A middle aged woman with no particular distinction other than a wanderlust and love of languages travels through Italy, Mexico, Central America and Africa, often by sailboat. This is travel for the not so young, beautiful or wealthy who are still curious, energetic, and adventurous.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
TURTLE BAY TO BAHIA SANTA MARIA
Raising the Spinnaker
November 2nd, we left at 8:00 in the morning to
sail to Bahia Santa Maria. Winds were
light and we flew the spinnaker for the first time on Fool’s Castle. It went fairly well, given crew who were
novices with spinnakers. The wind built
as the day progressed, so we doused the kite and proceeded under sail with the
mizzen and stay sail flying. It got
lumpier and lumpier, but the day was warm and even the evening was
pleasant. Joel completed his 10 PM to 3
AM watch in his swim trunks.
Fool's Castle's Spinnaker
Tension between Scott and the rest of the crew has been
running high. Charles left us at San
Diego and the rest of us have been enduring constant outbursts from an owner
stressed to the breaking point who takes every fault with his boat as a
personal affront. He wants to be
informed of anything that doesn’t work, but is inclined to wound the
messengers. It is difficult to stay out
of his way in 43’ of space.
Ingemar had charted a course that roughly followed the
coast, instead of cutting across open water to Bahia Santa Maria. This course became more and more difficult to
steer as the wind continued to build. On
the morning of the 3rd, we could no longer continue on that course
and had to stand out to sea, back to the rhumb line we would have sailed if we
had gone straight across. This concerned
Ingemar, since we were off the paper charts (we still had two GPS chart
plotters operating), but I felt better when we began to see other Ha-Ha boats
for the first time since the prior afternoon.
Our plan was to sail west until 4:00 and then drop the main
and jib and motor under mizzen and stay sail straight towards Bahia Santa Maria
through the night. Shortly after 3:00,
the wind had built to a steady 25 knots and Michelle was having difficulty
keeping the boat from rounding up. I
decided to take in sail earlier than planned.
We rolled up the jib without incident, but things got more interesting
when I went forward to roll up the main.
The stay sail halyard was lead to the winch I needed to furl the main and
the stay sail was flying and full of wind.
As I was attempting to clear the winch without losing too much halyard
height, the shackle on the clew of the stay sail gave way and the big metal
fitting on the clew seemed bent on my destruction. At least it no longer mattered that I
maintain good sail shape on the stay sail.
I directed Joel to fall off so that the sail wouldn’t rip my nose off
and furled the main. Then, I was faced
with the task of venturing out on the bow to pull down and secure the stay sail
and rescue what was left of the self- tacking gear.
Boat under control, we laid a course straight for Bahia
Santa Maria. Soon, we were encouraged to
see the lights of other boats in the distance.
We pulled into Bahia Santa Maria early the morning of the fourth. Bahia Santa Maria is a large bay on the
outside of the barrier island that forms Bahia Magdalena. It is usually a lonely place, with only a few
boats and a handful of fishermen’s cabins, but that morning it was full of
Ha-Ha boats and looked quite welcoming.
It must have rained recently, because the hills were green and covered
with pink wildflowers and fluttering yellow butterflies.
Bahia Santa Maria
Having played Cinderella in Turtle Bay, I was desperate to
get off the boat. As soon as we had
recovered from our night of sailing, Michelle, Joel and I took the dinghy to go
ashore. At first we headed for the
inviting beach near the estuary, but the surf was breaking offshore and we didn’t
want to chance a landing there. We
turned around and motored laboriously against the wind and current (the motor
on Scott’s dinghy is a one speed, 1968 2.5 hp Evinrude) back to a small beach
near our anchorage. This was our first
attempt at landing a dinghy in the surf and my first experience with using
dinghy wheels. It would have been easier
if we had lowered the dinghy wheels sooner, but we managed to land without
breaking a shear pin or flipping over, so I counted it a success. The dinghy wheels were fantastic for hauling
the boat up onto the beach. I was able
to haul a rib well up onto the shore single handed.
There wasn’t really much of a beach there, but we had a good
time exploring up a little wash, drinking beer in the sun and playing in the
tide pools. We met many other Ha-Ha
participants there, including one gentleman who paddled ashore on an air
mattress, looking very relaxed. The
water was clear and warm and the temperature was ideal. After a couple of weeks on tension on the
boat, it was wonderful to have an afternoon free in what felt like paradise.
We had a bit of a time getting off the shore due to Joel’s insistence
on raising the wheels as soon as they cleared the bottom. He got caught between the dinghy and a rock
and had a tough time dodging the propeller.
Lesson learned: Leave your wheels down.
We did manage to leave the shore with some dignity intact and made it
safely back to the boat. Scott had also
elected to take the day off and had spent the day reading. He was in a much better humor when we
We spent a peaceful late afternoon on the boat and then
rigged up the barbecue and grilled steaks for dinner. I baked some sweet potatoes and made a salad
and we washed it all down with some nice red wine. It was nice for all of us to be able to eat
together, instead of shifts as we had to do when we were on watches. We were all ready to go to bed right after
dinner. We didn’t even make it to
cruiser midnight (9 PM.)
Bahia Santa Maria with Party Tents in Background
November 5th was another relaxing day in Bahia
Santa Maria. Boats continued to arrive
all day and night after we got in, but pretty much everyone had arrived in time
for the beach party that afternoon. The
residents of Bahia Santa Maria conspire with the Ha-Ha organizers to throw a
big bash every year. There was a lunch
of grilled marlin and seafood stew, lots of cold beer and a really great rock
and roll band that came all the way from La Paz to play for our tips. We talked to a lot of people and did some
crew recruitment for later in the trip.
There was a lot of dancing and people hiked up the hill to look over
towards Mag Bay. A couple of guys
floated down the estuary, drinking beers, as the tide went out. There was beach volleyball after the tide
went out and revealed the beach. We were
delivered to and from the party by the world’s fastest panga. I’ve never gone so fast in a boat.
After the exertions of the party, I made a simple dinner of
beef fajitas and we crashed early because we wanted to get an early start in
order to get to Cabo in time to meet Ingemar’s wife who was flying in on the 7th.