Friday, November 26, 2010

Down Wind

Another crewmember departed. I just dropped Will off at the city bus in busy downtown Puerto Vallarta. Its sad to see him go. With a rush the bus was off and the person I'd sailed 550 miles with was gone, off to Queretaro to see his Sarah, working for the Peace Corps. I have a a week here in Marina Vallarta, before Sara joins me for 6 weeks of sailing. I don't think it will be a lonely week, despite the fact that I know nobody in the city, because I'm going to treat it like a mini-shipyard, attempting to fix the top 10 things that need to be repaired before we attempt to cruise 'for real.'

Our sail from San Carlos to Puerto Vallarta, started off quick. We fueled up, motored out past the towering Tetas de Cabra and waited for the wind to kick in. We quickly left of the lee of the headland and felt its effect. It wouldn't leave us for three days. We began to feel the first few rolls. Gradually at first. Then building. A constant force. We quickly hoisted sail and killed the engine. There was no thought of motoring. This was a steady breeze blowing straight toward our destination. We quickly were wing and wing, with the wisker pole set on the jib and a preventer on the main and we stayed that way for the next three days, surfing along at sometimes 8 or 9 knots, in 15-18 knots of wind. Perfect breeze. Except for the steep Sea of Cortez waves that built up. Sometimes towering above us, sometimes fading into a small chop, but with the same steady breeze. We must have averaged 7 knots over that time. We were making great distance and if felt good. But we were stressed. To be back sailing again takes a mental concentration that I have not been accustomed to in years now. Will was in awe, of the ocean, the waves, the life, the sunsets and this dynamic, overpowering, sometimes threatening environment around him. He was an amazing crewmember. He cooked some of the most delicious tacos while the boat surfed down crazy waves and rolled violently gunnel to gunnel. It was all we could do to hold on, let alone get gourmet with jalapenos and onion and a sharp knife. The only time Will was scared is when the waves were getting really big, still with the same wind, but taller and taller. And the sun going down, I mentioned that I didn't understand why the waves had grown so tall. His imagination then had them grow to twice the height and I had to tell him that we were going to easily handle whatever the Sea threw at us.

One actually stressful thing for me is the fact that Sula has been sitting untended in storage for a while now and she is starting to show the effects. There are dozens of projects that I should be attending to, but not the time to accomplish. So the next week will be my time for that. Very unfortunately, the Monitor self-steering windvane had a failure about halfway into the trip. Beloved Karuk who steers through thick in and thin, suddenly would not steer at all, and when I looked down into the wake I found no windvane rudder at all. It had completely sheared off, leaving only a ugly torn stump of stainless steel. The ocean doesn't care if its 316 Stainless or 304! Time will break everything down. Will didn't mind. He wanted to steer anyway. But it only added to my list of things needing attention.

On the third day the wind died. Just south of Mazatlan. At the engine came on. It ran fine thank god. It was an otherwise uneventful trip. Beautiful sunsets and rises. Great sailing. Amazing meals and moments of peace and thought while standing a long night watch. Whales, fish, birds, and being surrounded by nature.

We rounded Punta Mita at sunset last night and dropped anchor off the Four Seasons Jack Nicklaus golf course. Today we had an amazing sail the last 16 miles to Marina Vallarta, a ragtag Mexican experience. See photos taken from the iconic 'El Faro' bar just next to the marina.

Happy to be here. Excited to sail to some truly amazing anchorages with an amazing partner! Sorry to see another crewmember leave for a voyage in another direction. Grateful to the ocean for delivering us yet again, from her bosom, to another shore.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Nick --

I love reading your blog and hearing about your adventures. Keep 'um coming.

Rob Hibler