Wednesday, May 10, 2017

En route to Caleta San Juanico: Misery, New Crew Member, More Misery, Some Pleasure

Yep. It definitely continues to be harder to keep up with blog postings. This time, I can't claim being "off the grid" as a significant reason, even though we currently only have a satellite connection. I think it is definitely attributable to the fact that the end of The Voyage is drawing nearer every day. Lots of thoughts and feelings welling up, many very personal, others lacking enough clarity to write about publicly.

Our passage from Bahia San Francisquito to Santa Rosalia last Friday night was miserable. The wind ripped from the west all night, blowing off the land at 20 to 30 knots and driving steep, short period four-foot seas onto our starboard beam. These combined with a three-foot swell from the southwest to create a violent washing machine that tossed us around mercilessly for most of the 18 hour passage. We should have been able to sail on a beam reach under the jib in these winds, but the seas were so confused that the sail alone didn't have power enough to drive us through them. Raising the main at night in such conditions with only the two of us was not a good option, so we ran an engine to keep us moving. There were times during that night that I thought I'd had enough sailing and was done with it for the rest of my life.

We spent Saturday recuperating from a long sleepless night and kept tabs on my son Luther's progress via air from Vancouver. He successfully joined Intermezzo on Sunday evening after three flights, an overnight layover at LAX and a long, delayed bus ride from Loreto to Santa Rosalia. It was great to see him and to welcome him aboard.

Monday morning we went grocery shopping to replenish perishables and let Luther pick out some of his favorite foods from what was available at the large Leys grocery store in Santa Rosalia. We departed from the marina in the afternoon and headed south to Punta Chivato to anchor overnight.

All of the wind forecasts indicated that we would have a nice sail from Santa Rosalia to Punta Chivato, with winds coming from a westerly direction. But I've learned to not trust these forecasts as they seem to hardly every be accurate for the Sea of Cortez. Indeed, we did start off sailing nicely with a westerly wind and I thought, maybe the forecasts will be right this time. But, I'm not kidding, not thirty minutes after having this thought, the wind shifted 120 degrees to blow from the southeast! Almost on the nose again! Un-fucking-believable! This time, I exclaimed out loud that I'd had enough sailing for the rest of my life! We motored the rest of the way to Punta Chivato.

The anchorage at Punta Chivato provides good protection for winds coming from the north and west. When we anchored, the winds were still blowing from the southeast driving a rolly swell into the anchorage, but it was unlikely that the winds would keep coming from that direction all night, so I figured conditions would get better. Wrong. It was a horrible night at anchor, a pattern of violent rocking, followed by a peaceful period, just long enough to let you fall asleep, followed by another bout of violent rocking to wake you up. I exclaimed to myself several times during my half-awake, half-asleep kinetic nightmare hat I'd had enough sailing for the rest of my life.

Finally, yesterday, we had a delightful downwind sail from Punta Chivato to Playa el Burro in Bahia Concepcion. Intermezzo glided along smoothly on calm seas at 7 knots under the Code 0. I said to myself, "I love sailing and can't imagine not doing it for the rest of my life."

We anchored the boat in el Burro's little cove and then Luther and I took the dinghy to go snorkeling around some rocks off one of the larger islets in the bay. For me, the snorkeling was just okay, but for Luther, I could tell he was really enjoying doing something he hasn't done for a long time. He's lived the past six years as a young urbanite in - New York, Beijing, Berkeley, Xiamen and now Vancouver. As a boy, he loved the outdoors - forests, mountains, the beach, the sea - and was an avid swimmer and snorkeler whenever he had the chance. I could sense that he was rediscovering his enjoyment of being back in natural surroundings. And I really enjoyed being in the water with him, which simultaneously brought back memories of swimming as a father of young boy and recognition that I was now swimming with an independent young man. Nothing compresses time more than children growing up.

A cold front as been passing through and around where we have been sailing, so it has been remarkably cool out, in the 60's with a cold breeze blowing most of the time. Poor Luther figured he'd be basking in the desert sun after months of Vancouver's cold, damp and rain. Instead, he's had to borrow one of my jackets to wear, even in the daytime. The weather is shifting though and I expect it will be warm again soon. My experience of sweltering in the tropics for months is now but a distant memory.

I'm writing this on Wednesday morning, May 10 as we sail towards Caleta Sa Juanico, one of our favorite anchorages on our way north. The wind looks like it might be blowing strong enough and from the right direction for us to sail soon. I hope so. Although I'm not counting on it. I'm a bipolar sailor.