Bill and Stacy worked in education but they had a secret life. They were closet cruisers. Well they’re secret’s out now. They both had to take off a large chunk of work to sail they’re most excellent Peterson 44 cutter Rhiannon south for a well deserved recess to Mexico. In fact the rat race may have lost Stacy altogether.
As it happens, Bill and Stace got lulled by the land of margarita siesta and after a hard bash north to Puerto Los Cabos, they ran out of time. Bill had to return to work. They called me in to bring the boat back. Stace, on the other hand was able to take the extra time off and was fired up to do the rest of the beat to socal. I sent the mass crew email with the bash details and got … no volunteers. I sent a mass text to some friends and distant acquaintances and got Dane. I met Dane mid CA while delivering a boat south. He was 20 something and singlehanding his own cruiser so I knew his priorities were in order.
Dane and I arrived at PLC in dry southern Baja and made our way to the boat. Rhiannon was a real cruising boat. She was heavy built with full bulwarks, a solid hull and beefy rigging. We hung out with Stace and her soon departing sister for a bit before getting to work on the boat. Accompanied by iced cocktails, we removed stuff from the deck and strapped everything else down. Below there was more stowing of bobbles and rigging seaberths for Dane and I. Stace had the comfort of the big aft cabin. After running the motor we called it a day.
I like to get everyone together for a meal ashore and some pre-departure down time. We headed out for dinner to a great cruiser hangout called Tommy’s. As it happens, my friend John who is skipper of fishing yacht Scrambler, was on our dock. We stopped by to say hello. John offered his yacht tender for our jaunt to the restaurant. We had an amazing meal. As we were leaving Scott sold us a case of beer to-go for our all important sunset coldies.
Through monster break walls we motored out into a flat dark ocean. Knowing we would soon enough have more interesting weather we relished the warm calm beat around Cabo where we were treated to an amazing moonset into the crook of lands end. It was good to be at sea.
As it is on the notorious beat up Baja, by morning we had it on the nose and choppy. We motorsailed up the coast for a couple of days, tacking and sailing just off the wind. Stace was getting wx (weather) reports from Bill through the bat phone (satellite). It seemed a blow was coming through. It was suggested that we pull in somewhere’s. While it’s contrary to my delivery ethic to stop for anything other than fuel, major gear failure, or to plank unruly crew, I made an exception and added owner-suggested stop to the list.
We threw a dart at the chart and whipped behind the point at Hippolito. As we motored into the chop the wind topped out at 34 kts, a pittance for a boat like Rhiannon. We cozied up behind a tall headland and dropped the hook. It was a beautiful spot. After the snubber stretched the rode tight and the motor shut down I let go the compulsory, “Daddy’s home baby”. The ‘shhmock’ sound of a few coldies getting their first breath fritted off into the howling breeze as we revelled in our brave seamanship and wondrous courage.
In the morning we knocked out a few projects which would have had to be done at sea or wait until our fuel stop in Turtle Bay. What a nice leisurely way to cruise, I mean do a delivery. A couple hours later we rolled on out. That next night was probably our least comfortable but no one complained - the best kind of crew. We snuck into Turtle Bay before dawn and had our arrival coldies as a couple cruising boats slipped out to point north.
Later I took a dinghy ride and got chatting with a cruiser named Jesse. I queried as to the who, what and why of the two young women on the vessel laying astern of him. Jesse informed me that they were cruising on their own boat and that they would be at the dinner that evening being held in honor of his own birthday. And finally, that we were now invited. I broke the news to my crew that we would be staying for dinner for it would be rude to refuse.
After a nice walk around to the other cove and a 3$ shower at the local motel we gathered for dinner. There was Jesse, three other cruising couples, our three and the two girls, Sarah and Lydia. It was Sarah’s boat and Lydia, a backpacker, had recently joined her. As there always is at these functions there was plenty of cruising ‘advice’. In this case a couple of the cruisers were trying to convince each other to not make the perilous jump to the South Pacific and beyond. The year I crossed the Pacific in my coastal boat, many of the full keel boats, whose crews called me crazy, ended up in the foothills when a summer hurricane ran up the Sea of Cortez. As they do. The last thing these people wanted was for inexperienced Sarah to sail to Tahiti and leave them behind to fight the hurricanes alone. So two of the older ladies set to scaring these very adventurous girls. I kept it short but threw in my two cents for some balance. As we would soon find out, it is usually land that sinks boats, not the ocean.
Like puppies, very beautiful ones, Sarah and Lydia followed us back to our yacht (in comparison with their Ericson 39). I had the presence of mind to pick up a 20 pack of Pacifico from a shack on the beach during our walk back to the dinghy. We had a couple on Rhiannon before getting invited back to Sarah’s boat Gabrielle for Whisky. The inside of her boat looked like a French whore house, which to me was a good look. The hull was covered in beautiful wood and the cushions were a dark red lit by the warm glow of swinging oil lamp. A painting of a naked lady adorned Sarah’s foc’sle bulkhead.
And then someone’s dream came true. Sarah and Lydia asked Dane to cruise south with them. I tried not to take it personally. Dane was closer to their age and they may have noticed that I had other pending responsibilities. I started making the arrangements in my head. I had the cash to pay Dane for the days a-crewed and it wouldn’t take long to pack his gear up. Stace and I could still sail out before midnight as planned.
Then Dane did the unthinkable. He said no. Blah blah blah ... girlfriend. I couldn’t very well hear what he said after “no” on account of the horrendous sound my world was making as it came crashing down around me. The wind swirled outside as the souls of a thousand dead sailors cried out in anguish.
I will have to finish this next month. Since I’ve arrived home Sarah has gone on to have some trouble.