Angel on the Spreaders
08 January 2018 | Barra de Navidad
It had been a tough day. Not dangerous, just tiring.
We left Paradise Village Marina the day before and anchored in Punta de Mita. All was well until the morning when the windlass wouldn’t pull the anchor up. It was sticking. After about thirty minutes, Jay was finally able to raise it and we were on our way.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was just rising and the seas were relatively calm. After breakfast, Jay went below to work on the windlass. Moaning Myrtle (Our name for the autopilot thanks to our friend, Alison.) was driving the boat. Gail, who was visiting from New England, and I were chatting, looking for whales and enjoying the beauty. Our plan was to take a day trip to Ipala and spend the night there. Then on to Chamela for a couple of days, followed by a stop at Tenacatita and ultimately to Barra de Navidad where there is a marina. What is the saying? “I make plans and God changes them.”
Around 1300, I noticed white caps behind us and knew that the wind was beginning to pick up. It wasn’t long before the wind was a steady 25-30 knots and the seas rose to 10 to 12 feet. I took it off auto pilot because it was too much for her to handle. We were flying south. Sometimes we would sail down a wave at eight knots. Meanwhile, Jay was still below trying to fix the windlass.
We were running dead downwind. With the waves pushing us around, it was a constant challenge to keep Cadenza in the pocket so we wouldn’t jibe. I did fairly well, but I did jibe once. At exactly the wrong moment. Jay was about to put the windlass back together and had the bolt in hand when the jerking of the boat forced him to drop it in the anchor locker. Gone. Now what?
We couldn’t go into Ipala even if the windlass was working because of weather conditions. It is a fair-weather anchorage. And with the windlass not working properly, we didn’t want to take the chance we would have to pull it up with the hand lever. Certainly not with one hundred and fifty feet of chain out and a 65-lb. anchor. The decision was made to skip the anchorages and go all night. We would arrive in Barra in the morning.
The wind calmed down around 2200 and the waves soon followed. The moon rose. It was a bright orange as it came up from behind the mountains. Absolutely beautiful. And almost full! The rest of the night was exactly what you dream of for a night sail. Calm wind and smooth seas.
Some time in the middle of the night, I was at the helm and looking up at the mainsail. I noticed something on the port side. I leaned over to see what it was. “Oh my God! What is that? Do you see that?” I asked Jay and Gail. It was a big white bird like nothing I have ever seen before. It’s wingspan was probably four feet and they were fluffy. It stayed there by the spreaders just flapping its wings. “It’s a bird! No, an angel! Maybe it’s my father. Or Mom. Or maybe Jack.”
“Are you hallucinating?” Jay wanted to know.
Both Jay and Gail saw it. It stayed for about a minute. As it flew away from the boat, I followed it with my eyes and it disappeared. Literally!
The next morning, I asked Gail, “What do you think it was?” She sat quiet for a moment.
“I don’t know.” She said. “But it was special.”
That it was.