|The harbor at Puerto Angel. Never a more welcome sight.|
This was our biggest sailing pickle to date. We left Puerto Angel, which is about 200 miles south of Acapulco the Sunday before last and arrived back in Puerto Angel the next Saturday, turning a two-day passage into a week-long slog. Here's the play-by-play of our less than fortunate journey.
Day One: Threw up all day. Vlad sailed the boat.
Day Two: Threw up less. Vlad continued sailing the boat. We are getting close to Acapulco.
Day Three: Vlad informed me that we got stuck in a current the night before. We continue fighting the current. Twenty miles outside of Acapulco, we run out of diesel. I start throwing up again. For real.
Day Four: Vlad was up all night hand steering, trying to make headway. Our tacking angle was almost a straight line, and by midday, we had made 4.3 miles. We radioed the port captain in Acapulco and asked him if anyone would bring us out some fuel. He told us to standby, and that's the last we heard from him. We decided to take a long tack out to sea in the hopes of getting a better angle on our approach to Acapulco. Unfortunately, there was a 20 knot wind blowing out of the northwest, higher than expected waves at 6 to 9 feet and still that vicious current that seemed to stretch all the way to Hawaii. And we were beating against all of it. At this point, Vlad was exhausted and I was wondering why I ever thought a job shuffling papers in a cubicle was somehow unfulfilling. At least an office doesn't move. Plus, we are starting to worry about dehydration. As I am throwing up my last few sips of water into the galley sink, I felt the sun on my back. Vlad had turned the boat around, so instead of going against the waves and the wind and the current we finally just went with them.
Day Five: We made great time at 5.5 knots, and I had almost completely stopped puking. Downwind sailing isn't so bad after all. We were heading to Huatulco where there is a marina, some measure of stability for us and the boat so we could put things back together again. Plus, it was the closest fuel dock.
Day Six: We heard on the radio that the wind in the Gulf of Tehuantepec had picked up to 45 knots, making us nervous about trying to get into Huatulco without an engine. We adjusted our course to Puerto Angel, which is a cute town but a totally unprotected anchorage. We were once again about 20 miles away and the wind died.
Day Seven: Still no wind. We managed to drift within 6 miles of Puerto Angel when Vlad decided to use the dinghy. There wasn't much swell, and he tied the dinghy to the side of Bettie, somehow got our aged, temperamental 6-horsepower Johnson motor going and proceeded to drive us into port using the outboard as propulsion. Though it must have looked ridiculous, it worked pretty well except for the occasional big wave that came through, and then the dinghy would catch some air. Meanwhile he got the engine primed and ready because we did have five gallons of diesel left (it turned out we had more like 25 gallons left in the tank but the seas were so big that air kept getting in the fuel lines), and when we got close to Puerto Angel, he turned on the engine and drove us into the anchorage.
Did I mention that during all of this he took care of me, cooked all the food, washed all the dishes and just generally made sure that we were safe and sound despite the crap circumstances, and all with only 20-minute cat naps for seven days?? Well, he did. He still questions his decision to turn around, adding another 400 miles to our trip when we were within 15 miles from Acapulco, but part of wisdom is knowing when to cut your losses, knowing when to say enough. And we all made it safely to port. No one was hurt. No one had to be air lifted to the hospital, and I finally got some stillness in the form of a hotel room.