Saturday, 27 October 2012

finding refuge, waging war

“Shoo fly, don’t bother me; ’cause I don’t need your company” 
The Persuasions
Love me some glorious morning colours
Before the bobos: Paddling fun
What you first notice is its “spectacular and forbidding beauty”.1 One of the things that remains, is the memory of Puerto Refugio’s fragrance. My first morning there, I was overwhelmed with the heady scent wafting over Nyon from the nearby hills. I didn’t know what plant radiated the spicy aroma filling my nostrils, but it was lovely. I did, however, immediately recognize the early morning jejenes. Unfortunately, that was not all. After the first two blissful days in Refugio, we were overrun by a plague of bobos.
Bobos, they sound harmless don’t they? On day three, they swarmed us with a vengeance: They crawled all over our bodies and got into our eyes the minute we’d step into the cockpit. These flies are bigger than jejenes, and smaller than houseflies. They have a talent for turning a relatively normal person into Animal. (You know, Animal, from the Muppets?) I haven’t decided which is worse: The jejenes who bite at dawn and dusk, or the hordes of bobos who cling to you all day long. Rick hates bobos with a passion. We just happened to be in Refugio at the wrong time.
Cool geology
When we weren’t infested yet, we loved exploring the area. The shallow reefs were a treasure trove for the snorkeler. This is also a great place for kayaking and beachcombing. All that changed on day 3. Unless we were in the water, we hid behind our mosquito nets, inside the boat. Rowing, with both hands occupied was the quickest route to insanity and hanging laundry made our skin crawl.
Miriam and Norman were the other two memorable co-stars during our stay in Puerto Refugio. Our first day there, we still didn’t know if she’d come see us and we hadn’t heard much about him, but we certainly did not want either of them there. Miriam, a hurricane whose path seemed to want to cross with ours, was talked about, a lot. Sailors discussed their strategies; some, like our friends on SV Interabang, left for hurricane holes right away. Everyone hung on to Geary’s words on the HAM radio net or downloaded Saildocs2 for the latest hurricane information on their SSB. Would Miriam cross the Baja Peninsula and make it as far as Refugio? Would she still be a hurricane, or would she downgrade to a Tropical Depression? We went over our Hurricane Checklist and discussed priorities. To our relief, on the evening of September 25, we heard she was losing her oomph, while still in the Pacific. Miriam would not come across the Baja Peninsula after all. “Poor Miriam,” declared Rick, “Lost at sea…”
Aromatic greenery
And then there was Norman. Norman, while still only a tropical storm, (with the potential to become a hurricane), was headed straight for the Baja Cape. That made us a little jumpy. The morning of September 27, we were all on pins and needles. Norman was fast approaching the Sea. While one model showed a projected path toward Mazatlan – we still worried. The warm waters of the Sea could entice Norman north. We planned, and waited, and planned. In the end, Norman never did become a hurricane, and we were safe from the 50 knot wind gusts he unleashed further south. These two “un-events” called for a bit of rabblerousing with our buddies on Eagle (whom we’d just reunited with) and Time Piece. In case you are wondering, there was no cake. Far better than that: There were Jeanne’s famously rich and gooey brownies. Pure decadence.
Before the invasion:
Margie and Jeanne, kayaking
We had heard many sailors rave about Puerto Refugio, and while beautiful, our experience was somewhat marred by the influx of pesky insects and hurricane threats. We’d love to come back when neither are present, or at least when neither pose a threat to our comfort or safety. This will of course depend on the big decision. Will we stay or will we go…
1 Charles and Margo Wood, Charlie’s Charts of the Western Coast of Mexico, 9th Edition. (Surrey: Charlie’s Charts, 2003), 138
2Saildocs are weather updates that are e-mailed to SSB Sailmail Accounts. We were lucky our friends had access to these and kept us posted with the latest information.

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