My experience in Mexico must be what it is like to be a fledgling thrown out of the nest! I have rapidly come to appreciate how fortunate I have been to sail in US waters. I am used to very detailed AND ACCURATE charts real time weather downloads from the XM Radio marine weather service, and frequent full service marinas almost everywhere I have gone. (OK, I still hate the coast of New Jersey, but who doesn't!) The marine guides are more focused on the best restaurant or T-shirt shop than navigation details.
My trip to Canada was a harbinger of things to come. The XM weather service became more spotty. The weather on the other hand is much more changeable. Charts were good and as I have pointed out before the people were great. But my comfort level was reduced as the marine services in the Maritimes are almost all focused on commercial shipping interests. Plus a lot more people get in trouble, I heard more calls for help while there than I had in the remainder of my sailing experience.
Mexico is completely different. The charts are based on old surveys. The electronic charts are no better as they are based on the paper charts. I am currently looking at a lighthouse that is charted over my bow. It is a mile off my stern. There are no depth marks. The chart shows a green blob that is the barrier reef. According to the chart I am aground on the reef. The only harbor charts I have are sketch charts from Freya Rauscher's cruising guide. This is not because I am cheap but because they don't exist. The guides outside the US all say - use our waypoints, not the charts. Now I understand why.
I am out from under the XM satellite coverage - no real time weather. Fortunately I spent a lot of my "dreaming" time reading about how the "old cruisers" communicated and got weather data. I also spent the necessary money to duplicate their radio and fax setups. I have been spending the last couple of days trying to learn how it all works and what particular systems are best as primary and what to use for backup.
In the interim Hobo II and Reboot have been waiting out the weather for our next move. With 200' of chain and 50' of rode Reboot held in winds peaking over 40 knots. It was not a pleasant experience. The winds have moderated, we are waiting for the seas to moderate too and then off to Xcalak, my last stop in Mexico.
Monday, February 14, 2011
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