Start with a three-day coastal passage from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, delayed by lack of winds until day one falls smack on Thanksgiving.
Next, consider carefully what festive holiday dish can be made using only the ingredients you have on board, the preparation or consuming of which is not likely to cause spilling, scalding or a severed artery on passage with winds forecast up to 20-knots.
Realizing that flour + butter + sugar = pie crust, and along with the last of your San Diego apples you were prescient enough to buy cinnamon in Ensenada, hatch brilliant idea to become world’s least experienced but most ambitious offshore baker.
Pre-prep by making dough and filling prior to departure and placing in ziplock bags in the fridge. Don’t forget freshly ground nutmeg. You are not a heathen.
Chart course about 10 miles offshore to take best advantage of winds and rhumb line, and head off with energy and excitement. Congratulate yourself for not burning diesel like so many of those flat calm passages before.
Decide pretty immediately that you’re in double-reef territory. As it happens, you will not shake out that second reef for three days.
Add in reasonable-sized seas of 6-10 feet, but mix them around such that you are nailed by a confused cross-swell on the beam as you head offshore. Get tossed about like a free, multi-day ride on the Cyclone. Join forces with the dastardly rolling seas and toss your cookies overboard.
Set aside idea of pie. Next, set aside idea of dinner. In fact, set aside all idea of consuming any food whatsoever. As it happens, you will not eat for three days.
For your partner, who is bravely hand-steering most of the journey while you lie moaning in a bunk, serve up copious apologies in lieu of the passage meals you’d planned. The lovingly prepared curry will stay in the fridge. So too will the backup pastas and instant oatmeal that you got for ‘emergencies.’ All these options involve at least boiling water in a teakettle, which would now require you standing up for more than 30 seconds without losing your (non) lunch.
Offer instead, these packets of tea biscuits. What are they? Who knows. You found them on sale at Ralph’s in San Diego for 69 cents and bought a dozen. Good thing. These packets will become his sole source of nutrition for at least 48 hours.
Spend far too much of your faint energy marveling that the French term for seasickness, mal de mer, makes the infernal condition sound like something adorable and chic. Oh how cute! Where did you find that mal de mer? Was it on sale?
Discover the hardest time to keep your belly at bay is any transition time between lying in the bunk below and being in the cockpit above, breathing fresh air. Do everything possible to minimize this time, complicated by the fact that you must attempt to put on and/or remove at least six layers of clothing and a PFD and tether each time, while also bracing yourself to ensure you’re not thrown to the far side of the cabin. Get thrown several times regardless.
Spell your indefatigable partner at the helm in three hour shifts with the autopilot running (because you are barely alive and don’t have it in you to hand steer), checking the horizon every ten minutes and in-between, lying on the windward bench. Do this until the boat throws you to the cockpit floor, where you find it is much less rolly. Thanks, boat! Why didn’t you think of this before? It’s so nice and warm here above the engine!
Stay in this position until you are pooped by a big wave coming over the stern and thus drenched on aforementioned cockpit floor. Understand now why that was not the best idea. Remove yourself to the leeward bench and keep living in increments of ten minutes until the daylight comes.
By morning of third day, discover you are finally getting your sea legs, which is good because the waves are now 12 feet, though no longer confused. Manage to keep down half a cup of weak coffee and throw a bowl of tuna and crackers up to your heroic partner.
Realizing that the course you steered to keep the waves in a safe orientation took you closer to thirty miles offshore, and that you will not make it to Turtle Bay for another day, head instead for whatever safe anchorage you can reach by dark. Duck into an open roadstead off Isla Cedros. Drop the hook in 60-feet of water and set it well. Navionics will show your boat being parked on shore. Become very wary of Navionics.
Clean every bit of your body you can reach with a washcloth and toothbrush, change clothes (heaven!) and wipe off salty floors and handholds below. Prepare what — at this stage — seems like a gourmet meal (hot food!), consisting of your emergency store of mac & cheese made dinner-like with broccoli and walnuts. Sit and eat like human beings, with silverware, at a table no less. Follow by sleeping the sleep of the dead.
In the morning, use sat phone to check the weather and decide the conditions have you pinned in for another 24 hours. (Can I get a hallelujah?) Feel like you finally have something to give thanks for. Remember that all the ingredients for a pie are waiting for you in the fridge...
Toast with gratitude your entire Mexico experience so far, giving special thanks for an easy border crossing, the beautiful and tasty bonita you caught outside Ensenada, the warm friendship of the people you’ve met so far, and the way you and your partner managed to stretch your combined Spanish to encompass desires beyond Rosetta Stone Level One, like can we buy wood for a fish cleaning station here and do you sell a feeler gauge for a valve adjustment.
Soon you will be in Turtle Bay after one of the most beautiful sails of your trip so far and will have great times with many wonderful people, cruisers and locals both. But that is a recipe for another day.
Fair winds and following seas, dear friends.
Where are we now?
We arrived in Turtle Bay a couple days ago and weather will likely keep us here a couple more. We’re not complaining in the least. We’ve made many new friends and run into many old ones and are very quickly falling in love with this community.
Endless thanks to Ken and Linda of SV Wing and Blade for all the local Ensenada tips, the SSB help and for graciously not kicking our shoes off the pier. We hope to run into you both again in warmer waters soon! And thanks to Eric of SV Barchetta Veloce for being such a good weather and conditions backboard up north and adventure partner down south. We’ll have tons more thanks to give when we share our Turtle Bay experiences. :)