April 2, 2013 – What a surprise it was for everyone in Paradise Village Resort (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) when a boat grounded on the beach yesterday, right smack in front of the resort’s hotels, swimming pools and beach palapas. Wow!! The exotic nature of the boat and it’s perfect, straight-up landing on the beach made for lots of chatter among all the tourists strolling the beach this morning. Yikes!
From what we understand, Flying Dragon, a wooden boat, was on its way to the marina at Paradise Village yesterday afternoon. As they approached the entrance, the crew took the sails down and started the engine. But the engine died. Before they could get the sails back up again, the boat hit bottom and then the steering mechanism failed. Ugh!
Efforts to help went on late into the night, with cruisers heading out in various motor boats to try to tow Flying Dragon off the beach. But she’s 41 tons (for comparison, Groovy is 12 tons), and the small power boats and thin line that folks had available weren’t strong enough. Half-inch line snapped like nothing, the outboard engine on one of the boats blew a cylinder, and the bow roller on Flying Dragon got bent out of shape. She was stuck hard!!
This morning some locals brought out a cutting torch, and they began to remove the rudder from the boat. The owners were also very busy removing all their belongings and much of the boat’s gear. All of this was in an effort to lighten the boat and hopefully make it easier to float it off the beach at high tide.
Meanwhile vacationers sunned themselves, played in the waves and took banana boat and jet-ski rides all around this action. Other folks set up beach chairs to enjoy front row seats at the salvage operation.
Later on, a backhoe dug around the perimeter of the boat. As the tide came in, just about every man on the beach joined in an enormous tow-rope line and pulled (see the pic at the top of this page). Eventually the waves lapped the hull and the boat began to rock a little. The guys on the tow-line disbanded and the crew threw an anchor out into the sea and slowly pulled the anchor line in and inched the boat off the beach. Around dusk, Flying Dragon was finally free — and taking on water and working her bilge pumps overtime.
But the excitement didn’t end there. In the dark, guided by dinghies and a panga, Flying Dragon negotiated the shallow entrance to the marina channel where the swell had picked up and serious waves were breaking. Miraculously, the dinghies kept the boat perpendicular to the waves and she surfed down the channel on four or five heart-stopping rollers. Now, at last, she is snug in a marina slip.
We have seen only one other shipwreck in action in our 3-year cruise of Mexico, when the yacht Valkyrie hit a pinnacle rock (½ way down the page) in the Sea of Cortez just outside of Puerto Escondido. Six months later — and 1,000 miles away in Acapulco — we were delighted to read in a yacht club newsletter that Valkyrie had been salvaged and restored. We sure hope Flying Dragon has the same kind of good fortune ahead…