La Mustache II

Kindness…it is everywhere down here. In the eyes and hearts of the native Mexicans and within the sailing community — people go out of their way to engage, connect and share.

We had a hell of a rodeo coming down the last leg to Cabo San Lucas. We left Bahia Santa Maria @ 20:30 in an effort to arrive 30-36 hours later in the daylight at the anchorage outside of Cabo. Well, we arrived. The weather forecasts (3 of them) were a little on the wrong side. We encountered 10-14 foot seas coming from the northeast and a northwest swell tossing our home to and fro for the final 18 hours of the voyage. Shit. No jib - a handkerchief of main for stability and prayers to Poseiden.

We usually pull 3-4 hour watch shifts, but on this night — it was all hands on deck as the bow plunged into the pre-dawn darkness of the raging sea. When we got tired of beating and taking on water over the deck we gybed and revved the engine (Perkins Pete) to 2200 RPMS in order to race down the face of the waves and avoid 95% of the waves that wanted to fill the cockpit with salty water. Good news — the cockpit drains work. More good news — so does the bilge pump. Even better news — we knew to keep the waves off of the port side exhaust. Oh, and Otto (our auto pilot) was a champ. Just in case, we pulled the life raft on deck and readied our ditch bag.

Both of our paddle boards were lashed in a brand new rack to the stanchions on the starboard side. Mine popped loose just after dark and we were faced with a tough choice — let it continue dragging alongside the boat by the leash, or cut it loose as an offering to the angry sea-god. Despite River’s protestations, I was able to save it, deflate it and stuff it down the companion way. River took 3 more lines and reinforced the lashings that were remaining on his board.

Two hours later tough, the strong waves rushing past our starboard side busted his board loose and threatened to tear away the stanchions and lifelines. Not ready to see Rhea torn apart, I clipped out of the cockpit and onto the starboard jacklines and crawled back out to the struggling board. Cobalt knife clutched between my teeth, I punctured the board and went right to work cutting away all of the remaining lines. Working quickly and keeping an eye to the sea I was baptized as Poseiden crashed not one, but 3 waves over my head — soaking my foulies and my shoes with the warmest water I have ever felt. Somehow the warmth of the water was comforting. (20/20 Hindsight Note: we should have stowed them both in the sail locker as soon as the sea state became unsettled.)

For me the two worst things in the world are hunger and biting cold. I felt neither for the entire ordeal. I forced water and cliff bars into my twisted up tummy to keep up strength and focus, as I knew my lack of sleep was working against us both. I repeated to River, “I am not hungry nor am I cold.” This translates roughly into, “I will not lose my shit today.”

Amidst considerably calmer sear, we dropped anchor in Cabo San Lucas around 13:00. After a cockpit shower, we took a $30 water taxi ride into Cabo for some well-deserved over-priced tacos before returning to Rhea for a long-overdue good-night’s sleep.

The next day was gorgeous. River and I both jumped into the clear waters to take look at Rhea - wet and salty, but no worse for the wear. Little did we know that in the next couple of hours the anchorage would turn into the same shit show. We headed for the fuel dock in calm seas and planned to make for San Jose del Cabo. It was not to be and in attempting to re-anchor in 8 foot seas at Cabo we lost a fender. No one but River knows how much I love fenders. I really love them. Now, in fairness, the fender lost was not my favorite but these things are 50 bucks a pop! We couldn’t get the anchor down and we worked for 30 minutes to pull the chain up 3 links at a time in order to not lose the anchor and chain. Needless to say at this point my nerves were fried. We head back to the fuel dock and find the last slip available at IGY. Phew.

Four days later in Puerto los Cabos Marina we saw La Mustache II glide in. A beautiful red hulled sloop skippered by Finn Eriksen of Norway. He and his crew of three were delightful. In the course of dockside chatter I mentioned that we were anchored next to them in Cabo and he winked and asked if I’d like my fender back. Kindness.

Reunited and it feels so good, CJ