Anatomy of a Passage

January 6, 2012

We just sailed from Yelapa, which must be blogged with photos, to Bahia Chamela, about 90 miles south.  Ninety miles requires an overnight passage for us, which it turns out, we all love.  The winds and seas in Mexico have made for very easy and comfortable sailing (and unfortunately a bit of motoring when the winds die completely). We left our anchorage at noon so that our arrival would be during daylight. The boat was ship shape, the heads cleaned, the floors swept, every last thing put away, and even fresh baked bread before we left. Maybe passage making is so wonderful for me because all the chores are done first!

In a day and night at sea it seems like we have so much time!  Piles of books get brought up to the cockpit for reading. Clip boards and colored pencils come out and Ruby draws for hours. Miles takes apart his toys and builds new ones. Pirates have battles, the toys come alive, Ruby dresses in homemade costumes made of playsilks and scraps of rope—”Silk is the perfect material for a hot day,” Ruby exclaims. Cookies are baked and devoured. Popcorn is always eaten. Naps sometimes happen. We attempt to fish (we’re terrible at it). We whale watch! The days are peaceful.

The nights are magical. The kids are allowed to stay up until their eyes close. Ruby pushes through until 10 but stays up long enough to watch the sun set and the moon rise.  Miles asks about the stars and space. I go to bed before everyone to rest before my watch at midnight. When Tucker wakes me I head up to the cockpit, clip in, and figure out where we’re going. Then the watching begins. Boats appear from time to time. We were only about 5 miles offshore this time so the changing smell of land was always blowing by. The winds are warm here and we can be comfortable in shorts and t-shirts at night. Dolphins visit- you can hear them breathe before you see them.  The moon sets a brilliant orange during my watch and after the sky darkens the stars appear to fill it back up again. I listen to music new friends gave us. When I get tired I read or watch a bit of a Twilight movie -and then when a dolphin appears I startle- it totally kept me awake.

I was on watch again when the kids woke up. For them it’s perfect. There is no one telling them to go back to bed or to be quiet. Whichever kid wakes first can come up to the cockpit for a little time alone with me. They both wake up smiling. Ruby piles books into the cockpit again. We read an Ocean A-Z dictionary, decide that a math workbook about dollars and cents isn’t important any more since she can count in both dollars and pesos anyway now, Miles plays with tangrams and solves many of the puzzles in The Tangram Magician. We all look through a book about the seven wonders of the world, and some other wonders too, and we all get excited about what we can see. We flip through a geography pop up book that was just handed down to us.

The day gets hotter. Coffee is served, again. It’s warm enough, and remote enough, for a solar shower on deck, while we watch whales. We’ll never get tired of whales and dolphins. The piles of dishes are washed and the floors cleaned up again and we approach our anchorage, very slowly, 26 hours after we left. We find a place to drop our anchor and pull out our binoculars to have a look around on shore. And then we swim in the warm clear water we’re floating in. We’re very happy to live on the sea.


  1. Comment by Gramora

    Gramora January 6, 2012 at 7:08 am

    This reads like a lovely children’s picture book, all it needs is an illustrator….Ruby – get the pencil’s out!

  2. Comment by Emily Nathan via Facebook

    Emily Nathan via Facebook January 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I just read this out loud to Jake at dinner. Amazing! Beautifully written to boot.

  3. Comment by Camanoe Steph

    Camanoe Steph January 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Beautiful post Vick – I can picture it all

  4. Comment by allen

    allen January 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Absolutely beautiful, Vick! Wow!

  5. Comment by CJ

    CJ January 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I concur with the other commenters. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If I ever, ever go sailing, it will be because of how you and Tucker describe it.

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