Sunday, February 8, 2009

Zihuatanejo Sail Fest

The Sail Fest has been a blast and the event has raised more this year than ever before, close to $65,000. This is surprising when you note that there are fewer attendees, both ashore and afloat this year, undoubtedly because of the recession. The shore year round resident gringo community has done the lion’s share of the organising and this has been supplemented by the winter gringos and the visiting cruisers. The latter have waded in with as much support as possible, helping out wherever help is needed and in particular, all of the events centred around boats.
The first major event was a fun race organised by Pam on Precious Metal. With her experience in running the Vic-Maui Race for the past few years it was a cinch for her to set up a race for a bunch of cruising boats, nevertheless, we were divided in 2 groups; fast and slow..... Surprisingly, the favourite boat came in second overall, much to the chagrin of the skipper-owner but to the glee of the remainder of the fleet. It seemed to mute the arrogance he had been displaying up to that point. Gosling fared quite well and came in 2nd out of 4 boats; beat out by a small catamaran but edging out the closest boat by 2.3 seconds after a 4 hour Driftsure style race. With only the 2 of us on board it was a real challenge. This was also our first experience sailing Gosling upwind and we were quite amazed at getting 1.6 – 2 kts of speed in light airs of 3-6 kts. Thanks to the light conditions J-G was able to try every combination of sails onboard. Other boats got a kick out of watching him scurry fore and aft trying to coax the wind to fill the sails. All in all it was a fun day.
Later that evening we attended a concert of local talent ranging from Mariachi musicians to Blues and Rock performances. One was a Louisiana native called Mamou who was reputed to have played with Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry and others before retiring to Zihuatanejo where he is a regular on the bar circuit. We were really impressed by the quality of the performances. Each year musicians contribute to a CD that is professionally produced. As part of our registration package we received last year’s CD as part of our entrance package and it is very good.
The following day was the Sail Parade. This event was more of a “get the locals out on the boats” event, where anyone ashore bought tickets to go for a day’s sailing. We had signed up to take 3 but by 10 AM, start time, they hadn’t shown up.
Other events included a poker dinghy race where participants had to solve a riddle to determine which boats to go to collect a playing card. Once 5 were collected participants met ashore to play out their hands. SV Panchita arrived on Tuesday with a large bucket full of rubber duckies that they use for fundraising events. People “rent” a duck and all rented ducks are dropped beyond the surf line. The first duck to make it ashore wins half the pot for its sponsor. The final event tonight was a BBQ sponsored by one of the local bars.
We have met a lot of very interesting people here in Zihuat. There are 2 other Canadian boats, Precious Metal with Ivy and Pam and Optical Illusion with Janet and Bill. Pam and Ivy are from Port Hardy where they have just sold the local marina. Optical Illusion is another Bluewater boat. We met Bill and Janet at the Bluewater Rendezvous at Montague harbour last summer. We learnt that they also have a summer place on Saturna Island and have attended several 1st of July lamb BBQs when we were there helping out. It is a really small world when you meet a local Gringo who used to be a nurse at Stadacona when we were first posted to Halifax. Julia was blown away when J-G mentioned names of fellow Naval Officers who had gone through Stad in the 1970’s. She also worked for Alan Porter, one of our fellow club members from CFSA. She had also lived on Saturna Island for several years. Another astonishing fact is that she had also played basketball with Fran while J-G was on the CCO course in 1979.
J-G also met his clone. A remarkable resemblance between the two was noted the night of the concert. Pictures will follow. He is from Brentwood bay. Go figure!
One item we omitted to mention in our last blog entry was that we were at anchor when Zihuatanejo was the epicentre of a 5.2 earthquake last week.... We slept through but some boaters actually felt it.
Each morning we have the morning net where the local cruising community share information. Morning nets here have been a real treat with one of the 3 young girls on SV Don Quixote running the net each day. As Fran puts it, it is her early dose of sunshine every day.
We have also seen the dark side of Mexico while here. We found out after the sail parade that the people who had been designated to be on our boat had been mugged the night before and had decided to fly back home immediately. The following day we learnt the one of the boats in the anchorage was the victim of an extortion attempt. Their kayak had been “found” washed ashore and some locals wanted a ransom for it. This caused quite a stir among the boaters but, thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and it was diplomatically handled through the Port Captain.
We will depart tomorrow morning for our trip back north. We will try to stop into every noted anchorage along the way. Looks like we will meet many of the same boats on our way as most will be heading in the same direction. A few are headed south to Central America and beyond. One boat, Kalalau, from Port Townsend will be heading for the South Pacific.
Unfortunately the bandwidth on the WIFI service here is insufficient to send photos so we will add them to this issue when we arrive in Manzanillo, sometime in the next few weeks.
PS: If any of you subscribe to Sirius Radio and listen to the Cousin Brucie show, listen out for our e-mailed requests that we send occasionally.

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