December 2014/January 2015
Neil’s mom, Gail, joined us for 10 wonderful days between Christmas and early days of the new year.
She sailed 200 miles with us down the coast of Mexico between Mazatlán and Banderas Bay. She sailed the longest distance of anyone yet, and she was our first guest to sail an overnight passage with us!
She shared some of her favorite memories and personal reflections with us.
Stepping onto The Red Thread moored in Mazatlán at El Cid Marina felt like Déjà vu to Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle but with some major differences…a trickle of sweat, palm trees, mariachi music playing in the distance, and my struggle to remember the two years of Spanish I took too many years ago to count. This was a Christmas like I’ve never experienced and a very much needed respite for me. Christmas day was spent poolside with a beautiful waterfall.
I loved every minute spending time with mi hijo y nuera. And, a big shout-out to mi bella nuera for making the best velero salsa and guacamole throughout the trip!Isla Isabela, a Unesco World Heritage Site
Sailing overnight from Mazatlán to Isla Isabela, ensconced in the middle of the Pacific, was a treat for my swaying senses and certainly not my normal routine. Wind waves created a rocky voyage, and I’m positive the swells were at least 8 feet; however, that wasn’t a problem. I had my trusty scopolamine ear patch on (better safe than sorry). At the end of the rocky trek, there was no chum feeding from me, although maybe it would have attracted the allusive Durado (Mahi Mahi) we so desired to snag.
Waking early morn out at sea to sun rays glistening off turquoise water and a pod of dolphins riding the bow waves was a delightful moment. I rushed to the bow in my PJ’s with wild frizzed-out hair, feeling elated by the experience. As we neared Isla Isabela, there were thousands of birds flying around an idyllic cove. This mini Galapagos-like Island provided a close-up viewing of blue-footed booby birds and baby booby birds that looked as if someone glued cotton balls onto them. I was also intrigued by the odd frigate bird with his bright red neck sac that inflated like a balloon while he tried to attract a concubine to his casa in the trees. Iguanas scurried by my feet while other birds extended their long wings and perched on the ground right in front of me as if tanning themselves in the warm morning sun. For two and a half days, I relaxed in this beautiful protected cove. I snorkeled with Neil and Jessie, paddleboarded (sitting, of course), basked in the sun, and marveled at the solace that being with my kids and this place brought my broken heart. I felt Terry’s spirit with me in this journey and felt reassurance he would continue to watch over me and our kids. Chacala
As we headed south to our next destination, we encountered many humpback whales, a sight I will never forget. One breached, one slapped its flippers, and one surfaced 100 feet aft of the boat! Its audible blowhole sound was exhilarating! Each sighting and dive back under the sea with its fluke in full view was something you see in a National Geographic magazine.The Mexican coastline was beautiful with lush mountainous topography. As we sailed into Chacala, a quaint tropical pueblo presented itself surrounded by a mountainous jungle and a palm tree-lined beach filled with palapa restaurants.It was December 30th and this typically quiet location was swarming with people on holiday. Mexican music could be heard from the boat, and excitement for New Year’s created a festive atmosphere. We explored the town and I tasted ceviche for the first time (not my fav) but the margaritas were delish. On New Year’s Eve, I donned my recently purchased embroidered dress, Jessie her cute colorful dress, and Neil his swanky hat and linen slacks. We all settled into the dinghy and headed to shore for an eve of good Mexican food, lively music, and ringing in 2015.As we neared shore and needed one last push into shore a wave crashed over the back of the dinghy. I was in the back and was sea soaked from my back down in my now sticky clingy dress. Oh well, what’s a girl to do but go explore the town looking for trinkets to take home. To our surprise, only one restaurant was open, and it required reservation in advance. The only disco to celebrate New Year’s was a pricy option, so we purchased some ice and items to take back to the sailboat where Jessie made an authentic Mexican enchilada meal and Neil served up the best margaritas south of the border. Before long, as we sat in the cockpit, a nice fireworks display began to explode above us. January 1st ended up becoming an emotional time for me as it marked two months since I lost my loving husband of 26 years. Sadness was unavoidable as much as I tried to keep my mind from going there. Grieving has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.