Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Archive for December, 2012

Three Days of Racing in the Banderas Bay Splash and Blast 2012

Q: How can two people living in paradise have even more fun?
A: Join the Banderas Bay Splash and Blast Dec. 11- 14, 2012.

Latitude 38, the “premier sailing magazine” from San Francisco, and their editor Richard Spindler, put on the Banderas Bay Splash and Blast every year. 22 sailboats of all shapes and sizes participated in the three days of racing, and many more sailors joined in the fun that started at Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta at mid-day Dec 11, and then moved to Marina Riviera Nayarit here in La Cruz for an evening of feasting on gourmet pizzas, dancing to a live rock ‘n roll band from La Cruz, and consuming numerous beverages (including tequila served by two gorgeous young women dressed in maroon cocktail dresses) in the Sky Bar overlooking the Bay.

The next day we were invited to join Craig Shaw and Jane Roy on Camelot, a 54 foot Hunter from Portland, and race the three days of the Banderas Bay Blast.


Despite all the carousing the night before, 22 sailboats lined up outside the Riviera Nayarit Marina entrance, with starts staggered at 10 minute intervals for small, medium and large boats. The approximately twelve mile course was a down bay, across bay, and back regatta. The winner was a 53 foot J Boat built for speed, with a giant spinnaker driving it when wind conditions allow. It’s name is Blue. Camelot didn’t fly the spinnaker Wednesday and still came up with some impressive speed, with sails tweaked by Craig, Nikk and Jane (and sometimes Jan, although I just try to do what I’m told and otherwise stay out of the way).

Big Blue

On the second day of racing the boats jockeyed for position again just outside the Riviera Nayarit Marina entrance, but this time the large boats were far offshore. Puzzled, we finally listened to the VHF and found out the larger boats were starting farther out because the last group contained so many catamarans, which don’t like to tack (change direction, which means changing the sails from one side to the other). Camelot hustled out to the midst of the other boats, and then we were underway to Punta Mita, on the north entrance to the Bay of Banderas, about eight miles away. That morning, it was as cloudy as an Oregon winter day, but considerably warmer, with not a breeze to be found. We assumed that by afternoon the wind would kick up, but no, still almost no wind. So the spinnaker was raised, and Nikk’s job was to monitor it’s shape, to maximize the ability of the wind to drive the spinnaker and thus the boat.


All over the world spinnakers are being designed as works of art and the blast had it’s share. Here is Tahnoo, with a Northwest Coast eagle. Is it Haida or Kwakiutl? (look at the bottom of this blog)

I’ve rarely seen the bay so flat, and the lack of wind finally forced us to motor the last mile to the anchorage near the Punta Mita Yacht Club, where we dined, drank, visited, and got paddled by Debbie, who initiated us into the Punta Mita Yacht Club for 10 pesos and the chance to get paddled by a rake while bending over standing on a restaurant table. All the funds from this and other donations go to provide school supplies for children here. The next morning we dressed up as pirates and after breakfast at the Yacht Club, were treated to the children dancing in traditional costumes. So it was gringos in not-so-traditional pirate gear, and Mexican children looking beautiful in their traditional finery.


Jan in a costume borrowed from Jane (do I look better with black locks?)


Camelot almost won the third day of racing, but was beaten just a mile from the finish at Nuevo Vallarta. We had a chance to take pictures of many gorgeous sailboats we passed as the bow slashed through the water and the sails were tweaked for maximum speed. What speed? Over eight knots much of the time, which is a speed that Balance sees in only perfect conditions. Of course Balance is much smaller, with a sail area that is like a tiny cousin to Camelot. Then it was a dinner at Vallarta Yacht Club in Paradise Village, surrounded by condos, beautiful gardens and plantings, and a ride back to La Cruz to our own little home once more.

Now it’s time to finish this latest blog and head over to Ana Banana’s funky restaurant so Nikk can eat ribs with friends (and I can have fish tacos or a quesadilla). We did shop this morning at the Sunday Market here at the marina, expecting to cook on the boat tonight, but plans change, so we’ll join Craig and Jane to rehash the three days of sailing and find where they go from here, then hopefully cook tomorrow night.

The haze has finally lifted after the strong winds of the past two afternoons, so I’ll leave you with a picture taken from the Sky Bar at the marina, looking over at Nuevo Vallarta.



En La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

It’s three in the afternoon, the blog is being written in the Ikuai Sailor’s Pub at Marina Riviera Nayarit, a beautiful marina in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a small village about 20 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. The temperature is about 85 degrees, hot when in the sun at 20 degrees north latitude, but perfect while sitting in the open-air restaurant with the breeze gently blowing. We sailed across the Pacific for 270 miles after leaving Cabo San Lucas Monday November 26, alternately sailing at 6-7 knots with perfect wind conditions, or having to motor because the wind dropped off to almost nothing. We were amazed to arrive on Wednesday at about 4pm, much earlier than expected. Our friends Jane and Tim from Midnight Blue gave us a forecast from their SSB radio before we left Cabo, and we checked out a website for wind conditions, but the combination of pressure, air temperature, sea temperature and some other factors that a meteorologist would know kept the winds constantly changing. Luckily, when I was on watch I only had to make a few sail changes from the cockpit while Nikk napped, and we both were able to sleep much more on this leg of the journey than on any other multi-day cruise. Thanks to the wrist bands with little magnetic bead, there was no seasickness, so I was able to cook, eat, and even read. Maybe it was the full moon that worked magic out on the ocean.



Last fall we helped Nikk’s friend Dick sail his boat, Que Sera Sera from San Diego to this Marina Riviera Nayarit, and we’d sailed from here in previous years while visiting Sayulita in February. The Bay of Banderas is about 24 miles across, and has wintering humpback whales that have just started arriving from up north. The juvenile whales will sometimes breach many times in a row, showing off their exuberance, perhaps, and often while sailing you can get close to a mother and baby whale. Whale watching tours come out from Puerto Vallarta, so we look for these boats because they communicate with radios about the whale locations. Supposedly a Spanish explorer came into the bay and was greeted by the natives waving bandanas, thus the name of the bay was created. Many cruisers stop here because of the beauty of the bay and the ambiance of La Cruz. We knew that this would be our marina home for a least the month of December. Our friends Dick and Mary Ann purchased a house here last year, and created a beautiful rental on the first floor, which comes with a soaking pool, huge tiled kitchen, and much more. They are completely rented for this season, but still have some weeks open for the 2013-2014 season, which runs from November to June. Check out pictures of their stunning renovations, painting, and art at this site:

La Cruz is not only blessed with marvelous weather most of the year (monsoons and sometimes tropical storms strike in the summer months), there are also many restaurants with mexican and italian food, including pizza, and live music (jazz, rock, country). We have gone out to listen to music on many nights since we arrived, and have also had dinner with friends at their home or on their boat. I’m thrilled that there is a yoga class at 8 six days a week in the marina lounge, and Nikk & I are taking a beginning Spanish class Monday and Wednesdays also at the marina lounge.
We learned so much the first day that our heads hurt, and that was just going over the different forms of To Be, one for description, one for location, and many adjectives.

So 2200 miles of sailing done since we left Portland September 11, we still feel like pinching ourselves when we look around and realize that we are truly tied up in paradise. Here is a picture of the marina to end this blog post.



Scenes from Cabo San Lucas





The view of hotels and beautiful beach from our anchorage





Scenes from Bahia de Santa Maria


Nikk paddling with Balance and Midnight Blue anchored in Bahia de Santa Maria.


Fishing and lobster-growing camp in the estuary


Ethereal Little Blue Herons (white is immature, blue is mature) in the estuary


Weird spider (anyone know what this is?) that captured a yellow butterfly


Reddish egret and Western Gull having a standoff over a fish in the mud


Beautiful succulent that looked like an orchid


What will this become???


The cave that was a tempting resting spot


Looking across Bahia de Santa Maria to the white sands and Bahia de Magdalena in the distance.

A Visit From a Red-footed Booby

So far three birds have rested on Balance, and the latest was the most surprising. On November 21, as we were crossing from Cabo San Lucas to the Bay of Banderas on the Mexican mainland, a booby joined us, and perched on the bow pulpit, where it proceeded to groom itself for four hours while clutching the rail with its webbed feet. Since I’ve only seen Brown and Blue-footed Boobies before, I was extremely puzzled, and kept checking the bird books on board. Finally, it moved a little, and I was able to see red streaks on its feet. A Red-footed Booby! Probably a juvenile, which I thought was appropriate, since it was grooming itself for so long. It was pulling out it’s chest feathers, so I think it was molting. In the Petersen’s Mexican Birds, I read that these boobies are spread out on tropical waters, and breed on islands. Isla Isabella, which we hope to visit in January, is a protected island where many birds breed, located north of our location, and perhaps this booby was born there. If the interent connection permits, I’ll attach a picture. If it doesn’t work, then the readers can consult the internet for a picture. These kinds of sightings and visits are one of the joys of sailing. The booby left right at sunset, since they are night feeders, and we bid him goodbye with wishes for good luck snapping up fish and squid.


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