Sunday, March 27, 2011

R.I.P. Seahor(se), could be worse...

Yesterday at 0200 Saturday March 26th, Seahor was taken from us, literally. A crazy 24-hrs ensued. Chris bolted out of bed at a noise in the quiet night. He opened the hatch and looked out, Ruby was there, must not be anything. "Hola?" he said, confused. No answer. Then he noticed that Seahor was gone and a mere 2 meters away was a small canoe being silently and quickly rowed by two men. Both Shawn and Chris started yelling at them then in Spanish, "Bring back our motor!! Thieves!!" Our only response was very loud whistling.

The next half hour was a blur. Chris lowered Eeyore into the water, unlocked Ruby and hoisted it from Tao's stern onto Eeyore as a white panga with no lights raced across the estuary toward the whistles. Shawn watched the canoe meet the panga which had a large engine (at least 75-hp) and grabbed the binoculars to follow the pangas movements. It raced back across the estuary to the Pemex fuel dock area. At that point Ruby was ready to go and both of us had shoes so we pushed off from Tao, and sped across the estuary to confront them. Before we could get there, (luckily) the panga and one man raced off up the river and we assume the other thieves had left the scene with Seahor via truck or foot. Still in a half-awake adrenaline-pumped stupor we motored around the dock and saw a man in an oversized black sweatshirt with its hood up and shin-high white rubber boots just hanging around. We went over and asked him if he saw anything. He beckoned us to shore to talk but says he heard nothing and that he was a fisherman (he MUST have seen what happened...).

We motored back to Tao in our sadly deflated (due to the cold) dinghy, very cold, and quite shaken. By then it was about 0245 and sleep was not going to come easily. Every noise seemed too loud. The roosters were for some reason already crowing. Chris was philosophical about it and listed off all the things he was grateful for mostly saying that although it was less-than-ideal it could've been so much worse and hey, that's 25 pounds off the boat and when we sell the surf-mobile set up, we now won't need to carry any gasoline aboard. Shawn, filled with anger, struggled to see the silver lining. We discussed all the times we had been stolen from in our lives and how each situation felt and tried to sleep.

After fitfully tossing around for several hours, the sun finally rose. We went ashore and made a beeline to the weekly flea market (held on an old runway) to look for Seahor, pretending to be in the market to try to find some leads to where we might "buy" a small engine. No luck. Since this also happened to be the freshest food market, we quickly bought fresh provisions and headed into town. Once there we did a few more errands before stopping at the police station to make a report. Of course, the one in the center of town was the "policia municipal" (i.e. they had bullet proof vests and machine guns) and we apparently needed to get to the "ministerio publico" (public prosecutors) offices. Weighed down with our packs we headed in the direction we were pointed and when we finally found it, we had been right next to it earlier in the day at the flea market..

A sole public servant was working in the office this Saturday, surrounded by paperwork. For the next 2-hrs he took our statements, in Spanish, with photocopies of Chris' drivers license and our original owners manual with Seahor's serial number and wrote up an official report. He subsequently called the police comandante (commander in cheif, or captain of the police force) who was currently a few towns away. He said we could leave and the comandante would be along to our anchorage in a little while to question us.

Still weighed down with our provisions, we walked back to the Singlar Marina (where we safely leave our dinghy) and transported our purchases out to Tao. By this point it was 1530 and both of us were extremely tired so we took a half hour siesta before getting Chris ready to head back to shore, talk to the boss of the Singlar Marina, Arie, and make a report with the Port Captain's office on the other side of town. Shawn was staying aboard to clean fruits and vegetables and be available speak to the comandante whenever he made his way to the marina. At 1730 Chris dinghied out to pick Shawn up as the comandante was due at the marina in a few moments. On our way back in, we stopped by Third Day to see if they'd be willing to listen to the 1800 weather for us and we found out that they had had their 3-hp stolen the night before and had heard that to two surf boards were also stolen from a boat in nearby Mantenchen Bay...

We got back to the marina office and Arie, the comandante, and three of his men were waiting for us. Chris again retold the story (in Spanish) and Shawn added to parts that she remembered more clearly than he. The comandante was a very commanding figure, yet was able to make us feel completely listened to and heard. He told us there is a certain population of drug addicts in the area and he thinks they are the probable culprits, though a fisherman many have been an accomplice, and small motors tend to be sold elsewhere as they are of no use to anyone here. He said that we were the first to report actually witnessing a dinghy motor theft and if they find anything they will be in touch. We thanked them for listening to us and tiredly made our way back to Tao around 1900.

Since then, we have continuously discussed what happened. We truly believed that no one had a need for such a small motor and therefore we did not lock it up. This has been proven true for the past two years of cruising all over the Sea of Cortez as many fishermen have commented on it's small stature and a few even made jokes asking us what we use it for, a drink mixer? Shawn specifically continues to struggle with anger about the theft and her already lacking faith in humanity. But the anger did began to melt as the police took time to listen to our account of the incidents and are apparently doing what can be done to find the stolen motors. It also helps that, barring more preventative maintenance of actually having locked the little motor as we do our larger one, we feel we have taken all possible steps to help our situation.

In hindsight, we don't think we should have left Tao. Once someone has committed to stealing something, they are not likely to back down and really bad things could happen. If we had caught up to them, what would have possibly happened? Nothing good. If it happens in the future we will instead, utilize the air horns, pull out the spotlight and the camera, NOT let anger blind us into making poor decisions and remember that our own safety is more important than anything else people might try to steal from us.

For now, we will continue to work toward letting go of our attachment to Seahor. Our Seahorse was a white, 1978, 2-hp Johnson outboard with an orange racing stripe. She had one caring owner for the first 30-years of her life and we loved and had many great adventures with her the past 3-years. We hope she finds another good owner in the future.


  1. The cost of insuring even a 1978 2-hp dinghy motor for 3 years of low-security travel-- in frickin' MEXICO, no less-- would have cost you well over its market price.

    When you think of it that way, you actually came out of this on the cheap-- and unhurt (that's the most important thing!).

    It sucks to lose a long-held possession, but in the end, nothing really belongs to us, does it? ;-)

    Sail on, sailors...


  3. Thanks Rob, glad to hear you're still out there!

    Insurance in the form of a bit of chain and a lock might have cost-effectively saved it, but unfortunately we trusted that nobody else would want it. How silly of us. Out of our control now...

  4. Don't sweat it. A long time ago, my dad taught me to reserve about $500 a year for a "shit happens" fund. For a while, I was blowing my fund on speeding tickets. But no matter where you is, that shit catches up with you somehow.

    Other than this, I hope you guys are having a great time!

  5. Hey Shawn and Chris...sorry all that's a bit of a buzz kill I'm sure. But all the good folks and experiences there in Mexico should more than make up for the bad seeds...

  6. ALOHA C&S~MrroooW G!!!

    LOVE LIGHT & LIFE!!!! Happy Birthday to you too Shawn. Hug eachother tight for have what truly is important :) Continued Courage and Truth to both of you.I'm heading back to CA soon to live aboard and love aboard so we WILL 'sea' you somewhere!

    xoxooox Make a wish~Namaste, Melis