The much-touted Norther (“Norther” = a ‘storm’ of unidirectional wind from, for example, the north) hit finally Monday morning/early afternoon. In anticipation, we moved the boat closer to the beach (because there always seems to be less wind, calmer water, better visibility, free beer, etc. in some other part of the anchorage). Closer to the beach however, severely compromised our internet situation. We were unable to connect to our previous standbys and instead found only the Applebees (of all god-forsaken things) within mooching distance. It worked until around Monday afternoon, when things got shockingly bouncy in the anchorage.
We came straight back from class, fighting the nasty dust storms tormenting the streets (La Paz streets have nothing short of a scandalous amount of dust that can be blown into one’s chapstick during a Norther). Then it took us 45 minutes to row the 120 yards back to the boat—and that is not an exaggeration; Joshua rowing and me paddling with our spare paddle in the front of the dinghy (my feet wedged up against the forepeak in a pathetic attempt to keep water from pouring in so damned voluminously with each breaking wave). By the end of the docking procedure, I was soaked thoroughly from the waist down and the majority of our groceries were bobbing around in Lake La Paz, a turbulent affair that resided in the bilges of the Port-a-bote (heretofore referred to as “Alyosha”—because I’ve had two glasses of wine and I WIN). It was a minor miracle that the bags that Tucker gave us for Christmas last year happened to both be water resistant AND have a zipper (Spanish class accoutrements thus spared a gross fate) and that the bread, purchased in anticipation of a nice quiet dinner party with candlelight and wine in glasses sitting peacefully on a table that does not boast a ‘safety’ ledge, weirdly got chucked in the back of the boat and not the forward, which was the deep and treacherous end of the lake, and stayed 85% edible. Environmentalists were not informed when Joshua bailed the entire contents of Lake La Paz overboard with a cut-off bleach jug. We hauled Alyosha onto the ama (that’s one of the auxiliary hulls, or “pontoons”) and tied it down securely. Then went below and sorted the groceries while listening to the chatter on channel 22.
It was 4pm. We had invited Jasmine and Shannon from ‘Tranquila’ over for paella the previous calm and quiet afternoon (“That yella-bellied norther is never going to hit!”). Now our side of the anchorage was a slobbering froth of unpleasantness. Not necessarily dangerous, but sort of pukingly uncomfortable, if you get my drift.
We were dubious that a dinner could be prepared in such a motion, the inside of Time Machine was a high-decibel cacophony of creaks, splashes, groans, thwackings (that’s what the sail cover does; Can you say “thwack?”), clangings (that’s the rudder), gratings (from the steering cables), and very foul language (that’s me banging my knees and elbows because everything was suddenly in my goddamned way). Can you say “puta mierda?”
We finally got a hold of them on the radio at 5:15 after an hour of fruitless attempts.
Joshua: “Hey! So… are you anchored? How is it for you over on the Magote?”
Shannon: “Not so bad! Kinda windy… when do you want us to head over?”
Joshua: “Uhhhh, it’s not super bouncy over where you are?”
Shannon: “Not at all! There’s free beer too!”
Me: (not into the radio “PUTA MADRE!!!”)
Joshua: “ Wellll… It’s pretty, um, exciting over here. You guys, um, might get (cough cough) wet on your way over.”
Shannon: “Ah heck! Are you kidding? We were just getting ready to do some neurosurgery over here! I think we can handle a little dinghy ride a quarter of a mile to where you are!”
Shannon: “Neurosurgery can wait! Dude’s in traction and sitting tight. We’ll be over in a jif for some BITCHIN’ PAELLA!!!!”
Me: “Oh HOLY FUCK!”
Shannon and Jasmine arrived via dinghy, prudently garbed in their foulies. Shannon managed to deposit Jasmine and a FREAKING CAKE with a container of orange-freaking-custard onto our aft ama with no major disasters and zinged off towards Marina La Paz to conduct some high-power stock trading while Jasmine socialized and casually chopped some garlic. Meanwhile, it was a minor miracle that I managed to get my shirt on front-side forwards after the post-docking-wet-clothes-stripdown-freakout, and paella and salad were, frankly, on their own as far as getting prepared that evening.
In the end, vegetables somehow got chopped without any life-threatening lacerations and dinner honestly ended up a whole lot of fun. The only actual disaster was the state of my cucumbers, which had turned into snot after a mere three days, leaving my vegetable bin in conspicuous need of sterilization. Enter the cabbage; a vegetable so hardy it could survive nuclear fallout if only cockroaches did not eat cabbage.
By the time Shannon and Jasmine left, the wind was actually worse. We got the bed put together without accidentally lurching out the window and settled down to a night of next-to-no sleep. Willie, from Fleur de Mer, gave us a call to let us know that he was spending the night aboard with his super-dinghy at the ready, which has the Big Motor, and just give him a call if we needed a tow off of the beach at any point during the long, dark and bouncy night. Honestly, we weren’t so worried about dragging anchor ourselves, but that there was a semi-derelict (??), unoccupied powerboat directly upwind of us and we were skeptical of the state of its ground tackle after the “Hay Chihuahua” incident. That this large ponderous vessel might snap its anchor line and come charging at us, bobbing madly in the froth (remember the frothy madness that was the anchorage?) and crash into us, splintering our poor little boat into a zillion wee bits, was actually a real concern. I spent the night about to drift off and in that sort of semi-dreamy state where you are awake but that kid from third grade is in the room with you, along with your former boss and your brother, and they are all discussing the wonder that is www.chucknorrisfacts.com and you are just getting interested when the kid from third grade detonates a hydrogen bomb and you leap out of bed, sticking your head up out of the companionway to be sure that all the other boats in the anchorage are still where you left them when you went to bed. WTF!!! It was a sort of long night.
We recorded 25 sustained knots with gusts over 30 at around midnight and at 3pm-ish, 30 knots sustained with gusts above that. Wind mellowed early morning, we thought, but picked back up to 25-30 by 6am so we played hooky from Spanish class because, while I may not have been under pressure to produce a paella out of the inside of a bouncy, pokey TimeMachine-shaped blender for a language class of nine, it just would not have been pretty and the world was better off for it.