Aground

Andiamo has touched ground four times. Twice for Moe and twice for me. Moe has put her once in the mud and once, while entering Bahia Fuentes, onto a large flat rock that was part of an obvious reef.

I had just come up and told her she was in shallow water in a rock reef. She had ignored my specific instructions earlier not to cut the corner of the peninsula and there in water so clear you could see the sharp purple outline of rocks through ten feet of light green sea.

With my heart in my throat I took the helm and falling off the wind turned Andiamo back out to sea. It was too late. With a sickening thud the boat bottomed her keel. It really hurt. It felt like a personal internal injury. Then we were in deeper water and sailed away from disaster.

I put us aground one dark morning on Christmas Day in Bahia Tortuga on the Pacific side of Southern Baja after fouling the prop with the kayaks painter while motoring into twenty-five knots of wind and trying to raise the anchor at the same time. Some one had anchored their small boat ten feet off the port side and we were sure to collide. It was 02:00 as we drifted down onto a small steel freighter. I prepared to fend off while Moe unfurled the jib. Unable to sheet it in by hand she began looking for the winch handle while I held our fiberglass hull of the rusty steel of the freighters hull. As Andiamo’s toe rail scraped the steel hull I begged Moe to sheet in the jib which eventually did. Then I leaped to the helm as the sail took the wind and managed to sail away from the lea side of the freighter but towards land. The water immediately shoaled and while we were tacking to clear the shallows we grounded in five feet of water. Unable to free the boat with jib alone I raised the main in record time and pivoting on her fin keel Andiamo cleared the shallows dragging her shortened anchor behind her. Turning the helm reluctantly over to Moe I moved quickly forward and began to haul the anchor, rode and chain in by hand but it was too late to keep it from fouling itself on a mooring line fastened to the bottom. While trying to clear the anchor Andiamo swung into irons and drifted bock to ground once again. I wrestled in a timeless state with anchor and mooring before giving up and cutting free forty feet of rode, fifteen feet of chain and a thirty-five pound Danforth anchor.

Above us on the bluff revelers had abandoned their parties and driven their cars to aluminate the gringo fool who was about to lose his boat to their shore. Headlamps from a line of cars illuminated Andiamo and from the lit stage watched a drama that bested any fiction they could watch on T.V. 

Finally free of the anchor Moe turned her into the wind pivoting the boat on her fin keel and heeling over she took off under full main and one-hundred and forty percent genoa charged into a fleet of moored fishing pangas in forty knots of wind while I staggered aft to take control of the helm. With Moe on the jib sheets and me on the helm ordering tacks we threaded our way through the pangas and sailboats. With the rails buried at speed exceeding seven knots and all we owned crashing around on the sole of the cabin we cleared the anchorage into miles of open bay. It took another eternity to rig the spare anchor and before I had finished staggering back and forth from bow to helm tacking and jibing we finally dropped anchor across the bay from the town. 

In all the struggle took four hours and having entertained the populace made a bit of a character of myself. Moe and I sat in the cockpit and watched the sun rise on a beautiful Christmas morning.  

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