Monday, December 20, 2010

When the cradle rocks…at 1:38 AM

On December 19th we anchored at Los Lobos, located on the Baja peninsula near the city of La Paz.  La Paz is a four hour drive south from Loreto but we took 16 days to sail there, visiting the many beautiful islands in between.  Considering Los Lobos’ proximity to civilization we hoped to get an internet connection for the first time since December 4th and we did!  It was like re-entering earth’s atmosphere after two weeks in space.  Although we still had battery power to consider usurping we plugged in the computer and quickly checked emails, sending a few messages to family and friends and ensuring nothing critical needed our attention before we arrived into a marina the following day where we would connect to their power source and internet service. 

We enjoyed dinner and settled in for the evening when the coromuel struck.  We knew about these nasty night-time winds, caused by cool air from the Pacific side flowing across the low land of the Baja toward the warmer waters of the Sea of Cortez creating strong winds and rocky seas.  These relentless winds typically strike around 9 PM and fly for 3 or more hours.  We anticipated them to a degree but what we hadn’t planned for was the severity of the tide that night.  A full moon overhead gave us a clue to check our depth sounder before we slipped under the bed covers.  When anchoring that day we pulled far into the cove since there wasn’t much room left by other boaters and the tide was quickly abating underneath our 5’9” draft.  The boat was pitching fairly wildly, bow to stern, so at 10:30 PM, as we got into bed, we put a plan together to move the boat if we thought we’d be in danger of bottoming out at low tide, which we thought was to be around 1 AM.  We weren’t sure how low the tide would go.  Trust me, no one wants to move their boat in the middle of the night.  That just wasn’t a thought that set me at ease for a restful sleep.  As Doug laid his head on the pillow he said, “I’ll get up around midnight to check the depth again and we’ll decide what to do then.”  He drifted off to sleep peacefully…a true captain in his element.  The children, too, were sound asleep.  On the other hand, for the next two hours I laid there, wide-eyed, wondering if/when that keel might “hit” the muddy bottom.  The pitching of the boat seemed to intensify, which fed my concern of bottoming out more and more.  Prayer was in full swing at this point!

Sure enough, at 12:30 AM, Doug arose and checked the depth.  It read 1.5 feet (under keel).  He came back into the V-berth and said, “Let’s go online and check the tide”…something neither of us had thought to do earlier since being away from the internet for so long broke our reliance on it. It just wasn’t top of mind.  It hadn’t even occurred to us that we could simply dial into the online tide charts and get all the info we needed.  The tidal website told us that maximum low was at 1:38 AM, so if we could ride it out for the next hour we’d be OK.  We monitored the lowering water level and sighed a huge sigh of relief when the designated time passed without incident.  So what do you do after watching the depth sounder for an hour, holding your breath?  Doug suggested we watch a movie.  We found Road Warrior with Mel Gibson in our itunes movie download library and clicked in; a weirdly appropriate flick for an odd and slightly frightening night. 

After all that, sleep came very easily at 3:30 AM!

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