Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ay, Chihuahua

I got a wonderful opportunity to go sailing today. Frank Keys, one of our volleyball players asked if anyone wanted to go out for an afternoon sail. I immediately volunteered of course. How could I pass up an invitation like that.  It's rare that I can get out on a sailboat away from Coeur d'Alene let alone a sailboat on the ocean in Mexico.

Birthday boy Frank Keys.
Frank picked Hal and his wife Gretchen, Dennis and I up at 1:15 PM and we drove to the XOXO for gas and beer.  Once we had our gallon of fuel and the cooler full of beer we headed to Barra. Frank dropped us off at the water taxi and then went and parked the car.  We payed our 20 pesos and loaded into the taxi. Then when Frank arrived the driver took us directly to Franks 26 foot Hunter sailboat and dropped us off.

We got everything stowed, detached the boat from its mooring and motored out of the lagoon. We hit the bay with all sails up and full of wind.  The day was the usual bright sunny Mexico day, but there was also something very special, wind!

We were on a broad reach in no time sailing at about 23 knots. Frank and Dennis grabbed the two fishing rods and put out the hoochies. Now this was sailing! I busied myself tending the jib and fetching beers for the Captain and crew. I was in seventh heaven.

About 45 minutes into the trip we caught our first fish.  Frank hooked up on a Sierra and was able to drag it into the boat. Dennis smacked it on the top of the head and blood went everywhere. I have been with quite a few sailors on many boats but I have never been with a guy as casual about the boat, blood and sailing as Frank.  He grabbed the fish and tossed it to me. "Find a bucket and grab a bit of ice for the fish!"  he shouted, I replied "Do you want a bucket to get the blood off the boat and clean up?" Frank smiled and said in his Texas drawl "Sure, I guess we should do that." Then he smiled and said "What a great birthday, volleyball in the morning, sailing and catching fish in the afternoon!" We were all surprised that it was his birthday but that made the trip even funner.

The afternoon continued and so did the wind.  We broke out of the bay and headed south to look at some of the beaches down there.  We made our way out past the rocks of Punta El Coco where we hit our second Sierra.  Once the fish was in the boat and on ice we sailed on around the punta and checked out the beaches owned and used by the Grand Bay.

We came about and started working our way back to Barra.  By this time the waves were getting moderately big and the wind was very brisk and steady.  We hooked another fish. This time we caught a Barralette. Barralette are not the best eating fish but this old boy was beat up and bleeding so we tossed it in the bucket. 
This boathouse is a trailer on stilts.

The afternoon was getting more exciting.  The wind picked up and the ocean got rougher.  I was riding rail helping to hold the boat down a bit and by this time Frank had turned all jib duties over to me.  

Heading out Frank lined up to make the tack that would take us along the rocks of the point, passing just off the roughest snarl of rocks out into Bahia de Navidad. The cut was about a 100 yards to soon.  Frank and I worked as hard as we could keeping the sailboat as high to the wind as possible, but the waves and currents were working against us. 

We kept pinching up into the wind and were moving well but we also were losing ground to the point.  A pod of five dolphins started playing off the bow of the boat and we enjoyed watching them but we couldn't take our eyes off the shoreline for to long. 
Dennis and Frank, all smiles!

Frank looked at me and asked my opinion. I said that I thought we needed to tack away from the rocks soon.  He said he needed to make a decision to tack away or to start up the boat motor and push us up into the wind and around the point. I said "What every you want to do you better do it now!"  At this point we were getting close to the rock point and something needed to be done.  Frank decided to start the engine.  I was working the jib trying to dump wind so the boat would slow and come up a bit.  Frank frantically was pulling on the engine cord and I was as calmly as I could saying "Frank, get it going or tack away!"  Our problem was that Frank has left the auto pilot on and its course was heading right for the point. I was just moving for the auto pilot to tack away when Frank fired the engine and turned the boat into the wind and away from the rocks.  I think we were about 20 feet from hitting them, but it could have been farther or closer.  The rest of the folks were very quiet at that point so I turned and smiled and said "Wow that was fun!"  Frank had gained control and he was smiling and he said "I guess that was closer than I thought." 

Everyone laughed and we headed off the wind, safe around the point heading for home.

Back in past the break water we cleaned up the boat and stowed everything.  Frank called the water taxi and we loaded on board for the trip home.  I looked at the bow of Franks boat and spotted her name. In nice script painted along the bow were the words, Ay, Chihuahua. I looked at Frank and said "What a great name!" He said "Yeah, it was the original name so I kept it." We made our way back to the docks.  All I could think of was Ay, Chihuahua we almost hit those rocks.

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