Sailing Mexico on 44ft S/V Shaula
I decided to go on a little sailing gallivant with two young Canadian sailors. Me and two men at sea…a perfect recipe for a grand ol’ time. I consider myself to be fairly easy going, I’m able to get along with most people of various demeanours. I typically choose to surround myself with likeminded people, and generally people that travel and have a wandering spirit, are people akin to my own heart. So having linked up with a sailor guy from Victoria, B.C., I had surmised was one of these traveling folk, I flew from Seattle to Cabo, Mexico to be picked up at the airport by said sailor guy, Matt. He had asked me to join for a trip when I could, and the timing for this trip worked out for me to come for a week.
The night before my flight I had a churn of anxiety, questioning going sailing on a small boat with one complete stranger, and one acquaintance. I thought to myself, I could be putting myself into a weird situation, being a girl on a boat with two guys. But then I thought, as I have been thinking lately, fuck it, this is what I do. If I were to have said no, I’d miss out. I felt safe enough to go, and the main surety I wanted in this type of situation is that these guys are capable seaman, which I had confirmed.
Overview of the journey: Everything I’ve written below regarding the daily itinerary of the trip is simple, and probably not entirely intriguing to someone having not sailed these parts or having little interest in doing so. But here’s what’s interesting to me: the sailing community, the process of sailing and its simplicity, and how that simplicity can impact your thoughts and mental state.
Sailing is a community. It’s not people in their own houses rarely communicating or connecting on anything other than a superficial level. It’s the thing you get when you drive down small camp roads, a wave or nod signalling, “hey, we’re both here because we love to be here in nature, and that’s pretty cool”. Like minded people often living against the grain, coming together in a shared experience. I loved that phenomenal feeling of connectivity with nature oriented people.
Another aspect of sailing was the feeling of shutting off. I think I’ve mastered this over the years, I can now relax fairly easily, but in this situation I felt a definite shift from feeling a little wired in my mind, to a feeling of peace and calm. This came about because there aren’t many distractions at sea, there’s you, whomever you may be sailing with, the sea, and the boat in which you inhabit. We didn’t have cell service, we fell asleep often after sunset, which was around 6:30pm, and there weren’t things like honking horns, blazing city lights, dogs barking, or people screaming. There were blankets of stars, whistling cool breezes to break the day’s heat bringing you into night, and there was fresh air. You get that feeling you had if you had a good childhood, that feeling when you go to sleep on a summer’s eve, kissed by the day’s sun, sleeping in fresh sheets with the windows open, knowing you were safe, loved, and happy. I fell asleep feeling simple and content. And I woke up knowing I had little to do other than eat, swim, explore, and sail.
And then there’s the sailing. While at sea cruising along, I felt euphoric. My mind was busy but not overwhelmed. I was inspired, fulfilled, and hopeful. I was consumed by thoughts that were purposeful in moving forward, instead of mindless self-defeating thoughts that can invade my mind during times I don’t feel entirely content or fulfilled.
We pulled into our final anchorage on a mooring ball in San Carlos late in the evening. We were exhausted from the 27- hour journey we had taken across the Sea of Cortez, having hit some strong winds, which resulted in the boat heeling hard to starboard, and our bodies remaining tense for hours as a result. We took the zodiac into port to grab a beer and some grub, and were instantly hit with “real life”. I had to book a flight last minute, I had banking to attend to, I had emails to respond to, texts and voicemails to read and hear. Just like that, the simplicity of the real life connection I felt without the existence of the fast paced technological world, had dissipated for the moment. I will feel that calm again. I will not forget those calm feelings. I know they exist, and this experience had reminded me to seek this way of living as much as I can. Life is too short to be spent not feeling as good as you are capable of feeling.
Day one: After getting picked up in Cabo, we drove to La Paz, a two-hour trip. We arrived, I threw my stuff on the boat, had a quick tour, and we went out for some tacos and cervezas. We were joined by another sailor, a German guy named Carl. We went out dancing, we formed a little dance circle with some locals, had some shots. A Mexican girl with perfect English asked to take me out the next day. It was a good night. We went back to the boat at a reasonable hour, went for a midnight swim and crashed in preparation for the sail the next day.
Day two: We sailed from La Paz, to Isla Espiritu Santo, a 25- mile sail. Nice sunset. Seas were a little rough and the wind blew at approximately 25 kts. Nothing remarkable to note.
Day three: Sail to Isla San Francisco, a beautiful spot with a gorgeous hike to the top of some hills, and stunning clear blue water. There were ten other boats in the bay, sail and motor. I met a retired couple on the beach and they told me they sail around Mexico for 9 months of the year and love it. It was on this night that I drank a bit too much Vodka. I was having a great time, loving the music on our boat, dancing, singing, talking the guy’s ears off. I got a bit nostalgic and talked about life, love, death. Mainly about life being too short. I was feeling immense appreciation for my surroundings and company. It was not so good the next morning, having to sail for 7 hours to our next anchorage.
Day four: Bahia San Marte. This was also a great little spot with tons of reef diving, green water, a shell beach, and rocky cliffs. When we pulled in four other sailing vessels were in the bay, and we soon learned that each of these vessels held an older couple, and all of the couples were friends and travelled together, playing music. This is a life that is somewhat foreign to me, not knowing many people who do this full or even part time. I can’t see my own parents living this way, but sometimes I wish I came from this environment so it would be easier to access. But I can also make my own path, and I do and will continue to do so.
Day five: We woke up and while the guys did some diving, I cleaned and enjoyed some solitude, in the nude soaking up the sun and jumping into the beautiful water. When the guys returned, we did some GoPro filming. Bart jumped from the mast while we filmed.We left Bahia San Marte, heading north towards Loreto, and then crossing over the Sea of Cortez to San Carlo. This will be a 20+ hour passage.
Day six: We sailed for 27 hours across the Sea of Cortez. This was a long day, or should I say days. Part of the sail was beautiful and calm, the crossing of the Sea was not as calm. At one point I yelled at Bart to pass me my phone from below deck, he got up, and because of the wind and seas, became sea sick. His head popped up from the galley looking sweaty, disoriented, and pissed off that I had woken him up for my phone. I was not sea sick…yay! Poor Bart, lucky me. None of us ate much. Bart ate nothing, and Matt and I made “Sea of Cortez grilled cheeses”, a piece of bread wrapped around a slab of cheese.We arrived in San Carlos and made a number of attempts to hook onto the mooring ball in 35-knot winds. Bart swore, I cut my foot and bruised my arms, but no one died!Tired, having not showered in days, hungry, and irritable, we tendered into port to grab some food. We didn’t last long before we came back to our floating home to sleep.
Day seven: Departure: I frantically had to rearrange my flight the night before. I had to get from San Carlos to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for work. Not as easy as it had been suggested it would be. I took a bus through Mexico for 13 hours. I had to get off the bus three times with my two 50 LB suitcases and guitar to go through scanners at checkpoints. I had to go through U.S. customs. We didn’t stop anywhere in that 13 hours for food, other than one stop, where my only option was a milky jello with fruit jello chunks. My first flight out of Arizona departed at 12:40am, I pulled into the bus depot at 11:30pm. I ran to get my luggage and then to a cab. Once at the airport the cabbie said he didn’t take cards, so I had to run in to a bank machine. By some stroke of luck, no one was in the airport, I made it with time to get some food and board, with about thirty seconds to spare. 16 hours later I arrived in Fort Lauderdale, and began work. What an adventure…The End.