2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back
Trip Start Oct 26, 2009
80Trip End Ongoing
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We're at a loss for words. After a few setbacks, we finally made it off the docks and started our 3,000 mile journey across the Pacific; the "Puddle Jump" as some people call it. 24-hours out and only about 70 miles from our original departure point, we decided to turn around and return to Mexico.
Where do we go from here? Do we check back in to the country after we had an episode clearing out of the country with the customs and immigration office? I’m sure you are all guessing at this point, what went wrong? Did we return with the same number of crew (4 persons and a dog?) Was it a mental breakdown? Medical issue? Forgot something? Family emergency back home in the States? Forgot to mail in our taxes?
Let me back-up about a week. Craig’s cousin and wife had arrived without a hitch and we had started the major task of doing final provisioning for our journey.
Since we would be around for a little longer than anticipated, we needed to renew our 6-month tourist visa. We went to the airport and told the customs agent that we needed a short extension since the weather was not in our favor to sail to French Polynesia. He disappeared for about 30-minutes to talk with his boss to see what they could do. Finally, he came back and told us to go to another immigration office close to where our boat was docked. He indicated that they would be expecting us and would stamp our paperwork accordingly. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the office, they didn’t know what to do with us. We were told that we were in the country illegally (even though only 178 of our 180-day visa had been used) and would have to pay a fine. The customs agent suggested that we apply for Mexican citizenship; a process that is fairly costly and takes about a month of gathering data and red tape. They were unwilling to grant an extension so we said we would pay the fine when we were ready to do a final check-out. This wasn’t the answer we were looking for, so we drove back out to the airport and pleaded with the first customs agent again. He hesitated and tried to tell us that we now needed a receipt for our payment from 6-months ago. After going back and forth, we pretty much opened his pocket and placed the money for a new visa in it. In return, we got the stamp we needed, though he made sure to make it illegible (probably trying to cover his back.) This is a getting to be a long story, but will come into play again a little later.
We had now wasted an entire afternoon at the various immigration offices and didn’t know if we should wait until the following morning to drive out to Guadalajara.
We were instructed to hurry up because the wind near shore was slated to be very calm and we needed to get into the trade winds in order to get moving at a decent speed to try and catch up with everyone. About 8 o’clock in the evening all of our wind died. We bobbled around all evening and then again the following morning. Finally, Craig decided that we would motor for an hour in order to keep us from going backwards in the still conditions. When he fired off the engine, we were shocked to learn that one of the blades on a propeller had fallen off somewhere during the night. This is not an easy thing to do – or so it seemed. In looking at the folding prop, one screw is the difference between blade and no blade. Oddly enough, this exact episode just happened to friends of ours on their way north to Puerto Vallarta. I guess Volvo needs to look at the design and engineering of their folding propellers.
As we were so close to land still, we made a decision to head back to Puerto Vallarta to find a replacement. We don’t know how easy it will be to get a replacement; we might be making a last minute trip back to the States to pick up a part. Hopefully this little set back won’t make us abort our trip and stick around Mexico for another season??? But there is the swimming with the Whale Sharks in the Bay of Los Angeles, Panama, and Costa Rica next fall… Life lessons in flexibility. Another boat is also returning about the same time as we will be, but they seemed to be having a major oil leak in the engine which they were not able to resolve. The good news is that there is still about a month’s weather window to leave, but each week puts us closer to hurricane season.
Anyone up for sharing 96 eggs, six loafs of bread, and a vegetable stand’s worth of produce, six quarts of yogurt?