June 15, 2009
16º04.158´ N 86º57.871´W
June 12, 2009
Heaven is in Your Mind
Here we are, in many people’s idea of heaven, but of course (as with everything), it’s only true sometimes. The worst part for me are the things that break constantly (and we have one of the good boats). Here’s a partial recent list: generator won’t start, generator overheats, windlass controls don’t work (luckily, we have a remote in the cockpit), wind, depth and speed instruments in the cockpit suddenly don’t work (again, luckily, we have another display in the cabin, and I was able to apply the greater hammer theory to that, which has, for the moment, fixed the problem). The main VHF radio gave up the ghost, and a high pressure line for the water maker blew out. In Panama, the hot water heater broke for the second time. The outboard ( a nearly new and usually reliable Yamaha) stopped running (a faulty fuel line connector) and the shaft that holds the gear shift lever rusted and sheared off, requiring me to drill it out from some very odd angles. My theory about boats is that the half time to any random failure is about 30 minutes. If anybody tells you that it’s no different than a house (you do, after all, have to fix the roof about every 20 years), just look at them quizzically and laugh gently.
Some people like fixing these things constantly (like my friend Fred on Mistral), but I don’t. I never worked on cars, wasn’t an engineer or construction worker. Almost everything I do is new to me, so there’s the uncertainty (or total ignorance) factor. Plus, parts are not easily available, professional help is hardly that, and usually unreliable, functioning on island time, where soon come means nothing, and manana means not now, not necessarily tomorrow, sometime later, no time in particular.
I shouldn’t be kvetching. Our good friends on Lulu just got hit by lightening for the third time! All the electronics and electrical stuff is ruined. They now are stuck for 4 months with a multi-tens of thousand dollar job.
On the other hand, I’m writing this to the sound of the waves breaking on the nearby reef, one of my favorites (and apparently universally so: they put that sound into sleep machines, along with rain, chirping frogs, and people moaning).
Those of you who read the last blog (well written by Phyllis, don’t you think? I may be out of a job) know that I flew to FL to help with my my ailing mother, while Phyllis stayed with the boat. We stayed at Fantasy Island Marina a little longer than we planned to, because it was very hot and windless for a few days, and the a/c sure felt good.
Back in the day, I read a book named Meetings with Remarkable Men, by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. During our last cruise 20 years ago, we met a remarkable man named Alan Frank. He was kind, generous, tall and handsome, and our good friend for a while. He was also probably the only lawyer, engineer, Jewish, semi-pro basketball player, fugitive from the FBI for extortion, father of a Jewish starting tight end for the 49ers (when they were good) in the world. Jon (the son) quit at the top of his game to finish medical school, and went on to become an orthopedist on the Peninsula. The last time I saw Alan (the father), he was sailing off from somewhere with 2 people he had stolen from the Dominican Republic (a beautiful young woman named Benicia [who spoke little English, but called Alan Captain Meshugeneh] and Turkey Green, a somewhat famous jack of all trades), singing opera at the top of his lungs. The last time I saw his boat (“Jonathan” for his son, whom he adored), it was moored forlornly in Grenada, having been attached by Jon in order to recoup some of the money that his loving father had extorted from him! Alan was, at the time, in the slammer, having been picked up by the FBI while attempting to visit his son in the US.
This time, we met another remarkable man, in Fantasy Island. His name is Jamie Betheaepstein (no hyphen). Jamie is, in all likelihood, the only Black, Jewish, psychiatrist, previous NFL kick returner (with a super bowl ring, eppis), dive master and instructor, owner of a live aboard dive boat in Roatan. He claims his brother is Larry Bethea, who was a first round draft choice for the Cowboys as a defensive end. Larry never lived up to his potential, was cut after about 6 years, played for a couple of teams in that horrible new league (I can’t remember the name, but Oakland had a team). He was caught robbing a convenience store, and then shot himself in the head. As for Jamie, if you doubt any of this, you could look him up (google him; it makes for interesting reading). He is, however, another generous guy. He took Phyllis and I on our first wreck dive (unfortunately, I got lost in one of the rooms-very spooky experience).
I don’t know why we don’t meet any women like this. They probably just aren’t crazy enough.
We left Fantasy Island for West End, an attractive little town with a great anchorage, plenty of good enough restaurants, and endless diving opportunities just behind our boat (the Park Service even provides moorings for diving and anchoring). From there to Utila, another of the Bay Islands, with an even more interesting town, which reminds (old) me of the old Caribbean (which is, of course, much better than the new Caribbean). Just now, we are in the Water Cays of Utila, having come back from snorkeling all day to scout out a good scuba dive for tomorrow. There’s even what appears to be a great little town here. We’ll check it out tomorrow.
In a few days, we’ll start moving toward the Rio Dulce of Guatemala, where “Antares” will stay for 4 months of the hurricane season, but we won’t. We’ve plans for extensive land travel in Guatemala (Antigua, Tikal, etc.) and the US. It’s not our style to sit in a place for 4 months with other cruisers, playing Mexican train dominoes, going to pot lucks, swap meets, wife swapping parties, etc.
Speaking of wives, we had an earthquake here (or an ocean quake) a couple of weeks ago, at 2:30 AM. It was a 7.3 on the Richter scale, and boy did we feel it (the epicenter was only 23 miles away, under the ocean). I thought Phyllis was getting frisky, but no such luck. There were fears of a tsunami, but it never happened.