Steamy September has turned into an unexpectedly fresh October. Usually our tropical rain and heat continues until mid November, but not this year it seems. Already evenings are cooler, signaling the start of “the season,” but more significant is the early arrival of tourists and cruise ships. It looks like Puerto Vallarta’s high season is off and running already.

For me September vanished in a cloud of old bottom paint and fiberglass dust. Southern Cross and I spent the entire month…and then some…in the boatyard. “They” always say, “If it’s a boat, it will cost twice as much as you think and take twice as long.” “They” were right again. Forty days of hard work…but now SC is almost ready for school with fresh bottom paint, a new shaft, a fully serviced and rebuilt boom and mast, plus all new standing rigging (the wires that hold up the mast), and much more. Now it is time for me to get an overhaul.

Before diving into the boat work I finally treated myself to a long-promised birthday present….a day of flying through the jungle tree tops and over the river on the Los Veranos Canopy Tour. It was more than exhilarating…I let out squeals of excitement just like the teenagers as we whipped along at 30mph. Los Veranos has the highest and longest cables in Mexico. Manager Sylvie Scopazzo has a first class team of professionals that made my day a perfect adventure.

Tango had to play a part in my September calendar, too. I’m hooked and trying to talk everyone I know into signing up for classes with Al and Barbara Garvey. Tanguenos for the past twenty years, the Garveys were a major force behind the growth of tango in the San Francisco area. Now Puerto Vallarta is their home, and the community of aficionados here is growing every month as word spreads.

Congratulations to Capt. Marti Brown on the publication of the second edition of her excellent guide to marine radios…Marine SSB Radio for Idi-Yachts. Full of information from installation to operations, weather nets, and more, Marti has produced another valuable handbook for the cruising sailor.

There are two women I want you to meet this month…Donna Lange and Abundia Niebla. They each have given me a great deal. Musician/sailor Donna was introduced to me recently (via email) by Clarke Ryder, who built both of our boats in Bristol, RI. Donna’s is a Southern Cross 28 named Inspired Insanity. She is just about to leave on a planned one-stop solo (two year) circumnavigation in the Roaring 40s. It is a personal quest, but one that has and will touch many lives. Reading Donna’s “notes of inspiration” in her website reminded so much of myself 14 years ago when I was departing New Zealand with 10,000 solo miles under my belt, a much changed woman from three years earlier when I began my voyage. The sea gives so many gifts and most come in the time alone and in meeting challenges that tell you…”you can do it.” Donna has a wish list for used gear and more …see if you have anything that might help her toward her goal.

Last fall I saw a new neighbor walking…no bouncing down the street under a mop of springy black curls. This was Abundia, I knew it when I saw her. The real estate agent who had sold her the house around the corner from me was a friend of mine and had told me a little about her. We chatted in passing over the next month and then Abundia flew to the US, leaving a sweet older couple behind to look after her new home. One day in early December they insisted that I go inside the house to the back bedroom. All I saw when I entered was a hospital bed in the middle of the room and Abundia with her curls shaved to a quarter inch. She was on her side, and at first I didn’t notice the large support collar under the jaunty scarf at her neck. She rolled her eyes up and showed me that she could move two fingers of her right hand a tiny bit. I was speechless, groping for words of encouragement and denying what I saw. Her neck had been broken in a car accident. She had been totally paralyzed. The outlook was grim, but not Abundia. She smiled with some inner drive and certainty even then.

From two fingers…with determination and never a complaint…Abundia has one-part-by-one-part made her body work again. Last week she got a walker and took her first step in almost one year. She is my hero. One day soon she will climb on board Southern Cross, and Abundia and I will go sailing around the Bay.

Update…October 1, Vicky Plett arrived in Ensenada, Baja, on board her Inspiration from Vancouver, en route to join Coming About. We expect her arrival in Puerto Vallarta in mid-November. Coming About alumni, Maureen McLafferty, joined Vicky for the passage from San Francisco to Ensenada…putting all she had learned to the ultimate test.

Only six more weeks and our first class of the 05/06 season will arrive for sailing lessons. Just in time to be greeted by the whales, down for their winter holidays…

Happy Halloween,...


Imagine a month dressed like this in the summer heat!!

Flying through the tree tops at Los Veranos

Al and Barbara strut their tango stuff

Marti's new edition is out hero

Southern Cross gets ready for the season



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