It’s hard to believe that since Mason left in January, we’ve been too busy to update this blog. Donna has been doing much better with Instagram posts. The days are just flying by. Especially in places like Tenacatita where we get into a: Wake-up–dinghy in for a run on beach w/Lucy–do the morning radio nets–eat breadfeast—swim around the bay–go fishing—play bocci ball—beers at the palapa after—have dinner—visit—go to bed routine.
We left Barra de Navidad 1/22 bound for Zihuatanejo with stops at Santiago and Isla Grande (off Ixtapa) for a couple of days each. About 200 miles in between—very easy passage. We arrived in Zihua well before the start of Sailfest but regardless, activities were already underway. So, we signed up to take donors out for evening sails around the harbor to watch the sunset. Sailfest is an annual week-long event dedicated to raising funds to build local schools. There are many aspects to the event such as concerts, art auctions, boating, and even a chili cook off. The way we cruisers pitch in is to take people for boat rides in exchange for donations to the cause. Evening sails, music cruises (with local musicians aboard), a boat parade, and even a sailboat “race” all get people out on the water. It’s mostly gringo tourists that sign up but lots of fun is had by all. And we raised over a million pesos this time around.
Don & Emily from Bainbridge Island came down to visit us while we were in the midst of Sailfest. They’re always fun to have along and being accomplished sailor themselves, were a big help with the Sailfest guests. Our guests for the Race Around the Rock were the same bunch of fun folks from Quincy, WA that were with us last year. And we repeated the win as well. Yay!
After the event was completed, we put the boat into the marina at nearby Ixtapa and the four of us took an extended rent-a-car road trip into the mountains to see the sights with a focus on the monarch butterflies. We overnighted at the towns of Morelia, Angangueo, and Patzcuaro. All are above 6,000 ft and much cooler the what we’re used to on the coast. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s. The whole area felt very different than what we’re used to experiencing in Mexico. It had a very colonial feel. Many streets and buildings are centuries old–beautiful and very well kept and super clean. We saw only a few other gringos while there which was a refreshing change in its self. Outside of Angangueo, we drove up to Sierra Chincua Biosphere Reserve to view the monarch butterflies in the final phase of their pre-migratory breeding process. The males will die after breeding (poor guys), the females head to Texas on their way to central Canada (but it takes several generations). Then, one long trip for their descendants back to these mountains. There were literally millions of them around on the day we visited. Simply amazing. None of the hotels have heat so we froze our tropical adjusted butts off.
At the end of the week, Don and Emily dropped us back at Ixtapa so we could bring the boat back up to Barra de Navidad. They drove up the coast visiting some out of the way places. The sail up the coast can be against the prevailing NW winds and potentially nasty. But we had an easy trip and made record time getting to Barra after only 28 hours. Pretty much about the same time as Don & Emily. Also, our other friends from home—Scott & Gail—arrived that day as well. The 6 of us sailed up to Tenacatita and La Manzanilla for a few days of fun & sun—a little crowded but we’re all boaters so flexible enough to make it work.
After Don & Emily flew home Scott & Gail helped us take the boat up the coast to Banderas Bay where we hung out in La Cruz until their time to go home. John had several major dental procedures performed at his favorite PV dentist office (ouch) and now we’re preparing for the infamous Banderas Bay Regatta before heading north to the Sea of Cortez. Originally, we were planning to leave after the final visit to the Dentist but then made a snap decision to sign up for the regatta since we’re here anyway. We’re in the Cruising Division this year. Should be fun.
These Sierra are are very sleek and fast and difficult to spear but very tasty.
When the going gets rough, Lucy likes a nice “cave” to crawl into. These cushions work in a pinch.
Lucy fulling embracing the sunset while on passage–looking as always for the “green flash”.
Sail Fest 2018 started long before the official start date. There were 35 registered boats and many, many locals and expats involved as well.
Carmanah queing up for the Boat Parade at Sail Fest. We spread the guests around the boat,.
Who are these pale faces in the long pants? I picked Don & Emily up at the Zihuatenajo town pier & ferry them to the anchorage. They immediatly broke out the shorts and cold beers.
Sailfest volunteers are shown appreciation & entertainment by students at the first new high school built in Zihuatanejo in 20 years. Funds for construction were raised by Sailfest in colaboration with city goverment and local business’ . This school targets disadvantaged dropout kids with such success that now many middle class parents are willing to pay an extra feew to have their more advantaged kids attend.
Carmanah looking good on the start line for the race out of the bay, around Rocca Negra & back. “Old Whitie”, our #1 headsail is still looking good at 40 years old.
Carmanah with the red/white/blue/yellow spinnaker chasing down a Cal 48 from an earlier start in the Race Around the Rock.
The Carmanah crew celebrating at the awards shindig after the race. Very fun group from Quincy, WA.
The dinghy attendants on the beach in Zihuatanejo help you land and watch your stuff while you’re ashore. Very reassuring since this is a major urban area with the thefth always a possiblity. 10 peso tiip does the trick.
Donna enjoying a Molcajete dish (the huge stone bowl) at Banditos resturant in Zihua. These pre-hispanic bowls are traditionally carved out of a single block of rock
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the City of Morelia is an amazing place to just stroll about in. Emily is enjoying the well-preserved colonial buildings and layout of the historic center in this shot.
Construction of the Morelia Cathedral was begun inb 1660 & completed 84 years later in 1744. Thank goodness it’s not in the City of Los Gatos, CA or they might still be waiting for a building permit. Sorry Linda & Kristi
The Morelia Cathedral at night.
Our room in Patzcuaro was right on the plazza. A beautiful old building. At night the plazza heats up with music and local vendors. The elevation here is 6,500′. Very comfortable but a pile of blankets was required at night.
The final hike to see the butterflies is at 9,000 ft. Donna opted to ride Esperanza over the hill with handler Arturo rather than huff and puff with the rest of us less intelligent in the party. I get light headed just remembering the hike.
Not as scary as Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” but the shear numbers of butterflies was an awesome site at Sierra Cincua.
Those clumps on the trees are actually thousands of butterflies piled on top of one another for warmth. When ever the sun breaks out of the clouds, the air fills with Monarchs.
These monarchs are missing the part of their body that isn’t toxic to feeding birds. Their propensity to feed on noxious milkweed makes them poisonous to predators (mostly that is).
A glimpse of pre-Hispanic culture—the Tintzuntzan ruins overlook Lake Patzcuaro dominated by 5 restored pyramids. Awe inspiring.
Dock laundry service in Ixtapa. Not pretty but it’s fast.
Windlass is finally repaired with parts delivered by Scott & Gail. No more pulling up by hand–ugh. Luckily we’ve been anchoring in less than 15 feet of depth so not too heavy.
The whole gang sailing up to Tenacatita. We had to draw straws to see who got to sleep in the cockpit.
The Mayor’s (dinghy) Raftup in on Fridays in Tenacatita. Traditiion dictates that you blow into a conch shell at sunset. Donna found one but a crab was in residence so we threw it back in the sea. Robert (standing) is the longtime “mayor” of the bay.
Some of the crocs at the La Manzanilla preserve are huge. This one is about 14′ long but is also very very wide. Wouldn’t want to wrestle him. Luckily they can only spend limited time in salt water so we don’t see them in the anchorage……much.
Scotty wrestling a small croc outside the fence at the reserve. As luck would have it, this one turned out to be only a statue.
Scott and Gail along with other cruisers from the Barra de Navidad lagoon anchorage hiked up to the the light house and were rewarded with a breath taking view up and down the coast. Just don’t look down.
From up top, we could look down on Los Llanitos wrecked in 2015 hurricane Patricia–strongest hurricane to ever hit Mexico.
We took a drive with Scott & Gail to San Sebastian, a centuries old mining town in the mountains near Banderas Bay.