|Hola friends and families,
We have recently rounded the tip of the Baja Peninsula and are snuggled into a fancy sports fishing marina to hide from the wind and fill our water tanks. Since our arrival in Mexico we have had excellent internet access from a stick in the side of the computer for 40 dollars a month, we can skype people from really small fishing villages supposedly since the owner of the communications company has a boat and puts up a tower wherever he can’t get a signal. Strange but it really is a good connection from inside the boat. The main problem is that few people email us now since we have been offline for the summer and they now assume we are at sea, so drop us a line and we will have something to read when sitting on a virtually deserted anchorage, thrilled at having a connection but with no messages
The trip down the coast of Mexico was varied and wonderful, many boats just stop a couple of times since the anchorages are not that protected but we spent 3 weeks coming down a coast that is just wild desert south of Ensanada with the occasional small fishing village or camp. The dry mountains were like sailing down the coast of Vancouver Island with out a patch of greenery or cloud. The winds were good to strong and always from behind which is not perfect but much better than on the nose.
Now that we are in a cruising ground which is empty and wild, it has led to some interesting dialogues around what is it we really want to draw from the cruising life, where are the areas that suit us, are we in too much of a hurry etc. All good questions to ask now rather than later when we are half way across the Atlantic. One of the character flaws that we both have is that we leap headlong into a thing, which is not bad, but we also do it at a fast pace which makes a boat cruise seem like a delivery trip. We are both opportunists but does that mean that if we can make the weather patterns work for a speedy trip we should, or should we act out of character, slow down, hang around for a while and use those same weather patterns next year. Is it experience or the creeping father time that makes it fairly certain that we will not be coming back this way again, life is not a rehearsal and this trip is not a reconnaissance trip. So the dialogue is fascinating and watch this space for surprises. Old dogs, even sea dogs can learn new tricks.
From here on we will head north into the Sea of Cortez, apparently strong northerly winds but smaller seas and good anchorages should help Laura keep her Christmas dinner down!
Notes from the Best Mate (2nd edition):
Hello all. I thought it was time again to provide some perspectives from the First (aka Best) Mate. I am learning, albeit far more slowly than is really reasonable, more and more about sailing and the cruising life. I will separate my notes accordingly – first about sailing, then about the cruising life.
OK, I can already see many of you experienced sailors out there cringing and empathizing deeply with Paul as it becomes clear how foreign to my brain are such concepts as aerodynamics, physics, wind relative to the boat and my steering of the boat, anything mechanical, and absolutely anything requiring spatial orientation. When Paul shouts from the foredeck to “pull in the sheet!” and after a second or two of silence I yell back “is that the blue one with the stripes or the red one with the polka dots???” well….need I say more? Or when I’m told to steer a course behind that boat at anchor and I’m thinking “is that behind the boat in relation to the land, in relation to us, in relationship to WHAT, for Pete’s sake! Paul is, fortunately, a very patient teacher, but I often see a look of puzzlement on his face when he sees that I truly do not get what seems so obvious to him. But I’m working on it, really I am.
And then there’s the mareo, or seasickness, which I still have not conquered on overnight passages, leaving Paul sailing singlehandedly through the night, except when he really needs me to steer while he changes the sails in a tricky wind, after which I’m promptly back in deep conversation with my friend the bucket. I have tried various drugs and have finally found that the best drug is no drug. So while I still get sick, I actually don’t feel quite as bad or stay sick as long or feel hungover from the drugs. I am (as my sister Janet said at our wedding) “doggedly determined” to get on top of this and I don’t see that I will be any different from other first-time sailors who eventually do get their sea legs. Right?
And so what is this cruising life all about? I love it! It’s anchoring in stunningly beautiful remote bays, trading a dozen M&M peanuts for a delectable fresh fish from the fisherman in his panga alongside us, marveling at a mother whale and her baby diving and breaching for an hour, running on endless sandy beaches, climbing desert-dry coastal peaks and ridges, sailing through a full-moon lit night, accompanied by hundreds of dolphins, catching our first fish from the boat and having a lovely sushi dinner with it in the cockpit, skyping our family and friends, being boarded by masked rifle-toting but very courteous Mexican Navy, meeting all kinds of interesting people - other cruisers and Mexicans from all walks of life, trying new foods, shopping in strange markets, provisioning for the millennium (in my ridiculous delusional thinking that people south of the border do not eat, poo, or wash their hair so must buy it ALL before leaving San Diego – I am pleased to report that people do eat, poo, and wash their hair wherever we have been, although I am vindicated in assuming I would not be able to get any supplies through much of west-coast Baja).
It’s living simply, making do, not showering for a week or more, having great life-conversations for hours on end in a very small space and never feeling like we need our own “space”, enjoying the simple pleasures of home (boat)-baked fresh bread or a Thanksgiving celebration with new friends complete with Paul’s BBQ chicken and my boat-baked pecan pie. It’s feeling useless and helpless when I can’t learn quickly or be as helpful to Paul as I wish I could be, always having a never-ending variety of jobs to do or things to fix or clean or stow away after they’ve gone flying about in a rough sea, preparations to make, weather to check. It’s being exhausted on arrival after overnight or multi -day passages, but springing back full-on after a good night’s sleep, ready to try our luck at surfing our dinghy in to shore (we’ve been swamped once and I took a wave full on to protect the camera – Paul thought it was hilarious – ha, ha, ha), trying to communicate in our rudimentary Spanish with the ever-friendly and helpful Mexicans, being massively excited about Katie’s imminent visit this coming Monday, and yes once in a while it’s a relaxing gin and tonic in the cockpit.
It’s a very different way of life, one not for everyone, and not even for us indefinitely, but certainly an adventure and an experience that I am truly embracing full on - thrills, laughter, tears, wonder, peace, adventure - and will never ever forget.
Laura and Paul