Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sailing with precious cargo

Returning to the boat after a summer in San Miguel de Allende seemed like a good time to have another "stranger danger" talk. Inevitably the girls would want to have some freedom from us just as they had before while sailing.  For a minute, I thought having this same repeated conversation with girls ages 10 and 12 might be a little overkill....boy was I wrong.  I was floored with their justifications as to why they would help a stranger "find their puppy". 

We've made it pretty easy for the girls in any situation. Just say, "I need to stay right here, my parents are coming".  Fast forward a month.  We're anchored at an island off Ixtapa, it's hot as usual and per usual Phil and I are cooling down with a cold beer, apparently taking too long. The girls had asked if they could kayak to the beach by themselves and swim. Sure, no problem.  

We watched as the girls made their way to the beach and saw that someone had helped them "park" the kayak out of harms way. Through the binoculars we also saw our girls making their way under a huge palapa and disappearing with whomever had helped them pull of their kayak.

Within a nanosecond Phil splashed our kayak and we were headed towards the beach so fast we created a wake you could waterski behind. As we got close to the beach our girls reappeared with smiles that quickly turned to looks of, "Oh crap, we're in serious trouble."  For as long as  it took us to reach the beach I'm almost certain Phil was speaking in tongue through his clenched teeth. Dad was pissed.

For the next 10 minutes our girls received a stern talking to, leaving one in tears and the other with her jaw on the sand. Where we lack in our ability to explicitly detail why someone would want to take our girls and explain what would happen to them in the hands of a stranger we make up for it with long, emotional "don't ever do that again" talks. Their justification? He was wearing a restaurant t-shirt from a restaurant on the beach. Honest mistake.

As I gathered the girls and Phil stowed our kayak, the restaurant employee who had helped the girls with their kayak and then showed them the "better beach" on the other side of the island appeared and profusely apologized. Phil felt bad for this man, it wasn't his fault our girls failed to stay put. In his best Spanglish, Phil tried to explain why we were upset and that it had nothing to do with him. After a few minutes the man understood as he too has children.  

Is Mexico that dangerous?  Absolutely not. Gone are the days of telling the girls to stay between the light pole and the stop sign. Almost every day we are in a new place with unfamiliar surroundings causing us to be somewhat "alert" of where the girls are and who they're with.  

The lesson taught isn't that everyone you meet is untrustworthy. If the world were filled with untrustworthy assholes, we wouldn't have left on this adventure. If anything, our adventure thus far has restored our faith in humanity, everyone has been more than extremely nice and helpful. 

We have safety procedures for living on our boat that extend beyond "stranger danger". One night, curiosity got the best of me and I ended up reading all of the piracy reports on noonsite. In addition to loosing sleep for about 2 weeks, I also learned the different ways in which thieves will attempt to board a boat. 

One of our many safety rules, is that if ever a panga comes to the boat innocently asking for water, the girls are to not take their eyes off the person and yell to either Phil or myself to come up deck. Honestly, the chances that either of our daughters would be alone in the cockpit is nill to start with.  We also have a "code word" that if either daughter is to yell, either Phil or I will be charging into the cockpit ready to spray an intruder in the face with bear mace. Our safety procedures on the boat aren't much different than when we lived on land. I certainly can't say, "Don't open the door for strangers".....our procedures have changed to accomodate a new living situation. 

After our beach "discussion" the rest of the day was spent ordering drinks and food from the restaurant employee who we felt bad for and snorkeling at a gorgeous beach. 

The girls and Oscar the restaurant employee.


  1. Dad says you can stop having "the conversation" when they leave for college. Then you really worry.

  2. We have two young girls (2 and 4) so they're in arm's reach almost all the time. I look forward to the time that they can kayak to the beach by themselves, etc., with the understanding that they won't talk to strangers. What a fine line to teach them to trust people and be friendly, yet...not. It's hard. You don't want them to think that the world is bad, but, yeah, you don't want them disappearing with a stranger. thanks for the post.