It was seven years ago that Sandy and I started this adventure. The sailing south, the traveling, the crewing, the rebuilding of many (most) of the systems on Faith and all the rest of the changes we have been part of the fun. We have turned around and NOT done things when it seemed the right thing to do. In fact, our motto has been (for a long time now), “If it’s not fun, do something else.”
Overall we have a very functional boat now. Things go wrong from time to time but we are comfortable and can fix or have fixed by someone else whatever the issue is. Our last passage was a case in point. We have been trying to go to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) for the last two years. We have yet to make it there. When we left La Paz we were smoking toward our destination. We had the wind on the beam much of the time and it took only eight and a half hours to get as far as Bahia de Los Muertos (a developer is trying to change the name to Bahia de Los Sueños… taking it from being the Bay of the Dead to Bay of the Dreams). There was a strong diesel smell below and we discovered that we needed to do a little work to get that stopped so we dropped anchor instead of continuing and dealt with the cure after letting the motor cool a bit. That night gave us another surprise… I got up early thinking we would pull up the anchor and go on but when I stepped into the forward head my foot landed in water. Oooops. It took some time to figure out what was likely wrong and to test the theories. In the end the suspected solenoid valve corrected itself after multiple flushes and we were ready to carry on. Naturally there was yet another issue that popped up. We had only old GRIB files to predicted weather along with the morning report on the shortwave net featuring up coming weather and it went from looking promising to looking and sounding difficult to make our voyage completed before the weather turned nasty. We don’t want to say that we are pretty much fair weather sailors but at this point we are fair weather sailors.
|The feathers show winds up around 25 knots in the area we would be sailing. No thanks|
So, it wasn’t too difficult to make the decision to turn back toward La Paz in the remaining short weather window we had.
This brings me to another change that has occurred in the last seven years. When we stared Sandy was a confident Captain most of the time and the things that caused her pause were few and understandable. At first she had almost no anchoring experience so was reluctant to anchor close in or in shallower water. We have discussions of how close to get to shore or other boats but, over time, she has come to rely on where I want to place us. A few things have helped in that confidence building over this time. One has been that I am the Navigator/Technician while she retains the Captaincy. This means that my role is to advise her of options while the real decision is hers to make. We discuss things but it is not important to me that my opinion has any more weight than anyone else’s. There are times when I understand that her process carries with it some stress. Coming into the dock, leaving the dock, anchoring in a crowd of boats… these things would cause me stress so when she cannot sleep the night before or, perhaps, raises her voice a tad I don’t take it personally. From experience I understand completely. On our recent return to La Paz we had a several tense moments where Sandy needed to heed my advice and she did but it rose to a new level some stress just prior to getting to the marina!
(To solve the anchoring too close to other boats I gave Sandy a golfing range finder so that she is certain that we aren’t too close other boats)
The entrance to La Paz is a little narrow, not horribly so but certainly it is important to follow the channel markers. As I looked in toward the entrance I was advising Sandy of quite a bit of traffic in the channel. My eyesight is markedly better than hers. There were also several boats aiming for the entrance and some under sail coming out of the channel. Boats under sail have the right of way over boats under power. Additionally, there was a tanker at the tank farm that more or less marks the entrance. The tanker was nearly blocking entrance. We had one ketch with only the mizzen mast under sail that seemed to be meandering in the vicinity of the entrance and another, larger ketch gaining on us from behind under motor power. While all this was going on I noticed that there was a Mexican Navy boat exiting La Paz… it was nearly invisible in the overcast light against a gray background of some condos that are still under construction and cement colored. The Navy here tends to be fairly fast but this time they were making a cautious exit. I lost rack of them for a few moments when they were hidden behind the tanker but eventually I saw them popping out of the last set of channel markers and that was when I noticed that the tanker might be moving! The navy exited, the large ketch gaining on us motioned us ahead and, finally, the “mizzen ketch” wandered off to other places. Then I saw clearly that the chain links on the anchor for the tanker were traveling up into the haws pipe and there was a very slight roil at the stern of the ship while the first buoy disappeared behind the bow.
“Go behind, aim for the stern,” I said.
“The tanker is moving out and I can see the anchor chain coming up,” said I.
“I don’t like this,” said Sandy.
“I understand but you need to do this and we can’t go in front of the tanker,” said I.
“Oh, but I don’t like this,” claimed Sandy as she executed the perfect change in direction. There was more that was said as we steered a good course away from trouble and the ketch behind us followed us in but a few years ago that would have been much more difficult to have discussed while executing.
This was followed by one of our combined-experience-worst-dockings-to-date so not everything is perfectly done (certainly not every time) in our world but we get along with what we do.
There are folks that don’t understand that I don’t NEED to be the Captain on s/v Faith. My joy is clear when coming into a marina and the guys with the clipboards show up. I get to point to Sandy and tell them that she is the captain and they need to talk to her. My joy is also often reflected in the opposite look of consternation the clipboard guys’ exhibit. Score several points to me for not playing into their hands. It works in the port captain’s office too even though I am there to translate and support the captain in being the best Captain she can be.
We have changed and evolved together and are still enjoying the adventure. We are also talking about not continuing to cruise... it may be time as things become more expensive AND complicated. We like Mexico but perhaps we can check off more items on the bucket list if we do other things. We can't just walk away from sailing and cruising but it is time that we start discussing the possibilities.