Trip Reports

You'll Start Out Standing (10-Apr-2003-14-45):
2:45 PM local time, Sunday, April 6 (2042 April 6 UTC) 15 40 N 096 55 W. Temp. 91, Humidity 71%, Cloud Cover 10%. Underway near Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

When one undertakes a venture such as ours, he perhaps holds out the hope that the experience may toughen him a bit, make more of a man of him, that sort of thing. He'll walk with a salty swagger, and have a certain air that sets him apart from the ordinary man. The last thing one wishes is to be proven a weakling, a fool, a coward.

It's true that the Captain currently has a salty swagger but it has more to do with the fact that he's found the tamales and the question on his mind is "Donde esta los banos?" than that he's got a few miles under his keel. And about his air, the less said, the better.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that if you live life correctly, it will break your heart, probably quoting an old Irish proverb. Similarly, it seems that if you're paying attention, the sea will turn you into a poltroon. Just what you didn't want. But then our readers know that the Captain had it in him from the start.

The crew of Maverick arrive at Huatulco where all the books say it's safe to wait out a Tehuantepecker. The Captain looks at the bay, which is not too deep, and the faxes, that predict twelve-foot waves gliding oh-so-gently by only a short distance away. He recalls that waves have the property of refracting around things. Exhibiting just the sort of duplicity that the Captain abhors in the universe and its miserable doings, even particles may act like waves and refract. Looking at the headland that protects the bay, he hypothesizes thusly: here lies the sort of thingamajig around which a wave, if it got a notion to, might refract, sending its mischievous energy into the harbor. The books say no, it's safe. Never one to be reassured by facts or evidence, the Captain has that particular talent of the coward, to be afraid.

Seeking reassurance he asks the Port Captain if the harbor is safe, if the mean old waves might refract into the harbor. The Port Captain pats his hand and looks meaningfully into his eyes, having seen his sort before. "No it is very safe here." So then the Captain goes to see the manager of the marina, Andrico, who has the sort of sporty name that tennis pros and ski instructors favor, and asks him the same thing. "No, not to worry," he says in his best bedside manner, as if reassuring a little old lady.

So the books, and the Port Captain, and Andrico, and the fishermen, and the indulging looks on everyone's face who is brave, say that the nasty waves will not refract around the headland.

But, the waves refract around the headland.

On Sunday, when the Tehuantepecker is scheduled to start blowing to fifty knots, the right side of the bay, the one the locals said was safest, starts to look untenable and will be if it gets worse. We move to the other side of the bay and as usual make sure we've got the hook well stuck. Later, the other cruising boat in the anchorage follows. On Monday, the winds reportedly gusted to sixty-five knots, hurricane strength, out in the Gulf, and we had gusts of up to forty in the bay. Every vessel in the bay dragged their anchor, except Maverick. OK, there were only three others. But one was a sixty-foot steel trawler, and another was a large barge. Anchored by professionals. Among those who foresaw no danger in this safe harbor. The trawler crew was aboard and tried to re-anchor but couldn't and eventually settled for tying up to the pier, which, with the surge, was an ugly solution. A tug pulled the barge off the rocks and attempted to stabilize it to the docks, but when that failed, grounded it on a beach. The cruisers were not aboard so when we saw they were dragging, we got into the dinghy with three fenders and clambered onto their boat to try to keep the fenders between them and a huge channel buoy. As they were dragging past it, we found some lines and tied two to the buoy, stabilizing the situation until the weather died down. They were not ungrateful; the boat would have foundered.

An exasperating fact is that most of the time, the dashing, devil-may-care skipper who throws out thirty feet of rode in twenty feet and says, "Who's ready for a brewski?" is going to be fine, while the silly crew of Maverick that spent FIVE HOURS before they were satisfied that their anchor was well set in Mykonos will look like fools. Most of the time even a poorly set anchor will not drag, the boat will not be broken into, the through-hulls will not fail, we will not lose the passports, the lighthouse will be working, the rig will not come down, the hull will not come apart, the navigation will be obvious, the chart will be correct, the oil cooler will not spring a leak, lightning will not strike, the boat will not swing onto the reef in a gale, and all your worries will seem the far-fetched scenarios of a guy with no self-confidence, no sense of adventure.

When we were in Lipari I saw an excursion boat loading passengers for a day trip. Everyone was in a festive mood, the crew welcoming the visitors, handing out drinks, helping them stow their bags. Only one man stood apart from the rest, leaning on the rail with a worried look on his face, staring down at the mooring lines. Though he wore no uniform, I knew in an instant he was the captain.

It's a little humiliating to feel the need, or even the duty, to be a fussy worry-wart. It's really not what you had in mind. There is no dignity in paranoia, when the movies teach us that the hero is like Butch Cassidy or the Sundance Kid, jumping off a big cliff and laughing and not getting hurt. On the other hand, in the book, "Little Big Man," there is a story about Wild Bill Hickok, I assume apocryphal but nonetheless like many apocryphal tales a good one. As he approaches a bar to get a drink, a man at a bar stool on the end who seems to be passed out drunk lifts up his head and raises a gun to kill him. Hickok, prepared for that eventuality because he's a paranoid, has his gun hidden behind the hat he holds in his hand, and blows him away. Little Big Man is amazed, and asks Hickok how he knew that guy had a gun, and Hickok replies that it was just a hunch, and when he gets hunches like that ninety-nine out of a hundred times he's wrong. "But it's that one time in a hundred that pays me for my troubles."


Once again I apologize for being so inconsistent about personally answering letters. When an internet cafe is available it's easier than at other times. It sure doesn't mean we don't love to get your letters, so keep them coming to

Please don't forget to check out our website, Pictures are now up of the San Blas Islands. Tim Eschliman, the technical brain on our website staff, is available for website design, so that you can say your homepage was concocted by the same dude that did the one for the famous Maverick. You can reach him through the address on the website,

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