Saturday, 3 March 2012

a good passage

A happy Nyon
You never know what a passage will be like. 

How accurate will the marine forecast be? Is this a passage when you'll sleep soundly or will you toss and turn when you're off watch? Will you have a hard time keeping your eyes open 2 hours into your watch or will you be hyper-vigilant the whole 4 hours? Will you curse yourself for not preparing meals ahead of time as you're trying to chop an onion while beating on a starboard tack? (Think: The boat is heeled way over, and the onion desperately wants to roll off the cutting board along with everything else.) Will there be stars to steer by or will clouds blur the sky. Will you realize you forgot to download the latest podcasts from your favourite radio shows or will you bliss out on your favourite tunes... Yeah, passages: They can be good, bad, trying, frustrating, or simply lovely. You just never know.

Then there are those times when a passage is just right. Not perfect, but just right. The wind is blowing from a passable direction, while the seas are surprisingly flat. The sun is shining and a few wispy clouds adorn a strikingly blue sky. The crew is cheerful, taking turns between keeping watch while soaking it all in, and reading a good book. That was how our passage to Mazatlan began. Although we had to turn on the engine when the wind disappeared after dark, the mood was already set. We ate tasty quesadillas, chatted companionably, and eventually I went to bed. By that time, the seas were so flat I opted to sleep in the v-berth instead of the sea berth. A little distance from the loud diesel engine can make a world of difference.

At midnight, Rick woke me from a deep sleep. He looked excited, in the I-am-very-calm-but-I-can't-wait to-tell-you-this kind of excited: He held up two fingers and said: "Two words. Bio-luminescent. Dolphins." Well, I don't know about you, but that got me out of bed and into the cockpit in my t-shirt and panties in less than 20 seconds. 

Bio-luminescence is a pretty cool phenomenon, but this, this was magical. We watched ghost-like dolphins swimming in a shower of light while leaving comet-like trails behind them. There is no way to describe it. I tend to sound like a kid who ate a pound of sugar whenever dolphins come along to play in Nyon's bow wave, but I outdid myself this time. I was a blithering fool. It was just that beautiful.

Taking a break
I eventually settled down, and Rick went off watch. Dolphins came and went. And then there was wind again. As I was trying to figure out if I could set sail once more, I looked up at our Windex, (that's our wind direction indicator). It didn't look quite right... That's when I realized we had picked up a hitch-hiker. This was not the diminutive version of months ago, this was a magnificent frigatebird (these birds have been known to have as much as a 7-foot wing span). I thought, "Uh oh. Rick won't be happy." This would mean another trip up the mast to fix the WindexEventually, the bird left and sure enough...

Out-of-commission Windex

Nevertheless, we enjoyed a lovely morning under sail. Before we knew it, I was radioing Transito Maritimo (Mazatlan's Harbour Traffic) for permission to enter the harbour. 

Like I said, a passage can be anything. This time, it held a touch of magic, a hitch-hiker, and a nice dose of wind. Not bad, I say.

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination. Roy M. Goodman 


  1. Dolphins and bioluminescence....sounds completely magical! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow! Dolphins-A-Glow. I didn't even know that existed..

    7 ft wing span! That's pretty wild, Was it creepy like the raven?



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