Mulege or Bust!

By Joseph DiMatteo

The 2011 Tucson Sailing Club Fall Cruise ended up being a small and intimate affair after several boats bowed out due to mechanical problems or concerns about the weather forecast. Nonetheless, the crews of Half Cat and Caliente headed out Monday afternoon in a brisk breeze. Caliente promptly returned to San Carlos after breaking two sail slides at the bottom of her double reefed main before we even cleared the headlands. After finding and replacing the offending slides we were off again.

Half Cat – with Scott, Loretta, Sandy, Michael, and Len aboard – headed for Punta Chivato while Caliente set a course for Santispac in Bahia Concepcion. Sandy, Michael, and Len are Coloradans thinking of joining our Club and I hope they do. After a lumpy but uneventful crossing Joseph and Glenn noticed at daybreak on Tuesday that we had lost most of the remaining slides on the mainsail. At that point we just wrestled the main down and motored the rest of the way into the lovely anchorage at Santispac.

Tuesday was spent catching up on sleep and drying out the boat after realizing that an old leak in the bow had reopened on Caliente. Repairing the leak was added to the list along with trying to figure out how to fix the mainsail. In addition to being a world class cook Glenn proved himself to be a creative problem solver. “What if we just take the remaining slides from the lower half of the sail and move them to the upper part and just keep it reefed” he asked? Clever these Americans…better half a main than none.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was reading a book a friend lent me that he bought on a trip to Ireland. The Brendan Voyage is the story of a sailing expedition done in the 1970’s recreating the purported route of an Irish monk and Saint named Brendan from Ireland to North America. Brendan was an open boat made of wood and leather that wouldn’t sail to weather (picture your inflatable dinghy with two small square sails and a lee board), that had to play dodge ’em with icebergs, yet they made it. The book sure made a believer out of me that St. Brendan likely made it to these shores long before my Italian relatives did. Makes me want to get in touch with my Irish roots…where do you think the Howard came from? Regardless of the historical context it makes a great read, especially for us sailors. If nothing else,you will never complain about a midnight to 3AM watch again after finishing it.

Early Wednesday afternoon we were greeted by the welcome sight of Half Cat coming into Santispac. Later that evening ,Glenn, being the gracious gentleman he is, offered to bring dinner over to HalfCat. Tom Yum is not the name of an Asian karaoke star but of a Thai seafood soup made by Glenn’s wife. It was to die for. After a gourmet dinner Michael and Len plied us with beer, rum, and Bailey’s while we debated important topics – like who are the great rock and country vocalists – as we listened to Scott strum his iPod. Some members of the group overindulged and could not even remember going back to their boat,let alone driving home the dinghy. Others showed far greater wisdom and retired to their cabins early.

The next day Loretta, ever the planner, suggested a hike around the point. Some of us thought it was partly done as penance for the prior evening…nothing like a hike to further dehydrate a body already dried to the bone by alcohol. I think she must have been a Nun in a prior life. No matter we had a good time and met some of the local color. Jolynn, better known by her “Wind Mom” call sign, gave us the low down on the local expats living in a beach-side palapa enclave. Most importantly she gave me a huge glass of Tang to drink – we must have only walked a mile or so but I felt like I just crossed the Sahara. She also gave Glenn and I a guided tour of the nature trail she developed through the desert – it was better than some I have seen in National Parks.

Friday most of the group caught a ride into Mulege with Russ,the owner of the local bar located right on the beach. Russ would not let us pay him for the ride in and he even dug through a stash of old boat parts and found us a sail slide we could use on Caliente. The cruising guide said the bar was named Anna’s but I have pictorial evidence it is now known as Lupe’s. The cruising guide also said they did not sell ice but Lupe was more than happy to sell us a couple of big bags. I hope to get the chance to pay them many more visits in years to come. Anyhow, Mulege was great fun. By then I had recovered from Wednesday evening so I actually enjoyed hiking all over town. Seeing the Mission was certainly worth the walk.

While we were there the crew of Half Cat decided that one of their crew – who had stayed behind on the boat – needed female companionship so they decided to shop for some on his behalf. The last we saw Len he still had not noticed his new companion that had been placed in the head of Half Cat. I will leave it for the crew of Half Cat to tell the rest of the tale of the Mulege bust…

Saturday morning came too quickly as Glenn and I pulled anchor before dawn to head back to San Carlos. Other than being surrounded at one point by hundreds of dolphins it was a pretty uneventful crossing. As seems to be the pattern, we had too much wind going over and too little coming back. The crew of Half Cat headed north for another week of cruising before coming back to Tucson. Lucky them… With that, I will leave it to their able crew to fill in the rest of the story.

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