Soy La Capitan

When we got to Ensenada, Todd finally asked me the question that I’ve been waiting to hear: “Will you be the captain?” I was so proud! He must have noticed how quick I’ve become with a bowline; how keenly I read the wind and adjust the sails; and how carefully I monitor the engine’s functions. “Of course!” I replied.

My first duty as captain was to file our papers for entering Mexico. I carried out the task cheerfully, welcoming the added responsibilities of my new office.

The passage from Ensenada to Turtle Bay (Nov. 14 to Nov. 16) was our longest to date, just shy of 300 nautical miles, and taking us almost 55 hours. For one lunch, I made split pea soup and served it to everyone in the cockpit. As I was sitting down, Koiya giggled. “It’s funny,” she said, “You’re the captain and the steward!”

All of a sudden it hit me: I had been duped! Todd only made me “captain” so that I’d be the one to handle all the paperwork! I shot a glance at Capn Deception, who was smacking his lips with satisfaction. I stifled my indignation, and resolved to remember that despite outward appearances, a brain lurks behind that large forehead, a brain that is capable of formulating cunning strategies to avoid work. I also made a note to give the “Co-Capitan”, as he called himself on our entry paperwork, a little midnight wake-up call (as I’ll explain).

Luckily, Todd and I have struck upon a good rhythm for night passage-making: we switch off every 3 hours, with one of us sleeping below, and the other keeping watch. The auto-pilot or wind vane usually takes care of the steering, so while on watch, I typically listen to music or podcasts on Sequoia’s iPod. Every 15 minutes, I check the radar, scan the horizon, and monitor our course on the GPS. If we’re motoring, I also check the engine temperature and cooling water. Todd claims to do the same, but I’m not sure how he fits it all in, between smoking cigarettes and his pipe, and raiding the snack box that we keep in the cockpit.

So, if the Co-Capitan has given me any grief, I can easily give him a wake-up call during the middle of one of my night watches. Being the nervous sort, and keenly aware of all the motions and sounds of the boat, he awakens and leaps to the deck if there is any change in conditions. Thus, here are some of my options:

  • When motoring, put the engine in neutral (Excuse: “I was checking the wind to see if it is sailable.”)
  • When motoring, increase the engine RPMs (Excuse: “I wanted to see how it would affect our speed.”)
  • When sailing, briefly turn the boat into the wind to luff the sails (Excuse: “Whoa, how freaky! The wind just totally shifted for a moment, then swung back!”)
  • Anytime, run towards the bow yelling “Oh my god!” (Excuse: “I thought I saw a whale/dolphin/submarine/mermaid/etc.”)

With so many possibilities, I don’t think he will ever figure out that I’m making all this stuff up!

Unfortunately there wasn’t much wind for our passage from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, so we ended up motoring a lot. On the third day, we decided to try flying the spinnaker, which is a large parachute-like sail that works well in light downwind conditions. The spinnaker is enclosed in a large sock that you raise to fly the sail, and lower to strike the sail. The first couple times he tried it, Todd was really frustrated, because the sock got twisted and he couldn’t raise it. Then, he had Eric hug the foot of the sail, to contain it while Todd raised the sock. Success! Todd was especially happy because now I tell him not to get his “spinnaker in a twist” instead of not to get his “panties in a wad”, and that makes him feel much more manly.

We could only fly the spinnaker for a little while though, because back in San Diego, Capn Lazybones was too busy sitting in the hot tub to go up the mast and string a proper halyard. (Later, when we were anchored in Asuncion, he conned Eric into doing it by exclaiming how cool the view is from the top of the mast.)

The town of Turtle Bay (Bahia Tortugas) is not particularly picturesque, and the people seemed a bit jaded by the hundreds of cruisers that stop there. In the weeks before we arrived, the Baja Haha (150+ boats) and the FUBAR (60 power boats) had both come through. We had to pony up 50 pesos ($5) each for hot showers! But, the land surrounding the bay itself is starkly beautiful.

Todd’s favorite thing about Turtle Bay: a man named Benjamin will drive his panga out to your boat with a tank of clean diesel fuel, plug the pump into your inverter, and fill you up… for $2.40/gallon (it was $4+/gal in San Diego)!

See all of the Turtle Bay photos here:


4 Responses to “Soy La Capitan”

  1. Naresh says:

    What happened to the ‘oh my god – there’s a carton of american spirits floating just off the stern!’ excuse?

  2. Susan says:

    I couldn’t say that- he’d turn the boat around! Luckily he has run out of those smelly things.

  3. josh says:

    Keep an eye open for this tequila. I have only seen it at Tommy’s. Its called Regionale and it is the nectar of the gods.

    How come you didn’t stop at Cabo? Too touristy? Didn’t want to run into Sammy Hagar and get into that fight with him again about how much better David Lee Roth looks in tights?

  4. chrispix says:

    Thanks a lot for getting La Bamba stuck in my head, Marinera…