2016 Banderas Bay Regatta

After being in and around Chamela bay for nearly a month and a half doing my thing, a weather window availed itself for us to have a nice smooth sail North around Cabo Corrientes, back in to Banderas Bay with the goal of participating in this years 24th annual International Banderas Bay Regatta. I arrived a few days early, so I spent some time gorging on some great surf that was happening in Punta Mita. It was there that I met Jim Milski on the 49′ Schionning designed catamaran that he built himself, circumnavigated the globe with and was now for sale. I offered him to trade for C2F, but he’s still thinking about that offer…😉 I will say, it is very inspiring to be hanging out with a 70 year young, energetic surfer that also lives onboard his awesome catamaran. After a few days, the great swell disappeared, the wind picked up, and it was time to prepare for the regatta. 

I wanted to get a slip so I could unload some of the heavy stuff that goes along with day to day living on a boat, so I aimed for Paradise Village Marina, which is where all the parties for the races were to be held, and is closest to the starts for all three days. Once I finally got within radio range, while still sailing downhill at 10-15 knots, I learned that there was no room for us right then, but by the morning, they would have a space available. So we changed course and headed over to the La Cruz anchorage wear we spent a restless night in big winds and a new swell developing, worried about dragging anchors. Just before nightfall, I noticed two other boats that appeared to be anchored very close to each other, but with two dinghies tied to the stern of the upwind boat, I figured it was just a party. A little later, I saw the upwind boat reanchoring, directly in front of me…😬, confirming my initial suspicion that they were dragging when I first noticed them. Luckily, every time I poked my head up for a look around in the night, everybody appeared to be holding fast. 

The next morning as I was approaching the shallower water of the bay near the beach bar, entrance channel, I suddenly became aware of the giant swell that had been forecast to show up. I knew it was going to be an exciting entrance in. The breaking waves were huge! And of course, I had just been reading about a catamaran in Hawaii doing the wrong things in a similar sand bar situation and ending up on the rocks. Knowing this could be quite challenging, I moved the dinghy I had been towing up onto the forward net, and studied the patterns of the breaking waves before moving forward with caution. With dagger boards half up, and my best guess as to a break in the wave sets, I gunned my two trusty Yamahas and surfed a medium sized wave far up into the channel at 14 knots! If I wasn’t quite awake yet, I sure as shit was now!!!

As part of the tradition of the Regatta, Thursday’s race number one was preceded with a costume parade out of the harbor. The theme was “loving cruising in Mexico”. Single handing Cat2Fold, we weren’t about to get involved in a bunch of dressing up, but I do have a pretty groovy Lucha Libre mask that garnered me an honorable mention. 

Out on the course, the wind was building. I was psyched! All weather signs that I had referenced, led me to believe we weren’t going to see above 6-8 knots, and Cat2Fold isn’t particularly great in light winds.  In the end, it became apparent that we had some competition in our category. S/V Catatude, a well sailed 1994 Lagoon 42 sailed at an amazingly similar rate of speed. I think I beat them to every mark, but not by a lot. In the end, I crossed the finish line far enough ahead to still win on corrected time! Hurray! First line honors and bullet for Cat2Fold and I. 😄⛵️

On day two, the long race, somehow Catatude sped up. We came into every single mark at exactly the same time. Sailing completely different angles sometimes, while at other times,  it was only a matter of inches keeping our boats apart. Things were going well enough for me, until the wind built to a point where I had my own personal battle with my headsails. In hindsight, I should have just abandoned them, but instead I wasted a ton of time trying to save time, while Catatude sailed away perfectly towards the finish. Luckily, I was able to get my shit together and give them an honest to goodness chase, catching them at the leeward mark, turning inside of them and beating them to the finish line by 37 seconds. On corrected time, our 37 second lead turned into a 27 second victory for them. 🙁 Close, exciting racing to say the least! Catatude and Cat2Fold would start off Saturday’s final race tied for first place! Winner takes all!!! Not only was the racing incredibly close in our category, but there were many ties for first place in all the other categories. The performance cruisers had a 5 way tie for first, and in any of the categories, any given boat had the chance to win. 

So on Saturday, after so much incredibly close racing, I still can’t really say how or why Catatude was able to beat us to the weather mark so badly, and then in total panic mode, continued to build the lead to the point of reaching the first La Cruz mark 7 minutes and 21 seconds before me. Wow! I thought for sure our weekend was done. I watched helplessly as Catatude tacked back out into stronger winds aiming for the upper mark only 2 miles up the beach. I wanted to cry. But, we didn’t give up. It’s a long way back to the start/finish line, I thought. Knowing that if we just followed their move and tack out to sea, I would just continue to watch them sail away. So, we played our wild card and worked the fluky winds along the beach, which had a more direct line to the next mark. As we slowly sailed and drifted straight towards the mark, I could see Catatude, and many other boats, were dealing with very shifty winds with holes of no wind developing here and there. My spirits continued to lift. It was appearing to be the most amazing strategic sailing move I’ve ever been involved with making. Reaching the mark first, while visually being able to see Catatude still struggling to get moving again, I was unable to control myself and I let out a primal screem from deep within that could be heard for miles! We had perfect reaching conditions all the way back to the start and ended up crossing the finish line 34 minutes ahead of my competitors. 😄🏁⛵️

The after party was spectacular! Tons of amazing food! Drinks! And music by Luna Rumba!!! The winners of each category received trophies and bottles of champagne. Our bottle was gone before the band stopped playing. I was the only person to single hand the race and most folks thought that was kind of a big deal. Knowing just how easy Cat2Fold is to sail alone, I just chuckle and let them think I’m a bad ass, when really I’m just enthusiastic and incredibly lucky. 😉

I stayed in the bay for another couple of days afterwards, but have since returned to my favorite hang out, Bahia Chamela to hang out with my new Swedish friends. 

More soon!

Sailing, cruising, racing…it’s all WORK! (…and I love it!!!)

I seem to be continually amazed at the dogged determination necessary to keep things ship shape aboard Cat2Fold without getting stuck in a location for weeks and weeks. When I arrived in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle on Monday 1/12, I desperately wanted to have new gudgeons made up to replace the ones I “enhanced” this past summer. My rudders were clunking badly because of the hack job done by the backwoods mechanic I used in SE Idaho… (oh wait, that was me). I found a machine shop within walking distance of the anchorage, and after communicating as clearly as I could, what I wanted done, the pieces were ordered and I was told they’d be ready at the same time, next day. I could hardly believe they would be done in 24 hours.Well, my hunch was confirmed as mañana turned into mañana mañana, etc…

In the meantime, I had come up with a fun idea to switch my masts which I had mistakenly raised and installed in the wrong hulls up in San Carlos. Clearly, they worked fine in the hulls they were in, having sailed over 600 miles with it configured as such, but my lines were not falling where/how they should, and I really wanted to have everything perfect aboard Cat2Fold. I talked with Rigo aboard s/v Heavy Metal and told him my idea. Heavy Metal is a 60′ aluminum monohull with a very tall mast. There was a slip available just to the side of him. If I could get Cat2Fold into that slip, I could use his mast as a crane to lift my masts out, lay them on the dock, and re-install them correctly. I could also install my rudders in the relative calm waters of the marina rather than in the swelly anchorage. Plus, there was a dock party planned for Friday night.

So… early Friday morning, driving Cat2Fold like a skid steer, I motored the rudderless vessel into the slip next to Heavy Metal. The clock was ticking. I had ALOT to do before Saturday’s race which was slated to start at noon. First stop was into the Marina office to pay for the slip and make sure that where I parked would be fine. Next, I had to walk over to the Capitania de Puerto’s office and check in with them. This is something I’m technically supposed to do even while staying in the anchorage, but I generally avoid all the checkin/check out BS, and just keep moving often (like nearly everyday).

After checking in, I headed straight up to the machine shop. The gudgeons were ready to go, but the rudder boxes, and some plastic bushings are not ready. I sat in the loud dusty shop for over an hour, then decided I didn’t have time to wait. I took the gudgeons with me, and made plans with Jorge to drive the rudder boxes down to my slip. I got the gudgeons successfully mounted to the boat, and simultaneously learned that Goop brand marine sealant does indeed seal and cure below the water line. COOL! The whole time I was doing this work, there was no sign of any life aboard Heavy Metal. Our plan was tentative, and I didn’t want to be TOO much of a bother, so I waited for them to arrive before dropping my sails and booms to the deck to free up the masts and allow them to be lifted out of place. While waiting, Jorge showed up with the rudder boxes I needed to continue the rudder re-install. Not 5 minutes later, I could hear Rigo yelling over to me, asking if I was ready to do the masts.

By now, it is mid afternoon, with a dock party planned for early evening, and it is HOT!!! The clock was ticking. As I stripped my rigs of sails and booms, Rigo hoisted his huge spinnaker pole which allowed us to span over the finger dock separating the two boats, allowing a nice vertical lift hoist. We had to move Heavy Metal a bit closer to Cat2fold, and the first mast came out with a bit of hesitation and adjustments made on the fly. After laying it down on the dock, I backed the boat out of the slip, did a 180, and backed back into the slip (remember, I still have no rudders)… The second mast came out much easier. We laid it down on the dock, and grabbed the first mast. It was reinstalled without a hitch. Now people were starting to gather and ogle at not only the freak boat, but the freak show of mast removal and re-install using another boat as a crane. I motored out again and flipped another 180, and came back in. The crew was getting distracted by the party that was clearly starting and I heard talk of leaving the last mast to be re-installed the next morning. I wasn’t having any part of that business. Too many manana’s already fizzled by. So, we got the last mast up and in. SUCCESS!!! My only regret was to not have found someone to film the whole circus show.

The party was a huge success! I’m guessing there were nearly 70 people there. Food, drink, and friends, new and old. What more could a salty single hander ask for! I ducked out for a good FaceTime call with my kids, then continued to party well into the wee hours of the morning. I had planned another FaceTime call with Beo for early in the morning, but low and behold, the internet was down… again. Oh well, sorry B-boy!

I still had a lot of work to do before I could even think of leaving the dock. It took me several hours to install all the components of the rudders, complete the re-rigging of my sails and booms, check out with the marina, and get under way. With the race slated to start at 12:45, I was hurriedly underway by noon, with 5.5 miles to motor sail to get to the start line. Cutting it a bit close! But, thanks to the race commodore, the race was delayed a bit due to “fluky winds” and I was able to get into the race cue at the 5 minute warning. With no clock on board set up with a second hand, I had to guess when the exact start was happening, but even while incredibly hung over, single handing, and everything working against me, I nailed the start (well, it was one of my better starts anyway). I cracked open the big drifter sail and rocketed out towards the windward mark. I timed my tack perfectly, and with only one tack, I was the first boat to reach the mark. YAY! I didn’t stay at the pointy end of the fleet for long, with the 50’+ race boats closing down on me with HUGE spinnakers flying, but after I made some adjustments to my sail wardrobe, I caught and passed a few boats that had passed me on  the downwind leg while reaching back to the first mark. Even with my old worn out sails, after adding a extra line along the foot of my sails (recommendation from Chris White) to help get more sail shape in the bottom 1/3 of my sails, Cat2Fold felt like she had lots of horsepower, and we were sailing fast. I played a little guitar, smoked, drank beer, and giggled as boats with crews of 10-15 people struggled to pass me.

As much work as sailing/cruising/racing can be, I absolutely LOVE this life, and feel like I was born and raised to to be the perfect candidate to be out here doing what I’m doing aboard the most AWESOMEST boat in Mexico!

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MiniCat 420 Evoque

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Sitting on the edge of Palisades Lake, enjoying my morning cuppa Joe, Minicat 420 perched at the waters edge, I can’t help but feel blessed beyond words. As the wind starts to fill in from the WSW, I’m finding a child like anxiety creep up from within telling me to blow off this damn blog post, and go get on the water!
Although I’ve now sailed Cat2Fold nearly 10,000 miles over the past three winters, I’ve really never sailed much on any other craft. Sure, there were the 3 or 4 charters I did with my ex and her family, on other cruising boats, but never have I sailed on such a small, responsive craft, with no instruments, no autopilot, no wind angles, etc… Just the wind in your face, and a light, powerful boat whose accelerations, decelerations, heel angle, and the underlying knowledge that this puppy could flip within one, un-attentive nano-second, add a pucker factor to the learning curve of sailing on a small boat that I’ve never experienced before.
I bought my new Minicat 420 Evoque as both a replacement dinghy for Cat2Fold and as an easier to deploy, more appropriate sized vessel for tooling around on our local, high alpine lakes. My old dinghy was fat, slow, leaky, non-sailing, motor dependent and was sporting an intensive network of patches that became necessary when a family of mice decided to make a new home within the folds of the then brand new dinghy and decided that they really enjoyed chewing on the heavy duty, PVC covered fabric…
I committed to the idea of a new dinghy this year while sailing North, back to San Carlos, to put C2F to bed for another season of work. The idea was always on my mind, but finally, while in La Paz, I did it. On the morning VHF net, I heard some people looking for an outboard for their dinghy, and they were wanting the exact same size that I had been lugging around all over Mexico without barely ever using it. Even while taking guests out sailing, I never used the outboard, choosing instead to anchor close to the beach, then row the hydrodynamic equivalent of a refrigerator to shore and back without needing to lift the heavy outboard on and off the stern of Cat2Fold. I tried to sell my inflatable along with the outboard as a package deal but, only the outboard was required. A deal was made. I rowed the big, fat, motor-less pig back to C2F with nearly as much cash in my pocket as what I paid for the motor three years previous. I still didn’t know what I was going to replace the boat with, but I knew I wanted to be able to sail the damn thing! Researching sailing dinghies online, I looked at home built row/sail boat dinghy’s. I looked at Portabote, folding dinghy’s. I looked at nesting dinghy’s. And finally, I looked at inflatable sailing catamarans.
Of all the inflatable sailing catamarans available on the market today, it seems all of them (at least all the REAL sailing crafts and not inflatable toys like the SeaEagle) are manufactured and distributed throughout Europe. I imagine the demand for a good quality sailing boat that can come apart and fit under your bed is partly supplied by the lack of space available to park a full size, non folding boat and trailer in the densely populated coastal cities of Europe. After looking at HappyCat, SmartCat, Ducky, and Minicat, with only small details separating one from the other,  I had decided that the HappyCat looked to be the ticket. With virtually no inventory, new or used, to be found here in the USA, of ANY of the aforementioned brands, I kept patiently doing my homework.
Then, I noticed on the MiniCat’s webpage, that Demo units were available at discount prices. They were not even used Demo’s! They had only been set up for display at boat shows! After a bit of haggling, and then nearly a month of shipping time, my new MiniCat 420 Evoque showed up in the outskirts of Felt, Idaho.
I wasted no time in familiarizing myself with this beautiful craft by opening her up, and assembling her on my front lawn! A few days later, the kids and I, along with some other friends, spent the weekend sailing, camping, paddle boarding and playing on Palisades Lake. The boat was a hit! Even with basically no wind, she ghosts right along, patiently waiting for a shift in our typically swirly, gusty, mountain lake winds.
Speaking of the typical mountain lake winds, I’ve since had her out several other times. I’ve spent hours ghosting along in delicately light winds. I’ve had to finish some trips using my SUP paddle to drive the boat whilst developing the technique of steering with my foot on the tiller extension, and found myself cruising along quite smartly!
I’ve also now had some hull flying, getting soaked, sphincter clamping, sessions where one messed up tack would have the boat upside down faster than you can say Minicat! Luckily, so far I’ve stated upright…well, if you don’t count the time I sailed the cat up on the beach, and then had a gust come lay her on her side (on the beach).
I’m anxious to bring along my handheld GPS and get an idea of speeds and tacking angles. It happens to be packed in the “ditch kit” bag aboard Cat2Fold right now, and I haven’t dealt with unpacking it.
As a tender for Cat2Fold, the Minicat 420 should prove a capable beast of burden. With a load carrying capacity of 960 lbs (total crew, engine, gear, etc…) she should be more than capable of ferrying any load I need to get to and fro C2F. I don’t imagine I’ll set up the sailing rig very often, unless of course I’m hanging out in one anchorage for a long time, or if my kids are sailing with me, but with included motor mount, and/or my recent discovery of using the 6.5′ x 14′ platform as a fairly efficient “paddle barge”, getting from Cat2Fold to shore and back should prove to be a joy.
Although I really need to focus on work and making some money if I am to have any hope of making it back down south next winter, I know that on any given weekend throughout the summer, you will find the Charette’s sailing at one of our local lakes aboard the hot, practical, fun, and downright sexy MiniCat 420!!!

The Long Road Home

As the winter sailing season in Mexico draws closer and closer to an end, Cat2Fold finds herself sailing north, towards San Carlos, SON., and as usual, Brian finds himself wondering whether Cat2Fold should follow the truck home to Idaho or spend her third summer season in a row stored at Ed and Dorothy’s Storage Yard. I couldn’t really make a final decision until I tried towing the boat a few miles with the camper on the truck, which I had never done before.

Alexa and I cleaned the boat and we made final preparations to go (possibly). We drove the truck/camper/boat trailer combo (which has a 2 foot trailer hitch extension under the over hanging camper) on a test run towards Guaymas. Besides the fact that I was around 70′ long, things seemed to feel fine! My mind was made up! Cat2Fold is coming along for a road trip! After one last second errand in San Carlos, we pointed the long, expensive package of carbon, foam, epoxy, and air North, and hit the road!

In years past, my decision to leave C2F in storage was aided by my insurance carrier. Cat2Fold was covered everywhere we sailed, from Southern California to Zihuatenejo, but under no circumstance would C2F be covered for over the road travel within Mexico. Leaving her here in storage for $50 a month, while I went home to work seemed like a no brainer…until I got the more than doubled bill for the following years coverage. Why? Because my boat was no longer within the safety of good ole Idaho. It was in SCARY Mexico!!! No worries, I dropped all insurance for Cat2Fold, except for the Mexican Liability insurance which everyone needs to play this game (sailing) down there. Now I could sail anywhere I wanted without asking permission and paying extra first! I’m not really an insurance kind of guy anyway. I don’t believe life comes with any guarantees! Believe in the magic of goodwill and trust in yourself!

With all that in mind, I very smartly had the, “hasn’t been towed more than one mile in three years” trailer tuned up while it was still empty. I think I paid Humberto too much, but oh well, we got new bearings, and seals in all 6 wheels, and had the rotors turned and the brakes bled. Virtually good as new!

We made our way North just fine, even passing through Hermosillo without being pulled over. Got searched pretty good at the Mexican Military checkpoint about 20 miles south of the border. All good. I’m always a bit paranoid at the U.S. crossing. You never know how bad they may want to search, and we had ALOT of hard to access areas in which they’d want to look. Turns out they just wanted my potatoes, limes, and package of bacon that were in the camper. I asked them about the tons of food they must get every day (thousands of cars cross the border at Nogales every day) and whether it was donated to to a charity or something…”Nope. Liability.”…Great. Welcome back home to the US of Liabilit-A!!!

After making it through the actual border crossing, there is yet another checkpoint about 20 miles North. With a dog actively paraded up and down through the stopped cars, I can only imagine they are looking for drugs. Maybe illegal immigrants also? Oh, and one other thing to note… the interstate down here south of Tucson has the speed limits marked in KPH, but the mileage between places in miles… UH…OK…

Not far past Tucson, I pulled over to get some fuel. When I got out, I noticed that the right, rear tire of my truck, the one which I plugged myself last fall while in San Carlos, was low. Way low! 25psi when it should’ve had 65psi!!!

Luckily, there was a tire place right nearby! It’s not very easy driving around looking for things in an unfamiliar place while towing C2F… The tire was removed, and patched from the inside. An hour later, and we were on the road again. Sweet! I’m glad I noticed that and nipped it in the bud!

A short while later, I dropped Alexa off at the Phoenix airport and continued on my way alone. I kept driving well into the night, and ended up camping in a perfect, big pull off with trees, up near the North Rim of the grand canyon.

The next day, I drove through the entire state of Utah with nothing very exciting to report. However, later in the evening, just past the Idaho state line, things started to get a little more interesting…

I pulled over to take a leak about 30 miles north of the statetline. I hadn’t even pulled off of the off ramp. Unfortunately, during said nature break, I noticed one of my trailer wheels had fallen off!!! All five lug bolts had entirely sheared off!!! SHIT!! What should I do???

I pulled into the nearby truck stop (the only thing at this exit) which had a mechanic station also. 5:30. Closed. With no cell phone (I haven’t owned one in years now), I stood there mulling over my options when a big rig pulled up next to me.

“Didya loose your wheel?” Says the toothless driver as he leans out his window pointing at the gaping hole on the trailer where a wheel used to reside.

Yup.

“Well, I seen it pass me on the highway! Me and this other tanker truck tried to get a hold of you, but…how we gonna do that, right?” He laughs.

WHOA! You saw it happen?

“Yup I watched it cross over into the other lane, but lucky no one was coming.”…

Turns out, it happened about 50 miles south of where we were right then. With the fact that I hadn’t even noticed the missing wheel for the past 50 miles of 75mph driving, coupled with my strong desire to make it the remaining 150 miles, I decided to push on.  (whoa…it’s starting to sound like a middle school math problem…)

So here I am, CAREFULLY driving along with my 5 wheeled trailer with my beloved boat atop (5 wheels still seems like plenty, no?). I’ve got 60 miles to go and dusk is approaching, and all of a sudden, I hear what sounds like air being released rapidly. I pull over as quickly as possible, which is clearly not quick enough. Any worry of another trailer wheel failing, rapidly faded as I can feel the weight of the truck/camper/boat sitting on top of the now bare rim of the truck as it rolls the last few feet before coming to a stop.

Yup. Tire is ruined!!! $400.

So, I empty the back of the Mega Cab truck (which is stuffed to the gills with tools, bags, coolers, parts, etc…) on the side of the road just to get to the proper lug wrench (ooooh…note to self…keep that wrench handy and check trailer lug nuts occasionally on long trips…). I use the stock, Dodge screw jack to try and lift a VERY HEAVY rear axle. To my surprise it actually seemed to be lifting the truck, until…well, until it stopped lifting the truck! Doesn’t matter, I got it high enough to remove the badly mangled tire/wheel.

I drop the spare and roll it over to install when I realize that I’m not jacked up quite high enough to get the spare on…hmmm… Luckily, I pulled far enough off the road that my passenger side (the flat side) was just barely on the gravel part of the shoulder, and I was able to dig down deep enough to get the spare on the truck.

OK! Spare installed. Truck re packed…Now what? The screw jack won’t screw back down! No worries, I’ll just drive forward off of it. Perfect! Done!

Whoa! As I walk back to retrieve the broken jack, I notice the newly installed spare tire is pretty low. 40 lbs low… I need to go find air!!! I drive into the town of Rigby and find an air machine at this gas station. Problem is, I can’t even begin to pull up close enough to use it. So, I pull into a large parking lot next door (a closed Tire Factory), re-empty the Mega cab so I can get to the air hose that connects to my trucks’ on board air compressor. Yup. My truck has an air compressor installed to pressurize the airsprings that are used to help haul heavy loads. It’s a SMALL compressor though. It took me at least 1/2 an hour of pumping to get the tire to a safe level of pressure.

Re-load the truck. Hit the road.

Darkness fell. I made it the rest of the way home…well, almost. The county road I live off of is not maintained all winter. Some snow had recently fallen adding to the muckiness of the old snow melting into muddy road. With two miles to go to my house, I realized I needed to turn around and leave the boat at the winter parking area for a while still. There was still a formidable pile of snow a mere 50 yards from my house, but since having started my day many hours earlier in Arizona, and being pretty determined to get all the way home, I packed out a trail in the deep, sugary snow by driving back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until I woke up the next morning in my very own bed… 🙂

The End.

Sorry for the large amount of words…

 

Alexa

Alexa. Thanks for your help, love, understanding, compassion and patience.

You are a BEAUTIFUL SPIRIT, and the world is a better place with you!!!

We miss you!

 

“Racing” with S/V Seaward

Cat2Fold and I are on the water sailing every single day down here in Mexico. And, every time we go out, we are constantly looking for other sails to “race”. Never, ever have we had such a spirited competitor as when we sailed with S/V Seaward. An 82′ long and lean, powerful schooner! With about 15 people up on deck, they put out more effort to pass us than anyone else has ever done! Pulling more and more sails up from below decks to try and catch us as we sailed for well over an hour in a direction that neither of us were heading. Thanks for the fun Seaward!!!

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Pics from Bahia Tenacatita and Bahia Chamela

Bahia Tenacatita

pic from s/v Fluenta... traveling solo, playing guitar

pic from s/v Fluenta…
traveling solo, playing guitar


As I sit here on Cat2Fold watching yet another beautifully moist sunrise, at the surf spot in Bahia Chamela, I can’t help but feel like the luckiest person alive. I have lots of stories I need to catch up on since leaving Banderas Bay in early January…

Heading south with Alexa (whom needs a whole separate story of her own) we caught the tail of a sweet northerly that had us charging south, sailing directly downwind, surfing at speeds up to 12 knots. Unfortunately, the wind didn’t last all night, and by the wee hours of the morning, we found ourselves barely able to coast into Chamela. At sunrise, I did see another sail on the horizon. It was Bob on s/v Pantera. Bob left La Cruz several hours before us, but because of his lack of a motor (we motored about 20 minutes at one point to get into some fresh wind), and C2F’s unique ability to easily sail very deep downwind, we amazingly reached Chamela before him. Bob continued on towards Melaque (very slowly in nearly no wind) while Alexa and I sought the shelter of Isla San Pedro at the SE end of the bay. This is where one of my favorite surf break lies, Xametla. It is a pretty mellow, shallow sand bar break. Sometimes the way the swell wraps around the two tiny islands we are anchored behind, causes breaking waves to come toward the beach at two different angles. Where the waves come together, a large pyramidal, tongue like mound forms that can be quite exhilarating to try and ride! It really is the perfect paddle boarding spot to get ones groove on.
After spending the day surfing, and with Alexa’s time on board rapidly coming to an end, we hurried our way further south. Skipping the beautiful anchorage of Paraiso, and passing by the exclusive Careyes, we sailed another 25 miles south to Bahia Tenacatita.
There’s something about Bahia Tenacatita and the cute little town of La Manzanilla that just feels like home. There are three main anchorages within Tenacatita; the outer most is known as the Aquarium. It is well protected from the predominant winds, and very popular for its superb snorkeling. The beach, from what I understand, used to be a thriving little community of campers, homes, and beachside palapa restaurants. Unfortunately, 4 years ago (the year before I started coming down here), there was a land ownership dispute. Someone claimed older title to all of the peninsula that was the village of Tenacatita, and through the use of force (guns and bulldozers) reclaimed what was perceived to be old family land. Many, many Mexicans, Canadians, and Americans lost homes, businesses, and faith in the Mexican system. Now, the beach lay virtually barren, and even though I anchor quite regularly at the Aquarium, with armed thugs patrolling the area, my desire to step foot on their land is all but nil.
Further in the bay, in the most protected anchorage of them all, a gathering of boats resides through most of the winter months in a community setting unlike any other I’ve ever witnessed throughout all of western Mexico. In Tenacatita (which is what most cruisers now call this anchorage), there are many boats anchored that set there anchor in December, and don’t pull it up again until March/April. There are organized daily events, and once a week the Mayor (yes, there has been a “Mayor” here in the anchorage for over 20 years), hosts what is known as “The Mayor’s Raft-up”.
Every Friday at 5:15pm, the Mayor and his wife, Robert and Virginia, to of the cutest old hippies ever, go to an empty corner of the anchorage, anchor their dinghy, and all the other cruisers, usually couples, dinghy over and tie up to each other. Food to pass around, old books/movies to trade, and stories or music to share are all part of the evenings agenda. I finally made it to a few this year…
Being the “young”, single guy with dreadlocks and sailing a boat that is as non-conformist as it gets, showing up to a conservative, retiree potluck party has never been very high on my list. However, this year more than ever, I’ve started to realize that my story is interesting, and worth sharing. In fact some of these folks in there 60’s and 70’s really get a kick out of meeting young folks out on the water living the dream without a pension, retirement fund, or a plan for the future. Living life with passion, following ones bliss, and trusting that tomorrow will bring more health, happiness, and the necessary means to keep the dream alive, is a skillset in and of itself worthy of sharing with everyone I meet. So, amongst the myriad of retired engineers/pilots/teachers/lawyers/bearucrats/policemen/hippies/doctors/businessmen, I told my story, sang my songs, and otherwise earned my way into the hearts and minds of the more conservative end of the cruising fraternity. I think I left my biggest mark by showing up late to the Valentines day raft-up…only I showed up in Cat2Fold!
With the raft up anchored in about 9-10 feet of water, I did what not many other boats could even dream of doing (as if boats can dream…;)…
I tacked up through the fleet, working my way straight to the raft-up. As I got there, in virtually NO wind, I was able to sail a couple of circles around the group. Every dinghy there had a “couple” aboard and they were all telling the story of how they met. I told my story of meeting Cat2Fold online, falling in love instantly, yet taking over a year to finally commit to a life of adventure with her. I played a love song (Stand by Me) that most would recognize, while steering the boat with my feet. One couple untied there dinghy from the bunch and brought me over some of the food that had been passed around. I continued my evening sail into the sunset to go anchor alone next to a restaurant where I could bask in the sounds of a Cuban jazz band, playing a special Valentines day show.
The other anchorage within Bahia Tenacatita is at the cute little town of La Manzanilla. It is a bit exposed to the dominant weather and swell, but with C2F’s extra wide beam, the rolling is always kept to a minimum, so I stayed there a bunch. I was able to get a WiFi signal on board if I anchored close enough to the beach which was a very nice bonus. The town is filled with aging gringos, so luckily most of the Tiendas cater to the North American visitors. What that really means is one could find real half and half in stock, which can be a very hard to find commodity down in these parts.
Although C2F and I always seem to attract attention wherever we go, no where have I attracted more attention than in La Manzanilla. Every time I paddleboarded to the beach, I was surrounded by throngs of people all asking about the boat and myself. It didn’t stop there either, people were swimming out to C2F to get our story. Eventually, I befriended SO MANY folks, I started taking people out sailing. Something I had dreamed of doing ever since coupling up with C2F, and just as I had imagined, the boat is the PERFECT platform to take guests out on. Whether it was their first time sailing, or they were a ripe old salty dog, the magic carpet ride that C2F provides sailing around the warm, tropical waters of Bahia Tenacatita, had every person who came aboard smiling, claiming “best day EVER”, and going home dreaming of their own life on the high seas.
With or without guests, C2F and I sail nearly every single day. We sailed just about 1000 miles to get here, and then in the past month and a half, we commenced to sail another 800 miles in and around Bahia Tenacatita.
Although I’ll never be one of those types that drops the anchor and stays put for long periods of time, especially in a crowded, community organized anchorage, I have undeniably come to appreciate the warmth, the love, the beauty and the life found within the most unique cruising stopovers in all of Mexico…Viva Bahia Tenacatita!!!

La Paz to Isla Isabella to Matachen Bay

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In La Paz, we anchored in the Mogote next to the new Marina (which, by the way, had quite a few catamarans inside that piqued my interest…including the brand new Chris White A47 with the twin Mastfoil rig (AWESOME!), a Chris White 57, and a Switch 51, but to name a few). Once ashore we were able to find our friends on board s/v Heavy Metal. Georgie and Beo were thrilled to be able to hang out with Zion and Hunter and play with the incredible amount of electronic gadgetry they have aboard.
We also rendezvoused with Alexa, our now infamous “nanny”, whose help and support through the next few legs of our trip will prove to be indispensable.
After stocking up on food, water, gas, and social time on land, Cat2Fold, Heavy Metal, Destiny, and Ayla May set sail for Isla Isabel, 315 miles South of La Paz. This would be the kids longest sail to date and Alexa’s first sail of her life. Our passage ended up taking nearly 60 hours and everyone on board had a GREAT time!
On day one, leaving La Paz, the sailing was fantastic. The wind was blowing in the high teens and although the seas were a bit lumpy giving all the monohullers a bit of rolly-polly grief, we sailed for the first 36 hours straight, and loved it! Once our speed dropped below 1 knot for more than 20 minutes, we decided it was time to start motoring, one motor at a time, and we continued to motor for the next 24 or so hours continuously. It was SO calm, the ocean looked like a mirror, and there were turtles hanging out everywhere. It’s amazing to see so many turtles with dry shells and many of them being used by various birds as their own private islands.
We arrived at Isla Isabel about an hour after sunset. The anchorage was already quite full with Cat2Fold being the 10th boat to drop the hook. I motored into my spot very slowly, but with the help of s/v Heavy Metal’s 1 billion candlepower light, we felt comfortable squeezing our way in, especially in such calm conditions.
The next morning Georgie, Beo and I went snorkeling, and I can honestly say, there is no better way to go snorkeling than holding the hands of my 8 year old daughter, and 6 year old son. They absolutely LOVED IT! Later in the day, we went to the beach. Alexa, Georgie, and Hunter spent most of their time collecting shells and things, and Beo, Zion, and I spent most of our time playing soccer….just what the doctor ordered after a 315 mile passage on a sailboat!
After the beach party, all the neighboring boats went aboard s/v Destiny for an evening dinner party. Destiny is an 85-90 year old, 85 foot long wooden schooner. She has a long and rich history. At one point she was owned by Howard Hughes. With the kids playing games on the expansive deck and two little puppies to help entertain them, it was a very nice gathering for all with good food, good drinks and good and company.
The winds were blowing nicely, and in a great direction to give us a beam reach all the way to Mantachen Bay, 41 miles distant, during and after the party. However, we all decided to leave early in the morning. I was a bit afraid we’d loose the favorable winds we were experiencing that evening, and my sneaking suspicion proved correct. We all trickled out of the anchorage pretty early, with winds on our noses that were light and getting lighter. Again, after sailing more than half way there nicely, our speed dropped and dropped, and once below one knot, we decided it time to fire up a motor and get there.
With both motors running, we were able to catch the occasional wave and surf our way into the bay occasionally topping 10 knots.
Upon our arrival, Georgie and Beo couldn’t wait to get to Heavy Metal so they both jumped off Cat2Fold and swam over before we even set our anchor.

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Getting My Kids!!!

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I’m sitting on board SW Airlines, flight 1902, a Boeing 737 flying from Phoenix, AZ to SLC, UT. As is often said in the sailing community…there is nothing like going to weather at 500mph!!!
I arrived in Phoenix after a 7.5 hour drive from San Carlos, SON, Mexico. Cat2Fold is safely tied to a dock in Marina San Carlos. Once in SLC I get rewarded for all this time working on the boat, and all the time and money spent traveling to and fro, by getting my kids, Georgie and Beo for nearly a full month!!! I’d like to publicly thank their Mom, Georgie Stanley, for allowing me (and the kids) this wonderful opportunity to be together for such a long time.
Once reunited with the kiddos in SLC, we will board another plane back to Phoenix, jump in my truck and drive as far south as we feel. I don’t think we can drive all the way to San Carlos without too much driving in the darkness, plus it will be nice to split up the long drive after a series of flights. So, we may find a hotel in Tucson, or we may drive all the way to Nogales (the border) before stopping…not really sure yet.
I’m very excited to get back together with G & B. I left Teton Valley a little over 3 weeks ago. It’s amazing how much growth goes on in three weeks time, both physically and mentally. When the Charette family reaches San Carlos and Cat2Fold, we have 3.5 weeks to accomplish our ambitious plan of sailing all the way to Puerto Vallarta via the Baja peninsula. As the crow flys, PV is just over 500 miles away from San Carlos. Our planned route of sailing over to the Baja, down its east coast, then back across the Sea of Cortez to Banderas Bay is going to add some mileage, but it is a safer route with less nights spent out at sea, and is generally the route most cruisers who frequent this part of Mexico choose to travel. Whether northbound or southbound.
Unfortunately, having checked the weather forecast before leaving San Carlos, I know a strong norther will be blowing down the sea delaying our departure (unless the forecast changes) to Wednesday or possibly even Thursday of this week. With winds forecast to be in the 40 knot range, there is no way in hell I would go out there attempting a crossing. Especially having such precious cargo on board…;)
I want nothing but fond memories of this trip for B & G. Memories of life and death survival conditions…No Thank You!!!
We are supposed to meet up with our “Hot Nanny” in La Paz this next Sunday. Not sure if we’ll be there on time, but regardless, she seems to be a real trooper, and is ready to find some place to crash for as long as necessary before we meet up. I am looking forward to the help and support entertaining the kids as we spend many days on board sailing the boat to far off places. The kids have never sailed any real distance before, and certainly never overnight.
Could I do it alone? I’m sure I could.
But, in the end, I think this arrangement will be safer and far more enjoyable for everyone on board.
I’m hoping the weather will allow us to depart La Paz as soon as we are ready. Already, the San Carlos area has cooled significantly. La Paz will be no different. The warm waters of Banderas Bay, with whales breeding, awesome sailing, and other kid/family boats abound are calling…