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Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/10/2011 - Wipe-out!

Yesterday was a little more eventful than most of our days which revolve around snorkeling and reading. Yesterday the wind piped up from the NE and with it, the seas. The anchorage was fairly uncomfortable most of the day what with all the rolling and pitching going on. Good day to stay home and read, which I mostly did. Lulu, on the other hand, had a headache and then the constant rolling tended to upset her stomach enough that the only thing she wanted to do was lie in bed. Which was fine since we weren't doing anything anyway. Mike and Melissa on S/V Tortue finally threw in the towel and headed back to Puerto Escondido but the rest of the fleet stuck it out.

A little after 1:00 PM, Lulu emerged and decided that maybe if she just got in the water and lazed around she'd feel a little better so over the side she went. It did seem to help a little and about 1:30 she had an idea: she'd leisurely swim to shore and I'd take the dinghy over and we'd enjoy happy hour at the palapa.

Sounded like a plan to me although the seas were a wee bit rough, but, what the heck. She set out and I loaded up a backpack with various things we might need, launched the dinghy and followed her. I reached the shore a little bit before here and, what was usually a flat calm beach was now a surf landing. Oh, a minor surf landing as those things go, but a surf landing nevertheless. The problem is that the water is SO shallow that you have to cut your motor well before landing. This wasn't all that bad as each successive wave pushed the dink just a little further on shore. I got out and pulled it up out of the surf line, sunk a bucket in the sand for an anchor and called it good. Wasn't sure what time the tides were but the wide expanse of wet sand that the surf was no longer reaching told me that the tide was probably going out. That'd mean it would be harder to drag the dinghy back out but at least the breaking waves wouldn't fill it with water. At least that's what I thought.

The palapa seems to be sort of a well-kept secret and, sure enough, it was just us and Roberto, the guy who runs it.

We put out a radio call to the Ensenada Blanca fleet to get off their rolly boats and come enjoy happy hour with us but we got no responses. After awhile we saw Jay and Judy's dinghy on its way over but it turned out they were just parking there and walking to the tienda. We had a very pleasant afternoon shooting the breeze with Roberto, finding out what kind of music he likes (I'm making him a bunch of CDs today) and about his girlfriend who, as luck would have it, we got to meet a little later when she stopped by with some customers from the hotel.

On their way back from the store, Jay and Judy stopped in and we continued our visit. Another staff member, David, came by and had a big cabrilla in a bag. Next thing we knew, he was making us up a batch of ceviche from it. So we sat around eating fresh ceviche and shooting the breeze. No payment was asked for or expected for the ceviche. David was just sharing.

The palapa closes at 5:00 because the employees from all of the various parts of the hotel catch a bus that takes them all home and the bus comes by at 5:30. If they miss it, they're just out of luck until the end of the next shift change. So, a little before 5:00, we paid up and headed out.

Turns out that my surf-reading skills are somewhat lacking. The tide wasn't going out, it was coming in! And that meant the the waves had been splashing on my transom and filling the dinghy with water. Must have been at least 5 or 6 gallons of water in it. No matter, we turned her around and started walking her through the surf out to where it was deep enough to start the motor. In retrospect, we should have just walked all the way out beyond the surf line. After all, it was only a foot or two deep. But we didn't. Instead, as soon as we were deep enough to lower the motor, I did and then I jumped in. Lulu gave one more shove and the she jumped in. The rest is somewhat of a blur. I don't know whether or not I actually started the motor. What I do remember is that Lulu was in her regular spot on the starboard side to balance my weight on the port side. Then, I guess a wave must have hit us from the side or something because all I remember is Lulu was suddenly on the port side and our combined weight along with the wave action tipped the dinghy over on its side, filling it with water in the process. We jumped out, righted the dink and then tried to push her back ashore so we could bail her out and start again. But the dinghy was quite full and the surf wasn't helping things any. We managed to get the boat on the beach but not high enough to bail effectively. Every time I'd get 3 or 4 bucketfuls out, the next wave would deposit 5 or 6 new bucketfuls.

Jay and Judy had managed to get launched okay but they also swamped their boat, although not as bad as we did. They came back ashore to empty it, I guess, and then came over and helped us out. Together we managed to turn the dinghy on its side and empty most of the water, at least enough so we had a fighting chance. We relaunched, only this time I had the oars all set and ready to go. We rowed through the surf line until we were past the breakers and then were able to start the motor and head back out. Jay and Judy also had a successful re-launching and got back to Wind Raven just fine.

The wind continued to blow like crazy all night but, fortunately, it changed directions 180 degrees so that there were absolutely no seas associated with it. The wind was coming from onshore and the bottom is so shallow for such a long way that there just wasn't much water to build up and waves. The wind howling outside and blowing down through our open forward hatch made for a very comfortable night's sleep with no need for fans.


Anonymous said...

Ouch, good thing you both know how to swim. Lulu being the expert she could save you if it needed to be. Must of been a little scary. I am happy that it all turned out okay though. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

If this happened to us I could see Dani keeping a tide schedule posted on the dink in bold letters with my name on it! Glad you guys are okay and having fun again.


beth said...

Steven & Lulu! It sounds like you're having an amazing time; full dinghys, fresh ceviche, your own palapas & all. I'm quite envious. Love & hugs!