Category Archives: Critters

Policía, Pastries, Pelicans, and Pus? 

Playa Paraiso, Jalisco

Peaceful  Jalisco

We are in the state of Jalisco, which according to the news reports, should have me cautious or even in retreat from this place of crime–danger. Yet, all we experience are peaceful friendly people living their lives.  When I hear reports of the homicides (which is rare, since I’m somewhat tuned out to the news) – I’m perplexed. Jalisco, I read to Michael, is at the center of the drug-gang warfare. Most recently four film students were reported missing, most likely they were kidnapped and slaughtered!   Hmmm? I think I’m living in a parallel-universe or something. The place I see is beautiful. The people warm, joyous, open, and helpful beyond belief.  Hmmm? I do wonder “why are there so many policía on this desolate beach?” – as we found at the Aquarium/Tenacatita.  Is this a hideout for the cartel or is it something else?  Are the policía there to protect these people living on the beach, running beach palapas and fishing? Hmmm?  not sure.  We come in peace and find it here, but we are careful.  Politics & crime watch aside – the Costalegre (happy coast) region is a cruisers’ delight. 

Barra de Navidad

We arrived in Barra with high expectations as it tops many boaters favorite stops along the pacific coast. It did not disappoint. Granted, we stayed in the marina, not in the lagoon anchorage where many a boat have gone aground or drifted.  We were there in April, notoriously the windiest month (who knew?).  It did blow hard in the afternoons, but we were tied up to the dock safe and sound.  Our friend George (Circadian) served as our excellent tour guide and we quickly settled into the Barra lifestyle with french pastries delivered daily to the boat by the french baker, water taxis to town, beautiful walks in lush landscaping, and delicious food and fun with friends.   

Beautiful walks & views around the Marina Puerto de la Navidad

Poolside:  You get full use of the pool at the Grand Bay Hotel when staying at the Marina.  nice perk.

Great Restaurants in Barra (Simonas, El Manglitos, Barra Galeria de Arte…)

Michael’s Birthday, April 5: his day began with a sunrise dinghy ride with George of Circadian through the lagoon for bird watching & photo shoot. We had a few friends over for a toast before dinner at the hotel restaurant, Antonios.  He even wore long pants for the occasion.

Bahía Tenacatita

If Barra hails as the favorite town, Tenacatita is the favorite anchorage. Some friends lovingly refer to it as “summer camp for adults.”  Depending on your childhood experience, that could be  good or bad.  We were late getting here (winter months are the busy season), so the camp activities were scarce. We did just fine making up our own with the help of some friends we met at anchor: Dinghy ride thru the mangroves/lagoon; snorkeling at the “aquarium” beach; game night on Nellie Jo until midnight; a day at La Manzanilla and the crocodile preserve; a kayak sail in the bay; and fun on the boat watching the critters and doing boat projects.

We took our dinghy twice for the lagoon ride, once with our friends to the beach notably called the “Aquarium”.  We hoped for better snorkeling there, but the visibility and conditions were poor. Oh well, we enjoyed the dinghy ride and a nice lunch after the swim.

The second dinghy tour was all about the critters & photos.

One day we took a panga ride to La Manzanilla and visited the Crocodiles!

Lots to do while at anchor and we made the best of it.

Paraíso

peaceful place

Peaceful place

Paraíso is a small, quiet anchorage, a road less traveled. Only one of our friends had ventured here and reported it pristine, though rolly with large swell, bow & stern anchors are recommended.  Only 22 miles from Tenacatita, we decided to have a look. We were the only boat there and for four days it was our private oasis.  The water was clear & cool for swimming and the pelicans & seagulls our sole companions. We did paddleboard to shore to check out the colorful house, thinking we could enjoy a cerveza and walk the beach. Turns out it is private property and no cervezas were for sale. You can rent the house called La Casa del Abuelo for $400 per night all meals included, including the infinity pool, a private beach and many toys.  The proprietor gladly gave us a tour. http://www.paraisocareyes.com/

Chamela

A popular stop off for boaters waiting for good weather window to round Cabo Corrientes. It’s a friendly spot with Palapas and many families enjoying the beach.  We stopped for a bit, but not for long. Hunh,whaat, what did you say? Hunh….Michael’s ear was pounding, his canal opening blocked, hearing muffled, and one morning pus was found on his pillow. Enough!  The poor guy has been to three doctors since November for varying ear ailments. In Mazatlan, the clinic rinsed the eardrums & gave antibiotics. In la Cruz in January, the doctor prescribed drops and another antibiotic. Michael has tried his own alcohol and vinegar remedy. He wears earplugs when swimming. The condition switches from one ear to the other, the discomfort fades then returns. This time it was the worse. We tried to find a clinic in the small town of Chamela, but ran out of patience looking for it while walking in the dusty heat and getting puzzled looks from the locals. clinica?  No sé’. us either. We reviewed the weather and decided to depart earlier than planned. Back to La Cruz, Nayarit (96 miles) and known medical help. The weather, with winds from the north (on the nose) instead of the predicted south. As we approached the cape we excitedly prepared to sail the last few hours into Banderas Bay. As we turned 50 degrees away from the wind and rounded the point we began to sail towards La Cruz.. 15 minutes later, wind on the nose AGAIN. They call it geographic effect, the wind bending around the mountains that line the bay; I call it annoying.  We anchored out in La Cruz by 10 am, Michael went to the clinic first thing the following morning and after a round of antibiotics and steroids, I’m happy to report he can now hear me! — And he feels a whole lot better.

La Cruz—Nuevo Vallarta

We are now back in Marina Riviera Nayarit, in La Cruz figuring out various plans and projects.  We will soon check Footloose into Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta for the summer hurricane season. Before we launched this cruising plan – we agreed to give it a try for two years and then see how we both feel after the steep portion of the learning curve.   As with life anywhere there are good days and bad. Sometimes you feel strong and energetic, others you hurt or feel lethargic. Some days you are grateful and brave, others cranky or fearful. Same goes for the places we visit. As one long-time restauranteur in La Cruz commented- “it’s not paradise here, but it’s close.”  Amen to that. The two-year mark is upon us and we both concur- bring on season three!  And so the adventure continues. We will surely face new challenges with the Tehuanapec, the Papagayos, bar crossings, and the Panama Canal; we will also share fresh experiences with the new cultures, colorful wildlife, explored miles, and friendship. Today we say yes to all of it and therein lies the true gift. 

Still having fun!

Still having fun!

Traveling North, Tracking our Nautical Miles

A watercolor-esque landscape, Isla Grande

A watercolor-esque landscape, Isla Grande

525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?  So go the lyrics to a song I like from the musical Rent. As cruisers, we measure our time in nautical miles (NM), as in how long will it take us to travel x number of nautical miles, from point a to point b?  We log these miles and track our lat/long, speed, wind, and fuel. What happens in between these miles is what we’ll likely remember the most.

Zihuatanejo to Isla Grande, 10 NM

Mabula Rays!

Mabula Rays!

I am a patient watcher of the sea. I can stare at the water so intently, as if anticipating a mermaid or loch ness monster to suddenly emerge and startle me from my perch.  My steadfast gaze comes with rewards. Without it, I may have missed the mysterious dance of the rays while underway to Isla Grande. Off the port hull, I saw them leap from the water. I’ve seen lots of rays jump, but this was a different. It was a group of them, leaping 6 feet out of the water and then bellyflopping -Slap/Splash! and repeat over and over. I marveled- what is this? next- – they seemed to follow us into the anchorage with a repeat performance!  And then they were gone and all was quiet. I have not seen them before or since like this, but I’ll keep watching.

We stayed a few days at Isla Grande reviewing the weather for the best time to leave.  While waiting, we cleaned the bottom of the boat-again. Frustrated with our recent anti-fouling bottom paint!  At least it is a good workout, cleaning the bottom. I go around the waterline with snorkel and Michael dives with the hookah to get the bottom and sail drives, together it takes us about 3 hours.  Then rest, read, review the weather, cook, watch a movie, plan, depart, 0430 Thursday. 

We planned to stopover at Caleta de Campos to break up the passage, but the swell was big and our anchor dragged. Onward to Manzanillo, 114 NM.  Unfortunately the weather was not as predicted, again.  We were safe alright, but damn uncomfortable, with wind on the nose, and waves crashing, our hulls taking the wave and bashing down the other side. WAAP (that’s the sound of the wave banging over the front cross bar)  AHHH (that’s Me screaming). I wish I could share the noise the water makes crashing over the ledge under our hulls in these conditions, quite close to our bunk. Try sleeping off watch with that! It’s rare we have breakage while underway, but this trip took out one of the last red wine glasses. It really is the noise that stirs up the anxiety, terse language and shrills.

In reality, the boat is fine, just pushing onward & resolute to our destination. On watch, 0230 am, the seas calmed and I did too. Dolphins even visited, playing in the bow wake, offering encouragement.  Anchored at lovely Bahia Santiago, 191 NM, 36 hours later, 1654 pm Friday.

Bahia Santiago

Bahia Santiago

Bahia Santiago

There is a beautiful long beach here, which we admired from the boat, but never stepped ashore. The breaking waves were just enough to dampen our bravery. Our dinghy is great to drive and haul freight, but it’s heavy to land and bring ashore.  It has us considering other options for our tender.  At any rate, it was a relaxing view and we enjoyed a few days there.  Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, all alone at anchor, had us feeling nostalgic, a wee homesick, and hungry for corned beef.  Michael made delicious clam sauce & pasta and we soothed our melancholy with a rendering of Danny Boy and chilled Reservado.

Bahia Manzanillo/Las Hadas Resort (4 NM)

Footloose, Las Hadas Anchorage

It was crowded on arrival and we anchored in close, a bit too close to the rip-rap come morning. We re-anchored in a safer zone when a boat departed. Wow – it’s as pretty as the pictures and the anchorage is calm except for the occasional speed boat and jet ski! Here we did go ashore, paying 250 pesos per day to park at the dinghy dock, but easy access to the marina walk with restaurants and the resort pools. (no swimming without another fee).  We visited el centro of Manzanillo, by the fisherman’s wharf, stopping at the mercado on Cinco de Mayo. We spent a restful week, dining out some, watching the action around the bay, boats coming and going. The beach was closed for a couple of days due to sea urchins!  Hopefully, they cleared out in time for semana santa, a busy time for all resorts and beaches in Mexico.  We departed 2 days before the vacationers all descended on Las Hadas.  By the time we left, we were the only boat at anchor, most anticipating what was to come during holy week.

Ensenada Carrizal (6NM)

So happy to stop here, an anchorage reminiscent of the ones we found most in the Sea of Cortez last year with rugged rocks and desert landscape. Going ashore is not an option, too rocky and steep for any tender. Quiet & desolate it seems; yet, there are frequent container ships going by in the distance, passing through the busy Manzanillo harbor or perhaps  all the way from the Panama Canal. We wonder as we watch them go.

We were happy here, swimming, paddle boarding, bird watching and Michael thinks the best snorkeling he’s seen in Mexico with clear water, beautiful coral & interesting fish.  I admit I am a relative newbie to snorkeling. One day everything was perfect. My mask didn’t leak or fog, my toes didn’t cramp in the fins, the water was clear, and I was calm, swimming in the underwater wonderland. I was almost in a meditative state. That is until Michael pointed out the moray and I almost choked on a cup of water in retreat. I calmly cleared my mask and went below again for another glimpse of him. 

Serafina at Ensenada Carrizal

Serafina at Ensenada Carrizal

Boat work continues. We cleaned the bottom- again – after 2 weeks it was looking swampy. Michael has been checking off the maintenance list. One day while servicing all winches, he was surprised by a visitor rowing over from a boat that had come in the night before at sunset, didn’t catch the name of the vessel. Turns out it was Serafina! Serafina was anchored next to Footloose at the police dock in San Diego where we left from on the Baja Ha Ha, 17 months and so many nautical miles ago. They joined us later for happy hour. While exchanging stories and plans, we spotted whales diving in the near distance right before sundown.  A delight to catch up with Eliza & Ted and their crew “C”!

Much to do and see along the way. Some things are routine (a few annoyingly so); Other things surprise, startle, and even scare you. And somewhere in between, there’s this quiet peace and pleasure of cruising along, logging your miles.  Next stop, Barra de Navidad, 20 NM.

Tovara River Tour

After a few days at Isla de la Piedra we left for San Blas and anchored at Ensenada Matanchen. On the way we anchored for a few hours at Isla Isabel but felt that the conditions were too unreliable to stay overnight.

Here are a few pictures from Isla Isabel famous for its birds including thousands of Frigate birds and the famous Blue Footed Boobie.


After a few more hours of boat time we anchored at Ensenada De Matanchen just three miles south of San Blas. We spent one day taking the Jungle Tour on the Tovara River….. Ever seen a wild crocodile? In the middle of the trip there is an optional stop at the crocodile farm. Here huge American crocodiles enjoy snacks while basking in concrete ponds. Also at the crocodile hatchery are 5 jaguars. Both the Jaguars and the alligators are a little sad in their captivity, Your entry fee to this small zoo contributes to help save these endangered species.

Why does everyone think I'm a Dentist

Why does everyone think I’m a Dentist

We put a lot of work into our blog and as a result we have discussions with other cruisers about blogging. The consensus seems to be that the most popular sailing Blogs feature Bikinis, Videos, and How to articles. I’m not about to put on a Bikini, but here is a first attempt at creating a video to showcase the Tovara river tour. Let me know what you think. We are also planning some how-to articles on fascinating topics like rebuilding your steering ram, and designing a lithium Ion Battery system. Stay tuned.

Land your dingy on the beach and it’s a short walk to the River tour, but along the way there are many vendors selling of all things banana bread and fruit empanadas. The huge volume of baked goods present didn’t seem to match the number of customers. At any rate, warm banana bread with chocolate chips on top. Empanadas with a fruit filling but not too sweet. Warm with Vanilla Ice Cream OMG.
The next day we ride the bus to downtown San Blas, 14 people in a packed minivan, 60 pesos for 4 people. I ride backwards sitting on a hump in the floor behind the front seat. Seat belts…whatever. We tour the Mercado. The church in San Blas is right next door to its predecessor which is almost falling down. I wonder to myself about how the transfer of “churchdom” would have occurred. Was one building consecrated then the other deconsecrated…. In what order. On the same day? It must have been a big deal.


We hike up the hill to visit the fort from 1790, the “Contaduria”, a fort but also a counting house for the Spanish. Leave it to the occupiers, to make their conquered laborers haul all their loot up a steep hill for counting.
At the fort, having walked 13000 steps and feeling a little sweaty we call a cab. 80 pesos (less than 5 dollars) for 4 people back to the beach, where we launch the dingy for a ride to our floating home.

Postcard from Mazatlán

Catedral Basilica de la Immaculada Concepcion

Catedral Basilica de la Immaculada Concepcion

We spent 3 weeks or so in Mazatlán both anchored at Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island) and docked at El Cid Marina. It was a relaxing time reconnecting with cruising friends from last year and meeting some new ones. The photos tell the best story.

Footloose at El Cid Resort & Marina

El Cid Marina is very “resorty” and we took advantage of all the amenities. What’s not to like about a drop off laundry service and afternoon swims at your choice of pools? We especially liked the pool with the caves and slide!  There was always a happy hour going on somewhere. Footloose was on an end tie in the fairway right between the fuel dock and the Aries fishing boat fleet  & catamaran adventure boats.  We got to know the water taxi driver as he shuttled folks back and forth to the beach across from us all day long. We witnessed quite a few brides being escorted over to the  popular wedding site. It was entertaining to watch the action from our back porch.

Friends

There were many familiar faces & boats on our dock. Cruising friends reunited!  We hosted a couple of shindigs on Footloose, including the Thanksgiving potluck (see holiday post coming soon). We also met some new people like Mark & Cindy on Delta Swizzler also from Northern California and another couple on C’est La Vie who pulled in for one night and tied up in front of us. We had one short conversation walking back to the boat after a swim. I don’t remember their names because we didn’t exchange boat cards, but something he said stuck with me. This couple has been cruising for 17 years and are still excited about it. Now in his 70’s, the man of the boat swears – “Cruising keeps you young.”  I hope he’s right!

Critters

Iguanas rule at El Cid

Iguanas rule at El Cid

Marveling at critters is one of my favorite pastimes. At El Cid, I had my first encounter with Iguanas! Wow, they were everywhere. They especially liked the cave pool area. One day I saw one on a lounge chair and a lady was petting him/her like a cat. Tame and used to resort life and its inhabitants I’m sure.

Old Town

Our best adventure off the Marina was a visit to Old Town Mazatlán. I love the colorful streets & celebration.

Art Walk Tour

Welcome to Art Walk, Dec 2017

Welcome to Art Walk, Dec 2017

The first Friday of each month there is an Art Walk tour in Old Town. Creative artisans display their work in galleries and shops throughout town. Masks & Sculptures delight! No room on the boat for art collecting, but we were happy to look.

Isla de la Piedra

Many cruisers like this spot as a place to prepare for an early morning departure. Much easier to leave in the dark from this anchorage then the marina, which has tricky tides, currents, and dredging to contend with. We left El Cid Marina after sunrise and motored around the corner to anchor. I immediately jumped in the water and cleaned the spluge from our waterline. Spluge: the oily grimy crud that we collect when at a dock a little too long. We stayed two days at anchor and then left for Isla Isabel at 0430.

 It’s peaceful here. Wish you all the same.

Lisa & Michael

Now at La Cruz, Marina Riviera Nayarit