Search This Blog

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Need House-Sitters Anyone??

We're putting our feelers out.
Do you know anyone anywhere in Mexico who needs house-sitters for one to six months?

We are considering leaving Hotspur in the marina and taking some time on land. And this is the time the snowbirds migrate north. So, if you hear of anyone looking to have their home cared for appreciatively and lovingly in their absence, please have them contact us: Jim & Meri (meriev<at>yahoo<dot>com)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hurricane Bud

Sitting in Marina Chiapas isn’t the end of the world. 
But we're adjusting our attitudes. 
We wanted to head north and west and the weather won’t let us. 

BUD is west of Hotspur, the cute little white boat sitting... sitting... sitting in Marina Chiapas
A second named storm has reared its ugly head since we arrived here on May 11th. And we thought we were being so smart by scooting back into southern Mexico a tad early – just before hurricane season.
On other years, we would have been correct. 
But - not this year.

From the National Hurricane Center:

Yes, ‘Bud’ is its name. That happens to be the name of my favorite uncle on my father’s side of the family, so how bad can it really be? 

Hotspur is in no danger at all. We are thankfully south of all the action. Good ole' 'Bud' just happens to be in our way.   Track Bud's path here on Facebook if you want.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

When I Realized I Really Screwed Up

It was a couple weeks ago and I was researching maritime law on the computer in the restaurant at Bahia del Sol. A cruising friend in the marina walked up to me and with total seriousness said, 
“This is going to end very badly.”
She was talking about the accident.
I knew right then I had screwed up royally.

If I hadn’t been stupid, things might not have taken a turn for the worse.
If I hadn’t been naïve, feelings might not have been hurt.
It is ridiculous to think that just because “we’re all cruisers” that we all think the same way. 
"Good faith" doesn't mean the same thing to all people.

What I did wrong:
When the liable party told me that their insurance agent agreed to review Hotspur’s case, I should have gotten their agent information immediately. I should have followed them to their boat to get it. This stupid error of mine may have cost us peace of mind and harmony our last two weeks in Bahia del Sol.

Should you be involved in a cruising accident, I have listed a few suggestions below that just might keep all hell from breaking loose. The last thing you want to have to worry about after an accident is how your repairs are going to be paid.

LESSON #1 - Insurance information

If your boat has been damaged by another and they have insurance, get their agent’s name, phone number, email address, etc… Get it immediately. Don’t wait.

And then… make that phone call. Right then. Don’t delay. Don’t make excuses and tell yourself that everybody is on the same page.

If I had done what I am advising you to do, things might not have gotten hairy ugly.

LESSON #2Paying Out of Pocket

This is advice for anyone who has caused damage to another boat. If you want to settle out of pocket (maybe you are self-insured or maybe you don’t want anyone filing a claim with your insurance company), remember… you want to entice the party that has suffered damage to accept your tantalizing offer. Do this very quickly following the accident… a day or two is sufficient. Eight days later is too long.

DO bring a few written estimates from local repair shops. It not only shows you care about the speedy recovery of the other vessel, but it may give you some bargaining power.
DON’T show up empty-handed and complain about how expensive your own repairs are costing you.

DO tell the damaged party what you will do – what you can do. Bring cash – and be serious. If the repairs on average cost $3,000, for example, consider bringing $1,500 to the table. It may not be accepted, but it might. Putting that cash on the table just might be persuasive enough to seal the deal or move it forward in a positive direction.
DON’T show up empty-handed and tell the other party that you won’t pay to repair their boat.

DO be creative. If you have some experience in fiberglass, suggest that you might do the repairs. Or maybe you know someone who will do you a favor.
DON’T show up empty-handed and without solutions. Remember, you want to be a problem solver!

LESSON #3 - The uninsured, the self-insured and those who refuse to pony up their insurance info

Don’t panic if you are damaged by a party without insurance.
If you have boat insurance now, go check your policy. Some policies cover uninsured vessels – much like uninsured motorists in auto insurance. Go check it now.

If the liable party has read my LESSON #2, you might be okay. If they read it, but chose to follow all my DON’Ts, then you may have to go to the port captain or the police.

Really think about this before you approach the authorities, especially in foreign countries. If it’s only a few hundred dollars, maybe it’s not worth the hassle. No telling what might happen. But, if it’s thousands – you may not have a choice.

Likely, the liable party will not wish to go to jail or have their boat impounded. However, you may be stuck where you are until a resolution is reached.

LESSON #4: - Having liability insurance

Hotspur always had liability insurance while in Mexico. First, it’s the law there. Second, it is super easy to obtain online and it’s very affordable.  We've used and

When Hotspur was ready to leave Mexico, we checked all around for basic liability insurance coverage in Central America. What we failed to realize was this:
If your boat is 10 years old or older, many insurance companies require a hull survey less than 2 years old before they will offer coverage in certain parts of the world.
Hotspur had just been hauled out in Guaymas in Dec/Jan… if we had known we could have had a survey performed then.

What happened to us could happen to anyone.
What happened to the vessel that hit us also could happen to anyone.
I think being self-insured is risky.
But many cruisers choose to travel that way. Like us in El Salvador.
Even though liability insurance wouldn't have helped us in the case of another boat hitting us, had we had full coverage we could have handed our little problem over to our agent and washed our hands of the details. Instead, we had to be in the hairy middle of it - and I regret that more than you will ever know.

Hotspur just returned to Mexico for repairs and the insured’s agent recommended we meet one of their surveyors here. And…
we purchased liability insurance online before we left El Salvador.
I can breathe again!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Happened?

Any boating accident, just like any car accident, usually isn't intentional. And, when there is loss of life or injury it is a tragedy. Luckily, there was no one killed or injured. But, talk about putting a damper on things.
This is what happened:
  • Hotspur was unmanned – we were out of the country.
  • Hotspur was secured to a mooring ball at Santos Marina in El Salvador.
  • A gale blew and Hotspur held fast to her mooring.
  • The boat in front us broke off its mooring- the mooring chain (belonging to the mooring field) failed.
  • The boat’s owners were on board the underway vessel, but had dis-connected their starter battery and couldn't start the engine.
  • Their boat struck Hotspur.
  • According to the underway vessel, they eventually got their engine started but couldn't power off Hotspur because the boats were entangled.
  • Help arrived and finally separated the two boats.
  • Hotspur now has a hole in her port hull that penetrated through to the deckside.
  • Hotspur has numerous other damages, including 13’ ripped teak toerail, bent and broken stanchions and front pulpit, and gouges and scratches in the fiberglass and gel coat.

Light shining through gash on Hotspur's port side

Hole on Hotspur's deck side and partial shot of broken teak toerail

Some of the gouges in Hotspur's hull

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Negative Cruising

There are parts of cruising that can be a great, big, fat downer. Sometimes it's the weather. Sometimes bad luck. Sometimes it's changes in policies. Sometimes it's other cruisers. I will talk about some personal experiences down the road, but for today I'd like to ask for your help

There has recently been a change in policy in that affects a favorite anchoring spot. It will also affect the town connected to the favorite anchoring spot. Find out how you can help!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What To Do?

Jim and I discussed what we should do when we discovered that Hotspur had been struck by another boat when she was secured to her mooring. We were in Antigua, and had just rented an apartment for a month and had just paid for weeks of Spanish classes for all 4 of us. Since I am the strongest Spanish speaker, it was decided that I would go back to El Salvador and get an idea of the damage Hotspur suffered. But, I had been sick for 5 days with an intestinal bacterial infection and was on antibiotics. Well, at least I felt much better.

A shuttle picked me up in Antigua at 3:45am last week. By the time we reached Guatemala City and discovered that the bus to San Salvador had already left, I began really needing a hot cup of coffee. Around 7:30am, a man walked in the door holding a cup of frothy, steaming something that strongly resembled a mocha latte! It could be, I told myself. After all, we are in the big city! I asked him what it was and how much. I swear he said that it was a Leche Cafe. He stepped out the door for a few minutes and I waited. He didn't come back. Curious, I stood up and walked to the door and peered around the corner. To my astonished surprise, the man was kneeling down on the ground milking a goat.

Yes, my Leche Cafe was really Leche de Cabra. He brought me my steaming cup of freshly squeezed goat's milk and everyone in the waiting room looked at me expectantly. Things ran through my head - what would this do to my guts? I was getting ready to go on a long bus ride. The goat steam curled up in front of my eyes and I just couldn't bring myself to shamefully refuse my order. I held my breath and took a long gulp of the warm milk. Once my gag reflex relaxed, I realized I quite liked the flavor. I drank the entire contents. Licked the frothy mustache off my upper lip. Who cares if it's not the most sanitary. I figure I'm already on antibiotics. I have a photo, but who knows where it is?

I arrived in San Salvador just in time to be picked up  by a group of friends who were on their way back to Bahia del Sol. Is that lucky or what?

Poor Hotspur. She has a large gash in the port hull that punched through to the deckside. She has at least 19 gouges, a 13' area of ripped toe rail, bent stanchions and scratches out the wazoo. Friends of ours got together and taped up the lesions so water couldn't enter. We are so grateful to all our cruising friends.

With hurricane season coming upon us very shortly, we are feeling the pinch - and panic. What are we going to do??