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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Day Sail out of Punta Mita

Tuesday morning we prepared the boat for an overnight trip south to Chamela. When the breeze came up at 1 PM we scrambled to get underway and were soon sailing along on a gentle swell and a barely riffled ocean surface. It was perfect whale watching weather and we sighted five unique animals, two of which made repeated and relatively close-up appearances. I also particularly enjoy slow sailing on flat water because I can see very small things like jelly fish in the 2-3 feet of the water's surface. Yesterday's jellies were 4-inch strings of small beads which we call "string of pearls" even though we don't know for sure if they are the stinging variety.

The breeze felt a little cool standing in the shade of the main sail. We've had a variety of weather conditions over the past few days (or at least, what we call "weather" in Mexico where there is no weather to speak of during the winter!). One night we had a heavy dew fall and I was able to do a poor man's boat wash, wiping the boat down with a rag and wringing out dirt and saltwater with the fresh water provided by Nature. The next day was so cloudy and windy that I got cold sitting in the cockpit listening to John play his ukulele at sunset. The day after that was clear and sunny with no breeze at all, and noticeably warmer water when we jumped in for our late afternoon "swim" (aka bath). Tuesday's hourly recorded water temps in the log out on the bay ranged from 78.4 to 80.1 degrees.

As the wind slowly died John made popcorn for a late afternoon snack. By the time we finished eating Nakia was barely making 2.5 knots and there was no wind in sight. John got on the phone to Hoorah and learned that they had motored the entire way to Chamela the night before. Then he called Stan for a forecast, who confirmed windless conditions for that stretch of coastline for the next few days. We fired up the engine and, deciding that 2.5 hours of motoring back to Mita would cost less than the 20 hours it would take to continue motoring south, we turned Nakia around to head back across the bay.

All in all we felt it had been a pleasurable outing and we had no regrets about "wasting" a day going nowhere. So when we started passing small groups of dolphins I was over the moon with excitement because the day just kept getting better and better. The first few were busy feeding and didn't stick around to bow ride for long. But they were beautiful spotted dolphins, covered in white freckles and small in size. While we were watching for more dolphins a butterfly passed us and this time I could clearly see that it was a Monarch. Every evening before sunset we watch butterflies of all colors and sizes fly through the anchorage headed to shore. But until we were actually motoring at 5 knots alongside one I hadn't been able to confirm John's feeling that the bigger ones were Monarchs. I couldn't believe that something so small (as John said, "with a 2-inch waterline") was so easily passing us.

Another dolphin was headed for our bow and we raced up to see if it would stay longer than the others had. This was a big bottlenose which was joined by two more swimming right up against Nakia's bow just below the surface. As we watched them watching us and barrel rolling in our bow wave, we were fascinated to see that two of the dolphins had remoras attached to them. The interesting thing was how the remora would appear to lose hold but was actually sliding around the dolphin's body as it rolled through the water. We were surprised that the remoras managed to keep a hold of the fast swimming dolphins. One by one our visitors eventually peeled off until the last one surfaced to take a big breath (splashing my leg a little in the process), and then disappeared with the others.

The sun was setting, we had one more good look at a big, black, glistening humpback's dorsal fin and then its tail fluke, and panga fishermen were out with flashing lights in the water. It wasn't long after dark before we were threading our way through the anchor lights of other sailboats to tuck into one of our favorite anchorages again.


{GMST}20|46.026|N|105|30.980|W|Punta Mita|Punta Mita{GEND}