[Glittering lights from FIVE cruise liners.]
We’re back in Mexico again folks! Nearly a year after we exited Huatulco, going south, in an entirely different ocean…
Entering Bahia de la Assension was great fun, “Nine…eight…WHATS THAT DARK SPOT AHEAD OF US??? ARE WE OKAY? Eight…eight… SEVEN!!!! SHIT how shallow is it going to get? Fuckit, I’m going left. CAN I GO LEFT?” Joshua stood on the foredeck with the special sunglasses and assured me that we were not going to die in seven feet of water and that dark spot was just grass and to just chill out. Thusly we grumpily dropped anchor in the middle of a very large shallow bay with about a million miles of fetch in the face of a norther. Joy.
Joshua promptly sacked out the moment the anchor bridle was in place and I wandered around the boat gathering strewn crap from the outside and expunging pools of salt water from the inside. About thirty minutes after we got settled, the norther hit with 30+ knots of wind kicking up gnarly foaming windwaves. Our shade structure fwapped and generally looked pathetic and the boat bounced madly. But the anchor was well set in nice white sand in ten feet of water and we had about a zillion feet of scope out so DO YOUR WORST NORTH WIND.
We had been making overnight passages since Guanaja with a stop at Lighthouse reef. Conditions have been mostly uncomfortable with large and confused seas. The current, wind direction (keeps changing), and swell direction are always different and I’m guessing that’s what has been making things icky. Nights were notable for strange flickering lights in an otherwise totally clear starry sky. At first we just thought that our eyes were bugging out a little but it turned out that both of us were seeing the flickering lights so we decided that it must be some sort of lighting. “Harmless upper atmosphere lightning,” Joshua declared. I found it eerie, sort of an innocent precursor to something more ominous. The calm before the storm. Dolphins before the hurricane. White Russians before the karaoke.
The norther lasted almost exactly 24 hours and as soon as the wind shifted more east, we tacked back out of the bay for an overnighter to Cozumel (or Isla Mujeres if we made good time and passed Cozumel before it got light). But we did not make good time and it was an uncomfortable trip; we tacked back and forth the entire way and neither of us got any sleep. After 20 hours we had only covered some fifty (linear) miles though we had plenty of wind and a supposedly favorable current. Seas were just chop and bleah and wind was uggh and—oh, did I mention we blew our main and have been sailing on jib only since the Chinchorro banks? Even if we had mainsail capability, I probably would have wanted it down to keep sail area minimal in the strong gusty winds. The next day, late the next day, we were pleased as punch to pull into the clear waters off Cozumel and anchor just upwind of FIVE cruise liners, each about the size of a small planet. We paddled ashore and strolled amongst the modern.
Reviewing our photographs of Cozumel, it seems we didn’t really take many sweeping panoramas of, you know, Mexico or whatever. Rather we took photos like this:
We ate tacos, drank refrigerated beers, and visited a large grocery store, where we walked the aisles gazing at all the shiny products, then bought limes and poblanos. The next morning we pulled anchor and headed for Isla Mujeres (called ‘Izla’—rhymes with ‘id’ and then ‘luh’—by the local cruiser VHFers), a day in which the wind maxed out at perhaps three knots and the chop was nauseating. We would have been happier to stay put but there was supposedly another norther on the way in less than 24 hours and Cozumel offered zero protection, so we unleashed the fifteen horses and slogged our way onward.