We’re not particularly superstitious but we do know that it’s silly to tempt fate. For instance, the day before our exhaust elbow blew out on our engine, we had been talking to some fellow cruisers and mentioned how relatively trouble-free our little Westerbeke had been so far. No sooner were the words out of our mouths than we thought “oops”.
So, you can imagine what was going through our minds yesterday evening when the driver of the Urban Assault Vehicle we’d gone to Loreto in said, “Don’t worry. I know my vehicle. There is no way that we can get stuck”, as he turned off the dirt road on to the beach sand. Oh shit!
Although I doubt that anyone in Puerto Escondido (other than Jay) reads this blog, we did hand out a few boat cards the other evening so, rather than risk embarrassing the driver in question, I’m not going to use any names.
We had gone in to Loreto to have dinner at Mexico Lindo while also supporting Cruz Roja (Red Cross) who was benefitting from the proceeds of the buffet dinner that was being served. The food was excellent and we had a very nice time. On the way home, we all agreed that we should head down and walk the malecon and then the beach for aways to sort of burn off dinner. Somehow, we never got to the malecon. We ended up driving alongside the beach awhile. At some point, for whatever reason, the driver decided to go out and drive along the beach. Along with the ill-fated words above, he assured us that he and his wife had done this tons of times and never had a problem, so “don’t worry”. Oh shit, again.
Now I don’t doubt they’ve driven on the beach lots of times but I now suspect that the tide was generally further out than it was yesterday evening. That would leave a lot more flat, hard sand to drive on. This time, however, the tide was in and in quite a ways. There was almost no wet flat sand. But, no worries, here we go.
We weren’t more than a car’s length from the road when the tires started spinning in the soft, deep sand. I wasn’t too worried at this point as I figured we were probably still in 2-wheel drive. The driver reached down, did some shifting and we started again. We got maybe another half a car length when we again started spinning our wheels. Now, as the driver just sat in his seat silently, not reaching down to do any more shifting, I knew we were in trouble. Then when he snapped at the missus a couple of times to “Leave me alone!” and “Let me think!” I really knew we were in a fix. Apparently we were already in 4-wheel-low. Nowhere else to go.
We got out and had a look. A couple of the tires were spinning and we seemed to be in pretty deep. The driver had also assured us before we got stuck that, even though his truck could never get stuck, on the extremely unlikely event that it did, no worries as he had 200′ of chain and even an anchor on board. Looked like it was time to drag them out. First we tried anchoring one end of the chain to what passes for a tree down here: a gnarly, twisted mesquite bush. The other end of the chain was connected to a come-along and the come-along to the truck. I’ve never ever had any luck freeing a stuck vehicle using a come-along and that was with an actual tree to anchor to and with the vehicle in question being a Subaru wagon stuck in the snow. This time the vehicle is a humongous heavy SUV and the anchor is a mesquite bush. And, we’re trying to pull it uphill back to the road.
Well, to make a very, very long story somewhat shorter, we managed to rip at least 4 mesquite “trees” out of the ground, drag a danforth anchor through the sand, and ultimately get the vehicle dug in to the point that all the wheels were hanging free and the truck was being supported on it’s undercarriage by the sand. We were well and truly high-centered and screwed. We did manage to make a little progress once in awhile only to turn around and lose it again but ultimately we reached a point where the only thing that was going to get us out was another vehicle assisting. And even that was not gong to be easy as it had to be able to physically drag the beast over the sand until the tires reached a point where they could get some purchase.
It was now quite dark and the driver, having at last cried “uncle” walked off in search of help. Ultimately we did receive help. First from a Mexican guy with a beat-up 4-wheel drive Toyota pick up. He was more than willing to help and punished his poor little truck mightily as he jerked and pulled against a vehicle that vastly outweighed him. Poor little truck was trying to drag this behemoth uphill on its undercarriage. He was actually making a little bit of progress when our intrepid SUV driver returned in a circus car. The car was a little bitty Ford compact. Packed inside were 5 burly Mexican dudes, one guy’s girlfriend and our driver. They planned to just push the SUV out of the sand using pure brute force. If anyone could do it, it would be them.
The upshot was that, after much laughing and joshing and pushing and rocking and eating sand, between our Toyota driver, the Mexican behemoths, us and Mrs. Driver at the wheel, we finally regained level ground. We were free at last.
We gathered our stuff, packed it back in the SUV and started back to Puerto Escondido. There was sand EVERYWHERE! Remember, it’s hot down here so we were all coated with sweat all the time. And the sand stuck to the sweat like glue. Scratch your head: sand imbedded in your scalp; try to clear out your ears: sand packed inside; can’t even hardly wipe the sand off your arms and legs because your hands are also covered in sand. And, what’s worse is that the marina closes the showers at 8:00 and it was now well after 10:00 PM. But there was no way we could drag all this sand back on board the boat. Once we got back to the marina, Lulu and I made a beeline for the dinghy dock where we found a hose connected to a faucet. We stripped own far enough to maintain modesty and hosed and hosed and hosed and hosed. Today we’re still finding the occasional grain.
It was 11:00 PM when we finally got back to the boat. We unwound with a couple if ice-cold beers and a couple episodes of Weeds. Then we slept like babies.
This episode was a relatively harmless illustration of the JINX principle. However, if you ever get on a boat and hear the captain say something like, “Oh, she can’t possibly sink – she’s just too well-built.”, think Titanic and get back ashore as quickly as possible.
PS: today is Lulu and my 34th wedding anniversary in case you were wondering.