domingo, 31 de mayo de 2009

Chapter 2:The Many Faces of Tehuantepec

The Gulf of Tehuantepec. Her name alone conjures up images of high winds and heavy seas to sailors familiar with Central America. She has kept many a timid soul confined to cruising Mexico alone, for fear of what she might bring. Yet, if approached with caution and timed right, the beast can be tamed with little effort. Such at least, has been my ex-perience.
I’ve crossed the Gulf of Tehuantepec four times, traveled in both directions, and ex-perienced much of what she can throw at you. What’s more, each crossing has gotten successively easier as it as been approached with more and more caution. Now on to the crossings.
Round One—December, 2002. I was serving as deckhand aboard the 68-foot brigantine Atair en route from San Diego to Germany via the Panama Canal. The captain was a seasoned sailor with over a hundred thousand miles and a Cape Horn passage under his belt, and after weeks of windless motoring off the Mexican mainland he was anxious to find some wind. Forecasts for Tehuantepec called for near gale conditions, but as we mo-tored past Huatulco we had no wind despite the large swells pouring out of the Gulf. Cap-tain Klaus Kurz decided the hell with the popular route of staying close to shore, we’ll cut across the bloody Gulf. Within hours the wind arrived with a fury, sails were set, and in minutes we were scurrying along in excess of six knots. By midnight the wind was gale force and six to eight foot swells were crashing into the cockpit where I had a death-grip on the wheel. I was drenched to the core, shivering with cold, and cursing my cap-tain to no end. Thankfully daybreak saw the gale ease, and after one miserable night we sailed across Tehuantepec in one piece, though worse for the wear.
Round Two—February, 2004. I was serving as delivery skipper John Rains’s deckhand as we took a Nordhavn 57, the Knotty Dog, from San Diego to Costa Rica with her own-ers on board. We stopped in the port of Huatulco to await favorable conditions in the Gulf, and when they arrived shoved off, staying within a couple miles of the shoreline. The wind began to fill in before long, and by the time we passed abeam of the commer-cial port of Salina Cruz it was blowing in excess of twenty-five knots on the nose. Still, because we were so close to shore there were no swells to speak of and it was like motor-ing on a windy day in a small lake. Crossing the base of the Gulf, we saw wind nearing gale force, but there were no swells to speak of, and by the time we began exiting Te-huantepec the downwind, downswell run was exhilarating and very safe. The conditions in the Gulf were likely identical to those at the time I had crossed aboard the Atair, but we had passed through hardly noticing them. Such is the benefit derived from hugging the coast.
Round Three—April, 2004. A second trip with Captain John Rains; this aboard a 148-foot three-story party boat, the M/V Majestic. The boat was designed to host dinner par-ties and cruise around in a bay in California, but was built up the Mississippi River. Thus Captain Rains was hired to deliver her from Florida to California via the Panama Canal, and I was one of his deckhands. As we approached the Gulf from the south we pulled into Puerto Madero to wait for a favorable weather window. The unstable boat would need a quiet two-day weather window to even attempt the vicious Gulf; so we held out in Puerto Madero for four days until conditions began to abate. As we approached the base of the Gulf the wind started to fill in as lava flowed down the side of a volcano ashore. We stayed close to shore across the base of Tehuantepec where the winds reached gale force, but with no swells to speak of the party boat heeled over to port and carried on none-the-worse. After passing Salina Cruz we began to leave the Gulf and the conditions abated. Once again we had seen as much wind as I had aboard the Atair, but the passage had been comfortable and uneventful thanks to our hugging the coast.
And finally, Round Four—May, 2006. My first trip through Tehuantepec as captain of my own boat was as good as it gets. During my two-day stay in Huatulco I met another sailboat heading south, and on May 8 we decided to brave the Gulf together. For the past two weeks the weather forecasts had deemed Tehuantepec to be light and variable, but my past experience led me to be skeptical. Thus, despite leaving with a 12-knot southwest wind, we still hugged the coastline as we entered the Gulf. After just 90 minutes my cousin and I reeled in a dorado and a Jack trevally and the trip was off to a great start.
As darkness descended upon the Gulf the wind remained from the southwest. By 2200 I was sure there was no heavy winds in the midst of the Gulf, and realized that if I hugged the shore the entire way I’d likely be fighting a headwind the entire way out the other side. Thus we altered our course and began cutting directly across Tehuantepec. The winds began to lighten as we sailed further offshore, so we began sailing a course that was south of east, heading for the Gulf’s exit. A little after 8 A.M. the wind disappeared altogether and the drone of the engine began. We spent the day catching and releasing fish (we did keep another dorado for dinner) and chatting with our “buddy-boat” Slip Away periodically. A few hours of sailing broke up the monotony of motoring, but for the most part we fled Tehuantepec over calm, windless seas. The crossing was as benign as they can get, and I was glad to have that hurdle behind me. Onwards to El Salvador!

Postscript: Captain John Rains has long said that the best months for passing through the Gulf of Tehuantepec are those that border the hurricane seasons. The problem, of course, is most people don’t want to be anywhere near the area that close to hurricane season, and for good reason. Very few people head for Central America that late in the year because it is the region’s rainy season, which means lightning is a common phe-nomenon. The worst months tend to be the winter months when many people are making their transits (like my first three transits). The best advice I can give is to pay close atten-tion to the weather forecasts. Calm conditions near Huatulco or Puerto Madero don’t mean calm weather in the Gulf. When in doubt stay close to shore. The worst it can do is extend your transit an extra day.

Chapter 1: Sail to Cabo

For a sailor with some 15,000 sea miles under his belt I was among the least prepared cruisers of all time. Twenty years old, and with a boat I had owned just four months and sailed a dozen times, I declared myself ready to set off on my dream voyage. My apprenticeship had been served under two highly accomplished captains who couldn’t have been more different. The first, Captain Klaus Peter Kurz, captained his own vessel, a gorgeous 68 foot brigantine he designed and had custom-built named Atair. I sailed some 10,000 miles with Klaus from California through the Panama Canal, and thence through the Caribbean, across the Atlantic and up to Germany. Along the way I learned a great deal about sailing and considered myself proficient in navigation and most aspects of seamanship. I could proficiently sail on a beam reach and beat into the wind with most cruisers, but the only downwind sailing we did was with square sails set, an advantage few cruisers (and certainly not myself) would ever have. My second mentor, Captain John Rains, was a highly-respected delivery skipper at the tail end of an illustrious career. Under Captain Rains I delivered five boats various distances along the route from California to Florida via the Panama Canal. My seamanship skills were increased and I learned a great deal about working with modern electronics to aid in navigation, but we only delivered power boats and thus my sailing skills stagnated. Nonetheless, after a year sailing as often as I could aboard my little Catalina 27 I felt I had gained sufficient knowledge and experience to set out on my dream voyage.
Thus it was that on April 6, 2006 my father, cousin Ryan, and I said good-bye to our families and motored out of Mission Bay, southward bound. A late winter storm had just passed by and left in its wake sloppy seas and unusual calm winds. As Avventura cleared the South Mission Bay jetty she began rolling awkwardly in the large short-period swells. The wind was forecast to fill in as the day wore on, and as the clock struck noon we set the main, pulled out the jib, and shut down the engine. The sail to Cabo had truly begun. Mission Bay was 15 miles astern and we were scooting along before a seven knot west wind.
By nightfall the wind had increased to twenty knots and shifted to the WNW. A small south swell began to mingle with the big west making for a sloppy, wild motion. Avventura rocked wildly, and I was soon deep in the throes of seasickness. Through the night we steered as far downwind as we could to keep the sails full and made good speed riding down the swells. The winds roared in over the starboard quarter and the jolting ride on the swells was like a rodeo cowboy atop a wild bull. The stern kicked this way and that, but through the night the bow plunged southward ticking off the miles. We steered by hand most of the night making sure to acquaint ourselves with steering in case disaster struck, and the sloppy seas made holding a steady course impossible. You could see the fear writ in my crewmates eyes as the wrangled the wheel and we rushed down the heaving swells. As with most sails south to Cabo we had leapt right into the fire and were receiving our first big trial.
By midnight the seas began to subside, but for me it was too late. Seasickness had started and the next three days, I knew, would be sheer torture. The winds persisted making for a wild ride until the sun broke from the sea and a new day began. It was as if the sun and moon were opposing forces, when one was out in full force the other ran away and hid. For the next four days the cycle would repeat. As night fell the wind would pick up into the twenty knot range, and by midnight the full fury of the wind would hit, often exceeding thirty knots. The helmsman would fight to keep Avventura headed downwind, and the sloppy seas continued to assault us from all directions. Sleep was hard to come by, and all rejoiced at the sight of the coming dawn. By the time the sun had asserted herself in the east the wind had run away to hide, often dipping under ten knots and providing a good chance to run the motor and recharge our batteries. Once the wind grew used to the sun, however, it would begin to pour in again, and come nightfall the process repeated.
Day and night the wind poured in from the same northwesterly direction, and we plunged on with the mainsail and jib each on the same side. If we steered too far downwind the main would block the flow of air to the jib, and with each swell the jib would spill its wind and refill with a loud slap. Thus our track southward began to resemble a beat to windward as we jibed through the wind, zig-zagging our way down the line. It was a rookie mistake not to pole the jib out to windward; but I was fearful of trying to learn a new sail arrangement with so much wind filling in each night.
The wind cycle was taxing on all of us, and as the morning of our sixth day at sea dawned I mentioned the possibility of making a brief stop at Bahia Santa Maria to rest. My crewmates jumped at the idea and before long it felt like there’d be a mutiny if we didn’t stop. We were still close to sixty miles from the anchorage, and when the wind dipped under ten knots I started the motor and we began motorsailing towards our promised rest stop. I knew the chances of making landfall in daylight were slim, but having anchored in the bay before I knew I could find my way in using the GPS waypoint I had recorded during my previous visit and with the radar scanning the coastline.
In the early afternoon a boat was spotted to starboard, but it was clear we’d pass safely, so I gave it little thought. Then, just as the ship passed abeam a couple miles away, the sound of an engine approaching was heard and we spotted two heads leaping from the sea, then disappearing behind the next swell. A couple minutes later two Mexican men in a zodiac donning wetsuits pulled alongside. Unsure of what to make of them, and knowing we were far from any land-based help, we were leery and I refused to slow down. I explained to them that I spoke little Spanish, and tried to see what they wanted, but the only word I could understand was libro (book). I found it strange that they should risk their lives to speed across two miles of ocean in an open boat just to ask for a book, but since I had a couple I could spare I went below, retrieved one, and offered it to them. They took the book for a moment, looked at me incredulously, and handed it back to me, then turned and disappeared over the waves once more. To this day I don’t know what the men wanted, but anytime a boat approaches you when you’re over twenty miles offshore it is an uncomfortable situation and I was happy they had decided to leave.
As the sun dipped into the sea land was sighted ahead in the form of Cabo San Lazaro. In most instances I am vehemently opposed to entering a foreign port after nightfall. The risks tend to outweigh the rewards. Navigation lights may not be working or may have changed positions or characteristics, the charts may b inaccurate, there may be unlit vessels or buoys, etc. But in the case of Bahia Santa Maria I decided to make an exception. Ryan had yet to get over his seasickness, my father had yet to get a decent night’s rest, and we were all tired and weary after battling the rough conditions for days on end. My decision was made easier by the fact that I had anchored in the bay before while working as a deckhand for John Rains aboard the M/V Knotty Dog, and I had recorded in my log for that trip the exact GPS waypoint of where we had anchored along with the depth at that very spot. I remembered the approach as being straightforward and could still picture it in my kind, so as night settled in I was prepared to enter the lee of the land.
When the sun disappeared the wind followed suit, and by 2000 we were under power of the engine alone, and the hours seemed to crawl past. Three hours later Avventura nudged into the lee of the land, and with the radar scanning the black horizon and my crew on the bow keeping a close lookout we crept inside the bay. As we neared my GPS waypoint the dark form of another vessel came into view, so I circled around it, inched a bit closer to shore, and told my father to drop the anchor. In just under thirty feet of water, Avventura swung to her anchor and bit the hook with 150 feet of chain out. Within minutes I shut the engine off and relished the utter silence.
Stars filled the sky from horizon to horizon, interrupted only by the dark hulk of Cabo San Lazaro and the lowlands of Baja California to the east. The air was still and tinged with an unmistakable chill. Ryan entered the cabin, laid down in his berth, and was asleep in a matter of minutes. My father and I sat on the cabin top, breathing in the night air and relishing the lack of motion. Silence reigned, and we were both loathe to break it. Though physically exhausted, my mind raced and my heart continued to pound. The thrill of anchoring my own boat in a foreign port for the first time etched a smile on my face, and I couldn’t wait for dawn to reveal the desolate beauty of the bay. A long hug and a simple “goodnight,” was all we exchanged before turning in for some much needed sleep.
The absence of motion induced a deep sleep lasting till well after sunrise on April 12. By the time I awoke my father was settled in the cockpit reading. Ryan was still snoozing. I emerged into the bright sunshine and stretched in the cockpit. The dramatic point of Bahia Santa Maria rose high above me stretching out towards the open ocean. Ashore, a desolate desert stretched gave way imperceptibly to a long beach before terminating abruptly into the deep blue of the bay. Bahia Santa Maria is exactly as you’d picture Baja California—rugged and desolate, with tan desert sand and barren hills flowing into deep blue water. A small camp and a few shacks stood ashore in the northwest corner of the bay, and rumor has it a nice righthander reels down the point with a good south swell; but in late winter there was no sign of surf. The still night gave way to a breezy morning, and before noon a fifteen knot wind was sweeping off the land and ripping through Avventura’s rigging.
Taking advantage of a flat cooking surface, my father whipped up some eggs and potatoes for breakfast, a welcome change for my weak body. Days of seasickness had taken their toll, but a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast helped me regain some energy and spring to life once more. I spent the morning determining the route we’d travel south to Cabo, and by calculating out the distance and an average speed of five knots, I realized we needed to be back underway before nightfall to ensure a morning landfall in the bustling port.
By midmorning I was eager to remove the layer of grime from my body, but my heart sank when I saw the water temperature measured just 58˚. Here we were just 175 miles from the well-known tropical escape of Cabo San Lucas and the water was colder than it had been in San Diego when we left! Cursing the California current, I decided cleanliness was worth a little pain. Besides the sapphire waters were so alluring I couldn’t resist. I donned a swimsuit, grabbed a bottle of saltwater soap, and stood on deck. The dry chill of the wind made me think twice, so before I could back out of my grand plan I stood on the cabin top and dove over the side. Immediately the cold bit at my bones and my extremities tensed up. I stood on Avventura’s swim ladder, soaped up, and dove in once more. With my body clean, I made a quick circle of Avventura, climbed up and down her anchor chain for fun, checked her prop and rudder, and climbed the swim ladder, my body covered in goosebumbs and shaking uncontrollably.
I toweled off and let the dry desert wind and midday sun bring some warmth back to my body. Once the feeling returned to my fingers and toes I retrieved a book, sat in the cockpit, and passed a pleasant afternoon. After blowing a steady fifteen knots from the NW all day, the wind died suddenly at 1600 just as we were preparing to depart. My hopes of leaving the anchorage under full sail were dashed, and at 1630 I fired up the engine and Ryan started the windlass, clicking in the links of chain. As we powered out of the anchorage a slight westerly breeze filled in and we set sail. Unfortunately the anchorage acts as a funnel for the wind, and the further we sailed the lighter the breeze became. Within thirty minutes the breeze blew itself out and we were back to motoring once more.
The sun sank low in the western sky and the surface of the sea turned red in places from clumps of tiny tuna crabs. How amazing, I thought, that these little critters make it as far north as San Diego during an El Niño season. With the sun touching the surface of the sea the moon peeked out from behind a mountain inland, and while one heavenly body left us the other took hold of the sky, orange and full, big and bold against the light blue backdrop.
Darkness settled over the scene and I sat in the cockpit by myself, scratching off a journal entry while enjoying an easy night watch. A shrimp boat leaving Magdalena Bay provided the only other light visible, and I relished the ease and comfort of motoring over calm seas for a change. Before long all was dark above, and a few bold stars made their presence known despite the big bully of a moon. The moon cast a streak of light upon the glassy sea and displayed the dark silhouette of the coastal mountains close to port. As the clock struck eleven my father emerged to relieve me, I made a quick log entry, and fell into bed. Images of the rock formations of Cabo San Lucas filled my head, and I thrilled to know they were just a day and a half away. After a while my eyes closed on a nice day of cruising.
Beep beep; beep beep; beep beep!
My alarm jars me awake. Fifteen minutes to four; time to get ready for my watch. A splash of water on my face, retrieval of a jacket and I’m in the cockpit. “All right Ryan, I’ve got it.” Nary a word as he stumbles down into the cabin and completes his paltry log entry. I scan the horizon. No lights in sight; the dark hulk of the Baja peninsula still rises to port; the moon has begun her rapid descent towards the sea. All is quiet, but the steady onward surging of Avventura’s bow through the silky sea. Ryan settles into his berth and I pick up the logbook to read what I missed while I slept. The first entries are my father’s:
“2300: No sails up—No wind—Desolate but beautiful coastline to port.”
“0000: Tosco Point lighthouse just ahead. Rocking along under a nearly full moon.”
“0100: Flat calm.”
Then comes Ryan’s trio of originality:
“0200: Calm seas—no wind.”
“0300: Calm glassy seas—occasional 1–3 foot swell west.”
“0400: Calm seas—no wind.”
Ah. Now I know what I missed over the last three hours! I note our progress on the computer navigation program—we are still right on course. The GPS shows us trekking along at a steady five knots. I rise from the nav station and return to the cockpit. A glance at the engine instruments shows they haven’t budged since I last saw them: 1500 rpms, 175˚ water teperature, 40 p.s.i. oil pressure. All is well on this sleeping ship.
In the cockpit the air is tinged with a damp coolness. Where is the heat of the tropics? Surely Cabo San Lucas isn’t this cold. I open the latest John Grisham novel and the pages begin to turn themselves in a steady progression. The text flows past effortlessly, and I hope to one day write so smooth. Every few pages I gaze up from the book and pass my eyes along the horizon. A yacht passes to starboard, northward bound. All else is black and nothingness. No other boats will be seen this night. Back to reading. Then, out of the silence of the sea comes a “poof!” The sound is similar to that of the exhalation of a person who has been trying to hold his breath as long as he can. A minute passes, then, “Poof…poof.” Dolphins!
Rising from the cockpit, I walk towards the bow, conscious of my every careful step. How can I resist playing with my friends? I grab hold of the forestay and follows the brilliant green tracks of the dolphins piercing and exciting the phosphorescent sea. A pair of the loveable creatures gather beneath the bow and cross paths, dancing with each other as they ride my bow wave. Squeals of delight escape from below and they pierce the surface for a quick breath. After five minutes of bodysurfing and dancing my friends depart as quickly as they appeared, and with that all is quiet once more. I take a seat on the cabin top and peruse the heavens. The swooping tail of Scorpio hovers above a few cirrus clouds; the moon dips low in the west; signs of dawn spread in the east.
Back in the cockpit, I continue reading as the sky regains her color. Puffs of high clouds form even lines and ruffle the sky. As the sun creeps towards the eastern horizon they become inflamed with a pinkish color which intensifies till the sun peaks out from behind Baja. Then begins the sun’s ascent, and with it the clouds turn to from pink to orange to yellow, till eventually the color fades to white. A gorgeous tropical day has begun.
The day passes in a sea of routine. Watches are kept; log entries made; pages read; food prepared and eaten; journal entries written; and miles slip astern almost unnoticed. Signs of the tropics begin to trickle in: the water temperature begins to creep up, the sky is a dark blue and the air is hot. Midday comes and goes and the engine drones on.
My patience is wearing thin. The engine has been droning for over twenty hours and I’ve had enough. A puff of wind caresses the back of my neck and the flags beneath the spreaders begin to flutter. Enough is enough—it’s time to set sail. With the wind trickling in from astern the time has come to see what the spinnaker can do. Setting the big sail is a three-man ordeal, and since I’ve only flown it once before there are some kinks that work themselves out in the process. But after a handful of minutes I pull up the protective sleeve, a gust fills the sail and its big belly explodes into shape and urges us onwards. I rush to the cockpit, reign in the jibsheet, shut down the engine, and take the helm. Peace at last!
Silence reigns supreme. Calm seas are pierced by Avventura’s black bow, and the bow wave is the only sound to be heard. The blue skies above are devoid of any clouds, so I fear the wind will be short-lived. But in the moment the motion is wonderful, the big red and blue sail is doing all the work, and the miles are still drifting astern. Cabo is under 100 miles away.
Just as I’m starting to get the hang of sailing with the spinnaker everything changes. The wind shifts a bit forward, then quits altogether. The spinnaker spills her wind and hangs down limp. Avventura glides to a virtual stop. A puff of wind from the wrong direction backwinds the spinnaker. The sail needs to come down, and now! My father takes the helm as I rush up on deck. I fumble with lines for a moment, unsure in the commotion of what exactly I have to do. But before long I find the dousing line, pull the protective sleeve back down, and all is quiet once more.
“Shise!” I scream, remembering a former captain of mine’s famous curse, “Damned refried Mexican wind!” The release calms my temper and I start the engine. Avventura rumbles onward and the routine traverse resumes.

Another gorgeous sunset, followed quickly by a brilliant moonrise, orange and full, presaged one last calm night at sea. Dolphins frolicked in our bow, phosphorescence ignited our wake, and the air was palpably warmer than previous nights. With each passing mile my excitement grew. We’d be in Cabo in time for a late breakfast.
The wind never attempted to return, and the night passed slowly by just as many a night would pass along the Mexican coast. Daylight brought Cabo Falso into sight and my heart leapt. By six o’clock the famous rock formations of Cabo san Lucas were in sight and an hour later I manned the helm as we slipped past the arch and entered the inner harbor. By 0700 we pulled alongside the fuel dock, loaded in a few gallons of diesel (???see fuel log for exact???), and were assigned to slip C-23. Thirty minutes later Avventura was tucked in her slip, the motor was shut down, and we had arrived. The first leg of my voyage was complete. My days as a cruiser would begin with a short stay in the tourist trap town of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The Writing Process

As many of my friends and family know I’ve started the process of writing my second book—this one covering my travels aboard Avventura in the Pacific. For me the writing process has always been a long one. Unlike my dashed off blog updates (which I wrote in white heat and post them often before spellchecking them and certainly before reading them through) I’ve long viewed writing a book (or trying anyhow) to be a far more sacred craft that takes much more time and effort. My mentor, Bill Martin, has time and again preached the value of the “Rule of Seven,” and I’ve become a firm believer in its validity. The rule is simply this: before any piece of writing can be considered truly complete it must be rewritten a minimum of seven times. Gogol put it another way when he described how he would write something out eight times before it was finished (the first writing and seven subsequent re-writings). While the initial writing can glow in places and every now and again you can hit on a well-turned phrase or a few flowing paragraphs, the true art of writing comes from the re-writes where the language is fine-tuned. In my case this is ever-more the case as I still have little idea what direction I want the book to go in or how I will piece it together.
I made my first attempts at starting this book while anchored off the island of Huahine. I was surfing on an overcast August day (8/18/07) when an idea came to me of telling my tales through the lips of a narrator and thus weaving a separate story along with mine. The initial idea was to have a fictional old-timer, a ragged beachcomber tell the story through a series of encounters with strangers as he looked back on brighter days. I wrote out a few chapters in my remaining days in the Society Islands, but as I sailed away bound for points north I couldn’t summon the energy to keep working at a project I was quickly losing faith in. The stories felt insignificant, the old-timer a forced character without any soul, and the writing was bland. But here I am nearly two years later and I still haven’t hit upon a genius idea for how to string things together. I’d like to avoid churning out another straight-forward travelogue like Voyage of the Atair; but at the same time I knew I wanted to write up the stories, so at the moment I have my dreaded travelogue in progress. My plan is to hack out the first draft, writing up everything that was anything on the trip. This will at least give my family and myself a cohesive, exhaustive account of my two-plus years of travel, and will serve as my rough sketch that will be hacked away at and sculpted into a finished product. There’s still months of work ahead, and my writing pace has slackened despicably of late, but I’m determined to re-dedicate myself to the effort, and resuming this blog should help me keep my hand to the plow.
As of now I’ve written up the stretch from my San Diego departure to my arrival in the Marquesas, and my stay on Fatu Hiva. This leaves about a third of my travels, and perhaps as much as half the writing left ahead of me. What I plan to do is start posting my very, very, very rough drafts periodically till I’m caught up to where my writing is; and from there I’ll just keep right on going till the entire first draft is posted. I do so knowing there may only be a handful of people who ever read them, but I know my Aunt Momo will be one of them, and I hope you enjoy them while realizing they aren’t intended as anything but rough sketches at best.
I had one time hoped to have the entire book done by my birthday in July. Ha! Not going to happen. Now I’m going to aim at having the rough draft finished this summer, and a finished product for Christmas.