One week ago we departed La Cruz bound for La Paz and within that brief timespan the world changed. We spent time off the grid during this trek and consciously disconnected from outside communication until a few miles off Mazatlan when my phone blew up with texts (thank you mom for the updates). We quickly realized that this port visit would be like no other we had experienced before. It was an eerie feeling to be completing an overnight passage, sleep deprived knowing that rather than hit the shore to find the best tacos and stretch our sea legs along the malecon, all I wanted to do was keep my family safe and socially isolated on our boat. Mexico is not in the state of lockdown, apocalyptic chaos that the US is – we still have ample TP on the shelves – but the tourism that Mazatlan depends on and all those whose income depends on it, has definitely taken a hit. Enroute to do some provisioning yesterday we drove along the main drag looking at beautiful beaches that were empty. Colorful Carnaval statues from the city that boasts Mexico’s most flamboyant Carnaval celebration remind us of good times that were had on this street only weeks ago. We know many of you are quarantined while many others are supporting the front lines of healthcare during this pandemic. We also know that you are inundated with the constant stream of updates as the situation worsens. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones and we’ll continue to write and post for those who need an escape.
Cruising as I’ve learned, means having a loose plan for time and destination while bending and paying full rights to Mother Nature and all she has to offer. Such was the case last week when we found ourselves unexpectedly in beautiful Isla Isabela. Isla Isabela has been called the “Galapagos of Mexico” due to its isolation, beauty, and large population of relatively tame nesting birds and iguanas. The destination was always on our list, but for many reasons, we determined next season would be our time to go. We enjoyed La Tovara Springs jungle tour and Matanchen Bay, but when I was sufficiently defeated by the armada of jejenes who had feasted on me, it was time to head north.
We skipped San Blas, knowing that it will still be there next year for our return and headed on our way bound for Mazatlan. That great feeling of being underway and moving forward had once again prevailed, but come late afternoon the winds came up as they always seem to, bringing 16 kts and rolly seas on the nose. Now here’s the thing – the sea state wasn’t horrible at all, but our passage took us right by…let’s just call it “Disneyland” for snorkeling, scenery and amazing solitude just off the coast of Mexico – could we really pass it up? It is also an island with 2 small anchorages forcing you to time your visit appropriately and have a backup plan to continue passage should they be full. As we got closer and started singing the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” (a must on the cruiser playlist) we saw only 2 boats on AIS – one in each anchorage. With visual confirmation identifying only the two boats, we figured – it’s now or never!
Now, there are 2 ways to enter a beautiful, remote, yet tight anchorage with one other boat already settled in place, likely enjoying sunset cocktails and the luxury of being the only boat in the anchorage: 1) Enter with complete confidence of a Captain worthy of handling his/her own boat, drop a hook and call it a day or 2) Hail the boat and hope to get some of the local insight as you pull in – you never know what you’ll get. We chose option # 2 and were fortunate to reach S/V Serafina on the rado, who kindly shared great recommendations for dropping our hook over sand in this location that is notorious for swallowing anchors due to the deceiving rocky bottom covered by thin patches of sand and ever-changing weather pattern. Without dive gear onboard, this was one of several reasons we had resisted the urge to visit this season. We anchored between the beautiful volcanic rock formation known as Isleo Mona Menor and S/V Serafina with a proximity that would normally be uncomfortable for us. IE: we never would have anchored so close to another boat on purpose, but this was an anchorage that forced the issue. We were quickly reassured by them that after several visits to the Island, their record for this tiny anchorage was 8 boats where they were almost close enough to pass cocktails! They showed us where the good snorkeling was, told us about the research camp and various birds on the island, and even dingy’d me over to another snorkeling spot when the kids were too cold to continue – thank you for your kindness.
Kindness is infectious. We meet all types on the open ocean and by and large people have come out here seeking a closeness to the world around them or the excitement of setting out to explore foreign lands on their own schedule and by their own means that they couldn’t experience amidst the hustle bustle of a big city Many are also seeking some serenity and isolation and we respect that – especially when we come rolling in with a very large great dane, 2 larger than life children and all our…finesse. The truth is, out here is like anywhere else. You display mutual respect and kindness and for the most part, you’ll get it in return. Sometimes it will downright shock you what people will do to help you…unconditionally. We’re out here with limited resources and depend upon one another when need arises.
Perhaps this lesson will ring true with what is happening right now in the world. Fear, anger, loss, paranoia, and anxiety for what lies ahead can naturally perpetuate in society while facing this unpredictable crisis. Resources are limited and risks are high. People need kindness and a sense of community now more than ever, yet this proves challenging when everyone is physically isolated from one another. Both offering kindness to or seeking assistance from strangers, not knowing how it might be received involves some degree of courage and along with it vulnerability and risk (look up Brene Brown if you’re seeking some insight, inspiration, and humor on the topic while stuck at home – read her book Daring Greatly or view her talks on Ted.com). This should not be confused with weakness but fully embraced as you may find yourselves on either end of the spectrum.
The future remains unpredictable, but time marches on. Kids still need schooling, we must maintain our physical and emotional health as well as social connections – albeit virtual – with one another. It is hard not to be obsessed with all the real time updates on this ever-evolving state of the world, but to do so, for me, sends a message to my kids about my own worry and fear and leads to them generating their own anxiety about the situation. As parents, our kids model our reactions to crises such as these and we have an opportunity to model resilience and humanity in times of adversity. I’m not trivializing the situation, simply offering a simple task that everyone is capable of performing….be kind. We’re grateful for those who have helped us along the way and we hope to continue to pay it forward. We hope you too encounter those who to wish to pay it forward.
This is obviously the HelmsMistress’s story from Weds, we’re posting it late and skipping Kids Corner. Like she said above, we’re wresting with our blog “voice” as we balance and process the changes to the world and changes happening quickly within our own life and cruising plans. I’ll probably comment more on these things tomorrow in my own post. But suffice to say…we’re in a unique position to watch history unfold from our point of view. For now…we’re staying on our boat and just not coming home as planned in late March…with full assent from our families. If you’re still reading…and you’re stuck inside somewhere in isolation the best thing you could do for us is to keep up a positive attitude and FOLLOW our blog so you can keep reading our cruising stories from outside the US. If you’re really motivated and wanna help keep us floating…check our our Patreon Page please.