Thursday, May 21, 2009

Changing the palatte

On May 2, we flew out of sunny, hot La Paz, landing late in the evening in Vancouver, BC. We went to sleep in the airport hotel, and woke very early to this vista, painted in a palatte of gray and green that had become entirely unfamiliar. We rented a car and drove down to Portland, stunned by florescent yellow green of the spring foliage and the wealth of flowering trees and shrubs. We visited with friends in Seattle and Portland, and began to readjust to living, shopping, and doing business in the land of unlimited choice.

We also made a trip to the Oregon Coast and were fascinated by the beaches and vistas on this rugged stretch, especially impressive for having seen it from the distance of ten miles out in the ocean.

Early on the cold, rainy morning of May 13th, we were in Nanaimo, British Columbia, to meet up with the Dockwise ship, and reclaim 'Indigo'. The photo shows the Captain amidst the boats on the ship while it is still dry. Shortly thereafter, we all climbed ladders to get back on our boats, and waited for some long, chilly hours while the rear of the ship gradually filled with water and we were able to sail away.

Over the week since then, we have cleaned up and reprovisioned the boat, and reorganized ourselves for travel in the Pacific Northwest. We are reveling in the beautiful, still evenings and the dusk that lasts until nearly ten; in the astonishingly fresh and varied produce in the stores; and in the routine of sauna and piles of quilts to ward off the overnight cold. I guess we must be home.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A New Experience

Yesterday we left La Paz along with half a dozen other sailboats, and motored the ten miles to Bahia Falsa, where we encountered this odd looking ship, called the Super Servant Three. In the photo, taken looking at the bow, you can see that the ship is low in the water. It's stern portion, which is like two long docks (thus the shipping company's name, "Dockwise"),is opened up and nearly submerged, so that boats can sail in and out. In all, fourteen boats gathered, waiting to load. We circled near the stern of the ship, and one by one the Super Servant's Load Master called us on the VHF radio and gave us instructions to come in.

Once we were alongside the "dock", the ship's crew helped tie us up and secure each boat to the ship's framework with various ropes and straps. It was slightly eerie to encounter this crew: all tall, strong young men in orange jumpsuits, and all speaking Russian. But communication was accomplished, and quite soon we locked Indigo's hatch, and boarded a launch back to La Paz.

Through the afternoon and evening, while we were sipping Margaritas, a gang of divers worked underwater to set up cribs and stands to support all the boats. Probably about the time we were eating dinner, the Super Servant's crew closed the two rear portions of the ship (thus creating a watertight stern), and proceeded to raise the entire ship by pumping out the water where the boats floated. Once the water was out, as we were sleeping soundly, a gang of welders constructed metal cradles to support each boat, and welded the cradles to the deck. About now, as we finish up our breakfast, the Super Servant is leaving Bahia Falsa for the trip to Nanaimo in British Columbia.

This is a new experience for us in many ways. For one, we have become part of a fleet, as we have gotten to know the other boats which were loading on the Dockwise ship. Maybe this is what it is like to belong to a Yacht Club. For another, we've given over the care of 'Indigo' to someone else. We are very glad that we won't be responsible for every one of the 2200 miles of upwind sailing between here and British Columbia. I think we'll take a walk and think about the Super Servant rounding the tip of Baja California!