Mary Made It

Locating a cruiser who lost everything in Hurricane Odile

As we waited anxiously for the hurricane to reach us, we heard reports on the Sonrisa SSB net, reports of destruction and of missing boats and people in Baja cities and towns that we've come to know and love. Then we heard about Mary, a 70-something singlehander on a Pearson Triton 28 named Iver. People reported seeing her before the storm, but nobody knew where she'd holed up and whether she was OK. Every morning people requested news and information about Mary.

Then, maybe two or three days after the storm, a boat reported VHF radio contact with her. She was OK, in a desolate anchorage called Trinidad, between Santa Rosalia and Punta San Francisquito . But Mary was stranded, her boat washed ashore, wrecked and dismasted. The person who contacted Mary reported that she didn’t want to leave her boat, it was her home. She still had hope that she could be pulled off and asked the boat to get a request for help to a port captain down south or to the Mexican Navy.

On Monday the 22nd, after we were able to buy fuel and get water in Bahia de Los Angeles, we headed south, with plans to stop and check in on Mary. En route, we got word that Alex and Sue on Maitairoa were also headed south, a day behind us. They planned to stop in Trinidad at dawn and to offer to take Mary and her things to Santa Rosalia. Mary would have to be willing to abandon her boat.

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday the 23rd, Mary hailed us from shore on channel 16, just after we’d spotted Iver on the beach. She sounded very happy to see and hear from us. I told her we’d be ashore shortly to introduce ourselves. I told her Maitairoa was on the way and of their plans to arrive the next morning. She was surprised and relieved. She now regarded her boat a total loss and was eager to be rescued.

Ashore, she greeted us warmly. She’d been alone on the beach with her cat, Banderas, for seven nights and eight days. But she effused about the beauty of the place. She said she had plenty of food and water and wasn’t scared, not even during the height of the maelstrom. She pointed to the top of a nearby dune, “I hauled nine gallons of water and some food up there, see it? It occurred to me on the second day or so that if some more bad weather comes, it could take the boat and then I’d have nothing.”

The sun was setting and I invited her back to Del Viento for dinner. "You could even sleep aboard if you'd be more comfortable, you're absolutely welcome."

But she politely declined. She was more comfortable aboard and she usually went to sleep at dark. I realized she had no idea of the destruction and loss of boats and life down south. I filled her in and she was aghast, she'd assumed her boat was the only casualty of the storm. She asked me for a hug.


In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at

Del Viento, Iver, girls

Del Viento, Iver, girls

The girls and I motored ashore just as the sun was setting, Iver on the beach ahead.Michael Robertson
Del Viento, girls with Mary

Del Viento, girls with Mary

The girls with Mary. The 50-plus year-old boat doesn't look too badly damaged in this pic, but her time is up. Toe rail and hull-deck joint destroyed at port bow, stanchions ripped out, rudder and stock destroyed, dismasted. With all of her keel buried in the sand, the expense of hauling her off from this remote, distant anchorage to tow and repair just doesn't make sense.Michael Robertson
Del Viento, Wendy, Mary

Del Viento, Wendy, Mary

Windy talking to Mary the next morning. We removed all her things that day. The yellow box on the stern is her sewing machine.Michael Robertson