After the LCP reunion part in Austin in late May the madness continued as we sailed off into the wild blue yonder on Bill Beilharz's 44' Beneteau Oceanis appropriately named Mirabelle ("wonderful"). Alongside Captain Bill (Overall Winner of the 2008 La Carrera Panamericana), the crew included Bill's fiancee Debbie Ties, her son Michael, myself, and the wild one from Australia, Miss Sarah MacKenzie.
|The motley crew: Bill, Debbie, Sarah, Kristin, Michael.|
|A sultry, humid, hot morning in Palacios, Texas.|
|My parents seeing us off on our joyful journey.|
|The sassy Miss Sarah from Oz.|
I had joked that it would be funny to see Bill going SLOW on a sailboat, as opposed to winning the Carrera or flying off a cliff like he did in his Studebaker in 2010 during a speed stage, rolling 9 times. Little did I know how similar our sailing trip would be to the trials, tribulations, adventure and JOY of La Carrera. !Viva La Carrera!
Returning to Austin after 7 straight days and nights of sailing, Sarah and I could not stop laughing hysterically and telling my parents story after story from the trip. Nor could we stop our bodies from rocking and rolling for days after we were back on solid ground. We'd hold on to the kitchen countertops to walk, feeling like the whole house was keeled over. My mom kept repeating in awe, "It just doesn't sound like fun!" Au contraire, mama, it was AMAZING!
There are a few who go to La Carrera to find it is just too crazy to extract any fun out of it. Most of us who love La Carrera have had "Carrera moments" where we were angry, fearful, exhausted, short-tempered, sleep-deprived, etc. I knew a rookie driver at the 2009 Carrera who exclaimed to me, "THAT WAS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!" This was the end of Day 1 (Tuxtla Gutierrez to Oaxaca) and besides the first day always being challenging in itself, it is the day when 50% of the crashes happen, and this one is also a very long and mountainous route. He was very angry and as he stormed off, knowing that his car had successfully finished the day I said, "Do you know how many cars didn't finish today?" I got a "Harrumphhh" in response.
Sarah and I signed up for a SAILING ADVENTURE and Bill, well, he delivered! In short, we sailed our asses off and made it 400 miles towards Cancun to the middle of the Gulf but
we were battling a direct headwind so it took us 4+ days to get that far and if we continued at an average of 4 knots/hr we would be 4 or 5 more days on the water to make the remaining 420 miles and we'd miss our flights home. Plus the autopilot broke and the boat was difficult to steer in the bigger waves so we turned around and headed back to Texas. We had been battling a direct headwind as well as strong currents and just didn't make the progress we thought we would. And a tropical storm was forming on the Pacific side of Mexico and headed our way. And if we continued to Cancun Bill would have had to fly home to Austin, get the autopilot parts and fly back to Cancun and by the time it was fixed it would be hurricane season and he'd have to leave his boat there.
So you are starting to see how it was like Carrera....and why we loved it.
Everyone got sea sick except for me; I have no idea why which meant Sarah and I got to do a fair amount of sailing and kept watch on deck almost 24/7 which was great but a little nerve-wracking at night when you have to avoid trawlers and abandoned oil rigs that aren't lit. We slept outside every night, which I loved. We were supposed to be in the bow cabin but it was just too bouncy and Sarah was plain old too sick to go below except to use the restroom. So I got to wait on her every time she needed something, which I was happy to do, as well as tease her about it later.
I learned a lot about charts, GPS, autopilot, steering in big waves (did you know the bow bounces in a box pattern?) and life on a sailboat. I loved all of it and would do it again in a flash! We loved the time getting to know Bill, Debbie and Michael and are grateful for the sailing trip of a lifetime. And Sarah and I....well....we did our thing being stoked to be together!
There are so many stories....too many to tell....some not fit to tell.....so I hope the pictures will do.
|A fishing boat as we left Palacios, Texas.|
|Captain Bill trying to sleep off some sea sickness.|
|Debbie cooking despite being wickedly heeled over. She's a pro.|
|Sarah helps Captain Bill gas up the diesel.|
|Our blissful landless view for 7 days.|
|Bill, wearing his PanAm shirt and sombrero, heading for MEXICO!|
|Debbie and Michael|
|Sarah takes the helm. Serious business.|
|Our patriotic Memorial Day parade. We sang the Star-Spangled Banner.|
|Our normal heel - pretty awesome!|
|Michael and Sarah|
|Bill working on the diesel engine.|
|Lucha Libre Racing!|
|A flying fish landed on Sarah and I one evening while we were trying to sleep! It was the most exciting thing that happened in DAYS!|
|Debbie and K|
|Where's Waldo? Look closely to find Sarah wrapped up.....as usual. It wasn't cold to me but for a girl from Brisbane, it was a little chilly at times.|
|Michael being serious.|
|Heading home and making use of the beautiful spinnaker......which unfortunately ripped about 4 minutes after hoisting it!|
|The girls working it.|
|Heading home with smiles.|
|More serious business, this was hard! And it's the only time I wore shoes, so I could get a strong grip.|
|Sarah finally felt well enough to have a drink.|
|Our GPS trail shows that Sarah did two 360s in a row at night while trying to avoid another vessel! Yikes! Good job, mate!|
|Michael being a pirate and drinking some weird English ale in a pirate looking bottle.|
|Sarah asleep on the floor - we took turns on the bench or the floor for 7 days.|
|Back home to Palacios, Texas.|
|Ahh.....the Miss Penny, in honor of my dear friend, Penny Goeringer Bristol, who passed in November of 2012. I love you, Penny.|
|Tired and happy as hell and back home in Austin, TX. Damn, I look just as tired as after La Carrera!|