Our stay in Santiago Bay turned out to be quite entertaining (for some of us). Our cruising life has slowed down since reaching the most southern point of our journey in Manzanillo and our schedule for travel has eased as we start to move northwest along the coast. Santiago Bay is a large bay and the primary anchorage is in the northwest corner off of Playa la Boquita, a beach with local palapa restaurants that fill the shoreline with large beach umbrellas.
We anchored near shore in this docile bay along with 5 other boats and settled into our routine of home schooling, provisioning, beach exploring, dog walking, socializing, and our nightly movie. On our second evening there, we heard a grinding noise and a tug on the boat after finishing our movie. Shari and I ran on deck to see if anything had run into us or if our keel had struck something rising from the bottom in the shallow, 18 foot deep anchorage. After much investigation with flashlights, we determined that the anchor chain had fouled on something on the sea bed and we were unable to pull it free. Since it was late at night and the weather was calm, we decided to let out more anchor rode and I would dive on the anchor in the morning.
The next day, I put on the snorkel gear and jumped into the 79 degree water. The visibility was only about 10 feet so I had to pull myself down the anchor chain in order to see the bottom. I had some problems clearing my ears as I descended and the fish were so thick that they often covered the bottom from view. After a few dives I could see that the chain had wrapped itself around what looked like concrete debris as the boat had drifted back and forth with the winds and currents. We were able to get free and re-anchored Pearl a short distance away.
Since I was already wet, I decided to do some bottom cleaning of the boat because growth happens very quickly on the underside of a vessel in these warm waters. I spent over an hour scraping away barnacles and slime from below the waterline. When I climbed back aboard, I felt a tickling sensation around my waist and as I pulled open the waistline of my shorts, I was shocked to see hundreds of tiny, miniscule crabs crawling around my waist. To say it was entertaining to watch me jumping, shaking, and brushing away these little invaders would be putting it lightly. These little aliens were in my hair, in my shorts, and between my toes, but, luckily, weren’t too interested in staying with me once I was out of the water and were quickly shaken, danced, and jiggled free. I can’t help but still feel itchy just thinking about it.
Later that afternoon, we took the girls in the dinghy to shore and caught a bus into the town of Santiago to do some provisioning and have our laundry done. All day my sinuses had bothered me and my ears kept popping from diving on the anchor chain earlier that day (or so I thought). We had lunch and did some shopping at the local market (think of an enclosed farmers market, filling an entire city block) and I still felt my ears popping so I did the public finger ear dig and to my surprise, out of my ear crawls a tiny crab! Now I’m totally grossed out but I’m really happy that my right ear no longer has a shuffling sound inside it. The kids screamed when I told them what happened, so I got some joy from it after all.
Not long after my alien extrusion, while still in the market, I was in a shop with the girls looking at the many cheap DVDs for sale. Suddenly we all felt a low rumble for about 3 seconds followed immediately by a loud and forceful crashing sound and the entire building began to sway around us. It gave the feeling that a large dump truck had just crashed into the market. I yelled to the girls to get out of that concrete building and by the time we made it the short distance outside, all the movement had stopped. Everyone who had exited into the street waited a short time, made eye contact with one another, nodded and went right back to their shopping. One local told us that these quakes are very common and seldom damage anything.
Well, I know one local that got a little stirred up at the event, because just a few minutes later, I felt something shuffling in my left ear and out comes another miniature crustacean. Now all I want to do is get back to the boat and pour hydrogen peroxide in my ears and take a long shower. Nope, the 3 females I am with have more shopping to do, so I try to grin and bear it and to not complain.
By the time this shopping trip from hell was done, I had removed 3 intruders from my ears, managed to keep myself from throwing up, and was ready for some hard liquor (I would have settled for just pouring it into my ears). I don’t plan on cleaning the boat in murky water ever again!
When we arrived back to Pearl, it was time to take Salty for his evening walk on the beach. It was a little early in the day for the final walk, but we figured he would be able to hold anything in until morning if we didn’t let him drink too much water. When I arrived back to the boat with him, he jumped on the boat, straight to his full water bowl, and drank the whole thing while I was securing the dinghy for the night. OK, I know who’s going to wake me up early the next morning.
So I’m not too surprised when I am woken up at 2 a.m. to a piddling sound. Of course, it’s Salty relieving his bladder. The only problem is, he is still sound asleep, lying on his back in his bed. Suddenly he woke, realized what was happening, jolts out of bed like a shot from a gun, and anxiously waits to be let out of the boat to finish his job on deck. Shari quickly helps him up the ladder way and he runs to the foredeck to complete his mission right next to Annie’s open hatch. Annie had no idea how close she came to getting rained on.
We shrugged it off, cleaned up the messes, and crawled back into bed to get ready for another typical day of cruising and living the high life.