy.



If this little missive has escaped bird cage liner for you then maybe you'll take away the idea that there is nothing wrong with keeping yourself happy. You'll be better for others as a result. And maybe actually reside in happy memory a bit longer as a result when you finally absorb back into the Great Spirit. Peace be with us all on our planet side journey and beyond.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Oaxaca Living Costs Feb 2016 (w/ pictorial market ramble)


Time to share some of our living costs in southern Mexico as of early 2016. In our 2 years here the peso has gone from 12:1 to 18:1 so we're riding a wave of falling pesos right now.... as long as it lasts anyway.



That's me tromping out of my barrio to catch a city bus with T to the central market. Temp maybe 71 or so about 9 am up at 5100 feet here in the outskirts of the capital city of Oaxaca state. Altiplano weather: the land of eternal spring all year long! I dress down around town and wear a old backpack. There are plenty of old gringo expats in Oaxaca city wearing LL Bean stuff. We prefer to live WAY off the usual gringo runs and Oaxaca is not that at all. But.... I am working on that. Meanwhile, better to try to dress down, not be flashy, and blend in. At 6-3 a bit tough for me in the land of shorter people but I do what I can.







A few hundred meters from the house we catch one of the plentiful 7 peso buses to the center of town and the central de abastos (supplies center: most every big city down here has one). In USA money about 40 cents apiece. Never wait more than 5 minutes usually. A taxi would cost about 60 p (maybe $3.35 or so). Local taxis are about 30p.




If you haven't caught on yet I am doing this price briefing "adult picture book" style and am tagging the various costs in as we go.








Backing up a bit here's our rental. It's 4000 pesos a month and includes WIFI, power, water, trash, furniture, art, and even came with a stocked bar. That's about $225 US at 18:1. It's a deal for down here. 5000-6000 is probably more realistic but shows what you can do if you network and look hard, which Tamara did on a scouting trip to Oaxaca before we moved our stuff here from Comitan (in Chiapas state and further south from here). We have great neighbors here and we sit at the edge of the Monte Alban ruins road and rural country yet are a 15 minute bus ride from the center.








Me cruising one aisle of the monstrous, city block spanning central market. Tons of produce here and dirt cheap. A bag of 15 tangerines, about a kilo or so, is about 70 cents. A huge cauliflower head is about 20 pesos ( $1.10 or so). Kilo of avocados 20 pesos. Kilo of ground pure pork from tenderloin is 90 pesos and ground in front of you. Fresh cheese 45 a half kilo. Bananas 10 pesos a kilo. Tomatoes 15 p a kilo. A huge bunch of garlics 5 pesos.  Herbs and spices way cheap, like out of this pile:







This lady is a herb seller and check out her selection.







Eggs, like in this egg outlet, about 18 pesos for a rack of 20. Or about a buck US right now at 18:1.







We do ourselves a BIG favor and buy a "verde" (green) type of fresh juiced drink for 20 pesos ($1.10 or so). A bath for your guts: celery, nopale cactus leaf meat, aloe, cilantro, spinach/kale and all in a orange or grapefruit juice base. Very clean. If the locals are flocking to a place it's generally safe to eat or drink there.







Another glimpse into the bounty of food that comes from 4 growing seasons in the land of eternal spring. This portion is outside the main market, as are a lot of satellite sellers. This aisle stretches a good soccer field length and is wall to wall locally grown stuff. And is just a portion of what's in the central de abastos.







This meat sellers aisle stretches a LONG way deep into the main market building. We buy, so far, from number 51 and the guy already calls T by her name. Beef is as expensive as the US. Pork and chicken are way cheap. Why? A mystery right now in our green expat journey.







T chats up the meat guy.................







Tamara buying avocados......







Different types of the local Oaxacan specialty, mole. Green, yellow, black, coloradito, etc.. You mix it with chicken stock and render it down and it goes on meats, rice, potatoes, in tamales, etc.. A little goes a long way...... wonderfully spicy.







A long row of cheese sellers and a lot of them outside the main building as well. In all shapes and sizes. The local variety is called "oaxaca quesillo" and is a stringy cheese with a more pronounced flavor than mozarrella. Cheap!







T likes coconut water. Very good for you. Ladled out in a plastic bag with a straw in it. 10 pesos (about 60 cents or so).







Where we buy our coffee. This guy specializes with the locally grown stuff from Pluma Hidalgo, a small town of 3000 folks just a hour up from the pacific ocean at 4800 feet. A kilo is 150 p. That's 2.2 pounds for about $8.30 US. We get it whole bean and grind out daily. Yummy.........








And so we head home. I could have taken our van but it would have cost us far more in gas and all the hassle of parking.




That was this particular ramble. On another ramble I bought about 40 pounds of beans (many varieties locally) for about 40-50 cents a pound. Honey is about 100 pesos a quart. A fully roasted chicken at the local regular grocery store down the street from our barrio is 69 pesos or about $3.90 and comes in a regular plastic container with pop off lid. A six pack of good Bohemia brand dark beer is 96 pesos or about $5.30 US. I like the working mans lager, Superior, at 51 pesos a 6 (about $2.90) and tasty ice cold with a squeeze of locally cheap lime on the frosty rim with each working mans sip.




I'll finish with some other items germane to the expat experience.




Dominoes pizza specialty grande on Thursday special for about 7 bucks and good for 2 meals for T and I. Small three wheeled and enclosed taxis for 6 pesos apiece or about 35 cents each down to the mall. Matinee at the movie on a really nice cineplex with about 12 screens is $1.65. The english versions are few and far between and usually at 10 or 11 pm but we did luck out and see Star Wars 9, in english, at the matinee. Otherwise good to listen in spanish to practice and, of course, the big screen experience is nice for blockbusters.







Three wheeled taxi is 6 pesos (worth mentioning twice) a trip but just run inside barrios and to the mall. Most seem to be made in Italy. Immense fun to ride in these and how nice they'd be for the USA cities. Mom and pop pineapple stand across the way.




Lots of neighborhood food sellers buzz the neighborhood in carts, clapped out cars, etc selling tamales, ice cream, otole (spicy corn drink and in many varieties), fresh made tortillas, etc. and quite inexpensive. Really nice, big tamales, with pork or chicken, in mole or verde sauce, cost about 10 p apiece (55 cents US or so) and two will fill you up. Most vendors have regular routes and the food is clean.... otherwise they'd quickly be out of business. Each has his own distinctive cry or horn or whistle. But street food in stands is great too and Oaxaca has a foodie reputation overall in Mexico. We have a favorite family run food stand in the Lions Park area and it is cheap and delicious.




That's a bit on costs here in 2016 so far. Inflation doesn't seem to really be taking off down here and I haven't seen huge price increases in the last 2 years overall. If the peso keeps getting hammered though I wonder if eventually there will be a devaluation like in 1995. Who knows? With oil prices so low and Mexico being a big exporter..........




You can only work at getting yourself resilient down here for anything that comes down the economic pike these days. T and I are working at getting off the grid, somehow. The grid here is dodgy anyway.  One might purchase a small plot of rural land in a nice friendly community higher up in the altiplano (the sweet spot for us is 5000 to 6000 feet climate wise) but with climate change variables now it might be wise to go to 7000 or above. Cold ass nights up that high right now.







No civil liability down here to speak of..... you watch your own butt walking the streets. Here's some rebar sticking out at (my) eye level. I'd say the most dangerous thing in mexico is walking the streets. Lots of ways to get jacked up  (manhole covers left off, jagged holes, jutting objects, bus rear view mirrors conking you senseless as they pass, suicidal young motorcycle idiots, etc) so one learns to slow down and pay attention. 



It ain't perfect and has it's trials down here but, overall, a damn fine place to live overall. Gracious and polite society and politicos more interested in greed than control. As a perpetual tourist you are always treated as a guest and off the gringo trail often as a C-grade rock star. Just not a real salty place, this high desert, but I am working on that. If we can find eternal spring weather on a verdant coast..... now we're talking.