AND like the waves and wind were bouncing us around, side to side, up and down, and like it was really frustrating, and like we were fighting for every foot hold and balance, and like it was #%!&$%# – it wasn’t like anything – it WAS all that and more. Personal hygiene? HA! Days and nights blurred between boredom and terror. To quote one of my favorite movies, “You know when you have found someone special when you can comfortably share silence.” That’s all that was comfortable. At no time did we think that we would consume 7 to 8 novels in a week. Books far surpassed our consumption of food.
We were on our way to the French Marquises islands and had been in the middle of the ocean for several weeks bouncing around, fighting the wind and waves, fighting for balance every minute, fighting sea sickness (we stayed well but it was minute by minute), and fighting to stay asleep. We were taking turns on night watch and feeling miserable and bored. Looked on the map and saw that we still had 28 days (roughly 2800 miles) left to get there. Then saw that it was only a 1000 miles to the Sea of Cortez. No brainer! I said “Hay, Honey. I’ve had enough. I’m making a 90 degree turn east to Mexico!
Daily diet consisted of 1 -2 cups of coffee, a beer, water, and whatever I could manage to cook. I made several soups and stews before departure that were easy to heat but difficult to eat. We had to chase our bowl and spoon. I laughed a lot because it reminded me of my mother. For all of you that have missed my diatribe on “If it isn’t one thing, it’s my mother. And there is always something or another with my mother,” earlier this year my mother underwent brain surgery – the honest to God, no doubt, real serious thing. Skipping over the details of this terrifying experience, I watched my mom re-learn to eat – to talk on the phone. She made great leaps and bounds, recovering faster that I dreamed possible but her fine motor skills lagged behind her gross motor skills. I digress to make this point – I wanted to simultaneously laugh and cry as I watched her chase her fork or spoon to her mouth. Little did I know – like mother like daughter!
We chased our bowls, our dinner wear, our food, and tried to time our bites with the waves. There is a picture somewhere of the stove in full tilt forward such that the stove top was pointed at the floor and my stew remained in the pot! We were wishing our table was also gimbaled. Not to brag but…I can cook in almost any condition. We had pork tenderloin with an apricot glaze, caramelized onions, potatoes and mixed vegetables. Eating said meal required real skills. Can I just add – HELLO MEXICO!
The one thing that I love about “Darrell and Gayle” the couple, we can recognize an error in judgment, change course, laugh at ourselves and attach no blame. We were (and still are to a degree) unprepared for this change of course to Mexico. We had not a shred of information on board about Mexico and even poo-pooed the idea of doing Mexico as our first trip in our “around the world” scheme of travels.
When sailing into a new port/marina or even an anchorage off a deserted island, there is so much information that is vital to not sinking your boat. You must know about submerged rocks, coral reefs, protected areas, water depth, prevailing winds, direction and size of the swells, how the tides run, and whether the bottom is sandy or rocky. Rocky bottoms mean that the chain attached to your anchor can get wrapped around the rocks and you lose your anchor. There are cruising guides and navigation charts that cover almost the entire planet. We had absolutely nothing on board for ANY part of Mexico, Central America.
Then you have to consider power consumption and how long you plan to stay. Darrell always worries about the diesel engine – our major source of power although we have wind and solar as well. He changes the oil every hundred hours and keeps an engine log. I worry about vacuuming, hot water and what happens when I use the broiler. YIKES! No fire department!
My love/hate relationship with my washer has turned to pure love – although I do have 35 days’ worth of underwear. Darrell…..not so much.
It’s funny (maybe not really) that all the research, all the blogs, all the magazine articles, and seminars we attended never mentioned that you go days without washing your hair – most of your ‘baths’ are taken in one cup of water and the romanticism of sailing all those beautiful islands and beaches never talk about what you go through to get there.
Putting all that aside, at this very moment, we are sitting in Ciao – an Italian restaurant of all things in Mexico, about 5 minutes from the boat eating an appetizer of antipasti and drinking beer. We are the only ones here and being treated like royalty.
Anyone with a sailboat and any sense has long left this hurricane ridden paradise. However, since we grew up on the Texas coast, home of world class hurricanes, we know you get some warning and what to watch for. One reason for a really big engine and 400 gallons of diesel. About 400 hours of HAUL ASS!
Did I mention that we saw a school of 500 or more porpoises? They were beautiful and entertained us for quite some time coming up to the boat, flipping, jumping, snorting and sailing off and back again. We have pictures posted at www.darrellsmith.com Here you will find a scant few hundred thousand of our favorite family pictures. And with the second set of granddaughters making their debut between July 24 and August 16, there will be a few hundred more.
I can’t tell you how happy I am (ditto the captain) not to be bouncing around the middle of the ocean. We are doing our second trip first – which means that we planned to sail Mexico to Costa Rico, then through the Panama Canal, to the Caribbean and on and on and on…
Maybe we will get to French Polynesia one of these days…but not anytime soon!
Till we meet again, matey’s….
Fair winds, following seas