KatieKat 2007 Cruise Chapter Two

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GoBackTo 2007 Chapter One
30 January, 2007Puerto Vallarta
3 February, 2007San Blas Festival
3 February, 2007Blessing of the Fleet
3 February, 2007Fireworks
5 February, 2007Jungle Trip
GoFwdTo 2007 Chapter Three

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30 January, 2007 -- Puerto Vallarta

After Carolyn and Melissa left, we did some touristy things - I'll save you the details.

[Photo of Kathy with cathedral spires in background] Obligatory photo of Puerto Vallarta tourist wandering around town.

[Photo of bird on top of masthead windspeed and direction sensor] How $1000 masthead instrument sensors get destroyed.

[Kathy wearing headset and powering boat] [Joe wearing headset and anchoring gloves]

Photos of Kathy and myself geared-up for anchoring. These $10 kids' transceivers which I've had for years are totally wireless, handsfree, duplex, FM, and perform fantastically. Sure beats shouting or hand signals. On KatieKat I run the jibsheets through positive-locking rope clutches which, when taut and with a locked furler, provides a convenient stabilizing handhold on the foredeck as seen in the right photo.

[Photo of corroded thru-hull valve handle stud] A very slight weepage of the head compartment thru-hull led to the destruction of this threaded stud due to galvanic corrosion between it and the stainless handle - in just a few days(?), as everything was bone-dry a couple of weeks ago! The weepage continues (the puddle destroyed my copper-mesh HF grounding system leaving a gooey green mess) and I'll need to do something to seal this valve leak externally as it will have to wait to get replaced during the next haulout. (sigh)

At the end of January we were planning on a leisurely few days at anchor at La Cruz at the top of Banderas Bay, before proceeding northwards; however, we learned about San Blas Festival Days, so we zoomed up the coast to participate in the festivities.

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3 February, 2007 -- San Blas

[KatieKat anchored in lovely bay] We anchored in beautiful Matanchen Bay just south of San Blas for a day before proceeding on up to anchor in the San Blas estuary in town.

[San Blas dinghy dock] Our SeaCycle (we named BikeBoat) at the San Blas dinghy dock amidst the pangas. Beats clambering up the rocks!

The San Blas Festival lasts a few days, with parades and many cultural events which we found quite interesting. Saturday proved to be the culminating day, with a procession for the blessing of the boats (San Blas has a large fishing fleet) and an unrestrained fireworks display that evening.

Blessing of the Fleet

[Indians in procession] [Indians in procession] [Indians in procession]

A performing group of local Indian kids preceded the procession with their colorful costumes and native dances.

[Statue procession church] [Statue procession boats] [Statue on fishing boat]

The procession started at the church off the town square and wended it way down to the estuary, where the statue was loaded onto a fishing boat which then went out to sea, followed by very many pangas loaded with people. If you look closely you'll see KatieKat in the background.

[Boats] [Boats at entrance to estuary]

The boats all followed the fishing boat out the estuary, went down the coast, and then came back after a while. What a crowd!


Let me try to describe the scene for the fireworks show: a picturesque town square into which a few thousand people (my guess) crowded in to enjoy the festivites. This was a very nicely-behaved local crowd with kids and dogs running around and a few gringos added for good measure. The fireworks tower took all day to build and they barely finished in time, it being set up towards one side of the square. In addition, a whole bunch of skyrocket tubes were placed around the tower and also some fireworks strings that looked like clotheslines were strung up. On a grassy spot in the square away from the tower some more skyrocket tubes were set up. Now, darkness came, and the first large pinwheel sputtered into life - first a small captive offset rocket fired up to get the wheel spinning and throughout its spinning life as one rocket fizzled a second one would fire up and continue the spinning - all this with time-delay fuses and no electronics! Now, once spinning, a beautiful set of patterned lights would fire up inside the wheel in some distinctive shape (e.g., duck or wineglass). Now, as this thing is spinning it is sputtering along with large sparkling chunks noisily randomly breaking off and going flying ... the crowd loved it! Finally, as the individual spinning wheel comes to the end of its life it does so with a whole bunch of dramatically sputtering bangs and explosions and showers of burning sparks all over the place... and the crowd is right next to this stuff! Way cool!

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Now, after the first spinning wheel, a skyrocket was set off on the grassy knoll in the square with a humongous whump! and beautiful shower directly above the square (we were right in the middle of the crowd, but ever so slightly upwind from both the tower and the skyrocket launcher). Right after that, a second skyrocket was set off ... except this one went up not with a whump but with a feeble whimper: what looked like a sizzling sputtering bowling ball just levitated slowly upwards, maybe 20-25 feet, and then came straight back down with everyone watching wide-eyed ... just as it hit the ground this sucker exploded! I mean, this is a huge skyrocket that did its thing right at ground level, right in the middle of this crowd! Luckily, it landed back onto the very small grassy knoll - I can't believe no one got hurt! I think the skyrockets were then quickly relocated, as they were subsequently intermittently set off some distance from the square.

Moving right along and back to the pinwheel tower, each pinwheel eventually got fired up and did its thing - in a few cases, some poor soul was seen climbing the tower (amidst showers of sparks) to help start a pinwheel spinning. OSHA doesn't exist here. Somewhere along the line the clotheslines were set off with their individual strings of fireworks - just a spectacle of noisy flashing unbridled pyrotechnics - you had to be there - the randomness and uncertainty of it all made for an awesome show!

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Finally, the grand finale to all the spinning and other tower pyrotechnics was the lighting off of the horizontal spinning wheel at the very top of the tower: it lit off and started spinning and spinning and spinning faster and ever faster ... until it launched itself, all the while randomly firing off large flashing sparks and fiery chunks. Well, it went up maybe 30ft. above the tower and then slowly helicoptered back down straight into the crowd ... everyone collectively holding their breath and wondering which way this fiery sucker would turn. Hey, it landed in the crowd nearby and we didn't hear anything but screams of delight and no ambulances. Incredible!

[Fireworks tower] The fireworks tower building process continuing, after they've already raised the tower.

[Fireworks tower, darkness setting in] Final assembly stages, before the crowd gathered.

[Spinning pinwheel] Early pinwheel.

[Crowd] My fuzzy attempt to show a small portion of the crowd in the square.

[Spinning pinwheel] Gives you a feel for what's going on.

[Fireworks backlighting] Maybe gives you a better feel for what's going on.

[Fireworks tower lit up] Grand finale approaching - it's a wonder the wooden tower itself didn't go up in flames! Note the horizontal spinning wheel up on top, about to be lit off. Way Cool!

Contrasting this with the beautifully-orchestrated humongous Australian fireworks displays we've been priviledged to see, one has to wonder - this lasted maybe an hour (it took a while to get each display fired up, everyone's attention focused because you never knew what was going to happen next - and I'm not sure the guys doing it did either) and contained maybe 1/1000 the amount of fireworks seen in a typical Aussie show (and I'm sure cost peanuts in comparison), but nonetheless provided a spectactle we'll long remember!

5 February 2007 - Jungle Trip

After recovering for a day from the fireworks (we shouldn't have, as we missed the circus), we took a very early-morning 3-hour panga trip up the river through the swamp and wetlands. Early morning so we could see the tweeties, and we had the panga all to ourselves. Well worth it, as this is the real thing and not Disneyland!

[Panga view looking forward] [Panga view looking forward] [Panga view looking aft]

Views from the panga looking forward and aft. These open boats are used all up and down the coast and have excellent handling and sea-keeping qualities.

[Crane?] One of many tweeties we saw. Sorry, I'm not a birder, but I did shoot a lot of them - with the camera.

[Turtles] Lots of turtles.

[Crocodile]... and crocodiles! Our trip also took us to the crocodile sanctuary - this big guy was OUTSIDE the sanctuary (we think he was pining for a girlfriend inside). Yes, we saw a fair number of crocs in the wild. The sanctuary itself brought back memories of the Australia Zoo and Steve Irwin.

[Crocodile] Makes one think twice about going swimming around here.

Norm Goldie and his wife Jan have been a fixture in San Blas for over 40 years. They do a lot for the locals, especially the Indians. Norm stays in touch with the cruising community and is incredibly helpful, and Jan is also a world-class watercolor artist. Sorry, forgot to take a photo of Norm and his lovely wife. Anway, we decided to donate our faithful trusty rusty (but still very usable) bicycles and hope they'll be of use to someone.

[Bicycle standing up on one of the hulls of the SeaCycle] Came up with a new technique for transporting a bicycle on the SeaCycle. Two ball bungies nicely hold it in place.

[Bicycles in garden setting] 'Bye to the bikes - the red one was Kathy's from Australia and she had put many thousands of miles onto it. Here's when she first got it

[Rainbow over San Blas] The day after the Festival a good-sized lightning-and-thunderstorm blew over us, with new cells hitting us for quite a few hours. Here's a late-afternoon view of the rainbow precurser. Anyway, Norm said that this had never happened in early February before (this is a summer event) and that weather over the last 15 years had dramatically changed from what had been a constant for years. Global warming? I put out my five external lightning "protection" cables, disconnected all the electronics and put some into the barbie and microwave oven ... you all know how much I love lightning!

Finally, you had to wonder ... here's this lovely little town with a beautiful bay nearby which underwent very little change in the last half-century, while neighboring Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan exploded as tourist and gringo condo/hotel meccas. Why?

[Leg covered with bug bites] Do you really want to know?

We left for Mazatlan.

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