Last night we awoke once again to the sound of the halyards as they clanged against the mast, like the bass drum in a marching band accompanied by the wind instruments whistling the melody through the shrouds. It’s January and the chilly north winds are blowing. The boat rocks gently and the mooring lines squeak while the fenders bounce on the hull. It’s on nights like this when we’re happy to be tied to a dock, when we can simply turn over and snuggle down a little deeper into our cozy bed, not having to worry about which way the wind is blowing or where we’ll be when morning comes.
Marinas are a powerful enticement to the cruiser, providing comfort, convenience, and security, and for some cruisers they soon become impossible to leave.
The ease of being in a marina is hard to deny. We can simply step off the boat onto the dock, wander to the tienda for groceries, hop on the collectivo bus to town, or stroll over to any of the nearby restaurants to have a cold one or watch the Seahawks. The trash cans are just a few steps away, there is a shower with plenty of hot water, and there are people nearby always ready to lend a hand, tell a good story, or share a laugh.
Even more than the comfort factor is the safe refuge of the port. When the winds are whistling and the flags are snapping in a heavy breeze, if you’re tied to a dock it’s an easy thing to simply check the dock lines, makes sure everything is tied down, then go below and relax. It’s sweet dreams every night.
When you’re at anchor on a blowsy night it’s a different story. Somehow it’s the windy nights that are the darkest when the sounds are louder and everything is more intense. That’s when the “what if’s” have a way of taking hold. What if the anchor drags? What if the snubber line parts? What if we don’t have enough rode out? What if the winds shift and put us on a lee shore? Are we slipping? What’s that noise? Here comes a big gust, hang on!
When you’re at anchor you always sleep with one ear open, ready to jump if the need arises, but even more so on a rough night. When you consider that your home is attached to a chain that is held down by a 50 lb. weight sitting in the sand, it’s enough to make the imagination run wild!
So here we sit at the dock, tied up and safe, comfortable and bored, waiting for a weather window. We’ve been sitting patiently for a week now and we are getting antsy to get those dock lines untied. Today was another provisioning run; we had to go to the Santa Rosa market to stock up on the best tocino (bacon!) in Baja. The freezer is full and the chores are done. We won’t be seeing another grocery store for a month at least, so it’s good to have some food onboard just in case our fishing never turns into catching!
One might ask why we ever leave the comfort of the marina. Why risk it, why head out to find potentially uncomfortable or scary situations. There are so many reasons and so many experiences that I’d never trade for a calm night at the dock; our first Sea of Cortez sunset in San Gabriel, the huge schools of dolphins swimming along beside us, the sound of seabirds diving, the changing views as we swing on anchor, the hail of friends coming by for a sundowner, the sight of only our footprints on miles of beach. It’s the serenity, the beauty, the sense of awe, and the joy of sharing.
Marty said once that if our cruise ended tomorrow that he would still be happy and thankful for all that we’ve experienced. I balked at that, wanting it to continue, but now I see what he meant. Neither of us want it to end, but it’s certainly been an awesome ride so far!
The countdown has begun, the dock lines will be tossed soon. On to new adventures!