One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how helpful cruisers are. Certainly, the Bluewater Cruising Association exemplifies this spirit, with its mission of helping folks who've lived the cruising life ("doners") connect with those who want to ("dreamers"). But we've found this desire to help each other outside of cruising clubs as well: Bob and Gay, the previous owners of Scream, have been amazing resources of information and help and have become good friends as well. Whenever we pull into a new port, we seem to find people with local knowledge who are happy to pass it on, and there's always someone there to help with the dock lines in a crowded marina. Helping out seems to be as much a part of cruising as complaining about the weather.
We've been the grateful recipients of lots of help over the years, but we recently had an opportunity to be on the giving end of this arrangement. When we left Ensenada, we planned to stop at Islas Todos Santos, only ten miles away. We were looking forward to an early afternoon on the hook, and were motoring in the very light winds toward the islands, when we saw another sailboat heading our way. They were under sail, and not moving very fast at it. As we approached them, they hailed us on the radio (in English, thankfully) and asked for some help.
They had been heading for Panama but had encountered some engine trouble and needed to pull in somewhere. Since they had been planning to bypass Mexico entirely, they didn't have reliable information about where anything was. We told them how to get to Ensenada, what facilities were available there, how to contact the marinas, and gave them GPS coordinates to the harbour entrance. They thanked us and were on their way, and we felt pretty chuffed to be sources of "local knowledge" after being in Mexico only four days.
After we discovered that our anchorage plans were not going to work out due to massive aquaculture operations, we decided to move on. Eventually, this turned into another overnight trip, which was fine and brought us to the lovely anchorage at Isla San Martín. But our day of excitement wasn't over when we turned away from Islas Todos Santos.
Just as we were eating dinner, we heard a Pan-Pan call on the radio from the US Coast Guard. Their transmitters are much stronger than ours, so we could hear them quite clearly. And they were looking for information on the very boat we had helped into Ensenada.
Steven called them on the radio, and tried to relay the information we had on the boat. We could hear the Coast Guard just fine, but our transmission to them was almost unreadable. It was so frustrating to know that we had seen the boat, knew where they were and that they were fine, and not to be able to be understood. Luckily, the commercial operation Vessel Assist was listening in and could hear us both just fine. They were able to relay our information to the Coast Guard, and we heard on the radio a few hours later that the Coast Guard had contacted the boat in Ensenada and that all was well.
It felt great to be able to help other sailors and this and other experiences just go to prove that no matter how isolated it may feel out here, we're never really on our own.