Let us begin: Starting the Baja Haha
December 18th, 2019
Day 44! 44 days into this adventure. Our longest one yet. I think it’s Sunday. Oh, actually it’s Tuesday.
The other day Kyle asked “Is it Saturday?”
I responded “It’s Tuesday.”
So he was a few days off. We all are. It’s common conversation, “What day is it?”
To me, this question usually indicates im on Holiday. It’s my favorite part of being on holiday. Losing track of time.
Kyle and one of his besties, Dietmar and a young chap had brought the boat down to San Diego a couple weeks prior to our November 4th departure. And not without lots of trials, learnings and celebrations. But that’s a story for him to tell.
We were a crew of four, starting in San Diego. Kyle as the Captain, of course, Kyles Dad, Ron, another of Kyles besties, Dan, and myself. Three men and a lady. As the only lady I had just one request: Please put the toilet seat and lid back down when you’re finished. Which was met with a mild grumble.
Leaving San Diego was such a buzz! All of these boats gathered in the harbour. We all tuned into the same VHF radio station (Channel 69 aptly named “Pleasure") led by the Grand Poobah (the head organizer). We did role call with each boat saying they were present with however many souls onboard. We paraded our boats past spectators cheering us on and a police boat spinning in circles with their water spraying. It was quite the sendoff!
We rounded the corner out of the bay with the main sail up but to be honest, there really wasnt much wind. We were motor sailing for the first little bit. The large pod of boats dispersed. Some with their spinnakers out. Dan and I being the least experienced with sailing kept asking why we did'nt have ours out. We felt like we were being left behind. After a while, we were certain we were in last place. But Kyle was the man with the plan. In the beginning we could see tons of boats around us and on our electronic navigational chart. We saw with our eyes as tiny little specs or indicated as tiny little triangles on our chart, dwindled down to the one boat. Sailing Vessel, Sojourner.
This first leg of the race was 3 days and 3 nights out at sea, before we would reach Bahia Tortuga.
This was the first time I had ever been off shore sailing. Kyle and I had talked about how I might like it. We went about 40-50 miles offshore. Enough distance that you could no longer see land. Just sky and water. I kept thinking “Ok. This is what it feels like to not see land.” Unlike road trips in this way. Maybe this is what it’s like to drive across Mongolia or even just the Prairies of Canada. Still, it was only Day 1. Not a real sense of what it would feel like doing month long passages at sea. When day in day out just nothingness. It’s amazing how busy you make yourself in less than 200 sq ft. While the boat rocks back and forth, side to side, front to back… or rather I should say, port to starboard, stern to bow. At times you think there is actually a rhythm. That you could predict the next move. But no. The ocean does not conform to any of your needs, especially if you have the sickness.
I was in and out of sleeping which always amazes me when I find myself napping in a space only a cat could really find herself comfortable.
We had all found ourselves a spot to get comfortable in. All four of us in the cockpit. Quietly settling into our new adventure. Not more than an hour earlier, the fellas set the fishing line out when zzzzzzzzzzz the line started running! Our first fish!
Everyone jumped up and there was a real
commotion as they brought the fish in. Kyle on the line and Ron on standby and Dan on the gaff. It was a pretty fish. Jury is still out on whether it was a Bonita or a Skipjack… pretty sure it was a Bonita as we learned that Skipjack make a snorting noise when out of water which this fish did not make. Either way, the fellas enjoyed a feast of ceviche which Dan made quick work to prepare. While I enjoyed chips and salsa.
Kyle decided to try to salvage the cloths used to mop up the bloody fish slaughter mess by “laundering” them behind the boat. I suggested we sacrifice them to the sea.
All the days excitement started to mellow out and the sun was getting lower in the sky.
Kyle reminded us of our night watch schedules.
Here we go!
6am-12pm Ron and Dan
12pm-6pm Janine and Kyle
6pm-9pm Ron and Dan
9pm-12am Janine and Kyle
12am-3am Ron and Dan
3am-6am Janine and Kyle
We were still motor sailing. There was hardly any wind. Yet too much wind for the spinnaker. Which Dan and I were still questioning. There was still only the one boat off our port side. Sojourner. They called over trying to identify us since they could see us but we werent showing up on their electronic chart.
“Calling white boat with white main sail on our starboard side. We dont see you on our charts. Who are you? Sojourner over.”
"Sojourner. Sojourner. This is Calidris.”
“Ohhh.. K. How’s it going over there? Whats on the menu for dinner tonight?”
Casual conversations of dinner plans. Sail setup. Boat size and make. Where we are all from etc.
The night comes early. 530pm and we were in full darkness. It was also surprisingly cold! I had envisioned blazing hot sunshine and lazing around scantily clad. Instead i was in 2 pairs of pants, a long sleeve shirt, wool socks and my Patagonia fleece. By our 9pm-12am shift I was also wearing my down jacket. You’d think my PNW blood would be conditioned for this kind of damp cold, but I have been coined with the nickname “Brittle Bones” before. So my outfit was probably not entirely indicative of the cold.
Regardless! Everyone was some varying level of cold.
Another surprise was how well I slept on our off shifts. I put my earplugs in, eye mask on and lights out. Thank God! Even while the boat moved in every direction and never in any order. Even while my ears were being accosted by unsettling sounds of crashing and creaking and some kind of warbling sounds that i assume are the shrouds. They could easily be mistaken as sounds from outer space though.
There isnt much going on during night watch. Kyle and I chatted a little but mostly just sat in our own thoughts or read. I struggled to keep my eyes open at times. I know Kyle more or less let me lay there while occassionally checking in with him to see if he was awake. Or to take a look at the charts for any other boats or obstacles, or land, or to make sure we were still on course. I would watch the mast sway back and forth under the stars with the steaming light mixed in. I would listen to the sounds of the boat pushing her way through the water and the sounds of the sea foam dissipating.
Sojourner was still off our port side bringing comfort to the night knowing there was at least one other boat nearby. Apart from them, the only other life I had seen was a spider in the v-berth.
As much as in the moment, I appreciated Kyle letting me rest, I still wanted to do my part.
“Tomorrow I will do more! I will be less sea sick and more rested!” I thought as I crawled back into bed after our 6am end time and Ron and Dan took over our watch.