Becoming a cruiser means becoming a part of a whole new culture. Along with that culture comes new language, a unique history to explore and all new proverbs and idioms to guide you: “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight; red sky in the morning sailors take warning”, “Fair winds and Following seas” etc. There are also a number of quotes on the lifestyle that take on a whole new, much more personal meaning; from the whimsical inspirational ones: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Joseph Conrad, to the very common sensical ones: “When the draught of your boat exceeds the depth of the water, you are most assuredly, aground.” – Ian Walsh. The truth of the matter is, people have a lot to say about their time spent at sea.
The saying that seems to predominate lately is “A cruiser’s plans are written in sand at low tide”. Every time I try to schedule out where we’re going to be on what date (even with a week of fudge factor thrown in), the weather, our boat, and the world in general seems to have other plans in store for us. If you start to describe an intricate, well-orchestrated, time-sensitive plan to a seasoned cruiser, they are likely to laugh in your face. Mother Nature always has something up her sleeve for you control-freaks! This takes some getting used to when you’re encultured into living by a schedule with strict deadlines, but once you succumb and stop fighting against the things that are beyond your control, it is a welcome relief to be released from the over reliance on the clock and calendar.
So we found ourselves on our trek north, having finally left the Loreto area for all new coves to explore.
“If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen out there” – Captain Ron
Upon reaching Bahia Concepción amidst the constant stream of sweat dripping down our foreheads and other unnamed body parts, it was then that we questioned why we were pushing so hard to go north to Bay of LA, knowing we needed to be back at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula in October for some major boat work. It’s not as if we were going to explore the quaint little towns along the way and determine which town had the best tacos al pastor, due to ongoing COVID-19 threats. It would mostly serve the purpose of travelling to a safe hurricane hole that is one of several cruiser options for spending summer in the Sea of Cortez. When the cultural exploration aspect of your lifestyle has been stymied, it’s time to recalibrate.
“I don’t sail around the world to observe it—but to joyously participate in it.” ― Cap’n Fatty Goodlander
We had to admit that although we were loving the year-round bathing suit weather, the lack of AC and continued increase in temps was beginning to discourage even the heartiest of crew. The biggest kicker for us however, was in knowing that we have some major repairs needed on our boat and this was not the time to push her and go somewhere more remote.
“The chance for mistakes is about equal to the number of crew squared” – Ted Turner
I finally realized: There’s no medal waiting for us at Bay of LA- it’s not a finish line in a race! While logic had prevailed in making this decision, we were left with some degree of disappointment in not taking the path we had spent so much time researching. We bid adieu to the unexplored coves and beaches and changed course heading south towards familiar cruising grounds. Back to the sand with my driftwood in hand ready to draft a new….don’t say it!!! I can now conclude that expecting to carry out a strict plan is highly improbable in this lifestyle.
Despite my diatribe above, our plans have only shifted slightly and the shift pales in comparison to the several cruising friends who hoped to cross the Pacific earlier this year. Many are still in Baja while others have gone home to feed the cruising kitty in hopes that the remote countries they hoped to explore will open their borders and that COVID-19 will be better managed in the spring. If they are disappointed, they don’t show it and to an outsider’s eyes, are epitomizing the “go with the flow” and “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” mentality. The common string for all of us is that we’re all staring at plans written in sand at low tide waiting to be washed away when the tide comes in. The waiting game and inability to set even loosely attainable goals for the fall is definitely a mental challenge. I kept myself and family going in the spring for weeks, cheerleading the kids along with my “What’s meant to be shall be” philosophy, throwing in an occasional “We’re so blessed for our health and time together!”, but at this point I’m itching for what’s next and my pom poms are presently retired. We pulled into an anchorage we hadn’t been to in 3 months – WOW have we been here that long? We’ve actually been in and around the Loreto area for 4 months now watching the regulations evolve and hiding out from civilization. We’ve evolved as the local area has to spending less time hiding and prepping to doing more living and enjoying our beautiful surroundings, never becoming too complacent to realize the ever-present threats of COVID-19 and now hurricanes.
“Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters.”
– Howard Bloomfield
Like many back home, the school year has started for us as well. I’ve called the first two weeks “summerschool” to hopefully avoid any pencil projectiles and ease the transition back into somewhat of a routine. The Sea of Cortez is still a magical wonderland that always has something new in store – just wait for it! The other night we heard what sounded like a waterfall pounding outside our boat. We came up on deck to find a huge fish vortex with tons of bioluminescence that surrounded our boat for hours on a moonless night – pure magic to watch. We pulled into this anchorage the other day only to be welcomed by a large group of Golden Cownose Rays swimming on the surface long enough for us all to enjoy. Moreover, exploring the underwater world with the girls has never been so fun. They find something new each time we go out.
So we can continue to play our waiting game in this wonderland until the world has a different, safer plan for us. I’m not planning to pick up a sharpie, pencil, driftwood or any other writing instrument anytime soon to devise a P-L-A-N…it’s just not a part of this culture. We’ll keep setting goals supported by flexible…intentions (trying to avoid using the word plan) and continue to be thankful for the wonder and beauty of cruising with our family.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
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