Hola! Como esta? This is me, Karis, writing to you from the s/v (sailing vessel) Salt & Light, currently in Mazatlan. When we first got to Marina Mazatlan, one fun and interesting thing that we noticed was a large steel hulled motorboat a few slips down the dock from us. It was a vessel that was being renovated so that it could be used by YWAM (Youth With a Mission) to reach remote areas of the Sea of Cortez. What was even more crazy is that the family who owned the boat lived in the bay area and even knew some of our extended family from the church that they went to! Through them, we got in touch with some of the other YWAM people, and learned a lot about their base in Mazatlan.
Most of the programs which YWAM runs start off at one of their many Discipleship Training Schools (or DTS, for short). These students commit to three months of training and classes, and then they relocate for two more months to do hands on outreach. When someone signs up, they can request to do certain things during their months of outreach, and among the possibilities, you could ask for time on their ships. Since the ship in Mazatlan isn’t quite up and running yet, they wondered if we might take some of their students out sailing instead of going out in their own ship. They could get experience boating firsthand, learn terminology, rules, safety, and some sailing fundamentals. We talked it over, and came to the conclusion that doing it would enable us to get to know some new people and force us to go sailing regularly. Those good things outweighed the work that would need to be put into getting our boat ready.
Our plan was to leave in the morning and motor over to Isla Venado, a small island just off shore, anchor near the island’s beach, and stay there until the afternoon winds picked up. At that point we would sail for the rest of the afternoon, and in the evening head back to the marina. It sounds like a long day, and it was, but the tides restricted our freedom concerning when we could enter and exit the marina. We thought it would be a good idea to do a trial run first before we took anyone else out with us, and so on a Wednesday we took off and had a very hot day.
There was no cloud cover at all until the late afternoon, and the strong tropical sun beat down on us, sapping sweat and energy equally fast. After we anchored we sought the relief of the water and all jumped in with our fins, masks and scrapers for some hull cleaning. We were all in the water for a long time, playing and cleaning. You’d never think that cleaning barnacles and seaweed off the underside of our boat would be so fun, but most of us really like it. We sailed off the anchor around four o’clock, and started making our way back as best as we could. Unfortunately, we were headed into the light wind which made it slow going. We got back late and had an easy, if unorthodox dinner of cereal before heading straight to bed.
Friday evening, the night before we’d be taking the group out, we had a considerable thunderstorm, which proved quite impossible to sleep through. We had made the mistake of leaving our windows and hatches open, which let a considerable amount of water in where it shouldn’t have been. In the morning, it was still raining so we were doubtful of how successful the day would be. Nevertheless the group showed up and, after making introductions all around, they climbed aboard and we promptly set out hoping that the favorable weather forecast wouldn’t let us down. Leaving the harbor the rain thankfully lessened and then came to a complete stop. As we motored over to the islands, Dad went over fundamental boat rules and expressions that are universal for both sailboats and powerboats.
Having spent much time in marinas or on the boat, I’m accustomed to the people around me having a more thorough understanding of nautical gear and systems than I do. As Dad began asking basic questions to gauge their knowledge level, however, I realized that I was at the top of the class. (At least I would have been if Toby and I had been allowed to answer any of the questions!) We reached Isla Venado, also called Deer Island, and anchored with little difficulty before cooling off in the water. After swimming and hiking on the island, we enjoyed lunch and a nap here and there. Eventually the wind picked up sufficiently for sailing, so we raised the anchor and introduced them to the joys and challenges of sailing for the rest of the day. Arriving back at our slip in Marina Mazatlan around 7:30, we were just in time for a vivid orange and pink sunset. Everyone was wiped out from a good, long day on and in the water.
Overall it went very well – everyone learned and had fun and got a little more familiar with sailing vernacular – but the real challenge will come next time. You see, in the next group that we will be taking out only one of the students speaks English. We’re not quite sure how all of it will work out, but I imagine Google translate and a lot of gesticulating will be involved. We’ll let you know…