No Ducks Down

While sitting in the cockpit this morning eating my brekkie of yogurt and granola (grogurt in cruiser speak), I was happily getting re-acquainted with the sights and sounds of life on the hook. Yellow butterflies floating everywhere (a signal that hurricane season is ending), a pair of osprey calling to each other over on birthday cake rock, wind waves gurgling along the shore, frigate birds circling above, and a kerfuffle of fish erupting into the air and breaking the silence as they escaped from being someone’s breakfast. It’s a yes kind of feeling.

We’ve been anchored in Caleta San Juanico for a couple of lovely days, getting our sea legs back and enjoying some relaxation. We’re the only boat here, the water is a lovely 84 degrees, and the silence is deafening. Happy Dance is happy to be away from the dock and we’re happy to oblige her.

So how did we get here you ask? Well, let me tell you the tale of one of our nicest crossings yet. I’m not sure what number this crossing was, as we’ve gone back and forth between the Baja peninsula and the mainland many times in the last four years. So on this, the start of our fifth season in the Sea of Cortez we were glad to mark the occasion with a smooth beginning.

After spending two weeks in Marina San Carlos, getting the boat put back together and cleaned up, we finally tossed the dock lines as the afternoon winds started to blow. Happy Dance was raring to go and we made a perfect exit from the dock and headed out the channel. It felt great to get out in the Bahia where the winds were funneling down the mountains and turning the bay into a beautiful dark blue.

We passed by the final marker, left the fishing boats behind, and hauled out the sails. Within half an hour of leaving the dock we were under full sail, our heading was on the rhumb line, doing 6.5 knots on a close haul in a lovely 10-12 knot breeze. The sea was completely flat, with only the 1-2 foot wind waves slapping against the hull. We had perfect cruising conditions; consistent breeze on a smooth sea under sunny skies. I’m not sure how it could have gotten any better.

Since our last passage from hell, (think lightning, shaky knees, and a blown out anemometer) we haven’t really looked forward to overnight passages. However this time the cruising gods were in our favor. We had a 3/4 moon to light our way, and the wind stayed fairly steady for a good 12 hours. It finally died down around 2am, so we were forced to roll up the sails and turn on the engine, but that was okay too, since by motoring the last few hours we’d arrive in the anchorage just after sunrise.

Yep, it was definitely one of our most enjoyable passages, a bright moon, the sky full of stars, plenty of sailing over smooth seas, and no ducks down. Yay!

Oh, you want to know what the heck I mean by “no ducks down”? Boaters use something called the Beaufort Scale to determine sea conditions. It’s a range of wind speeds that are given a number on the scale so that you can easily decide when to batten down the hatches.

Here on Happy Dance we use something a little different. We use the Duck-down Scale, and it’s actually a measure in hindsight. There are six rubber ducks who sit on the ledge in our shower, and after a particularly bumpy passage you’ll hear one of us call out from the shower “care to guess how many ducks down?”. You see if there are one or two ducks down, that means it was rough, but not too bad. Three to four ducks down means we were probably on a port tack with the rail near the water. But five to six ducks down, that’s a whooooooa Nelly!

And that is why we are happy to report that this was a no ducks down passage.

After arriving with the sunrise, we popped open a nice cold anchor beer to keep the tradition alive, stripped off our sweaty sailing clothes, and jumped in the bay for a morning swim. Perfecto!!! A fantastic start to what we know will be another great year in the Sea of Cortez.

So here we float on our boat sweet boat, enjoying the sea, just he and me..tee hee tee hee….

San Juanico