Yeah, like they say, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” Or until someone sinks the dink.
We had a really rolly night at Ensenada Grande Friday night. Winds from the WSW caused swells to come rolling directly into the anchorage. The boat hobbyhorsed all night long. It’d go along pretty steady and then, on about the 7th swell, we’d get a big honker. The anchor was holding well though and, once asleep, we both slept like babies. Must have been that rocking that did it. I actually slept until almost 9:00 which is unheard of for me. Of course, some of that time I wasn’t actually sleeping but instead was just laying in bed because it was easier than getting up and lurching around. But, we eventually got up, had some coffee and a little bit of breakfast and hit the road, so to speak.
Once away from the constriction of the bay, the seas calmed down although there was still a definite swell. Not much wind to speak of so we motored towards either San Evaristo or possibly an overnight trip to Puerto Escondido, we hadn’t made our minds up yet and kind of planned to let the weather help us decide.
We had unrolled the staysail for some stability but a couple of hours into the trip all of our wind was apparent and therefore, right on our nose. The staysail slatted back and forth so I rolled it up and raised the main and sheeted it hard amidships. Within a few minutes the wind started to build. I rolled out both headsails and got everything sheeted for a close haul. The wind was out of the NNE and our course was NW so things were just about perfect to sail our rhumb line. The wind built a little more and I shut the engine down. We sailed for the next 2 hours at 5+ knots. It was exhilarating!
Finally, though, the wind dropped off to pretty much nothing. The seas were a little rough still so I left the main up and rolled up the headsails. And that’s when I looked back and realized we’d just about sunk the dink!
We’d been towing the dinghy and it had been behaving badly while we were motoring. We’ve found in the past that this can be remedied by pulling it up really close and towing it on our stern quarter. This has generally worked really well. However, yesterday we were towing it on our starboard quarter. Since we were on a starboard tack, we were heeled over well to port. All I can figure is that this caused us to hold the dinghy’s bow up at an unnatural angle allowing it to ship water over the stern. All I know for sure is that when we looked at her, she had about 4″ of freeboard left and, what with the rough seas, she was filling up fast.
Okay, what the hell are we going to do now? Lulu’s first reaction was to pump the water out. I was skeptical as there had to be over 300 gallons of water in the dink and more sloshing in all the time. Her next instinct was to get aboard the dink with a bucket and start bailing. I doubted this would work either but didn’t have any better suggestions yet. We struggled to get the boat alongside and secured well enough for Lulu to climb down into it relatively safely. She donned a life jacket and strapped herself to Siempre Sabado and climbed down into the dinghy. By now the dink was pretty much full of water. Her added weight didn’t help although I don’t think it was much of a problem either. At any rate, by now the dink was just under water. She bailed her first bucketful and realized that she was essentially trying to empty the ocean by bailing it out into the ocean. I had her climb back aboard.
By now I’d had an idea. I tied the dinghy’s painter to the jib halyard and started winching it up. Since we’ve removed the flotation foam because it was deteriorating in the Baja sun, as I lifted the bow, the stern was able to sink down into the water. So, rather than trying to lift a dinghy full of water to empty it, I was essentially able to slide the dinghy up out of the water. It was actually pretty easy. Once we got the transom out of the water, Lulu used a combination of lines and boat hooks to hold the stern up while I lowered the bow. We got the dinghy back down into the water without shipping hardly any more aboard. Lulu climbed back down into the dinghy and bailed and pumped what little water was still there.
Of course, it wasn’t all quite as smooth as it sounds because, just about the time I was hooking the painter up to the halyard, Lulu reported that we’d lost one of our $80 oars. I was a lot more interested in the dinghy at the time and pretty much kissed the oar goodbye.
(note: I just read this to Lulu and she said that it was good but just didn’t quite express the frantic scramble-city feeling that we were under during the dinghy rescue. She’s right. I was throwing cushions down below out of the cockpit to get them the hell out of my way and she was frantically trying to figure out how to rescuethedinghyandrescuetheoartooatthesametimedammit! (that’s not a typo – that’s how it felt). All I could think of was when we almost sunk our inflatable dinghy in Port Townsend and how freakin’ heavy she was when full of water. I don’t think I ever actually thought we’d lose the dink but I sure wasn’t clear on how the hell we were supposed to empty it either. It was just this side of chaos on board. Adrenalin was pumping BIG TIME!)
However, once we got the dink empty and tied to the stern again, I fired up the engine and we could still see the oar floating along. So we headed out after it. Didn’t really have any idea how we’d get it aboard but we’d figure that out when we got there. We got right alongside a couple times but couldn’t stay alongside long enough to get a good grab with the boathook. Lulu, who will do just about anything, volunteered to get in the dink and retrieve it. That might have worked in flat seas, but we weren’t in flat seas so I nixed the idea as being too dangerous. We made another pass. And another. Finally, on our last pass, she was able to grab the oar with the hook and bring it alongside where I was able to grab the blade and pull it aboard. WHEW!
The rest of the trip was anticlimactic. We motored on to San Evaristo and anchored near where we usually do.
BTW, talk about herd mentality… We were sitting at anchor watching the world go by when I noticed a boat that had been anchored in the north anchorage moving to the southern end of the larger anchorage. Then another one did. Then two more followed until the northern anchorage was completely empty. Now, I suspect that these guys were all privy to some weather report that had said we were going to get south winds. The northern anchorage is completely exposed to south winds. And the herd instinct I’m referring to is not aimed at them. It’s one thing to do what the others are doing because the others are doing it, but it’s something else entirely when everyone is doing something based on appropriate data. I suspect these guys were moving based on data. No, it was ME who almost succumbed to the herd instinct. I’m watching the procession and wondering “what do they know that I don’t?” All the weather I’d looked at said nothing about southerlies. They were moving too early to have gotten any weather updates from the Southbound Net (SSB) since it hadn’t aired yet. Our anchor was holding tight. My only concern was that, if strong winds from the south turned our northern shore into a lee shore, it was pretty freakin’ rocky and pretty freakin’ close. But we stayed put. And, the weather most of the night was just as gentle as can be. We had a few stronger winds occasionally but not from the south.
Slept great last night. Got up this morning to try to get some weather on the Sonrisa Net but I couldn’t get it tuned well enough to make the voices clear. Checked in on the Amigo Net and heard some very sad news. Don Anderson of s/v Summer Passage, who has provided accurate and lively weather forecasts to the fleet for years over the various nets, has passed away. He apparently died last week on his boat and was found there on Friday. For those of you who never heard Don, you missed a legend. For those who have listened to his reports, you know what I mean by “lively”. His reports included weather lessons as well as the occasional HF radio lesson or two. Don will be sorely missed.
Listened to the weather on the Chubasco Net this morning and it basically sounds like NW winds and possibly bouncy seas. I’m going to check SolMateSantiago’s HF weather report and the GRIB files when I post this blog. What they show us will determine whether we stay here tonight or head out this evening for an overnighter to Puerto Escondido.
PS: updated the position report.
PPS: This is sent via Sailmail so I can’t read your comments yet. But please keep them coming. I’ll reply when I get an internet connection.