Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another trip to Mexico

I'm a snowbird, I guess.  I like going south during the wintertime, so I went back to Bandaras Bay, in Mexico (Puerto Vallarta area) for two weeks. 
It all began when I sailed to that area long ago, and Altair liked the place so much we spent quite a few months puttering around happily.  Every day the winds come up gently from the ocean and breathe a warm wash of air across the sails and the shores, while any swell from far away storms laps and curls upon the beaches.
Bandaras Bay has the wonderful feature of having surfing breaks that are accessible by boat, in that you can anchor a sailboat right in front of the break, then hop into the water and swim in and surf.  I didn't go to many other surf breaks with Altair because the afternoon winds would make the breeze onshore and rough for the boat, but at a number of places in Bandaras Bay, the wind is offshore or from the side during the day, making it a great place to spend time surfing. 
So, when I emailed my friend Wes about going down to visit, surfing was on my mind.  It just so happened that record breaking swells were rolling past Hawaii and towards Mexico while I was there.  How nice!
The first picture is me surfing, and the others are Wes.

The trip didn't go all simple, however.  Wes' boat was impounded by the Mexican Government when I got there.  The government apparently came around and checked a bunch of boats in lots of marinas, looking to see if they had the proper paperwork, and in the event that nobody was on board, they assumed that they didn't have the proper papers.  Wes was not aboard, so even though he has the proper papers, he was impounded.  We eventually figured out a way to get out of the marina and go sailing, but the bureaucracy there is frustrating, so there is still some more to be figured out and solved.

There are some racing boats in the bay, and Wes asked me if I was interested in crewing on one for a saturday race, so I got to crew twice, which was a great time.  The boat was very fast and fun to sail, and we had lots of crew.   I think I could get into racing, except that I don't have the boat for it and in order to have that boat I would need to throw huge amounts of money away.   Still, it was fun.

 Here's a shot of me cranking on a winch...

 And a shot of the boat under the spinnaker.  Jibing the kite was neat, and I was on the foredeck, handling the pole and bringing it across, so I had an important role in it. 

 One of the guys had a dog onboard, and it was a cute little thing...

 Wes' boat, Tumbleweed, is a bit slower of a boat, but still lots of fun to sail.  We had a bit of a race ourselves, against Shamaness, but in the process, Shamaness got her mizzen halyard caught up in the top of the mizzen mast, so I jumped in and swam over and climbed the mast to retrieve it.  Here I am diving off to swim back to Tumbleweed.  It's neat to jump off a boat in full sail. 

Tumbleweed is a Tayana 37 Ketch, which is an unusual boat, since most of the Tayana 37s are Cutter rigged, but quite a joy to sail.  The mizzen provides an easy way to balance the boat and she will cruise along quite nicely given enough wind.  We had, however, not enough wind for most of the time while sailing, so we went slow. 
While in race mode we got out the spinnaker to try and kick some butt, and here is a picture of that said spinnaker.  It is a beautiful sail and fun to fly.

We spent a fair amount of time anchored at Punta Mita, one of the most picturesque places in the world.  A great place for a tropical sunset.
I am really considering taking Altair back to this beautiful bay to play around some more, possibly next winter.  It is a place I like to return to year after year.

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