Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life in the Slow Lane
This is a test (more successful than previous attempts, I hope) of sending emails to the blog via the HF radio and a Pactor modem. I plan to come back and add pictures when the Internet is available.

We broke the marina force field ten days ago, although we did go back again later in the evening for the Halloween party. But then we had boxes on our heads, so it was different. PHOTO OF HALLOWEEN BOX HEADS HERE,.
Photo by Jim Ellis

Mainly what we left, aside from the cool refreshing pool and the so-welcome shelter of the sun awning, was our electricity and our internet, such as it sometimes was.

Since then we've been drifting around the Rio, a day here, a night there, another run to town. After three days of watching how hard it was for the batteries to run the refrigeration - air and water have regularly approached 90 degrees (F!) -we turned off the freezer. Turned off the ice for licuados, mainly, and found some 'treasures' which have been dutifully, if nervously, consumed.

The pressure canner, Mason jars, and I are eyeing each other warily. It's still hot for cooking, although better at anchor than it was in the marina. Frankly, it's sometimes too hot to eat, although Doug never thinks so. We've left Sundog's good bread; time to start kneading,(or stop eating) and baking in the middle of the night just like the pros.

The shore power should be replaced by the solar panels and the wind generator, but there's often not much wind in the Rio. Rainy season, so quiescent that droughts are being declared inland, has poked its nose out far enough to shade the solar panels.

So we're moving towards the slow lane in energy too - no movies on the computer for Doug, no internet for me. Books!! And boy do I have a nice stash - Catfish and Mandala at present earning a top rating. At least until cruiser midnight, which I try to put off until at least 8 PM.

Gotta get the weatherfax and ham radio systems sorted out now that we've finally had the first 'tropical event' of our season here- technology on the boat has improved in the last score of years, but have I? The soothing chummy rhythm of a clear B&W fax pictures from NMG accompanies me right now, with a background of ethereal stellar roar, (and big numbers on the amps-going-out scale) so that's a reasonable metaphor. TD/TS/Cat1 Ida gone, cold front coming...energy being consumed everywhere.

Other slow lane indicators: writing in a notebook rather than typing in a power-sucking computer. Setting up a rain-catcher. Swimming in my laundry with a bar of soap (fresh water, ya know!)

Other 'back in cruising mode' indicators involve getting to know the boat and its systems all over again. Do either of us remember exactly what the sounder says as we run aground? Apparently not! Where did we put X, or y, or z? It's a pretty small space - where can this stuff go? I'm ashamed to admit that I get confused which boat is which, since I apparently do a lot of things rotely, without much actual thought. "Well, they used to be there, in the red line bag" I'll say, looking at a bag which once was blue (Absolute) and now is white.

Actually setting an actual sail meant decimation for generations of spiders; they flee as if from a police raid. The ant population supply line is interrupted; those crafty insects are still negotiating, trying to outsmart me, but no longer can rely on reinforcements, so the contest is evening out. Both 'insect overlays' have prospered during their time with us; pity they couldn't keep each other more in check or I'd have let them both stay.

Modern times: we've enrolled the customs agent Raul who has all our papers ready for Thursday morning. We'll "swing through" Livingston- to pick them up and spend the rest of our Quetzales, and be out with the tide at the end of the day, beating the Friday the Thirteenth jinx.

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