Shake Down Cruise On Sea Of Cortez

By JOHN M. DERBY
TIMES PUBLISHER
January 18, 2018

After 19 years of sailing on the Sea of Cortez, one would think there would no longer be any surprises, however, the calmest seas can turn violent, and when the unexpected happens, one needs to be prepared.

That is the purpose of a Shake Down Cruise; to see that everything is in order after another season when the sailboat — our Flying Dutchman — has spent the summer waiting for our return.

There was another hurricane which hit our area of Baja California in 2017, but it hit at the same time Texas and Florida were having their hurricanes, so it made little news in the states.

The damage to our house on Conception Bay was minor when 8 inches of rain came down on one day in the storm. Our sailboat seemed to have weathered the storm without problem, sitting on a trailer with its heavy keel keeping it upright.

We picked a day with mild winds for the Shake Down Cruise.

Fortunately we had the same crew as last year. Kathy who has been sailing for 40 years, and Pat who is a nurse from Anchorage, Alaska, and spends her winters in Mexico.

It was amazing how much the crew remembered from previous years, and the Dutchman was underway in about a half an hour. It had already weathered one major storm in the Bay of Conception early in December, while one of the other sailboats went aground.

There is nothing like being on a sailboat when it first catches the breeze and heads downwind. It is so quiet without a motor. We take our sails home to Merced when we are not in Baja because the heat down here would destroy them.

The sails opened up taking the wind in stride. Past one island and heading for another, the Flying Dutchman seemed like a horse turned out to pasture, running free with the wind.

After sailing for an hour, the wind died as if on cue that it was time to have a beer and lunch which we had prepared ahead of time. Then as if the Dutchman said “enough, it is time to sail,” the wind came up and drove us out to sea.

It was strong and would have taken us as far as we wanted to go, however, this was a Shake Down Cruise, and we had not planned to stay out all day, just to make sure the gear on the boat had made it through another blistering hot summer. The water in Mexico gets to over 90 degrees in August with a humidity which is a killer.

We cut our sail short in the early afternoon, and then again as if it were planned, the wind died as we came up to our mooring buoy. It was no problem tying up with full sails up, however, as soon as the sailboat was secure, a major blow hit us and we rushed to get the sails down.

It was as if, the Dutchman understood that this was just a test run, and was ready to take a siesta for the rest of the afternoon.

We had had our own fun, and were ready row to shore.

It was one of those great days on the water when everything went right.

Now we were ready for some serious sailing.


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