Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Kid Party

Kid Party
Kid Party
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
It’s fair to say that we planned this party for nearly two years. My earliest recollections of family conversations about cruising in Mexico involved staging a party for the kids on the Baja Ha Ha. The Ha Ha promised many boats, many crews, many kids. The Ha Ha was in Mexico where the water would be warm, the air soft, and the sun strong and dangerous. As a family, we developed a vision of Don Quixote as a gathering place for Ha Ha families.

And the boat was loaded with this party in mind. We arrived in Bahia Santa Maria -- the anchorage between Leg 2 and Leg 3 of the Baja Ha Ha -- with everything a boat needs to throw a really good kid party. For Solstice last year, DrC made a slide out of plywood. The slide is rough on one side to serve as a gangplank and smooth with beer labels and hard varnish on the other. Strapped to the starboard transom, it serves as a chute. Pour a bucket of sea water and ZOOM down the side of the boat. In Emeryville, Aeron worked with Jason to figure out way to use the spinnaker halyard as a swing. They worked out a system to drop the lazy jacks and jib lines, and leap off into the air to swing around the front half of the boat. Nearly two winters ago, we purchased a floating island at Costco. In San Diego, we stocked up on munchies, chips, trail mix, and cheap red wine. We packed kid movies, popcorn, and spare towels.

So we were ready our first morning in Bahia Santa Maria to get on the VHF during announcements.

Toast: Don Quixote.
Poohbah: Don Quixote go ahead.
Toast: Don Quixote would like to invite all kids of the Ha Ha fleet to our boat for the evening. The Don Quixote Water Park will open at four PM. Parents can either drop their offspring or relax with us in the cockpit while the kids swim and then watch movies.
Poohbah: Don Quixote, are you saying you want all the kids? That’s great! Where’s your boat?
Toast: We’re at the back of the fleet. We crept in last night at about 3 am.
Poohbah: How about you move your boat over near us. There’s plenty of room for another catamaran.
Toast: Will do.
Poohbah: Okay, that’s Don Quixote for the Kid Party, Corenthia for Texas Hold ‘Em at 7:00pm, and Amani for the musicians in the fleet. All three catamarans will be over near Profligate tonight. Any questions?
Third Day: Don Quixote, should we bring anything to the party?
Toast: Third Day, I think the kids should start learning the cruising rule of bringing something to any gathering. We welcome shnick shnacks and finger foods, but no worries. We have plenty!

The kids actually started arriving about two in the afternoon. We had everything set up and the girls were already jumping off the bow. Parents dropped the kids off early and went back to their boats for a few hours of rest and clean up. They rejoined Don Quixote and their off spring at dusk. We had children everywhere. They were jumping off the bows, swimming between the hulls, sliding down the tramps, screaming in the island. The adults used the salon until the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped. We then moved children on to every flat surface in the salon and turned on a movie. Parents retreated to the cockpit for wine and the exchange of shared experiences. At one point, I counted 32 people tucked into various nooks and corners on our boat. We were probably well below our water line, but it felt wonderful.

Third Day and Calou. Bay Wolf, Leo Scotia, Odessa Mama and Sirius Star. These boats, their crews, their profile are now so familiar to me that I can spot one from three miles away as we approach an anchorage. I know their voices on the VHF, the personalities of their children, and their politics. But on that first night in Bahia Santa Maria, it was all very new. The families we met that night are the beginning of a small core of boats with whom we will spend many hours and share many experiences over the coming winter.

And we are so lucky. These are wonderful, fascinating people. Possibly, the reason it is so easy to spend time with them is that what we share is so much greater than our differences in background, economics, and education. We are all here; We have brought our children to a life that is so different from the norm for almost identical reasons. We all share a goal to make this experience a defining one for our kids and ourselves. We have sacrificed our careers, alienated family members, and fully intend to go stone cold broke in the coming months and years. We could literally be from anywhere, and I believe we would still enjoy each other’s company.

Everyone wound down after the movie ended, the dinghies disappearing into the background twinkle of the fleet anchorage. The party was everything we had ever hoped it would be. Two years of planning and six hours of perfect realization of our cruising dream.

3 comments:

Singing Land Cruiser said...

Thats nice, good job.
Michael & Christi Hargis

Frank said...

Sounds wonderful. Wish we were there! (grin)

Have fun, y'all!

Frank and the krewe

Behan said...

I think we were talking about The Water Toy Thing before you even had DQ! And "kid party, La Cruz edition" is legendary here. hope you are tucked into a good spot in Ztown!