The tarp above our hatch started blowing rapidly. Captain Cool pops his head up and says “culo de pollo” and jumps out of bed to start the motor. It’s around 4 a.m. I was having a delicious night’s sleep after 33.5 hours of sailing and was slow to get up. My bladder helped my decision. As I was walking to the head, I heard a crash and in my sleepy state, thought it was something blowing on deck.
Halfway through my pee, I woke up and realised that it was a noise which meant we crashed into something. I willed my pee to hurry or stop and eventually was free. I ran up on deck to see we had become rather intimate with another boat. The captain of that boat was trying to push us off as CC was running between the helm and helping to push.
In English, a culo de pollo is a squall. Culo de pollo means ‘ass of a chicken’ because during these storms, the chickens run away and the wind blows their feathers away revealing their bum. Love it! Squalls have strong winds blowing from 40-60 knots.
That night the 45 knot wind blew us right into our neighbour. Although we had the engine running and were accelerating, sailboats don’t have very strong engines (we prefer the wind!!) so really it only acted as a means to lessen the blow. One of the lifelines broke from the impact/resistance of the other boat. The dinghy which we had lifted to prevent theft was trying to flatten itself against the side of our boat.
Eventually we won the fight with the wind, got away from our neighbours and had a window to lower the dinghy. CC and I did it together as the wind was blowing it strong. When it touched the water, I closed the stoppers and ran on deck to secure the dinghy line to our boat. The wind was blowing strong, but I won and tied it on. One less thing at risk of damage…
We played a dance with our neighbour (who was without engine), pulling forward when we got close. Finally the wind died down enough to pull up the anchor. As we did so, CC noticed that a buoy was underneath us and we had to be careful not to wrap the line from it in our propeller. My adrenaline was pumping! He then told me to keep my eyes at all times on the boat behind us. Directly after this he told me to open the window on the dodger so we could communicate as he tried to pull up the anchor. I ran and quickly did it, keeping an eye on the boat. Then shouts came from the bow as he was giving me orders and told me to watch him. I prayed hard for two extra eyes, but it didn’t work. Instead I held my panic under control as I didmy best to watch CC, the boat behind us and the buoy to make sure we didn’t lose the engine.
CC quickly realised that the anchor chain was wrapped around the buoy. We couldn’t catch the buoy to tie our boat on because the chain was pulling it down, plus the other boat was too close to it. He made the decision to let out all the anchor tying the end to empty diesel containers. As he did this, the wind pushed us back again and not having much experience with this kind of manoeuvring, sent our boat into the bow of the other. Gratefully the only damage done was a scraped and bruised knee as I tried to soften the blow of the boats colliding.
With the boat free of the anchor, I was in charge to steer us to his nephew’s abandoned boat where we were going to tie on to. CC was giving me orders in Spanish, but the stress and adrenaline of the last hour was blocking my understanding and I didn’t understand the manoeuvre. He shouted louder, I kept it together and used my brain to figure out what he wanted. Before I changed it into gear, he told me to stop and asked if I could see the anchor buoy. I couldn’t. He grabbed a diving flashlight and jumped into the water as I was given strict instructions to keep it in neutral. After he jumped, I watched the wind push us closer to neighbouring boats. At the crucial moment, I saw our buoy surface and CC popped up. I shouted at him to hurry back on the boat.
I made a wide circle to avoid the two lines of the buoys. I still wasn’t sure what the manoeuvre was and CC explained it one more time. I slowly approached the bow of his nephew’s boat and gave a big sigh of relief as CC jumped onto his boat with a line. That storm was over.
This was after finding out that we have to return the boat to her owner in two – three weeks. We knew this day would come, we just didn’t know when and were both in denial. We’re now on a search for a new home and new job.
We both love this boat. We have made it our home and have spent many challenges and beautiful moments on it. It sails beautifully, was a dream to maintain and was so comfortable. Change is good, something equally as great or better is out there, but sometimes transitions are tough. I suppose things would feel easier if we had a new place to go. That opportunity will come. It always does.
For now, we are trying to deal with this blow in our own ways while supporting the other. I want hugs, CC wants space. I’m grateful the universe sent my good friend to come see me. She’s coming in five days and I can’t wait for her to fill the loneliness. Just as she’s come at the right time, I know the next home/job opportunity will come too.