Totem’s interim normal

A new rhythm patterns our secluded life as Totem floats off the cinder-strewn cone of Isla Coronados. Calling this the new normal feels premature, but it’s an interim normal with the a heartening return of an anticipatory routine. For all that our world is built on adapting to new situations, that an uncertain future no longer leers with constant reminders of the unknown but is pushed instead to the fringe of consciousness brings comfort. Murmurs of this swing burble in our world, and echo outside.

Mairen and Siobhan, dolphin-spotting on the way to the anchorage

A few days ago, we made our first visit to a community since leaving La Cruz in March after learning about weekly deliveries to the Loreto town dock by a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Supporting local farmers while accessing fresh produce and minimizing exposure risk? Yes please! This is a win/win/win situation.

We dinghied into Loreto’s town dock one month to the day since Totem‘s arrival in the area, and as a new process to slightly ease restrictions for cruisers was put in place. Non-residents, ourselves included, had been barred for some time. The new process allowed individual access, and begins with calling the port captain on VHF 16. Paramedics are brought in (ambulance roll, even – mixed feelings about the resources involved) to do provide a temperature check at the dock, and the port captain records the boat name and all passenger names. Once cleared, you’re able to enter town for essential activities: the grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and a number of other services are open. The town remains otherwise in lockdown mode; only one person per household may be out at a time.

Calling the trip into Loreto for produce a “visit” might be an overstatement, since I never actually set foot on shore. Nevertheless, the health check was done for the half dozen crews arriving to pick up our crates of CSA produce.

Cecilia Fisher lives locally and has organized the connection between farmers and buyers to the benefit of all. “Those eggs were in a chicken this morning,” she related proudly, while reviewing the contents of creates with the crews on the dock. Grown in the shadow of a 320+ year old mission in the cooler altitudes of Baja’s Sierra Giganta, the fruit and vegetables are beautiful. She was accompanied by the senior of eleven farmers who contributed from their land, who humored me by posing next to the goods.

As limited as this excursion was, the encounter was oddly tinted with emotion. It’s a very strange feeling to be around people after so many weeks of relative isolation. Boats we’ve been in our ‘bubble’ with for three or more weeks are familiar, but… who is the new guy? Why doesn’t the port captain wear a mask? Next he’s handing me a clipboard and pen to register (no gloves in sight either) and passing that around? Who washed their hands, when, and well enough? We haven’t had these concerns, off on our own.

The elastic which should hold my N95 mask on has long since crumbled away: an old t-shirt is cut into a tie to hold the contraption on. Not just any rag, but my lucky shirt (stop…I do have one!), a relic of Google swag from about 2004. It’s finally falling apart (literally) so this seemed like an appropriate use to continue the lucky run.

Some fine humans to socially distance with!

Once produce was boarded through our decontamination process from side-deck-hot-zone to cockpit-clean-zone, we headed north to retreat to a favorite anchorage. In the Loreto park island of Coronados, Jamie and I balance connectivity with isolation with a few scattered boats.

Sure, I could have posted the cropped shot of boat + view. Going for “real life” with tarp over hatch, laundry on lifelines, and messy cockpit!

Only a few twinkling lights reach through the gloaming from Loreto, but the cellular signal extends out 24/7. Aside from staying tuned into updates, this allows us to keep in touch with coaching clients.

Loreto’s official government page on Facebook: confirming Federal suggestions they may be relaxed are not in step with local needs.

To our pleasure and surprise, we’ve never been busier. April was slow, but that holding pattern is over. Why the surge?

It’s partly a function of adding new clients, as the pandemic has nudged people to make meaningful changes in their lives. Life is short: why put off a dream any longer? They are making plans and putting offers on boats.

It’s partly a function of aiding legacy clients, as they face unexpected passages and decisions. In addition to helping people go cruising, we support them after cutting docklines. Our days are taken with strategy, passage planning, weather guidance, and routing; many are working through unexpected change, planning for miles they never intended to sail and passages they never intended to make.

Life has settled into a kind of busy, interim normal. As a friend reminded me today: for us, “normal” means anticipating and planning for the unexpected, and at this point the rate of change is at a new low compared to recent months. Thrilled by the CSA, we prepaid for future weeks of produce. Warmed by the company of social-bubble-companions, we’ve emerged from the total isolation into a hybrid of retreat and new routines.

Siobhan and Mairen, pulling out beachcombing finds to paint on a sunny afternoon. OK, all afternoons are sunny here!

Interim normal: where morning workouts are shared via Zoom with friends in multiple countries. Freedom to stretch a little further, encouraged by visits from the local Navy – their pre-recorded PSA reminding “Citizens, stay at home!” while twinkling eyes over a mask suggest the water looks good for a swim…or as Siobhan interprets, a paddle, over clear water to visit with turtles and spy gliding rays.

Workout with motivation via friends on Zoom: good for the mind and body.

TOTEM TALKS return next weekend!

Saturday, May 23, 5:00 pm Pacific / 8:00 pm Eastern; advance registration required. Focus topic: ANCHORING, by popular request.

Meanwhile, download or replay last Sunday’s event.The replay will be available for all registrants (you can still register at this link) for a few more days. You’ll need this crazy looking password:

Make us part of your interim normal: register at our Events page to be notified of future events. (If you didn’t get the survey, you can still tell us what you want to hear about!).

Lunchtime for dolphins: a feeding frenzy in front of Bula.
Cards in the cockpit on a random afternoon…
Oh hai Turtle!

16 Responses

  1. Hi. Following the different responses to this lock down. I cannot understand what all the gripe is about. With the present restrictions in our area. You do not have to go out to do the shopping, it is brought to you and you do not have to do the cooking or dishes. You can always tell some one to keep their distance. [ that’s the law ]. You don’t have to go out and you can work from home in your dressing gown. Just remember to wash your hands [ Mom said that years ago ]. Take care and enjoy the good life.

    1. I hear from home about widespread disregard for the law – people just lack the common sense and respect. I’m glad not to have to be face-to-face with them, literally.

  2. Yet with the high cases in Cabo San Lucas the hotels are 80% booked and ready to open June 1st. The virus is never going away and will probably spread more. Someone needs to come up with a different plan that taking temperatures and distancing. People must work to survive so staying home to starve isn’t an answer either. It’s so depressing knowing there is no good solutions at this time.

    1. It will bring another wave to Cabo, I assume, although perhaps the radical drop in travelers will help mitigate it? We’re living out a giant experiment right now.

  3. Thank you for reminding us that things have changed even in the cruising world. Coronado was one of our favorite anchorages with Loreto WiFi a plus. Glad you can still help cruisers and that people are still making decisions to get on board, literally! At times and at a distance in photos, your girls sure look like you – so grown now.
    Is Niall off working again for the summer?
    Our travel plans also in flux but we go day to day.
    Thank you! Again for sharing your life.
    Linda 🌵 Bill

    1. Niall is currently under quarantine at a friend’s (empty) home, and will soon move in with my dad for the summer. He’s hoping to start work again at UnCruise in July, but it remains to be seen!

      1. So glad we are able to help out with Nialls quarantine! I’m sure your Dad will be so happy to be reunited with him! We’ll be happy to be back home after being in SOCal since February.
        Safe travels to all of you!

        1. So grateful to you and Ray, and Tracey for connecting dots and making sure our boy had a stocked fridge (and Jim for making sure the newly minted 21 year old could have a beer now and then too!).

  4. Just arrived back on Bainbridge after leaving our boat in Guam. No real lockdown there but people were observing mask wearing more than what I saw when we landed in Seatac, strange eh? I am back at work at the Bainbridge Swedish Primary care clinic. We are still seeing about 5 people a day in the parking lot for evaluation of Covid like illness. Unfortunately as we all know the testing is not conclusive, ie false negatives. Often it still looks like they have the virus but does not go as a recorded case, they go home to get better. Point is, it is still out there! I am concerned about the 10-15% or people in stores etc who feel entitled to refuse to wear masks, knowing they may be putting others at risk. What is it with our country anyway?

    1. It’s a good question Rob. Not going to lie: glad we don’t have to face that on a daily basis. Pun not intended! Thank you for doing what you do.

  5. Part of me wishes I was in quarantine on my boat some place exotic, and I’m going a bit crazy wanting to get to my own boat. Last night I had a dream about my boat. Was I sailing in some exotic place? Nope, I dreamed I was in a chandlery to get some parts to fix my boat and ran into Jamie. I introduced myself and told Jamie that I followed your YouTube channel… apparently in my dream you did YouTube videos rather than a blog. We then had a conversation about my boat.

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