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 tackle.

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 davits.

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 water.

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.




1 comment:

  1. This was a funny post, and I can really visualize the whole experience...especially the lady that says "Can we hang on?"....LOL I don't need to tell you beach landings can be 'Very' problematic, especially when trying to out row the surf in a balloon called a dinghy...LOL Like you said you conquered your fears, but I woukdn't want to make a habit beach landing in 5' surf...Hahaha Good story. :-)