15 days. That is the amount of time that I was aboard the vessel Saltbreaker, a 32 foot fiberglass sail boat with tight quarters, a finicky head, only one lee cloth, and a crew that can be described as unsightly, hairy, smelly, and some of my best friends. My journey aboard this cruise was at times refreshingly breathtaking and awesome while simultaneously exhausting and unwieldy. I joined Saltbreaker for a rally called the Baha Ha Ha, in which we would depart from San Diego, California with 150 other boats and eventually all arrive in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a trip that would encompass nearly the entirety of my time aboard and include stops in Bahia de Tortuga and Bahia de Santa Maria, or is it Marina, who can really say for sure? This leg of Saltbreaker’s adventurous voyage surely could not be covered in its entirety through one blog entry, nor should it, but I will do my best share my experiences in as engaging and fulfilling a manner as possible as the crew was gracious enough to let me post here.
Our first leg of the trip, the sail from San Diego to Turtle Bay, included 4 days and three nights at sea, the aforementioned tuna catch, a spinnaker pole incident in which we got the boat speed to 9 knots not without casualty, and a final night at sea that was described by others as “caught in the washing machine.” To give you a sense of what people mean by the “washing machine”, there was a moment during that final night where I was trying to get some semblance of sleep in the port settee when the boat met a swell that sent dishware crashing and caused the settee to move into its full, open position. At the time I had forgotten that that particular settee had the option of opening into a full position such as it did. With this information missing I assumed the worse and jumped, or perhaps fell, onto my feet, nearly knocking Nique over, and ran to the cockpit to make sure that we had not just hit a whale or other some such nonsense. But when I saw Dave Green, currently on watch at that time, it was business as usual and I think he was a little confused as to why I was so concerned with his safety. Needless to say I did not get much sleep that night.
Oh and to go back to that spinnaker incident, there was a moment when the spinnaker was flying in light winds and all was well. The wind gradually started to gain steam and the boat speed, at which point we noted 9 knots while surfing a swell. Now, I truly believe that we all had similar thoughts, which included but were not limited to ‘maybe we should take the spinnaker down.’ Alas, we were blinded by those 9 knots and that did not happen. Long story short, a gust blew in with the eventual result being a spinnaker pole bent at a 90 degree angle. No one was injured during the ordeal, and the pole was fixed, but we used the experience as a measuring devise for future apprehensive moments, whether on land or sea, when we could look at each other and say ‘lets go ahead and take that spinnaker down.’
As was the case with this trip, those sleepless nights and anxious moments were balanced quite well by experiences unlike any that I have had before, such as our meeting of Juan, or El Loco as he was known to the locals, at Turtle Bay. What can be said about Juan that has not already been said? Probably quite a bit actually, but I’ll provide just another snippet as I imagine that the others have more to say on the matter. Juan went completely out of his way to ensure that our two days spent in Turtle Bay were as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. That is really what it seems to boil down to. He chauffeured over ten people in the bed of his racing pick-up truck and took us wherever we desired to go. At times providing terrifying ‘let’s take the spinnaker down’ moments, but at times providing insight into someone who I truly believe was actually one or two steps ahead of us at all times.
Here’s one example: on the second night in Turtle Bay after a beach party that included dozens of people helping to push a beached catamaran back to sea we loaded up in the back on Juan’s truck and moved our way back to Jaun’s restaurant. Oh yeah, did we mention that Juan is the proprietor of ‘El Loco’ Tacos? The night carried on with tacos, drinks, and many games played next to a circus tent and a running generator. First game played was ping pong, a local Mexican game in which two opposing players standing on opposite ends of a table use paddles to propel a small hollow plastic ball over a net in order to attain points. Unfortunately during the course of an hour or so we managed to fatally damage two ping pong balls, leaving us void of them. Not to be deterred Juan ran to his house to grab a box with a badminton set and volleyball. Upon frantically returning he removed the ping pong table using his back, to clear the area of course, and handed out 4 rackets and a birdie, with no net. During the badminton rally there was a moment when the birdie flew away and landed on the roof of El Loco Tacos. Again Juan sprang into action, climbing an adjacent palm tree in rapid fashion and using his reach to grab the birdie and save the day yet again. At the time I am thinking Juan really is El Loco, but then we look over and see him move to the volleyball to inflate it, because he knows that that birdie won’t last forever and we will surly need another game to move onto when the time comes. That’s when I think we were all thinking, ‘who is this guy?’