The First Day.

I promised to write up my progress whenever I could but did not expect the first opportunity to come so soon.

I have had a fantastic day.  I could not have asked for better weather: when I set sail at noon a light and favorable breeze was blowing which carried me out to sea at about 4 knots. It brought tears to my eyes to look back and see my friends and Changa standing on the beach so after a while I stopped looking over my shoulder and determined to look forward.

I am not sure how far Alvarado is, maybe 30km, but the boat knew where it was going and I barely steered for the three hours the trip took. The wind increased as I went along, and slowly the sea improved from muddy green to blue in color as I left an area tarnished by the outflowing of some swollen river. I approached the mouth of the estuary at Alvarado, a passage a half mile wide and two long leading inland to the great lagoon, which itself is filled by the convergence of three major rivers.  Outside this passage there was a sharp delineation between the tan-brown river water and the blue sea for miles out, edged with a thick band of floating detruis which I had to slow down and push at to pass through. Then the waves grew, and great confused lumps charged about in many directions.  I shot towards the mouth of the passage at a full ten knots surfing down the swells, and a pod of perhaps twenty dolphins surrounded me, and they paced the boat, surfacing and jumping all around and escorting me the next two miles into the lagoon.

I am not really very sentimental about this kind of thing but it was just marvellous, and lifted my spirits way up where they have remained. The creatures were huge, beautiful, and clearly interested in the boat. They would jump out of the water a few yards away and whilst in the air look right at me, and it all seemed like a good omen even for someone who does not believe in such things.

Santiago and Jose Vasquez, my landlord in Zapote and a most lovable fellow, were up on the bridge filming my arrival, and after passing under I doubled back and met them on the beach of a shipyard owned by a friend of Santiago.  There is a nightwatchman so it was an irresistable place to park up for the night; I was able to leave the boat this evening and walk into Alvarado. But I also came in earlier with Santiago and Jose for a beer, and at one point Jose disappeared and returned with an old man bearing a mini guitar. He sang and played two songs for me, with completely ad-lib lyrics about Cristobal and his adventure and what a great guy he is, and it was amazing! Clearly rap had predecessors. This was just priceless.

So all in all a wonderful first day. Judging by the intensity of the mosquitos hereabouts tonight may be a little less wonderful. It´s that yin and yang thing again, gotta have some pain to pay for the pleasure, that is one of the great truisms of life and there´s no getting away from it.

Now that Santiago and Jose have gone I am on my own and tomorrow I will continue southwards as soon as the wind rises, with no set destination and according to my charts no safe anchorage within range, but plenty of beaches as long as I can get through the surf.


11 thoughts on “The First Day.

  1. Hey Grillabong, Great to chart your progress. As far as I can make out you pulled up on a beach at about 20.30 Saturday evening and headed off again the next day checking in at noon. A Sunday sail how very pleasant.
    Looking forward to seeing the video that Santiago made or indeed ANY video of any sort!

    • I just switched Google from satellite to terrain and it looks as if you have mountains to follow for a day or so. Should make for a change of view. Also according to the weather you have storms tonight. That does not sound so great but I love the idea of being in 33 deg C!

  2. Hi Chris,
    Me again. Just a thought but if the idea of the satellite GPS thing is to let everyone know that you are safe then surely what we need to see is a position every evening at or around dusk which clearly shows your position as on land?
    I have just checked again and your last position is shown as at sea at 16.17 your time. The next one aught to show you on the beach a few hours later? Given the weather report was for storms this can only be viewed as slightly worrying. Maybe you have a system in place with your Dad or someone else so here is a suggestion:
    If you have a system in place let everyone know what it is ie:

    1) I will be leaving a GPS check every evening so you know I’m on dry land
    2) There is no system I’m not doing it as a safety thing only as a point of interest for you guys but I’ll change the message on GPS messages if there is a problem
    3) Etc?

    BTW do you have a mobile phone? Don’t worry I won’t be calling you but it would seem a bit strange not to have one given that they exist and are no more technological than a laptop, video camera and GPS tracker all of which you do have.

    Hope you are Ok

    • Hi Mike, I am compelled to reply to your posts in light of Grillabong’s silence…

      I am with you on wanting a regular check-in from the Captain, and am now regretting we didn’t make him promise to keep to such a plan before he departed. He does have a mobile phone with him, but it’s service range is very limited and likely does not work where he is and we got him the SPOT device because it is satellite operated and can send “OK” signals when a cell phone cannot, and, in case of emergency, there is a 911 button he can press and the helicopters (supposedly) will head out to the rescue. Knowing him as I do I fear he would sooner wrestle any condition he encounters to the death than press the button for such rescue (he much prefers to press the “Easy” button, per earlier post), but I also know there is a sensible side to him that usually keeps him out of harm’s way and I can only hope it would win out in dire circumstances.

      He does not have the ability to change the message that the SPOT device sends unless he is at a computer with internet (it is a pre-programmed thing), so all we can hope for at the moment is an updated “OK” transmission. I get an email every time he presses the button as I am the contact person listed on the SPOT device, and that transmission is what also updates his position on the link.

      Are you an old mate of Chris’ or newfound follower of his epic proa adventure? You certainly sound familiar… Either way, it’s nice to make your electronic acquaintance and to have your company in sharing the delights and concerns over his undertaking and adventure. While there are of course many reasons darting through my mind as to why we haven’t heard from him for a spell (I really hope SPOTTY, as we call him, has not found its way overboard) I am, at the moment, trying to keep my worries in check and hoping he presses that OK button soon.

  3. Wonderful Chris – Launch of the Gribbler.
    Auspicious beginnings – keep pressing that button – we’re with you all the way!
    Good speed & safe travels. 😛

    • Erm.. I left this reply open and unbeknownst to me there have been a flurry of replies. Nice to see Mike on the case. Ahh – Crumpetina – Mike indeed goes way back – and is very familiar.. erm.. did that come out right.
      Here’s hoping Spotty beams up an OK as soon as.. (and big congrats on persuading Chris to travel with it in the first place)

  4. Hi Crumpetina.
    Well it seems that El Gringo Loco is on dry land and was probably woopin it up whilst we were glued to our screens but I’m sure an update will either confirm this or give details of the madness. I am indeed an old friend from way back in the day, great memories of sharing squats in London and fungi picking missions in Wales! It’s great to know that you are the contact person who gets the e mail and I presume would try the cell if there was an issue. With my ‘what if’ hat on I’d decided that the only thing worth doing would be to contact Santiago who is at least in and of the country. You have been down to visit Chris and so I’d say you have contacts on the ground covered?
    Hi Chris
    I’m not asking that you make any promises with regard to staying in contact, I’m sure the isolation is part of the thrill but please could you clarify how you are using the GPS so that we know when to relax and enjoy the story and maybe when to take action
    Hi Phil
    Just got your Skype details from Rich, gonna call u some night. x

  5. Chris,

    When you get to read these comments, you will realize that you worried us a great deal when there was the loooooooog time between transmissions from your SPOT. We pictured all sorts of calamities that could have befallen you. I’ve been there, done that, so I know how one moment’s lovely sail can become a shit storm. Everything from falling overboard, and having the boat sail on without you, to pirates, crossed our minds. The minds of meddling fathers, loved ones, and friends do tend to run wild.

    Anyway, following your course is a delightful vicarious adventure. Please keep the SPOT transmissions coming. The current location shows you quite a bit up river and inland, at what appears to be a house.

    About harbors, as opposed to going in through the surf — I noticed several rivers going into the sea along your course, and it would seem to me trying them would be preferable to chancing the surf. The problem, of course, is the bar. As you know, there is often a deposit of sediment at the mouth of a river, as the current speed drops and the fresh water mixes with the ocean, the suspended sediment drops out and forms a shallow crescent across the river mouth. The surf, hitting the shallower water, and the out flowing river, often breaks pretty violently there. It’s particularly bad when the river is flowing fast from heavy rainfall in the hills. Suggest you be cautious, and inspect the break before committing yourself.

    I suppose I’m preaching to the choir, here, as you probably know more about the physics of surf than I do now. plus having the advantage of being able to ask the locals about places to take refuge with a small craft.

    Hope Montepio was easy to enter, and you have had a good layover.

    Looking forward to that SPOT moving again.


  6. HI CHRISTOBAL, so happy for you, SAILING AL LAST. Reading your first experience, was delightfull, I enjoy it deeply, it was like reading the heart of a gigant mountain exploding on joy and love. Thanks for sharing it to us all. Have to let you know that Changa is been around a lot playing restless with Filomena, she even sleeps at night at the house and also stays for long time just sharing some of her sweet company. You know we love her and will look after, she´s a loving part of your own to us. Maria Teresa told me that today you´ve reached Monte Pio, I have´nt been able to check your location, but I´ll try latter.

    I felt like sharing this old celtic blessing, that may accompany you along.

    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may Life hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Con mucho cariño,

  7. Hola Cristobal, felicidades, me da mucha alegría saber que todo marcha bien en tu aventura ! y que Monte Pio te recibió con los brazos abiertos.

    esta vez si llegó tu mensaje por cel. Changa está bien, come , toma agua, duerme y juega en el jardin con Filomena.

    Hasta pronto, Maria Teresa

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