Blog post from Cary Kaczowka
15.12.85 N 96.46.23 W
Compass Course 115
Boat Speed 7.3
True Wind direction 162
True Wind speed 5.2
The past couple of days brought us to the end of the Mexican coastline and more than halfway to Antigua!
As I write, we are motoring in calm conditions, resting a bit after an eventful night passing through an acceleration zone by the Gulf of Tehuantepec (also called Tehuano wind). This is a reliable wind that pours from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific where the land mass is narrow and low enough to let it. With some very deliberate navigating the winds were manageable, ranging from 16-27 knots. We had some bonus swell left over from the previous day’s 50 knots of wind in the same area. Maiden held her own throughout the night, and I was able to see her reach and take waves that were quite reminiscent of those I first saw in the documentary – the same film that inspired me to apply as a mile builder.
Joining this boat for a leg has been an incredible experience, one I am very grateful to have been accepted to and was some combination of nervous and excited for. My sailing experience has been some variation of coastal racing and cruising thus far, and I had never been out of sight of land. Liz and company topped that the first day we left San Diego toward Panama.
I joined hoping to deepen my sailing experience, and while that has been a huge part of the trip so far, I’m realizing now that many of the lessons aboard Maiden aren’t specific to sailing and I am incredibly grateful for those as well.
The crew on this boat are a true team. Many of them have been working together for months in multiple countries, with assorted short term guests and under the leadership of various skippers.
As a mile builder who is joining this team for about one month, I’ve greatly appreciated having a well defined role and schedule to fit into. Our skipper, Liz, sets the tone and created a watch and chore schedule that divides work evenly, while the core crew also maintain their other duties (engineering, sail repair, rigging, media etc.). There were thorough safety briefings and a man overboard drill prior to departure, allowing the newest of us to get familiar with our roles and the crew.
At every watch change (4 hours per watch, with 2 people swapping out every 2 hours), there is a transition of what had happened, how the boat is set up (is there a reef in? staysail up?), and what is to be expected in the next few hours. The crew often overlaps long enough to chat or help with a sail change as well.
On such a confined space, there is no room for ego. I’ve been amazed by how talented and humble these women are, and how ready they are to teach you. Our skipper since Los Angeles, Liz Wardley, is no exception to the rule. She’s perfectly willing to jump in and do the same chores as the rest of the crew and goes the extra mile to double and triple check weather routing – all with a positive attitude. She’s currently cleaning the boat, and just yesterday she was in the back of the lazarette getting fuel cans out to top off our tanks!
I know this journey, which seemed intimidatingly long at first, will fly by and I will be back at my desk job before too long. It’s comforting to know I will have sharpened my sailing skills but also have experiences that will help me grow personally.
There’s no wonder so many people find a deeper meaning from sailing! You get the chance to be a part of a team bigger than yourself and learn much more than you expected every step of the way.