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Racing Out of Our Comfort Zone

“There’s cheap beer and tacos up at PV Sailing tonight!” announced our new friend and La Cruz dock neighbor Tami on Andiamo III one afternoon last week. Without thinking twice, we packed up the kids and headed over.

It turned out to be a meet and greet for cruisers and local sailing vendors and we enjoyed meeting all sorts of new folks. And while the beer was very cold and cheap and the tacos muy delicioso, the goal for the evening was to get boats to sign up for the Banderas Bay Blast, a four-day charity fun-race being held the following week.

As dusk fell, the girls were tired and had had enough of our yakking and we quietly snuck out with them. “It would sure be fun to do a race like that someday,” I said to Michael. “Hey…maybe we should do it now?”

“Let’s go for it!” he replied and I ran back inside to put our name down on the list of race boats.

One of our goals for this trip is to not pass on opportunities that lie outside our comfort zone, which we tend to want to do, as do most people I assume. There’s been a number of chances we could have taken in the past – both large and small – and few things are worse than regret at “what would have happened if we had…?” Whether it’s taking a job opportunity in Alaska, or sailing across an ocean, or just talking to someone we really want to meet, we are learning not to let these types of adventures pass us by.

Riding a panga in through the Punta Mita surf to the after-race moonlit beach dinner

Sailing in the Banderas Bay Blast was not to be one of them. Believe it or not, it was the very first time I have ever raced a boat and Michael’s first since he was a kid. We were a little nervous at what to expect as we motored Wondertime up to the start line but with the help of our crew (the Del Vientos, who we originally met in Olympia when they drove through in their car on their way to their boat in Mexico and who our girls are over the moon to have now reunited with in La Cruz) we soon had the sails up and were across the starting line right on time. With a bow full of giggling girls, we tacked back and forth across sunny and warm Banderas Bay all afternoon, making our way to Punta Mita and the finish.

We certainly weren’t the first to cross the finish line, and it’s entirely possible we were the last in our class, but we didn’t care. It was an awesome challenge sailing upwind in very light air (yes, we can point higher than the big cats!) and as we and our crew took a panga ride to shore through the Punta Mita surf for dinner on the beach we were all grinning ear to ear.

The following day was the final leg, a downwind spinnaker run to Paradise Village (this one with just the Wondertime crew aboard). Once again, our sailing skills and patience were challenged as we struggled to keep the boat moving at a decent pace in the 5-8 knots of wind from astern. In the end, we folded that race as we were moving 1.5 knots still 6 miles from the finish with the time limit looming. No matter, we were hardly bummed at getting to our free slip at Paradise, enjoying a scrumptious dinner at the Puerto Vallarta Yacht Club and taking a dip in the huge pool.

While the two free slips and three parties had enticed us at the beginning to sign up for the Blast, it really was the racing that we’ll remember. I dare say that our sailing skills have improved a touch with the added factor of competition thrown in. I mean, we gybed our cruising spinnaker in three minutes flat! While Michael and I have sailed together as a team for years, it was an entirely new experience to try to do things quickly – which is what you do in a race it seems but not too often when sailing a slow cruising boat southward — and remain calm at the same time. And definitely not least, we also had an amazing day of taking our new friends out sailing.

As always happens when we don’t let an opportunity pass by, we gain much more than we ever think we will.

Click here for Latitude 38’s coverage of the Blast (with photos of the Wondertime girls tossing water ballons at the Poobah and Wondertime at the start line!)

Photo by Gato Go


  1. Tom & Jeanne says:

    Hey there!! Please say to the Andiamo III folks for us. Jeanne has some personal history on that boat, as she sailed it on the first ever all womans crew to do the Pacific Cup. We have talked to them via e-mail but never met them in person.

    We are hanging aroun d here in La Paz until after the holidays…then head over to the main land. Hope we get to catch up with you again soon

  2. Teacher Kaylene says:

    Congratulations on your first race! And congratulations on making it to Mexico! It looks so sunny and WARM. It’s been delightful reading about your adventures.

    My husband has been racing sailboats in Puget Sound for years. In fact, tomorrow he is crewing (on Silverheels) for a race to and around Hope Island. He’s under strict instructions to wave to your beloved island in your honor.

    Give Leah a hug for me. 🙂