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Having a Blast on Banderas Bay

People often ask us if a certain type of boat is "good" or not. It’s hard to answer, because not only are different boats good for different uses, but they are often good or bad depending on who is trying to use them for a particular purpose. So our answer usually starts with the semi cop-out, "It all depends . . . ."

But in the case of Profligate, Latitude‘s 63-ft catamaran, she’s been a great boat for us because she has fulfilled our sailing needs almost perfectly. Specifically, she’s a very basic boat — we eschew luxury — she’s very easy to sail, yet she can carry a lot of people and at a good pace.

We were reminded of this during the terrific sail we had yesterday on the tropical waters of Banderas Bay. We rounded up a total of 21 sailors and non-sailors from everywhere from the north shore of Banderas Bay to the Bay Area, and had an absolutely wonderful time. In the calm of the morning, we motored from Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz to Punta Mita, where we picked up a bunch more guests. Then we set the screecher for a high speed, high-pointing — albeit low VMG — sail back to the Nayarit Riviera Marina.

The weather was perfect. It was about 85 degrees, and the ocean so warm that most of the crew went swimming off the boat while waiting for the new arrivals to come out from the beach in a panga. The wind started out at about 10 knots, but filled in to the mid-teens by the middle of the afternoon. As is always the case on Banderas Bay, it was flat water sailing. Think of an uncrowded and undeveloped San Francisco Bay, surrounded by jungle rather than cars and people, and with the air and water temps 30 to 40 degrees warmer. The kind of sailing weather where you are constantly hosing yourself off to nearly orgasmic relief.

Yesterday’s crew of sailors and non-sailors. Missing from photo, Catalina, the new Commodore of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of our greatest pleasures is to watch non- or novice sailors sail the big cat with a big screecher up. It always blows them away, if you’ll excuse the pun. The only downside is that the steering is understandably a little erratic, and that can cause some minor problems. For example, one driver got a little deep because we weren’t supervising closely enough. That allowed the gennaker sheet to get hung up on one of the partially opened hatches on top of the house. When the gennaker refilled, the sheet got caught in the hatch, and despite its being attached to the house by about 24 5/8-inch long screws, ripped it right off the deck. The frame looks at though it’s been in a high-speed, head-on collision.

Then, despite the best halyard leathering efforts of Fin Bevin, one of our crew in the Ha-Ha, we chaffed right through the gennaker halyard. It wasn’t Fin’s fault, because thanks to the fact that the screecher tack is nearly 24 feet from one side of the bow to the other, the halyard-leathering would have to be about 10 feet long to be effective. Anyway, sawing through halyards just comes with the territory when you spend most of your time beam and close reaching with nylon sails. Thanks to the efforts of sailmaker Jeff Thorpe and others, we managed to not only get the gennaker out of the drink quickly and without tearing the thing, but we reset it on the other halyard in a matter of minutes. Didn’t even bother to repack it before hoisting, either.

Good drivers can really make a boat go, so we hit our top speeds when Rich and Sheri Crowe of the Newport Beach-based Farr 44 Tabu were driving. Sheri hit 14.1, but said it was all because Rich had set up a speed burst for her. We say baloney, as Sheri kept hitting the mid-13s anyway.

By the way, the Crowe’s really get around. After sailing the entire length of the Ha-Ha on Tabu, they’ve already been all the way down to Barra de Navidad — no other cruisers were there yet — and back up to Banderas Bay. They report that the Grand Marina at Barra, as well as the big hotel and golf course, were purchased by a new owner on November 1. Hopefully he will review the berth rates, which are so high most cruisers are going to elect to stay in the nearby lagoon. The Crowes report that most of the beachfront restaurants are closed due to post-Jova hurricane damage, but the rest of Barra is in great shape.

Anyway, as soon as we neared La Cruz, the wind shut down completely, making dropped the screecher and main as simple as pie. Everyone had a great time, but nobody had a better time than us. We’re hoping to go sailing at least once a week, and hope to take as many of you readers out as possible. That would include you, Catalina, who missed yesterday’s sail, and who might not know it yet, but has been elected this year’s Commodore of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club.

Unbeknownst to her, Catalina is the new Commodore of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Speaking of beautiful Banderas Bay, the Banderas Bay Blast, three days of ‘nothing serious’ Ha-Ha-style racing, sponsored by the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club and the Vallarta YC, the will be held December 4-6. It’s better than free, as participants get a night of free berthing at the Marina Riviera Nayarit and a night of free berthing at Paradise Marina. Here’s the schedule:

  • December 4 — Leg One, starting from either Paradise Marina or Punta Mita to La Cruz. This will be followed by the usual festivities at the Marina Riviera Nayarit Sky Bar, which will include the famous Water Balloon Drop and, new this year, a variation of Swimming Pool Volleyball. According to Pedro, one of the three owners of the marina, instead of everyone being in one big pool, each member of each team will sit in their own baby pool. Later, everyone heads to town for dinner. You can stuff yourself at Eduardo’s or other taco places for $4. Then it’s on to Philo’s for music, dancing and romancing.
Pedro Fernandez de Valle, one of the three owners of the Marina Riviera Nayarit, gestures to the site of the new pool. The area will be fenced in. Until the pool is installed, baby pools at the Sky Bar will be used for swimming pool volleyball.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
  • December 5 — Leg Two, the upwind leg from La Cruz to Punta Mita. This will be followed by the annual grand re-opening of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club. Membership requirements are strict: 1) You have to sail there. 2) Lifetime membership is $1. And 3) You have to endure the carbon fiber paddle whack on the butt from the new Commodoress Catalina.
  • December 6 — Leg Three, which is also the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run, is from Punta Mita to Paradise Marina. After this leg, we’re going to have a Latitude Pool Stuffing Contest in the giant hot-tub beneath the Vallarta YC. This is part of a pool stuffing competition between the marinas in the Banderas Bay, the details of which are to come, and which Paradise Marina Harbormaster Dick Markie doesn’t even know about yet.
  • But wait, there’s more! The day after the Banderas Bay Blast is the Vallarta YC’s Chili Cook-Off, their big charity fundraiser of the year, held on the grounds of Paradise Resort and Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. Five or six hundred people attend, and it’s literally and figuratively a gas. Do not miss it.

In other words, the good cruising times in Mexico have started, and there’s a whole season in front of us. If you’re not down here on your own boat, you owe it to yourself to sneak away from the chilly States and join friends on their own boats down here in the tropics. As for those of you cruising in other parts of Mexico, please send reports of what’s going on in your area.

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Whether you’re in Mexico or Montana, have a terrific Thanksgiving! © 2011 Lynn Ringseis No doubt you’ll be spending tomorrow with family doing all the traditional Thanksgiving things — pigging out on turkey and pumpkin pie, watching football, sleeping .
As we’ve often written, we West Coast sailors generally have a much easier time getting to the tropics than do our sailing friends on the East Coast.