Sometimes a word or two accomplishes more than a lengthy explanation.
“You have to ask yourself, is this an adventure or an ordeal?” Grammatically a question but delivered as a directive, Donna aboard sailing vessel Magic Carpet, effectively and sufficiently responded to my explanation for Seamore Pacific leaving the marina, only to have to return two days later. An adventure or an ordeal, are litmus for perceiving and responding to life aboard Seamore Pacific. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that at one time I naïvely imagined that 6 months of cruising the Sea of Cortez would be an indolent sail from one sandy cove to the next, no fuss or muss, and my biggest decision of the day would be whether to wear the blue swimsuit….or the blue swimsuit. But cruisers with experience know this just isn’t so. If not careful, the dream to experience this beautiful part of the world could easily turn into a begrudging chore.
Although Donna gave me the words, it’s for me to define what an adventure is, and what counts as an ‘ordeal’. Thus far the delays and set-backs have all come back signed, sealed, and stamped as “adventure.” A hoop-hollering adventure that is starkly different from the simple scenes I had imagined. Until Seamore Pacific can employ a fulltime recreation director and ship’s purser, umbrella drinks and the plight for even tan lines have to go. They are no longer on the A-list. Bug screens…potable water…high tensile chain…those are the items that keep our adventure alive in the midst of sometimes feeling mentally fogged in.
Provisioned and raring to go, Seamore Pacific left San Carlos Marina last Monday. The long list of maintenance and preparation was finally down to two items; small enough to fit on a post-it-note. As they say, “one is never fully ready to leave the dock.” There is always something to do on a boat. The temptation to get everything done before departing will more often than not, keep sailors from cutting the umbilical cord. Tip top boats rarely make it out of the harbor. Keeping this in mind, our plan was to leave the dock and spend a few days at anchor, work on our post-it note list, and let our legs and my nerves adjust to being away from land. If all went well, we would sail to the east coast of Baja.
In the United States, and especially living in a large city like Phoenix, when something breaks, it’s relatively easy to locate a fix. Internet, phone service, UPS, Fed-Ex, Postal Service, or hopping in the car and driving to the store are tools at hand. It’s not the same in Mexico. There is always an extra hoop to ….let’s just call it an adventure to experience when an items breaks. For instance, we have Wi-Fi at the Marina but it is so insanely slow that if we need to do some serious internet communication, we go and find it at either Captain’s Club, Hammerhead’s, or Barracuda Bob’s. Thinking we would bypass all of that by getting the latest I-Pad and switch out the SIM card with one by Telcel actually just turns out to be a carrot on a stick. First, a drive to Guaymas to the BIG Telcel sign in the sky. Relieved to see only about 20 people in line ahead of us, we waited for our number to be called. The very nice gentleman found 1 SIM card still on the shelf, but first we needed to get in a line to pay for it. After paying, we circled back through and received our new SIM card. Asking a few more questions, we learned we also needed to purchase cellular time. So, back in line to pay for cell time followed by going to another place to have an account activated. Because our plans are to sail to remote places that lack big Telcel signs in the sky, we tried purchasing a cruising season of internet. No such adventure. We can only purchase 3 GB at a time, it expires after 30 days, and then we must return to Telcel in the sky if we want anymore. Not sure how we will swing this but I’m sure we will figure it out. We surely aren’t the first cruisers who scrounge around for internet time.
But just to show how amazing this whole adventure is, last Monday when we left the dock, we planned for it to be our little shakedown before the crossing. 6 miles up the coast, west-north winds picked up to 20 knots on the nose. Wanting to avoid a lumpy and slow ride to San Pedro, we ducked into Bahia Algadones and set our anchor. By that time it was blowing hard and my nerves were as tight as the strings on a violin. Admittedly, it takes me a few days to relax and give into the overwhelming power and energy that is created when wind and water move a 9 ton boat like it’s a feather. Anchor set, it was time to work on our post-it-note list….commission the water maker. Why just sit around being nervous if our chain and anchor are strong enough…my worries, not the Captain’s.
“Honey, do you think the chain will hold the boat and keep us from dragging onto the reef?”
“But when I compare it to the chain other boats carry, ours seems a bit small.”
“No dear. It is high tensile chain and the size our windlass system calls for.”
“Is our windlass system big enough?” And I don’t give up with questioning until we run through every system on the boat. It’s what helps me mentally keep this an adventure and hopeful avoid an ordeal.
So, back to the water maker….the boost pump just wouldn’t work. For a moment I started to get ticked off. Were we destined to always work, pouring time and money into the boat and not have a chance to sail? But, here is where adventure looks different now than it would have 10 years ago. The Captain “fired” up his Telcel Wi-Fi hotspot, took out his cellphone and called the water maker manufacturer. All the way to California! First he spoke to the designer and then the engineer/CEO. The conclusion was that we needed a new boost pump. A new one would be shipped to the marina. Wow, how adventure some to be sitting on a boat, anchored in a beautiful bay in Mexico, and arrange for a part to be shipped. We have heard horror stories about how long it takes for parts to reach Mexico, partly because they go through customs and the delivery services are different here. But, this story ends very differently. A happy conclusion. Using a tracking number we were entertained to see our new boost pump arrive and depart San Diego, to Ohio, to Guadalajara, to Hermosillo, and finally to Marina San Carlos. Only 4 days. Yeah, returning to the marina was not in our plans, but it has added richness to our experience. We attended Palm Sunday services; the water maker is working like a charm; the larder has been restocked; and we are ready to leave for Bahia Concepcion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%ADa_Concepci%C3%B3n,_Baja_California_Sur . We will study the wind forecast and if all looks good will leave later today, tomorrow, or the next. Fingers crossed, Seamore Pacific and crew will enjoy a smooth 18 hour crossing.