We are currently cruising our Islander Freeport 36 sailboat in Mexico. We have been extensively documentating our Islander Freeport outfitting for this adventure. We will now be reporting what of our outfitng is of value, what works and what is not of value.
Daredevil Debbie and her Death-Defying Dinghy Ride
End of March 2013 – We were sitting in Chamela Bay
anchorage by the fishing village of Perula
Arriving in Chacala we anchored and then deployed our
flopper stopper. The swells were rolling in and pounding on the beach. Each “kaboom”
creates spray and makes the sand go flying. Our 36’ sailboat rises up and over
the swells as they pass by.
We raised the dingy off
the coach roof where we had stowed it for the six – seven hour passage with the
anchor windless drum. It went up and over effortlessly. We did struggle with the
block and tackle we used to connect to the spinnaker halyard. Next time we will
just use the spinnaker halyard as the windless does not need the block and
With the dinghy in the water, we are pooped from the passage
and all the getting settled and then the after anchor setup. We decide that
going into the beach was a suicide mission and hoisted the dinghy on the
The next day the waves were still bad but there seemed to be
some lulls in the sets. The waves were 5-6 footers. If we got caught in one of
them it would be a disastrous day. We may get hurt or worse. The dinghy is like
a big balloon and the waves toss it around like a big balloon. We have
experienced the wrath of the waves tossing us over in the dinghy in much
smaller surf and hitting the sand with a dinghy on top of you is, well it is
hard to explain. The waves are a lot more powerful than you can even imagine.
So we are sitting in the cockpit debating our strategy.
Wait a day to see if
the waves get smaller?
Row in and wait off shore for a chance to bonsai it?
Watching the waves crash on shore was almost enough to say -
no, this is crazy!
But Debbie decides, let’s go for it!
There are lots of locals in the water running, dodging the
waves, screaming and having fun.
We talk about if we get caught in one of the monster waves
we will could get a broken nose or real worse and possibly discourage us from
ever being comfortable going into the beach in the dinghy again. But on the
other had we do not want to live in fear.
So we “dinghy up” and Debbie paddles in by the breakers. We
sit and wait and try to look for the right moment. We switch so I am the rower because
I can power in better. We see the right moment and go for it. I row like hell
hoping we do not see a swell coming. It is a big distance because the surf is breaking
out from the beach aways. Row, row like
mad and Debbie sees the bottom. Debbie says I am jumping out! Our plan is
Debbie gets out as soon as she can then I jump after and we walk the dinghy in.
Usually Debbie gets out in water waist high or less. Then I
get out and we walk the dingy in the rest of the way as even a little wave can
toss the dinghy. Only the bottom was much deeper than Debbie thought and she
went to the bottom. I saw only the very top of her head out of the water - just
some hair. I look at the ocean as I am still rowing like mad and see a wave
coming. I bail out of the dingy like my life depends on it. The wave hits the
dingy, picks it up, throws it in the air and tosses it on the beach, upside
down.Some items that I forgot to secure
went flying into the air then surf. OK we made it alive. The kids on the beach
are laughing and pick up our stuff out of the surf, running in and out as the
waves come crashing in. We dump the water out of the dinghy and my heart is
pounding. Hay, we went for it and made it and the end result is all is OK.
Only thing that got ruined is our nice hot shower we took on
the boat the day before. We are both now drenched in salt water, but it is warm
Going back out was another cat and mouse game with the surf.
We waited with the dingy in hand. The dinghy was not easy to hold onto and
control even in the very small surf that comes up on the beach in these large
swells. When we saw our window we ran like hell with one of us on each side of
the dinghy. The distance to the first breaker is a bit far out because it was
negative low tide so it was a lot of running. Debbie dives into the dinghy when
it was getting too deep for to go any further. She gets onto the seat and
starts rowing (like hell) immediately. I keep pushing the dinghy out, every
second counts. I climb in as Debbie always keeps rowing - no matter what. She
cannot see ahead if any killer waves are coming - she has to hope we got it
right. After I get in and kneel up I can
then spot if a wave is going to flip us and say bail out!As Debbie is rowing like mad a lady in the
water and her kid ask us if they can hang on – “heck no” Debbie says. That would
have ended our try with a smashing dingy hitting the beach. Every second and
every foot of forward progress is of great consequence.
We made it past the surf and all the cookies we purchased in
town are dry. Yes we pushed ourselves and our fear and came out winners.
Needless to say, we needed another victory shower which we took at the boat.