I hate this term. I have been hearing it for years. Not sure why I hate it. It’s the name given to sailors who have crossed the Gulf of Tehuantepec in Pacific Mexico. This part of Central America is low and flat and the Caribbean trade winds come racing across and build up speed. It’s an unusually windy place. Check it out for yourself. Go on windy.com and put the Gulf on Tehuantepec in the middle of your screen. Three to four days a week it will be blowing 30-45 knots across there, and when that wind hits the Pacific it forces up huge seas which turn the southern swell backwards. Yep…..backwards. It’s one of the strangest weather conditions in the Western hemisphere and sailors are rightfully fearful of it.
Mucho ado about Nada!
Read any blog about this crossing and it’s all the same. “We were nervous of it, prepared for it, ventured out into it and bit our nails until we crossed it”. Yada yada yada. You see I can’t even find a blog that says they got hammered there because the weather information is so good that everybody waits in port on both ends and only goes when it is not blowing. The problem is the opposite of blowing is calm and calm means motoring! So we get all amped up for this “Crossing” and then we motor across a lake! Sailors are a tough bunch J
Ask the Captain
Along with the weather forecast we were instructed by every one we met in Mexico not cross the T peck (did I just use T peck in a sentence?) without getting the green light from the port captain. We don’t have port captains in the USA but in Mexico they are kind of a big deal. They decide who comes and who goes and you treat them as lords of the marina. I even told one Mexican in Puerto Vallarta that I was using Chris Parker, a well-known weather router for my route planning and go/no go help. The guy said “That’s fine but don’t go without asking the port captain”. I guess that makes sense since he sees the boats come and go for years and he probably has a sixth sense or sorts for knowing when it’s safe to cross despite the forecast models. So after we got the green light from Chris Parker I wearily walked into the port captain’s office. He looked up at me from his papers and I said “my weather router says it looks good to cross tomorrow”. He said “hmmm let me have a look”. Right there I waited to see the years of wisdom from his weathered face…..he walked over to his assistant’s computer and clicked on windy.com and looked up at me and said “yeah it looks good”.