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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fall, finally-sort of.

9/11

The entire fleet has been affected by the Sea of Cortez summer weather. We glue ourselves to the daily weather reports and listen nightly for the Chubasco report then spend hours discussing and debating when to run for cover where to run to and just what those clouds over there mean. (So far in the hurricane department this season there has been absolutely nothing of significance to worry about. Yea!) The heat though is altogether different. The stifling heat cannot be outrun and it has only rarely given us even a short break. We were warned that we would simply perish if we didn't have an air conditioner (Well duh, haven’t the local Mexicans been living here for centuries?) The effects of the high heat and humidity are pretty diverse from person to person. Many bouts arrived in Mexico with AC and many more purchased them just for these few weeks of summer (some rented cars and drove all the way to San Diego to buy units.)

But since most boats do not produce or carry enough power to run an AC unit at anchor dozens of boats remained at the docks in Santa Rosalia or San Carlos for weeks on end with electrical cords attaching them like umbilicus to the dock power. Many stayed virtually locked below in their cabins away from the heat and away from all the dock activities. Most came up like gophers from their holes come evening to venture out for dinner or provisioning trips. Some rarely ventured outside.

“It’s not the heat it’s the humidity” yet there seems to be a pretty wide range of reactions to the climate. Some seem content to ride it out. Others seem to have acclimated themselves over time and most have their own coping strategies including lots of swimming, damp towels, hand held misting fans, fans throughout the cabin, lethargy and naps. The siesta was definitely invented for reasons other than a long lunch! A couple of the women are quite vocal about their hatred of the Sea’s weather and now even Mexico in general. Some will be leaving looking for more temperate climes; others will just return with more prepared boats and minds and some will give up cruising all together.

There have been many long discussions wondering exactly how a desert as vast as Baja can hold so much humidity. When the humidity is low the heat is tolerable, when it is high everyone suffers to some extent. Some seem to be nothing more than a bit inconvenienced. Bill sits more to the inconvenienced end of the spectrum while I sit somewhere sort of sticky in the middle. I do think that given the comfort I would have become equally addicted to AC and in the end suspect that simply trying to adapt and adjust was simpler, easier and cheaper than trying to re-outfit Island Bound with an air conditioning unit.

Santa Rosalia and San Carlos were by far the worst. But everywhere even on the dry days the wet rolls in come evening when a dampness falls over every surface. The wood cockpit floor looks like I just washed it down and the cushions inside take on a damp tackiness. The worst for me is the feeling of my sheets. The humidity moves in but in order to exploit every wisp of air movement I leave all our hatches and ports open and the dampness simply rolls in. Over our bunk is a large 30x30 hatch and the dampness falls through the opening and onto my sheets: yuck. On the worst of days I have taken to shaking baby powder over them to help dry them out otherwise it is like laying down to sleep on a damp towel.

We have a friend named Jake (on the sailboat Jake) who has some years of experience here in the Sea. Months ago he made a statement which has now grown to mythic proportion. He stated that come September 10th we would wake up and suddenly realize we needed a blanket (or it was cooler or fall or however the hearer remembers the tale.) So we have been holding him to it for weeks now. Asking (interrogating him really) for clarification, coaxing the answer we all want to hear, listening to him back peddle then state the same thing again in slightly different words. He’s continued to stand by his statements and the essence again was that come September 10th we would wake up and realize we had turned a corner on the incessant heat.

Well it’s September 11th and he was absolutely right. It is not quite as clear as when fall fell back in Seattle. There are no leaves changing color, no dogs beginning to put on their winter coats, no cool crisp evening air to stir the senses. No one is suggesting hot apple cider or touch football games and we are still routinely meeting for our 4:00pm floatie time where everyone in the anchorage jumps in and floats around like talking heads for an hour or so as a way to socialize and beat the heat. But for the first time in months I pulled up the sheet to cover me in the early morning hours.

This morning I woke to the sound of rain drops and a cloud cover overhead. The rain didn't amount to much. Our friend Bernard on S/V Simple Pleasures refers to it as 4” of rain. “You get one drop every four inches.” I wasn’t sweating by 9:30 and I am still sipping the last of my hot tea. It’s cooled enough that this afternoon at floatie time we will start in the water to cool down and then raft up in our dinghies to listen to Jack and Hermie on S/V Ewa give a talk on Central and South America. As we fall asleep tonight instead of fighting the heat some of us will be thinking of tomorrow’s potluck and Full Moon Party: The change of tide lagoon drift and floatie parade will culminate with a juried contest for best design/decoration/costume of one’s personal floatie (pool noodle, blow up chair, air mattress or one off design of course.) Like a floating version of Halloween without the makeup and Value Village shopping. It should be a colorful parade!

Happy Fall. Kat

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