Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lucky wind, lucky break.

Winds from the south are uncommon along the Mexican mainland during the winter, but with a combination of luck and attention to the weather forecasts, we managed to catch a two-day southerly as we left Tenacatita for Puerto Vallarta.

We weren*t the only ones. Somewhere between 8 and 15 other boats at Tenacatita and Chamela took advantage of this fair weather window and sprinted north as well. By sheer happenstance, we happened to be leading the pack with the others strung out behind us.

If one dared complain about the weather, the only issues would be that there wasnt quite enough wind to sail and it was coming from dead astern (an unpopular point of sail for us). Nevertheless, we did manage to shut the engine off for three hours and enjoy the relative silence of pure sailing.

Cabo Corrientes, the cape at the southern end of Banderas Bay (in which sits Puerto Vallarta), has a reputation somewhat like Capes Mendocino and Blanco in the US. Cabo Corrientes (Cape Currents) tends to accentuate whatever wind flows past it. It is the source of some hand-wringing and weather-worrying amongst the cruising sailors down here. We would be passing it just after midnight with no moon, so that added a little to the pucker factor.

As it turned out, the light southerly winds continued without augmentation and we rounded the black cape with its lighthouse blinking reassuringly. Now we just had a straight shot to Puerto Vallarta (PV) across Banderas Bay.

The lights of PV and all of its hotels made a pretty sight as we approached. We had expected the possibility of heavy boat traffic in the bay, but there was none at all until we arrived at the harbor entrance. But just prior to that arrival we were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the Sierra Madre Mountains which rise precipitously behind the town.

Arriving in PV harbor at 0830 is not the best time. All of the tour boats and charter fishing boats are getting underway about then. The narrow channel from the cruise ship harbor to the marina was as clogged as a Russian toilet. Kay was steering while Steve conned from above and behind her. We had to slow to a crawl and drift in neutral as we threaded our way through a Tijuana traffic situation.

Once through that obstacle course we had to find the slip we were to use. Now here comes another amazing story....well, its amazing to us. Just before we left Zihuatenejo we went ashore one last time to check our land-based email. We received a message from old friend and former co-worker, Gary Crowell. We had forgotten that Gary owns a condo moorage slip at Marina Vallarta. Gary had recently visited our website and noted that we were heading in that direction. He informed us that his slip would be vacant soon and that we were welcomed to use it as long as we were in PV!! Yahoo! Boy did that make our day, especially Kay*s, as she has been looking forward to some marina time.

So, with many thanks to Gary, we were looking for his slip, E-27. We vaguely remembered where it was from our air visit here in 1994, when his boat, Galore, was still here. We had to go around an enormous power yacht (Silver Lining) moored at the end of E-dock, and then we breathed a sigh of relief and joy as we saw that E-27 was empty and waiting for us.

Once Kavenga was tied up and we both had quick showers, we collapsed for long naps as we had had only two to three hours of sleep during the overnight passage from Tenacatita. Later we checked in with the marina office and an agent who will take care of clearing us in to Puerto Vallarta (pronounced vy-yarta).

We have a long list of boat projects and fun projects to accomplish while we are here. Thanks to Gary and his slip, we will be able to make a big dent in both. By the way, I think Gary might be willing to sell his slip, so if anyone needs a great place to park there boat in Mexico, let us know and we will put you in contact with him.

* The darn quote/apostrophe key still isn*t working.


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