Captain Woody Cruising Adventure

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Puerto Vallarta to Mazatlan - #95

Bob called me into his office. As I walked down the hall I wondered what I had done this time or at least, what he had caught me doing this time. I got back there and he let me know that my traveling, boat moving, technical skills were requested in a margarita rich environment. That's right, I was headed to Puerto Vallarta. For those who don't get south much PV's on the mainland across from Cabo San Lucas in the greener part of Mexico. The new owners of the Lost Soul were busy breaking-in their new boat and wanted a little guidance. I had overseen much of the refit and so I got on a plane. Lucky for me, young Dena was available to take a week off and join me on this adventure.

I appreciate it every time, stepping out of the doorway of a small plane onto the stairway to the tarmac and taking in all that is tropical from the humid warmth to the sweet jungle smell. We grabbed an airport coldie for the cab ride to Nuevo Vallarta. Paul found us wandering around the docks and greeted us with a friendly smile. I had forgotten what a grand impression the Lost Soul makes when you first walk up on her. Wherever she goes she is the most beautiful boat in the harbor with her piratical lines drawn out in black and white and complemented by her deeply varnished wood. The boat had never looked better. Paul and Ginny had been keeping her up. We got to know our new hosts over a coldie on the aft deck.

The plan was to take Lost Soul on a little round trip to Mazatlan and back. Rob joined up with us later that night. He's a kewl expat who does real estate in the area when he is not out sailing. Before sunup, about an hour before high tide, we departed for Mazatlan. The crew and I had a plan for departure. When all was set I gave a nod to indicate for everyone to take their positions. They did that and cast off the lines too. Next thing I knew we were adrift and with some current twisting us up. I had to throttle up quickly to pull the boat out before she swung her long bowsprit through the little 40' Hunter next door. The good news is I got the boat out of the slipway without incident, that is if you consider leaving one of the crew behind as 'without incident'. We picked up Paul down the dock a bit.

We unfurled some of the main and ran out into the dark predawn sea headed toward the entrance to Bahia Banderas. I checked that everything was running smoothly in the engine room and then came up and set the watch schedule. Just as I was headed down to reacquaint myself with the forward stateroom a large navy looking boat came up from astern with its spot light on us. We got the guy on the radio. They were the Mexican Coast Guard. They had some questions for us. We couldn't get him to speak English which of course is required on channel 16. No matter, Rob was nearly fluent and he answered the barrage of questions. I guess the boys on the cutter were just out practicing their technique.

We ran all day without much wind which means two things, motor on and not much swell. We were able to head straight for our destination without having to crack off the wind to avoid slamming. We didn't have swells to contend with but we did have rows and rows of fishing lines to avoid. We were fifty miles offshore. If you drew a line from one peninsula to the next, you know, the most likely rhumb line for all boats cruising the coast, you would find yourself in the middle of these miles long fishing lines rigged perpendicular to shore. During the day we did our best to avoid them. What did we do at night? We didn't worry about them. Lost Soul, rigged with every conceivable piece of boatshow gear happens to have kelp cutters on the prop. Apparently, they were working perfectly.

We pulled into Mazatlan when the dredge was working. That is a tight entrance as it is. The dredge waved us by. Dena spotted iguanas to starboard at one of the nice waterside hotels. We pulled up for fuel and the girls went ashore to get the check in process started. Paul, Rob and I fueled up and headed over to our slip for the night. It seemed like a nice spot to be parked stern-to where our big aft seating area would overlook the dock. I took three shots at it and much to the enjoyment of the dock cruisers I couldn't get it done. Without the training wheels working, I mean the bow thruster, and with a nice breeze on the beam I couldn't get her to back straight even with the helm hard over and moving fast. We could have dropped the bow anchor but decided to flip around and pull straight in.

We all got our showers and met up at the marina's cruiser café where frosty beverages could allegedly be found. We caught a bus into town and found the best little restaurant right above the sand over looking the bay. The sun set over carne asadas and margaritas. Afterward we happened upon a custom convertible VW taxi with high viewing bench seats. Manuel dropped us at the Captain's restaurant where we joined with the locals and danced the night away.

We took off from Mazatlan the next morning. It was a nice day. It would have been perfect but there was no wind. That made for flat calm motoring. Even though we went further out we still encountered the fishing maze. Downwind this time we arrived back at PV quickly but had to wait for the tide to come up to get into the marina. I went through the docking procedure with the crew giving each instructions. It would be tricky with the tide running perpendicular to the narrow slip. I would have one shot at it. If I missed we would be swept into the shallows. We came in slow and just up current of the slip I clicked into reverse and started my turn to port and throttled up. With a left handed prop this brought the bow around hard to port and across the current. This is about when I noticed that one of my crewmembers, the one that was enlisted to man the roaming fender was standing empty handed. I let out an, "oh sh#%". Not something I would recommend as it tends to distract the crew. I got the big girl into the slip just as the current helped us against the dock … at a spot without a fender. Yep, I rubbed off some paint. After all the adventures Lost Soul had delivered me safely to and through, this was how I chose to repay her? It was my fault for not checking that everyone was ready to go before pulling in. Rob tried to comfort me confident that his guy could rub it out.

We all met up at the yacht club for one last pow-wow before Dena and I had to depart. It was great sailing on Lost Soul again. Hopefully it won't be the last time.

I'm finishing this up at an airport in Costa Rica. I'm headed to Bocas del Toro, Panama to deliver a Gulfstar 41 to Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Yep, 1100 miles upwind in the breeziest time of year. We're expecting close to 40 knots on the nose off Cartegena. Wish us luck.

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