Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 17 - Wing on Wing

During this sailing expedition I have enjoyed the pleasure of a perfect anchorage, every 2nd or 3rd day, when Mother Nature is kind, and a sound, blissful sleep is granted. Nothing can compare, nor can I adequately describe, being cradled by a boat's hull and gently rocked by calm, sea wavelets. Today well rested, I feel the routine of living on water is creeping into my comfort zone, like slipping on a pair of shoes made just for me.

This morning dawned chilly with clouds, crushing yesterday's enthusiasm for hiking the El Rincon trail, so I venture on deck with my morning cup of hot, vanilla chai tea. While contemplating my last few days at sea, a panga boat steered by two local fishermen tentatively approached. They inquired about cigarettes but I was really hoping they stopped by to sell fish. After exchanging broken pleasantries sprinkled with smiles (some with teeth, some not) the two fishermen motored away on their quest.
Fishing casitas, Ensenada la Partida

A short while later, from below deck, I heard the sound of their motor once again. They had returned this time looking for AA batteries. During this "conversation" I learned these fishermen were part of a small group who live in the casitas (shacks) on the isthmus, three weeks out of each month, before returning La Paz to visit family - a foraging lifestyle and a link to our past. First hand exchanges like these paint a picture of a world unknown to me.

I feel we could have talked for much longer but breakfast was ready. Captain Mike made a great batch of hash browns, extra crispy, with eggs over-easy. And the fishermen must wait for another day before the ocean delivers their meal.
SV Zulu - pirate style
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If you've been tracking this journey you might remember me mentioning the wacky winds that unpredictably whip around these islands from all directions. I have also learned that weather reports are sketchy here, subject to frequent and often inaccurate interpretation. Weather is a first priority conversation for sailors on the VHF radio. The next topic naturally is... who is right? The answer is, "Yes", and then the wind changes, depending on where you are.

With the wind at our back, leaving Ensenada la Partida marked the only day we've been able to sail directly, without motor assist. Anchor up, spin the wheel, furl the jib and the Compass Rose eases out to sea. I feel like a Pirate right now, especially after watching Zulu embark just after sunrise.

So today we sail wing-on-wing, wind at our back, with the main sail starboard and the staysail port.  It was more work that I imagined. I would take the helm and aim her on course, but during the channel pass between Isla Espiritu Santo and La Paz, the winds would swirl, change direction for a moment and swing the booms before changing yet again. Sailing wing-on-wing requires constant monitoring particularly with today's swell, pitching the boom at any moment.

Midway, we were rewarded with another 'fly-by', as I call it, by SV Magic on her way to, coincidentally again, the same cove we were headed for. By the time we arrived at Bahia Pichilingue, Magic had secured her spot and we saddled up nearby. It's always a pleasure to meet and greet with fellow cruisers and this was no exception. 

Over two weeks at sea, I was ready for a new restaurant experience and there were two on the beach to choose from...

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