three hulls, two people, one trip around the world…

Banderas Bay

On our way north, we got stuck in Banderas Bay for a bit. After the delays due to tooth problems, we had already moved one place and were anchored off La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, when a catamaran with friends of ours arrived off Vallarta and anchored there. In order to simplify communication and to make it possible for us to visit each other, we sailed the little distance back and also anchored off Vallarta again.

It’s interesting how you miss social contacts during the pandemic. Now we met again for coffee and chatted. We thought about planning the next routes in a loose group, but there was a small delay of 6 weeks. Doro from the catamaran wanted to go on home visit to Germany while her husband held the fort. I mentioned that we had also been thinking about a trip to Germany for a while, but hadn’t found the right strategy yet. Quite spontaneously, Doro said why not just fly together, that would be nicer for the two of us and the two men could also support each other in guarding the boats. The very next day the conversation turned to planning and we presented this idea. Mathias said, “Why not, go for it.” And before I could ponder any further about the advantages, disadvantages and dangers, we started booking the flight. Of course, that’s not something that can be done with just a few clicks. Doro had already done a lot of research on cheap flights. Directly from Vallarta, the flights all went via the USA, which we didn’t want, because changing planes there is often complicated and the return journey might not be possible at all, because of Covid regulations. So the departure had to be from Mexico City. We found a flight with Iberia via Madrid to Berlin, from where we would both travel on by train. With cheap airline tickets, you always have to be careful about what has to be booked in addition. In our case, that meant 2 large suitcases per person for the return journey. Because in Germany boxes of spare parts were already waiting to be brought back with the next visitor. The two men thought we were done after the 2 hours for booking the transatlantic flight. Ha, far from it, we were still missing the connecting flight that would take us from Vallarta to Mexico City. Cautious as we both are, we wanted to fly on Sunday evening to make sure we couldn’t miss our 12 noon departure on Monday. We also had to book luggage for this flight. It was only possible to do this online for both directions and it was also not clear how much the individual pieces of luggage were allowed to weigh. Fortunately, we were able to walk to the airport in Vallarta (after a long dinghy ride, of course). We managed to sort out the luggage mess at the airport at the airline representation. There is also a Covid test tent on the airport grounds. This is open 24/7 and we “only” had to think about when we had to do the PCR test to meet the various deadlines. It can take up to 48 hours to get the result. After that, you have 24 h to travel. I was already panicking that we might run out of time to enter Germany, until I realised that I hadn’t thought about the time difference. It was possible to go for the test on Saturday morning. Then we had to make sure that we have mobile internet, so that the email with the results could arrive on our mobile phones. The preparations continued. An entry declaration has to be filled out for every country one enters. The seat on the plane and the flight number have to be entered there. So, shortly before departure we spent another 2 hours at the computer: checking in, creating user accounts for Spanish and German forms, filling in forms. Because rain and thunderstorms were always forecast in the afternoon, we set off early for the airport. We didn’t want us and our luggage to reach the shore completely soaked from the dinghy ride. So we were sitting relatively relaxed in the airport when I noticed young people standing in front of large QR code signs, diligently typing on their mobile phones. Hm. I’d better scan the code too, the airport WiFi was working. Lo and behold, we had completely forgotten the Mexican health form, which you also have to fill out for domestic Mexican flights. Create an account again and fill it out. By the way, that was the only questionnaire we actually had to show. The departure from Vallarta was delayed a little, but we didn’t mind. For one thing, we had plenty of time and for another, it was thunderstorming just at the time of departure, so we didn’t feel like taking off anyway. The trip went very smoothly after that. Flights landed before time and boarding and disembarking was done with little jostling, as seats were called by row and not everyone was allowed to stand up at once when disembarking.

On the first flight to Mexico City, the nice young man at the counter even checked us into the front row of the plane. We were expecting luxury and champagne on the flight, but it was only seats with a little more legroom and drinks were not served on the flight. On the other hand, boarding and disembarking was super easy for us. The employee had probably given us a senior citizen bonus 😉 or everyone else had paid the extra fee for online check-in.

It only faltered in Germany when we changed to the train. We were lucky that the rail strike was not due to start until a day later. I could have taken a train 2 hours ahead of schedule, but the feeder train from the airport to the main station was 15 minutes late for this very connection, with an 18-minute changeover.

When changing trains in Berlin and Hamburg, I noticed the many people. I am no longer used to these crowds. When I finally arrived in Hamburg, I first had to stay in quarantine for 5 days, because Mexico had been declared a high-risk area shortly before departure, then I could get tested and move freely. You have to upload the result to the entry form, but there was no control.

As the ride progressed, I put on more and more clothes, long trousers, a jacket, even a fleece waistcoat. Utensils I hadn’t needed for a long time. I’m not bothered by the colder climate yet, the typical drizzle in Hamburg had not started, here was still nice sunshine, at least 10 degrees colder than in Mexico, but it’s too hot there anyway 🙂

Arrived in Hamburg

After the quarantine period expired, I could go out into the world and (partly after retesting) visit friends and go for vaccination. And of course, eat Fischbrötchen 🙂

Mathias, meanwhile, holds down the fort and continues to clean the hulls, tinker with his app and keep busy with repairs. Here is a collection:

The second toilet seat also broke off at the hinge. Now we know why Neel had sent us two new ones at once. After careful consideration, we remembered where we had stowed the old one. However, it was broken on the same side, so it was not possible to use the still intact hinge. We had to fit the second replacement seat.

The latch on the fridge drawer had worn out (broken a spring), so in the waves the drawer opened. I had already spent several trips sitting next to the heavy drawer to push it shut again and again, then we had a batten clamped across the pantry to hold the drawer. Not a permanent solution either. Mathias now attached small twist locks to the sides. A lengthy operation, stainless steel can’t just be drilled into quickly.

The armchair at the navigation table cracked. Mathias was sitting in it and turned backwards over the backrest to take something from me, and it cracked. It turned out that the backrest was only made of Styrofoam and could break off very easily. Now we only have a stool there at the nav table. It’s easier to get around and it’s easier to sit down. We’ll probably stay with the stool version, just replace it with one that’s a bit more comfortable. The old back of the stool went in the bin.

The silicone coating on the switches for the winches at the steering position had dissolved. A problem that is related to the climate here. Obtaining spare parts was difficult and expensive, but in the meantime Mathias has also taken care of this repair.

Our good and really bright torch spontaneously died, no cause ascertainable. We will send it to the manufacturer.

Then there was a problem with the outboard motor of the dinghy. It only ran at idle speed. An initial repair and cleaning of filters etc. did not yield much success. One filter was installed the wrong way round, which was corrected. The problem seemed to be that not enough petrol could be sucked into the engine. The filter, turned the right way round, was now sucking dirt in the wrong direction again. A second round of cleaning did the trick. For these operations we sewed a sling for the engine so that we could easily attach and detach it from the dinghy with the lift.

Solar cells cause problems. The protective layer is peeling off on 3-4 panels. Should also be a warranty case.

While I enjoy the nice cool and almost autumnal weather in Germany, Mathias continues to endure the heat in Mexico.

Because there is so much floating around in the water near Vallarta and it gets muddy every day, the SAN and the Fradolin 2 went to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and anchored there. From there you can take the bus to Vallarta for shopping.

Mathias also had to go to the dentist from there, because now he had problems with a tooth. He lost a filling and got a root canal and a new crown. As if that wasn’t enough to suffer, he also had to fight a plague of mosquitoes. He set up mosquito traps to distract the critters from him.

But not only that, the passing hurricanes must also be observed. One, named “Nora”, came closer and closer and then moved towards land. Winds of 70 knots were expected and with them high waves. The local fishermen all left their anchorages and retreated to the marina. A sign that should not be overlooked! Therefore, Mathias also set off and entered the marina when it was not yet windy. He was happy to sit safely behind the breakwater and just watch the waves. Everything turned out well for the SAN. On land, there was a lot of damage from the rain. In Puerto Vallarta, a bridge collapsed at the end of a river. We had already walked across it several times.

In Barra de Navidad Marina, where the Carry On had stayed, there were some problems during the hurricane, several cleats tore off the jetty and one jetty was badly damaged. Everyone in the harbour helped the harbour master in disaster response.

We now know, why it is the low season in Mexico.

All is calm again.

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