An introduction to cruising

We were hoping to impress our friends Tara and Tim with our perfect trouble-free boat and our stress-free lifestyle… lol, just kidding! Our only plan was to have fun and show them what cruising is all about – the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult. I think we achieved that without even trying.

They arrived last Sunday night.  We hadn’t seen them since October so it was wonderful to catch up!  Monday we hosted a fun birthday party for Conor (SV Moondance) and Tuesday morning we had the boat loaded up with water, beer, food and couple of leftover balloons. We threw off the dock lines for the first time in a month and motored out of the channel.

The wind was blowing right on the nose but we were excited to sail so we hoisted the mainsail as soon as we hit the open water.  We were about to pull out the jib and turn off the engine when we all heard a horrible high pitched squealing sound: “ZZZZZZiiiiiiiiiiiiZZZZZZiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”!!

Will pulled back the throttle and jumped down below to see what was happening.

It wasn’t the engine – she was idling away beautifully as we checked things out.  The only clues were 1) the shaft was hot to the touch, and 2) there was a black line of grease or something that had sprayed up from where the shaft meets the dripless packing.  This led us to conclude that it was a transmission problem, we had snagged something on the prop, or for some reason the moving parts were binding.

We stressed and fretted for a bit but then adopted our best ‘easy and carefree’ faces. Oh Well!  There’s not much we could do about it so we turned off the engine, set the sails, and ploughed forward on a starboard tack toward Punta Mita.

We started off keeping a tally of whale sightings but soon lost track…. the further out in the bay we sailed, the more whales and dolphins we saw. Awesome!

After sailing onto anchor, Will dove under the boat. He completely expected to find a find net or rope wrapped up down there. But instead – nothing. How frustrating… still no answer to the problem. We soon became distracted by the sunset, sundowners, and friends dropping by and decided to leave the problem for another day.

Around 8:30pm I went down below and flipped the breaker for the propane. It wouldn’t turn over.  We figured it was either a faulty breaker or something wrong with the propane solenoid.  Grrr, bad timing.

I couldn’t help apologizing to our friends: “I’m so sorry guys – we can’t cook anything tonight. It’s too late for electrical work. Are you okay with bread and peanut butter for dinner? Oh, and we probably can’t have coffee tomorrow morning either…”

Tara piped in with another suggestion. “No worries, we’re easy. Maybe we could try cold canned beans on bread..?”

Tim looked at both of us incredulously. He is, after all, a Chef.  What were we thinking?! “Come on guys – I’ll make us a meal”.  He looked at the situation not as a let-down but instead as a challenge, a mission. ‘Dinner: Impossible – Boat Edition’. We gave him 30 minutes and access to anything he needed in the galley.

35 minutes later we were enjoying an amazing meal of open face chipotle black bean lettuce leaf tacos with a variety of accoutrements. Soooo good!

Tara and Tim were so great with these minor boat problems.  The ‘boat bites’ (bruises) didn’t bother them at all, nor did the rolly anchorage. It’s all in the attitude 🙂

A real introduction to cruising isn’t complete without a dicey dingy experience…. they got that too.  It happened a few days later as we were heading to shore to meet SV Starship and SV Kuyima for a trip over to Sayulita.  As we approached the shore we noticed that the swell was kind of strong.  Luckily the dingy landing at Punta Mita is protected by a breakwall.  When we were just outside of the breakwall, Will slowed down to give me time to get our dingy anchor out (we didn’t have the wheels on).  We didn’t realize that we had stopped in the line of fire.  The next set started coming through.  Will noticed first and abrubtly swung the dingy around 180 degrees to face the oncoming wave.  The wall of water grew and grew and started to break about 10 feet from us.  “HOLD ON!!!”  The dingy rose to dangerously steep angle and Tim and I had just enough time to throw our weight forward.  We just barely made it over the wave and smashed back down into the water on the other side.  The dingy displaced buckets of water which rose up and then dumped all over Tim and I in front. We were soaked to the bone.  Completely drenched.  Will and Tara in the back barely had a drop on them. Will turned us again and headed for shore before it could happen again.

Of course, the real introduction to cruising in Mexico is in experiencing all of the wonderful perks: watching beautiful sunsets, exploring new towns, surfing, delicious meals on the boat, authentic meals on land, and meeting tons of other people. The past week offered plenty of those too.

Here’s to great friends and great memories! Thanks for visiting, Tara & Tim!

(By the way – we started up the engine as we left Punta Mita and she ran fine. The noise didn’t reappear and the shaft didn’t heat up.  So strange.  We know from experience that ‘boat problems don’t fix themselves’ but maybe everthing’s okay….?)

2 thoughts on “An introduction to cruising

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