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January 25 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Photo of the Day

Today's Photo of the Day is of Bruce Balan kneeling next to his Cross 46 trimaran Migration, which has been based out of both Northern California and Southern California. When he came into Paradise Marina on Banderas Bay, he found that there was a problem with his main and mizzen chainplates being anchored in rotten wood. At the same time, he discovered his tri needed a paint job. Thanks to David, the local painting whiz, both problems are being tended to.

With the February issue of Latitude 38 off to the printer and our flooded editorial offices being sheet-rocked and otherwise rebuilt, the only smart thing for us to do was fly to Nuevo Vallarta to see our cat Profligate and check out the winter cruising in Mexico.

It's been all good since we arrived. First off, David and his crew did a great job painting Profligate's decks - and a bunch of other things. We're very pleased - and the price could not have been more right. No wonder so many boats are being painted down here.

Profligate's freshly painted house and decks. Veteran crew, please note the new battery boxes.

Secondly, we met the lovely Kim Wegesend of the Catana 42 cat Maluhia walking down the dock, and got to give her an air kiss on both cheeks. Wow! With her son Kona almost done with high school, Kim and husband Dave will be free to continue cruising to new places.

Thirdly, Dick Markie reports that Paradise Village Marina is preparing to take special - and expensive - steps to make sure the channel to Nuevo Vallarta will stay as deep as it should. To date, they have installed the first of six 240-ft long 'geo bags' to keep the sand from silting in the channel, and then perhaps nine months from now will start to approximately double the length of the breakwater out into the ocean. Will that mean the end of surfing boats into the harbor? Dick sure hopes so. Some thrill seekers with boats are praying that it won't.

The entrance channel to Nuevo Vallarta and Paradise Marina. Perhaps starting at the end of the year, the breakwater will be doubled in length - or however far it takes to get to a depth of 15 feet.

A number of folks we met on the docks raved about the last Baja Ha-Ha, several of them saying that one of the best features is that it helped them make so many cruising friends so early. "We met a woman on a boat in Tenacatita Bay who said we were the first friends she made," one couple told us, "and it changed her whole cruising experience. Everybody who did the Ha-Ha has all kinds of friends."

Brits Dennis and Janet Knight of the Oyster 435 Shilling of Hamble second this notion of the Ha-Ha being a great way to develop relationships with other cruisers. "We met couples cruising in the Pacific Northwest and became friends, but after a week they'd be back to work. Down here you meet cruising friends over and over because they are down for the season. What are the couple doing stretching their arms out wide in the accompanying photograph? They are indicating the length of a big croc that swims behind their boat nearly every day. We think his name is 'Pablo'. They're going to give us a photo to prove the croc exists.

"The croc is this long!" indicate Janet and Dennis.

While at breakfast, we met singlehander Bernard Bouis of the Berkeley-based Triton 29 Honu. He left San Francisco Bay in late November and is headed for Ecuador before going west to the Galapagos and South Pacific. Bouis had a weird experience at the eastern cove of the Ensenada Grande anchorage at Isla Partida. He was anchored in the corner, and the 100-ft Lady Zelda came in awful close to him. They wanted to use the anchorage for some photo work, and initially offered him a couple of bottles of wine if he'd leave for an hour. But when they said it would be more than an hour - it was blowing hard outside - Bouis declined. Lady Zelda then drifted close - so close that Bouis fired his flare gun across their bow! Lady Zelda didn't respond, so Bouis fired a second flare across their bow. That got them to move. But the incident so disturbed Bouis that he departed the area the next day.

"These pancakes are good," says Bernard, "but that incident with Lady Zelda was awful."
Photos Latitude/Richard

Did you see the Classy Classified a few months ago for a cruising couple looking for another woman to make a triad? We met the guy half of the couple on the docks and asked him about the response to the ad. "It was great," he said, "a couple of things developed out of it, but nothing permanent. But triads are definitely the way of the future because both men and women get what they need out of them." Hmmmmm. By the way, the couple have done lots of cruising in the Caribbean and Mexico, and have traveled extensively around the world, so we're more than satisfied that it wasn't just a sex ad.

The clearing situation in Mexico is still a little inconsistent, but it's still much better than last year. For example, when you check into Paradise Marina, Harbormaster Dick Markie's staff will log you in, but the port captain still wants to see your face and have you fill out a short form. Since his office is about 100 yards away and there's no charge, it's not a big deal. But he does want you to stop in his office.

We've got lots more to report, but we're in Mexico, the weather is wonderful, and there's a bay full of wind and nice surf beckoning.

Capsized on the Bay

January 27 - San Pablo Bay

On Sunday, January 22, around 3 pm, Breck Davis and his buddy Mark capsized Davis's 17-ft Boston Whaler Montauk in San Pablo Bay - and spent several hours waiting for rescue as dusk fell on that chilly winter day. They'd been out fishing for sturgeon and had had no luck.

"What seemed to be a nice day of boating out on the Bay on a sunny day with a new boating friend, Mark, turned out to be a nightmare brought on by a poor combination of events," explained Davis. "We dropped anchor at the pumphouse in San Pablo Bay and went to set it. After it was set, the anchor line got fouled in the prop, causing the stern to be pulled down, and these Whalers have low freeboard. Water came in fast over the stern. We cut the anchor and tried to get a call off for a mayday when the boat flipped on top of me, throwing Mark into the bone chilling water. I was momentarily trapped under the hull, tangled in lines and railing. We made it to the top of the hull in shock.

"The next few hours went from frustration to fear as we drifted with the current towards Vallejo and tried flagging passing boaters, and planes that flew above, to no avail. We were taking the impact of oncoming waves, drenching our efforts to wring out our clothes as the sun faded. Our chances of being spotted seemed hopeless going into a very cold night. I had attempted to right the boat, much to the dismay of my buddy, having to go into the water again. The fleet was scattered and most boaters were home watching the NFL play-offs.

"Our luck turned at dusk when a passing yacht saw me - 6'6" in a bright blue wind breaker making distress signals - and came to our aid. The 44-ft pilothouse yacht saved us from enduring a long night adrift going into hypothermia. The skipper lent me some sweat pants and called the Coast Guard. The crew of the
Coast Guard 25-ft Safe Boat #25432 from Vallejo arrived in less than 10 minutes. They went above and beyond for myself and Mark, and took the vessel safely back to Port Sonoma.

"In hindsight I recommend that all boaters have on them a submersible VHF/GPS and an inflatable harness. I had 30 years boating experience on San Francisco Bay and the ocean, but it didn't matter how much experience I had or how much equipment was on board. I had a GPS plotter VHF, float coat, vest flares, etc. - all out of reach when the accident happened. Our cell phones shorted out as they hit the Bay. When you are freezing, adrift inside the Bay, without a clue if someone will spot you and rescue you, while sitting atop one of the 'safest' boats on the market, it's totally a wake-up call knowing anything's possible.

"I am trying to reach the skipper of that yacht [that rescued us] in a remote way to say thank you. He is likely to be a reader of Latitude with the kind of yacht he has."

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