Shenanigans in Bahia Santa Maria
** Warning. This post includes a picture that shows an exposed female nipple. I refuse to censor it. Because if it was a male nipple, no one would blink an eye, right? I mean, it was the end of civilization as we know it when Janet Jackson nip slipped at the Super Bowl a few years ago. There ensued days of talking heads expressing their outrage at such shocking depravity, followed by threats of NFL boycotts and hefty fines. Fast forward a few years and Adam Levine rips his shirt off at the Super Bowl and what happens? Nothing. No threats of fines or boycotts. No outrage. No endless debates about moral turpitude. Double standards are not cool. Off soapbox. **
We were all up just before the sun to navigate out of the bay with the other cruisers for our next 2 day/2 night leg to Bahia Santa Maria. With 120 boats on the move all at the same time, it was a good idea to have plenty of eyeballs casting a critical eye out in the semi darkness for any potential collisions (a good idea as there actually was a collision in the anchorage, fortunately not involving us). As the fleet turned left out of the bay, the sun rose and we all enjoyed our coffee on deck. Winds were light but word was that the wind would fill in at some point in the afternoon so hopefully we could sail a little. Those with spinnakers (those big colourful sails billowing off the front of a boat) flew them and drifted slowly downwind as we motored along.
Life onboard resumed what had become our normal, keeping watch, naps, meals, reading, all those things one dreams of doing while sitting at a desk daydreaming about sailing! The larger boats in the fleet took the lead but for the most part we all stayed together. I liked that when I was on watch, looking at all the boats around me on AIS. Not too close to be a danger but nice to know there were lots of people out there with us. Although we didn't sail much but I was ok with that. We had light winds and calm seas and compared to previous years we had it very easy – no huge waves, no gales, no boats lost. Always a good thing methinks.
Bahia Santa Maria is an enormous bay with nothing but a fishing camp at one end of a sugary white sand beach. Nothing else – no docks, or shops, or restaurants, once again just a few local families who have been catching fish here for generations. Pangas came racing out to meet the fleet boats to sell their freshly caught fish and we settled in forthwith, dinghy in the water, paddleboard deployed, adult beverages dispensed and all was well with the world. It's funny how everyone kind of does the same thing when arriving to a new anchorage – get out toys, put up sunshades, chill!
The next day Kimberly took the paddleboard over to the beach (by way of Robin, who happened to have a couple of cute guys onboard, one of whom just happened to be showering on deck as she glided past. Coincidence? I think not!) and the guys took the dinghy over to explore. Now you may not think this is a huge deal, to land a dinghy on a beach with breaking waves backed by the might of the Pacific Ocean, but it is. Judging the swell, when the wave will break, knowing just the right moment to ride the wave in so the dinghy doesn't end up pooped (that's sailorspeak for having a wave break into the dinghy, pushing it around and tipping everyone out into the water) takes much in the way of patience and skill. Unfortunately the boys learned this the hard way and ended up pooped, Daz twisted his knee and I think he lost a few salty points too, which probably hurt more than the knee! After a few minutes getting themselves back together, they found Kimberly and gave her and the paddleboard a lift back to the mothership.
In light of the pooping it was decided to hail a panga to take us all back to shore for another fleet beach party. It was really amazing to watch how the fishermen take in all that's going on around them, the waves, how close the beach is, the swell, the tide and maneuver their boats perfectly through the surf to land us all safely. No pooping this time!
The party wasn't on the beach, it was on a bluff overlooking the bay. Interestingly, and in stark contrast to the usual safety precautions taken in most public places I've been to, there was a complete absence of railings and warning signs at the edge of the bluff to mark the edge. The only concession made was a thick rope on the ground about a foot from the drop to the beach about 60 ft below. Personal responsibility goes a long way here! In any case, an incredible view was below us, the beautiful wide open bay, the beach and all the boats at anchor.
A small shack a little way back from the ledge was a hub of activity. The local women were making our dinner with the day's fresh catch, the men had taken a trip to town, brought back all sorts of drinks and also fashioned an impromptu patio for shade, and a fabulous band was playing songs everyone knows and loves, regardless of age. I have no idea where they came from because our location was so remote!
This little bluff we were on was one of the few places we found (along with everyone else) that had cell service. I think it was only 2G, but it was enough for phone calls out. So the little hillside behind us was covered with people, phones glued to their ears, milling about looking for the best reception.
We were included with the millers, trying to check in with our kids and making sure all was well with the world in general. Daz had better luck than I getting through and wandered off up the hill and I rejoined the party. He met a very interesting lady out there who was taking topless pictures of herself with dead animals. If I had a cricket mp3 to insert here, I would, but yes you read that right. Daz of course, being the gentleman that he is, offered to help the lady with her pics because as you can imagine, it would be difficult to take selfies while juggling a dead animal in one hand and a camera in another. As a token of gratitude she read his Tarot cards, which said nothing about winning the lottery or anything like that, so that's a bit of a fizzer. Oh well. Despite the apparent lack of a windfall in our future, we had a wonderful afternoon of making new friends, eating great food, dancing, singing and best of all, no one fell off the cliff!
Pangas were lined up on the beach ready to take us all back to our boats. Again with incredible skill, the fishermen got us through the surf and headed to where we were all anchored. Now, there were about 120 boats floating out there. The fishermen don't speak great English and not a lot of people spoke Spanish. So you can imagine, after a few drinks, what a PITA a panga full of buzzing gringos was for those poor men:
Panguero: Where is your boat?
Gringo: Umm...I think over that way (pointing to anchorage in general)
Panguero: (speeding to anchorage) Ok, now where?
Gringo: Huh. Well none of these boats look familiar.
Panguero: (zips to other end of anchorage)
Gringo: No, no...I definitely don't know any of these boats. Maybe we should go over there? (pointing to whence we just came)
Panguero: Senor we just came from there.
Gringo: Ok then lets go just a little to the left of there, I think I can see my boat.
Panguero: Ok, what does it look like?
Gringo: It's white. Has a mast. (Laughs hysterically as Panguero rolls his eyes.)
I don't know how many times I heard this. Apparently it never gets old for cruisers because every time it was said people laughed hysterically. Aye carumba.
Kimberly and Eric had met a lovely couple, Heather and Brandon, at the party. We enjoyed having them onboard for dinner on our last night in BSM to hear about their plans to cruise. I thought it so sweet of them to leave their newly purchased boat (delivery was just a day or two before they left San Diego!) to help crew for a friend for two weeks. Very exciting and I know they were itching to get back to it, sail it, sleep on it, just enjoy it. Great news is that since the rally, they've sold all their stuff and moved aboard and are ready for adventuring!
As the sun rose the next morning, we raised anchor to head out on the last leg of the trip. Light winds were in the forecast again but the weather was predicted to be quite a bit warmer as we crossed the Tropic of Cancer.
Just a few short days and we'd be in Cabo San Lucas!