Sailing Mango

Jack Knife

"Hey we heard you guys are in Paradise Village. Do you have time today for a visit?"

Loosely this is a message we got about an hour before we were going to leave Paradise Village, in Nuevo Vallarta. We are always eager to delay, so "Yeah sure, we'll hang, mate!"

No one really says "mate". You probably know that, but sometimes clarity is the measure of success.

So we delayed a few hours, met our friends, the kids hung out for a bit, and then we went on our way.

Our plan was to leave late morning, travel the six nautical miles to La Cruz, and be there early afternoon. So what's a little delay? We were now leaving around two in the afternoon, and should arrive in La Cruz by three or four. Plenty of light, lots of time to get there, with time for a beer before dinner.

Out on the water, the afternoon winds had picked up into the fifteen knot range, and the chop was up, causing Mango to bounce around like some of those damn rides that come to town with the county fair. These are the rides that never quite look, sound, or feel safe, but you ride those suckers anyway, feeling the worse for it when you are done, taking with you a sick stomach and bruised hips.

Kristen was looking a little green about the gills, and I said "Hey honey, if we just let out a bit of jib..."
"No!", says she. "I just want to get there!"
Me: "Well yeah, but if we get just the jib and mizzen out, a little jib and jigger, batta-bing, badda-boom, then they will stabilize the boat, and ease the motion. We can still motorsail if we aren't going fast."

I think we will haul some ass, but I don't say that out loud. So we get the mizzen up, let out the jib, off goes the engine, and we are sailing, nice and quiet, without too much discomfort. It really is better.

As we are approaching La Cruz, the wind is touching twenty knots, and we call into the marina for a slip. After getting our assigned berth, we ask for a couple of guys to be on the dock to catch our lines, on account of the wind. The sails were taken down, and just as we approached the marina under motor, the winds died down quite a bit, to less than ten knots. As we slipped past the outer docks towards our slip, we registered 1.7 knots of wind speed. We couldn't believe it, and were chuckling, with a bit of bravado, that we had asked for docking assistance.

Of course this is when getting a little cocky does not pay off. It is the time when your guard is down, when it is so easy you are not on your best behavior, and no, we didn't take our usual precautions.

Since our boat turns best clockwise, and not nearly as well counter-clockwise, we always approach with a clockwise turn. In this case, our slip requires a sharp ninety degree turn left, counter-clockwise. What we normally do is make a leasurely two hundred and seventy degree clockwise turn, and make a tight turn the wrong way into a nice and easy turn the right way, like so:



But, we had zero wind and guys on the dock to help with lines. Surely we could just put the helm over to port, throw and lines to the guys, and we would be docked, sweet as pie. Like many simple things that we do, we have found various ways to screw it up. Here is what really happened:

We wildly missed the turn, so much so that while we could get a bow line to one of the guys, the stern was too far away for our forty foot dock lines to reach. Kristen and I just sorta stood there, still chuckling and marveling at our hubris. After three tries, we finally got a spring line over to the dock, and the guys muscled the boat over.

As we often do, we had a little debrief after it was all over, and then filed the findings in the "never to be remembered until you screw it up again" file.

We will be here in La Cruz for several weeks while our decks are refinished. It is a good place to be stuck. There are a lot of kid boats here, and we have reconnected with some good friends.

Once the decks are done, we will head to the Sea of Cortez if we have time, otherwise we will begin the trip back up to California. And just like that, the end is near.