It’s a rare moment when being splashed in the face with salt water makes you lean in for more — but when the culprit of the spray is a dolphin, it’s one of those times. Our first day at sea and I was laid out across the front of the catamaran watching dolphins twisting beneath the surface of the deep blue water and periodically jumping from the water inches from my face. In the hours since we had left the boat-filled Zihuatanejo harbor we had seen multiple pods of dolphins, passed three whales, caught a stunning skip jack tuna and seen heards of sea turtles glide past the boat.We were being spoiled, Lauren and Seth assured us as the tuna was being cleaned. Between the majestic marine life and the calm seas it made our first day adjusting to cruising seamless. Other than the slightly more intensified rocking and the interruptions of someone hollering with excitement anytime they spotted a jumping dolphin, life was pretty much the same at sea as it had been in the harbor. Occasionally sails needed to be put up or taken down, at which point Seth, who grew up sailing, gathered us around to give us lessons on raising the sail or adjusting the angles. There is also much to be learned about the GPS, autopilot and radar features on the boat. Bob teaches us how to steer the boat, both by adjusting autopilot or turning the classic silver wheel in the center of the cockpit. These are all things we must learn before our first solo night watch. Also how to stop and start the engines, speed up or slow down, and what to do if there is an emergency: wake up Bob.
When we’re not following someone around to try to learn as much as we can about the process that is underway, helping with cooking or cleaning, the rest of the time is ours. It feels like we have much more free time now that we are away from the port and activities such as swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding and going into town are no longer an option. But sadly busy days aren’t the only thing we parted ways with in Zihuatanejo. Maca, our Chilean sweetheart, decided to switch boats to continue the rest of the trip south. She has a flight booked out of Costa Rica so joined a boat that was leaving the port sooner and planning on making a faster journey. So now heading south on VIVA it is just six of us, Bob and Charlene, Seth and Lauren, and Laina and I. Being constrained to a 44 foot vessell, concerns about crew dynamics were one of the many leaps of faith we had to take when we joined them, but so far the group seems to be a seamless fit. Our spare time is spent reading, playing cards, practicing Spanish, learning more about sailing and just staring out at the sea waiting to see the skyline be broken by the silhouette of a dolphin.