Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Starry starry night.....an attempt to capture it in words

Tonight we are sailing the Pacific Ocean about sixty miles northwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico.  Bright white stars fill a jet black sky, so much so that Orion is not a hollow outline but has a body made of tiny white lights.  The almost-full  moon has not risen yet and we are under sail, no engine, just the wind in three sails moving us forward about 5 knots, a gentle swell nudging us from behind.   Warm air caresses us in our summer clothes, no jackets or blankets needed.  Looking into the blackness of the night sea, Richard and I notice bright green phosphorescence stirred up by the wake our hull makes as she slices through these tiny creatures' massive watery world. Richard wants to take a photo but when he realizes it's too dark, he gets pencil and paper and begins drawing.  Carmen curls up in her sleeping bag in the cockpit with her book and Tiger.   It is silent but for the swooshing of water moving past our hull, the click of the steering wheel chain as the autopilot does her job steering us on course, the scratching of Richard's pencil and the tap tap of this iphone keypad.   Bruce went forward to lay on deck below the jib and mainsail  and rest before his night shift.   I write in the ship's log and then here, trying to preserve this memory.   And now I must stop so I can watch another natural wonder - a dark orange globe rising in the East, the moon painting a glistening yellow road on the ocean in front of us.   

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Anchored Down in Tenacatita

One of my favorite songs is Michelle Shocked's "Anchored Down in Anchorage," a folkie ballad about moving from Texas to Anchorage, Alaska, getting married, having babies, and feeling rooted to the place. When I first moved to Anchorage and quickly married, started a family and bought a house, I felt as if she was singing about me. I blasted the song as I wandered through our home barefoot, breastfeeding, literally anchored to my babies and my small world.

For the past week, we have been anchored down in Bahia de Tenacatita, a beautiful tropical Bay on the Pacific Mexican coast. We dropped the hook (our anchor) last Friday and settled in, with no plan to leave and no plan to stay. Our neighbors here consist of about a dozen other cruisers, mostly sailors, who come and go daily. We are excited about spending time with S/V Lungta and her crew, Dan, Kathy and Mary Joe, as we felt a connection right away when we met them in the past port, Barra de Navidad (Dan described our meeting as a "heart connection"). We are also looking forward to rendezvousing with S/V Sweet Dreams, a family boat we met months ago and who are making their way down the coast to meet with us. The anticipation from the children is palpable!

Until now, I would categorize our adventure that began last July as a journey from one place to another. It has been thrilling, exhausting, sometimes disappointing, and familiar. Familiar because traveling is something we do well. Bruce and I fell in love while traveling across the country in his 1979 Volkswagon bus 15 years ago. We sailed two boats up the west coast thousands of miles, "delivering" them to our home in Alaska. We are good at making plans and keeping moving, embracing a nomadic lifestyle. So, sailing from one place to another feels familiar.

Recently, however, we sat down and looked at each other, and realized how tired we were after journeying from Alaska to Pacific Mexico in 5 months. We wondered whether this was really what we wanted when we set out to sail with our family for a year or more. The truth is, it IS what we talked about - going to many different places, traveling thousands of miles around the globe, going going going. Now that we are in it, now that we have been in it for over six months, we have decided to shift the focus. We are slowing down, trying to not plan more than a few days ahead. It is not easy for us! It is a change from what we usually do, challenging to put on the brakes and maybe not even go anywhere. I am sure a lesson is to be learned here. Something about patience and being present. About being on a passage to Now.

So, as I write this, we have been anchored here for an entire week!


Gently rocking at anchor in the peaceful beauty of Tenacatita, we are part of this body of water, a bay alive with fish of all shapes and sizes, skates, jellies, dolphin and whales. Pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, terns, cranes, herons and gulls fly overhead. There are also a dozen other cruising boats in the anchorage who come and go, forming "camp tenacatita." Organized volleyball games on the beach, yoga (I taught my first two classes this week!), swims to the beach, excursions to snorkeling spots, fishing day trips, and dinghy raftups are a few of the options. Or swinging in the hammock with a good book and a cold beer.

[INSERT sunrise photo]

This morning I awoke to the glassy still water of sunrise, ground the coffee beans and made my favorite morning drink. I perched on deck sipping and watching a family of three dolphin almost silently swim among the boats. In the quiet, I climbed aboard our paddleboard and joined the dolphin family in their gentle gliding around the boats. Before the kids even awoke, before the snorkeling, swimming, volleyball and yoga began, I felt as if a whole day had passed.

I love the stretching out of time here. This lifestyle makes me smile. And that has to be a good thing. Doesn't it?

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Break in the Silence

Break in the Silence
Finally, an entry on Bruce’s page of the blog is here.  I was originally thinking of writing every significant change in Latitude to track changes in attitude or each border crossing or other physical progress milestone to log our personal progress.  But in truth, writing on a blog does not appeal to me for there is no defined audience; most likely it will only be a few souls that happen to stumble upon my ramblings. What if big brother reads and profiles me or future potential employer or maybe even my mother-in-law.   What should one write about, details of the boat or how the sails were set or the personal relationship of the family members trapped on this 50 ft piece of steel or just describing the ever passing beauty of the world passing by our decks.  To do one subject would be an injustice to the whole and to cover all would be exhaustive and I am too busy in paradise.  However, today I throw caution to the wind and will let the fingers pound out a few of my observations and thoughts of the day.

It is sunrise over the blue bay of Tenacatita, Mexico and we are sharing this anchorage with around 20 other boats.  The community of boats wanes and waxes with departures and arrivals each day which maintains enough change to keep it interesting.  Jim the self-proclaimed mayor of this community holds weekly gatherings to keep the boat folks connected and each morning runs a radio net like a small community public radio station with weather and local news and other items of interest broadcasted between the boats.  There is the daily swim ashore, bocce ball on the beach, Mexican train dominos in the palapas, yoga and volleyball every other day. 
The past few days have been more on the lines of what we had envisioned years ago.  Wake up to quiet beautiful sunrise, do a few tasks around the boat.  Dive off the boat into clear water to cool off and then play.  Kids on a small sailing dingy (borrowed from another boat), snorkeling, playing in the beach waves and then pulled behind our dingy on a surf board.  Jen getting in some Yoga time with other souls from the community and I played some beach volleyball.  All this feed by generally cheap Mexican food and drink.   The one element that we hoped for but has only slightly developed was to have more kids on other boats, so we find ourselves here awaiting a boat we know is coming with two kids.
Now that we have made it to now, we are attempting to figure out what the longer term voyage will be and where to end up.  The big push to East Coast of the US is off the table for 2013.  The plan – which we have learned is a four letter word in cruising – may end up being going a bit further south on the Pacific Coast and then back to Mexico to haul the boat for an extended period or not.  The significance is that we have done what we set out to do and whatever we do from here is bonus and if we had to pack it up today I would be happy.  The passage to now is done and now we are living for the day and all it brings.
So my first blog entry ended up being at a significant milestone, our arrival, so in the present it is back to the tropical sun and fun.