Bandaras Bay Race Week and the tsunami of 2011
13 March 2011
The Bandaras Bay Race week is a yearly event sponsored by the Vallarta Yacht Club at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. Paradise Village is also referred to as the Marina del Rey of the south, which is why we prefer to be in La Cruz, but for this event we will make an exception. We got a slip at neighboring Nuevo Vallarta Marina because Paradise was full. Both marinas share the same entrance channel into this dredged estuary/mangrove swamp that has little channels running for miles back into the river bottom and yes, it’s posted for crocodiles too!
Oceanside crew regulars Mike Cobas, Patty Mangles and James Connor flew down for the event. Lee and Cathy provided Siroccos’s own race HQ by renting one of the condos adjacent to the Vallarta YC where our extra crew stayed and we could store some of the excess gear removed from Sirocco to lighten her load for the race as well as some of our own equipment. We had nightly ‘debriefings’ there, fixed crew dinner and we had access to the washer and dryer at the condo, which was a bonus! Our marina is close enough for us use our dinghies for transportation between the two locations, no taxis involved. Thanks to Lee and Cathy for going above and beyond to do all that, it really made it nice.
Race Week events started on Wednesday with a practice race primarily geared towards the cruising boats in the fleet that don’t do much if any racing. To be sure there were quite a few die hard racers with race oriented boats in the fleet and the fleet was divided into different classes mostly determined by ratings. We were in a tough class with some serious competition. The practice day gave us a chance to re-orient ourselves to racing and to being on Sirocco again. Thursday, March 10 was the first race. Sirocco got off to a clean start and held the lead almost to the first windward mark over some faster competitors. We sailed a clean race with good execution of all our maneuvers, error free to take a second behind Cirque, a Beneteau 42s7 out of the San Francisco area and ahead of Blue, a J160 from Puerta Vallarta. For the race results you can check their site at: http://www.vallartayachtclub.org/race/bbr2011.html. Regardless, with about 60 boats in the race it was pretty exciting and quite a site to see.
That night I was working late on the internet trying to catch up on Blog Posts since we have wifi in this marina. As a side note life without instant access to the internet is different. It’s something we didn’t grow up with, yet it is now like cell phones it’s something that we (some of us anyway) can’t seem to live without. I kind of find it refreshing. When I know I can’t get on the internet anyway I tend to not even open the computer, which gives me time for other things and there’s lots to do here just to keep up. Before shutting down the computer I checked email one last time and had received a note from old Riverside friend Steve Evans. He sent me a notice on the terrible earthquake that had just struck Japan and the resulting tsunami warning. There was not much else on that until I woke up in the morning and the VHF and SSB nets were swarming with it as well as the internet.
Within a few hours it was determined that there would be a tsunami effect on the Bandaras Bay region and the race was cancelled for Friday. With the possibility of damaging surges and currents affecting the marinas just about everyone got on their boats and went out to sea to deep water, the safest place to be in such an event. As it turned out it was a great day on the bay for a day sail and I doubt there has never been that many boats on the bay at one time, literally hundreds, but it is a big bay and congestion was not an issue. It turned out that there was substantial surge and while no boats were damaged the La Cruz marina did suffer some dock damage. They reported up to 14 knots running into and then out the channel here at Nuevo Vallarta. The entrances to all the marinas were closed after it hit and the entire fleet was forced to anchor out overnight. We spent the night anchored in the La Cruz/Busarias area where we noticed varying tidal flows, but had no issues.
All the boats returned to our marinas Saturday and while there was still some weird periodic tidal flooding it was minor and the race went on as scheduled. It was windier Saturday and there was more chop, but still a good day for racing. Today was not our best and we made a few minor errors, nothing serious, but with tough competition enough to take a sixth. We were happy to have had the opportunity to get to participate in this event; a fine regatta with a lot of participation and great team efforts. Because race two was cancelled the final results were an average of the two races. We were happy to learn that Sirocco took a very respectable 3rd overall. Kudos to Lee and Cathy for their efforts!
Today is Sunday, March 13 and there is an after race event sponsored by a local retreat inland from Bucarias called “Arroyo Verde.” They are also sailors and own a big catamaran named “Moon and Stars” and were also in the regatta. We are not sure what the protocol is for the party, but they have a pool, food and beverages will be served. I hope we get to see most of the crews from our competition; it would be fun to get their take on the race.
We will be flying home Wednesday from Puerto Vallarta for two weeks for personal business. Pacifico will remain here in Nuevo Vallarta Marina as opposed to our intention to take her to La Cruz. We are thinking should there be any further major earthquake events in Japan and resulting tidal waves this looks like a safer place to keep the boat. That’s the plan for now anyway, but things are always subject to change!