Destinations Magazine

Not Saying Goodbye

By Landfall @landfallvoyages

The first time I met Hans (S/V Lifee P. Baker), he was adrift in a dinghy out in the middle of Cruiseport Village Marina in Ensenada. We were heading the opposite direction, toward the laundromat. “Do you think he needs a tow?” I asked Steve, as we watched Hans trying to resuscitate his outboard. “Wouldn’t hurt to ask,” he said, turning the skiff around to go find out because A) we like to help people out when we can and B) anything to delay doing the laundry is super awesome. That last part’s probably mostly me. Nobody will ever mistake me for a domestic goddess.

Anyway, we came up alongside and said our hellos and asked did he need a tow? “Ah yes, well, ” he said, in that incredibly charming accent Dutch people have, “You see, I’m trying to get this started and perhaps you can just keep me from going onto those rocks, yes?” So we grabbed on and sort of rafted together for 5 or 10 minutes while Hans tinkered with the old outboard motor (which he was test driving, to see if he wanted to buy it). Finally, Hans gave it up for a lost cause and asked would we mind terribly towing him back to his boat?

Which is a 45′ heartbreakingly romantic modern wood schooner.  We chatted for a few minutes more, met his lovely wife Petra, told them how beautiful their boat was and discovered they were also heading south. Cool. Then we putted over to the laundry room and commenced with the drudgery. Not too long after that, we took off for Turtle Bay. The cruising community is, for the most part, a very fluid social creature, wherein you meet people, become fast friends in a very short time, see those friends move on, and maybe meet up with them later, somewhere down the line. It’s wonderful and every time you re-meet people it’s kind of like Christmas morning all over again. One fine day in Turtle Bay, we looked up to see Lifee P. Baker dropping anchor nearby.

Steve hopped in the dinghy and went over to say hello. He came back with a horror story. Hans and Petra left Ensenada with a bunch of other boats and fell behind the pack because stuff broke and a lot of the other boats were just faster. They broke their forestay, then pieces of the running backstay hardware failed and they almost lost both masts. Petra became violently seasick, accidentally took too much Sturgeron and spent the entire trip down below, hallucinating and pretty out of it. Of course, their autopilot decided this would be the perfect time to crap out, right? So poor Hans had to steer the boat by hand for 60 hours. This is their first trip out, mind you. They told Steve basically, this whole cruising thing? DONE. They were going to leave the boat in Turtle Bay and just go home.

Steve told them that Turtle Bay wasn’t really an anchorage you could just leave your boat in. He said, “This isn’t something you have to decide tonight. Get some sleep. We’ve all been there. It gets better. We’ll talk in the morning.” But it didn’t look promising. Over the next couple of days, we hung out, tried to help fix the broken stuff, shared our stories of the hard and scary times, and also talked about how happy we were to have stuck it out until the good times. Other boats chipped in with their experiences, too and Hans and Petra decided to try cruising a little while longer. Which is good, because even though all those bad things happened to them, they were able to adapt and overcome. They used common sense and fundamentally, have exactly what it takes to be successful at this lifestyle. We caught back up with them in Mag Bay and this time, they’d had a fantastic trip. They were both so happy, just beaming. Watching them come in this time, Eli said, “Mom, look—Petra really looks like an old salt now.” And she did. They both did.

It was in Mag Bay that we got to know Kenny and Robin from S/V Pioneiro, which is kind of funny because in Ensenada, we’d have to dinghy past their boat every time we did laundry. It’s a big boat, with a cool name that we always liked, but somehow we never quite crossed paths until Bahia Magdalena. These are some of the nicest people you could hope to find. Kenny’s about 10 feet tall with a great booming laugh that’ll just roll right over you and leave no room for anything but a ripping good time. Robin’s a cute, tiny slip of a thing who’s always up for having fun and has your back no matter what. Even when you didn’t know you needed looking after.

We sailed down to Cabo along with Lifee P. Baker and Pioneiro and after a long night of supremely crappy weather (not in the forecast, of course), we started hailing the marina to get our slip assignment. VHF was a bust, our Mexican cell phone ran out of minutes and we were just working on getting the dongle going to try and Skype the marina when Robin called on the radio to let everybody know she’d already gone ahead and called the marina and gotten slip assignments for everybody, because she heard us having trouble getting a hold of them. Yeah. She’s cool like that. There may have been some open declarations of love on Channel 16 on my part because, dude…I was so exhausted and she totally fixed everything.

Also, since I got electrocuted, I’ve developed a hideous wheat/gluten intolerance wherein I eat that stuff and it triggers the kind of abdominal spazzfest that puts me in the hospital. One night when we were all having dinner on the Lifee P. Baker, she says, “Oh, hang on,” hops next door to her boat and comes back with, I shit you not, a gigantic bag of gluten-free baking flour. “Somebody gave this to me and I don’t really need it so here—it’s all yours.” Pancakes happened the next morning for the first time in for-freaking-ever.

The other day, Steve came back from helping Hans and Petra with an alternator problem and the backpack was stuffed full of big, heavy wires and all kinds of electrical goodies. Kenny just rewired his boat and knew we were going to need that stuff when we wire in the inverter for our watermaker. So he gave it to us for free. Not even free as in beer. Just…free.

We really love all these guys, which is why it was kind of hard today, when Lifee P. Baker swung through the anchorage at Punta de Mita, hollering goodbyes and ringing their bell (because I suck at turning the VHF on). We waved and shouted love and good luck across the water. And watched them go, with Pioneiro, too. I stood in the companionway and thought about flipping on the radio for some more goodbyes and in the end, couldn’t quite bear to do it.

We miss you already. I’m not saying goodbye, only…see you later. We’ll keep in touch online and when we finally make it down to Panama, hopefully we’ll bump into you all again. Fair winds and following seas, my friends. May you have many more wonderful adventures and thanks so much for being part of ours :-)


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