Yahtzee and Arrow anchored off the beach at Chacala.

“You guys should stay another day to surf, Andy. You don’t have to leave tomorrow.” Our friend Marisa said with a wry smile as I steered their J/120 SUR the short hop from the surf beach back to the anchorage for the night. Jill and I instantly glanced at each other, and with so much as a smile between us, made the decision. We were staying.

Marisa was right, we didn’t need to leave. We—along with our buddies on Arrow—were all having too much fun. And there was no pressing reason to weigh anchor. Especially when four content, sun- and surf-soaked boys munched on snacks in front of us in the cockpit, happy hour was just getting underway, and dinner plans were taking shape. Plus, after one of our best surf days to date, why not go back for another round? It was worth it.

Moments like these have been some of our favorites while cruising Mexico. Sure, hard and fast dates like flying somewhere for short work stints or leaving the boat to visit family exist, but other than that, life is pretty darn fluid for Yahtzee and the good friends in our orbit.

A couple days and some excellent northbound sailing later, a similar story played out again. When I went with our friends Mike and Maurisa from Arrow to check in at the Port Captain’s office in Chacala, he asked, “What’s your departure date?”

“Ummm…” we shot uncertain glances at one another “….5 days? Or, how about a week?”

We had no idea when we’d actually sail away, and it didn’t matter. From there, the days and our families continued to meld together and decisions were made slow. Hike to the top of the crater? Yeah, how about tomorrow? Beach this afternoon? Yep. Fishing? Why not? Tacos tonight for dinner? Sure, which boat…or ashore? Should we go to the beach or just hang out and swim between our boats? Decisions, decisions…

The kids from Arrow and Yahtzee play in the waves while the boats bob offshore.

All the while we managed to get the important things done, too. Daily schoolwork sessions for the kids, including a Spanish lesson in town. I helped finish up the March issue of 48° North and got a few boat projects knocked out. Jill and Maurisa took two of the kids on a field trip to a nearby town via bus to pick up groceries and fill propane. Laundry got washed and dried. Water tanks got filled. And Mike and I agreed over cold brewskis that the afternoon spent scrubbing the bottoms of the boats in 79-degree water was indeed much better than shoveling snow or cutting grass.

Mike and I sharing a laugh over beers and food on the beach.

Sure enough, 5 days came and went. Our friends Robbie, Vinda and Kevin showed up on Andante, and before we knew it Yahtzee’s anchor was coming up 10 days after we’d arrived. It’s just how we roll.

In general, these recent cruising habits are happily reminiscent to our days slowly sailing the San Juan and Gulf islands in winter or Southeast Alaska in summer. Whether it’s mainland Mexico or the Pacific Northwest, once we get to a general cruising ground, we throttle back and live contentedly in the moment as a family and, sometimes, with a good buddy boat or two. We steer clear of bustling marinas for long stretches of time and, instead, explore the nooks and crannies along the way that allow us truly experience our surroundings. In our minds, life’s too short not to cherish these slow times and places with the people we love.

Happy hour afloat.
Oh so many years ago Mike and Maurisa, and Jill and I said we’d sail our boats to Mexico and here we are.

Porter and Magnus, best buds, arm-in-arm.
Sailing north from Banderas Bay to Chacala.
After surf nosh at our favorite pizza place.
Field trip to Las Varas.

The kid-friendly brewery in Chacala is open on Friday and Saturday nights. And it was started by Alaskans!

2 Replies to “Throttling back to slow mode”

    1. The surf anchorage was only a couple miles from the main anchorage in Punta de Mita. None of these beach images are from the “surf anchorage” because we were all having so much fun I didn’t take a single shot there. They’re all from Chacala, which can be considered rolly in some conditions. We tuck in tight with a stern anchor and sleep well. That said, our threshold for roll seems to be higher than others.

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