Tuesday, March 7, 2017


My Drawing of the Anchorage
February 25-26, 2017

I got up and ran on Saturday morning, but I was late and didn’t stop to take any pictures.  No one else was up and I missed the morning net.  I wasn’t motivated to do much, so I spent the day practicing the guitar and finishing my drawing.  After our big excursion to San Pancho the night before, I was content just to hang out in La Cruz.

Margarita Zone at the Green Tomate
I spent a leisurely morning on Sunday and made myself bacon and banana pancakes for breakfast.  After spending the previous day at home, I was in the mood for social interaction.  About 1:00, I heard music coming from the Green Tomate, where my friend, Dani, was playing the drums for the Pirates Verdes.  I climbed the stairs and spent an hour or two hanging out with old friends from the Gecko Rojo and listening to the music.  The band played a lot of original material, which was a nice departure from the usual set of songs played by almost every gringo band in La Cruz.  I was saving my alcohol ration for the evening, so left after I finished nursing my limonada.

About 4:30, I joined Karen and some friends of hers for another trip to the San Pancho Music Festival.  This time, it was sunny and I understood why Karen wanted to sit in the back, under the trees.  We got there early enough to get chairs and set them up in the shade.  Tatewari, from La Cruz, were playing first.  They were very popular, but weren’t playing as much as they previously had because they were all struggling to make a living and were either working at day jobs or playing in more lucrative gigs.  Daniel, the rhythm guitarist, was also playing with Gypsy Rumba.  This was the first time I had seen them that season and I enjoyed their performance.  I bought a CD to take home.

The band on the second stage started out okay, but degenerated into poorly rehearsed, bad covers by the second set.  Once again, we were groaning.  I wasn’t thrilled with the second group, but really enjoyed Jenna Mammina, who improvised as impressive song from five words supplied by the audience.  She had a nice voice, her backup band was tight, and her material was interesting.  Julio Cabrera, the next act, played great Cuban rhythms, which I had been eager to hear from the beginning of the festival.  The music went downhill after that, but I enjoyed the company of Karen’s friends and we spent a pleasant evening.  I had quesadillas for dinner and finally succumbed to my flan craving, which was probably fortunate, since I found the ice cream cart when I was already full.

The last act was a Jarocho band and I could tell they were very good.  Unfortunately, the singer had laryngitis and could barely croak.  The audience gave him a break after a couple of numbers and we took our leave.  It was Sunday night and I wanted to wind down.

It was after 11:00 when I got home and I did a few things and then went to bed to read just before midnight.  At midnight, a very loud Mexican band started playing at the sports bar across the street.  The drums were exceptionally loud.  Fortunately, they were actually pretty good, but I was tired and didn’t appreciate that they played until two in the morning.  I finally put my earplugs in and managed to go to sleep as soon as they stopped.

February 27-28, 2017

I woke up at 6:00 on Monday morning and, as I had been up until 2:00 the night before, I was not in a good mood.  Somehow, however, between the music festival and the previous night’s Mexican band, I woke up with a Mexican song in my head.  I sat up and wrote it down.  I hadn’t written a decent song in twenty years, but I had a verse and a chorus before I went for a run that morning.

I ran a mile or so before I ran into my recently arrived friend, Blair, and I stopped to talk to him for a bit.  It was getting warm by the time I resumed my run, so I only ran about 2.25 miles before I gave myself a break and went home.  After only four hours of sleep, I was not at my most energetic.
Torta Ahogada (Drowned Sandwich)

It was almost time for me to pay more rent at Agave Azul and I had realized that my ATM card was about to expire and I needed to withdraw enough money to pay my rent and the rest of the charge for my trip to Copper Canyon.  After breakfast, I hopped on a combi and headed into Bucerias to go to the bank.  The combi driver ignored my request to let me off at the next light and, instead, deposited me at the light after that.  Since I was almost to the grocery store, I walked the rest of the way to Chedraui and picked up a few things I needed.  Then I crossed the street to go to the bank and discovered that the torta ahogada shop that had been closed since I arrived was finally open.  I wasn’t hungry, but I had been craving a torta ahogada for weeks, so I stopped and bought one to go.  Then I continued on to the bank, withdrew as much money as I could, and picked up another combi to take me back to La Cruz.

By the time I got home, I was hungry enough to eat half of my torta.  Just after lunch, I received a call from Fred, the owner of Wings, asking if I would be interested in crewing for the Banderas Bay Regatta.  One of his current crew had been injured outside of sailing and I was the only person on the crew list who had raced on Wings in the past.  I was glad to accept, since I had done no sailing since arriving in Mexico.  

Later in the afternoon I went to a workshop on trouble shooting diesel engines.  Interestingly, nearly every anecdote shared by the speaker, Steve Willie, had already happened to me at some point in my sailing career.  I left thinking that maybe I wasn’t as ignorant of engines as I had previously thought.  Steve’s presentation was very entertaining, however, and he kept it to an hour.  I spent the rest of the afternoon working on my new song.  The second half of my torta made a tasty dinner.

Tuesday was my last chance to get money out of my normal checking account (fortunately, I had another account at a different bank with another ATM card,) so I headed back to Bucerias after breakfast.  After making another maximum withdrawal, I had enough money to pay for my trip and still pay Ulla for the rest of my stay(s) at Agave Azul.  I didn’t need anything else in Bucerias, so came right back.

When I got back to La Cruz, I realized that my guitar teacher had requested that I send him a postcard.  Postcards are much harder to come by than they used to be, now that everyone just posts selfies on Facebook.  I did manage to find a few squirreled away in a glass case in the one souvenir shop in La Cruz.  Unfortunately, the only place to buy stamps or mail a letter was the post office back in Bucerias.  That would have to wait until the following week when I would have time to go back there.

I needed to move out of the palapa the next day, so I packed as many things as possible so as to be able to vacate in the morning without rushing.  I took my clothes to the laundry so I could retrieve them before I got tied up with the Banderas Bay Regatta later in the week.  It was a quiet day.  Even Anna Banana’s was quiet that evening.

March 1, 2017

Wednesday was my moving day.  I ran, showered, and ate breakfast.  Then I packed up the rest of my belongings and moved them out of the palapa, stacking them in a shady corner of the roof deck.  Since I had nowhere to live from 10:00 to 1:00 when I could move into my new room, Betty and I went out for breakfast at Café Shule and our housemate, John, joined us since we had no power and, therefore, no water at Agave Azul.  The power was out in the entire town of La Cruz, so we were somewhat limited in our breakfast choices, but I still managed to get the spinach and goat cheese omelet I had been craving, although a latte was out of the question.  The power came back on midway through our meal.

My New Room
After breakfast, Betty and I strolled around La Cruz a bit and did some errands.  By the time we returned, my bags had been relocated to room number 5, my new abode.  Room 5 was large and had a daybed, as well as a regular bed.  It turned out to be a comfortable place to play the guitar and the table made a good desk for writing and drawing.  There were also two ceiling fans, which kept the place reasonably cool.

New Comfier Bed

I spent the afternoon reading, playing the guitar and retrieving my laundry.  When evening came, I was ready to get out of the house.  Betty and I wanted to get a rotisserie chicken but, by the time she got home, the shop had closed.  We walked across town to Tacos on the Street, instead.  Tacos on the Street was expensive as taco restaurants go, but they were exceptionally good.  At 25 pesos ($1.25) for a steak taco with cheese, they still gave good value.  We were hungry and each ate two tacos and a quesadilla.  I had a margarita with my meal.  It was the first decent margarita I had had that season.  I was really missing the bartender from the then defunct Gecko Rojo, who made fabulous margaritas.

March 2, 2017

Thursday was the first day of the Banderas Bay Regatta.  I reported to Wings at 11:30 and was pleased to be provided with a crew shirt that actually fit as if it had been intended for me all along.  There were a few people on the boat who had been there when I raced with them in 2015, but mostly I saw a lot of new faces.  Fortunately for me, I was filling the same position that I had filled in the past.  I was tailing for the jib trimmers going upwind, managing halyards during spinnaker hoists, and grinding the spinnaker winch when sailing downwind.  With a crew of eleven, it was surprising to be so busy, but there was only so much room for crew in the pit.  Wings has two cockpits.  The helmsman, tactician and running back person were in the aft cockpit.  We had the main trimmer, two jib trimmers and two people to manage lines and halyards.  A foredeck crew of three completed the crew.

It took an hour to sail from La Cruz to the starting line near Nuevo Vallarta.  We were in the performance cruising or “A” fleet.  This fleet consisted of mostly true race boats, including a couple of modern, high-tech Varianta 44s and a J-105.  Each boat was handicapped to even their chances as much as possible.  Wings was a Serendipity 43, flush deck racing machine, but she was mature like her crew.  Still, she had won two out of three of the Banderas Bay Regatta races the previous year and taken the series,  Fred and Judy were hoping for the triple crown in 2017.

We made an excellent start and were first to the windward mark, but things didn’t go so well after that.  Our tactician sent us to the wrong mark on the next leg and, though we realized the error and corrected before we got there, we sailed further than necessary, which cost us time.  We had a similar problem with the leeward mark, but were still in the mix until our jib jammed in the foil on the last hoist and we could not raise it.  We ended up going to weather with the spinnaker close hauled.  We were heeled quite dramatically as we crossed the finish line and came so close to the committee boat that I suspected they gave us the horn in self-defense so that we could tack and not hit them.  We missed them by less than a boat length.

We only got fourth place, but it was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed ourselves.  The hour-long trip back to La Cruz was spent coiling lines and drinking cold beers.  When we returned to the dock, we folded the sails and Fred immediately set to work to repair the jib.  The bolt rope had caught on the pre-feeder and pulled a big loop through the luff tape.  Fred removed the luff tape from the head to the rip and then spliced in a new piece of luff tape.

I didn’t feel like going to the Vallarta Yacht Club for dinner, so headed home.  Betty and I went out for dinner at the La Cruz Inn and then went to the Octopus’s Garden to listen to the music for a little while, although I didn’t have a lot of energy after sailing all day.  We left after the first set.

March 3, 2017
Gray Morning

Friday dawned overcast and chilly.  I got up for a run, but there wasn’t much of a sunrise because of the clouds.  It was the second day of the Banderas Bay Regatta.  If we hadn’t been issued matching crew shirts, I would have worn long sleeves.  Most of the boats arrived much later than the day before, as if they were reluctant to come out in the gloomy weather.  

We got off to a decent start, but had to alter our course to avoid the J-105 whose helmsman did not see us.  We missed them by barely six feet.  It was a tense moment and we would have protested them if we had thought it would make a difference in our standing.  It just seemed harder to keep ahead of the other boats than the day before.  We avoided any egregious mistakes, but did have a moment when both shackles came off the spinnaker and we had to quickly hoist the jib until we could partially lower the kite and reattach them.  Still, our teamwork was good and we accomplished that without undue chaos.  Once again, we finished in fourth place.
Judy Enjoying the Ride Home

Foredeck Crew at the Mast

                                                                                                                                It started to rain on the last leg of the race and was sprinkling as we headed for home.  Few of us felt like a cold beer in that weather.  Instead, Judy broke out a bottle of rum and some shot glasses.  That hit the spot!  We were all in fine spirits by the time we reached the dock.

I was not the only crew member who lay down for a minute and nodded off upon returning home.  I
woke up shortly before 6:00 and had just enough time to get one of the last two chickens from the Pollo Rostizado shop before they closed.  I munched some chicken and spent a very quiet evening in my room.

March 4, 2017

Saturday was another fine, clear day.  We were in good spirits as we motored across the bay to Nuevo Vallarta.  Our course for the day was out to the windward mark and then over to La Cruz, back to the windward mark and around to the finish.  Our class included two modern Varianta 44s and they spent the whole day messing with each other.  As we followed them into La Cruz, we just couldn’t figure out was Nueva Luna was up to.  As they reached the mark, they went around it in the wrong direction.  At first, we doubted ourselves and checked our race instructions.  When Olas Lindas went around it in the other (correct) direction, we realized they had erred.  It took them quite a while to realize their mistake and then they had to sail back and round it in the correct direction.  Despite having sailed quite fast, they could not recover from that and finished sixth.

Folding the Jib
We had our best day of the series as far as mistakes went.  All went smoothly and even the jib went up and down as desired.  Despite great teamwork and smooth sail changes, we finished fifth.  It just wasn’t our regatta.  Sinfonia Nautica, the J-105, won all three races and took the series.  We came in fifth overall which was disappointing.  Still, we drank champagne and chatted companionably on the way home.  It was a lovely day and we were all tired and glad to be finished with racing for the time being.

When we got back to the dock, we folded the sails and packed up the faulty mainsail to send it back to the factory in China for warranty repair.  Even with all the extra cleanup work, we were finished early and I had a couple of hours to get rested and cleaned up before meeting my ride to the party in Nuevo Vallarta.

Party on the Beach at Paradise Village
                        The end of regatta bash at Paradise Village was an unexpected treat.  They had set up tables on the beach and Gypsy Rumba provided the music.  It was a fine evening and I got a chance to visit with friends from other boats.  Paradise Village put on an impressive buffet and the margaritas were excellent, if pricey.  The music was wonderful and I felt guilty talking through it.  People danced.  It was funny seeing everyone cleaned up and dressed in good clothes.  No one recognized me in a dress, without my sunglasses and hat.  It was nice to enjoy the fancy amenities of Paradise Village for an evening and not be sneaking in and out of the marina for a change.  I was hoarse by the time we left and it was late by the time we returned to La Cruz. I sank into happy slumber.

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