24 August 2008 | Bahia de la Muertos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Marko Sillanpaa - a little windy!
So first off who is this guy Marko? I've know Jeff and Kirsty for years. I worked very closely as Jeffery's counter parts at Documentum and we have remained friends ever since. Jeffery even taught me how to snowboard.
Hearing that Jeff and Kirsty had acquired a used sailboat I expected to get the call to help provide assistance (a.k.a. free labor) to help get the Nemesis "shipshape" especially as I asked for one week in the Polynesian. Imagine my surprise when they said they were really just looking for a break. But that, as they say, was not meant to be.
For those that didn't read my earlier comment or Jeffery's entries, our original plan was to meet in La Paz but due to departure we met instead in Cabo. Our first overnight spot just wouldn't hold. Being that both Jeff and Kirsty had been sailing mostly non-stop for the last seven days, I offered to take the first watch. My shift was smooth sailing except for the consistent lightning strikes I saw behind me. I passed my watch on to Jeffery with warnings of the impending rain and went to sleep.
I was first awakened by Jeffery some time around 2:00 am. Jeffery said he had seen a grey orca whale, or maybe it was Moby Dick. Even pointing to the light to where the supposed beast was neither Kirsty nor I saw a thing and I went back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later to hear that both Jeff and Kirsty had both had periods of rain with period of clear, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but I went to sleep anyway.
It all erupted at around 6:00 am. Kirsty had made it to the "Bay of the Dead" (why give the Mexican name when the English translation gets to the point so well.) We were getting hit by southern winds and realized that we would not be able to make anchorage. The weather wasn't getting any better and we still didn't know what it was, but I had an idea.
As Kirsty yelled out to Jeffery sailing terms that I couldn't understand I decided my time best would be to see if my hunch was correct. If you read my earlier comment, my departure from Florida was almost delayed by a hurricane and my gut said this is what it was. So I made a call to my sister to see if she could do some net searching to find out. Five minutes later my hunch was validated. The area of tropical weather we had been watching had turned into a full fledged tropical storm on the northern boundary of the system.
As the winds died down again, basically another band of the tropical storm passing by I passed on the news. Kirsty took to navigation to find any protected anchorage as Jeffery took the helm under sail. With no protected anchorage in site we knew our first anchorage was La Paz 60 nautical miles or 12 hours away. After sailing for another 15 minutes both Kirsty and I asked Jeff if it might be a better idea to sail under power before the next band hit us.
Jeffery and Kirsty took turns at the helm as I basically watched, and gave moral support, like a gopher from the cabin. The idea of wearing a life vest full time was part of a vacation for me and I was not about to get on deck and "strap-in".
As the storms got worse we made an inside passage to gets some protection from an island to the east. You see tropical storms work in a counter clockwise pattern. In our cases we were being hit by winds from the south, or southeast. The Isle Cerralvo gave Jeff and Kirsty a little bit of a break (but still running on only Gatorade and no food) and both able to get a little sleep. But the fun was yet to come.
As we came to the San Lorenzo Channel the storms kicked in again. Jeffery at the helm decided to show off and did the first ever donut (360) I've seen with a sailboat. Back to sailing terms I do not understand, he was adjusting the sails with Kirsty still in the cabin. Once things were back under control we started making our way through the passage, Kirsty took control. Not to be undone as we exited the channel, she decided to also do a donut but actually topped off by doing a 540 putting us back into the wind. In both situations I found myself doing sailing moves that I really still don't understand with the mainsail, in the last I know it basically brought the sail down completely.
Finally after another hour, we were headed towards La Paz shielded from the winds to the south by the mainland. Reviewing the last few hours we realized that we had seen gusts hitting 35 to 40 knots.
But Julio wasn't done with us yet. As we went to anchor in the marina he hit us with another few gusts hitting around 20 to 25 knots. Once we were tied down I jumped off the Nemesis, to place my feet on the "solid" ground of the marina. My intended vacation of diving had been canceled, but then again who many people can say they sailed through a tropical storm?