Starting 6 March, we were blessed with a visit from our eldest son, Tanner, who was here until 18 March. We’ve had a great time with him so far exploring areas around Banderas Bay, including a trip to Chacala. It’s really fun to have visitors and share our sea-centered life and boat.
First off, visitors bring stuff! It’s not all Amazon and retail power centers in most of the places we will sail to. We leaned into e-commerce in the US for its ease and reliability allowing us to get all the stuff we needed to refit Calla Lily even though the closest marine supply store (chandlery) was 6 hours drive away in San Diego. The chandleries in recent travels have had a lot of basics, but plumbing and electrical gear that is designed for marine use is really hard to get. Hence, when we told our cruising friends that Tanner was coming the most common comment was, “what’s he bringing you?” A lot! Here’s what he brought us:
Sliding car for the spinnaker pole (so we can use our pole)
Solar string lights (to light up our solar arch)
Warranty replacement for our salt water faucet pump
Carburetor cleaning kit (for the outboard)
Special scissors (to cut dyneema rope)
Sailing instrument cover
Cutting tool blades
Fittings to redo the battery wires
Capacitor for the water maker
External hard drive
and yet ... PLEASE don't be put off!!
If you are wanting to come spend some time with us, we won’t ask you to bring so much… Shout out to T!! ...he is both family and our first visitor so he brought extra.
Tanner's a seasoned digital nomad and working many days while he visits is not unusual for him. He wanted to go check out Sayulita so he and Shelby headed over for a couple nights while Mike stayed overnights on Calla Lily. They enjoyed beds that don't roll at an Airbnb, being next door to an authentic french bakery (Paris Delice) and Shelby felt pampered by real showers and a massage. Mike worked on taxes. It wasn’t all work, he took the bus over and had a nice day walking around Sayulita, the beach and a late afternoon jungle hike (for a notable total of 26k steps!) before coming back to keep watch on Calla Lily.
Friday we spent the morning getting our house in order. (That is when Calla Lily goes from toys-out 'living at anchor' mode to buttoned-down 'traveling mode'.) Then we sailed up to Punta Mita. This small bay tucked just inside the open Pacific is a popular spot to start and end journeys to and from Banderas Bay on the north/south travel axis. It’s about 11 miles away if you motor straight there, but we ended up traveling 21 miles since we had to follow the wind. It got quite sporty with winds over 20 knots and we had to beat to windward. It's a good idea in strong winds and a good idea to practice, so we put 2 reefs in the mainsail. This reduced the power in the sail but not our speed and the boat didn’t strain as much, which is always nice. As we pulled into the anchorage in Punta de Mita, we swapped out our 55 pound anchor for our new 70 pound anchor that we bought from another cruiser. Shout out to Roger on SVHanoa -- we LOVE it! The 70-pounder will serve us better in the long run for sure. Also, it feels more secure and provides added peace of mind with it at seabed.
Saturday we got going early at 7:00am for our 40 mile trip up to Chacala. At 9:00am there was about 5 knots of wind... light wind but wind. And ... we hadn’t used the spinnaker yet, in fact, we hadn’t even taken it out of the sail bag yet. It was listed as a symmetrical spinnaker on the listing when we bought Calla Lily, but to our delight, it is an asymmetrical spinnaker! Why is this a good thing? Asymmetrical spinnakers are more versatile and can be used on more points of sail. They are also easier because it doesn't require the big, rather unwieldy spinnaker pole to fly them. The stoke factor was high! Wind speeds shift like wind direction but cut to the chase, when the wind was up at 10 knots later in the day, well, the spinnaker is magic. We were getting more than 7 knots of boat speed in 10 knots of wind on a beam reach. And it was so SMOOTH. Rather than getting rolled back and forth in the swell the spinnaker gave us enough power to ride straight through. Fast, smooth, and pretty. What’s not to like? It was great to have Tanner on as crew to help figure it all out.
Sharing what we enjoy in Chacala, we took Tanner on one of our favorite hikes through the jungle to the rim of the volcano. The hike goes though some good thick jungle before emerging on the volcano. We took in the view of the town and bay and watched the frigate birds and vultures soaring on the thermals below us. A cooling swim followed with Shelby tending dinghy for Tanner and Mike to snorkel on the north side of the bay. Note to those who have ever fought mask fog :: using toothpaste works! (Really, it’s a thing.)
Heading back to Punta de Mita on Monday was our best day of sailing yet. We flew the spinnaker for 4 hours, saw speeds above 8 knots and it was smooth as silk again. Wind speeds above 12 knots are not for light sails so we brought the spinnaker down. Spinnakers are huge lightweight sails and can turn a dreamy trip into a nightmarish one in a hurry. And yet ... we had our extra crew with us, so we braved putting out the spinnaker pole with the Genoa. Another first for trying different sail plans on this boat. The forward/outside shape of the sail is retained while the wind is behind us. We realized, again, that online videos can help us see exactly how to best manage the pole and running rigging. Did I mention it was long and heavy?
Next day our 19 mile sail was sporting with winds in the mid-teens all the way. We enjoyed a good deal of time above 8 knots again with the main and Genoa both with the pole and without. There is crewing confidence that comes up as we practice various sail plans in various weather states too. We're thrilled to know the boat more and more each time.
Back in La Cruz, Tanner worked nautical digital nomad style from the boat using our phone as a hot spot for a couple days. We schlepped laundry to the Lavanderia in town and the spinnaker to the local sail loft for an inspection and to have its sock repaired. Spinnaker socks are super cool devices that turn your unwieldy acre of lightweight nylon into a nylon sausage about 3 feet in diameter. Really makes it more controlled to manage on deck and raise and lower and as a two-hand crew, this is critical.
PV has proved to be an easy connection point for coming and going. The airport is about the size of Tucson‘s with local transport providing regular and reliable access for those without cars. With a little more practice, we will be quite expert facilitators! From a great visit with Tanner, we are now looking forward to our next guest, Paige, arriving on Wednesday. She will be followed by Glenn on 2 April and then our other son, Furey, who is planning his trip.
Bring on the crew, bring on the sailing! We love to share it all ;-)