As we approached Bahia Santa Maria, we were once again within VHF range of the fleet. When our boat name was called, I gave our coordinates to check in. “Maluhia, how was your trip down?” I was asked. I paused, thinking how I could sum up the last 48 hours in a few words. “It was, . . . interesting.” “Well, I promise you the next leg will be much less interesting!” the Grand Poobah replied. “Okay. Great!” I was both excited and skeptical. I knew we had to do something about our sail problem.
This go around, the list of mechanical problems by boats seemed even more lengthy. Watermakers still not working accompanied by the risk of running out of fresh water. Transmission problems, fuel hose leaks, alternators not charging, and batteries well below the safe zone plagued others. But, once again the ever resourceful fleet pooled together a few gallons of water to donate, and scratched their heads to help troubleshoot. In a class all their own were the boats that tore sails. Turns out we weren’t the only ones! There were so many of us, we were directed to another channel after the net to further our discussion with the increasingly popular sailmaker Chuck from Ullman Sails, who happened to be crewing aboard French Curve. Some vessels reported seeing winds reach the 25-30 knot range resulting in a spinnaker that was ripped in half, and a clew that was completely torn out of a jib, as well as other various repairs or questions.
It was suggested we try anchoring near French Curve so Chuck could come over and take a look at our main sail and genoa. However, even with the binoculars it was hard trying to pick out a specific boat swinging from anchor in the distance. We went ahead and anchored in a spot we felt comfortable, got Maluhia settled, took in the beautiful scene, then caught up on some much needed rest.
Everything we had seen of Mexico up to this point was dry and dessert like. Imagine our shock when we arrived at this huge anchorage and we started seeing green! Bahia Santa Maria was a very minimalist place. Fisherman live there in very small shacks for 3-4 months at a time. There are no services. The people were once again friendly but very shy.
A huge party was hosted for the fleet. All of the food, cold beer (important), and a complete Mexican rock and roll band were trucked more than 210 miles. The last 30 miles had them trekking all their gear across a long stretch of beach at low tide just to get there!
The fisherman’s wives served a traditional seafood meal and the band played for tips. I found a small niña sitting outside the food line. Of course I had candy! The fleet was advised to bring donations to this village since they didn’t have much. Some of the fleet asked about donating straight cash but were advised against it since monetary donations have a way of just vanishing in Mexico. Other vessels brought school supplies, clothing, and baseballs as donations.
We were advised to be careful of surf landings, tarantulas and scorpions while ashore. We ended up just taking a panga (along with the majority of others) to save time (and frustration) from lowering our dinghy from our foredeck. While on shore went ahead and wondered away from the party to do some hiking and exploring. We were excited because this place was both warm and sunny!
Back at the party, we mingled around and met some new people including a crew member on another boat from Northern Iowa. You never know where you might meet someone from Iowa! Proper etiquette for meeting another Iowan in a foreign or abstract place includes shrieking, jumping up and down, followed up with a big bear hug! We caught up with our other friends on Sea Otter, and Cake who shared with us the fish story of their life and the photo to prove it. During the last leg slightly outside of Bahia de los Tortugas, Cake snagged a shark. Not just any shark, this thing was large and toothy! (Check it out here!)
We decided that Chuck has to be at the beach party. Even with all of the requests, a good sail maker would never miss a rocking beach party like this one! I had taken photos of the batten pocket tear on the my phone and brought them to shore. Now, where was Chuck? We asked around and it wasn’t too long before we found a man sporting some Ullman Sails gear. That’s got to be him! We showed him the photos and he gave us some advice on our batten problem as well as well as some beefier sail tape to fix up our genoa. Perfect!
We headed back to Maluhia eager to fix what was broken. We jammed the battens back into the black plastic reinforced pockets on the luff, and made sure they were in there as tight as possible. We took out our drill and drilled a hole all the way through the plastic pocket and the batten. Then, we secured the batons inside each plastic pocket with a locking nut. There’s no way they would slip out of the plastic reinforced pocket now!
Next the genoa. We removed it off of the roller furler despite the 15 knots of steady wind funneling into the anchorage. The worry of dancing around another boat that had anchored in front of us a little too close for comfort crossed our minds. We had watched them earlier take their genoa down and put it back up with a crew of four people and the assistance of their engine! Here we were a just a crew of two! Our plan was simple. Just move fast and spill the wind from the sail. We got the sail down, repaired the sail tear with the beefier sail tape on both sides, covered the new tape with our inferior tape for extra support, then put it all back together.
That should do it! We were ready for the next leg. It would be an early start the next morning so we headed to bed at cruisers midnight (9 PM). We’d have one day and one night at sea before our next destination. Piece of cake, right?