Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The seven day crossing (that usually takes three) or Everything is Eventual

We left Friday evening to head to the Sea of Cortez. The motor happily putted along for the night until we got the sails up. We sailed on as much as possible until the wind was non-existent. I turned on the motor and went to the foredeck to drop the sails and the motor got funky sounding. David tells people that I have a heavy throttle foot and burned the bearing out. Whatever the case was the motor was no more. Again. Oh well, nothing to be done out at sea. For the first three days we saw the Tres Maria islands. Three days with no change of scenery. Stupid islands. We had one mile nights and we did good if we had twelve mile days. Painfully slow. Suprisingly it didn't really bother us. Sure we wanted to make it to the Sea, but it was beautiful, warm and calm.

The wildlife was neat when it was present. We had some Black-vented shearwaters flying by the boat for a long time. We saw tropicbirds, a masked booby and a pomarine jaeger. A couple times we were fortunate enough to see some long-snouted spinner dolphins and they played at our bow after showing us some spectacular aerial displays. They have definitely earned their name. The spinner dolphins are the only dolphins that spin on their longitudinal axis. They can get up to seven full rotations with one jump! Truly an amazing sight.

By the fourth day we managed to sink the Marias. We even thought our wind would stay (silly us). We had 15 knots of apparent wind (9 true) and we made a big 24 mile day! David and I realized that we were excited with 6 knots of wind...sad, but true. Another day of bobbing. And another. And then...wind! We were able to fly the chute for a while as we progressed towards our destination of Caleta Partida. By then we had already missed two days of racing and fun of the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week and we started to get excited that we might just make it before the event ended on the sixth. By the night of the seventh day of our trip we were in the San Lorenzo channel. The wind was blowing like stank. Some 26 knots spitting us out of the channel at eight knots of boat speed. That was a change!

By 1:30am we were at Partida. Sweet relief. More than two hours of sleep just an anchor away. I went to tend to the windless as David led us screaming into the bay. Wouldn't you know the windlass wouldn't work. Some sprays of WD-40, many hopeful clicks of the remote and 10 minutes later it still refused to cooperate. We decided to loosen the anchor windlass with the wench handle and send it flying over the bow. As we were ready I let is go and...it stopped as soon as it hit the water. Seriously, this wasn't happening! We got the little stern anchor out, rigged, tossed over and brought to the bow and set. Of course by the time it set we were now one boat length away from the catamaran Don Quixote. We went to inspect the windlass electrical box to see if we would be able to use our proper anchor since it was still blowing 23 knots in the anchorage. After some hitting, cursing and prodding we got the windlass to work. YAY!.

Now what to do with the little anchor? David muscled up some rode and no we were two lengths from the the large cat. Ugh. We debated pulling it up, but it seemed set so good that it would never come up with it blowing so much. Hmm, bundling the remaining rode and tossing it over with a fender attached so we could retrieve it tomorrow? Too iffy. We settled on David wenching the anchor up until we were a more comfortable distance from Don Quixote. The rode kept getting stuck between the roller and the big anchor so David devised a plan: He'd let out 20 feet and I would grab the slack, run it through the chalk and around a cleat. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. He let it go and I hadn't been ready. I grabbed it but the rode had gotten full of tension by then. It did lift off the roller like desired, but it pinned my leg to the lifeline...not good. I weaseled my way out of that fiasco sending the rode to the side of the boat almost ripping a stanchion out of the deck before David got it under control. Well shit, now we were anchored from the stern back to a boat length away from Don Quixote. I did have a mental chuckle thinking if they were to look out* from their salon that it would bring panic to see nav. lights pointed directly at you 36 feet away. Not funny ha ha, but funny terrifying.

*I did talk with Toast and Dean the next day and they saw it all with a bit of worry not knowing it was us a.k.a. the awesome sailors.

David decided to turn on our poor little motor and use that to try and retrieve the little anchor. The motor will run for about two minutes before it poops out so we hoped that it would last for us. It did. We got the little anchor up and the big anchor down. Whew! What a trip, but we had finally made it.

The next day it was really touching to hear from so many people that they missed us and hoped for our quick arrival. We have great friends. We hailed Profligate and got their generator fired up and running on Eupsychia. We were amazed that the batteries lasted a week, but we weren't going to push it another day if we didn't have to. Richard asked us if we were going to sleep in or race to Isla San Francisco. I laughed and told him we sailed for a week to make this event and there was no way that we were going to miss one more minute than we already had.

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