Friday, March 2, 2012

Doolittles Go more ways than one!

Current location: Ixtapa, Mexico

After a two day sail and 190 miles, we arrived here in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo a few days ago. It was an uneventful sail without any mechanical surprises and we had a glorious Sunday where we were surrounded by frolicking dolphins and breaching whales (look for a blog entry soon on this topic and maybe a video of our close encounters…J.P. actually touched one on his back as we swam along our boat). Even the 100 year old solitary sea turtles came out to greet us! It still makes me chuckle to see a bird perched upon the shell of these old guys in the middle of the ocean. As we get closer the bird flies away and all that is remaining is the bird poop splayed all over the turtles back. Show a little respect to your elders, man!!!

A more recent development is the surprise we sprung upon our unsuspecting children. It should be noted we have become experts at utilizing local hotels for our swimming and internet pleasure. In a nod to our rule-following Catholic upbringings, Ben and I usually ask for permission to use the facilities with management happily providing us with towels and passwords in exchange for buying a few beers. The travel industry is taking a big hit down here, so any gringos willing to spend money are welcomed.

We awoke yesterday morning and told both younger Frat brothers to pack a bag to which they replied, “Oh, man do we have to take a shower again?”. This response is disconcerting to the House Mother since she requires bathing quite infrequently. The most disturbing was J.P.’s comment a few weeks ago when he stated, “But I showered five days ago!”. Assimilating back into ‘normal’ society will take some adjustments from the Frat members who consider ocean and pool swimming acceptable bathing options.

But again I digress….when we told them to include a toothbrush, they knew something was up. We giggled and told them we would be staying in a big hotel down the street for the night. Mickey gleefully started packing his bag, but soon the smug looks on our faces and affirmative thoughts of “we’re the best parents in the world” were dashed when J.P. started to cry. Apparently he didn’t want to sleep anywhere but home saying, “But I like our boat!”.

When we agreed that he could bring ALL of his stuffed animals he reluctantly packed his bag. His attitude did an about face, upon the realization our room came equipped with cable television, a magical flushing toilet and room service. We spent the day swimming (a.k.a bathing) in the three pools, ordering room service and zoning in front of the television. Our friends from Bella Star and Panache came over from Zihuatanejo, but were promptly kicked out by security. So we moved down the beach to a more “open minded” hotel that allowed us to drink at their swim-up bar and cool off in their pool.

Other important items of note are the preparations J.P. is busy making for his upcoming birthday on the 13th. We assured him that if we were underway on the actual day, we’d celebrate big time in El Salvador. I’m sad to say there will be no Doolittle Parties custom made cake this year, although a Rice Krispie treat sculpted into a lightsaber may be attempted. Stay tuned!

Now onto a recent flashback to a blog I jotted down while anchored out in Las Hadas. To understand some references to our time in Barra de Navidad, read the previous blog first. Now the flashback…..

So here we sit in a lovely anchorage called Las Hadas near Manzanillo. We’ve enjoyed moseying along the coast for the past couple of weeks. The anchorages have been only a few hour sail between destinations which creates a relaxing pace. Unlike the “delivery mode” were found ourselves in early on (a term used to refer to the delivery of boats to certain places in a fixed amount of time), this part of the coast has a variety of stops which allows us to “Stop and smell the roses” or in sailing terms, “Stop, sleep, and snorkel”.

Our departure from Barra de Navidad and saying farwell to friends again was difficult, but a permanent part of this lifestyle. Unfortunately, the French Baker and I had to part ways (see previous post), bringing truth to the phrase, “Breaking up is hard to do”. It would have never worked out any way. I surely would have weighed 500 pounds and become a raging diabetic if our relationship had flourished. “C’est la vie“, old friend…until we meet again!

Apparently, there is a saying in Barra that goes like this, “There are two types of sailors, those who have run aground and those who will!”. When we first arrived at low tide we certainly would have joined the Aground Club had we not come upon a fellow sailor out in his dinghy. He waved us over, indicating to follow him in. His knowledge of the channel and the location of the sand bars allowed us a successful entry to the lagoon. During our departure we were not so lucky. Again at low tide (yes, I know you’re thinking, “Hello, Doolittles…try high tide!!”).

On the day of our departure, we pulled up our muddy anchor and maneuvered out through the fleet. I was driving while Ben put away the anchor on the bow. To give you Northern California folks an idea what the terrain was like, picture the Sacramento Delta which is marked by buoys and warnings of tidal changes….but this is Mexico and there were NO markers or buoys at all. Basically we were relying on waypoints (coordinates giving location via latitude and longitude) and instinct, which were both incorrect. As I watched the depth finder, I was perplexed to find it quickly decreasing in rapid increments, “12 - 10 - 8 - 7 – 6 - 5”. I counted off the #s to Ben and before I could shout ‘Four”, the boat came to a sudden stop. We were aground.

A couple in a dinghy were driving by and without a word maneuvered to start pushing our bow around to dislodge us from the soft, muddy bottom of the lagoon. Sure enough we swung around and were free. They quickly directed us to where the water was deeper (literally 3 feet to our left) and wished us luck. We were soon headed out of the breakwater into the open ocean.

Ever the entrepreneurs, Ben and I decided that we could open a shop selling t-shirts to sailors passing through Barra. Here are a few slogans we’d slap on some 100% cotton “camisas”:

For the simpleton:
“I Ran Aground in Barra”

For the optimist:
“Barra – Run aground, stay a while”
“My muddy bottom rocks!”
“I had a free mud bath in Barra”

For the frustrated:
“Lagoons Suck”

For the angry:
“We ran aground in Barra. Wipe that smug look off your face – you will too!!”

For the Master of Peer Pressure:
“Run aground in Barra – Everyone is doing it!”

For the Fraternity Brothers:
“We sucked mud in Barra”
“I was in Barra – Now I have a muddy bottom”

For the Nike lover:
“Run aground in Barra – Just Do It!!”

For the accusatory:
“My Wife Did It”
“My Dad Did It”

For our fellow sailor friend who shall remain nameless:
“I ran aground in Barra 3 times in one day!”

And finally, for the kids:
“My parents ran aground in Barra and all I got was this stupid t-shirt”

Coming soon…more stories from Las Hadas, Zihuatanejo and hopefully video downloads of our friends, the dolphins. I’m still having a hard time uploading videos to blogspot. If anyone has suggestions of where I can easily post short videos for people to view, let me know (and how to rotate videos off of my Iphone).


Ixtapa at sunset from the pool.

JP found a bamboo Yoda stick before we left Barra. I love this pic!

Some of my favorite neighbors...the Pelicans in Barra lagoon! Thanks to Susan off of Wiz for the photo!


  1. Barra was a good time. Loved the raft up!

  2. Hola, I love living vicariously...should I blog about my days at school? Somehow I don't think there would be much of a following : ) Love you, Col

  3. One of my favorites was from a woman on a very small boat with a three and a half foot draft. "I ran aground om Barra but it was fun. I got out and pushed!"

  4. I just upload the videos to YouTube and then on the YouTube site, click the Embed button. This will display a short bit of HTML text. Copy this text. Then, back on blogspot, click the button to switch the post you are writing from Compose to HTML mode. In HTML mode, simply paste the copied HTML where you want it. You are done. Click Preview to check it out. Send me an email if you want more precise instructions. Hasta luego! Michael