“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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Heading South…

Sitting at anchor in a town called Cuastecomate (or Secret Anchorage), as we slowly work our way South to Zihuatenejo, “Mexican time” is starting to take over.
Minutes turn into hours.
Hours turn into days.
As the days lazily turn into weeks, I’m finding it hard to stay motivated to keep the blog up to date…
So here is my attempt at recapping the past month…

Having the kids aboard for two weeks in December was the highlight of our trip so far. Between taking part in all the local sailing events, seeing whales and dolphins by the pound, hanging out with kid friends of old (Indigo from Teton Valley) and new (Shandro and Matero from s/v Kenta Anae), sailing to every possible anchorage within Banderas Bay, and last but not least, enjoying the amazing pools and beaches in and around Paradise Village Marina, Georgie and Beo were treated to a life seldom experienced by most 5 and 7 year olds.
In fact visiting with full time live aboard families, and witnessing just how well behaved, organized, disciplined, inquisitive, and intriguing these kids can be, helps me to more readily digest my decision to live aboard C2F in Mexico for 1/2 the year even if my kids are only “allowed” to come aboard for 2-two week visits throughout the 6 months. I strongly feel that I have more to offer them on board the boat than I do by going through the motions of being an “every-other-weekend-Dad” living in the same remote mountain valley, offering the same mountain life that the Mom is already quite capable of offering. Unfortunately two weeks is nowhere near long enough to truly experience “life aboard”. I can only hope that in the years to come, the value of this alternative life will be recognized, and longer visits will not only be allowed, but appreciated.
After the kids flew home, Deidre and I spent another couple nights in La Cruz picking up our freshly re-repaired drifter sail, then participating in one other “around the cans” race. We were glad to have our big front sail back in action due to more light winds that plagued most of the racing events we had already partaken in. During this races’ upwind leg, we tried something we had never done before, we flew a headsail on each mast! With the jib pulling on the windward mast and the drifter pulling on the leeward, both mainsails up fully, sheeted in tight, we were able to pull the strings into all the right spots to get some magical apparent wind created. We were ghosting up the coast, catching up to the fleet (our starts still need ALOT of work), while everyone else appeared to be stopped! We still need to get pics of the 4 sails up at once. The race came to a sad conclusion when we discovered that the turn around mark was stolen!!! (later to be found that it had been returned to the yacht club by a concerned fisherman)
The next morning, we sailed out to Punta de Mita, and in typical cruisers style, we changed our minds once again and decided to head south. At 11:30am we sailed through all the boats in the anchorage that we knew, said “hi/bye”, and turned around and sailed out of Banderas Bay, around Cabo Corrientes through the night en route to Bahia Chamela. With a full moon shining bright, we enjoyed a perfectly aligned swell to our direction of travel that made our 100 mile passage a surf session nirvana for many hours on end. Early on in the evening, while comfortably surfing at speeds ranging from 8-11 knots, a large wave caught up to us at the same time as a little puff came and we raced off down the face of the wave. The acceleration sent me back on my heels. The surf lasted for nearly a minute and we reached a top speed of 13.5 knots! It was exhilarating and nerve wracking all wrapped up into one…like a pig in a blanket.
We found ourselves staying in Bahia Chamela for a little over a week. With overly friendly fellow cruisers and locals, crystal clear warm waters, a long beach to run and play on, and 3 solid days of rain (it NEVER rains in this part of Mexico during this season), our decision to stay for that long was much easier to make. Our next stop, Paraiso, was only a few miles down the coast. We spent the night by ourselves in the “unreccommended” northern lobe. The next day we enjoyed a nice paddleboard session, a walk on shore, and some not-so-good snorkeling that was due to bad visibility from the fairly large (and getting larger) swells. When the wind picked up, I no longer felt like we were in a safe anchorage. At 3:30 pm, we made the decision to up anchor and sail the 21 miles south to Bahia Tenacatita.
Motoring out of the anchorage was as intense as it gets. Navigating through rocks and reefs within spitting distance of the boat, we battled a 17-20 knot headwind directly into 10+ foot swell that was our only way out to sea. Once out far enough, I raised the mainsails with double reefs placed in each sail, we turned downwind and entered the world of calm, smooth sailing. It’s hard to describe with words how much more pleasant downwind sailing is compared to upwind sailing (or motoring). So, with two mainsails the size of largish windsurfer sails, we sailed between 8-10 knots, with no stress, all the way to Tenacatita.
In Tenacatita, we anchored in true multihull fashion by setting a stern anchor up on the beach. By this I mean I stepped off the back of C2F in 3′ of water and walked the stern anchor up onto the beach. Nothing like being able to walk to shore from the boat if you want to! Tenacatita has a somewhat organized community of cruisers including its own self appointed Mayor. Some folks obviously appreciate this, others can’t stand it. We participated in the swim to shore, then a game of bocci ball on the beach. It was OK fun, but we didn’t do it again.
After a couple of days in Tenacatita, we enjoyed another brisk downwind sail to Cuastecomate. “The Secret Anchorage”, is virtually invisible from boats traveling north or south along this jagged and rocky section of the Gold Coast. Only once deep into the bay does the hidden anchorage reveal itself. A cute little town, with a short walk to provisions and some great snorkeling make it easy for us to stay longer than planned. One more day here, then our journey south continues.