Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Typical day

It's about 7am and the light flowing into my aft cabin has already awaken me. I'm lying here in my bunk not wanting to get up but knowing that the ham radio nets providing me with daily weather reports are more important than a few lazy moments in bed.
Last night was a pretty normal night at anchor here in Playa Santispak and it was mostly quiet once the Mexican music stopped playing in the restaurant on the beach around 11pm. I woke up around 5am when a panga raced by carrying a couple of poor fisherman out to their hopeful spot in the wee hours of the morning. I'm sure they were completely oblivious to the fact that their wake was spilling through the anchorage sending the other boats into a gentle rolling motion and in doing so waking me before I had hoped.  I grumbled to myself through the fog of my sleepy mind then quickly fell back asleep until later when the light began to pour into my cabin just before 7am.
Rolling over and swinging my hips and legs over the front of the bunk and placing my feet on the teak floor I catch my balance by grabbing the wooden doorway as I make my way into the galley to get some coffee brewing while I turn on the Ham radio. Through the blur of my early morning mindset I press the little red button on the coffee pot and scratch my head tying to figure out why it is not turning on. Ah, I remember now...I had forgotten to turn on the inverter which converts battery power to AC current so I can enjoy a few of the conveniences like coffee pots that I took for granted back home. Turning the inverter on it makes a low, quiet hum and brings to life the coffee maker that will help my mind to move into the day ahead.  Almost immediately I start to hear the water bubbling and the occasional steam spewing as it drips the dark droplets of coffee into the carafe. I look up at the clock on the bulkhead at the far side of the reads 7:05am. The round, brass barometer sits just below the clock and I notice that the pressure continues to remain stable around 1015 millibars so I assume that the fair skies and good weather should be with us for at least a while longer.
I flip on the Ham radio and begin to spin the dial. As I turn the dial the speaker broadcasts a variety of high and low pitched noises mixed in with the ever constant scratching sound until I finally hone in on a familiar voice. It's Robert on Harmony, the net controller for today taking the morning check-ins from various vessels spread around the Sea of Cortez and the Mexican coastline. Shortly after 7:15 he turns the control over to some guy up in Arizona who gives us a detailed weather report including wind, sea state, crossing reports and forecasts for the next 3 days. The report has the weather good for today and tomorrow but starting on Friday they are expecting a norther to blow in bringing a bit colder temperatures and winds in the 20-25 knot range for the following 3 days.
Santispak is a great spot to sit out a norther. The anchorage is about a 1/2 mile crescent bay with room for several boats anchored over a very good holding sand bottom with mountains flanking to the west, north and east sides of the turquoise waters. Protection to the south is not perfect but even in that direction there is partial shielding from the various small islands that dot the shallow waters of the Bay of Conception going southward toward Buenaventura.
I had planned to head north toward Punta Chivato on Saturday but with the forecasted norther coming I will stay put and wait it out. There isn't much here but some campers on the beach and a restaurant named Ana's. The last few days I have been alone onboard so every so often I have rumbled ashore in the dinghy to get a meal at Ana's. So far I have yet to see anyone else in the restaurant except for the two owners and myself. However, regardless of the lack of customers, they open up the place promptly at 8am every morning with the sand parking lot out front cleanly raked and inside everything is neat and tidy awaiting their customers, customers who seem to rarely come. Business in Baja is rarely booming.   Indifferent to the infrequent patrons and lack of income, they are a very happy couple and are grateful for a roof over their heads and a few pesos in the till to take care of their basic needs.
The coffee is done and I pour a cup and take it upstairs through the companionway and plop myself down on the semi soft cushions of the cockpit.  The sun is now well above the horizon and I climb out of the cockpit onto the deck to see if the solar panels on top of the bimini are being blocked by the boom.  As karma usually dictates, the boom is casting a shadow across the forward three panels so I move the boom over to the port side and secure it with the main preventer line allowing maximum sun exposure to the panels that will recharge my batteries that I had partially depleted since the sun went down yesterday afternoon.
I'm bored. There are definitely things that I need to attend to but none of them must be done this moment so I grab the current book I am reading, slide the Mola pillow that my mom made for me under my head and soon I find myself quickly turning the pages completely unconcerned with the passage of time.  After a few chapters I decide that I had better at least make an attempt at checking an item or two off of the perpetual to do list.  My mind goes through the various items that need attention...polish the stainless up on deck.  Ugh, I've been putting that one off for a few days now but it can wait a few more.  Clean the bilge. Yuck, that is a really greasy job and do I really want to get into that right now?  No, not really.  Clean the sand out of the dinghy.  Hmmm, what's the point?  It's just going to get sandy again today, tomorrow or the next day... lol.  Ok, maybe I will just head down below and wash the dishes and maybe if I'm really energized I will clean the cabin floor.  Where does all of that hair, lint, dirt and various bits come from anyway?
The day passes as I manage to check a few items off of the list.  However, the list is now longer than it was when I started the day.  Par for the course!  As I go about one task I am introduced to several others and so they get added to the list.  If it sounds like cruising is a perpetual to do list, it is...kind of.  It is true that the projects needing attention on a 25 year old cruising boat never end.  However, most are not "have to do now" projects and so they eventually get done as time and energy permits. Actually, very few things have to be done immediately.
The markers of the end of another day on the ocean begin to reveal themselves.  The afternoon breeze has lightened, the water calms and the seabirds begin to feed as the sun slowly loses it's brightness and instead gives way to colors of pink and orange gathered around the western horizon.  Before it is fully dark I connect the dinghy to the lines hanging below the davit arms off the stern of the Liahona. Pulling on each line the dinghy slowly raises off of the water and into a secure position off of the back deck.  I see other boats in anchorages that simply leave their dinghy in the water with nothing other than a bow painter to hold it fast to the mothership.  In theory, that should be sufficient but it is a bit like leaving your cars keys in plain site in the car in a sketchy neighborhood or wafting a savory piece of meat in front of a hungry lion. What most don't think of is the fact that your dinghy and motor represent about 6-12 months of income for a fisherman pretty much anywhere in Latin America.  They are good people, and for the most part very honest, but some temptations are simply too much to resist.  So I have vowed to never be too lazy to remove that temptation from their view hoisting my dinghy 5 to 6 feet off of the water every night.  No exceptions.
I walk through the cockpit and tidy up a few things as I move toward the companionway carefully walking down the 6 steps that lead into the main cabin.  Dinner tonight will be simple.  After boiling some water and softening the noodles I pour in the seasoning while trying to decipher the instructions written in Spanish on the back of the packaging.  My Spanish is pretty good but sometimes my vocabulary in specific arenas, such as cooking, makes me realize that there is still room for improvement.  Just before the pasta is done I grab a bottle of tepid water that has been sitting on the countertop since I filled it from the water maker earlier this morning and pour a packet of fruit flavoring in.  Cold drinks are a rare privilege on a boat.  While it is true that I have a fridge and freezer onboard, drinking water is not among the contents getting chilled because it takes a great deal of energy to cool down that much water just to be slurped up in a few minutes of mostly under appreciated guzzling.  Power aboard is a limited resource and therefore is closely monitored and carefully guarded.  There is only so much reserve in the battery bank and the solar panels can only recharge the batteries at a certain rate and, of course, only during the daylight hours.
After dinner I scrub the dishes under the salt water tap and then carefully rinse them with another precious commodity that is carefully and wisely used...fresh water.  After placing them on the dry towel I lay down on the settee with my book and read until sleep begins to creep into my mind.  It's fully dark now so I turn on the anchor light atop the mast, turn off the cabin lights and stumble back into my bunk.  As the boat slowly rocks in the gentle swells of the bay, I fade off to sleep with a smile on my face and a heart full of gratitude for the way I get to live.  I will awake tomorrow realizing that today has bled into tomorrow... and the cycle gets repeated.  Sometimes with different scenery, sometimes not.  However, at the end of the day I will fall asleep thinking the same thing I did last night...I love this life!

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