Saturday July 20, 2013
As much as I hate to admit it, I am forever tied to the water. Blame my parents for raising me in such close proximity to the wonderful shores of Lake Michigan, but I’ll never be able to escape my need to get back to the water, time and time again. Sloshy and uncomfortable passages may not be my highlight, and might also produce nothing but complaints from me, but I could never leave the water for good. We’re meant to be together. Which is why I was so excited when Ana Bianca invited us out for a day sail on Lake Isabelle on her Beneteau this weekend. After just arriving in Guatemala herself a few weeks ago, she made friends with a family that hails from Guatemala City but also has a weekend home on the river. Fast friendships can translate from cruisers to landlubbers as well, so when the man, Ignacio, had a birthday coming up, his big wish was a sail out on the water in Ana Bianca’s boat. She readily agreed, and even invited the rest of the dinner club along for the adventure as well. It wasn’t to be anything too fancy, just a few hours enjoying the lake along with a couple of drinks and snacks. I was assigned guacamole and chips and eagerly showed up with them in hand on Hydromax, our meeting point, before we were to shove off.
Dark clouds threatened in the distance, but we paid them no mind as we dinghied out to s/v Kajaya who was now sitting at anchor in our little bay. Shortly after we arrived and stocked our goodies into the fridge, Ignacio appeared with his family, wife Annica and daughter Camilla, in their personal lancha and stepped aboard with their own cooler full of goodies. If the rain held off it, looked like it was going to be a wonderful day, but again, one should never speak too soon. Those dark rain clouds opened up on us just as we were weighing anchor, but as storms tend to do in this area, it was over almost as quickly as it began.
We weren’t even the one mile it takes to round the corner where the Castillo de San Felipe sits before the sun was out and shinning again. As soon as we hit the entrance to the lake, we gauged the wind and opened the sails. Our sail started us out on a nice downwind run and I was able to grab the wheel for a little while when everyone else scattered about. Matt was in a very in depth conversation with Ignacio (or Nacho as he told us to call him) about everything sailing, including how the sails worked at different points into the wind to push us along. Ana Bianca and Luis were down below so they could whip up a few of Luis’ famous margaritas, and while I was at the helm, Annica and Camilla would try to hand feed me chips and guacamole since I had surprisingly not eaten anything yet. Once I had gotten some chips and guac down, I was able to enjoy the helm at my hands, the wind at my back, and the feeling of a weekend pleasure cruise. It’s been so long since we’d been out on the water just because we felt like it, and it brought me right back to our weekends on Lake Michigan where there was no time frame, no destination, and the only concern was which point of sail felt best and if there was something cold to drink in the fridge.
(photo courtesy of Annica)
Even though I had been happy to take over the helm and show off my amazing skills of how to stay on course (without autopilot!), there were others that wanted a shot as well and soon I was handing off my position to Ana Bianca who in turn showed Camilla how to steer the boat and keep a course. This left me with nothing to occupy my time except stuffing my face, which I was happy to do. Nacho had prepared some croquettes that were incredibly delicious, and with a topped off margarita in my other hand, it was really turning into a perfect Saturday afternoon. We shared with Nacho and Annica our previous sailing adventures and our current plans to hopefully cross the Atlantic to the Mediterranean the following summer. Nacho, ever the adventurist, jumped at the chance to be our third crew member for the crossing, stating that he’d always wanted to sail across an ocean. The offer even came with the promise of him being our personal chef and bartender the whole journey. While it was VERY tempting to agree to this, we told him that he’d probably want to go on a much bigger boat than ours, and that 34 feet could get very cramped after three weeks. Which is probably why we won’t bring anyone with us on the crossing. Having 7 people out for a pleasure cruise though? Totally do-able.
(Photo courtesy of Annica)
We had our nice relaxing time going down one side of the lake, but when it was time to turn around our new intended course right into the wind, which meant a lot more tacking. Ana Bianca had the wheel under control, and Matt was in his element, adjusting sails each time we went back and forth. At the beginning the tacks were few and far between, so the other five of us sat around without purpose except to keep enjoying ourselves. Nacho broke out a tub of chilled wine him and Annica had brought, so I sat with a pinot grigio in one hand as I continued to talk sailing with them and watched the sun get lower in the sky. It was also a little amusing knowing which way the boat would heel each time we tacked, and trying to explain to Nacho which way the tub of wine was going to slide right before it did.
The closer we got to the entrance of the river though, the more tacks we needed to make. This meant that I was brought out of my seat while Matt and I worked together to trim the sails. The sailors in the group wanted to make it as far as possible without turning the engine on, and as the lake narrowed this meant having to cut back and forth every few minutes. Ana Bianca was still stationed behind the wheel and just as we’d start cutting through the wind she would shout out “Now”, and I’d unwind the line from the previous leeward side as Matt would begin winching it in on the new low side. Then we’d switch spots and do it all over again. Just as we were entering the river again we cut it so close that it deserved a congratulatory round of high fives among us that we didn’t end up beached. It felt great being back on the water once again, and appreciating sailing for what it was once more.
(Photo courtesy of Annica)
As if a great day out on the water wasn’t enough, we were invited to Nacho and Annica’s weekend home on the Rio Dulce for a nice home cooked meal later in the evening. They own a gorgeous open air home, set high up on a hill overlooking the river. Even though it was too dark by this time to see much outside, we settled comfortably into the relaxed and welcoming ambiance the interior had to offer. Our dinner for the evening was a to die for Argentinian steak paired with an equally intoxicating red wine, and as I sat there reflecting back on the day and how we’ve been instantly welcomed into all of our new friends’s lives, I couldn’t help but appreciate how incredibly fortunate we are, not just to lead the life we do, but to keep meeting the welcoming and generous people we do. I don’t know what we did to become this lucky.