March 26, 2005

February and March 2005 on Raptor Dance

February and March have just flown past.

Our last post was from our Guadalajara trip and we've been very busy since. Take a look at our website for some pictures of our Guadalajara visit and subsequent activities.

We left Barra de Navidad on January 30th, working our way back up the coast to Puerto Vallarta. We had a great time in Barra and the neighboring town of Melaque.

We then spent a lovely week in Tenacatita, enjoying the swimming, snorkeling and camaraderie of the fellow cruisers.

We followed our steps down and returned to Chamela and Ipala before returning to Banderas Bay.

The surf was quite a bit higher in Chamela this time and we got soaked going in for lunch on the second day there. We didn't even try going in on the first day.

On our way in, just as Mary hopped out of the dingy to pull it up the beach. I looked back and yelled “Oops” as a sneaky (we counted the sets… it wasn’t supposed to be there yet!) wave broke over the stern turning the dingy slightly pushing Mary into the water.

On the way out, another wave broke over the bow and filled the dingy to the brim. The nice thing about inflatables is that it just slows them down a bit. It was a lot like driving around in a hot tub... Except for the part about the shoes almost floating away.

I pulled the plug in the transom when we were out of the surf and the water drained out. It wasn't until we got back to Puerto Vallarta, however, until I could hose all the sand out of the dingy.

We didn’t get the dingy out this time in Ipala as we were only staying the one night. We attempted to swim into shore for lunch, but the water was substantially colder in early February than it was when we were there in December – so we ate on the boat.

We left Ipala at first light and rounding Cabo Corrientes mid-morning was no problem. It’s often very rough rounding Corrientes so one needs the check the cruisers weather resources, like Don of Summer Passage’s weather report on the Single Side Band Marine Radio each morning. Don called for calm conditions that morning and he was right on.

Entering Banderas Bay for the second time felt like coming home. We really enjoyed our time here in November and December and were looking forward to renewing old acquaintances and seeing the sites that we didn’t have time for on our fist visit.

It’s amazing that when we both were working and only had a week or two off at a time it seemed that we could visit a destination and pack a thorough vacation in a very short time. Now that we’re retired, “months” isn’t long enough!

When we got back, we took care of some maintenance items that had built up and then flew up to the states for a 3 week visit.

We spent the first week in Camp Hill, PA visiting Mary’s folks. It was her dad’s 90th birthday back in January and we were overdue for a visit. We had a lovely visit, but it was cold – in the 20s and 30s with snow flurries while we were there. We basically stayed inside…

We brought a little bit of Mexico back to PA with us playing “Mexican Train” dominoes with the family. Interestingly, you can’t get the “double twelve” or “double fifteen” sets required to play Mexican train in Mexico! So, we stopped at the Harrisburg PA Toy’s-R-Us and picked up a set. If you’re interested in this game, be sure to pick up a set with color coded dots. It’s much easier to play – especially after a glass of wine or two!

The next two weeks we were back in our “vacation home” in Sonoma County. We had a chance to visit with friends and run errands, take care of chores, buy those boat parts you can’t find in Mexico, do taxes (yuk!), etc.

In our short time home, we did manage to get quite a bit done, see many of our friends, taste some outstanding Sonoma wine (greatly missed here in Mexico) and in general it was a great 2 week “working” vacation.

One of the highlights of the visit was attending Barrel Tasting in the Russian River Valley with some of our cruising friends who were also back home at that time.

As nice as the visit was, it was great to get back to Raptor Dance on March 11th, just in time for the start of the Banderas Bay Regatta on March 12th.

We lined up Doug and Kumi from Kanaloa, John from Persistence and Gene and Linda from Omaha, NB (they have a condo here in Paradise Village) as crew.

Prior to the first race, the Regatta organizers set up a “boat parade” as all the competitors exited the harbor at Nuevo Vallarta. We flew our dancing raptor battle flag and played the theme from Jurassic Park, turned up high, on our external speakers – the effect was awesome!

Since we just got back the night before the regatta, we only had the time right before the first race to practice. We were a few seconds late crossing the line at the start of the first race, but quickly made up that time and were well on our way to trounce our competition when the webbing at the head of our Genoa (the forward most sail) blew apart, which caused the Genoa to come down.

Our crew did a great job and we were working extremely well together. We assembled a great group on very short notice. We still had fun, even in the face of adversity!

The winds were not heavy enough to continue sailing with the staysail alone (we would not have made the finish line by the time the race was “called”) – so we retired. Since we started the race that day, we were scored as a “Did Not Finish”. An important distinction as we will see later.

We have a high tech, Spectra sail suite and our sail was fine, but the attachment point for the halyard is made from two strips of very strong webbing stitched to the leach (leading edge) and luff (trailing edge) of the sail. The sail is made up of many panels that meet at the head of the sail and all overlap. Overall, the sail at this point is about ¼” thick with many layers of Spectra fabric. Of all our sails, it’s the thickest part of any (the head of the mainsail is done differently with a metal headboard). We couldn’t find a reliable sail maker who could make the fix in time for the remaining races, so we futilely attempted to fix it on our own.

We tried with two industrial sewing machines to stitch on replacement webbing and only succeeded in breaking needles. We tried hand stitching, but even trying to drive our biggest needle with a hammer, we were only able to do a few stitches. We couldn’t fix it in time for the race on the second day, so we joined the folks on Legacy and raced with them on Day 2. We had a great race and Legacy finished 3rd in their class for day 2.

We tried again after the race on Day 2 to work on our sail, but it was clear that we didn’t have the right equipment or supplies to make progress. So we bagged up the sail and loaded it into the back of Barry of Minerva’s truck (Barry has the UK Sail Loft in PV). Barry was also the Regatta chairman so he couldn’t get to our sail until the Regatta was over. He did a great job fixing the sail. He glued and hand stitched the new tape on, breaking 9 needles in the process. We also thoroughly checked out or other sails for UV damage and chafe.

Barry theorized that the webbing degraded due to bird guano from the occasional bird perching on the top of our mast, combined with UV degradation that caused the webbing to deteriorate. Interestingly I had just inspected it before the race and it looked OK to me – apparently the problem was not visible.

At the party that night my throat started to get a little scratchy. Later that evening I started running a fever – I had come down with the flu. Due to the incubation period involved, I most likely got it up in Sonoma during our visit home. Mary also came down with it 2 days later and we were both out of circulation for over a week.

So we missed the last day of racing in the Regatta… But the wind was so light that day that only one boat from the main fleets finished! There was also a class of smaller boats that were sent on a very short course - They all finished.

In our class, Fleet 4, there were 6 boats. Three dropped out before the first race. We started the first race with two competitors, but we didn’t finish any races. So, based on the way points were awarded, because we had one start, we had enough points to place 3rd in our class! Not very satisfying, but the hat and plaque we got as a prizes are very nice… Oh well…

Every night of the Regatta there was a party with live music, dancing, food and drink. We had a great time and Mary even complemented me on my dancing (quite a feat! Or is that quite a feet?)

We’re now both over the Flu, anxious to get going again. We’ll be here next week getting ready to depart for Mazatl├ín and the Sea of Cortez approximately next weekend (the First weekend in April).

That’s the news from Raptor Dance in Paradise Village Nuevo Vallarta!