Search This Blog

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 2008 postings

March 7
Did laundry after Frank tutored me in the Navy method. We are going to go to shore and try out the internet cafe here, hoping to get this posted. Wish us luck!

March 6
We awoke at 4:30 AM, and are are cruising along in another beautiful, cloudless day. The air is warming and the water is a teal green, but the wind is nuts! I've decided to cal this Gemini wind conditions. First we are sailing along fine, then the wind whips up to 20 knots and then dies to .05. It comes from the port beam, then the back, then off starboard. The sails fill then flog. We have sailed with the genniker, the then used the whisker pole to sail wing and wing, then with just the main, then with the genoa and the main, then no sails... I am a Gemini and was told long ago that our motto is: "I'm schizophrenic and so am I". This is why I call this Gemini conditions. Just a few minutes ago we sacrificed a brush broom to the sea gods. This is not our first casualty - the other day it was a Galleyware coffee cup and nearly a lounge seat. These won't be the last either. Frank has worked himself to exhaustion, yet is still smiling. We are learning a lot and feel as though these are good opportunities to learn before the big jump westward in a couple of months. This is my boot camp for sure. We are nearing Bahia Asuncion and are spotting whale spouts. I'm sitting here thinking of our friends back in Denver enduring snowfall and 17 degree temps while we are having an "ah" moment in the sun, having just finished lunch we are watching for whales listening to Bob Dylan. As Lee Baumann says,"I love this job!".It is 1:40 and we just spotted 2 whales off the starboard bow! What a thrill! Now Frank is sitting on deck perched hopefully like a little boy with the camera and binoculars awaiting another sighting. This is a happy man! As I write this a colony of sea lions is playing leap frog off the port bow. My my.

March 5
We awoke to clear skies, still waters and about 1000 flies in and around the cockpit! I quickly slammed shut the hatch and told Frank that breakfast would be indoors because we were in a hostage situation. We stayed in and I resumed tidying while Frank continued to work on getting our HAM radio transmission to work. We have not been able to send or receive successfully, nor to post our position on the website. By afternoon we decided to run the gauntlet and dinghy over to the village for a recon. Waves were crashing onto shore so we could not land the dinghy. Instead we opted for what looked like a floating dinghy dock. It was only about 30 inches wide, covered in birds and in - you guessed it - bird poop! We managed to get a local fuel ponga to take us to the rickety pier, which held a slimy barnacle encrusted ladder as the only way up. My heart literally fluttered as I tried to time the waves, the swooping up and down of the fuel boat with the upswing of the ladder. I looked at Frank and I swear he did not think I could manage this. When we did, we sent up a prayer of thanks and set off to explore the village. We had lunch at a place that was part restaurant, part hotel lobby and part someone's living room. A woman was sitting watching Mexican soaps, feeding her toddler and getting up to wait tables. The walls held lobster shells, whale bones, family photos, Blessed Virgin decor and beer cans. We downed our lunch and were ready to high tail it back to the comfort and safety of Destiny. Back at the pier, the wind had picked up and was howling. I nearly lost my lunch contemplating going back down that ladder, but we did, and when we got to the dinghy dock as I was stepping out of the fuel boat I slipped on slimy bird poop and hit my very sore knees, nearly losing my balance and going off the other side. Franks's eyes got as big as saucers watching me. I think he worries about me sometimes. Finally back at Destiny, we swatted our way back through the flies, closed ourselves in and I sang, "God Bless America" and baked some chocolate chip cookies for comfort. Frank talked to Tom and Mary on the Sat phone, and it looks like they will meet us in PV after Easter instead of Cabo. Tomorrow we depart for Bahia Asuncion, about 50 miles south of here. Gotta get out of Fly City!

March 3 & 4
I was just in my last overnight watch, 4 - 8 AM, when a little before 6 AM I saw some lights that weren't stars or another boat. I kept straining my eyes until I could make out the outline of a big hill. The instruments told me we were just off the Island of Cedros - Hallelujah! It was soon light and I awoke Frank to tell him the good news. He took the helm and attempted to get us to a safe anchorage, but at the many suggested areas (ref. Charlie's Charts), the waves were crashing to the shore and tossing us around like mad. Everything in and outside the boat that hadn't yet come loose was now tossing around from side to side. I was running around the interior trying to secure things while others would come flying. During this, Frank mentioned to me that a cup of coffee sure would be nice. Ha ha - are you kidding me? No, he wasn't. So after many failed attempts at hot coffee, resulting in brown water all over the galley, I threw some instant in a lidded cup with hot tap water and handed it up to him. He thought it was wonderful. Did I marry the right guy, or what? Finally, by 9 AM, we gave up on any hope of landfall at Cedros and headed back out toward the next scheduled port called Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay).

This stretch was even stranger than the previous. The skies were beautifully clear blue, the water a clear green but churning up white caps. The apparent wind gusted up to 40 knots at times. These conditions endured for the entire 6-hour journey to Bahia Tortuga, yet Destiny continued to make us proud cutting through the water like a knife not once heeling over more than 5 degrees, while most other boast we've sailed would have been rails to the water. Entering the bay the easterly winds were hitting us head-on so hard that we had the engine at 2500 RPM and were barely going 2.5 knots. We prayed for an opportunity to anchor here, otherwise it was going to be another 50 miles out at sea before the next stop. We were rewarded in the form of an angel named Ruben who waved us over to a mooring and helped secure us. We decided to take a couple of days rest here and get ourselves and the boat back in order. The interior looked like a twister had ripped through, with spillage and debris all over, yet miraculously nothing was broken. We looked at this as a great learning opportunity and set about to rearrange and re secure our belongings. Our bodies had taken a beating as well. We hurt in places we didn't know we had muscles. my back and knees hurt. Frank's fingers hurt and he has cuts all over them, but you cannot wipe the smile off of his face! We figure we are paying forward some rough stuff and wonderful days lie ahead. We heard from another sailor that Santa Ana type conditions had kicked up unexpectedly and that was the reason for our difficulties the past few days. We had a nice dinner and spent the next day working around the boat.

March 2
We made it through the first night pretty happy and impressed with our Destiny, as she endured the previous night like a tank. The skies began to clear by afternoon, we were still bundled up like Eskimos, and by evening the skies had cleared and a million stars danced in the night as we continued to rock and roll in 15 ft rollers with 25 knot winds gusting to 30+, with the main reefed in about half-way. We continued to average 8 - 10 knots of speed and to don more clothes. I was up to a t-shirt, two sweatshirts, and 2 pair of pants under my bibs and jacket. We just could not get warm. Amazingly, Destiny kept us dry and no waves had breached the cockpit.

March 1
We left Ensenada around 9:00 AM with our next scheduled stop at Cedros Island. Frank took us offshore (way offshore) thinking that's where the good winds would be. Little did he know there would definitely be winds! The daytime sailing was great, but cold. We bundled up and wore our foul weather gear which are like ski bibs and jacket, but with reflective strips all over. We donned our PDF's (personal flotation devices) and tethered ourselves into the cockpit. For the better part of the day we had good winds, were averaging a speed of about 8.5 knots, and then by late afternoon 10 ft. swells developed and wind speed picked up. Some dolphins played along in our bow wake, and although we'd seen whale spouts en route to Ensenada from San Diego there were none to be seen this day.As evening approached the sea temp dropped to about 40 degrees and it felt as though the air temp dropped to 30; the rollers increased as did the wind and the cloud cover completely blotted out all stars. We donned more clothes and sailed along in pitch darkness. Our routine for the next 2.5 days was taking shifts of 4 hours on/off. Grabbing sleep and nourishment on your off period. This was my first 24/7 experience at sea, and to me it was fascinating and a little thrilling. My only fear was that Frank would go overboard and I would not be able to find him, in spite of all precautions we were taking I just could not "let go and let God" this first time. So on my first few shifts of 4-off, I didn't sleep a wink. That first night the wind and rollers had increased to the point that we felt like we were riding the Tilt-a-Whirl at the county fair, and for the first time in my life I was feeling the onset of sea sickness. I took Dramamine, but a little too late to have much affect. The redeeming benefit of the pitch black night was watching the explosions of phosphorescence in the bow wake, created by disturbing the little creatures below as we plowed through the water; they would emit firefly-like glows in the water. It was like watching sea sparklers pulsate off the sides of Destiny's hull. This caused me to appreciate God's playful nature and desire to bring us joy under any condition. Each watch, our only job was to stay awake and vigilant for sightings of other sea craft - particularly large vessels that may not see us. The cloud cover continued to hover like a heavy blanket, and we were rocking and rolling in the ocean while we sat and contemplated our dear friend Rick's surprise 50th birthday party going full swing back in Denver. He could not possibly be having more fun than us!

No comments: