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Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Pics

Here are a few pictures of what we've been doing lately (mostly racing AIRPOWER). We did two races: the Banderas Bay Regatta, and the La Paz Bay Fest.

La Paz Bay Fest crew

Here's the crew from the La Paz Bay Fest showing what place we came in.

Another view

Here's another view of the two spinnakers.

Two spinnakers!

During the La Paz regatta, Bob called the race commitee to ask if we'd get 'points' by doing a spinnaker change. The commity said we'd be penalized if we had two spinnakers. We countered by asking what it was worth if we flew both spinnakers at the same time. They were duely impressed, we got the extra points.

Airpower at the start

Here's a picture of AIRPOWER at the start of the Banderas bay Regatta.

Nikki and Ralph

This is Nikki and Ralph sailing their San Juan 24 near Punta de Mita. They run a bakery from thier home where they make pizza and wonderful bread.

Hitch hiker

We had a little hitch hiker while crossing Banderas Bay. This turn stoped on our chairs to take a break and preen.

Sea turtle release

Here is a baby sea turtle getting ready to hit the waves. Linda spent an evening 'launching' two sea turtles into the wide world.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mazatlan to La Paz

13 April 2006

Underway at 0500 from Mazatlan headed for La Paz. Passed a Carnival cruise ship on its way into the port. This makes number five since we arrived - Monday, the Mercury (is that Celebrity Cruise Line?); Tuesday, Holland America; Wednesday, both the Viking of the Seas (RCCL) and the Sapphire Princess. Plus there were two Baja car ferries in and out while we were anchored in the old harbor. Needless to say the Port Captain was too busy to talk to us on the radio, so we didn't really get checked in/out there.

Yesterday we took the Sabalo Centro bus (eight pesos each) all the way from the old harbor (where we were anchored) to Marina Mazatlan. We just wanted to see what it looked like since we've never stayed in either of the two Mazatlan marinas. It's surrounded by condo construction and there's no shopping within walking distance, so it didn't seem like a very nice place to hang out. In spite of its drawbacks (the smell from the sewage treatment plant when the wind blows in the right direction, being the main one) we prefer anchoring in the old harbor. It's an easy walk to the old part of town with the mercado, church, zocolo, and theater, and an inexpensive bus ride back to the boat when you're tired and loaded down with all your purchases. The Club Nautico charges 30 pesos per day to tie the dinghy to their dock and use their showers in the bathrooms (which are old and a bit rundown, so we shower on board). They will also arrange propane and laundry services for you, and they have a shallow draft fuel dock.

On our way back from Marina Mazatlan we took the bus to La Gran Plaza which is the largest upscale shopping mall (with a Mega as its anchor store) we've seen in Mexico. It has a movie theater and we must have passed at least two or three other movie theaters on the bus back to the old part of town. There is also a baseball stadium, but unfortunately we didn't make a side trip to see it this time. We like Mazatlan and can see the Marina area turning into a kind of Nuevo Vallarta when all the condos are finished.

We may end up doing a lot of motoring this trip, but will hope for some wind to sail. We're not sure if we'll go all the way into La Paz for Easter weekend, or stop out at one of the islands until the businesses are open again after the holiday. Either way we should be dropping the hook sometime on Saturday.

Linda and John

Monday, April 10, 2006

Banderas Bay to Mazatlan

9 April 2006 (late Sunday night)

We departed Punta de Mita this morning before dawn (7:15 AM Puerto Vallarta time which I think is 5:15 PDT). It was tough getting up in the dark for the first time in ages. Normally we wake up when it starts getting light out or just before sunrise, so having to use the alarm was painful.

Had an uneventful day motoring until 2:30 PM, sailing until 8:30 PM, and now motoring again. It was actually very nice to be the only boat out there with just the gentle swells, turtles, and sea birds to keep us company. We passed closer to the Tres Marias islands than to the mainland, but kept it mostly up the middle. At least one of these islands is a prison and you are required to keep clear of them. They don't keep the prisoners locked up since they are on an island out in the middle of the ocean. I was a bit concerned when I spotted a fishing panga and saw that the two fishermen were wearing orange jumpsuits (panga fishermen usually wear regular clothes and maybe a black garbage bag with head and arm holes cut out in the bottom to keep them warm and dry at night). I monitored them through the binoculars but they didn't wave for help or approach us so maybe they were out on a day pass.

We're almost half way there now, so we should arrive in Mazatlan by late tomorrow. We'll spend a few days there before looking for a weather window to cross over to La Paz. John may crew for Air Power again in the La Paz Regatta which is sometime around April 20-23.

Linda and John

Friday, April 07, 2006

Banderas Bay

Thursday, 6 April 2006

We were sucked into the black hole of Banderas Bay on March 18 and we're only just barely making our way back out of it.

We left Chamela at 6:30 PM on March 17 for the overnight trip to round Cabo Corrientes. Unfortunately it took us until 4:00 AM to break an average of four knots of speed - motor sailing! I'd look out at the ocean during my watch and I was sure that if I could only walk on water, I'd get there faster that way. It felt like we were wading through molasses. We finally rounded Cabo Corrientes on flat seas at 10:00 AM. This felt great until we remembered that we still had to cross Banderas Bay to get to Punta de Mita. We finally turned the engine off at Noon and sailed slow for four hours. Ninety two nautical miles from our start we dropped the anchor at almost 6:00 PM. Yeehah!

We moved into Marina Nuevo Vallarta almost a week later and tied up to a set of concrete pilings. This was a great deal. No dock, no water, no electricity - but only $7 a night. The two (unisex) bathrooms are nice and clean, and Juan, the dock master, is a very nice guy. John spent the next four days training with Bob and crew on Air Power, a J-41, for the Banderas Bay Regatta. He'd come home wiped out from a long day in the sun, and we'd go out to dinner more than usual as a result. It was non-stop busy and I didn't even have time to check email. It didn't seem like I was getting all that much done on the boat, and I know I wasn't doing much reading, but the time just flew. There's a huge amount of socializing here because it's a such a major waypoint on everyone's itinerary. When John wasn't racing we both had our teeth cleaned, ran errands, and even managed to see a movie (Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang). I got my haircut and bought three kilos of good coffee beans in Puerto Vallarta. I also walked down the beach one evening with some friends to participate in a baby turtle release in Nuevo Vallarta. We each got two baby turtles, set them down on the beach (well after sunset), and watched them slowly walk the 3-4 feet to the water. One of mine was especially reluctant to go, and kept turning around the wrong way, but it finally got swallowed up by the swell.

If you're wondering how the race went, Airpower got a second in class and third over all. We placed second in the first race, third in the second race and second in the third race. All in all a pretty good showing for a (mostly) inexperienced crew. John only had to apologize for yelling 5 times, so you can tell it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday we left Nuevo Vallarta, filled up on diesel and gasoline at Opequimar in Marina Vallarta, and sailed out here to Punta de Mita. Yesterday John changed the oil and we spent the rest of the day reading and doing nothing. Today we had to go back in to Nuevo Vallarta, but we struck out on the two errands we'd hoped to accomplish. We made up for that by having a huge shrimp lunch at Mauricio's in Ixtapa. For 110 pesos each (plus drinks and tip), this is the best deal in all of Mexico.

Now we're thinking about how soon we'll get to La Paz. We may end up skipping Chacala and San Blas on our way to Mazatlan. It will depend on how the trip goes. We're anxious to get "home" to Baja so we'll probably be on the fast track once we leave Banderas Bay.

Linda and John