Posted by: Sailing Camelot | September 12, 2011

Aug 29th to Sep 2nd – Our first Chubasco!

A lot of boats -22, I believe- are anchored in front of the Village at Bahia de Los Angeles.

We are all gathered here for yet another Party, this time to honor the service provided by the HAM Radio Net Controller –of which Tom is one-.

Bahia de Los Angeles, we're baaaack!

A HAM Radio Net allows you to keep in touch with your fellow cruisers and lets you know where everyone is at any given time. It starts with a Roll Call; all cruisers sign in giving their boat’s name and call sign, their position, status and weather information at their location.

It’s a great service that makes everybody feel more secure, knowing that in case of trouble you’re not alone and youl have someone to rely on for help or assistance.

Every day of the week a kind soul volunteers to initiate and direct the Radio Net, acting like a traffic controller. Tom has the Monday shift on the Sonrisa Net.

The Net Controller Party is scheduled for Wednesday 31st; we convene at Guillermo’s Restaurant, right on the beach of Los Angeles. It’s a very nice and simple reunion, a chance to put a face to a voice, to talk about your radio setup and to socialize. There’s an inexhaustible supply of hot dogs with all the trimmings, pasta salads, potato salads, cakes and desserts., which
everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Tom arriving at the party

The days before and after the Party are spent visiting with other cruisers, exchanging books, relaxing and above all religiously attending the traditional Four O’Clock Swim. This is the most fun one can get daily. Everybody meets at someone’s boat –we all alternate being host of the day-, we park our dinghies behind it and jump in the water. There we float, swim, chat, laugh, catch up, exchange information, make plans and generally have a blast for about an hour or two. Or until we’re all “pruned up”, thoroughly pickled.

This monster was swimming beside Camelot just before our Four O'Clock Swim

The Four O'Clock Swim group, undeterred by the Whale Shark

He sure was a curious one!

He really liked to hang around our boat!

On Sep 1st a big contingent of cruisers, 20 of us, decides to go visit the local pizza parlor –called Pizza Italia. The place is owned and run by Mauro -a very nice Italian man from Rome- and his family.
We almost overwhelmed his place, I’m sure he’s never seen such a crowd all at once. But he stepped up to the challenge, serving excellent pizza, lasagna, bread to dip in olive oil. We all greatly enjoyed our dinners, and everyone walked away with one of Mauro’s wonderful loaves of bread.

As soon as it got dark Tom and I left the group to go back to the boat. Along the way we noticed huge clouds and some lightning activity on the far side of the Sea. Nothing too unusual, but somehow Tom’s instinct kicked in. He insisted on returning to Camelot in a hurry and I agreed, because I never question his gut feelings –which so far have proved right every time.

In fact, we barely had time to cover the distance from beach to boat, a little over a mile, when the wind started howling and screaming. Our very first Chubasco! For those not familiar with the name, Chubasco is a very sudden, intensely strong wind that also agitates the sea, occurs at night and can last from an hour to the whole night.

Nothing much you can do when that happens: you just put away everything that can go flying, secure your dinghy, check your anchor hold often and just sit it out, which is exactly what we did until about 3 am. We saw wind speeds of 45 knots, but gusts of 55 knots were also reported.

It was our first encounter with the feared Chubasco, and it was harrowing. We just sat in the cockpit nervously watching our surroundings and listening to the chatter on the radio. The rest of our dinner companions left the restaurant a while after us and some were caught by the wind as they were returning to their boats, so for a while the radio traffic consisted of
the same calls repeated over and over. “Are you guys back? Are you OK?”. Like a big family checking on its members. Everyone was fine, no one got hurt; the boats -the anchors-all held their ground.

Of course the next morning the boat was covered in dust, but that’s a small price to pay. I know it could get worse than that. I’m just glad we were safely tucked in a protected anchorage among friends. So, as a first Chubasco experience, it wasn’t too bad.

Friday Sep 2nd we picked up a few more supplies at the grocery store and I spent FOUR hours at the Internet Café’. It was a very slow and extremely frustrating experience. The Internet here is via satellite and it’s not very reliable, slow and often dropping the signal altogether. I’m not complaining, but four hours to load just one post of our blog tested my patience to the limit. So I gave up, which is why I’m catching up only now.

Until two years ago this small village relied on generators for electricity, and only recently it has been connected to “the grid”. As per cell phones, well, cell towers have been installed but not yet turned on, so there’s no cell phone service either. Again, I’m not complaining, just stating the facts. We came up here for the wilderness and have not been disappointed
one bit. Honestly, finding an Internet Café’ blew my mind.

Tomorrow I’ll get a chance to restore my fragile mental balance: we’ll be escaping to yet another deserted island.

Hasta luego, everybody!


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