Afloat Once More

Life on a boat with a baby, Round Two! We recently returned to Velella velella for our fifth season living aboard our sailboat in Mexico, this time with a walking, babbling fourteen-month-old. A few weeks in and it’s already looking like this season will knock last season out of the water! (Pun intended.) Last year I remember reading lots of books and journaling, as I lay nursing baby Etolin serenely in our v-berth. Can it possibly be true that he used to take 3 or 4 naps a day!? On the boat, in the Ergo carrier, on our laps in restaurants and in our arms on the bus. Now it’s just one nap a day, on the boat, giving us a brief respite before his eyes pop open and it’s Go Time again. It’s like having a dog who needs a LOT of walks. (A very opinionated dog with impressive vocal chords.) We are currently in the La Cruz marina so it’s not hard to get to places where he can zigzag about, like the town plaza or the malecon (boardwalk) along the water. Once we head out to the anchorage however, we will have to get creative. Build a swing and jungle gym out of block and tackle (pulleys and line)? Fashion a slide out of sail cloth? Or just go for daily, family swims around the boat? I’m guessing the most likely solution will be daily, family dinghy rides to shore. That’s fine! More opportunities to see our friends and meet new cruisers and locals.

I’m happy to report the general Mexican populace still thinks Etolin is adorable, yay! He continues to be an effective ice breaker and language teacher. I spent half an hour in the plaza the other evening, stalking E. while listening to a 9-year-old girl tell me about her life in Spanish. It was freeform but I think I got the gist of it. She kept asking what Etolin’s name would be in Spanish and I had to shrug helplessly at her and say, “Eh-toe-leeen?” Most people don’t have trouble with it and it’s fun to tell them about its origins. “Es el nombre de una isla en Alaska.” Throughout the day, we alternate between speaking English and Spanish with E. If it’s confusing the heck out of him, he shows no signs. In addition to Dada/Papa, Mama, Baba (Baby? Or Grandma?), Up, Ball and Hot (pronounced “Hhhhhaaaaaatttttttt” in a hushed, serious tone), he now says Apple. Will Agua (Water) be next?

Oh, did you want to hear about Rob or me or the boat? I can’t remember what I used to blog about pre-baby, I’ll have to go back and read some old posts. Just kidding. Vv is great, she was lonely but floating when we returned to the Paradise Marina where we left her in Nuevo Vallarta. Due to a drier than usual summer down here (insert expletive regarding climate change) she had more wear on her natural teak but no mold below. Rob put the booms back on, hung the sails, re-rigged all the lines and cleaned the masts (which meant extended trips aloft, his least favorite thing), scrubbed and inflated the dinghy, serviced the outboard and the main engine so they’re running like champs, installed a new battery charger and trouble shot the solar panels, that were acting finicky. And he did it all with minimal help from the nanny, I mean me. When he needed a second pair of hands we stuck E. in his stroller, safely secured it on deck, rigged up some shade with a sarong, and occupied his attention with slices of pear and Mexican Cheerios (same as American ones but sweeter). This generally bought us about 10-15 minutes of time, with me running over every 2-5 minutes to refill his sticky hands.

When Rob didn’t need my help, or a neighboring cruiser took pity on us and offered to help him, I took E. to the adjacent Paradise Village resort and played in the baby pool. One thing I learned there is, with a few exceptions, people on vacation for one week do NOT want to hear that you’re down here until April. I swear, I never brought it up on my own but it was impossible to avoid the two most common vacation small-talk questions, “Where are you from?” and “How long are you here for?” I contemplated lying (“We leave tomorrow!”) but opted instead to try to focus on the first question and then quickly deflect the attention back to the party asking. “We’re from Washington. And you’re from Florida! What part? We were just there last spring” etc. I know I ask those very same questions daily when I’m working on the whale watching boats in the Puget Sound but I promise, I never glare if the tourist from Germany says, “I’m here for six months.”

Once we/Rob got the boat supremely livable, we moved the boat over to La Cruz to escape the crushing tyranny of resort living (yes, that is to be read facetiously) and reunite with the community we’ve built over the past four seasons. Many have just returned from jobs up North, like us. Some are retired and live on their boats all year. And some, gasp, live on dry land! Our teacher friends informed us they don’t take kindly to being called ‘landlubbers’ (I suppose they detected a note of condescension in the term?) and have re-dubbed themselves ‘landlivers.’ Can’t argue with that. Some of our other ‘landliver’ friends are from the weekly baby group I was a part of last year and it is fabulous to see how their littles have grown. Time to plan some beach days and play dates!

But first it needs to cool down. The Banderas Bay winter weather is slow to arrive this year (another angry fist shake at climate change) and it’s regularly 92+ degrees Fahrenheit by afternoon on our boat. We become grumpy puddles of sweat when that happens and have to force each other to eat something and dump buckets of water over our heads. When sweat droplets begin to form on Etolins’s eyelids, we pull out his collapsible bathtub and fill it in the shaded cockpit. Everyone gets soaked while he splashes and we all become rational human beings again. Still, we will be extremely happy to welcome the Seventies and Eighties back to our thermometer.

We hope this finds you well and cozy! Etolin says “Dis?”, Rob says “Lots more to do on the boat but first, I think I’ll go surfing…” And I say, “Time to go to Writer’s Group!”

We love you and miss you! Keep in touch! To see our recent photos, visit our Picasa page by clicking here (or by clicking on the photos below or to the right, depending on your device.)

xoxoLOVE! The Velellaz

P.S. We also had a close call with a hurricane (less worrisome since we were at the dock), enjoyed a lovely visit with my aunt and uncle, and experienced Etolin’s first Montezuma’s Revenge. He and Rob both got it, poor guys. E. couldn’t even keep his beloved pears and Cheerios down. Luckily it passed in a few days. All healthy now!

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