Friday, December 30, 2011

Not Bad For A Thursday
By Michael


The alarm sounded about this time. We haven’t woken to an alarm since leaving D.C.; I hope this doesn’t happen again soon. But we were anchored out off Punta de Mita and the family aboard Convivia invited us over for coffee, early. Early is what they do.

Tucker and Victoria on Convivia are a couple with strong streaks of technical geek, inventor, and go-getter running through them. And they love coffee. Before leaving San Francisco (and with plenty on their plate having decided to go cruising and with two small children in tow), they decided it would be a good idea to find a way to roast coffee beans aboard. So they bought an extra large barbeque, had some slots cut in the lid, and incorporated a hamster cage-like rotisserie contraption with a handle for turning. They packed their vessel full of green gourmet coffee beans and they roast regularly. Grinding happens below with an elegant, manual, shiny brass device.
We made a thermos of Mexican hot cocoa, cut up some fresh pineapple, and launched the dinghy to visit with our friends for an hour or so over what Windy said was pretty damn good coffee. Then we wished them all fair winds and dinghied back to Del Viento, not sure when we will see this cruising family again. They are headed for the South Pacific this spring, and we are headed to the Pacific Northwest this summer. We could both cruise the oceans of the world for the next 10 years and never again cross wakes. But we made a connection and that is the way cruising is.

Windy hard at work halfway up the mast.
Now on our minds was the earlier (prudent) departure of another cruising family, also anchored off Punta de Mita and bound as we were for the port of Chacala, about 35 nautical miles up the coast (nautical miles are a bit longer than the statute miles you drive in your car, 1.152 times longer).

But alas, as we approached our girl, we could see that her spreaders were drooping, a defeated pose for any rig. Sagging spreaders are not something that can be observed from deck, it takes an away-from-the-boat perspective to see this. And what is important is that sagging spreaders are dangerous. Spreaders should be proud, pointed slightly upward, bisecting the wire stay. Ours were like small broken wings, unable to play their critical role in maintaining the integrity of the mast.
Instead of hauling the anchor, I hauled Windy up the mast to adjust the spreaders while I loosened and retightened each side. They were not like this when we left La Cruz. But en route I adjusted the spreaders on both sides, when they were flagging in the leeward position, probably mistakenly tightening them down after they’d fallen.


Motoring around the northern point of Bahia de Banderas (and finally out into the open ocean), we saw our first Humpback whale breach. It pushed the first 30-feet-or-so of its massive body near vertical out of the water before stalling—hanging for a split second—and falling sideways with a massive splash. We were all gaping mouths, smiles, and shouts. We saw at least 20 more whales throughout the day. We saw a number of spectacular breaches, many tail-up soundings, about 40 blows, and a couple whales that repeatedly slapped the water with massive pectoral fins. We didn't take a single picture.

It was about this time that we saw our first rays of the day, while under sail. They were the brown rays, about a foot in diameter, in schools of dozens, jumping out of the water over and over, creating what looked like a giant fish boil.

I went down below to make a batch of killer guacamole with our remaining cilantro.

We then saw larger rays, jumping/flying out of the water, flashing sparkling white undersides as they flapped their wings in what looked like a bid to fly.

Up at the bow with Windy, Frances and Eleanor made eye contact with another ray as he jumped out of the water and up to deck level, just a few feet away. Eleanor said “He had a small mouth and he was cute!”

While under sail, I took some extra turns of the furling line off the drum, whipped the end, and reinstalled.

One of the larger sea turtles I’ve seen appeared up ahead while Windy was driving. She steered to within a few feet of him and he didn’t dive as they often do. He continued his rest period at the surface and simply kept an eye on us as we glided by.

Windy and the girls spied a pod of dolphins ahead, circling an area of water in what appeared to be an urgent, coordinated hunt for some fish we couldn’t see.

After motor sailing sixty percent of the day, we made it into Chacala hours after Wondertime, but still before dark. On our way in, they called on the radio and invited us over for dinner (we gladly accepted). Like Convivia, Wondertime is planning to cross to the South Pacific this spring. Our paths will soon also diverge, but we learned that they plan to depart from La Paz and to first see some of the Sea, so we look forward to seeing more of them during the coming months.

It seemed later than this to us because our travels brought us into mountain time today, so we gained an hour. But dog tired after our day (but not so sleepy after all the chocolate the crew of Wondertime fed us), we retired.
-- MR

Eleanor, Frances, and Leah (from Wondertime) ham it up for a picture in
front of the gingerbread house they constructed and decorated while
anchored out off La Cruz.


  1. Good post. Love that pic of the kids. Looks like a promo for a tv show.

  2. I emailed you back last night re: my "job" Sorry.
    Loved your post, but why do both girls suddenly appear in the video life vest free? Were they not coming down from above? That has me worried. They are always in vests when Delviento is underway, right??? I see Windy is wearing one. Your facial hair is out of control. What is your plan? Your day in the life sounds/is amazing. What a great life for the kidlets. And it seems as though their social life is booming. Cool. I miss you all. Hope your Christmas was fabulous. Very cute to see grandma's stockings hanging in the video. :) Love HB

  3. Loved this post Michael! So glad you're enjoying the good bits of voyaging - and that picture of the girls is great. Happy New Year to you, the Nyon crew.

  4. Wow, what an amazing view you have. We are hoping for our first snow here, kids have their parkas and mittens all ready, two types of sleds. They really want school to be closed for a day :-)
    Happy new year to you all!


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