Our trips and passages thus far have been a metaphor for life: exhilarating, awe-inspiring, frightening, annoying, frustrating, joyful and just plain boring.
While up for the first ~48+ hours from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, we tried to do the 3 hour shift thing (3 hours on, 3 hours off), but the rigor of it with just the two of us hasn’t worked out so far. If we had more crew, this approach makes a lot of sense, but with two of us, we just nap when we are tired, and take turns grabbing some food, drinks or snacks. The hardest time is between 11pm and 3am.
Luckily, Jodi doesn’t need much sleep (different story for Kirby), but the mental strain of keeping watch in a pitch black night with the ocean roiling and swelling, combined with fog, and the occasional fishing vessel makes me wonder how people can just set their auto pilot, go below and sleep for 4 hours (not a smart idea).
You’d think that sailing at night would be a quiet and peaceful affair, but it’s actually a bit violent. The boat gets tossed around, and things below are rattling and banging, so each new noise is something that keeps the brain active and even over-stimulated. Socks over bottles, stuffed towels, and packing things tight does the trick to keep things quiet. We also have a number of simple yet great ways that keep cabinets shut and items firmly in place (netting, bungie cords, mini hammocks, etc.)
The joys of sailing these long stretches are witnessing things few people ever see or get to experience:
- The sound of the ocean up on the deck is as peaceful a sound as I could hear.
- The dark sky saturated with stars – seeing the Milky Way so sharply with the contrast of the black velvet it appears to lie against.
- Dolphins – So. Many. Dolphins. I stopped counting after about 8 pods joined us at various points of the trip (will write more about this later), and we never tire of them. I hope we never will. They are the loveliest creatures alive.
- Whales! It’s time for the Humpbacks to return north from the Sea of Cortez, and we understand that the males leave earlier than the females and the calves. We saw them breaching, breathing, swimming, and even had two close encounters. Around 2am one morning, we were motor sailing and were checking the propeller (odd noises from earlier), so we put the boat into neutral and were nearly stopped, when off the port side of the boat, we heard a huge exhale, and then we saw, less than 10 feet from our boat, the back of a Humpback Whale nearly the length of our boat. As I was trying to register what the heck was happening, it leaped out of the water and flapped a fin at us – as if it say “Hey, I wanted to get a look at who woke me up tonight!”. After it happened, Kirby and I just stood there, mouths agape, adrenaline pumping asking out loud: “Did that just happen?”
- One morning, we saw a Mola Mola (sunfish) just floating by the surface – about the size of a small compact car!
- And finally, bioluminescence – watching the dolphins swim through the water like mini torpedos headed for our bow and hearing them blow air out of the water as they coast in our wake.