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Bora Bora Bora Bora

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Bora BoraMarlin arrived in Bora Bora last Friday afternoon. We spent two extra days in Moorea waiting for the wind to die down. When we went out on Tuesday we were doing 8 knots with a reefed main and the waves were tossing us around. It was so blustery, in fact, that I lost my hat, never to be seen again. We had a boat meeting 10 minutes outside the reef and decided to go back. It’s a little over a day’s sail to Bora Bora and we figured we were on vacation. Why not wait for more pleasant conditions?

In every anchorage we go to we meet a bunch of other boats who are doing the same thing and usually organize potluck between a couple of them. A lot of them also have websites, so now I will give them a shout out. Coromandel Quest Tom knew from Panama. They greeted us with breakfast our first morning in Tahiti. Zephyr we also met in Tahiti and later on in Bora Bora. The skipper is South African and he traded his Polish crew member for a Canadian in Tahiti. The Polish guy had actually emailed Tom in January to see if he could crew on Marlin but was too impatient to wait till March. In Moorea we met O’Flo, which was a catamaran with 11 people on board. I think there were 5 originally but they had friends come out to visit while they were in French Polynesia. Lastly there is Ragaine II. They fly under the Lithuanian flag and we’ve been hanging out with them in Bora Bora.

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Moorea

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Cook's BayOur second day in Papeete, while I was lounging in the cockpit, a fellow was waving his hand at the gate to our dock trying to get my attention. He was waving and pointing to what I later learned was a six pack of Hinano. Feeling lazy and figuring he wasn’t looking at me or was mistaken, I ignored him and kept reading my book. Eventually, the guy from the boat across from me got up to let the stranger in and I figured that he knew the guy. A moment later they were all on the boat next door having a beer.

Not too long afterwards a tall, head-shaven Scandinavian-looking guy came up our boat and said, “So I hear you guys are looking for crew? That’s great because I’m looking for a boat to crew on.” I agreed with him that the situation was beneficial for both of us and we were both surprised at how easy it was to find crew and/or a boat on which to crew in Papeete. Almost every boat crossing the Pacific stops here and it’s not so isolated by air as it is by water. These properties give people the freedom to switch boats or quit on sailing altogether, like Brad did. I referred Jan (that was his name) to the captain because I didn’t want to assume any responsibility that wasn’t mine.

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Tahiti

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I’m still alive and doing quite well, although it is very difficult to get to the computer and write a little bit about my trip. I’m right now at an Internet cafe in Tahiti and paying about $10 an “huere” to use it. I just finished 3 pitchers of beer with Brad, each costing $26. Suffice to say, I’m no longer in 3rd world South America but the Imperial playground of a European heavyweight. Tahiti is probably the biggest city I’ll see until Cairns, Australia.

Brad and I always joked about making a newspaper for Marlin. Had we followed through, the biggest headline of the Marlin Wake, (that was the name I gave the fictional paper) would be: “HURSH TO JUMP SHIP!” Two days ago, the crew of Marlin was enjoying the good weather and wind when abruptly Brad said, hey guys—. I was startled by his assertiveness and waiting to hear something profound like, I think we should have beans tonight for dinner, instead of pasta. Then he came out with: I’m going to get off the boat in Tahiti. This was the last thing on either Tom’s or my mind and we both took our time to process the curious statement. At first I thought he was just making funny, a sarcastic comment that we usually make to each other to make the days go by. Then he elaborated, as if he could tell we would need more of an explanation for such change in the universe of Marlin and to prove he wasn’t pulling our legs. He said, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I wanted to make sure. Ever since we left the Marquesas. I know it’s a decision that I’ll regret but I’ll regret more not going. But I know that once I’ve made up my mind, and that I’ve begun to think about the other possibilities, that I now have to go.

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Land Ho!

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

29 days and 14 hours since leaving Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, we dropped anchor for the night in a little cove on Ua Huka Island of the Marquesa Archipelago in French Polynesia. After making this epic ocean crossing people usually comment about how vast the great Pacific is, which I now know. It’s so vast that I can’t even comprehend the distance. If it weren’t for the stars and the sun we could have been going in circles or sailing on some giant treadmill. We counted down time and distance remaining everyday but in vain. It wouldn’t get us there faster and each day we made an almost respectively negligible amount of progress, averaging maybe 120 nautical miles a day. After a week I had to adjust my conception of time and way of life. I told myself that I was starting a new life whose universe consisted of the boat, everything on it and everything around us within eyesight and it would remain that way until we reached the Marquesas, whenever that would be.

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Galapagos

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

GalapagosIt took us roughly 5 days to get from La Libertad, on the mainland of Ecuador, to Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz of the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are a part of Ecuador but we still had to check in and out of the country in between because we sailed through international waters. We ended up motoring all the way except for a few hours because there was no wind. Generally there is no wind around the equator, the area known as the doldrums. On the way to the Marquesas, our next stop in French Polynesia, we will have to sail south to 10 degrees to catch some wind.

The crew for voyage worked out well. Brad, who I met a week before, the other Internet pick-up crew member, is about my age and originally from Indiana. He spent the last six months or so teaching English literature at a school in Guayaquil. We all get along fine and do an equal share of the cooking and the dishes. Watches are 3 hours on and 6 hours off and since that amount, multiplied by 3, is not divisible by 24, means we each get different hours on different days, which I like because it means I get a change of scenery. Unfortunately, we only had two fish bites (dorados) the whole way. The first one got away while Brad was trying to get at it with the gaff. The second one broke off before we even had a chance to snag it. I’m hoping we’ll have more luck the rest of the way; the rice, pasta and canned tuna is already getting tired.

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Counterfeit Twenty

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Twenty Dollar BillSomewhere along the line I picked up a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. I didn’t know it was dubious until I tried to spend it at a restaurant in La Libertad. The waiter asked me if I had another bill, he said the one I gave him was bad. I protested, a little offended. It’s not like I counterfeited the bill and regardless of its authenticity, the restaurant could just pass it off to the next unsuspecting customer and so the bill would circulate like a hot potato.

The waiter took me to the cash register and showed me what it looked like under a black light. There were several creases that had worn away to white from wear, the white creases shining under the black light. I had noticed the bill was worn before I tried to spend it but I thought it was just because I had put it in my shoe for safe-keeping on one bus ride. I finally agreed the bill was fake and I borrowed money from my captain for the bill, figuring I’d spend the twenty at some less vigilent establishment, even if I have to wait till I get back to the States–they never check there.

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Marlin

Friday, March 13th, 2009

marlinAfter Quito I took a night bus to Guayaquil and then another to La Libertad. I didn’t bother checking out Guayaquil because I’ve grown tired of the big cities. If I have time before we leave, I might check out some of the smaller towns on the coast. Once in La Libertad I phoned my new captain to tell him I was getting in a taxi to the marina. He said he’d meet me at the gate in 10 minutes. At the gate I met Tom, face-to-face, for the first time. He hopped in the cab and the driver took us the rest of the way, through the marina, to Tom’s boat, Marlin.

Marlin was drydocked and had been for the last 6 months at Puerto Lucia while Tom had to go back to working as a chef in the Caymen Islands. I liked Tom immediately. He’s responsible, hard working, fun and easy-going. When I arrived, He had been working on installing a new auto-pilot and an electric windlass (that’s the thing that hauls the anchor up, thank God). After some small talk, he continued working on the boat and I slept, having gotten poor sleep on the bus ride.

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Ecuador

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

QuitoFrom Bogota, I took a bus to Cali (not -fornia). I arrived late at night and didn’t have an address for the hostel. I had a taxi driver take me to another hotel and I used their Internet to locate the hostel. It was like saying, “I’m not going to stay here, but can I use your Internet to locate another hotel?” I spent two and a half days in Cali. It was okay, I hung out at the hostel mostly, laying low and trying to save money, especially because I can’t get any more until I get my bank cards. The hostel was kind of empty anyways but there was one guy who rode his bike from the US to Costa Rica until he hurt his leg.

I left Cali at 9pm to go to Ipiales, the border town before Ecuador. I managed to sleep most of the ride except when I was woken by a police officer in Popayan who wanted to search my bag and check my passport. He did and I went back to sleep. We arrived at Ipiales early morning where Felipe, an Argentine I met on the bus, and I took a cab to the border. We checked out of Colombia and into Ecuador. Then took another cab to Tulcan, where we hopped on another bus to Quito. This leg took 5 hours and we passed the equator without much notice. My first time in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Good Riddance Miami

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Bogotá from Cerro de MontserratI booked a room at a hostel in Miami for Saturday night because my plane was scheduled to leave at 6:30am on Sunday. I never made it to the hostel, though. I asked Adam what he thought of going out in Miami on Saturday night and he said he was down. He asked Allison and so was she.  We pre-partied at Honey and Dan’s place (friends of Allison). More of her friends arrived and we taxied it to Mansion in South Beach. Adam, my friend Owen and I  had actually been there once before when we were last together in Florida. It was more crowded than I remembered it being last time, which was a couple Decembers ago. Things were going good until it was getting a little late and I went to the bar to get a water. After ordering, I reached for my wallet and it wasn’t in my back pocket. I knew immediately that I’d been pick-pocketed. I showed my ID to gain entrance, so I had it then. I also tipped the bathroom guy, so I had it in the bathroom too. The dance floor was packed and there were always people brushing by. It was an easy task for a thief. I met up with our friends and they were tired and wanted to go home. Dan had already been kicked out—for what I don’t know.

Things could have been worse. There was only about $60 in the wallet. At least I was in the States and I was in the company of people who could trust me with a loan. I asked Adam to loan me $300 until I got my new cards. Afterwards, I called my bank and cancelled the cards. I had them send the new ones to my Mom’s house and I’ll have her FedEx them to Ecuador. I considered staying in Florida, at the cost of a $150 flight, to wait for the cards to come. This wouldn’t have been a bad option either. Because of this, I’m now paranoid about my stuff. I also hate Miami. And I continue to hate clubs. I don’t know why I went. I can’t wait to get back to the dive bars and karaoke bars of San Francisco.

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Couchsurfing, Plaid, Et Cetera

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

plaid marI leave for Bogota, Colombia, tomorrow, early Sunday morning at 6:30 am. I’m going to Miami tonight with Adam and his friend Allison. I’m probably going to stay up all night. No real sense in going to bed. My ticket was ridiculously cheap: $150. I don’t know why, but I’m not complaining.

I’ve tried to connect with some couchsurfers in Bogota but to no avail. 2 of the 4 people I emailed wrote back that they weren’t going to be in town. I’m guessing that that’s a common white lie when they don’t want to host anyone. I got the same types of responses when I tried it in Mexico City. One girl said she had too many surfers already. It’s just like getting a job online. I guess you have to send out a lot of emails. But then people complain about cut-and-pasted inquires. I think people also like at least a week’s notice, which is hard to give when you don’t know where you’re going to be. You lose all the flexibility of free travel. With all the hassle involved in reserving a couch, it’s almost worth it to just go to a hostel. That’s kind of what they’re set up for.

The past few days I’ve been working on an online plaid making website (instead of filing for an income tax extension). I added a gallery and a saving function most recently. Pictured above is a plaid I made using the same palette that I used to design this site.

Finally, I’m changing my blogging strategy to be, well, more like blogging. Shorter posts, but updated more frequently. Opinionated. Topical. Links to other stuff. I’ve been too wrapped up in trying to write these comprehensive essays of all things I’ve been doing, when I should just quickly write about whatever’s on my mind. Updating more frequently also relieves the burdern of feeling like you have so much to write, which can be a deterent to writing. Just as I was thinking this, my life-long friend, Michael J, write me, “I’ve been loving the blog entries lately, I kind of like the shorter but more ones that are posted more often.” So there you have it.