Start with a three-day coastal passage from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, delayed until your departure falls smack on Thanksgiving.
Next, consider carefully what festive holiday dish can be made using only the ingredients you have on board, the preparation or consuming of which is not likely to cause spilling, scalding or a severed artery on passage with a forecast of 20-knots.
Realizing that flour + butter + sugar = pie crust, and along with the last of your San Diego apples you were prescient enough to buy cinnamon in Ensenada, hatch brilliant idea to become world’s least experienced but most ambitious offshore baker.
Pre-prep by making dough and filling prior to departure and placing in ziplock bags in the fridge. Don’t forget freshly ground nutmeg. You are not a heathen.
Chart course 10 miles offshore to take best advantage of winds and rhumb line, and head off with energy and excitement. Congratulate yourself for not burning diesel like all those recent flat calm passages.
Decide pretty immediately that you’re in double-reef territory. You will not shake out that second reef for three days.
Add in ten foot seas, mixed around such that you’re nailed by a confused cross-swell on the beam as you head offshore. Get tossed about like a free, multi-day ride on the Cyclone. In turn, start tossing your cookies.
Set aside idea of pie. Next, set aside idea of dinner. In fact, set aside idea of consuming food at all. You will not eat for three days.
For your partner, who is bravely hand-steering most of the journey while you lie moaning in a bunk, serve up copious apologies instead of the passage meals you’d planned. The lovingly prepared curry will stay in the fridge. So too will the backup pastas and instant oatmeal that you got for emergencies. All these options involve at least boiling water in a teakettle, which would now require you standing up for 30 seconds without losing your (non) lunch.
Offer instead these packets of tea biscuits. What are they? Who knows? You found them on sale for 69 cents and bought a dozen. Good thing. These packets will become his sole source of nutrition for at least 48 hours.
Spend far too much of your faint energy marveling that the French term for seasickness, mal de mer, makes the condition sound like something chic. Oh, how cute! Where did you find that adorable mal de mer? Does it come in pink?
Discover the hardest time to keep your belly at bay is the transition between the bunk below and being the cockpit above. Do everything possible to minimize this time, complicated because you must attempt to put on and/or remove at least six layers of clothing and a PFD and tether each time, while also bracing yourself to ensure you’re not thrown to the far side of the cabin. Get thrown several times regardless.
Spell your indefatigable partner at the helm in three-hour shifts with the autopilot running (because you are barely alive and don’t have it in you to hand steer), checking the horizon every ten minutes and in-between, lying on the windward bench. Do this until the boat throws you to the cockpit floor, where you find it is much less rolly. Thanks, boat! Why didn’t you think of this before? It’s so nice and warm here above the engine!
Stay in this position until you are pooped by an enormous wave breaking over the stern and thus drenched you on aforementioned cockpit floor. Remove yourself to the leeward bench and keep living in increments of ten minutes until the daylight comes.
By morning of third day, discover you are finally getting your sea legs, which is good because the waves are now 12-15 feet, though less confused. Keep down half a cup of weak coffee and hand a bowl of tuna and crackers up to your heroic partner.
Realize that you will not make it to Turtle Bay for at least another day. Heed exhaustion and make for whatever safe anchorage you can reach by dark. Duck into an open roadstead off Isla Cedros. Drop the hook in 60-feet of water and set it well.
Navionics will show your boat parked a mile inland. Become very wary of Navionics charts of Mexico.
Clean every bit of your body you can reach with a washcloth and toothbrush, change clothes, and wipe down salty floors and handholds below. Prepare what feels like a gourmet meal of emergency mac & cheese. Sit and eat like human beings, with silverware, at a table no less. Follow by sleeping the sleep of the dead.
In the morning, decide the conditions have you anchored for another 24 hours. Feel you finally have something to give thanks for. Remember that all the ingredients for a pie are waiting for you in the fridge...
Limited galley space means a little creativity.
Limited galley space means a little creativity.
Toast with gratitude your entire Mexico experience so far, giving special thanks for an easy border crossing, the beautiful and tasty bonita you caught outside Ensenada, the warm friendship of the people you’ve met so far, and the way you and your partner stretched your combined Spanish to somehow express concepts beyond Rosetta Stone Level One, such as “Can we buy wood to build a fish cleaning station here?” and “Do you sell feeler gauges for valve adjustment?”
Soon you will be in Turtle Bay after one of the most beautiful sails of your trip so far and will have great times with many wonderful people, cruisers and locals both. But that is a recipe for another day.
Fair winds and following seas, dear friends.
Where Are We Now?
We arrived in Turtle Bay a couple days ago and weather will probably keep us here a couple more. No complaints here. We’ve made many new friends and run into many old ones and are quickly falling in love with this community.
Endless thanks to Ken and Linda of SV Wing and Blade for all the local Ensenada tips, the SSB help, and for graciously not kicking our shoes off the pier. We hope to run into you both again in warmer waters soon! And thanks to Eric of SV Barchetta Veloce for being such a good weather and conditions backboard up north and adventure partner down south. We’ll have tons more thanks to give when we share our Turtle Bay experiences. :)
Even tough passages end. You rest. The sun comes out. All is right with the world and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. :)