The Ever-Changing Sea
07 March 2017
February 24, 2107
0705 - We left the anchorage with no drama.
0830 - Jay is below for the morning ritual; checking in on the SSB and getting the latest weather reports. It is a bit rolly out here. The waves are hitting us on the beam. First whale sighting of the day. There are two of them. A spray. A wave of the tail.
1000 - This is why we are here. The sea has calmed and Cadenza is moving gently through the rolling surf. We just finished a hot breakfast. Our tummies are full. The sun is warm against our skin and the breeze is slightly cooler. It is a perfectly clear day. The coast is on our port side. A long, cascading mountain range drops down into the sand and the sea. The palm trees rise up high. Banana trees populate the orchards. Once in a while, a fish pops out of the water. There is no other boat in sight.
1115 - I just spent the last hour talking with Jay about his sailing/cruising life and recording it for the book. The wind is beginning to clock around. We are contemplating raising the mainsail.
1145 - The mainsail is up. The wind has clocked around but hasn't picked up beyond five knots. Need more wind to turn off the engine. Still motor-sailing.
There are no entries from here to the end of the day, as we were busy. This is the day after report. I am writing this, early morning, February 25, 2017, while at anchor in Chamela Bay.
Approximately 1400, the wind picked up enough that we decided to put up the genoa. It was quickly evident that this wasn't going to work as the wind was coming from the WNW and we were traveling SE. The mainsail was blanketing the genoa. To sail Cadenza properly, we would have had to turn her so she would be on a beam reach. Sounds good in theory, but the waves had built to about six feet and they would have been hitting us broadside. Not a comfortable ride. We took down the genny and continued motor-sailing with only the mainsail. We kept the motor on for two reasons. We wanted to use the motor to help us ride the waves. We wanted to get into Chamela Bay before dark and therefore had to maintain a certain speed.
Approximately 1430, the wind picked up to a steady twenty knots. We spent the next two hours sailing downwind at a fast clip. Six knots, plus. Meanwhile, the seas were building. I saw a big, green sea turtle struggling through the waves.
We headed for our waypoint that put us safely outside the Chamela Bay entrance. Due to the wind and the seas, we were even further outside by about another mile. Eventually, we would have to turn left and head in. This would put us broadside to the waves. Jay and I spent the last hour discussing our maneuver as we had to jibe our very large mainsail in a heavy wind in high seas that could potentially put us at risk for a broach.
The mainsail was set all the way out on the traveler to spill as much excess wind as possible. This meant we had to inch it up to the center point before jibing, to lessen the impact. Jay used the winch for this. I moved to the helm, turned off the autopilot, and got ready for the maneuver. Jay would handle the mainsail and I the helm. After, he said, he would come help me on the helm. This irritated me. (He asks me to trust him. Why can't he trust me?)
Running downwind creates an illusion. The wind is on our backs, so we can't hear it. We are riding up and over the waves, so it is difficult to get a clear perspective of just how big and how close they are to one another.
I turned the boat slowly. Jay handled the mainsail and it was a smooth jibe. Then, immediate chaos. The wind was howling and the waves were larger and much closer than we had thought. Now we were faced with six to eight feet waves with, maybe, five seconds in between. In order not to broach, I turned into the waves and rode them up and over, up and over. Only this took us backward, away from the entrance to Chamela. As waves come in sets, every time there was a bit of a lull, I turned her back on course. Little by little, we inched our way toward our destination.
It was like riding a bronco at full speed. Like I've always said, Cadenza is a thoroughbred and I can't say enough about her. I trust her. She is a strong, sturdy boat that seems to thrive in the Pacific waters.
To my delight, Jay recognized that I could handle her and sat back and let me stay at the helm. It did wonders for my self-esteem and his trust in me. Not only was I able to keep her steady, I was actually having fun!
Close to the entrance, Jay gave my tired body a break and he took over while I navigated into the bay. All was well. Both of us were exhausted. This is cruising too.