Saturday, March 19, 2016

Whirlwind Mexico Windup

As we rounded the corner at Cabo Corrientes the morning greeted us with this stunning sunrise.  That morning marked a turning point for us in many ways.  Besides marking the end of two months of relaxed cruising in beautiful mainland Mexico, it reminded us that soon our three seasons of cruising in Mexico would end, making way for a new chapter in our lives.  That turn signaled the beginning of several busy weeks spent preparing for our upcoming Pacific voyage, showing two sets of visiting friends around La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta;  burying a good friend at sea from aboard Moonshadow; doing Race Committee duty aboard Moonshadow for San Diego Yacht Club's 2016 Puerto Vallarta Race; a haulout for Moonshadow to get her antifouling bottom paint renewed; and a quick trip home for a last visit with family and friends.  

Soon after returning to La Cruz friends Richard and Dona, who publish Latitude 38 and host the annual Baja Ha-Ha, invited us up to their Punta Mita condo for a swim and some flying lessons with Richards Phantom drone.  

The condo's pool is right on the beach with a disappearing edge that seems to become part of the ocean.  

Richard let me try flying his drone and I was able to master the skills just enough to take the photo below.  This must have impressed him as he gave me the drone to take to the South Pacific!  We hope to provide some new perspective on our blog with this amazing flying camera.

We also went for a sail with Richard and Dona aboard their 63' x 30' catamaran Profligate, where we had a chance to catch up with old friends like Captain Jack here, and his mom Lisa Zittel.

Also aboard was Jeanne Socrates.  Jeanne (pronounced Jann) has sailed around the world.  Four times.  Solo.  Her last voyage was a non-stop circumnavigation!

Next up was a visit from Deb's high school BFFs Karen Kulp and her sister Kandis Pinnamonti.  We spent the week doing the usual stuff, you know... a rooftop dinner hosted by local friends and boutique hotel owners Chris and Cindy Bouchard...

...brunch and selfies at our favorite restaurant in Punta Mita Si Senor...

....Mexican sights...

... of course, dinner at Philo's Bar in La Cruz... at Sayulita...

...where Kandis held a clinic on how to get the best price...

...and (almost forgot) margaritas at a shady beach bar!

Next it was time to take an old friend for his last sail.  Rob and Lynne Britton were friends and dock-mates of ours at San Diego Yacht Club back when we cruised Legacy all the way from H dock to La Playa and back on many, many weekends.  The last time we saw Rob was aboard his ketch Aldeberan with Lynne in a cove on Baja's Sea of Cortez coast called San Evaristo. 

Two nights later Rob passed away aboard Aldeberan.  Lynne now lives aboard their ketch in La Cruz while waiting for it to sell.  Lynne has many friends, new and old, to keep her company in her new home of La Cruz.  Some of them joined us aboard Moonshadow for Rob's last sail.

We had a nice afternoons sail on Banderas Bay, which for some, like Fred and Judy who've circumnavigated the world aboard their boat Wings, was old hat...

...and for others this was their first time aboard a sailboat.

Soon it was time to say our final farewell to Rob, as we slowly lowered the flower filled basket with both Rob and his dog Ruby's ashes.

To the sound of Rob's favorite "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" by Gustav Hoist, the basket sank to the bottom of Banderas Bay, dozens of flowers floated to the surface...

...then slowly drifted downwind as our thoughts were with Rob...

...and Lynne.

Rest in Peace, Rob. 

Next, friends Barb and Greg returned for a repeat of the fun they had here last year.

Since Barb and Greg already knew a bit about La Cruz, we tried to find some new things to do, like flying the drone at Punta Mita...

...feeding iguanas in Sayulita...

...they seem to like bananas...

...body surfing...

...and a sail across Banderas Bay to Yelapa for lunch...

...followed by a quick drone flight to see the view tourists get from the para-sail rides.

But probably the best thing was the company of good friends.  
And Greg's famous Bloody Mary drinks!

For something different, we had lunch at the Ocean Grill, where you arrive by boat to the cliffside restaurant...

...and both the food and scenery are spectacular!

Sadly, we also witnessed the end of Rage, a beautiful racer turned cruising racer, that somehow wound up on the reef near the entrance to the marina in La Cruz.  

Being a wooden hull, Rage didn't stand a chance in the larger than typical surf on the reef.  
It was quickly apparent she would be a total loss.

As the effort went from rescue to salvage, many of the cruising and local community turned out to help recover what could be saved.

Soon it was time to prepare Moonshadow for duty as Race Committee Boat for the finish of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, which occurs every two years.  It has become a tradition that the RC team delivers a case of beer, chips and salsa to each of the finishers.

We motored out to Punta Mita to set the finish line between an inflatable buoy and these flags aboard Moonshadow.

Then we waited for the fleet to arrive at the end of their 1000 mile race.  

But first we hosted a small party for the entourage from San Diego, including the SDYC Commodore Doug Werner and his wife Pam, Race Chairman Steve Malowney and his wife Margaret, SDYC Director Jerelyn Biehl, SDYC Regatta Manager Jeff Johnson, SDYC Member and Sayulita resident Mike Satterlee.

John found the Race Committee duty to be a blast.  Unlike helping start races, which we've done aboard Moonshadow and Legacy before that for the SDYC Bishop's Rock Race which starts in Catalina, where once the boats have started, you're done; the finish line team must be ready day or night to record each finisher over the span of four days.

Of course, these days we had the benefit of advanced technology to help us know when these finishers might be on final approach.  In the screenshot below, we can see the progress of the entire fleet using YellowBrick's technology.  Each boat carries a transmitter sending data up to satellites, then back to earth which reveals their position, course and speed. 

Closer in, we could see most boats' AIS position on Moonshadow's chart plotters.  Here, Pyewacket and Sin Baba come into sight around the point.

For the competitors, the toughest part of the PV race is the last few hundred miles after rounding Cabo San Lucas.  Typically, the wind gets light and spotty, and this year did not differ from typical.  Some boats parked for hours in the lee of the Cape while others snuck through in the elusive zephyrs.  The lucky ones finished in the late afternoon on a fresh breeze.

Here's some video of some of the daytime finishers shot from the drone:

But for some, the wind at the finish had shut down almost completely so they ghosted across the line in the wee hours of the morning.  Amazing what some will endure for the chance to win a silver pickle dish.  But for the rest, there was a hearty blast from Moonshadow's tenor conch shell.  And a case of beer, delivered by Moonshadow's dinghy.  

Who can resist cold beer while watching the full moon rise?

With Moonshadow back in her slip at La Cruz Marina, John was looking forward to a quiet day with the possibility of catching up on some sleep after four days of RC duty.  Instead, Jeff called to say Mighty Merloe's owner and crew had invited the Race Committee for a sail. 

 Unless you already own a 60' by 60' trimaran that weighs 10,000 pounds and has a 90 foot rig, you are probably going to say HELL YES, I'll go for a sail on Mighty Merloe!  

It's one thing to pose around the aft trampoline for pictures, or squeeze down the hatch, which is like entering a submarine, to wallow in the spaciousness of this rocket down below...

... and its completely another thing to sit in the cockpit with the tiller in your hand doing 20 knots.  This boat is capable of sustained speeds in the high 30 knots range, which she did in the early part of the race.  Well, it's just like sailing Moonshadow.  Only different.

Here is some video of what it is like to be aboard Mighty Merloe:

As the fun and excitement of the PV race was still ringing in John's ears, the beeping sound of the Travelift at La Cruz took over, announcing it was time for Moonshadow to get her bottom repainted.  Nine gallons of antifouling paint, a new depth transducer, some shaft bearings and zincs and Moonshadow was soon ready to splash back into the Pacific, fit for the next several thousand miles.

Finally it was time to fly home for a last bit of face time with family and friends.  And for date night.  A chance to celebrate 42 years of marriage!

Whew! All this in six weeks.  The time has flown by, and now we're ready to cast off for the South Pacific.  As soon as we get all these provisions stowed away.  

Actually, we have a few more trips to Costco, Mega, and the local markets before we're done provisioning, but before you know it, we'll be off.  When that happens, it may be some time before we have internet and the ability to post pictures to our blog, but rest assured, our view will probably look something like this:

When we are on passage, you may wish to visit our blog to see posts we send daily while at sea via our SSB radio or our Sat Phone.  There will be no pictures, so we'll have to tell you what we're seeing.  You can also watch our progress by clicking the "MOONSHADOW TRACKER" in the top right portion of the page.  Our Sat Phone is set to send a data burst to the tracking portal every 8 hours with our position which will be plotted there.

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