San Blas, Take 2

The passage north from Chamela took us about 30 hours. Because we arrived in the middle of the night, we decided to anchor in nearby Mantenchen Bay and make the short trip into the San Blas estuary the next afternoon, on the rising tide. On our previous visit to San Blas we’d seen 8 ft depths outside of the San Blas channel, so we wanted to make sure we’d have enough water under our keel.

Our friends on Passat II also told us some scary stories from when they’d entered the estuary. They were knocked down (a wave pushed them all the way over so that their mast was parallel to the water); the boat that came in behind them lost their rudder; and a power boat towing their fancy $20K dinghy had their dinghy flip, damaging the outboard engine. With all of this in mind, Capn FretALot was a bit on edge.

“It’s ok,” I reassured him. “This is a perfect opportunity to break out your new Big Girl Panties!” You see, my family loves Toro, and when they read that his old pair had gone AWOL, my mom and brother Bob teamed up to find a replacement pair. My brother delivered them when he visited us back in February.


“You’re right!” cried Toro, rushing below to don his new briefs. A moment later he was back on deck, a changed man! He checked our lines, scanned the horizon, then bellowed confidently, “Let’s do this thing!”

The channel entrance looked calm and we headed in. When we were just outside, a set of three large waves added excitement, but posed no threat. We motored in and dropped the anchor without a hitch. Then, as soon as we were ready to shut down the engine, the throttle became loose so we couldn’t give it any fuel.

Capn OCD immediately went into Fix-It mode, tearing into the binnacle to diagnose the problem. Luckily, it was just a loose nut. We couldn’t believe our luck! It had waited to come loose until we were anchored in calm water, in broad daylight! Had it happened ten minutes earlier, when we were passing near the rocks of the breakwater, it would have been a crisis. Instead it was just a quick project for Toro- just a matter of tightening up his nuts! We decided we must be blessed.

We were all thrilled to be back in San Blas, which has so much to offer: a quaint town, friendly faces from our first visit, great tacos, a calm anchorage, internet access. What’s not to love? (Biting insects aside, of course. We joke that Longfellow’s poem The Bells of San Blas was originally titled The Bugs of San Blas.)

There had been a few changes since we were there two months ago. Most notably for us, our favorite taco place had posted a new menu, which included vegetarian tacos. Having enjoyed the vegetarian sopes in Barra, I thought these might be tacos with zucchini, tomatoes, beans, etc. So I ordered one.

Several minutes later, the friendly waiter placed my vegetarian taco in front of me. It was a tortilla. Not a tortilla with vegetables, not a tortilla with cheese, just a plain tortilla! “You can put stuff from the salsa bar on it,” he explained. Capn Carne Asada and his sidekick, Torta Girl, thought this was hilarious!

I was paralyzed by the thoughts running through my head: Was I on the Mexican version of Candid Camera? Were we being served by a man with a razor-sharp sense of humor? Could they seriously charge 10 pesos for a plain tortilla, the same price as a quesadilla or a steak taco? In retrospect, in case it was a joke, I should have sent it back to the kitchen with a complaint like “It’s too salty” or “It’s too dry”. Instead I just piled on the salsa and beans, and resolved never to fall for a “vegetarian taco” again!

Since we had to motor a good part of the way here, we were running low on diesel. Not wanting to take his precious Sugata up to the concrete fuel dock (where she might be scratched!), Toro came up with the idea of rowing the dinghy back and forth to the fuel dock, using our 5-gallon jerry can to transfer the fuel to our boat. “How do you say ‘4 times’?” he asked me. “Cuatro veces,” I replied.

About half an hour later Capn Polyglot was done with his task, having made four round-trips to the fuel dock. “How’d it go?” I asked. “Great!” he said proudly. “I told the guy, ‘Quiero comprar ochenta litros, y regresamo cuatro meses‘”. I burst out laughing. “Is that right?” Toro asked.

Wiping the tears from my eyes, I explained, “Well, you made some slight errors, but roughly what you said was, ‘I want to buy 80 liters, and I’ll return in 4 months’!” “Oh,” said a disappointed Toro, “No wonder he looked at me funny.”

Koiya continues to enjoy knitting (thanks Auntie Cindy!). Her recent projects include a pocket purse and a sunglasses case that she gave me for my birthday. Her latest kick is making “forts” below decks, using blankets, folding chairs, towels, clothing, etc. Unfortunately, her forts sometime prohibit access to the head (toilet), so she suffers great disappointment when my need to pee requires their destruction! I try to look at the bright side, though: Living on a boat is no longer exotic; it feels so natural that she has to spice things up with these fantasy creations.

6 Responses to “San Blas, Take 2”

  1. Scott says:

    The correct name is Kuna Yala, not San Blas.

  2. to the Sugata family says:

    Hi you lucky ones out in the wonderful Mexico.
    We sure love to read your fun travel experinces and follow with lot of interest.
    Some will be published in the Blazing Star for the Emeryville Yacht Club News Letter.
    Keep the fun reading coming OK we are with you all the way.
    Frank and Lillan

  3. Marcus Anderson ex-Restless says:

    Seeing that binacle apart again brings back memories. That expensive rubber gasket I made from a friend’s inner tube. He never did find out why it had a big round hole in it. But he never did go tubing again. Wait until the steering cable breaks and the chain comes off the cog.
    Then he will need another new pair of panties.
    Love your blog guys.

  4. Bachan says:

    Those panties never looked so good! What tantalizing photos, too!
    El Toro!

  5. Deidre and Kat (from TFF Noe) says:

    Ahoy there, Mateys! OK, I guess I can’t really pull that one off since I’m not sailing the world like y’all! Just catching up with the blog (its been a couple months) and Kat and I are loving reading up on your adventures! What an AMAZING journey you’re having!!! Koiya, you are growing into quite the young woman! I think we’re going to try your quesadilla recipe today. he he! Things are great back in the city. Its actually about 80 degrees today – and last night (Saturday) was one of those rare warm nights in SF. Anyway, we’re thinking about you. Thanks to technology, we almost feel like we’re out there with you! 🙂
    Take good care!

    PS: You know, summer’s coming… heirloom tomatoes… are you guys EVER coming back? 😉

  6. Trish, Todd's Auntie says:

    Happy belated birthdays… what a way to turn another year older. Must admit, I clicked early on Capt. in El Toro in undies! What a difference a few years makes. I remember the little guy in diapers! Your blog is a treat that I save for special moments (as evidenced by this late blog entry). It will be a family heirloom! Koyia has transformed from a little girl moving toward a beautiful young lady and what a smile!! Thanks to all of you for sharing your lives and adventure with us!

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