The Weater Rules

Sunday April 17-April 22   Cabo to Turtle Bay

Sunday April 17
I write these several days as a single blog because that is the way it feels. There is no difference between a Sunday and a Monday or between April 17 and the following number. Our life is not demarcated by the discrete events that organize an industrial society. These are senseless distinctions easily discarded at sea.

Today’s drama is the weather. One of my mantras is the weather rules, and our final go-no go decision is dependent upon it.   Careful study of several weather prediction models indicates a weather window (reasonably favorable weather without storms) of NW winds mostly less than 10 knots from Sunday April 10 through Thursday April 14. Winds build to uncomfortable levels for several days beginning late on Thursday.   In spite of the enormous amount of data and science that goes into marine weather or your nightly weather TV forecast, weather prediction remains a best guess.

RD is topped off with fuel, water, provisions for ten days of self-sufficiency. Siggy, Lisa and I finalize our plan to sail the 570 nautical miles from Cabo directly to Turtle Bay. Depending upon the wind direction and velocity, sea state, moods of the wind gods, sailing conditions and luck, it should take us between 80 and 100 hours (three + days).

We cast off in a celebratory mood and wave to the cacophony of fishing boats, tour boats, glass-bottom boats, pangas and jet skis that fill the harbor with vacationing tourists. If it floats it’s nearby! The harbor is Cabo’s Broadway and we weave through traffic and into the Pacific Ocean,at 2 pm Sunday April 17

at 2 pm Sunday April 17
We settle into a routine driven by the watch rotation. There are many ways to do the rotation, however I prefer to start with four hour watch at the helm during daylight hours, and 2-hour watches at nighttime (shortened to one hour in the event of rough weather). I mention this detail because captains and crews have for hundreds of years been experimenting and debating the best way to organize watches, and as far as I know there is no universal “right” way. Each of my crew members offers a personal preference, however they relent and the above watch rotation is posted.

The first 24 hours
Another of my mantras is “we sail when we can and we motor when we have to”. RD has three gears: sailing with sails only; motoring with sails down; and the combination of motor and sail power to improve speed and/or reduce fuel consumption. RD is particularly adept at motor sailing. The first 24 hours serves up some of each. We sail silently and comfortably for several hours, motor-sail the majority of the day, and then motor directly into a dying wind for several hours. hours.

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At night winds diminish and we have the pleasure of sailing under a gibbous moon down a moonbeam laid on the water just for us. The only spoiler of a glorious day is the boat motion makes both Lisa and Siggy uncomfortably “woozy”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day#2: Monday April 18We made about 110 nm in our first 24 hour period. A good beginning. We rock on through the day in weather that shows up as predicted.

Each day seems to bring a special event. On a glassy midday we celebrated the half-way mark by letting RD drift while we went for a swim in the largest bathtub in the world, the blue Pacific. The water was cool and exceptionally clear. It was followed by a brief fresh hot-water rinse. Who could ask for anything more luxurious? One more thing: all this was followed by a half hour of sunbathing au natural. Later I could feel a light sunburn on parts of my body that were surprised by sunshine they had not seen in many, many years.

Afternoon winds rise to 25 knots and we reef and sail along classically healed, close hauled and driving at 6 knots. It is another sailor’s afternoon… except for woozy crew.   Tonight is the full moon — big and round and bright and washing out all but a few stars and making the horizon line as clear as a dull day.

Day#3: Tuesday April 19
At sunrise a pretty groggy crew of three briefly meet in the saloon. Siggy, who is at the end of a long night watch, has no time for idle conversation and goes to bed. Lisa is still struggling with sea sickness, and I am shaking off my catatonic state, as I didn’t sleep well these past hours. Taken together we’re still functional, but our conversations are soft-spoken and short and to the point — perhaps in an effort to conserve our energies.

We have another 80 nm to go to reach Turtle Bay. The chart-plotter calculates that we’ll be there about midnight tonight.

Around 9 am our special event of the day shows up. A fishing panga pulls alongside and wants to exchange fresh fish for some candy and a few cans of Coke. We both agree and they pass the fish into our fishing net and haul our catch aboard.   We pass them a container of trail mix and Hersey’s miniature chocolates, and then throw them the Cokes. The deal is done and each waves his thanks to the other, and they speed away.

We are blessed to have Siggie on board, for he is a genuine Norwegian (the only one on board who knows much about fishing). We let RD drift while he clean the fish on the stern platform And then he manages the cooking. We don’t know the name of the fish we’re eating, however we know that brunch became the freshest, the tastiest, and the most flaky fish imaginable.

Day #4 Wednesday April 20
Apparently nothing memorable happened today.  We sailed on and it just blurred into the following day.  It looked like this:

Day #5 Thursday April 21
We arrived at Turtle Bay at 1 am, and more often than not I would not enter a harbor at night. But in this case several he variables were in my favor. (1) Turtle Bay has a hazard-less wide-mouth entry straight in, and a broad anchorage, (2) the moon was bright and full, lighting up the bay (3) the seas were motionless and (4) I was familiar with the bay since I’d visited it previously on two occasions. Anchoring was routine.   Sib and I had a drink to celebrate the long trip, and then went to bed! I slept like the dead.

the sun awakened me. The first order of business is to get the lay of the land. And ashore it is not the same land I knew.

It was shocking – like a shelled war zone.

The town has been devastated by a hurricane. Buildings have been stripped of their roofs, walls have crumbled and the fuel dock no longer exists. And there is no money for rebuilding, so the 1,200 residents just accept it and go on with their lives with the rubble around them. We found wifi at the Morocco Restaurant and met our boat neighbors examined the wx responded to email and enjoyed coffee and a pancake breakfast. Did I say the weather rules? We were blessed with the three and one half days of gorgeous sailing from Cabo to here. But our luck has run out.   The weather outlook is grim. At this moment we can expect to be pinned here at least for a week. Now our challenge is to make the best of it and enjoy this week.

Did I say the weather rules? We were blessed with the three and one half days of gorgeous sailing from Cabo to here.  Sometimes it looked like this:

And other times it looke like this:


But our luck has run out. The weather for te next week is one storm after another coming down the coast. Sig and I changed the ship’s oil and did a few maintenance items, and suddenly it was 5 o’clock.   Lisa returned and we had a dinner on board worthy of a king and then sat in the saloon conversing for several hours   — perhaps sensing that the door was closing on sharing time like this.

 

 

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