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Events, People, Places

Chamela

Aldabra left Zihuatanejo on February 25, with new crew, Derek, from the Sacramento area. We buddy boated with Rick and Cindy on Cool Change, who had introduced me to Derek via email. The two-night, two-day passage was very calm. We motored most of the way in glassy seas and light air. We saw at least 100 turtles and large pods of dolphins.

We arrived in the Manzanillo area on February 27 and anchored for one night in front of the famous Las Hadas resort. The next day we sailed to Ensenada Carrizal. We were the only two boats in the anchorage and had a wonderful day snorkeling. The next day we motored north to Barra de Navidad, where Aldabra had a three-day spa treatment. She was washed and waxed and polished and her bottom was cleaned. We stayed in Barra just short of a week, enjoying the company of cruiser friends, eating great tacos on the street and taking advantage of the pool at the marina. We also retrieved the outboard motor, which was being repaired while we were in Zihuatanejo.

On March 6, we sailed from Barra de Navidad to Tenacatita. We hung out with friends and made new acquaintances. We also visited the town of La Manzanilla and their crocodile reserved. Five days later, we headed north again, stopping first in the beautiful anchorage of Paraiso, which had nice snorkeling. Again, we were the only two boats in the anchorage.

On March 12 we moved north to Bahia Chamela and Playa Perula. My friends Todd, Laura, Carlos, Debbie, John and Cammy, have a house on the beach there. They flew down from the U.S. for about a week and a half and we were able to hang out with them. Highlights were the St. Patrick’s Day party with all their ex-pat friends, which featured an all-day bean-bag toss tournament, and the parade of little children on the first day of spring.

We were joined in Chamela by Aeolian, Dreamcatcher, Wainui and Liahona, among others. All of these boats, including Cool Change, headed north before we did. We finally set out on March 21, intending to do an overnight passage around Cabo Corrientes and on to La Cruz. The sailing was perfect for the first four hours. After that, we had 15-16 knot winds on the nose a huge seas. We ended up diverting to a cove called Ipala, which is south of Cabo Corrientes. We rested there from midnight to 6:30 a.m. and then followed Dreamcatcher around Cabo Corrientes in calm seas and light winds, arriving in La Cruz in the early afternoon.

Chamela residents on St. Patrick’s Day

The bean-back toss tournament

Chamela residents on St. Patrick’s Day

Winners and Second Place in the Bean-Bag Toss Tournament

Aldabra Crew Derek enjoying St. Patrick’s Day

Parade in Chamela for First Day of Spring

Events, People, Places

Zihuatanejo

During Sailfest, there was a parade of boats from Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa

Aldabra arrived in Zihuatanejo on February 1, after a two-night, one-day passage from Ensenada Carrizal, near Manzanillo. We were very sad to leave good friends, but looking forward to learning more about Sailfest, which provides an opportunity for cruising sailboats to help raise money to build schools for Zihuatanejo students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to finish high school.

The cruising community in Zihuatanejo is very welcoming. Minutes after we anchored, Tim Melville from Northwest Passage motored over in his dinghy to invite us to participate in the local radio net and get involved with Sailfest. Tim, along with his wife Donna, and Ken and Nancy Hunting on Gitane were tireless organizers of this event, which was supposed to last a week but ended up starting early and extending throughout the month. And they weren’t the only ones who were instrumental in the success of the event, which ended up raising 1.6 million pesos this year. Ken and Margie on Peregrina, and Rick on Eyes of the World had huge roles. And then most of the cruising boats were the key to the whole thing, because they volunteered their time, their boats and their fuel to take paying customers out on sunset cruises, a one-day rally and a parade. Several boats hosted more than 5 cruises each. The guests loved their experiences and everyone was thrilled to be having fun for a worthy cause.

Aldabra stayed at anchor during Sailfest. After 3 months on the boat, my crew, Dax, was ready to spend some time on land. So I crewed on other boats who needed an extra pair of hands. And that was really fun for me. I sailed twice on Wainui with Mark Coleman and Stephanie York. And I sailed twice on Chez Nous with Al Garnier. I also got to sail as a guest on Catatude with Tom Wurfi and his wife Helen. And I joined as a guest on Kya, a 68-ft luxury powerboat with Michael and Katie, Stuart and Georgia.

At the Helm on Kya

Several of us made an extra donation to Sailfest in exchange for having a photo taken at the helm of this beautiful boat with its very gracious crew.

In addition to raising money by taking people out on the boats, Sailfest had a chili-cookoff, a silent auction, a rock and roll concert, and a zillion raffles. We also got to go on a tour of one of the schools, which was just built last summer, I think in eleven weeks. In addition to being part of such a worthy cause, I loved getting to know the other cruisers and getting to know the land-based community, some of whom are here year-round working on organizing this charity and the projects it funds. As a final wrap-up, we were also treated to an afternoon on the beach in a beautiful setting south of Zihuatanejo, which ended with the release of hundreds of little turtles into the sea.

Participants in the school tour, learning about how the school was built and who it serves

During our tour of one of the schools built by the funds from Sailfest, we were treated to a performance of traditional dances and a play

During the school tour the students performed traditional dances

These were some of several pairs of students performing traditional dances

These high school students put on a play about life and the drug wars

Students hanging out during the tour

These were some of the contestants for the chili cook-off

Some of the contestants in the chili cook-off

Local Participants in the Chili Cook-Off

Chili Cook-Off Texas Style

Love these two chili cook-off contestants

Nancy and Ken from Gitane and Donna and Tim from Northwest Passage were key drivers of Sailfest

This was the turtle I coaxed into the sea

Thanks to the volunteers, all the baby turtles made it into the ocean, but some of them really struggled. Hopefully things got easier once they made it through the surf.

So things are quieter now. Many of the boats that were here have taken off to either the south or the north. A few of us remain. I have new crew arriving in a few days so I will then look for a weather window to go north. Others will stay here for Guitarfest, which is in early March.

I shouldn’t close this post about Zihuatanejo, without talking about the town. Like most of the coastal enclaves I’ve visited in Mexico, there are many retired Americans and Canadians, along with some Europeans. So often the only culture one senses is an ex-pat culture, not a true Mexican culture. Zihuatanejo is a tourist economy and sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the sea of gringos. But sometimes, like this morning, it feels like a Mexican town. As I walked through the market, I was there with lots of Mexican families, out for Saturday morning shopping and strolls through town. I had this same sense last night at the basketball court, which is the heart of town on weekend evenings, with Mexican families of all types, with kids of all ages, out enjoying what is essentially the town square. No wonder people are charmed when they come to visit and often end up returning each year, or staying permanently. One other thing to mention about Zihuatanejo is that there is an endless supply of good food and good music. I look forward to returning next year for Sailfest, and I expect Aldabra to be one of the boats taking guests out on cruises.

 

 

Events

Banderas Bay Blast

Boats at the starting line of the Banderas Bay Blast. That’s Jane and Jerry on Aeolian in the foreground.

Sailing close hauled in 19 knots during the Banderas Bay Blast.

On December 11, 12 and 13 we participated in the Banderas Bay Blast. It’a a three-day regatta that raises money for school supplies for children in the area. During the first day, we raced on a triangular course near where we are staying in La Cruz. The crew was Dax, who has been crew since Mazatlan, and Alan and Jan from Kemo Sabe. The winds were light. We were three minutes late to the start. And we never made it to the second mark of the course. When the wind hit zero knots, we retired from the race. Only five boats finished that day but we had lots of fun back in the marina with the other racers.

The second day, we were joined by Jeff and Jules from El Gato, along with our Day One crew. The winds were light at first but picked up to 19 knots as we raced close-hauled from La Cruz to Punta de Mita. We picked the wrong strategy for getting to the finish line and finished last among the boats that actually kept sailing. But we had a fun day and the dinner that night was fun in Punta de Mita.

The next day, after watching little school children do some traditional dancing, we headed off to the finish in Nueva Vallarta. This was mostly a downwind leg and Dax and I did it ourselves, with the help of a spinnaker borrowed from Kemo Sabe. We actually left before our official start time and were near the finish line when the fast boats blasted past us to finish. It was fun to have a front-row seat for the action. That night we stayed in Paradise Village Marina and had dinner at the Vallarta Yacht Club as the last gathering of the regatta. The next day we returned to La Cruz to start getting some work done on the boat.  Thank you Jules for these pictures. More coming soon from Jan.