Every morning at 8 a.m. sharp, a simple switch on of the VHF radio puts you in contact with the local La Paz cruisers net on channel 22. The net (run by cruisers and Club Cruceros members) has a specific order of business from emergency help, weather, and local assistance to tides, peso reports and local announcements. The net is wrapped up with cruisers swaps and trades.
What types of items can you expect to score in one of these radio swaps? We’ve heard everything from water makers, engine parts, and sails, to fishing gear, life rafts and dinghies.
After traveling over 1,000 miles with Petit Bateau (our 9 foot hard bottom Fatty Knees) we had many opportunities for great dinghy debates that would usually stem from our own frustrations. We wanted to know, was the grass really greener on the other side? One morning a boat named Slipper listed an inflatable dinghy for trade, and we answered the call. After explaining our situation, Slipper immediately introduced us to Wahkuna, a charming couple with roots in Ireland and New Caledonia. They were just as curious as we were about the grass being greener, except they had a newly used (6 month old West Marine) inflatable.
In fact, the moment Delphine saw Petit Bateau sitting on our foredeck, there was really no turning back. Petit Bateau’s tanbark sail mirrored Wakhuna’s. Add to that, Wahkuna had davits (an additional structure on the back of their boat to store and hoist their dinghy) making it much easier for storage. Can we say a match in heaven? But, we weren’t quite ready to say good bye to Petit Bateau, so we turned down their initial offer. Instead we enjoyed their company further and went out to dinner together where we shared Thai food, travel stories, and openly discussed our individual dinghy concerns.
Wakhuna’s List (Inflatable Dinghy)
1. Not substantial enough to carry heavy items
2. Could be accidentally punctured on rocky shores
3. Too wet
Maluhia’s List (Hard Bottom Dinghy)
1. Too Heavy
2. No easy way for us to raise and lower dinghy from deck (Trust me when I say we tried many methods.)
3. No fancy arch with davits to raise at our stern (we wish!)
We loved so many things about our little Petit Bateau. But we realized as much as we loved that dinghy, it just wasn’t the right fit with our setup. Petit Bateau was two feet longer than we originally wanted making it slightly harder for me to pull my weight when lifting. Wahkuna’s inflatable was also deflatable making it easier to store, and less than half the weight even with the outboard attached.
We decided we needed to start making boating decisions based on what would make our lives easier. So, we ended up trading our hard bottom Fatty Knees sailing dinghy, and all of its gear, for Wakhuna’s inflatable dinghy, plus some coconuts.
After Petit Bateau’s departure we felt a little sad not seeing it on our foredeck. But, we knew Petit Bateau was going to a good home. If the grass was greener with an inflatable dinghy, we would eventually find out. The adventures of Petit Bateau will continue on with Wakhuna and crew. If you would like to follow along, and brush up on your French check out their blog!
Blog: Wakhuna’s Voyages
December On Wakhuna
Delphine & Robert
La Paz – 12/31/2013
“This last item was quite a story. After a bit of a misadventure on our soft dingy, we decided that a hard dinghy might not be a bad idea. We started looking and asking around and sure enough, there was this young lovely couple, Denise and Grant who wanted to give their hard Fatty Knees dinghy ( yes, that is the actual name of the brand) a new home. In exchange, they were only but too happy to get our inflatable one. So we went and took a look at their dingy and there it was sitting onto the foredeck of Denise and Grant’s boat. It looked like a small version of Wahkuna, it has teak on the rims, a fat bottom, a tan bark sail and wouldn’t you know a French name : Petit Bateau. It was obviously meant to be.”