Never leave your electronics below a port light window in a Chubasco.
Just a friendly suggestion for all your users of electronic gizmos and gadgets: tuck them away someplace guaranteed to be safe whenever they are not in your hot little hands. Of course I know that none of you are addicted to your Face Book pages, your cell phone or your internet connection. I will simply pass this information on as a public service to those who may be irrevocably addicted or completely in denial of the dependence on their electronic connection. Of course I know all of you routinely keep a written record of all the important telephone numbers and email addresses you use every day and I realize that you must certainly religiously back up your home computers and laptops so that you would never find yourself at a loss for how exactly you can function without the contents of your 21st century electronic lives. But for the sake of argument take my advice and make a pact with yourself to always pause, think, and then store your goodies somewhere safe, dry and secure.
For my 50th Birthday this last May Bill bought me a beautiful laptop so I can stay connected with folks back home and also I think so I don’t hog “his” during all my hours blogging. Then just six weeks ago we bought a brand new Kindle 3G, International version also just for me as well. We had one of the original first generation Kindles which I had never used, replaced it with a 3G International which I had also never used and so decided it was time for Kat to move into the 21st century and give up all the space I was using to hoard my books. Great idea except the original Kindle was dead as a door nail. We have now managed to amass a Kindle Library of over 1700 books so decided the cost was justified just by the storage space we would gain by jettisoning my hoard of books aboard. We arranged to have another Kindle International 3G shipped to a friends in the states who then picked it up and drove it back to us in Mexico. If you’re a book lover it takes a bit of an adjustment getting used to the Kindle but the transition was virtually painless and in time there was something very cool about sitting with such a small object in your lap that opened the world of so many books with just a flick of your fingertips.
So, cut to our second Chubasco. We are at anchor at La Gringa with virtually the entire summer Sea Fleet the day before the big September Full Moon Party. Nearly everyone is near shore aboard a flock of dinghies sipping cold drinks and listening to Hermie and Jack on S/V Ewa give a talk on Central and South America. The skies were looking a little ominous off to the SW but the disturbance looked as if it would pass us by. Regardless (and having learned a lesson or two from the last Chubasco) Bill and I took down our sunshade and cleared off the decks before we left for the seminar raft-up.
As we all settled in we heard birds calling. Someone even says, hey is that a bird. but we are engrossed in the talk. Then finally over the wind we hear a shout “the winds are coming.” The whole flotilla turns and looks out past the anchorage towards the now lightning bolt filled clouds over La Mona and we can clearly see a BIG wind line rolling our way.
Just like the first Chubasco here we are in a group, most boats left unattended. Instantly everyone is rushing towards their boats in our little dinks as the winds rise and the rigging begins to howl. This one neither lasts as long nor is as strong as our first encounter a few weeks ago but it is quick, violent and powerful and again we are on a lee shore. A lee shore means the wind is coming from a direction that blows your boat directly towards a close by shoreline rather than away from the imminent dangers. Not a good thing.
Happily Bill and I are getting smarter. With the sunshade already down and the deck miscellanea already stowed we need do nothing other than secure the remaining windows and hatches, switch on the electronics so we can monitor wind speeds, depth and our exact location and turn on the engine to be ready to power our way from dangers. I also grabbed the brand new Kindle and my lovely new laptop and put them safely on the saloon table out of harm’s way. We were safe and sound and not at all upset by the whole thing. For us they are not terribly scary but rather simply push your adrenalin up and steal your attention and some time. We have sat out days at anchor back in Washington and BC in higher winds than were in store here. Some in the fleet though are extremely unnerved by them. For us we may lose some sleep keeping a watch out but mostly you just sit in the cockpit watching the storm power over you while keeping an eye out for any potential problems.
A surprise for me though is that during a Chubasco I tend to get seasick quickly and pretty severally. I have always been prone but the problem has decreased with the miles we have under our keel. The Chubascos nature is to come on fast and furious which leave little time to adjust your internal gyro. Both times Bill has stayed above deck at the helm while I scurry around trying to get everything ship shape. The port lights and hatches especially have to be closed down tight as the violence of the winds instantly raise big seas which crash over the bow (and even sometimes over the dodger into the cockpit) and then roll off the decks back into the sea. By the time I reemerge above decks the mal-der-mere has taken hold and it is only by virtue of the wonder drug Sturgeron (which steps up to fix things even after the problems have started) that allow me to feel better in a short while.
The storm began to subside in time for me to go back below decks to fill my stint as Sundays Net Controller for the Southbound Net and then as the boat continued to roll in the left over slop I started trying to throw some dinner together. That’s when Bill noticed the puddle. As the Sea had been washing over our bow and rolling off the decks it had found itself to the not quite dogged down port light directly over the saloon table. The one smack dab above my precious electronics. A steady drip of highly salty and teaming with life sea water was now in a puddle around my Kindle and my little pink plaid laptop.
Now don’t forget: since the purchase of the Kindle I gave away most of my entire hoard of books, we have 6 more weeks here before we return to any kind of civilization and, I read books morning, noon and night: five to six books a week!
The Kindle is kaput. It did turn on again and I sat down and read about ten pages before suddenly the writing started to sort of fade and waver before locking up in a ghost image. I got it restarted twice then nothing. Bill tried and thought it was going to be OK, then nothing, no words and no light, no charging and no resuscitation. The laptop I decided to just let sit for a few days before I even try to turn it back on. Maybe it will dry out? I have since lovingly rinsed it with fresh water (it can’t really get more broken) and sit hoping it will dry out and spring to life again. A girl can wish can’t she? The computer though amazingly I am using to write this post, yea! It seems none the worse for wear.
Not all is lost though. I won’t have to spend the next six weeks arm wrestling Bill over one Kindle. One of our fellow Seattle boats, S/V Grace had a spare Kindle. It was still in the box! We negotiated a deal: we promise to return it if one of their Kindles dies, I made Paul a batch of gooey brownies and we will either have someone bring one back down in the coming weeks to give to them as a replacement or we will bring one back (along with another spare for us!) for them when we return from our Seattle trip in a few months. A swear I have never met a group of people more helpful and giving than cruisers. If you need it someone has it and will happily offer it. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of friends.