How to find a dead squid
We coulda-woulda stayed in Tortugas longer. We may even shoulda. We both thought we had already toured the town during one of our two previous visits to Baja in the van but we found that to be false only after we had already left. Us leaving, was dictated by incoming weather. A seriously foul system was moving in by Thursday, with 40 knot gusts forecasted from the East. They were to last all day plus some and it would have been miserable at best. Inevitably, after a big blow, there would then be multiple days of no wind. So, our choices were to get stuck there through a big blow and the following calm, or leave right away and sail through the beginnings of the blow. We chose the later, like true seamen.
We were underway before the sun even peaked out from the horizon. It was going to be a long day no matter what, and we hoped to arrive at our next destination – Bahia Asuncion – before sunset. We would definitely have wind as the blow had already begun and we would ride the makings of it South. But first, we motored for a few hours. By mid morning we were in the thick of it with 25+ knot winds on our beam (side). Meriwether is an absolute beast with wind on her beam. Even double reefed were were having no speed problems. Over the course of the 11 hour sail, we averaged 5.7 knots, with a peak speed of 7.8 knots. Those are some nice numbers for a 40 year old boat! We may have even tapped 30 knots of wind a few times during the middle of the voyage, but we were not bothered by it. When it did pick up that high, we would turn Meriwether’s shapely ass to it, give it the finger to boot, and run down wind for a bit. After the gust was over, we would then turn back to point at our destination. Waves crashing and spraying the entire deck and the crew was norm. By the time we dropped the sails we were thoroughly ready for happy hour at anchor. I’ve been wanting our sails to happen in slightly heavier weather then our last biggest, and this one was right up at the top. And as it turns out, no big deal, but for a little extra exhaustion.
Now 60 miles south of Tortuga, at Bahia Asuncion, we were outside the path of the big blow. Some recently made friends were still in Tortuga, and they experienced a couple really bad days. We made the right choice to leave. It was a huge confidence boost to have chosen correctly, and to have punched that sail out. Salty we are.
Asuncion was the town we had toured once before. I recognized it before we even dropped anchor. It is large enough to have a fuel station, a few restaurants, and a couple well stocked grocery stores. We went into town a few times during our stay. Each time having to land our small dinghy on the beach. It wasn’t an easy landing. The surf could throw some 3-4 foot breakers at you, but if timed properly they could be avoided. First attempt went swimmingly (reverse-pun intended), both the landing and launching. We had walked the town and had a home cooked meal at a small place on the beach, trying our very newly learned Spanish phrases for the first time.
Second time around the landing went good enough, but after another walk and a meal it all went to hell. We had a plan, really we did, but once the dinghy touched water I threw it all out yelling, “we just got to go now”. This was the worst timing, with the big surge happening at the very moment. Kerri made it up into the boat just before the 4 foot breaker hit. The dinghy, with Kerri in it, were launched up into my face – literally. I took the oar lock directly in my forehead. Before I could recover, the boat twisted sideways and over my soaked legs pushing me down and into the surf. Next thing I knew I was lying there, fully engulfed by water and sand. By the time I got me feet back under me the next wave was already bearing down. It all went blurry by then, but once clarity came back we were both in the boat and away from land, but soaked. I had at least 5 pounds of sand in my pockets. We were headed back to Meriwether to dry off as we laughed the whole situation away until I reached up to my forehead to size up the welt I was giving birth to, and noticed the blood. Kerri turned to look me in the face and gasped. “Oh yea, you are bleeding a lot”. This is nothing new to me, I’m a bleeder, but she said I looked straight out of a horror movie with blood covering my entire face. I went on to blow it off as just being me. Back on Meriwether and rid of all the soaked clothing I could finally attend to my injury. Ego was okay, but I did have a good gash in the noggin. Lesson learned; don’t fight a dinghy in the water where it has the advantage. I’m sure I can take it on dry land, any day.
In our final days at Asuncion I had planned to dinghy to shore to get a couple jerry cans of diesel before we left, but the thought of giving the dinghy two 40 pound boxing gloves during a wet launch in that surf made me think twice. We chose to not take the risk of bringing jugs of fuel back, but still went to shore one more time for groceries, a long walk to the point, and one more meal. That landing and launch we stuck to plans and all went smoothly, mostly.
Our entire week long stay was plagued with the rotting stink smell of a dead squid somewhere on the boat. Kerri thought it might be in our sink plumbing, but I knew it was coming from up on deck. The one I thought it was had already been tossed back into the sea, but the deck itself was the problem, or so I thought. That was proven wrong after a little scrubbing didn’t fix the problem. I then pulled out the drill to remove the port-aft dorad box, as the stink was clearly pouring in through that and right onto my head down below. Once removed I lifted it to find no dead squid! What the hell was going on? Another day goes by and by chance I happened to glance at the tiny gap between the dorad and the hatch cover and there it was. Even though I had already checked that exact spot, there is was right in front of my face.
The drill came back out, dorad box lifted, and it was no where to be found! It was only when I turned the box in my hands that I saw its rigid nearly-flat corpse stuck to the box itself, not the deck or hatch cover where I was looking initially. That thing stunk us up for a full week. Stupid squid!
I can’t help but see a lot of similarities between Baja and Alaska. Both (mostly, aside from a few select border towns) separated by sea and a foreign country from their mainland, with a culture far removed. There’s less hustle in these places. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of individual hustlers in both, but the overall culture is just on a wavelength of its own. Slower, more relaxed, no b.s. or pretenses, more open (after first introductions, at least), with less drive to take more than you need, you use what you’ve got, and you’re happy with that. Feels good to finally be down this far. – Kerri