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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 4 at Sea

4/4/2012 Day Four at Sea (1/6th of the way there)

In the end our departure was a fizzle and spurt instead of the big bang of an occasion I suppose I expected it to be. We receive news that there was a favorable weather window opening up in four or five days. We were far enough along in our preparations to catch it's start but then found out that in two days Semana Santa would begin -Mexico's huge Easter week celebration- and with it all the official offices would have curtailed hours or be closed completely. In the past cruisers have been allowed 48 hours to leave the country after checking out but this year for reasons unknown it had changed to immediately. All the boats who had already checked out had actually left but of those remaining suddenly everyone was talking about risking problems with immigration and checking by weeks end but staying to complete their preparations. It would be impossible to leave until the weekend because we had a new VHF radio coming in as baggage with friends on Saturday but we also didn't want to miss the window. We decided to beat the rush and left the next morning to begin the checkout process.
All went well and no one actually said we needed to leave immediately so Zarpe in hand we snuck back into the anchorage at La Cruz. Other boats who had checked out were merrily going about their business, talking on the radio, doing final banking and sitting around in the local gathering spots. Bill being more skeptical than most insisted that we stay off the radio and fly under the radar so we finished our preparations but remained pretty much isolated from the rest of the cruisers for several days.
The entire final day I felt disconnected and on edge. We were ready but stalled. Everything stowed, cupboards brimming, minutes ticking by. I wanted to say goodbye to friends but felt stuck on the boat saturated in energy and emotion, stressed, nervous, exhausted and excited.
As the sun was setting we decided to join a group of friends at the Sky Bar for cokes and goodbyes. The rooftop bar was filling with cruisers come to say goodbye and there were several other boat crews there who also were planning on leaving by sunset.
I was thrilled at the unexpecxted last minute gathering. It was a great way to let off some of the steam and help run out the final minutes of waiting. We all sat around laughing and talking and taking pictures it was reassuring to me to hear that to a one every Puddle Jump wife present was bone tired, stressed out, exited and ready to strangle their captain husbands. Everyone had been working so hard on final preparations (Captains too, don't get me wrong)and the tension was high. As the cameras clicked I looked around and watched as one wife mimed strangling her hubby, another was barely speaking to hers and another threw a mock roundhouse punch as the shutter clicked. It was good to know we weren't the only couple bickering: stress and tension full blown! Finally we got the call that the VHF had arrived so one last round of hugs and a tear or two and we were climbing into the dink headed out to the anchorage. Absolutely nothing left to do but stow the outboard, tie the dingy on deck and lift the anchor.
There was of course one last glitch, there always is. As I stood at the bow hauling the anchor aboard I heard an exclamation from the cockpit followed by a very stressed sounding..."wait." Suddenly we had no reverse! Captain Bill is a whiz though and within five minutes we were motoring out of the anchorage while the last bits of light crept out of the sky. Disaster averted, bye bye La Cruz.
We've been at sea now for four days. All our energies have been directed at getting our sea legs and establish our watch routine. We caught two beautiful yellow fin tuna in the first twelve hours which topped off the last bits of space in the new freezer. The winds have been fluky but we have managed to sail every mile since we raised anchor -no sense using up our stored diesel in the first few days. We have four hundred miles behind us and all is well. The watch schedule is letting us both get adequate sleep and today I even had enough energy to pop some brownies in the oven and make bread to have with seared tuna we'll have for dinner.
Expectedly but still disconcerting is that there is so little visible life around us . Other than the tuna the only wildlife we have been seeing are the birds circling above us. Last night I had porpoises during the end of my watch which made for nice company but all in all life right now is just an empty sea. I am surprised that the emptiness is making such an impact on me since. In fact I have explained to plenty of folks that though we are part of the Pacific Puddle Jump once we left La Cruz, even if we left at the same exact time as another boat we would probably not see them again for the entire trip. That reality is pretty big. Three to four weeks of it coming my way. We left at dark, a couple of boats right ahead of us and another right behind us and another that had left a few hours earlier -we haven't seen another sailboat in 400 miles! We haven't even been able to raise anyone on the VHF. We are miles away from any other boats checking in on the Pacific Puddle Jump Net. In fact even with our AIS to give us a heads up we have only seen three fishing boats off in the distance. 64 million square miles makes for one really empty ocean. Kat

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