Busman’s Holiday

White sails, blue sky..yes!

Full sails, blue sky..yes!

Yesterday we weighed anchor, hoisted the sails and went sailing!  It’s a funny concept for a cruiser to sail in circles without a destination, but was it ever fun!!  It was blowing 10-12 knots in the morning, across a lightly rippled sea, with whale blows in every direction, so we pointed the boat on an easy reach and headed across Banderas Bay at 6 knots.  It was wonderful to hear the hull sluicing through the water, watch the boobies dive-bomb the fish balls, see the splashes of whales and dolphins in the distance, and look up at stretched white canvas against a blue, blue sky.  These are the moments…..

It didn’t take long until we started seeing whales in the distance on our heading.  We are a sailboat though, so there’s no rushing over to a whale sighting at 25 knots like the whale watching boats do!  We have to settle in and patiently move in the general direction, and usually when we get in the vicinity of where we saw the whales; they are of course no longer there!  So, at one point we decided to simply turn around and head more in line with the wind and the swells, and as we did so, we saw a few dolphins, but then realized that the dolphins were traveling with two very large whales, heading right toward us!  We were under sail and Marty was at the helm, so he fell off the wind a bit to avoid running over these two, but they just kept coming right at us on the surface moving pretty fast.  Whoosh!  It wasn’t until they were about 30 feet off the bow that they dove under the boat and came up behind us.  Wild.

Another close encounter didn’t cause quite the same level of heart palpitations, but it was every bit as awesome.  We were sailing along at about 5 knots, when we started to see a few dolphins feeding nearby.  In a few moments they started peeling away from the bait ball one by one and pretty soon we had 6-8 dolphins riding the bow wake.  It is absolutely our favorite thing when the dolphins swim along with us.  When we are on the bow watching them they seem to play with us, looking up and watching, and jumping out of the water to come near our outstretched hands.  It’s amazing, then suddenly they dive as one, and you wonder if you dreamed their visit!

Some of these dolphins were different than the others we’ve seen before.  They were more of a brownish gray color with white spots all over.  We have since learned that they are called Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and are seasonal visitors to Banderas Bay.  We also saw the resident Bottlenose Dolphins that are more of the gray color that we’re used to.  But really, who cares what kind they are – they’re all awesome!

As we made the turn back toward La Cruz, the winds started picking up into the high teens, the white caps appeared and we started making tracks!  We were zipping along with a slight heel, sails close hauled and loving every minute.  Marty was still at the helm when suddenly he called “man overboard”!  I looked back and the only man on the boat was still there (phew!), but then I realized he was pointing at one of our cockpit seats that had blown over!

Chairman overboard!

Chairman overboard!

We had to act quickly before it sank, plus we were under full sail and moving along at 6+ knots so we started to run through our man overboard drill!  I took over the helm so that Marty could run the winches.  I started the engine, and Marty furled the Genoa.  We were still heading away from the “chair-man” so we also had to keep an eye on its location.  In hindsight I did forget to set the MOB (man over board) setting on the chart plotter that would have marked the spot where the chair went in, and also would have started a track line so that we could find our way back to the spot; something to remember for next time.

We left the main sail up since we now had the engine running and because the course back to the “chair-man” was on a broad reach.  Thankfully the mainsail was already close hauled and the boom preventers were on, so we didn’t run too much of a risk of a hard jibe.  On our first pass by the chair Marty tried to get the boat hook on it, but with the wind and waves he was unable to hook it securely so it let loose.  Attempt number two was successful however, and we soon had a soggy chair back in the cockpit!  Good practice for an event that we hope never really happens!

It was getting late by this time so we decided to furl the main and let out the Genoa for an easy broad reach to the marina in 17 knots of wind.  We enjoyed a smooth sail into the La Cruz area that is protected a bit from the winds, started the engine, furled the sail and headed into the dock.  We enjoyed a night without rolling at anchor and having early morning panga waves slap against the swim step (that is right at the head of our bed).  So there you have it – a lovely busman’s holiday on the water,, followed by a nice dinner in town, listening to music and meeting new friends.  Ahhhh, un otro dia en paraiso!!

Today is clean the boat day, AND we’re paying for a wash, polish, and wax on the entire boat.  The surface is starting to oxidise (might not be the right term, but the white is turning to powder on the surface) a bit now that we’re in hot weather, and the hull really needs to be shined and waxed to protect it. Plus there is that added benefit of removing a few skid marks where we’ve hugged the dock a bit too tightly!  We’re going to stay at the dock for a few days, then we’ll head out to play in the Bay again – and find a few more whales, dolphins, boobies and breezes!