Sad Times on the High Seas

It was a dark and stormy night filled with strange shapes and unsettling noises. Wait. THAT doesn’t sound quite right, that must be some other story. How ‘bout we hear the real deal.

Last Monday evening, April 26, we joined friends on a nearby boat for Happy Hour, tying our dinghy to their stern alongside their dinghy. Just about the time the sun set we took our leave and made our way up into the cockpit. Upon arriving there we stood dumbfounded staring at the water where our dinghy should be but seeing nothing. It was gone.

Conditions during this time were a bit sloppy. There was a flooding tidal current making nearly 2 knots toward the South as the moon was full and causing tidal swings near the biggest of the year. At the same time, the wind was blowing the opposite direction at 15 knots. As a consequence, the sea was sloppy and confused with small whitecapped waves. Which direction should we even look? South where the current would have taken it or North where it would have been driven by the wind? And, at the time of discovery we had only about 20 minutes of fading daylight left.

Even so, we did look. Right away we jumped into our friend’s dinghy and spent what little dusk light remained looking to the South where the current would have taken her. Of course, we saw nothing. Then, the next morning and using borrowed dinghies, I searched more. North about 6 miles to include Bahia Pichilingue and Bahia Falsa as well as South about 5 miles to well past where the estuary opens up to become a large, shallow bay. Nothing. There are a large number of fishermen operating here using Pangas and several of them were flagged down, informed and asked to pass the word. Plus, I checked all of the beaches they use for coming and going. Several times.

The Port Captain has been informed, the diving/tour boat people have been advised, the cruising fleet has been advised, there is an organized group of professional yacht Captains and they, too have been informed.

It has now been more than 4 days and our hope of seeing her returned wanes a little bit each day. Although, another dinghy that went adrift here recently was found and retuned about a week later so, it could still happen.

It is hard to express to anyone who is not a cruiser just what an impact the loss of your dinghy is. We’ve been surprised at the emotions we’ve experienced – so very like having lost someone close. Then there are the practical implications. Unless tied to a marina, a dinghy is your connection to every thing not on your boat. Provisioning, social exchanges, exploring, parts for repairs, etc. It’s how you get ANYWHERE. I could go on but you get the idea; it’s crippling and emotionally devastating.

Now what? The short answer is that we don’t know. At least, not yet. As remote as the possibility may be, she still just might find her way back to us so we are reluctant to commit to any particular response too quickly. And there are a number of options to consider. Although none of the choices are convenient or inexpensive, some are simply too expensive to contemplate seriously. In addition to the dinghy itself we are also out an outboard motor and a portable VHF radio.

So, we will leave it at that for now. Once it all plays out we will return to share with you the details. For now, we are in Marina de La Paz until May 15 so we have 2 weeks to make a choice.

On the beach at Bahia Salinas on Isla Carmen, Judy maintains dinghy security.

At Puerto Escondido, Michael heads north toward the “Windows”.

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