First Sail of the Season

Posted:  February 1, 2024
👁 1471   9

Peñasco – Isla Ángel de le Guarda

Jan 23, 2024

As our friends bid us farewell from the hauling way, tears welled up in our eyes and their cheers echoed in the air. Soon all that could be heard was the rumble of our Perkins diesel and the promise of wind whispering through our rigging. Once we broke out of the breakwater, we raised our sails, marking the beginning of a new adventure, with the vast ocean unfolding before us. Kessel’s tanbark sails decorated the distant horizon. Kessel sailing along the horizon

Avocet undersail during sunsetChris and I both intuitively settled into the places we heavily occupied in the cockpit the season prior, and while taking it all in Chris was the first to break the silence: “Well… now what?”  The answer, it seemed, was to embrace the chill after having such a heavy workloadwork, nap, snack, and repeat. So as we settled a little deeper into our spots, I felt the shadow of myself from 6 months ago wrap around me, assuring me that I would lose the high anxiety induced by the rat race, and that everything would be better than okay. 

Around 16:00, a whale breached just 20 feet off our port side, blending awe with a touch of fear. Although the mammals are majestic, I am terrified of colliding with one. Luckily, this sea creature decided to cruise at a safe distance beside us for a while before breaking off and heading in Kessel’s direction. As the sun set on our first day of sailing in the new year we reflected on all we had to be grateful for and how hard we worked to be in that moment. Almost as if the universe heard us, the wind picked up and laid the foundation for an incredible night of sailing under a bright nearly-full moon (that I momentarily mistook for our own spreader lights). 

Kessel Kessel Kessel Avocet I called to Peter over the VHF. Do you see the lightning off our stern? It was true, the clouds beside us were dark and ominous, full of electricity and rain that would soon shower me during my watch. Chris was the first to go off watch between 20:00 and midnight while I remembered how to create the ideal nightwatch “nest” as I did last season. Although the distant booms reassured me that the lightning strikes were far away, the light pitter-patter of rain on deck was only foreshadowing the squall we would be sailing into – well, motoring into.dark clouds while sailing

rain on the dodgerThe wind teased as it blew puffs of promising wind into our main sail, but remaining only puffs. I didn’t mind though, I found the sound of our Perkins to be a reminder of our endurance which would double as my lullaby during my off watch. Around 22:00 Chris popped his head out of the companionway to see me soaked like a drowned rat in my foulies as I was mid-conversation with Peter over how what we were enduring was a squall and I bet the strong and steady wind would die within minutes – which it did. Fortunately, a few hours later we got enough wind for me to unfurl the headsail and kick the engine off… but not before I broke the front LCD on our GoPro out of sheer excitement because I am a huge clutz. Luckily that was our only casualty.

Before I went off watch we passed Kessel around 23:30 with Cleo as my witness. I wasn’t even a lick of tired so I kept my music playing in my airpods and let Chris sleep a bit longer… or until he literally woke up and forcefully relieved me of my duties. Cleo followed me below deck and curled up beside me in our bed while Chris fought to catch the wind. 

Hola, Refugio – Jan 24, 2024

stars in the sky while sailing under the full moonI woke up at 4:00 am on the dot to Chris shaking my foot. “Your turn” he said while pulling off his foulies. He had nothing to report from his watch but more importantly mentioned that he hadn’t heard from Peter. As soon as I took place in my watch “nest” I radio’d Kessel and Peter, thankfully, responded right away. It was his first time single handing during an overnight passage, so he decided to do 30 minute naps every hour to keep up on sleep and keep an eye on things. One of the benefits of cruising together (and ahead of him) was that I could give him a heads up if a sail change was needed or if there was an obstacle to avoid. Luckily, it was just us out there. 

We were close hauled and cutting through the water like butter and would reach our destination in about 5 hours if the wind held. I reached into my pocket for my nightwatch saltines to appease my stomach while I queued up my favorite podcast. While listening to the soothing voice of Ashley Flowers (and Britt) talk about murders, I leaned back and took in the starscape that managed to break through the clouds and bright moonshine. 

Around 8:00 am I could hear the thumping of Kessel’s music from 1 mile off. Chris had recently introduced the boy to Eddie Vedder and ever since it has been a perpetual echo of Chris’s playlist. The jagged outline of land was off our bow, and I was so excited to explore somewhere new. Soon, we were entering the anchorage and there was Remedy looking as stunning as ever against the rough and wild landscape. The area was very reminiscent of the Channel Islands with dramatic mountains that seemingly plunged up from the sea with no graduality. “You made it!” Baron said from Remedy’s deck. We circled around as we said our hellos then anchored off in front of him in 20 feet with 3:1 scope. Peter was right behind us and anchored a tad further ahead of us. Our anchor was buried in sand after a long vacation in Peñasco, and damn did it feel good. However, the feeling of “we made it” wouldn’t fully hit until the following night – but more on that in the next post. 

Fair winds,

Marissa (and Chris and Cleo)



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  1. Nancy Sage

    I have truly enjoyed reading about all your travels, what an adventurous life style.Happy travels enjoy every day.

    Your grandfather worked for me several years ago at Brockton Hospital in Massachusetts.

    • SV Avocet

      Hi Nancy! Yes, he still speaks fondly of his time working with you. Thank you for reading about our travels! I hope you continue to enjoy reading my work – cheers!


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