Friday, December 31, 2010


I made it to Mazatlan last night. All safe and sound. I got in in the evening, so it was three days, and two nights of travel time. It was really peaceful, actually. The weather was gentle, despite being against me the whole time, and there were some nice tropicbirds that followed me around a little bit. Sunsets and sunrises were, of course, wonderful. I took this picture that is a long exposure with me trying to hold the camera still against the boat while it rocks a lot. The light is from my LED nightlights that ward away unwanted boats, and is pretty bright. This shot was about 45 seconds.

I wrote this while underway:

So I've been by myself before, but somehow, I've never felt quite like this. Its 1 in the morning and I am about 60 miles off the coast of Mazatlan, and it is the second night alone at sea for me. Being on the water alone is not a problem, but something special happens during the night at sea; a transformation takes place.

Before this trip, I had been dreading the prospect of going to sea alone for an extended passage. I'd been working my way up to this, but still, it seemed like a steep wall looming ahead. Anchoring at night of course is the easiest option, so you don't have to keep watch, and you just float away hoping that nobody is stupid enough to run into you during the night, and that your anchor will hold. The next step is to sail through the night with another person, and take watches. Try to sleep while hoping that you don't run into anything dangerous, since you can't see. But to go alone, and then have to figure out how to keep watch (which you can't), that is a trick. You have to trust the ocean to behave while you sleep, and then check on things as often as you can. The past day was my first attempt at that, and I'm feeling ok.

The hardest part is to get enough sleep. I've been hearing about people doing 4 hours on and 30 minutes off. I can't do that. So I've been sleeping about 1 hour at a time, then checking things, and taking another nap. Sometimes the naps are shorter than an hour, and I will get up and stay up for about 8 or 10 hours in a row during the day. So I sleep all the time. It makes the days pass quickly, and since there isn't much to do out here anyways, it is a good thing.

I left Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday the 28th at about 7 am, and drove on eastwards, thinking that I would get to a nice little anchorage that everyone leaves from to do the crossing, but the weather was not helpful, so after a short break in San Jose Del Cabo (where I filled my fuel tank), I decided to stop following the coast and head to sea. It was about 3 pm when I really made the call, and the wind was right on my nose, so I had to aim quite a bit southbound (instead of my desired due east course). After a while I had shifted on to my target, and I managed to sail for 30 hours, up until now. There was a current in the beginning that was against me, and then just in the last 10 hours, I had a good 2 knot current with me (going east) which I don't understand. Since I have only 60 miles to go, and the wind is dead, I am motoring in the hopes of getting in tomorrow during the middle of the day. I really don't mind spending more nights at sea, but there is not use sitting around with this short of a trip left, and I have plenty of fuel.

So I am finally facing my fear of truly single handing, that is, to be alone at sea during the night. And it is not bad at all. In fact, I kind of like it. The night part isn't particularly bad, but the day part is actually quite nice. I wish I was catching more fish, and that I had more books to read, and I will probably write a lot, to give myself something to do, but it is peaceful out here.

As a side note (this is not written at sea, but in the internet cafe in Mazatlan), I am pleased with my Standard Horizon Matrix 2100 AIS radio, which did a good job of telling me that there were cruise boats and container ships trolling around in th waters near me. They passed without trouble.


mlloyd said...

In regards to your radio... meaning that they [cruise and container ships] did not honk at you, waking you from a deep peaceful slumber?

Glad you stayed safe and alive =)

Anonymous said...

You should check out this tiny volcanic island off the coast of Mexico, if it fits in your travel schedule. I couldn't find a name for it, but it looks VERY interesting on Google Maps. It's about 500km almost directly due West from Manzanillo, just north of Isla Socorro.

Isla Socorro might be a neat destination also. It's supposedly excellent for scuba diving / snorkeling.

Anonymous said...

Aha! Found the name. The tiny volcanic island is called San Benedicto.

Rachel said...

Hey Christian,

Glad to hear you made the crossing without any troubles! You are a single handed sailor... with two hands, of course! I once raced a World Cup mtb. race in Manzanillo, it was pretty cool (and warm...) Happy Sailing,