November 20, 2014
What a sail! We arrived in Puerto Vallarta yesterday afternoon, after three and a half days from Bahia Santa Maria. Unexpectedly, there was mostly plenty of wind – and for half a day we found ourselves doing 7, even 8 knots with a double-reefed main and staysail only. Exciting, but never scary. Or, at least not really scary. The boat did great – no breakdowns or issues, other than a problem with the iPad, not a big deal.
We’re almost a thousand miles south of the border, already east of El Paso, Texas, and two hours ahead of Seattle. We can see big changes in the night sky – Polaris far lower, Orion wheeling across almost straight overhead. We formally entered the tropics a couple nights ago – 23.5 degrees latitude – and it’s beginning to feel like it.
We instituted our new water policy – fresh water for human consumption only – drinking, coffee and tea, and cooking (pasta and other boiling jobs are done with ½ fresh, ½ salt). All other normal water functions are taken care of with sea water, through the handy foot pump in the galley. After washing and rinsing the dishes in salt water, we give them a slight rinse in fresh with the hand pump, and that’s it for non-human consumption uses. It worked wonders. We could easily carry a month’s worth the water on the boat if we conserve it this way. Much easier than dealing with a watermaker.
Hannah seemed to have the wildlife watch – sea turtles bobbing along, and then two humpback (I think) whales doing the amazing breaching show, where they fire themselves into the air, perhaps half of their length, then rotate and fall on their backs with huge flukes waving above them. That was about 30 miles from Cabo San Lucas as we went towards Puerto Vallarta – a 300 mile open ocean leg of the trip.
The capper, though, was that we caught a beautiful Dorado (aka: Mahi-Mahi, or sometimes even Dolphinfish). It was right before heading into Puerto Vallarta, so we ended up doing “catch and release” – hoping we’ll get another one on the way south from here. It was enough fish for at least three meals, and proved that our fishing methods actually work.
A particularly nice part of this leg was the long nights under the stars, alone in the ocean, no other boats within thirty or forty miles most of the time, with time to think, and dream. Warm night sailing in a t-shirt is hard to beat. Clouds blowing across the moon, new sea birds wheeling in the air and skimming the waves, and no commercial breaks at all.
Today was spent cleaning up the boat and dealing with paperwork, clearing into Mexico. There seems to have been an explosion of bureaucratic detail since I was last here on a boat. It took all day to go through the hoops, but it was friendly, inexpensive, and good practice for my Spanish. Birgit and Hannah spend the time hosing the salt crust off everything, sorting laundry and cleaning. Next is to get our first shower since San Diego, two weeks ago. Swimming in the sea is good, but one or two showers a month is not excessive, right?
We’ll hang out here long enough to get ready for the next leg, loading up on water, fuel and food, end head out early next week for Bahia Tenacatita, Barra de Navidad, and then, after plenty of snorkeling, surfing and eating, on to Zihuatenejo.