Surviving a hurricane

After a very long break from the water and losing half my crew, Anna and I made it back down to Guaymas, MX and started preparing for a re-launch. Little did we know that about the same time a disturbance forming a 1000 miles away was going to turn into a hurricane and head for the same spot. I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life and have seen many storms . But I will be the first to admit that I have been blessed to miss any major storms.

We booked a room on Airbnb knowing it would be hot and uncomfortable staying on Stray Catz, but what we didn’t know was how much safer it would be.   It had been raining all day and the wind was blowing, but nothing serious. Watching the news it looked like Newton was going to turn north and spare us, but I think it turned north and slapped Guaymas pretty hard.

At about 9 pm we lost power, so all we could do was sit in the dark and listen to the howling wind and vibrating roof. Of course a prayer was said. As we bedded down, I was prepared to wake up to the roof being ripped off the top of the house. We are in a decent house, but I’m not sure the codes are as strict here as they are in the USA. Every time I started to doze off a new round of clatter woke me up. Needless to say it was a long night.

When the sun finally  rose in the morning we were all able to see the mayhem right here in the yard. Even though the two houses fared quite well here the flora did not do so well. Six trees here all either tumbled or snapped.  Oranges, branches, flowers and yard debris everywhere.dscf1800 dscf1798 dscf1797 dscf1796

A tree in front and one right behind our car toppled. Luckily a direction that kept the car safe.  Other places in town did not do so well. Power was out. A whole section of road about a mile long where every power pole had either  uprooted or actually snapped in half. dscf1816 There were multiple house roofs laying in tangled messes here and there. Some entire homes destroyed. Remember the building codes.  We had to clear out trees before we could get our car out, but luckily our host offered her vehicle which was not trapped so we could go check on Stray Catz. dscf1803

What a relief it was to see her right where we left her the day before and without any signs of damage. Other boats in the yard did not fare so well.



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It wasn’t for a few days that I even thought about the boats in the water at the marina across the bay. You may recall, Stray Catz spent a month over there when we first got to town and before we could have her hauled out of the water.  Wow! how terrifying to see the boats there that had sunk. Some were trapped under the docks so they can’t be easily re-floated.  Those that didn’t sink suffered damage from the others that had come loose. dscf1820 dscf1821dscf1824   Needless to say, there are going to be some very sad boat owners when they come down to find what is left of their boats.

The amazing part is Newton was not even a hurricane when it made landfall here. According to the National Hurricane Center the maximum recorded gust in Guaymas was only 64 mph. I’m saying “only” because it’s not officially hurricane force. I don’t believe you’ll find anybody here in Guaymas who will say Newton was anything less than a hurricane.

These are amazing people here though. After just a few days, other than some traffic lights still being out, life has pretty much returned to normal. Even our favorite roadside diner has opened back up after having its roof ripped off.

Anna and I will be returning to the states shortly having done about all we can do for Stray Catz. Our re-launch was delayed for a couple of months to take care of some more business back north, but having spent this time on Stray Catz sure has made me miss her even more. And that’s working on her in 100 degree heat.


How can you afford to go cruising?

The cruising community is made up of people ranging in age from their early twenties to upper eighties. Some boats we’ve crossed paths with have entire families on board, some only a single sailor. Most are crewed with couples sporting a wrinkle or two and silver to white hair. All very young at heart, but have also worked long enough to collect some type of pension. Despite the lonely nature of  long distant cruising, most cruisers are very social people, which means many conversations and group get-togethers everywhere you go. The gatherings at local anchorages include conversations mostly about boat problems and solutions. There are cooking tips, travel and destination recommendations, travel plans of each boat and lots and lots of stories about the fish that got away or the scariest passage ever. Usually at some point during the gathering because of our comparatively immature look, someone will ask how we can afford to go cruising. I usually answer I can’t. Once the truth comes out the questions jump to something like, wasn’t that stressful? and then to something about a plane crash.  But I digress.  The topic I’m addressing is How can you (or me) afford to go cruising?

The short answer is I don’t know. I’ve seen cruisers on near million dollar yachts to boats half the size of mine. And mines not that big. Buying the boat is the easy part.  There are many other expenses when it comes to cruising. Maintenance is not cheap. Even doing it yourself. Parts are expensive in the USA and they don’t get any cheaper elsewhere, if you can find them. Repairs, again not cheap, and there is always something to fix on a boat.

If you want to stay in a marina, it can be very expensive. We anchored out 90% of the time and usually that is free. Some ports still collect an anchoring fee. Anchored out you still have to get to shore and many marinas will charge you to tie up to their dinghy dock. Then there are port fees, immigration fees, and boat permits. It cost us around $700 to “check into” Panama, but you can fly in for free.  Honduras on the other hand was about $20.   There are sometimes other costs also associated with arriving in a new country.

Everywhere you go there are touristy attractions tempting you. But were not tourists. (sort of) We’re just living in our mobile house.  How many of you have done all the touristy stuff located right in your own backyard? Now imagine having a new backyard every month.  At least food is usually reasonable, as long as you’re willing to eat what is locally affordable.

So how does the owner of the small bucket of bolts afford to cruise the same ocean as the million dollar yachts, and all the sizes in between?   Some cruisers are wealthy, some retired, some are on sea-batical, and some still working. Just like living on land, you do have to budget. Cruising can cost you all the money you have. We planned and saved for years so we could go. If you anchor out, eat on your boat not in restaurants, avoid the tourist traps and avoid the more expensive countries, you can save yourself a lot of money. If you’re willing to give up some comforts and are creative with your lifestyle and budget, you too could be out cruising.

Anna and I are well aware of how blessed we are to be able to live the life we live. Our wish is for all of you to be able to live the life you want to live.

Bucket List?

Anna and I just completed a month-long house-sit in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska you ask? Yes. Did you sail up there? No. Instead of bringing Stray Catz, we drove our trusty and now dusty Mitsubishi up here. Where is Kylan? He’s in Ireland, but please let me ask some questions for now.

Starting with my long-winded bucket list question.
Ever since I was a young boy, (I played the silver ball) I have had fond memories of the road trips we would take as a family. All the places and wildlife we would see and visit just by driving. Amazing. And as many of you know in a past life I drove for a living. How cool is that? They actually paid me to go to all these amazing places. Ok they didn’t pay me to go anywhere too amazing, but they got me close, and I managed the rest.
Living in the Pacific Northwest I heard a lot about Alaska. Being as how I had driven to and through all the other states (that you can actually drive to, sorry HI) I started dreaming about driving to Alaska. Imagine the adventure. There are two opportunities at play here. One: I only had one more state to visit to complete my list. Two: The ultimate road trip. Over 2200 miles from Seattle to Anchorage. By comparison it’s like driving from Seattle to Indianapolis. Not a short trip, and to add to the excitement, far less paved roads and not near as many gas stations. As it turns out, we actually drove from Phoenix (over 3600 miles) but the idea was formed in Seattle.

So I ask you. Would you consider this a bucket list item or just another mountain to climb? or is there a difference?