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


  1. Jennifer, your writing has gotten better and better. THis example is excellent.
    I always thought you should live near lots of sunshine, and I'm glad you are now soaking it all in. The other side of you, however, thrives within the excitement of a real city like Boston, and I'm glad you have had that experience too. Where will you end up? Now that Bruce is "free" so to speak, maybe the entire country is an option. You have been very lucky to have this year long break. Most people never get it - even in retirment. Please keep writing about it so we all can experience a bit of paradise vicariously. I love you all so much, mom

  2. Jen, I agree with your mom. Your writing is beautiful and full of imagery. It is hard to write something where you make the readers feel as if they are actually living the experience. Simple & truthful, yet poetic. Most of us struggle with that. A reader wants to feel part of the experience - not like they are simply looking through a window. You are blessed to have your talent. I can feel being there. Norene & Lance