Yachting In Manzanillo
By Margie Keane
One thing I have learned while living in Mexico is that to enjoy it to the fullest one must be open to new experiences, get to know the people, learn something of their culture and keep your sense of humor. This story is about a new experience and finding the humor.
My husband Tom and I spent three idyllic months in Manzanillo enjoying the ocean, great food and paved streets. We had a place right on the beach with a pool and palm trees. We rented this from Roberto, who handles rental properties and who became our fast friend, inviting us to family parties and taking us on many adventures.
Roberto always has a bazillion things going. He has two kids in private school and one in law school so he is constantly looking for ways to make some extra money. One day he came knocking on our door, and said, “Tom! Margie! Do I have a deal for you! This guy has a big yatch [mispronounced: yah-ech] that he wants to sell.
“Yatch?” I asked
“Yes! It’s a really big boat!”
“Oh, a yacht!”
“Yes! That’s what I said! It sleeps 15! Tom, you could give harbor tours and take people fishing.”
“And why would I want to do that?” Tom asked.
“Well if you don’t want to do it, I could take them out for you. We could be partners.”
Tom looked at me with a twinkle in his eyes, and said, “We would have to go look at this “yacht” and see if it’s any good. Can you arrange it?”
“Sure, I’ll call you later and tell you when we can see it.”
The next day he called and said we could go on Sunday to look at the yacht and take it for a test run.
We picked up Roberto Sunday and drove down to the harbor.
We walked out on the dock and searched the water.
There were a lot of skiffs and wooden fishing boats, all in great need of paint and repairs, but, we saw no “yatch”.
Finally, Roberto pointed to a small boat with a blue canvas awning and shouted, “There it is!”
We were speechless.
“Roberto,” I whispered, “That will never hold 15 people.” It probably won’t even hold two!”
“I know, but that’s what the guy told me.”
Roberto looked so sad we didn’t have the heart to be annoyed.
Since we were there, we decided to take it for a short cruise and check it out. The owner sent two men along with us, the captain and a deckhand. Our plan was to just cruise down the coastline for a short distance, so off we went with a cooler full of cold drinks and some snacks. We hadn’t gone more than thirty feet, when the captain said we had to turn back and pick up some extra fuel “just in case”. So, after we paid for the extra gas and the extra beer we set off again.
It was a perfect Manzanillo day, cloudless and sunny. We toddled along to Las Hadas, admired the real yachts and went out around Las Puntas where the really rich and famous have their digs. We decided to go as far as Las Bouquitas, another beach and then head back because I wanted to be home in time to watch UConn in the NCAA basketball finals. (One has to have priorities, you know).
We got as far as Miramar beach when the engine started acting funny. The captain said we needed more gas so he turned off the engine and put the “just in case” reserve gas in the tank.
When the captain tried, the engine would not start. He tried two or three times with no success. He tried to prime it, but, that didn’t work either.
We, in the meantime, sipped our drinks and watched a school of fairly large fish jumping out of the water all around us.
The captain, now turned mechanic, decided that it was the coil, probably, because he had an extra one onboard. He and the deckhand changed the coil, whatever that is, and he proudly said, “That’s it, we are ready to go.”
We were ready, but, the yatch had ideas of its own. It refused to start. So, there we were, in sight of Mirarmar beach but too far away to swim. I also noticed that we were drifting further out to sea. Roberto brought this to the captain’s attention. The captain sent the deckhand into the cabin where he found a large cooking pot with a handle. He tied a rope around the handle and threw the pot overboard. I looked at Roberto who said “He’s using it for an anchor.” It worked, sort of.
“I suppose it’s silly to ask if there are any life vests on board?”
Tom suggested that they call one of their amigos and ask for a tow. Good idea to us, bad to them. No self-respecting macho Mexican is going to be towed, so all his buddies could laugh at him. Instead they called someone and asked them to bring a new battery.
“How long will that take?” I asked
Roberto, looking very forlorn, just shrugged.
Meantime small boats pulling people on banana shaped floats and other boats of all descriptions were all around us. The captain could see we were becoming a bit hostile so he got out on the bow and tried to wave down someone to help. A friendly guy towing an empty banana float managed to get the banana alongside and motioned for us to get aboard.
Tom and I looked at each other, looked at the float, shrugged, and said, “Come on Roberto, let’s get aboard!”
The captain called out, “Wait! You must pay me for using the boat!”
“Keep the cooler and we’ll call it even” smirked Tom in reply.
We took off our shoes, hung them around our necks and clumsily climbed aboard the bobbing banana. A short tow and a few minutes later the water was shallow enough for us to escape and wade ashore. We got off faster than we got on.
We waded ashore, spent a couple of minutes discussing our experience and wondering if the battery ever showed up or if that glorious yacht ever made it back to the marina. Then we headed for the car and hurried to get home in time to watch the game.
By the way, Uconn lost – and we didn’t buy the yatch.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com