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Monday, December 05, 2011

Banderas Bay Blast (11/30-12/2, 2011)

We were starting to have thoughts about lunch last Wednesday when we noticed a 65' catamaran moving through the anchorage at Punta de Mita. As long time fans of the San Francisco sailing rag, Latitude 38, we immediately recognized it as "Profligate" belonging to Richard Spindler, the magazine's founder and Grand Poobah. Richard drove the big cat up next to Nakia and asked us if we were interested in sailing with them to La Cruz for the first of three days of the Banderas Bay Blast. (The Blast is a charity event benefiting local area children who might not otherwise be able to attend school.) We said "Sure!" and scrambled to get ourselves ready while he waited for his partner, Donna, and the rest of the paying guests to be delivered by panga. Fifteen minutes later we got in our dinghy which was trailing behind Nakia. Richard backed the now enormous looking cat (with something like a 25' beam) towards us until we could hop onto the steps of one of the hulls. And so began three days of sailing on Banderas Bay.

Being so spontaneous, the first day held the most excitement for us. We met the rest of the volunteer crew for that day, most of whom turned out to be non-sailors out for an adventure. We also had our first introduction to the boat and how to help sail it. Richard was in charge of the helm and called out directions for whatever sail trim was needed, even as he shot photos of other boats for the magazine. Donna patiently showed us where things were and what to do for each maneuver. As the more experienced crew for that particular day we stayed on our toes for the downwind sail to La Cruz marina. John mostly raised sails and trimmed spinnaker, while I assisted with the main sheet and traveler, and generally went to wherever I was needed.

Richard had reminded us to bring bus fare for the trip back to Mita after the finish. We also had in the back of our minds the question of how we would get from shore to Nakia. I told John that's what made it an adventure and he reminded me that an adventure is nothing but poor planning. We knew that the last resort was a swim out to Nakia but we hoped for a ride from a fishing panga going out for the night. It was after dark by the time we arrived at the fishermen's harbor where we found a panga off-loading charter guests. The driver agreed to take us out to our boat. This is where we made the classic mistake of not negotiating a price before stepping into the vehicle. And maybe we shouldn't even have asked at all, but just jumped off onto Nakia and waved our thanks, because the guy wanted 200 pesos (about 15 USD). Considering Nakia was anchored right outside the harbor entrance this was outrageous. We gave him 100 and told him that was all we had as we stepped off the panga. He then moved a couple of boat lengths forward of Nakia, cut his engines, and proceeded to clean the day's catch. Even 100 pesos seemed steep for a trip he would have made without us aboard!

After we had made the recommended donation to the charity event on our first day, we were free to join the boat for the next two days of racing. Those days were a blur of new names and faces amid light air sailing tactics. We never got to see Profligate's full potential as our speed remained well below 10 knots. But John loves sailing on boats bigger and faster than Nakia and, even though the "racing" was all in fun, he enjoys the challenge and tactics of out-maneuvering another boat. On the legs from La Cruz back to Punta Mita and then Mita to Nuevo Vallarta we exchanged email addresses with new friends, some of whom we might be seeing again in anchorages farther south.

We'd like to thank Richard for inviting us aboard and especially Donna for making us feel so useful. I commented that it must get tiresome to have to go over everything with each new batch of crew, but she graciously replied that we had been lots of help and had made her job easier. It was great fun and we appreciated the opportunity to sail with them.

For pictures and more detailed reports about the Blast on 'Lectronic Latitude, start at this link and work forwards or backwards by date from there: