Sometimes you get to eat the dog and sometimes the dog gets to eat you

The title of this post was a quote from Denny Green (former Minnesota Vikings coach) – the guy had a way with words. Some passages kick your ass. The leg to San Francisquito from Santa Rosalia was such a passage. I diligently checked the Predict Wind models and looked at – all three said about the same thing, light and variable to 5 knots with 12 knot winds in the middle for a few hours. Perfect, calm conditions like this are one reason to sail overnight.

We dropped the dock lines at 8:00pm and puttered out of the marina. Flat calm with a one knot current pushing us made for a happy crew thinking of an early arrival after a great night’s sleep along the way. Our first two hours were nothing less than spectacular. Nearing Caleta Santa Maria the wind started to pick up but only 6-7 knots, sweet! And out comes the jib. Life is still good for about twenty minutes when the shit hits the proverbial fan with a jump to 20 knots apparent. I work to bring in the jib and by the time that it is secured we are seeing 25 knots. This continues to build to 28.5 knots. What the fuck. Oh well, calm seas and no canvas up we motor into the wind with the only consequence being a bit slower speed. Twenty minutes later we are back to 6 knots and I’m explaining the valley wind phenomenon. What a stupid boy I am.

Twenty minutes later and boom here comes the wind again, oh boy. At this point I’m wondering what is happening. The wind builds to 25 knots and then varies between 20 and 25 knots for the next six hours. During this time the seas have time to build and our approach to them is around 30 degrees off of port. Water is splashing over the side of the boat and into the cockpit. I look for my clear screens to protect the helm station and learn that the port side is missing. Ugh. Helm station window installed and the doors are closed up as my crew attempts to get some sleep. The twisty motion as large waves pushes the boat and our tail slides off the wave make for an odd feeling.

My watch ends at midnight but Shalise relieves me at 11:30 – Just in case she needs me , I take up a spot in the saloon to sleep (which she doesn’t as she is a rock star over the next three and a half hours – which are the worst of it). Loud noises from the water hitting our boat. Speed dropping from 5.5 knots to 5.1 knots, down to 4.7 knots, down to 3.4 knots for more than two hours of our journey. Disneyland this ain’t.

Towards the end of Shalise’s watch I move to my bunk still unable to sleep. The creaking of the floor, odd sounds of water plugging the exhaust momentarily, and bang of a wave drag on and on until shortly into Jack’s shift where we make a slight turn, which in concert with diminishing winds let’s me get a bit of sleep. I wouldn’t describe it as restful but I do end up with a couple hours sleep before my watch starts a 6:00am. Thankfully the worst was behind us, during my watch I unfurl the jib, then the screecher, and even the main sail. Of course it didn’t take long for the wind to built to 20 knots apparent (on our beam) requiring the screecher to be furled – causing a minor shitstorm when I tried to furl the sail by myself without turning downwind. Thankfully the loud noise brought Jack to help me.

Our final three hours had the engine pulled way back and even two hours of sailing. Ah that is much better! Cruising at 6+ knots was perfect but then our speed began to drop. 5.5 knots, eh. 4.5 knots, blerg. After a discussion 4.0 knots was decided to be the magic number to start up the engine, sadly this happened three minutes later. Oh well, we were happy to have survived the night and get some sailing on this passage. Even with our very slow progress during Shalise’s watch we still managed a 5.7 knot average – much higher than I would have guessed.

So kids it isn’t all beautiful sunsets, margarita’s and laugher. Sometimes it can suck but after the anchors is set and a margarita the bad times don’t feel quite so bad. And a few days later you think “Eh, that is just part of the cruising lifestyle” a replacement from the “Fuck this” that crosses your mind during the event.

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