Safe and Sound back in Banderas Bay - after a long night
25 February 2016 | 20 44.98'N:105 21.98'W, Banderas Bay, Mexico
The trip NW from Bahia Tenacatita to Puerto Vallarta, Banderas Bay is about 125 miles and is generally a short, overnight trip. The one fly in the ointment is that we have to round Cabo Corrientes, which guards the southern end of Banderas Bay. Like most prominent capes, this one stirs up strong winds and currents, while just 20-30 nautical miles away the weather can be benign.
We did time the weather extremely well this time! Instead of head winds which are normal around here, we had a nice reaching sail for much of the trip. In fact, it looked like we were going to arrive at our destination 4 or 5 hours ahead of schedule. On an overnight trip, arriving ahead of schedule is very inviting as it means an end to a near-sleepless night while underway.
However, things were not to be that way! Just before the halfway point, when we were cruising along at a wonderful 7 knots, we came across some friends on their sailboat Adagio that were having severe engine problems. It wasn't a real problem at the time as there was wind and they were motorsailing. But the wind was forecast to go to zero. A sailboat with no wind and no engine is in a tough spot. There is no sea-tow or coast guard around here to call. You are on your own.
The waves had stirred up some gunk from the bottom of their fuel tank and had clogged their fuel line. They had tried to clear it, but where unsuccesful. They could run their engine, but at anything over an idle it would quit. If they sucked up any more dirt, the fuel line could clog completely and the engine wouldn't run at all.
As we came up to them, we offered to stay with them at least until they passed the cape and entered the bay. It wasn't something that we really wanted to do, but it is what we had to do. Hopefully we earned some karma points!
Shorftly after reached them, the wind died as promised. A small headwind even came up, too light to sail in but enough to nearly bring their forward motion to a standstill. Instead of the 7-8 knots we had been doing, we were now creeping along at about 2 knots! It may have been bad for us, adding another 10+ hours to our trip, but for our friends it was very stressful. There was a real chance that their engine would konk out completely.
We slowly crept towards Puerto Vallarta at a pace about half of a slow walkÉ
I went down for my sleep shift at around midnight and came back on watch about five hours later. It looked like we had hardly moved, with the same lighthouse still flashing in the dark off our beam. This was a really painful way to travel.
Luckily for our friends, a bit of wind came up and they were able to motor-sail at a whopping 3.5 knots now. We entered the bay and were on the last 20 miles to the LaCruz Marina. About this time they were confident that they would make it so we peeled off for Punta de Mita, near the N entrance to the bay, anchored at about 9am, instead of the expected 3am, and slept!
We have now moved 12 NM further into the bay and are anchored off of the small town of LaCruz. This is where we will test all critical parts of the boat, buy needed spares, buy LOTS of food, and then head off into the great pacific ocean next month.
Before we depart I will put up a few blog posts with background information on our route and on the cool technology that we have on board to let us communicate and get our necessary weather files.
Tomorrow, it's time for the first of the big Costco runs for provisions! I bet that we completely fill the taxi.
By the way, our friends on Adagio did make it to LaCruz and collapsed into sleep for nearly 24 hours. Their fuel line was totally clogged and the mechanics are still working on cleaning it. Next week they will have their fuel tanks cleaned and their fuel polished. A lesson for us all!