April 21, 2010

Night Moves

I'm watching the boat that's anchored beside us pitch and buck as though it's trying to get upwind in a stiff breeze and steep sea. Which means, barring a few design differences, that we look nauseatingly similar. The thing is, the seas have settled down considerably, so much so, that until I saw our neighbour's boat, I thought it was nearly calm. Which of course makes me wonder what we looked like when the wind was blowing its strongest and the waves matched the breeze in force...
The Inuit may have the market covered for their number of different names for snow, but down here, there's probably an equal number of different names for wind; there's the Coromuel, Chubasco, Elefante, Norther, Tehuantepecer and Papagallos not to mention afternoon sea breezes which funnel through specific passes, pineapple expresses, lows, and named storms...
Last night we had a Coromuel (actually we've had one every night, last night's was just a doozy...). We were told a charming story about this local breeze, which starts blowing in from the southwest around dinner time then (on a strong night) builds to it's peak around 3am, only to ease off as the land heats back up in the morning sun. The story is of a local pirate: a guy called Cromwell. He discovered this breeze was predictable, but only blew near La Paz. So when the breeze hit he'd sail out into the Sea of Cortez, rob a Spanish vessel or two, then catch the daytime Northerlies back to his hiding spot where he could count his plunder. Cromwell is difficult to say in Spanish, we were told. So the wind that carried this nefarious pirate on his pillaging sprees became known as Coromuels.
Whether or not the story is true doesn't change the fact that in spring and summer, when there is a northwest wind blowing on the west coast of the Baja peninsula and warm conditions on the inside, the Coromuels kick in. And because the daytime winds blow from the north, or south, finding an anchorage that protects against everything is pretty difficult.
This is how an activity we once dubbed as the Baja Moonlit Naked Olympics; where we pull down awnings, put away dishes, secure the dingy and stop wine bottles from rattling around, became part of our lives. And like every big sporting event, you end up kind of wrecked the next day, and grumpy. Sort of like a bad attitude pirate who went plunging through nasty seas in search of treasure and came up empty...
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