Welcome to our mid-life crisis! These are the chronicles of Laura and Patrick, their young son Jack, and their goofball Labrador Retriever named Evinrude (Rudy), as they travelled the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico in their catamaran. We went cruising in search of a change of pace, a closer knit family, and peace of mind. We found all three and more. The fun all started in October, 2008 and nearly four years later the Mexican adventure came to an end August 3rd, 2012. With our mid-life crisis cured in Mexico, we are excited to start a new adventure - life back in America.

Patrick has since joined the Sales Team of Marine Servicenter as a boat broker. Whether you are looking to make your dream of sailing away come true, or ready to sell your boat he can help. He can be reached at http://marinesc.com/about/crew/patrick-harrigan

Candeleros Chico

Candeleros Chico
Just another beautiful day at anchor on the Baja. 2010

Dolphins at play in the bow wake 2011

Dolphins at play in the bow wake  2011

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Almost a Hero, and Almost Dead

Our time in Mazatlan was as short as we could make it. We stayed just long enough to enjoy a couple of get-togethers with Third Day and Hotspur, do a final provision for the Sea since food in Mazatlan is so much cheaper than food on the Baja, and do a final boat wash down with a water hose for the next couple months.

With those objectives accomplished, we were gone on a straight shot to Baja California's Loreto, a trip of 306 nautical miles. The winds for much of it were a mild 5 knots, or nothing, so it was mostly a motorboat ride in calm seas. On one engine (for fuel conservation) we were making about 5 knots most of the way with a little help from the wind, which was mostly abeam of us. All factors adding up to ideal conditions for an uneventful passage - yet it was not quite uneventful.

We left Mazatlan just before dawn, and almost immediately ran into two fishing nets in the darkness. After a quick dip to make sure our props were not entangled, we managed to pull off both of them easily - but it set the tone for the rest of the trip. The next three days and two nights had more surprises in store. We continued motoring through the first day on a rhumb line to Loreto.

At 2 a.m. that first night, we ran into ANOTHER net in the pitch black of the moonless night. It was a very long one, and illegal. We were 36 miles off the mainland coast around the Altata area. Right next to us, trapped in the net was a large sea turtle, flapping ineffectively to free itself. My first reaction was to jump immediately into the water to try to free it, but Patrick restrained me. There was no moon, the boat was perched over the top of the cork line, and the wind was pushing us quickly away from the turtle. Patrick wisely pointed out that I would be lost if I jumped over right then and that our first priority was freeing the boat.

After Patrick's quick dip to ensure the props were free, we backed off and then began searching for the turtle so we could free him. We drove slowly up the net, far enough away to stay clear, but close enough to see it clearly in our spotlight. We could find no sign of the turtle. Hopefully, as we were getting ourselves out of the net we moved it around enough for the turtle to get free too. That is my greatest hope. It is so sad to see first hand the devastation that illegal nets wreak on marine wildlife. That image will stay with me forever.

In a TV show I would have been able to jump overboard, save the turtle and be drying off in time for a commercial break. However, in real life the facts are this - if you are separated from your boat in the middle of the night miles from land, it is very probable that you will die before you are found. I was only close to the turtle for a few seconds before our boat was blown away from it. I had no life jacket on, no line tying me to the boat, no knife to cut the net and no way to make sure that I would not become trapped in the net myself. And there was no time to assemble those items before the turtle was lost from sight. I wish I had a better ending to that story, but this is real life.

After that emotional experience, the trip continued on uneventfully through the next day. We break our watches on JaM up in the following manner. During the day time, we all three do stints at the helm, but not adhering to a strict schedule. Then at 8 p.m. four hour watches start for the nighttime. Patrick takes 8 to midnight, I do midnight to 4 a.m. and then Patrick is back on from 4 am through 8 am.

On the second night, I woke up just before midnight in the first nightmare I have had in years. It was all about alien abduction, and I was screaming in my dream, trying to keep them away from Jack. It was a truly terrifying dream. And then I got to wake up and go sit out in the endless deep black night with nothing around and wait for the little aliens to find me! Boy do you feel isolated and all alone when you are floating around in your boat, out of sight of land and everyone near you sleeping. I was definitely unsettled. And then in the midst of that nothingness, a meteor comes flaming down from the sky aimed right at JaM. I just about had a heart attack. I have never experienced a meteor coming toward my position on Earth, and it is very strange looking. It gave me that feeling of hopelessness like when I was a kid in a baseball game and the pop fly was coming down near me. What am I supposed to do??? It must have landed within ten miles of our position. That would have made an interesting blog post - boat sunk by meteor.

So all and all, a very strange passage. Through the rest of that night and the following day, little else happened except sightings of hundreds of dolphins, of many different types. We saw some amazing jumps taking them completely out of the water. Few bothered to come and play in our bow wake (probably since we were going so slowly) but there were times when they surrounded our boat. Dolphins are always a treat to see, up close or far away.

Now we are back in the Sea, and it feels like home. We are currently anchored off of Loreto and happily awaiting the arrival of my parents who are coming for a visit.

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