Tuesday, May 6, 2008

March & April Happenings in Mexico - photos below

Once again we have to start off with an apology for our tardiness in bringing everyone current as to what we’ve been doing. Guess what??? There’s no good excuse so we won’t bother trying to come up with some lame explanation.

Scott, Hillary, along with the very cute and always active Brynn and Callie, were here for nine fun filled days. Nick was also able to make it down from Charlotte for a shorter period. This was the first time we had guests for more than one night in our new condo. Everyone took full advantage of the pool, beach and other amenities that we’re trying to not take for granted. Things started off on down note when, due to his overly stressful retirement lifestyle, John got Hillary’s arrival date mixed up and so nobody was there to greet the little family at the airport. Fortunately we just happened to be close to the airport when Hillary called wondering what in the world had happened. From then on all went well and it was hard to see them leave us.

Next we were off to La Paz aboard Richard Spindler’s 63’ catamaran “Profligate” to participate in the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week. The SOC sailing week is an event started a number of years ago by Richard who is the founder, editor and publisher of Latitude 38, a magazine which has become an icon not only for sailors in the S.F. Bay area, but all over the world. Our sailing friends all know who he is so the introduction is for the benefit of others who’ve likely never heard of him. Richard’s long time girl friend, Donna, was also aboard so it was just the four of us for the next 12 days. We departed Puerto Vallarta on March 28 at 7:30 PM for the 350 mile trip to La Paz and arrived 36 hours later at Balandra which is an anchorage just north of La Paz. We motored the whole way with the big catamaran charging through the relatively light conditions at just over 9 knots and, with four of us on board, watches were only two hours long with six hours off so the whole trip was a breeze. Over the years, the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week died out so Richard and others put quite a bit of effort into reviving the event with an eye toward keeping it intimate with very relaxed racing and that’s exactly what happened. Everything took place relatively close to La Paz with four races between two different island venues in conditions varying from no wind to 25 knots. There were 14 boats with just under 30 people hanging together for six days, so we had the opportunity to make new friends and revive some earlier friendships initially made during the Baja Ha Ha. The biggest thrill for us was sailing “Profligate” in 25 knots of wind flying a huge Santa Cruz 70 spinnaker doing a steady 15 knots (even hit 16) and successfully executing a gybe. The catamaran was extremely stable under these conditions with the only real sense of speed coming from looking at the knot meter or looking back at the rooster tail wakes made by the two hulls. Richard and Donna were wonderfully entertaining hosts and the whole experience was fantastic for us.

Reality set back in when we had to make our way back to Puerto Vallarta. There are only two ways to do this trip via public transportation. One is by air which we deemed to be too expensive so we opted for an overnight ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlan and then a bus ride to P.V.. We’d heard horror stories from someone who previously rode the ferry saying it was impossible to get a cabin and the food was not edible so we made our way to the downtown ticket office expecting the worst. Fortunately there turned out to be plenty of cabins available and we’ve had worse meals in many places. The ferry is definitely old and needs more than a bit of sprucing up, but the always friendly Mexicans made us overlook whatever shortcomings might have existed. Our cabin was quite small but functional and what the heck, we were only there for one night. Unlike the Dawn Princess, which we took to Alaska last June, we were more than ready to disembark the ferry in Mazatlan. Unfortunately we had to wait all day for the next bus to P.V. and ultimately did not arrive until 1:30 AM.

Our next big project was getting the condo painted. Gilly was determined to do the place in, “real Mexican colors” but agonized for days over which colors to chose. She was buried in color books and paint samples with ever changing ideas about which way to go. John was of course no real help only indicating that he didn’t want the place to look like some kind of Mexican odd-ball circus. We found a great painter who did the whole condo for $500 plus the cost of paint/supplies and we think it turned out super. Others who’ve seen it agree and hopefully they’re not just trying to be nice. The condo is now about 97% furnished and decorated so that’s behind us.

Jeff and Adrienne Rogers were here for six very enjoyable days. The last time they were in Punta Mita it was a true adventure just to get here and the level of development was nothing like it is today. We think they walked away a bit amazed by what’s happened in this part of the world.

Early next week we’re taking Destiny to Chacala which is an anchorage 40 odd miles north of Punta Mita that we visited last November on our way south. This will probably be our last cruise before putting the boat to bed for the expected hot and muggy summer months. We plan to spend July through mid October visiting various places in the U.S. Be careful, we might show up at your place….