Saturday, October 21, 2006

Preparing to batten the hatches

I did not expect to post today, but there is some news.

First off, we found out this morning that there has been a change of itinerary.  Apparently, the ferry can not accommodate all of us tomorrow night.  Rather than split the group, the decision was made to postpone the entire group for one full day, so we will remain here in Mazatlan tomorrow, and leave for Topolobampo early Monday morning.

Frankly, I'm a little ticked about this.  As I've already written, I've been disappointed since before we left the US that we are not sailing from right here in Mazatlan, as originally advertised.  Instead of spending a relaxing morning here, followed by a nice afternoon sail from Mazatlan, we will have another all-day drive to Topolobampo, which is next to Los Mochis -- in other words, right back the way we came.  To the tune, by the way, of another $110 worth of diesel and probably $25 in tolls, while Fantasy pockets the ferry fare difference (the Topolobampo ferry is about $385 cheaper than the Mazatlan ferry for Odyssey and the two of us).

So it merely adds to my frustration that we will spend another day here in the RV park from hell.  I call it that because, in addition to the problems we had just getting in to it, there is a litany of problems:
  • The spaces are too short for us.  We had to caddy-corner into a space, and we are 9" from another rig in the back.  We can't open our tailgate.
  • The power constantly varies between 78 volts and 110 volts.  It's unusable for air conditioning, or much else, and we have had to run the generator several hours each day -- so why pay for a campground at all?
  • The water pressure is so low, that we can get no more than one quarter to one half gallon per minute.  Filling the tank was a painful process.
  • The sewer connections are anywhere from 20' to 25' from many of the spaces.  Everyone came in with full tanks, including us, and there is no dump station.  We can't get any closer to the sewer -- we are backed up against a palm tree and another rig.  Fortunately, we were able to dump using our macerator pump and 50' hose -- the first time we have actually had to use the macerator in a real-world situation (we had used it before only to test it).  I always thought that I would need the macerator in some weird place like a forest service site (to pump into a pit toilet) or while long-term parking at someone's house -- not in an actual campground, fer cryin' out loud.
  • It's not convenient to anything.  Even the beach is a long walk (and, no, we still have not made it there).
To add insult to injury, we are right next to an empty row of spaces that are clearly in much better condition than ours.  In fact, the water pressure is so much better in that row, that we ran a 50' hose extension over there to fill the hot tub.  I can only guess the electricity is also in better shape.  The reason we can't be there?  The whole row is pre-booked for the season by a competing caravan company (Tracks to Adventure).  They have signs posted on every space, and fancy orange cones with their stickers.  Tracks even has a host couple stationed here, in their rig, for the season, presumably to keep the campground from selling their spaces to anyone else, such as us.  The irony in this final insult is that the main reason I booked Fantasy instead of Tracks was a daytime Mazatlan ferry departure.

So you can imagine that I was not too happy to learn we were stuck here another day.  I was even more upset when I found out that this was not merely an extra day -- that day would be withdrawn at the other end.  We are supposed to boondock on the beach at Playa Tecolote for two nights -- a part of the trip we were very much looking forward to.  Alas, it is not to be: the extra day we spend here will be deducted from our Playa Tecolote stay.  This is strike three for Fantasy -- their head of operations will be getting an email from me detailing my unhappiness, along with an accounting of the money I feel they owe me due to the bait-and-switch.  (Well, OK, I know it isn't really bait-and-switch, and that circumstances change, and itineraries are subject to change with no notice blah blah blah, but, hey, they haven't even acknowledged the customer service issue, let alone made even any palliative gestures whatsoever.)  At the very least, they could have said that they were sorry about the unexpected itinerary changes, and that they would include some kind of de minimis compensation.  Like just extending the damn trip an extra day, instead of robbing our beach time to keep us at the Mazatlan mosquito emporium.

All of this, of course, pales in comparison to the really big news, which may render the whole rant moot:  Tropical Storm Paul.  (I wanted to get the rant out, though, because I want to clearly delineate that for which I hold Fantasy responsible from that which is clearly out of their hands.)  TS Paul will likely be Hurricane Paul by the time we experience the outer bands, which looks inevitable no matter when we leave Mazatlan or which ferry we embark (though note that some forecast models have the storm weakening or dissipating in 48-72 hours, which, of course, is what we are hoping).  The additional downside to the ferry delay is that, while tomorrow night's ferry will almost certainly sail, Monday's ferry might well be canceled.  To make matters worse, probabilities are that we would be better off in Baja than on the mainland, and any storm damage to ferry facilities at either end could mean an end to the ferry for this trip at all.

I will be keeping an eye on the storm tracks throughout the night.  I have also alerted the staff, who are, presumably, looking into the situation and mulling over what the contingency plans will be.  As always, I will keep the blog updated as best I can.  If we get into any 30kt winds ourselves, I will have to stow the dish, not that it would be on line anyway with that kind of rain.

1 comment:

  1. We have taken the Topo ferry (in the reverse; from Baja to the mainland) and my folks took the Adventures Caravan and Mazatlan to Baja ferry. I'm really glad we took the Topo ferry; it was 5 hours vs 15 from/to Mazatlan and 5 hours was perfect for us. We were just starting to get bored when we were pulling into port.

    Mexico is known for spotty electricity; I'm surprised you weren't told that on your caravan. Many folk boondock the whole way (that's what my folks' caravan told them) and most people (us included) use a big electric thingamajig that cuts the supplied electricity out when it drops below a certain number and goes over a different number. I'll bet it has a name that isn't thingamajig, but that's about as techinical as I get. Water pressure in Mazatlan is iffy. They've been hit by a couple hard hurricanes recently and the tourist areas get almost all the water. The locals are very rationed.


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