Thursday, March 23, 2017

La Cruz: A Bashing Passage, A Couple of Lessons Learned

Our passage from Barra de Navidad to La Cruz was comfortable motoring followed by a few hours nice upwind sailing and then 10 hours of bashing against 20 knot headwinds and wind waves steepened by the effects of an opposing northerly current. Those ten hours were far from pleasant, but we endured them.

Not without incident however. 

I confess to have fallen to some complacency after the previous relatively peaceful passages. Before setting out for La Cruz, I failed to rig jacklines, the lines running up from the cockpit to the bow of the boat to which we can clip our ourselves to prevent falling overboard in rough weather. I also did not double-check that our deck hatches were dogged down.

The first oversight compromised our safety in the heavy chop as we approached and rounded Cabo Corrientes. Fortunately, I only had to go forward once to lower the mainsail while the seas weren’t quite as rough and I proceeded very, very carefully. If one of us needed to go on deck for something more difficult under rougher conditions, we would have had to rig something up at the worst time. No damage done, but bad risk management. One of my cardinal rules of sailing is: Stay on the boat.

The second mistake resulted in over an inch of water on the cabin sole when a large wave broke over the starboard bow and green water rushed along the deck. Some clothes and a few other items got wet but, again, no damage done. If I hadn’t happened to go below right after the big wave to get something, however, we would have shipped a lot more water during my watch and probably ruined my laptop and some other gear. 

So, what were the root causes of these two errors. One was pure complacency; until now we have been sailing in relatively calm waters where we don’t have to pay too much attention to the boat and can read, look at the scenery, etc. The other was distraction. As the end of our two year sailing adventure comes closer, I’ve been thinking a lot about life and what’s in store for the future. That thinking has been pretty intense at times. In this case, intense enough that I didn’t pay close enough attention to what I am doing now.

I’m resolved to correct these errors. We’ll go back to a more formal pre-departure preparation. And I’m resolved to make a greater effort to stay in the present and let the future unfold as it may…later.