By 7:30 am it was obvious the skies we were headed towards showed darkness. I pointed it out to the Captain “It’ll all blow away by 11:30 this morning” so we kept going. Ain’t hind sight grand? (Mistake #1)
Our fuel gauge was below the quarter mark, and we’d already dumped our 2 fuel jugs into the tank. If the headwinds kept up, we would never make it to our first anchorage destination: Cedros Island. Our friends who were sailing with us had an extra jug of fuel we could borrow, but they were much further behind. The 2 Captains talked on the radio and decided to keep motoring straight towards the island in case the wind picked up as it got warmer. Winds often do that.
But about an hour later, my Captain made a snappy decision: we were to sail where the wind took us even if it took longer to get to the Island and zigzag our way leaving our friends behind us as they stuck to the initial plan. (Mistake #2)
With the wind in our 2 sails, we stopped the motor to save what precious fuel was left. This lasted a good part of the day. But the wind was not on our side, and we got further and further away from the path leading us towards our anchorage spot. This put us literally in the middle of the ocean. Not always a comforting thought…
And then the storm from hell hit us. Or should I say it smacked us in the face. Harshly. It became obvious as the sun set we needed to change our strategy so the Captain rolled in the head sail, started the motor and kept the main sail up… Motoring full speed ahead we both took shelter in the cabin. I buried my head in the bed and he stayed close to the stairs so he could keep an eye on the radar. Luck would have it that we had just enough fuel to make it out of the eye of the storm, but once we ran out there wasn’t all that much wind taking us towards the island.
We radioed our friends. They’d safely reached the island by 8 pm. We asked them their GPS coordinates so we could program it as our destination in our auto-helm. “You’ll see us miles away, with all our lights on we’re like a beacon at the Northern part of the island!!!” (Mistake #3)
By the time we saw them, it was 4 am, we had finally totally run our motor dry, the winds had died, and we were no further than 1 mile East of them. Had they given us their coordinates we coulda shoulda woulda made a direct bee-line for them hours earlier! But no. Now we’re in plain view of them yet can’t make it towards them because our friennemy the wind is fucking with us. (Key theme behind the entire journey).
“Hey, you know when you dumped the fuel in the tanks, I noticed there was about a cup left in both jugs… I know diesel goes a long way, do you think that…” The Captain’s face lit up. “I think you’re on to something! Worth a try…” We salvaged whatever was left behind, poured it in the tank, and turned the key. It sputtered. We had to try again and again and finally it rumbled to life! We motored to where our friends were, anchored and got a few hours of the soundest deepest sleep we’d ever had!
All in all our little adventure cost us 8 hours of wasted time. Oh man, but when I think of all that could have gone wrong! *Shivers*