Cruiser karma: alive and well in La Cruz

Nine years ago this month, Totem rocked at anchor in this exact curve of coastline on the north side of Banderas Bay where we find ourselves today. We basked in the same sunrise over the sierras to the east, were enchanted by the same distant fireworks from Puerto Vallarta resorts in the evening, and maybe even gasped at the same glistening humpback whales breech and splash into colossal spires of whitewater. (There’s Siobhan in the midst of provisioning chaos in our main cabin – age 5.)

Our little crew had been cruising a year and a half: those months grew our confidence in cruising fundamentals, but also reinforced how much we didn’t know. Departure for the 3,000 mile passage to French Polynesia loomed ever closer. Perched on the edge of the cliff, staring out at the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the first big leap is intimidating.

That cliff-edge marks multiple inflection points on the way to realizing cruising dreams. It keeps some boats languishing at the dock, waiting indefinitely on unnecessary improvements as stand-ins for the psychological barrier to embracing “ready enough.” It stops others short from the level of cruising they hoped to achieve, as the numbers of kitted-out boats who never go far, parked in places like La Paz or Langkawi attest.

Sunrise, Banderas Bay, just before we heard whalesong through the hull

In overcoming those hurdles, support from fellow cruisers has been among our most important factors: the presentations we saw before we left, the mentors who nudged us forward. It’s an incredible privilege to be on the other side of that relationship, and help others leap whichever hurdle they’re currently facing. Much of this has been through our coaching service (it’s SO COOL to see the rising number of ‘graduates’ from the TRU crew out there cruising!), but more recently, it’s been through formal and informal presentations. A LOT OF THEM.

The day after Niall flew back to resume classes at Lewis & Clark college in January, Jamie and I were winging our way to Toronto – and a few days later, on to Seattle – to give seminars at their big annual boat shows. We estimate giving about 25 hours of seminars between them. Bonus: good times connecting with our TRU crew in both cities!

Toronto hotel room view: terrifying for these warm-weather humans!

Returning to La Cruz this month, we’ve put more than a dozen free seminars on the calendar. It’s that déjà vu all over again, in the best way! To be in the same room were “Kavenga” Steve showed us his ideas for routing through the Marquesas and Linda from Jacaranda helped us think through long-passage provisioning… and sharing from our experience. Well, it’s alternately thrilling and something that wells up a deep gratitude inside.

After the seriously hectic last few months, we’ve shelved to sailing back to Barra de Navidad and south to Zihuat in favor of chilling out here. Although “chilling out” means playing catch up and giving a lot of seminars – it’s all good! There’s so much to do here – La Cruz is full of resources for cruisers. It is a sweet base during peak season, whether you’re looking for camaraderie, or some day sailing, or tapping the awesome resources available for cruisers.

Our daughters aren’t little kids any more (I can still see them bombing around the marina on their scooters, aged 5 and 7, blonde terrors on two wheels), the La Cruz Kids Club is a great outlet – they have fun and help wrangle the littlest ones.

Siobhan (l) and Mairen (r) bombing around La Cruz: Feb 2009
Siobhan (l) and Mairen (r) bombing around La Cruz: Feb 2019 edition, the LCKC beach cleanup! thanks Kat for the photo!

On the east side of the harbor is Cruisers Comfort, a shady palapa meeting space next to (and hosted by) PV Sailing: it has a lending library with pretty much any cruising guide/reference you could want, and has been the meeting space for the PPJ (as French Polynesia bound “Pacific Puddle Jumpers” call themselves).

Talking ’bout South Pac planning in the palapa! thanks to Scuba Ninja for the photo.

The VIP lounge at the marina is our main seminar venue: I stopped counting attendees, but it was around 50 joining Mike Danielson (PV Sailing) and Jamie to learn about finding a weather window for jumping to the South Pacific yesterday.

Mike and Jamie talking through passage dynamics for the fleet at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz yesterday

Movie nights under the stars? Yes please! The marina’s open-air amphitheater has weekly feature films and an ongoing environmental series. You can BYO or buy brews and cheap delicious eats (would you like grilled pineapple on your burger? Bacon? Cheese? The works? That’s about $2.50 and SO GOOD).

And then there’s just the sweetness of this anchorage. OK, it gets a little rolly sometimes, but it’s nothing we can’t manage in stride. And you know what we’re hearing through the hull, in early morning calms? WHALE SONG. Right through the hull. And when you can hear it just sitting on a settee, it’s impossible to resist going for better quality sound: click below, and let yourself be carried into a bit of marine meditation.

 

It all adds up to the reasons La Cruz is a kind of ground zero during peak season for cruising in Mexico. It’s why we based here to prep for the big South Pac bound passage in 2009, and it’s why we’re enjoying it so much now.

In the area? Come to a seminar! Our Events page is up-to-date with seminars planned for Feb & March, plus a peek ahead at what’s in store for Jamie and I at boat shows later this year.

Meanwhile, if you’ve thought about taking the two-day Cruising Women master class with me and Pam Wall: make plans for Annapolis NOW, this year could be your last chance! We are hoping to point Totem to French Polynesia in 2020, and that could make the hike back to Annapolis a squidge too far. Jamie and I are giving a bunch of seminars and will head back in April and October this year. The full schedule for Cruisers U is here; to register for Annapolis, visit AnnapolisBoatShows.com.