Tag Archives: Mexico

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.

Postcard from Z-Fest

Playa Principal Anchorage

March 11, 2018

We are wrapping up our time in fabulous Zihuatanejo.  Checked out with the Port Captain, provisioned, got fuel, saying good-bye to friends. We spent a month here, a memorable time.  Here are the highlights:

Raft-up Concert on Muskoka, Sail Fest

Raft-up Concert on Muskoka, Sail Fest

Sail Fest por los Ninos

Unfortunately, we arrived at the tail end of this event. Cruisers donate their time and boats taking local people and tourists out for short cruises. We did enjoy one sunset cruise aboard Muskoka with gracious hosts, Scott and Laurie. The cruise ended with a raft up concert featuring José Luis Cabo, a renowned & beloved local artist.  By all accounts, Sail Fest was a huge success with proceeds going to help fund education projects including the building of schools, scholarships, and more. Schedule permitting, we’d like to participate next year.

Bahia Zihuatanejo

Mateo, Dinghy Attendant extraordinaire

Mateo, Dinghy Attendant extraordinaire

There are 4 beaches here: Playa Principal, Playa Madera, Playa la Ropa, and Playa las Gatas. We anchored primarily in the main anchorage in front of Playa Principal. Pros and Cons for sure. The water is green and gross which means no swimming or water making for us. It can also be rolly. We had a few days with big swells coming through the anchorage. We were able to dinghy to shore in spite of the wave breaks thanks to the friendly ever-present dingy attendants waiting on shore to help with all landings and launches for 10-20 pesos. We did have a couple of rough landings/launches when the waves were big, but no permanent injuries, just some wet clothes, groceries, dirty dinghy and frazzled nerves. A big plus here is Hilda & Ismael’s concierge service for boaters. With their service, we had laundry, diesel, and even beer delivered to the boat. 

Cooling Off

Footloose at Isla Grande/Ixtapa

Footloose at Isla Grande/Ixtapa

It’s quite warm and humid here. We went to Playa Ropa and nearby Isla Grande/Ixtapa and Petatlán just south for some cooling off, water making, boat cleaning, snorkeling and relaxation.

Cruising Community and Town

Dining with Friends, Patrice & Lou (Sonamara), Lisa (Footloose), Maureen & Bob (Paradisea)

On average, 20-25 boats were anchored here with us. There is a cruisers net Monday-Saturday, at 0830, on Channel 22 with volunteer hosts. We caught up with friends here, enjoying many meals and the Guitar Fest!  With the heat, cooking is less fun. Fortunately, Zihuatanejo has no shortage of good restaurants. Every Thursday is “Posole” night. We tasted some at Any’s, delicious. Spectacular dinner at Kau Kan, serious food (tuna tartar with ginger, grilled lamb chops…) with a stunning view. There is no shortage of entertainment either with live music all around and sports. A few friends were able to watch the Olympics from one of the many sport bars here. Curling and Cerveza anyone?  And the best is the basketball court right in the center of the beach walk. There is a very active league with players of all sizes, ages, and abilities taking it to the court. Very popular with the locals, who surround the court to watch in the warm evenings, snacking on popcorn or ice cream.  I must give a shout out to Cuattro Cycle, a cool (air-conditioned) cafe, with excellent service, food, coffee, WiFi and is pet friendly. We spent hours parked at a table with laptops, coffee, green tea, and baked goods catching up on business, surfing, and writing.

International Guitar Festival: XV Anniversary 2018,  Mar 3-10

Opening Night, Carlos Uribe & Jossy Gallegos

What a week this has been. A stage is set up right off of Playa Principal with beach concerts every night, 8-11, as well as gala events at various restaurants. Opening night on the beach stage was a great introduction to all artists.  We thought we could listen to some concerts from our boat, but often there were conflicting sounds drowning out the guitarists. Better to go to the beach to hear concerts for only $100 pesos each ($5 cover)!  We also attended a couple of gala events, seeing Jossy Gallegos and Nick Vigarino at Coconuts and Goh Kurosawa and Tom Lumen at Bistro Delmar. Many different styles. We really liked Leonardo Parra Castillo who played “delta” blues. Listening to him, I’d swear he was from Mississippi, not Colombia.  Another night featured Eric McFadden and Omar Torrez. Wow. I could go on and on. We have some new music for our boat collection!

Moving Day

Last night we enjoyed one more meal on the beach with our friends, listening to the Guitar Fest finale. Today it’s quiet. Many boats are pulling up the anchor, time to move on. The fleet is changing once again, as new boats come in replacing the departed. We will linger another day and then it is our turn.

Thank you Zihuatanejo, next stop somewhere near Manzanillo…

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Time flies while cruising. Writing now from Zihuatanejo, let us not forget about the two-plus months we spent in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  We didn’t intend to stay quite that long, but we decided to fly home for a visit while taking advantage of the plentiful services around La Cruz,  chipping away at some ongoing boat projects. After some waxing, varnishing, and fiberglass work, Footloose is looking pretty good if I do say so myself. 

Fresh Varnish by Lisa

Fresh Varnish by Lisa

It’s not all about the boat work though; La Cruz and the surrounding Banderas Bay area was a lovely place to spend the holidays and to jumpstart the year. Here are the highlights.

Marina Riviera Nayarit, A Review 

With several Marinas in the area, how do you choose?  We decided to stay at La Cruz based on cruisers’ reports and choosing to be off the beaten path of Puerta Vallarta. While I think it was a good choice for this visit, there are pros and cons.

Cons:

Expensive

No Potable Water, no water making in this bay

No Pump Out Service

Poor Dock Maintenance

No Laundromat: not an issue for me, but there is no facility to do your own. There is however a drop-off service at the Marina VIP room or many local lavanderias in town. You can’t beat the price or service.

Location: for some, the location is out of the way. You have to travel by bus or taxi for banking, for large provisioning (Nueva Vallarta), or to visit old town Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, etc.

Poor Wifi: While they provide a wifi password, connection is poor. Most days required us going ashore or the VIP room for internet.

Pros:

The Small Town:  I loved being able to walk to the friendly town with many restaurants (a favorite: Masala Bar & Grill), small stores, park, and music venues. Taxis or buses are easily accessible for travel to Bucerías, Puerto Vallarta, etc. We took a taxi to the airport for $350 pesos.

Weekly Movie Night at the Amphitheater: bring your comfy chair, enjoy a hotdog or popcorn and cerveza, sit back and enjoy the show under the stars…

Katrina: Kat is a wonderful concierge for the marina, super friendly and knowledegable resource. She maintains a busy calendar of events and activities for boaters and the surrounding community. 

Sailing in Banderas Bay:  We went out several times to take care of business (watermaking, etc)  The whales were spectacular and plentiful this time of year in the bay. PV Sails organizes weekly beer-can races for those so inclined.

Fish Market and Sunday Market:  The fish market is a standout. We wish (still trying) we could catch our own, but grateful to stock up here. Open 7 days a week.  The Sunday Market is also a gem. We did our weekly shopping there with fresh produce, french cheese, a real baguette, bagels, spices, and a variety of seafood. It is crowded with tourists, locals, and cruisers, but worth it.

Velmar Professional Boat Care: Horacio and his team provide quality work. Horacio speaks good English and coordinates a variety of boat sevices. He also provides boat care for boats stored in the off season.

Weather and Walks:  There is a lovely breeze most days in La Cruz, with average temperature 75-85 degrees F. I enjoyed many sunrise walks around the marina taking in the views of the bay. Easy place to walk dogs too.

Last thoughts

New Years Day on Footloose

New Years Day on Footloose

As with most places we visit, the people make it. We had a great time catching up with friends in and around La Cruz. This season is a bit different as we find ourselves at a crossroads. Some friends are leaving for the Puddlejump, crossing the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands and beyond. Others are braving the Gulf of Tehuantepec for the Central America to Panama passage. Planning to do this ourselves next season, we have joined the Panama Posse to learn from this season’s travelers. Others will linger longer in Mexico.  Cheers to all of you, bon voyage, and thanks for the memories shared.

That’s all for now. Time to go explore more of Zihuatanejo! 

Kings Day

KingsdaySM (5 of 11)

In Mexico, El Dia de Reyes’ (Three Kings Day) day marks the end of the Christmas Season. This is the 12th night of Christmas when the three wisemen or Magi arrive at the manger. Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, traveled a great distance to pay homage to the Christ child. They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Mexico, this is the night that people exchange gifts…. Santa Claus, not so much.
Another tradition is the Rosca del Reyes (Kings cake) which is full of significance. The cake is  is round with a hollow center and decorated with fruits and nuts to decorate the cake which represents the king’s crown. Baked into the cake is a small figure that is an effigy of Jesus. It is hidden in the cake because the birthplace of Jesus was hidden so that Herrod’s men could not find him. The person who gets the figurine in their piece of cake is obligated to throw a party on Dia de la Candelaria’ (Candlemas Day) which occurs each year on February 2nd….. Another reason to stick to your New Year’s Resolution and avoid sweets.
At La Cruz, the cruisers draw the names of children from the local orphanage and do their best to fulfill the children’s gift wishes. It’s a great event sponsored by the La Cruz yacht club and organized by Katrina Liana from Marina Riviera Nayarit.  A sweet moment for every one involved.

A Funky Mexican Town – Chacala

20171213-5DS-28

Before our arrival at La Cruz, we spent two days anchored off the little town of Chacala.  This is a very cute town and we would have stayed longer except the anchorage was pretty lumpy and a lee shore, meaning that the boat would drift onto the beach if the anchor lost its grip…  One of the differences being in “Pacific” Mexico, is that the pacific swell comes into many of the anchorages.  Many boats use a bow and stern anchor here to keep the boat more comfortable.

We had a great day walking around the town and enjoyed a meal in one of the Palapa’s on the beach.

Beadwork

Beadwork

Lisa bough a cute necklace in this shop where the woman is busily creating these beadwork masterpieces.  I couldn’t believe how fine the work was.  I kept wondering if she was highly nearsighted.

Hector

Hector

If we were planning a land trip to Chacala, we would stay here at Casa Pacifica. We haven’t seen any of the rooms, but suspect they are somewhat funky.  The owner is an American woman who has lived there for 19 years.  She is clearly a bird aficionado and told us that the best time to see birds was before 9 am, and that almost 300 species visit her piece of paradise at various times of the year.

The hotel operates as a B&B and Breakfast is served on the roof top in the Mauna Kea Café with a view of the ocean.   Hector the cook has been in the US and worked for Whole foods for nine years.  As an exemplary worker, he was promoted many times within the organization and finally Whole Foods sent him to the Culinary Academy in SF.  A few years later he was deported……

If I wanted a week or two of peace and quiet in a funky off the beaten path place in Mexico with a beautiful beach, I would really consider Chacala as an interesting and safe place to visit…..

 

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

Season End

May 2017

Season End, Haul Out Time

Our first cruising season has come to an end. The last bit of business was to get Footloose settled for her summer home, hauled out of the water in Guaymas. Guaymas is the only yard with a travel lift large enough to handle our beam. We first visited San Carlos, another popular place for people to haul out or leave boats for the hurricane season and then moved on to Guaymas for the final work and haul.

San Carlos

Entering San Carlos

Entering San Carlos

We arrived San Carlos Marina on May 8. The only available slip for us was a bit dicey. We anchored out first, then dinghied in to get a closer look before committing. The space was very tight (29 feet wide) for our beam (25 feet) Plus, one side of the space was not a “dock” but rather a cement wall. We decided to go for it since we wanted a break from windy anchorages. Our friend Joanneke from Witte Raaf kindly offered to come along and help with our landing. She was able to fend off on the starboard side (next to the cement wall), while I took care of getting the lines tied off on the port side. Michael backed her in while the wind did its best to push us toward the wall. Sailing or docking, the wind direction has generally not been our friend this season. Still, no harm done, only a bit of an adrenaline rush. We settled in for a week and began prepping the boat for haul out and dry storage. We made our list of things to do and began chipping away. I cleared the pantry and donated some food to local orphanages. We checked off the list slowly. We both felt lethargic, a bit melancholy. Not sure if it was the work at hand, the heat, or the realization that we would soon be leaving Footloose, our home, for the summer.

Oops

We planned to leave early on May 15 for Guaymas, hoping to shove off before the wind picked up. We got up early, but had to wait until 0900 to checkout. By this time, the wind was up and had too much west, which was eager to push us directly into “the wall”. Michael recruited several to help with lines to hold us off the wall until he could pull away. It all worked well as he pulled out of the slip and turned down the channel. As soon as the stern cleared the dock, the men threw the lines, which I scrambled to retrieve from the water, first from the stern and then from mid-ships. As the boat was being swept to port, Michael was doing all he could to keep Footloose in the center of the narrow channel. I heard Jan yell to me – get the mid ship lines – and I ran from the stern step to pull them in. Too late – the prop was fouled on the line and Michael had lost steerage. Luckily there was an empty side tie dock and the wind pushed us on. The guys helped tie us off. I sat down and cried. Michael quickly put on his wet suit and dive gear and dove to look at the prop. He cut away the mess of lines, then tested the engines. All clear – we were off to Guaymas. We always debrief after things go well or awry. What could we have done better?  In hindsight – 1) we could have anchored out and avoided the risk of the questionable dock space. 2) I could have brought up mid-ships line(s) first; or if docked and using line handlers, we could limit the number of lines, with four being too many for one person to bring in efficiently. 3) we could have brought Jan aboard to help with line retrieval. 4) Michael thought he could have built more speed allowing the rudders to work and steer the boat. Always learning.

3/4 three strand in a propellor

3/4 three strand in a propellor

Guaymas

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First, we docked at Marina Fonatour. Again, we took the only space we could fit. The wind helped us this time, with Michael bringing Footloose into position and letting her drift to the dock. Others welcomed us and quickly tied us down.  Countdown time — one week to get ready for the haul out. We did manage some breaks from the work detail to walk and eat in Guaymas. We were blessed to find our taxi driver, Jesús, who became our personal driver for the week. Whenever we called, he was there! He recommended Mariscos El Rey, which we enjoyed twice, with delicious seafood cocktails and grilled Pulpo. He drove us around to every Ferreteria in town looking for a fuel filter for the Gen Set. Jesús is married, has five dogs, two cats, and five niños all grown up. I adore him. His air-conditioned rides and our fun, albeit language-challenged conversations, were a pleasant diversion from the work and haul out dread.

I won’t detail all the boat prep here, but, oh my, it was more work than anticipated. We thoroughly cleaned the inside, polishing all wood trim, scrubbing floors, walls to headliners, cleaned the leather settee cushions, emptied all cabinets to clean some more. No mold will live here!  Michael took down all lines and we wrangled in the sails. The main sail was the toughest. We tried to plan it for a windless moment, but when is that really? We got it down late afternoon and began to fold it (950 square feet, 250 pounds), with Michael at the tack and me at the clew. The wind puffed and a section of the sail billowed up over the side. AAAH, NOOOOO. Michael flopped on top of the wad and pulled it back down. Disaster averted. We began again, trying to keep the folds as tight as possible in order to fit sail into the bag for storage.  Success. tick tock, tick tock. Watermakers pickled, check. Oil changes, check. Heads cleaned, check. All laundry cleaned and stored check. Suitcases packed, (UGH), check. The list got smaller, we got wearier. On Sunday, with heads now shut down, provisions all gone and nowhere to sit or sleep, we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express where we would stay for the week while we did final work. And then it was Monday morning.

Haul Out

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After a fitful night, we go, both nervous. It’s my first time. I love our boat. It’s unnatural to take a boat out of water, yes?  The space is irregular where we’ll be hauled, narrow and jagged. We carefully placed fenders around the boat. Michael marked where the straps should be placed for hauling under the hull’s lifting points.

We motored over at 0740, hoping to get there just at the right moment for the haul out scheduled for 0800. This is a very shallow area and we did not have much room for circling. As we approached, the travel lift was not in place and there was no one there yet to catch the lines. We radioed Gabriel at Marina Guaymas for assistance. There was some back and forth and around 0830, the men walked down to the dock. I handed off the bow lines on starboard and then stern line on port. Footloose was secure, but where was the travel lift? An hour later, Gabriel called to tell us there was a flat tire on the lift. It would be a couple hours. ok.  We waited. We walked to OXXO for some ice and snacks. At 1000, Michael wandered out to the travel lift to check on progress on the tire. Two men were wrestling with the huge tires and were almost ready to remount the wheel. Michael returned to the boat. We waited. It’s hot. At 1300, Michael goes back to investigate and learned that no further progress had been made. He checked with the office about leaving the boat and returning the next morning. The owner of the travel lift agreed to haul the boat at 0900. We walked over to Gabriel’s where the boat will be stored and informed their office that the boat haul was delayed until the next day. Jesús picked us up and we went on our way shopping for filters and pausing for ice cream.  At 1500, Gabriel called Michael, “where are you, your boat is in the sling ready to haul.”  Michael – “What???!”  The operation stopped. 

The next morning, Jesús picked us up at 0730 to drive us back to the yard. This time the travel lift was in place and before I’d made a cup of coffee, it was show time. I climbed off the boat, turned my head away from the lift and Michael caught me making the sign of the cross. I bravely turned back to watch and took some photos. Footloose rose and they pulled her out. The travel lift proceeded up this rough roadway to the storage yard with Footloose swaying in the sling. yikes. (Deep Breathing required) 

They parked Footloose and put her down on blocks.  Relief, temporarily. Unfortunately, when we got back aboard and walked to the bow, we were horrified to find hydraulic oil spots all over the place. It apparently had leaked from the lift overnight. If only they had waited for us, we could have averted the mess by covering it properly. Instead, our custom kayak cover is stained. And our deck was a mess. We spent an additional day cleaning as best we could, but still no bueno. Captain very unhappy.

All Shall Be Well

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We cleaned up today, secured the dinghy on deck, and said our farewell to Footloose. We’ve stored her the best we know how and pray that she’ll be safe for the summer. We’ve met Alejandro, who will likely do some sanding work for the bottom paint job. Everyone in the yard, workers and boaters alike are cheerful about it all, which is reassuring — sort of. Workers are confident in their work and of the safety of the yard. Boaters love to meet you and share their hurricane or other boat yard horror with a chuckle. No problema!  What if a hurricane hits? It happens. A guy we met in the yard told us how his boat was hit by a falling wall – without a hurricane.  Never mind.

Next

We’re leaving soon, catching a flight to Albuquerque on Wednesday. What an amazing first cruising season from California to Mexico. We are excited to see family and friends this summer and looking ahead to next season, what will it bring?  It will begin with putting the boat back together and likely cleaning off all the red dust. But then, Footloose will splash and we’ll be off — Mazatlán, Puerta Vallarta, Banderas Bay, La Cruz, Zihuatanejo, making our way to Panama maybe. All to be determined. Plans and crew are flexible.

We’re tired after the haul out. I’m reminded that it’s best to never make decisions about cruising after a rough passage or grueling boat work. Be mindful that there are far more sunsets than there are fouled props; many more friends than boat yards! 

2016-17 Cruising Season

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Santa Rosalia, Midriffs, Crossing the Sea

Santa Rosalia, April 17 to 28
A blinding light through the stateroom window and a loud horn. I wake up at 2 am with a spotlight shining through the window. AHHHH. It’s the ferry entering Santa Rosalia Harbor. We took a slip at the Fonatur Marina for a week hoping to do an engine repair and perhaps find a doctor to look at my eye. Again, no doctors here, only La Paz, but the eye seems stable and Guaymas is only a day a way or so.


The marina is butt ugly. Black walls surround you with mountains of rip rap. The water is brown…no water making here. Down the dock the Mexican navy keeps their patrol boat and a couple of fast marine rescue boats. The Navy guys seem great– wish I spoke more Spanish. One morning we wake up to the sounds of three guys scraping hard marine growth off of the floating docks that keep the fast boats out of the water with smooth bottoms while they are not in use. They swim for exercise most days in the funky water. Probably keeps them more resistant to disease. These guys look tough and athletic.
The town is a true Mexican town. This is a mining town owned by a French company Compagnie du Boleo and the French influence is there. Represented by the colonial architecture of the city hall and the church was designed by Gustav Eiffel and imported from Belgium. A later remodel of the church added more traditional construction to the sides of the metal church. The remodel was respectful and the new eaves have the same scalloped metal trim as the original structure. The town has many mining artifacts left after the French closed their operation in 1946 after copper prices fell. In 2010, a consortium of Canadian and South Korean companies reopened the mine to extract copper and cobalt an important mineral for newer battery chemistries.

Lisa and I cook on the boat a lot and enjoy the process, but towns are a chance to take a break, and we like checking out the different places. In Santa Rosalia, we had delicious ice cream at Splash where a handsome young Mexican man enjoyed practicing his English on us. At Tercos, we enjoyed the rotisserie chicken although the whole meal was a little heavy for us. We ate Chinese food at both of the Chinese restaurants in town. There are quite a few Chinese people here who came to work the mines at the same time they were coming to California for the gold rush to build a railway… gotta love those immigrants. Our favorite was probably Tonka’s Grill, where we enjoyed a steak and great margaritas.

Repaired with JB Weld

Repaired with JB Weld

Our raw water pump was leaking, sending a good bit of salt water over the engine block. The water pump went together much easier than expected as we have full rebuild kits aboard but in the process we cracked the raw water connection to the exhaust. In marine engines like ours, fresh water with coolant circulates inside the engine block in the same way as most cars, but instead of a radiator to cool the water, we have a heat exchanger to lower the coolant temperature. The raw water pump provides cool seawater to the heat exchanger and then the seawater is discharged into the exhaust system. This is a pretty slick trick since it cools off the hot exhaust gases both muffling the noise and cooling the exhaust allowing your exhaust to be in a hose instead of requiring a heat proof steel pipe, like an auto. The point at which the cool seawater is injected back into the exhaust is a crazy place as cool salt water is hitting the 500 degree exhaust gases. This makes for a pretty corrosive brew and our cast iron fitting cracked from the pressure of the hose clamp. A leak here is a pretty big problem since you will be dumping the saltwater into your engine room instead of back into the ocean. This part is a Volvo part and would take weeks to get in Mexico. I tried something I have never done before and used an epoxy product called JB Weld. First gluing the pieces of the casting back together, then giving the whole thing a wrap with fiberglass cloth and more JB weld. So far so good.
Our next stop was to be Bahia San Francisquito. We first set off on the 23rd, but as we rounded the first cape, Cabo Virgenes, we had winds gusting to 25 on the nose. With 65 miles to go and our general distrust of weather forecasting, we returned to Santa Rosalia for another 4 days.

Bahia San Francisquito, April 27 – May 2
This time we got around the cape, and motor-sailed to San Francisquito. While we had choppy conditions on the beam, it felt good to be using sails to help us get there. The midriff Islands form a line from San Francisquito to the mainland side of the sea, and their presence accelerates the tides as they pass between the island or the land. As we were approaching San Francisquito, the tide was ebbing and we found ourselves going against two or three knots of swirling current.
More heavy wind, and we spent the first 2 days on the boat. Wow, we have never been so isolated. The scenery is stunning. Groups of Dolphins sweep through the anchorage feeding on the fish. A coyote walks the beach in the evening. We hear them howling in the hills. Ours are the only footprints on the beach. Unfortunately, there are still signs of man. We have not visited a beach that does not have plastic litter. This beach has 4 or 5 black plastic crates, pieces of polypropylene rope from fishing equipment, and the number one item is plastic drink containers.
Typically, we have several other boats anchored with us, but here we are alone and enjoy some peaceful contemplation. After the winds die down, one boat spends the night leaving before sunrise the next morning and one panga ventures out to fish. We can see all the way to Isla Tiburon, which will be our next stop, 65 miles away. We will be crossing to the mainland in preparation for hauling our boat for the summer in Guaymas.


Bahia Cruces – Isla Tiburon May 2 – May 3
We cross the Sea of Cortez on a windless day to the Midriff Islands. The sea is a mirror. Above us hundreds of seabirds fly to visit the various bait balls that appear and disappear. We watch sea birds and dolphins plunging into the water which seems to boil with jumping fish and diving birds.


Early in the afternoon we anchor at Bahia Cruces. The Jejenes are relentless. These little flies don’t bite but they exist to be annoying. They walk around on your body preferring your skin to anything else around. There isn’t enough breeze to drive them away. On the beach, an apparently abandoned structure that looks like it may have been a museum, has several stone Monuments surrounding it. Makes you think it was a visitor center or something except there are no visitors here. No roads, no nothing. The front wall of the building is defaced with large white graffiti. On the beach are a bunch of bags and a large black cooking pot. As the afternoon progresses, three pangas arrive and set up camp on the beach. They shelter under the front overhang of the building preparing their meal. No one spends much time in the building. The fisherman are asleep on the beach as the sun goes down.

Las Cocinas, May 3- May 5

Sunrise is coming

Sunrise is coming

We leave Tiburon at 4 am to ensure a daylight arrival for our next anchorage. Glad to be free of the Jejenes. Leaving at night always feels a little eerie. The instruments glow red in their night setting and the cabin lights are red. The plotter is turned down to preserve night vision. Behind us our twin wake glows with phosphorescence in the water. We have a radar return on our port bow, but see no lights. We turn toward our new course, which brings us closer to the return. Suddenly the lights come on. An unlit fishing boat, or Panga has seen us change course and concerned about a collision turns on a lantern of some sort. Two hours later the sun begins to warm the horizon. Best of all we have wind. We sail on a close reach in 15 knots. The seas are pretty lumpy, but we enjoy the boat speed.
We anchor in the lee of a headland with good protection from the southeast winds. A little swell wraps around the point, but we are liking it. We take a walk on the beach and enjoy some of our best snorkeling. The water is clear and the bottom is scattered with starfish, anemones, Lots of fish school past us.

Bahia San Pedro, May 5 – May 6
We move to the next anchorage sailing downwind under the gennaker. Later, we take the dingy past the spectacular cliffs and caves on the northern side of the bay and enjoy a walk on the beach. The next morning an ugly swell has the boat rocking and rolling, and the weather promises more to come. So we move on.


Bahia Algodones, May 6 – May 8
We are definitely back in civilization. The soggy peso bar is at our end of a beach lined with custom homes and resorts. Just like La Paz, the music pounds into the night with the places shutting down at 4 am.

Musica

Musica

We are anchored at the north side of the bay expecting a northwest wind and swell. For most of the first day the wind is southwest and the resulting swell leaves us in less than perfect conditions. The swell would make a mono-hull really roll, but we are pretty comfortable; however, the resulting swell makes a beach landing tenuous. We stay on the boat for two days without going ashore. And finally move on to San Carlos where we will get a slip.


The weather has been the biggest difficulty so far. Our weather provider “Predictwind” gives us 4 models that are based on US and European data. One model comes from NOAA, one from a European Agency and two come from Predictwind which processes the US and European raw data separately with its own algorithm. The problem is that there is often no clear winner. Instead, I find myself looking for a consensus. One page of the forecast can give you a print out of the weather just as a data table. I have seen all 4 compass points represented for one hour of the forecast. We don’t actually care what the weather will be as much as we would just like to be able to plan our next move with some reliability. Where you anchor and when you go are pretty much weather based decisions.