there's a hole in the bucket.

There's something about all the Internet cafes in the greater Puerto Vallarta area, that they have to have Linkin Park in their MP3 rotation. Not a bad band, but come on.

Yes, we're still here, although to our credit we're preparing to leave. We got our parts back from the metal shop: 4 stanchion bases (one made from scratch), a repaired stanchion gate support, and a re-welded davit arm (which appears to be steel on the aluminum--not sure how good that is). The whole thing cost $1500, about US$175 or so, which may or may not be a good price here and/or in the US. And they never did build us a hoist for the outboard; said they could do it by next Wednesday, but we want to get going.

The repair on the rental car turned out well, far better than anyone expected: they found a repair shop, who took them to a junkyard, where the guy not only had plenty of parts (the rumors we heard in grade school were true, and VW has been making Beetles, buses, and THINGs here for decades, and they're everywhere), but said he'd have everything done and painted in 4 hours, for $1200. Lo and behold, when they returned 4 hours later, the only way you could tell anything was different was that the new bumper was clean. The rental agency shrugged their shoulders at the car having fewer dings than it left with (whatever other idiosyncrasies exist, Mexicans are a practical people: don't call the federales if you can avoid the paperwork, don't complain if your car comes back in better shape than you sent it out in), and it was 2 hours late, but didn't charge an extra day. So the whole episode, including the payment to the other driver, was $2600, to the $2500 of the bribe in Mexico City. I ended up paying $700 for the bribe and nothing for the accident, which is nice.

That road trip took a lot out of me, and I'm not quite as excited as I was a couple weeks ago. Still, we're going on, and going to try to make it the whole way. We have some interesting challenges ahead of us: the Gulf of Tehuantepec south of Acapulco, and the Papagallos in Costa Rica, are places with cuts in the mountains straight through to the Caribbean. Since the Caribbean pretty much always has a high-pressure system happening, there's an imbalance, and the air comes crashing down to the west coast, at anywhere from 20 to 50 or 80 knots, depending on whom you ask.

The danger from winds at that point is not so much from the wind itself: you can reef the sails (lessening the sail area, making it easier to control the boat safely and keep from getting knocked over), or run entirely under bare poles if it comes down to it. The problem comes with the waves, which can reach really uncomfortable heights, more than 20 feet. That's one thing on its own, but if those waves start breaking--well, a cubic yard of water weighs one ton. Think about it. And if the waves get higher than the boat's length, even if they're not breaking, the action of riding the waves can cause the boat to pitchpole end over end. So the safe thing here is to stay really close to shore, close enough in that there's not space for those waves to kick up. Besides which, the wind will come from the shore, so we'll just get blown towards sea anyway. Mona and I decided between us that if Greg were unwilling to keep to shore, then we'd bail, because while it's difficult to sink a boat, even in bad conditions, it's not so difficult to get knocked overboard or otherwise injured. It's not something you want to mess with. But it looks like we'll stick to land for those stretches.

The current plan: we try to leave here by the end of the week, and go straight to Zihuatenejo, provision for a long trip, and go straight to Panama. Reality will intervene, of course, but it's a plan. from Panama we go to Jamaica; there were murmurings about staying there a full month, but other murmurings mentioned that no one really cruises Jamaica, and the government is somewhat hostile to boats that can come and go as they please (after all, these are the people who machine-gunned Jimmy Buffett's airplane). So we'll see.

The one stock that I own seems to be doing pretty well, which I'm glad of, as they're a pretty solid company. Apparently they actually made a profit in October.

So, who wants to hire me in April when I get back? I'd like to not work in a warehouse, but who knows, I may have no choice...

Jeff has found a job, which I'm happy about. I miss him, and all my friends. And Indian food.

I'm approaching the end of Godel, Escher, Bach, which would make me one of very few people I've met who have read the whole thing. I guess I happen to have a lot of free time.


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