Whales and Dolphins and Tacos, Oh My!
Since the last blog, we’ve spent almost two weeks in Ensenada, Mexico. Our sail down from California was a lovely day full of sun and breeze. We watched dolphins chase schools of fish into the shallows (for easier eating) as seagulls and pelicans bombed in from above. A whale spout was spotted in the distance, and everyone was on whale watch duty. One flipped its flukes (tail) as it dove, and at least five blue whales passed off our starboard side. Whales can be distinguished by their flukes, their dorsal fin (or lack there of), and the shape of their blow. Blue whales have very large, columnar blows and small, hooked, dorsal fins. Our whale-watching-vigilance was rewarded when one of them surfaced right off our midship. Its back was enormous, the smooth gray surface so large it barely looked curved. You could hear it breathing—the sound was deep and…not loud. Big. Full. Like a massive semi releasing hydraulic brakes.
We sailed as close to our marina as we could before pulling in the sails and getting out the dock lines. That evening, we rewarded ourselves with cold beers and a hot jacuzzi. Slowly, our first lovely crew left us for their own adventures. Eric and Shanley took the weekend to visit family, and I explored the surrounding city.
If you’re ever visiting a new place, I highly recommend riding the city buses. Not an experience for the faint of heart, but definitely an experience. Just a tip though: make sure you know how to ask for a stop in the applicable language. That way you won’t end up two towns north of where you want to be and have to wait until the bus switches directions before ending up on the side of a highway in the general location of your destination. Anyway. The grocery store downtown has an entire aisle of hot sauce, and street churros are my new favorite thing.
After a weekend of relaxing, a few days of work was in store. The swim step was removed, the toe rails were scrubbed, the deck was painted (do you know how many things are on the deck of a boat that need to be taped? I don’t either. But it’s a lot), bunks were cleaned, laundry was washed, bilges were vacuumed, lights were soldered, hinges were loosened, and rudders were greased. All that required a trip to town for tacos, a fish market, and a walk along the water front.
The next day, we took a trip to Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada’s wine valley. We toured the two oldest vineyards, Santo Tomas (130 years old), and L.A. Cetto (90 years old). At the latter, our wine was poured by a very knowledgeable and effective sommelier-in-training who succeeded in selling us each…plenty of wine. Next we headed north to Las Nubes (The Clouds), which was a stunning vineyard nestled in the foothills of the valley.
Last, but not least, we chose Alximia for food and more fermented grapes. This winery was started by the mathematician son of an architect—the building was beautifully formed with tall arching ceiling beams and a roof that pulled down over the edges like a billowing sail. They used the rainwater run off for things like dishes and watering the plants.
In preparation for our coming sail to Hawaii (we leave Monday!), we went Provisioning today. I say Provisioning with a capital P because man it’s a lot of food. Today took four entire, overflowing, delicately balanced, shopping carts. The grocery store was only a 5 minute walk from the marina, but we called a taxi to save ourselves the five hours of bag-shuffling it would have taken to get everything to the boat.
Our next set of crew joined us today, Saturday, and after getting settled we’ll take a daysail to get familiar with each other and with Sea Dragon. We’ve soaked up our last few meals of tacos, the last few evenings of jacuzzi-ing, and the last few hours of Netflix before we start the long trip to Hawaii!