I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1000 Miles!

We have officially gone 1,000 miles this morning! And we have done it ALL under sail- no motoring!! Although this is not our half way point, it is still somewhat significant; if nothing else it boosts the spirits a bit. Our half way point is 1,338.5, which we expect to reach in a day or two. I was hoping that we would complete the jump in 18 days, but it looks like it is going to take more like 20. Meh, whatever. Its not like I have anything better to do... except maybe walk around a bit or something of the sort.

Yesterday I was thinking about what I am enjoying most about the passage. I decided that my favorite thing about being confined to a 50 foot space 24/7 is that, aside from trimming and changing sails, a bit of cooking and cleaning, I can be as lazy as I want. I can read, watch TV shows, sleep (weather permitting), or sit and stare at the ocean for hours and not feel the least bit guilty about it. In my other life (i.e. university life) I was essentially on-the-go all the time. Now I have all the time in the world to sit and think, daydream about crystal clear, perfectly peeling south pacific waves, and freak myself out when that rogue set appears on the horizon (in my daydreams, fortunately not in real life- so far).

Ironically, my favorite part about the passage is also my least favorite part. While normally I am very active, now I just eat and sit on my ass all day. Even cockpit yoga has stopped as downward dog is difficult and even dangerous when the boat is rolling at 15 degree angles. As much as I hate running it almost sounds nice for a change, although my legs are going to be Jello-esque by the time we reach land.

So, in complete contradiction to myself, I both love and hate this current passage. It is pretty cool to be crossing the single biggest feature on Earth using the power of the wind. It helps me to appreciate the immensity and beauty of our world, even though I can reach all of you with a few clicks of a button. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.
At 3/29/2011 6:45 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 12°16.53'N 118°21.87'W

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Monday, March 28, 2011

News from Afar

I wish I had something exciting to report, but every time I go above deck it is just more of the same: swells rolling out to the horizon and a partly cloudy sky. The wind, however, is unfortunately not so consistent. It is light; 10-13 knots; North to North East to NNE... It would be most convenient if the wind would pick up 5 knots or so, and choose one direction to come from. If you could arrange that, I'd appreciate it.

Every day my sea legs get sturdier, but every once in a while I am still sent flying across the cabin by a swell I didn't anticipate (stupid). A few weeks ago I posted a question on Facebook asking people what they would do for entertainment if they were in my shoes, and I got lots of great answers ranging from art projects to drinking heavily to yoga. I have lots of things I could be doing, but even trying to sit up straight is a challenge. I have not even delved into the seasons of TV shows I got from a friend before we left shore. Is it laziness, inconvenience, or the exhaustion of doing nothing that makes me feel lazy and exhausted? Does that even make sense? We will see if I still have my sanity by the time we get to the south pacific. I am sure the tropics will help..

Seeing as how this post has absolutely no point and is senseless rambling that I will be embarrassed to have written when I finally have internet access again and can review my blog, I had better stop.
At 3/28/2011 5:13 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 13°36.55'N 116°10.07'W

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 4/101

I am really craving a cheeseburger animal style from In-N-Out right now. If anybody airlifts me one, along with fries and a chocolate milkshake I will be their indentured servant for life (see coordinates below). But the food must be hot and fresh and the milkshake still frozen. A lifetime of servitude will not come easily from me.

Let's see. Day 4 of our passage, day 101 of the entire trip. How are things going? Well, not bad. We currently have 12.5 knots of wind and are cruising at a speed of 5.8 knots, seas of 4-6 feet, 76 degrees outside and partly cloudy skies. The wind is a bit light for my taste, as crossing the Pacific at about 6 MPH can be kind of painful. Only 2,156 miles left to go! ...I try not to think about it.

As for the other 97 days of travel in Mexico, they were freakin' sweet, as you know if you have read earlier posts of this blog.

Oh man, sorry, for the interruption but: Mom is trying to cook dinner right now. The seas are 4-6 feet. This means that the chicken she is cooking just sloshed out of the pan and all over the stove. You should have seen the omlette I made this morning. More of a scramble than an omlette. My arms are sore because I fall asleep holding on and wake up holding on. One hand for the boat always because you never know when you are going to take a roll, which is more likely sooner than later.

Ok, back to Mexico. I have ranted and raved about Mexico sufficiently, but I wanted to sum up my stay there. Perhaps it is because I grew up so close to the country and have spent quite a bit of time there, but Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world. The people are genuinely friendly; I walk down the streets to be smiled at and greeted with "hola amiga" (hello friend) by total strangers. People are generous with what they have, even if it is not much.

Aside from the Mexican people, I love Mexican food. Chilaquiles, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, pan dulce, fresh salsa, fresh tortillas, fresh fruit... Rich, creamy avacados and sweet, bright orange mangos, all for the cost of a few cents each. I remember a few weeks ago I decided I was sick of guacamole so I didn't eat it for a day. Then I got over my sickness. It's no surprise I got to be a bit of a chubster over the past 3 months! Fortunately, the passage diet - ramen noodles, potato chips, eggs, etc.- is going to help me slim down stat. Ha. But yeah, I could still go for that animal style cheeseburger right about now.

The one thing I did not mention in any of my posts about Mexico is what you probably hear most about: the insane, horrific drug war going on. While it is distressing and scary and totally bums me out, it really did not affect my stay in Mexico one bit. For the most part, Mexicans are unaffected (assuming they don't live in Cuidad Juarez of other battle zones). They are just trying to live their lives like everybody else. Their economy has certainly been hit hard by lack of tourism, but other than that, life goes on.

Right then. I am done with Mexico. For now. The next few weeks will be focused on the passage and getting to the Marquesas. Our coordinates are posted at the bottom of the page, so if you want you can put them into Google maps and see just how ridiculously in-the-middle-of-nowhere we are. At 5-6 MPH. Oh yeah.
At 3/26/2011 9:08 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 15°59.43'N 112°45.12'W

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Brief Update

Hello Friends and Family!

I had every intention of writing one last blog before leaving Mexico, but alas, the internet ran out, the surf was good, and oh yes, we were preparing for a 2,700 mile journey across the Pacific ocean. Perhaps I will get back to it sometime.

As for now, we are 2 days out of Banderas Bay. We are currently doing 7.8 knots (pretty damn fast for us) with winds of 13.5 knots. The water is a deep, electric blue and the sky is cloudless. The seas are a bit rolly which is why this post is brief... I still have not fully recovered my sea legs. In a few days time I am sure I will be posting here and reading lots, playing music, etc., but at this point even making a bowl of Ramen noodles is pretty difficult.

However, we are now only 2,472 miles away from Hiva Oa! Slowly but surely... right?

Please send us good vibes and fresh winds, calm seas (yes, surfer friends, this means you stop praying for surf for a few days), and I will report back again soon!

Much love from the middle of nowhere,

A Salty, Salty Schneider
At 3/24/2011 10:17 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°29.36'N 108°23.68'W

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Corie S. is...

Do you ever think in terms of a Facebook status? Corie S. is... a bit buzzed after a Mexican St. Patrick's day. But I would never just come out and say it like that. No, no, it would be clever and thoughtful.

Whereas right now I am not feeling particularly clever and thoughtful, I had a few good thoughts today:
1. I wish French Polynesia had been conquered by the Spanish and not the French: ju ne parle pas francais.
2. I got hit in the face by flying fish today.
3. Feliz dia de San Patricio!
4. The first person to correctly guess the number of days it takes us to sail from Mexico to the Marquesas gets bought a drink by me the next time I see them.

I love speaking Spanish. Whereas I am nowhere near fluent, I can communicate well in the language. Sometimes I find myself in a tricky situation and it is extremely helpful to be able to verbalize what it is I want or need. My French is not so good. We got a book on French and I have been practicing, but the phrase that I know best is, "I do not speak French." I think its a good start. My Tahitian is not so hot either. My biggest concern is to learn how to say, "Hello, may I surf with you." I hope that comes in handy.

Did you know that a flying fish can fly so fast, that if it smacks into the side of a boat going full speed, it can explode? Yes, my new biggest phobia is of flying fish. Ok, maybe not quite. But they are scary. Especially surfing in the middle of a huge school of them. Today I was surfing Punta Burros-- head high sets with a bit of wind chop on it, but not too crowded, and fun. Every time a wave broke a bunch of these fish would fly out the back of the wave. They kind of skim the surface, but are most definitely airborne. At one point, when a set came, I found myself paddling in a school of them. I started flailing my arms and legs and screaming (a little bit). I think people thought I was screaming because there was a set coming that I was going to take on the head, but really it was because these nasty little creatures were flopping around me. As far as I am concerned, if one grazes my faces I can claim that I got hit in the face by a flying fish. Bastards.

And then, el dia de San Patricio. You wouldn't think that St. Patrick's day would be big in Mexico, but Irish or not, Catholic or not, it is a great excuse to go out and party. A few friends and I went to a bar that had a big stage with a band that was kind of Sublime-esque, semi-generic, reggae rock, Slightly Stoopid and Expendables wanna-be's, and it was fun. People of all ages, both Mexican and Gringo, dancing and having a good time. In all honesty, besides drinking beer on the street and eating tacos with fresh made tortillas, the best part of my night was jumping on a trampoline castle next to the stage. This thing was 4 trampolines, two stacked on top of each other, connected to two more, and hardly structurally sound. But the three little girls and I who were jumping did not seem to mind. This is Mexico. The rules are a little more relaxed around here.

Our plan is to leave Mexico this coming Tuesday. I am going to take bets as to how long it will take us to get from Punta de Mita to the Marquesas. I will buy a drink for the first person to guess correctly, the next time I see them. Ready? Go!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tsunamis and Scorpions

I think waking up to the word "Tsunami" is probably the worst way to wake up- at least the worst that I have experienced- particularly when living on a boat. When we heard of the massive earthquake in Japan we knew that there could be trouble around here, although the fact that damage in Hawaii was minor (for the magnitude of the quake), kept most of us relatively calm.

Perhaps calm isn't the best word. Maybe, calm panic, if such a thing exists. The events speak for themselves: Mom, Dad and I heard the news from my uncle Mark about 7:30 a.m. and were told that the first tidal waves would hit Cabo san Lucas around noon, and here about 2 p.m.. So Dad decided to take the car that we had rented for provisioning back to the rental place (about an hour trip) because he didn't get the insurance that covers natural disasters. Ha.

Mom and I watched boats leaving the marina in a mass exodus, wondering when Dad would be back, and wondering if we should go get Ian and Sean, who arrived the night before, down to the boat. Finally, around 11 Dad, Ian and Sean showed up at the boat and we got the hell out of there-- I mean took advantage of a beautiful day to go for a sail. Unfortunately, right at the entrance to the marina, which is about 50 feet wide, a 70 foot sail boat had run aground and was stuck on the sand bar and we had to maneuver around it. Talk about nerve racking (particularly for the guy stuck... waiting for a tsunami to un-stuck him).

The bay was full of sailboats because if you are on a boat and a tsunami hits you want to be in deep water, although many boats stayed at dock and were fine. Although we were concerned about the state of Japan, it was a beautiful day and we spent the it zig-zagging across Banderas bay, with 15 knots of wind and clear blue skies. When we got back to land and I was able to see footage of the destruction of Japan, I was shocked. My thoughts go out to anyone harmed by the series of disasters, and this is obviously a disaster that will affect the world. But especially to all you California people, please go get supplies for an earthquake kit!!! That is one nice thing about living on the water: no earthquakes.

Anyway, the damage in Marina La Cruz was minimal, although part of the dock closest to the entrance was torn off. A 66 inch tide rise and fall was reported, but all boats were okay. Some people were pretty frantic all day, especially when they had to anchor out all night because the marina was too surgey to enter safely (gasp!). Ian and Sean were able to get back to their bungalow, but what a first day of vacation for them.

The next day: happy birthday to me!! We were all still a bit...unnerved... from the day before, but I had a very nice day. This included a breakfast of chilaquiles and pan dulce, a surf trip out to Punta de Mita with la familia, and a dinner at a great restaurant in La Cruz where not only was I sung "happy birthday" by a mariachi band, but the entire wait staff who came out banging pots and pans. Gotta love being thoroughly embarrassed on your birthday.

A note on the surf: the tide was rising and lowering a few feet about every 8 minutes as there were still effects from the tsunami waves. The ocean would be totally flat, then then tide would start to drain and almost create a standing wave, then would begin to push again, creating waves. As these were legitimately tidal waves, I can say that I have surfed tidal waves, even if they were knee high. And on my birthday no less.

Let's see.... other interesting news in the past few days. Poor Sean was stung by a scorpion which had decided to live in his sock (he got stung on his hand as he picked it up). The guy is in Mexico for 5 days and experiences a tsunami and a scorpion sting. Ouch. Regardless, we had a nice time. Or at least I did. It was sad to see them leave today. Ian brought us lots of last minute must-haves before we jump off: more drugs (not too many of the fun kind), a book on French, a few ice packs, and tons of other fun stuff. It was like Christmas.

So now we leave. Right? Something like that? We were aiming to head out the 19th or the 20th, but it looks like we will postpone our departure a few days because there are going to be some big seas out there (which also means there will be waves here!). However the Pacific high is establishing itself out above Hawaii, which means that winter is almost over (yay!!) and the trade winds are becoming more regular (yay for people going to the Marquesas!!).

Its funny, people keep saying, wow, you are going to have such a great adventure. But seriously, between tsunamis, sight seeing, dealing with problems that arise every day, exotic insect stings and the occasional tamarind margarita, I would say the adventure is well under way. And we hope to be soon.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kicking rocks, tequila shots, polishing stainless, and Mardi Gras is painless!

I apologize for the lack of posting in the past few weeks. I do not even have a good excuse.. I have not been that busy. I do, however, manage to fill my days, whether it be with fun surfing adventures or monotonous boat cleaning projects. It's all part of the "cruising" lifestyle.

My time here in Mexico is coming to an end. Am I sad about this? Yes. I am I excited to move on? Yes. Even the wildest bus drivers have become a part of the daily routine, and I rarely get lost anymore. I can more or less speak the language, understand the customs, and generally know what to expect day to day. Yes, it is time to move on.

That is not to say that there is nothing left in Mexico for me to explore. On the contrary, one could live a lifetime in Banderas Bay and discover something new every day. But we all create our bubbles, or comfort zone, and have to be pushed to go outside them. To push ourselves and prevent ourselves from becoming sloth-like in our little bubble, Mom and I decided to go to Sayulita yesterday.

Sayulita is a cute little surf town that has been completely overrun with tourists. There is a big rivalry between the Punta de Mita surf crew and the Sayulita surf crew, so I didn't go around telling everyone that the waves in Sayulita suck (which they did yesterday) and Mita es mejor. Although the waves were knee high, I went surfing because I lugged my surfboard all the way there- on a hike up the hill to the bus stop and then on 2 busses.

Right as I was entering the water I kicked a rock and took a nice chunk out of my big toe. Ouch. I caught a few waves anyway and then hobbled back to the beach. The (semi-sleazy) bar tender at the beach restaurant Mom and I were hanging out at insisted that he clean and bandage my toe, but not before taking a shot of tequila with me to "help ease the pain." After my toe was bandaged and kissed, Mom and I got out of there pretty quick. The place was a bit touristy for us but we managed to find some nice, greasy street tacos for lunch before we headed back to La Cruz.

Getting some serious "medical" attention from David, the bartender, and his apprentice, the barback.

Tonight we went out to Vallarta with some friends from other boats for the first night of Mardi Gras. We had dinner and watched a parade while drinking beer on the street. For being carnival, the city was surprisingly calm. Maybe it will pick up in the next few days.

Today Mom and I also finished polishing all of the stainless-steel on the boat. I don't know if you have seen this boat, but it is covered in stainless-steel, and we polished all of it - a 50 ft. boat's worth- with a toothbrush. Cruising is fun!!!

We are also beginning preparations to jump off for the Marquesas. Some people have already left, and we are aiming to leave around the 19th or 20th (assuming the surf is NOT pumping). We still have a few things to do before we leave: my brother and his partner are coming down for a week, we have to celebrate my 23rd birthday, and we have to provision.

Provisioning is a pretty big deal. We have to buy all the food here that we will need for the crossing, which could take anywhere from 18 to who knows how many days, as well as pick up supplies that we won't be able to get until New Zealand. Apparently you can't find mayonnaise in the South Pacific, so we will bring a couple gallons on board (kidding, kinda).

People keep telling us how amazing the South Pacific is: "You're going to love it; the water visibility is 100 feet; Bora Bora? Yes, it is as beautiful as it is in the pictures." And then they tell us about how they were hit by a rogue wave that filled up their cockpit and nearly drowned a crew member on their way to New Zealand. But I figure that you will experience these ups and downs in life anywhere, so why not experience them in the middle of the ocean?