Why fly back from Guatemala when we could sail? Why not make an adventure out of getting back to the US?
We couldn’t answer those questions, so when we wrapped up filming and saw our Guatemalan visas close to expiring, we headed to Ensenada to meet our friends Ted and Gail, owners of the 56-foot catamaran Adonai and founders of the ministry Blue Water Surrender.
This was my first sailing expedition on open ocean, and with the guidance of our great captain, Ted, it went smoothly. We only had one problem arise while under sail. We were cruising with a fair wind from our starboard (right) side when we heard a ping! Something bounced across the top of the cabin, skipping straight to Captain Ted, who caught it in mid-air!
He and Devon, looking at the small flat piece of metal, decided that it was actually the head of a cotter pin, snapped off. This meant that a cotter pin was broken and probably missing from the mast. Potentially a really big problem! The mast is held up by cable stays. The stays are attached to the mast with pins, which are held in place by smaller cotter pins.
If a cotter pin is missing, a pin could “back out,” causing the stay to fall. Without any one of the three stays, the mast will fall in the opposite direction of the missing stay. There would be a huge crash, which would likely burst straight through the hull, filling that part of the cabin with water.
Needless to say, this was cause for concern. So we lowered the sail and tried to locate the missing pin through binoculars. It appeared that it was missing from the port (left) side top stay, but it was hard to be sure. The next step was for someone to go up and check on it.
Ted got in his rigger’s seat, and we hauled him up. Adam, one of the crew, was trying to steer us directly over the medium sized waves to minimize the rocking back and forth, but Ted was still thrown to the side of the mast when we hit a wave the wrong way. He spun out, slamming his knee into the spreader. When he reached the top, he found that it had been the cotter pin on the port stay, which was sheered off but still partially in place.
As he didn’t have the right size cotter pin on him to replace it with, Ted came down and steered us to calmer waters – the port of Cancun, Mexico. We anchored, and Devon was chosen to go up the mast this time, equipped to replace the pin. After fighting the old pin out, we had success, and we quickly ate our lunch (amazing Mahi-Mahi that the guys had caught the day before) and got back on the open water.
Just the right amount of trouble to remind us that we were on an adventure! Also to remind us of God’s goodness; we likely wouldn’t have ever known about the cotter pin until the mast came crashing down if the head of the pin hadn’t bounced -against the direction of the wind- straight to our captain.
Otherwise, the ride was incredibly smooth on the catamaran, and there wasn’t usually a lot for us crewmembers to do except cook and take our night watch shift. Devon and I had the last one of the night, so we were treated with bright stars and the glow of bioluminescent plankton at the beginning of our shift, and sunrise over the water toward the end of our shift.
We were also treated to a daily visit from neighborhood dolphins at almost the exact same time every mid-day! They would come swimming up from the side and center their group between our two hulls so that they were directly beneath us when we laid at the front of the trampoline. The last full day on the water, there were even two babies, flipping and twirling next to their mothers!
Of course, the pinnacle treat for me was that Ted let me rig my aerial hammock to the boom, which we swung out over the water while we were still under way! Though I wished we would have some dolphins come and play right then, I thoroughly enjoyed simply playing over the warm Caribbean and making a splash!
Photos by my husband Devon (close ups) and dear friend Sarah Schwab (wide angles). Check out their websites:
Also take a look at Blue Water Surrender’s blog!
Voy a escribir este en español pronto.