Lia, my daughter joined us at the Police Dock in San Diego. She spent a few days in San Francisco visiting her friends from college, and then flew to join us for the Baja Ha, Ha. We knew she would be a perfect candidate for our first crew on Epiphany. A couple years ago Lia bought our old sailboat and had been living on it for the past couple summers during her visits home from school. She also experienced a semester at sea through Stanford on a tall ship in the South Pacific. She is independent, competent, and loves adventure. Besides her previous experience, Lia had never been on the ocean on a small craft. I sensed she was very excited, and a little nervous at the same time. It was such a gift having one of my children on board to be able to share a piece of this adventure with, and spend some quality time together. As we know, this gets more difficult to find as your kids get older.
Most people get sick their first time out on the ocean in a small craft. Motion sickness, also called seasickness, is a common disturbance of the inner ear. Motion sickness happens when your brain receives conflicting messages about motion and your body’s position in space. The conflicting messages are delivered from your inner ear, your eyes, your skin receptors, and muscle and joint sensors. Lia was not immune. I felt so bad, the first couple days out to sea she suffered from seasickness, and she also came down with a summer cold. Fortunately, as the voyage continued, Lia continued to improve.
For the most part of the 11 day journey from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas Bill, Lia and I took turns on watch every three hours. That means three hours on, six hours off around the clock. Lia took her shifts seriously and kept us safe, even though she wasn’t feeling very well at all. A couple times, In the middle of the night Lia had to use her judgment and make course changes to avoid other boats. This is not for the faint of heart, because with darkness, disorientation, fatigue and doubt tend to show their ugly faces.
The first leg out from San Diego we ended up 60 miles off shore and found 10 to 12 foot rollers. This is also when we caught our first fish. We trail hand lines behind the boat while we sail, using a jerry rigged aluminum can as an alarm, so we know when something bites. When we heard the can jingle, all hell broke loose. Lia was steering, trying to keep us somewhat stable amongst the big rollers. I begin pulling the 100 foot hand line in. We learn quickly that sailboats are not designed at all for fishing; small cockpit, canoe stern, pretty cushions that don’t like blood on them, etc. etc. etc….
… We also learn that a 10 foot Titanium gaff hook does not belong on a 37 foot sailboat, what were we thinking? Bill clumsily finagles the ginormous hook out from behind Lia off our back stay, I keep pulling the fish in….. He swings the hook around like a samurai, I duck, he misses me and the fish. Eventually with our 10 foot titanium gaff hook our little Amber Jack did not stand a chance, but soon to find out, neither did the cleanliness of our cockpit. Between Bahia Tortuga and Cabo San Lucas we continue to catch fish, mostly Yellowfin tuna, each time becoming a little less like the Bad News Bears, and more like the Yankees. Lia, removes cushions, Bill, in one motion grabs the gaff hook…double play!. Me, while pulling in the line, pitches the fish towards Bill, a perfect slider, he swings and hits… homerun! Perfecting our fishing skills keeps us entertained all the way to Cabo.
Cabo San Lucas, the land of whistles and “Sweet Child of Mine.
” Tweeeeeeet!!! Do you wanna paaaaaartey? Take Las Vegas, move it to Mexico, remove the slot machines, replace them with Tuna fishing boats, street vendors and taxis, and put it on a tropical beach… that’s Cabo. We were all happy to arrive to civilization, but this was a bit of a shock to the system.
Pulling into the Cabo San Lucas harbor there was a huge cruise line anchored right in the middle of the bay. We arrived just after dark, worked our way around the cruise line and through the hundreds of anchored boats to find a place that we were kind of comfortable with. As Bill described it, we could literally toss a potato from one boat to the next down the beach for over 200 boats, that’s how closely anchored we all were. The three of us settle in, appreciate the cell service, especially Lia, eat a great meal, and with a glass of wine in our hands congratulate ourselves over successfully finishing the Baja, Ha Ha. Around 11:30pm we all give in to our fatigue and decide to hit the sack…….. At 12:00pm the music starts…
“Y.M.C.A, it’s fun to be at the Y.M.C.A…”. On one side of the beach, “Welcome to the Jungle, welcome to the jungle watch it bring you to your shun n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n knees, knees,” On the other side of the beach. This goes on until 4:30am, this night and every night that we are here.
Lia and I had fun wandering through town looking for the quieter, more authentic neighborhoods. We found an amazing place for lunch called El Pollo de Oro (The Golden Chicken). The ambience made me think of a fusion between Buca di beppo and a Chinese restaurant. We shared a half of a chicken with beans and tortillas, it was delicious! Lia had a beer, I had a Topo Chico sparkling water, and we shared a chocolate flan. We also ordered Bill a half of chicken to go, and this all came to, including tip, $12.00 or 220 Pesos.
Also while in Cabo, Lia became proficient at sneaking into beautiful resorts and using their luxurious pool areas. Being on a sailboat for a couple weeks will do that to you. Bill and I joined her one day at the Blue Marlin Ibiza, quite possibly the swankest hotel in Cabo. We blew our weekly budget on the 3 Pina Coladas at the pool bar, and quickly remembered why we don’t do this more often, but had a great time. Using the Blue Marlin Ibiza’s internet is where Lia located a work away in Boca de Tomatlan. She was hoping to stay in Mexico a little longer on her own adventure, and found a perfect opportunity on the website workaway.info This is a sight for those who are interested in cultural exchange and learning. You work a few hours a day in exchange for food and accommodations. Lia connected with a woman in Boca de Tomatlan who was looking for someone to help teach English to children at a local school until Christmas break. The timing and connection could not have been more perfect.
This meant we had to figure out how to get Lia from Cabo to Mazatlan on her shoestring budget. That’s where Peter on the sailboat Dawn Treader comes in. Peter was heading to Mazatlan in the next few days, and was hoping to find crew. Cabo to Mazatlan is a 2-3 day trip across the Sea of Cortez, which can be challenging if you’re alone on a sailboat, especially if you want to sleep at all. We first met Peter on Catalina Island where we introduced ourselves after seeing his Baja Ha,Ha burgee flying. We developed a friendship with Peter over the next few weeks, and felt he was someone we could trust for Lia to travel with. We all decide we will caravan from Cabo San Lucas to Bahia Los Frailles, and then when Peter finds his weather window to cross the Sea, Lia will hop on his boat and they will go from there. This worked perfectly with our plans because Bahia Los Frailles was the next anchorage 45 miles up the inside of Baja Peninsula, which is where we were headed next.
The trip from Cabo to Bahia Los Frailles is a story all in itself that I will let Bill tell, but once we arrive at Bahia los Frailles we thoroughly enjoy this lovely bay. Knowing that my time with Lia is coming to a close I cherish every moment, and appreciate her beauty. I watch her paint a water color of the bay, play her ukulele, laugh at her mom, read and smile inquisitely. I start missing her already, but I know soon it is time for her to continue on her journey. Peter decides to leave the next day, so I prepare to make a celebratory parting meal that night.
Earlier that day Lia, Bill and I all swam a couple hundred yards to shore. While Lia lounged on the white sandy beach and read her book, Bill and I walked over to the local fishing camp on the beach in hopes of finding a fish to buy for dinner. In my broken Spanish I ask, “?Tiene pescado para Venda?” Do you have fish for sale? I’m still not sure if this is correct or not, but apparently it was close enough. After a few uncomfortable silences and no smile, the woman, who seemed like she was in charge, leads us to a huge, iced wood bin packed full of different kinds of fish. We take our pick and choose the only bright red one that reminds us of a red snapper, but we’re not sure what it is. At this point I took it as a challenge to make her smile so I ask,
“?Como te llamas?” What is your name? She replies, “Doma!”, with a forceful blurt. I then say, “I am Julianna (Hooli Anna), and this is Memo (which is short for William in Spanish). With all my ridiculousness, in the corner of her mouth I see her lip, just ever so slightly, curl in an upward motion. We smile and thank her, “Muchas Gracias Doma” and now have to figure out how to swim back to the boat with a red fish in hand.
That evening, with love in my heart, I prepare rice and pineapple curry in my pressure cooker. We grill the “red” fish whole on our bbq, and all stuff ourselves silly. We proceed to drink wine and play games into the night. Lia plays her ukulele and sings for us, Bill joins in with his guitar. Before we know it it is midnight. Lia needs to be at Dawn Treader the next morning at 6:30am for their departure, so we all head to bed. The morning comes quickly, and Lia gathers her belongings, packs all her books, ukulele, and clothes. It is time for her to go. As Bill rows her the 100 feet over to Dawn Treader’s anchored boat in our dinghy, my eyes fillI with water. Holding back the tears, I take a few pictures, wave, and blow kisses. I watch as they sail off in the beautiful Baja sunrise with a big lump in my throat. I recognize her bravery and think to myself, our beloved first crew is now Dawn Treader’s crew, but she will always be my daughter…………