Sailing Never Stops On The Sea Of Cortez

March 15, 2018

Winds were about 15 knots as the Flying Dutchman headed out into the Sea of Cortez for a shakedown cruise.

It had a new anchor and a new crew member who said he had sailed before.

We have found out from experience that “sailed before” can mean anything from having sat on a sailboat as a passenger to having actually run the boat.

In this case the new crew member was somewhere in between with limited experience.

It turned out having him aboard was both a help and a problem. He had never tied a knot before and he admitted it when he kept saying, “You had better check the way I tied that line.”

Then after telling him to be careful not to allow the jib halyard to fly to the top of the mast, he said: “Oops, I think I lost our jib.”

As it turned out, he didn’t lose the jib and the jib halyard was just floating in air a couple of feet over his head. We retrieved the line and were underway again.

The next problem had nothing to do with the crew and could be listed as equipment failure. The new anchor failed to hold when first dropped. This could have been because of the anchor, the ocean bed where we were trying to anchor, or the amount of scope (line) we had on the anchor.

In any case, we found very quickly that if we kept drifting we would eventually hit the rocks on the peninsula where we intended to have lunch.

We hoisted anchor and headed out to sea.

Now the real problems started as we heard a loud “crack” and looked down at the rudder handle which had just split in two. This wooden rudder handle must have been the original on the Dutchman when it was made in 1975.

Twenty years in the heat of the Mexican sun had added to the problem. All we had to steer the boat was the six inch metal clamps which once held the rudder handle. With the wind now still climbing, we looked at our options.

There was the auxiliary outboard which could be used in an emergency but dropping it into the water was a major job even when the boat was not under sail. One person would have had to steer the boat while the other tried to drop the motor and start it. No easy task.

We opted for toughing it out, which meant steering the boat for a couple of miles in heavy seas until we could get back to our mooring.

The final test was seeing if our new crew member could pick up the mooring line as we came up to it with the main sail still up.

When crew member hooked the mooring line we knew he had earned his keep and we gave him a big “bravo” and called for the beer.

As we said there is always great sailing on the Sea of Cortez.

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