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!

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Punta de Mita

Sitting in the anchorage just outside of Punta de Mita drinking my coffee, I can’t help but feel like I’ve come home. I sailed here yesterday from the Paradise Village Marina. Not before officially checking out with the “Capitania de Puerto” and paying the hefty bill that comes with leaving a boat in a marina for nearly a month. At nearly $700 USD, you’d think that it must be SO nice to stay in these marinas. Well, for some it is an absolute necessity, for me…not so much. Parking Cat2Fold amongst the multitudes of various boats, some of which cost more to fill with fuel than my boat cost (and for me, Cat2Fold is THE most expensive single item I’ve ever purchased), it becomes quite apparent that needing to be “hooked up to the grid” is more than just a bad habit of land based folks. Granted, at Paradise Village Marina, there are several different pools, hot tubs, beautiful showers and easily accessed shops and a grocery store that come with the privilege of paying for a slip, but it still feels funny to me that I have no way to “plug-in”. All of my power needs are supplied with my solar panels. What little bit of motoring I do with my 9.9 hp outboards doesn’t amount to much electrical generation. Sure, my power needs are minimal. All my lights are LED’s (or non existent) and I rely on headlamps a lot. Most of my power drain comes from the refrigerator which lives in the starboard hull, and over in the port hull, my trusty crew member named Otto (my auto-pilot) uses up his fair share of power while under passage. Not to mention the fact that I prefer to sleep up on top, in the dodger (where the king sized bed is) and I don’t wear much clothing at night. It kind of feels like camping out in a city with neighbors just a few feet away.
This brings me back to Punta De Mita. As I arrived yesterday evening, the breeze had finally picked up and seemed like it was gonna continue to blow. This after hitting speeds of nearly 10 knots just outside the Nuevo Vallarta breakwater (where Paradise Village Marina is), then having the wind basically turn itself off frustrating even the most die hard sailors. After drifting for more than two hours, I decided to fire up one motor so I could get to my desired anchorage before dark. After motor/sailing for about an hour, the winds freshened and I was able to quietly sail once again. As I was wondering if there would be anyone I knew in the anchorage, I was hailed on the radio by John and Tiffany from s/v Michaela whom I hadn’t seen since La Paz back in December. Shortly after that John and Gilly from s/v Destiny also hailed me to say hi. Although John and Gilly sailed their boat in the Baja Haha, they own a condo here in Punta de Mita which overlooks the anchorage and that is where they were calling from. In fact, back in December, while anchored out here, John recognized Cat2Fold and hailed Deidre and I with an invite to come over for Christmas dinner. I honestly didn’t remember who they were but we took them up on the invite and had a wonderful evening! Having a very recognizable boat like Cat2Fold has proven to be quite advantageous. Everyone seems to love her and she is quite the conversation piece.
I love it when I can pull into an anchorage and have it be large enough and windy enough that I can sail Cat2Fold around all the other boats to see who’s who, decide where I want to be, sail to the spot, drop the sails and drop my anchor without ever running my motors. I sailed right by another boat that I recognized. Jack and Monica aboard s/v Bellavia, a cute older hippie couple from Vancouver Island. We met in Bahia Tenacatita, about 100 miles south of here. It was perfect timing. I was really starting to stress out over work (or lack thereof), the boat and how and where to end this trip. Here I was in an absolute paradise and I was stressed out! Well, along comes Jack rowing over in his homemade dinghy. I swear it was as if he were reading my mind, and said exactly what I was needing to hear. He concurred that San Carlos/Guaymas is THE place to leave the boat for the summer and threw out some perfectly worded threads of wisdom about being here now!!! When he rowed away, I was left awestruck and feeling like he had just delivered me a message from God!(and I use that term very loosely).
The sun is now high enough to start to dry off the heavily condensated boat, which is my cue to get on with my day. I have a bunch of visiting to do, surfing to be had (although the swell appears too small currently), boat maintenance to do, and just some general hanging out!
…Ahhh…..the cruising life!

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