Our lives before we left to go cruising were very structured. Each day of the week had a de facto plan. Usually, it involved an alarm going off at an ungodly early hour, followed by marching through the steps toward school (kids) and offices (me and Jamie). How we spent our non-working days was often mapped out well in advance, to take make best use of their relative scarcity.
Embracing less structure is harder than it sounds. Cruising is not a vacation, although to our friends on shore, it may appear that way on the surface. It's not all surfing the Pacific breaks or landing mahi mahi, or sipping umbrella-topped drinks before an azure bay. Far from it! Our days are very full. We have key boat maintenance that must be performed at regular intervals, and have our children's voracious appetites for learning to keep up with. In addition to routine boat maintenance, there seems to be an endless list of bigger projects for us to tackle. Then there are the fundamentals of life: preparing meals, doing laundry, getting provisions – all of which generally require quite a bit more time and effort on the boat-as-homestead than they did back on the grid. At the same time, we often don't have our plans from one day to the next specifically mapped out. Adapting to this kind of flexible "what shall we do today?" schedule has taken time for this formerly super structured family.
The primary schedule on Totem is the broad-stroke path of our itinerary. We deliberately do not plan too far ahead, but there are seasonal weather patterns which make many of the decisions for us. They determine the general region we are in, or heading for, at any given time of year. At a more discrete and daily level, weather patterns and forecasts often take charge of the schedule and determine our location.
We've recently had excellent lessons in the importance of this day-to-day flexibility. We crossed from the east side to the west side of the Sea of Cortez about a week and a half ago, and have been based near the town of Bahia de los Angeles. Our location has bounced between a few different spots. Overwhelmingly, we've ended up in Puerto Don Juan. Let me just say it's a good thing we really like Puerto Don Juan, because we haven't had a lot of options. The reality of the weather has made the decision for us. Puerto Don Juan has such near 360 protection from waves that it's considered among the best hurricane holes in the northern Sea of Cortez. With projections this past week for near gale force winds from a variety of directions (depending upon the forecaster), it's been a logical place to stay put- whether we want to or not!
With more time than we expected, we've explored farther than we might have otherwise. We've been hanging out with our friends on s/v Don Quixote, sharing kid oversight and outings. With 6 kids between the 3 parents (DQ's dad is up in the states for a work stint), it's like a floating village! We've followed a highway of coyote tracks through the big wash that drains the surrounding mountains. Walking through middens adjacent to the anchorage, the children could see fire-cracked stones, find cutting tools, and even spot a couple of spear tips. We've fished off the mouth of the bay, and enjoyed the bounty of the rich sea around us. We've found stone meditation circles on the top of the ridge above the anchorage, and marveled at the view from the highest point… a view of the whitecaps of the churned up sea keeping us fixed in the bay.
Trapped… hardly! It may not have been our choice, and we can't wait to get to the islands nearby- but flexibility is giving us some great rewards right now.