Every Sailors Nightmare
12 November 2010 | Mexico
E-mail from Mark
The below is an e-mail we received from a very good friend of our. This is every sailors nightmare. Please read and let all you know that is comming down the coast to Mexico know about the currents at this particular place. Our friend Mark is however in good spirts. This story will also appear in Latitude 38. Here is a little background on Tachyon. Mark bought her and spent many years gutting her and rebuilding her. She was in tip top condition. Now here is his story.
LOSS OF S/V TACHYON
The following is a brief recap of the recent week. Please excuse if some of the dates are incorrect. Many things have happened during the past few days and keeping track of time, especially here in Mexico, is almost unimportant.
Somewhere around 0430 on October 31, while about three miles from the anchorage at Bahia Santa Maria, Tachyon went hard aground on a sandy beach.
The chart plotter showed the light on the point just north of the Bay, and the auto pilot faithfully maintained the course I trusted to bring me to the entrance of the anchorage. A nice NW breeze and double reefed main kept us moving at about 5 knots. I was dozing lightly in the cockpit waiting for enough light to avoid entering what, to me, was a strange anchorage. Unfortunately, I wasn't fully aware of the strength of the currents in this area, which is also very shallow very far out. Daybreak gave testimony to this by revealing the remains of a cargo ship and, within a few miles, the hulls of three other sailboats.
Although on the "correct" course, the current and wind pushed me too far to the east. I awoke to the noise of the keel hitting bottom and the roar of the surf. I immediately tried to recover but the elements worked against me and I was washed further ashore. Around 0530 I sent a Mayday requesting assistance. Forgive me for not remembering the names of the first responders, the same ones who agreed to get together and form some plan of action. The information was relayed to Profligate, who left the anchorage and appeared to my west around 0700.
Richard and his crew agreed that the situation was tenuous at best and advised that they would send a shore party to assist. During this time I was being pushed further ashore by the latter part of a rising tide and the hull was now pounding on the sand and rollng from side to side on her keel. Around 0800 the first of a party that eventually reached more than 50 people arrived and suggested that we begin to strip the valuables from the boat. My hope, of course, was to get her off the beach and I wanted to remove only the most valuable items for safe keeping on shore. However, the majority of the rescue party saw what I didn't want to see. Namely, that the boat was lost and everything should be stripped before it was too late. At the end of the afternoon, after an heroic effort working on a severely listing boat, nearly everything of value was removed and placed in piles on the beach. Thanks to Andy Turpin for his organizing skills.
Robert Hoyt of Mag Bay Outfitters based in Lopez Mateo overheard the radio traffic and arrived with four or five men and three trucks offering to transport and store the gear at his place in Lopez Mateo. In the early evening we began to make plans to attempt pulling Tachyon off the beach. I spent the night aboard sick at heart and discouraged, but somewhat hopeful that she could be set free. At 2200 I awoke to the sound of people climbing aboard and scary thoughts began to run through my mind. As it turned out, these were part of a group of marines that were sent to question me, set up a camp and stand guard over the rescue effort. On the morning of November 1st, I went ashore to sort through the piles of gear remaining, get acquainted with the marines and organize my thoughts. During the afternoon, Bob and his crew worked with the rising tide, lines, anchors and trucks to reposition the boat so she was bow on to the sea and placed two anchors 500' out. Early in the morning of the 2nd, Bob and his crew used 1000 feet of line and a Panga with a 75 hp motor to try towing the boat off the beach. Although unsuccessful, we were able to see some movement and agreed to try again in the morning with bigger equipment. This week saw steadily increasing tide heights for five successive days, so we were encouraged. However, the increasing tide height also increased the height of the surf to 15 to 20 feet. I spent the rest of the day organizing gear, helping the marines set up camp to shade us from the sun and getting lessons in Spanish. We used cushions, lines, sails, whisker poles and anything else to create a comfortable place to stay, dubbing it "Casa Linda". Bob had also contacted the Navy stationed at San Carlos and advised them of the situation. During the afternoon they dispatched one of their new "Interceptor" boats to recon. These boats are large, flat bottomed, heavily armed craft with twin jet engines used for quick response drug interdiction. I was able to return to Lopez for a much needed shower, hot food and a bed that was not moving. On the 3rd, we once again tried a tow with a Boston Whaler equipped with a 300 hp motor. Although some slight movement was noticed, we were still unable to move the boat off the sand enough to free her. At the same time, the stern of the tow boat was almost pulled under and we had to abort. It became apparent that the boat would have to advance at least 100 feet to gain enough depth and get off the sand. During the afternoon, the captain of the interceptor arrived with crew, more officers and photographers. It was his intention to turn the rescue operation into a training exercise and he spent the rest of the day instructing his crew on how to attach a bridle, towing angles, testing, line dimensions, etc. The plan called for the Interceptor to arrive at 0630 the following morning with 1000 feet of heavy line. A Panga would deliver the line from him and attach it to the bridle on Tachyon. My marine guards left in the evening since there was nothing left to guard and, quite possibly, the boat would be free in the morning. I spent the night on the beach in a Panga with mixed feelings of hope and discouragement. "Hope" because of the tremendous amount of work expended, higher tides, a powerful boat standing by and encouraging words from friends. "Discouragement" by hearing the sounds of Tachyon pounding on the sand, listening to the shrouds and stays shudder violently with each impact, piles of wet sandy gear spread over 25 miles, a cold, wet, sore and sand scoured body and the sudden loss of years of work and preparation. The following morning saw an increase in the feeling of discouragement when no one showed up at the appointed time. Eventually it was discovered that the higher tide had also increased the height of the surf to 25 to 30 feet, the Interceptor had been called off on another mission and the vehicle access on the beach had narrowed to the point where driving was impossible. When I was able to reach the boat, I discovered that the lashed wheel had prevented the rudder from swinging freely and the subsequent hobby horsing and yaw had damaged the quadrant, rendering the steering mechanism useless. Water was also observed in the bilge, but I assumed it was from water coming over the gunnels and through the companionway. Later in the morning a messenger from Bob arrived on a 4 wheeler confirming what was just described. I was able to phone and discuss with him my intention of declaring the boat a derelict. After the tide receded enough to allow vehicle access, Bob's crew and I started removing everything else of value, including the engine. We returned that night to Lopez to make further plans. On the 6th, I remained in Lopez while the crew returned to retrieve the mast and anything else that may have salvage value. Upon their return, they reported finding sand in the bilge and the portlights broken from wave damage. The hull had been breached and this report finally closed the adventure that Tachyon and I had started on so many years ago. Last night I hitched a ride with a San Diego native, returning home from a fishing trip off Mag Bay. We arrived in San Diego in time for me to purchase a ticket for a flight to San Francisco leaving on the 8th.
To get an idea of the tremendous effort expended, one must realize that this beach is a narrow edge of a barrier island stretching from Punta San Lazaro north to the entrance to Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateo, a distance of nearly 30 miles. To the east of the beach is a range of inhospitable sand dunes. As the slope of this beach is so gradual, any increase in a tide narrows the width of the part able to be driven upon. The tide cycles for this week were such that any vehicular traffic had to be done in the middle of cold, foggy nights. In addition, since this is an island, all the gear transported from the boat had to be reloaded onto a pontoon ferry for a trip to the town's dock which is another hour away, where it was once again loaded onto trucks for the trip to the storage yard.
The men operating these vehicles are utterly amazing. Driving on this beach in the middle of a moonless, foggy night, maneuvering between the waves and dunes, appeared to require nerves of steel. Yet, they approached this with the calm of years of experience. I have never before been afforded such help and comfort by anyone, anywhere. These people are truly misrepresented by the US media.
Another group to whom I owe a debt of gratitude I can only hope to repay goes to the members of the Baja Ha Ha 2010. It was an awe inspiring site to witness more than 50 fellow sailors arrive by foot and car to work together for a common cause. Working on a boat lying on her side is difficult at best, but an heroic effort managed to save almost everything of value. In addition, they took up a collection and donated some much needed money that will help me get home. Without this assistance, a bad morning could easily have turned into a disaster with much more significant proportions.
Los Algodones Baja Mexico
31 May 2010 | Baja Mexico
We are staying in Yuma Arizona which is close to the Mexican border. This morning we went over to Los Algodones Baja, Mexico to check on the price of new glasses. Well we parked the car in a parking lot that is on the Indian Reservation, gathered the dogs and our passports and walked into Mexico. No one checked us for anything. We just walked right across the border. The optometrist shop is just a few minutes walk from the border and the service was good. I was amazed that every employee spoke English. I had planned on speaking what little Spanish I know to get glasses ordered. About an hour and a half later, mom, Russ and I had eye exams and glasses ordered. Moms glasses were $55.00, Russ reading glasses $45.00 and my glasses are transitions, progressive bifocals were $105. My last pair of glasses in the states for the same thing was $300. You have a choice of getting the glasses in two hours or you can get them in twenty-four hours. We opted for the twenty-four option. So we will be back there tomorrow. We decided to walk around and find a cup of coffee to see if it will help my headache. The street vendors here are more than willing to make a deal. Everyone we talked to spoke English. That again surprised me. We had more offers to purchase our dogs here than any other place in Mexico.
It is very hot here the temperature this afternoon is 102 degrees. Tomorrow we will go back to Los Algodones Baja, Mexico to pick up the glasses and then head to Quart side, AZ to visit with Mom and Dad's friend for a short period of time and then head farther up the road.
Street fun south of the border
Lumpy Bumpy Ride
05 December 2009 | Aqua Verde to San Everisto
We left Aqua Verde at 8:45 am. Put the main sail up while at anchor. The weather forecast was for no wind and left over swell from the mild norther of yesterday. It was a lumpy bumpy ride for the first few hours, just enough lump and bump for me to need seasick medication. Breakfast for me was at about 11:00 am and by 1:00 pm I was down for a nap. I awoke to the engine slowing down and asked if we were here. In case you were wondering where HERE is it is "San Everisto. We were around the corner from our destination. It was time to bring in the fishing lures. No fish was caught on the entire eight hour passage. Dinner will be from can goods and left over steak. To bring in the fishing lines takes a little time especially when you are as anal as I am. One lure is on a fishing pole and the other is on a drag line. The drag line is a two foot bungee cord and attached to that is about 75 feet of parachute cord then 18 inches of stainless steel leader and then the lure. All of this gets wrapped up onto a small carbon fiber tube. While I was doing this Russ turned the boat into the wind with the Autohelm auto pilot and dropped the main and tidying up so there will be less clean up at anchor.
It surprised me the feeling I got when motoring in to San Everisto. It was like coming back to see a good friend. We have such fond memories of this place it is to bad we will only be here a night of two. Since we made a reservation over in Mazatlan for December 20th, that now put us on a schedule.
Goat Cheese & Fresh Tortillas
30 November 2009 | Aqua Verde Baja Mexico
We pulled into Aqua Verde and There is another boat here. Evergleem with Gordon on board. We had him over for fish dinner and her brought homemade bread that he made in an over he built that goes on the stove top. The bread was fantastic.
Sherri and Gordon dingy over and we invited them over for happy hour at 5:00 pm. They were headed into town. Later that day Pikea Mist arrived. The plans were changed and we all had happy hour on Serenity a 52 foot Tyanna. This is a beautiful boat.
We took the dingy and headed to town to get goat cheese and a few vegetables. We got a kilo of cheese and put an order in for another kilo. We gave a quarter of the kilo to Alan and Alison on Fly Aweigh. Today at 4:00 pm is happy hour on the beach.
We have a date on the beach with Mary & Eric on Sorceress, Alan & Alison on Fly Aweigh to walk to town. Now to walk to town is really a hike. You start on the North beach and hike up the road which goes around to the backside of the mountain and down to another road. this road is pretty much sand and you walk this until you make a left turn and walk through the river wash (there is no water in the river wash) and hike into town. We did get some fresh handmade tortilla's and a coke. The walk back is along the water front at low tide. If the tide is high then you can not walk it. We started at 12:30 and was back at the boat around 3:30 pm.
Alan and Alison came over to see our boat and while they were here Russ showed her all his electronic health toys. He used the magnetic pulser (made by Sota) on the cut on her leg. He also had her put some Oregon Crème Ointment it. We then went over to see their Catalina Morgan 440. What a beautiful boat. The floor plan is to die for. We stayed later than planed, however we really enjoyed our selves. They gave us a nice bottle of wine for the cheese and the healing. We hope to meet these guys again.
We stayed on the boat today. Both of us were hurting from the major hike from the North beach up and around the large hill to town. I read and made some jewelry.
Thanksgiving with Hidden Port Yacht Club
26 November 2009 | Puerto Escondido
Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks for all that we have. If you can't be at home with family then the next best thing is to be with friends. We had the most wonderfull turkey dinner with all the trimming and then some to include desert. We ate and we ate some more. We met new people and had good conversation.
Turkey day is also a day for memories. One of my memories is when we were invited to dinner at a friends house and at the dinner table everyone had to tell what they were thankful for, and it could not be just the everyday run of the meal thanks, you had to dig down and think about what you are really thankful for. Now every thanksgiving I ponder that question until I come up with the answer that feels right. This year I am thankful for being alive to enjoy and watch life and the new friends and loved ones that will enter our lives. This is a treasure when you can do this in good health.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone and may you spend it with a loved one.
Good Friends, Hot Tea, Spa Day
25 November 2009 | Puerto Escondido, Baja Mexico
Yesterday afternoon our friends Dave and Marcia on Juniata motored in to the anchorage. It was so good to see them again. We have not seen them since last May. After they got settled and we got together and played the "What did you do over the summer" game. It was wonderful hearing their stories. Dinner at the Porto Bello Restaurant lead into more conversation and more great stories. It's to bad that they are on a fast track to Mazatlan. They left early this morning.
Good friends are like a cup of hot tea and a good book on a cold winters day. As of now we are still on our plan to mosey on down to La Paz and meet up with Apolima and then make our way farther south to Mazatlan to meet up with Juniata. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been invited to go to the spa with seven other women and hopefully new friends. We eight girls are going to the spa to be pampered. I think I will have a pedicure. I am told that they have a jacuzi there and while some of the girls are getting their pampering the rest of us will wait in the jacuzi for our turn. SOUNDS LIKE A MARVALOUS DAY!! What girl would not like it??????
Now, the news with the puppies. We have took Lucy off the dry Buffalo Blue dog food yesterday and this morning her bowls seem to be better. The jury is still out. Some of you may ask why I would put this in the blog, well Taco and Lucy have some special grandparents that are concerned.
Let me digress way back to the begining when the crusing decision was made. We told people that we were going crusing and the response was interesting. Pictures of cruise ships danced in their minds. When we told them we were going on our boat and that the cruise ship would have to find someone else, they still had maid service, buffets and live entertainment in their thoughts. Well, we are on a cruise ship and this is how it goes:
On our cruise ship we have maid service and I am the maid, we have midnight buffets (if wanted) and I am the chef, we even have live entertainment, dolphins, whales, birds and now two puppies. We even have water sports, snorkeling, dive plane and lets not forget fishing. We even have a captain in the cockpit and maintence man whom we call Russ.
So I guess you could say that we are on a cruise ship, just not the 1000 ft one.
Well if you have never been to the Loretto Spa, then you are missing out. The pedicure is the best one I have ever had. The half hour massage was pretty darn good also. Loretto spa is a class A place and I look forward to going back in May. There were eight ladies and we all had different treatments. To start they gave us our choice of water, coffee, tea or white wine and to go along with that there was a cheese and cracker plate complete with green olives and chocolate, also an apple plate with a couple different kinds cut into slices. Now that we have been greeted it was time for the pedicure. Four of us had a great relaxing time in the massage chairs with a glass of wine and a pedicure technician working on our feet. It does not get any better than this. The only problem is that when it was all said and done we were so relaxed that all we wanted to do is go take a nap. What a great day.
Cheers to all and have a splended day.