The First 1000 Miles
I tell my self that I need to record this permanently in my brain. I am steering just a little to the left of Orion, the wind is perfect, the sky is clear and the stars are brilliant. I am heading 180 degrees, due south, and flying along under sail at full speed. I am in the right place at the right time. I need to burn this into my memory, it will be one of those moments I look back on many years from now.
Now the wind has kicked up, and the waves are a little west of the southward heading that the wind is taking me. The motion of the boat is unpleasant in the smaller waves, and a little terrifying as the larger waves rock the boat clear from one side to the other. Mind you, in the day, these do not look that bad. If I were 5 miles outside the San Diego bay and in 2 hours I would be back in my slip and heading to get some Thai food afterward, this would not seem that bad. However, I am 60 miles out in the Pacific ocean. I move at 5 miles an hour, so even if I wanted to get to land I am 12 hours away. At this point the Mexican coast is just barren cliffs, so getting to land does not really do me any good. I have two days and two nights more to go to get to my destination. Another of the larger waves sneaks out of the inky darkness and tosses the boat about. I think I should grab a flashlight and look out over the edge of the boat to see when they are coming so they are not as jolting to my psyche if not the boat. Bad idea, those things look REALLY big in the minuscule light that the flashlight puts out. More hours of being thrown side to side. I get sick. The food in Ensenada was amazing and the beer/margaritas were cheap, so I over indulged and ruined my sea legs. Should I be recording this as well or is this the stuff your mind needs to blot out in order to keep going? The first 300 miles of 30,000 in front of me.
I am slowly learning the new rhythm of my new life. Weather that is forecasted to be light means no wind and hours of the diesel running. Weather that is forecasted to be perfect means that the wind will kick up somewhere between midnight and 3 AM just enough to scare the hell out of you. Weather that is predicted as stormy lives up to its prediction and makes me grateful for 300’ of heavy chain and the anchor that can hold a boat twice my size.
This will come as a surprising fact for those of you who know me, I did not pack any beer on the boat. I can’t really say that this was intentional; we sort of ran out of room and Leslie would kill me if I tried to pack a few cases of beer somewhere. The side benefit that has come out of this is I have to leave the boat and explore to get a beer. I don't know that I would have put the dingy out in the water on a very windy day, and driven over to the rusty stairs held on by old ropes, and walked the dock of death if I didn't think that it would be very pleasant to get a drink at Maria’s. And it was pleasant, looking out over the water, talking with her crazy brother, and trying to communicate in my half-assed Spanish.
I am 1% of the miles into this trip and I feel like I have learned a lot already. At 24 I owned a brand new house, I had brand new furniture and top of the line cookware and I felt I was competitively average with my peers. Maria runs a restaurant which is also her home. She had a fire 4 years ago, and all they did was put some paint over the char. And this is the nice place in town, the one that is written about in guide books. Despite taking a large step down in lifestyle my small floating house has running water at least. I need to be more grateful for some of the luxuries in my life that I don't even think about. This woman who appears “middle class” and happy with her lot in life doesn't have a small fraction of what I have currently, not to mention the path I have left.
As our time in Bahia de Tortugas wraps up, we head out to sea again - something neither of us are really excited about after the after the trip down. But this time is a little different, we both feel better, we both sleep better under way, we are lining ourselves up with the waves better. I am on watch again, heading just to the left of Orion, watching the phosphorescence in the splash off the boat as it cuts thru the water and waves. Yeah, I need to remember this.