14 June 2015
May 31, 2015
Much has happened since the last blog I wrote. After Matanchen Bay, Jay and I ventured off to Chacala, just 40 nm south.
Chacala is yet another small Mexican village set on the mainland coast. It, too, is picturesque with its tall palms and white sandy beaches. The bay reflects the warm sunshine in its turquoise waters. The sea laps against the shore while children play in the surf. The distant beat of drums floats through the air. A group of teenagers play volleyball while their families sit nearby, sipping beer and lazily laughing the day away.
You know all those old movies where the bad guys talk about running away to Mexico and dropping out, spending their remaining days on a tropical beach drinking margaritas? Well, I think we found their getaway.
I realize it is redundant to ooh and ah about every village and bay we find, but it is true; Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
After only four days, we weighed anchors (bow & stern anchors are a must in this bay) and headed south again. We would have stayed longer but we were on a schedule. I know! I know! Schedule is a bad word in the sailing world, but alas, we were to meet a friend in Puerto Vallarta in early March so off we went.
Jay and I spent the next two months exploring Banderas Bay. Banderas Bay is a huge bay covering over 400 square miles. The coastline goes from white, sandy beaches on the north and east coastlines to dramatic cliffs overlooking the south shore. The towns go from small Mexican villages to the city metropolis of Puerto Vallarta. The depth of the sea is as shallow as 30 feet in some areas and as deep as a mile in others. There is a plethora of sea life including whales, dolphins, marlin and dorado. But the sailing conditions are what makes this bay so special. Almost any day of the year you can find 15 to 20 knot winds with calm seas for the perfect sail.
A bay this size brings many stories to tell and I will. But those stories must wait to be written until next season, for sometimes “life throws us a curve ball,” And this time, I got hit so hard, it has taken me out of the game. At least for awhile.
It was April 11, 2015. Jay and I were at the La Cruz anchorage preparing the dinghy to go into the marina. The winds had come up and the seas were choppy. Jay was still on Cadenza when I started the engine in neutral and full throttle. That is when a wave hit and knocked me into the gear shift pushing it into forward. Before I could get control of the boat, I found myself in the water swimming frantically away from our runaway dinghy and its whirling propeller. It was headed straight for me. Unfortunately, I couldn't swim fast enough and I felt it catch my leg. That is when, for me, the whole world stopped. And then, within seconds, started again – in an entirely different direction.
There are many stages of awareness that one goes through when an accident of this magnitude happens.
First, survival. What must I do to save my myself, my leg, maybe even safe my life?
Second, recovery. Stabilize the wounds and get help.
Third, shock. How did this happen? What exactly did happen? How bad is it?
Then, in my case, euphoria. I am alive. I haven't lost my leg. I can feel my toes. I will walk again. I will be okay.
And finally, the long, slow process of healing. This phase speaks not only to my character, but causes me to pause, at length, and reflect – an act that creates inner turbulence and therefore profound changes in the nature of my being.
I have never been one to sit still.
P.S. If you are interested in reading more about my accident, SAIL Magazine has published my story in the July issue, along with a photo of my leg.