Getting Back In

After one month in transition, we’re ready to start cruising.  First, cross the Sea of Cortez to the Baja.  Then work our way slowly south toward La Paz by the end of November.  Then  cross to the mainland coast (3 day passage) and work our way south to Barra Navidad (between Puerto Vallarta and Zihuatanejo) by mid December.  On to “Z-town” by February for Sailfest.

So far no big surprises with the boat.  We’ve been  reacquainting with cruising friends as we all prepare our boats for sea.  Donna posts photos occasionally on Instagram, check it out.

 

About Time to Head South

Ocean Falls was pretty much our northern turn around point for summer cruising.  That far north, we were lucky to miss a lot of the smoke from forest fires that persisted in Puget Sound up through Desolation Sound and to Port Hardy.  We were lucky to have mom on the boat for 8 weeks and dad for about 10.  Linda joined us for a week hopping aboard in Bella Bella and cruised down to Port McNeil on Vancouver Island to fly home with mom to San Jose.  After dropping dad back a Bainbridge Island, we regrouped then headed back up to the San Juans for a fall cruise that was very nice and civilized.  By late September most of the anchorages were sparsely occupied and the weather was pretty nice.  But as the temperatures began dropping into the 40s, we felt the pull of getting back to Carmanah for more Mexican cruising.  So the month of October was basically spent cleaning up Restless for winter and preparing Carmanah for the tropical cruising season.

 

Summer season–cruising up north in BC

More from Baja

After dropping Don and Emily in Loreto, we spent 9 days on the outside (east) of Isla Carmen–taking advantage of the super light winds and warm weather.  Especially cool was the chance to visit Salinas for several days.  Usually the wind–both north and south whistles through this Bahia.  The former salt mining town–abandoned in the 1980s–enjoyed a worldwide distribution.  Currently it is being restored as a lodge for sportsmen hunting the “excess” Desert Bighorn Sheep that are being repopulated on the island.  Needless to say we didn’t ignore the signs saying not to hike in the interior.

We have only a couple weeks left to enjoy the Sea before heading north to Puget Sound to prepare Restless our 36′ trawler for the summer season up there.

Here are some pictures we found that I missed posting last time.

While hanging out at Bahia Salinas, we had a front row seat to watch the fascinating pelicans go about their daily routine.  The crashing splashes out of nowhere sometimes right next to the boat could surprise us if caught off guard.

The Migration North

Spring is the time we head back to the Baja and work our way up to San Carlos to prepare Carmanah for summer storage.  It’s also seems to be a time for visitors from home.  We had the whole crew for the Banderas Bay regatta, and then Bob stayed on an extra week at La Cruz (until the Churros ran out).   The day he flew home, our niece Ruby arrived to celebrate spring break from Colorado State University in the hot Mexico sun.   She seemed to have had a pretty good week and managed to hit the hot spots in Puerto Vallarta with her friend Natalie from college.  The same day she flew back to Colorado, her brother Sam arrived from Boise.  Lucky Sam, we were preparing for the 400 mile crossing from La Cruz on the mainland coast up to La Paz part way up the Baja peninsula.  He got to experience long hours of late night watches and part of one of the days pounding to windward.  But all in all, a pretty good crossing and Sam is a really good hand to have aboard.  Always interested in things, fun to talk to and knows when to jump in and help out.  He loves to fish but unfortunately, it was pretty sparse in that department.  We caught one 15 pound Black Jack that while impressive looking, is not great eating.  He did get to experience some of the wilder Baja before we finally had to head in to La Paz for his flight back to Boise State University.  We rented a car in La Paz to make the 90 minute trip to the Los Cabos airport to see Sam off and to pick up our next guests—Don and Emily from Bainbridge Island.  The drive was fun and afforded us a much needed Costco stop and we also got to see some of the interior of Baja we’ve never experienced before.  The quaint town of Todos Santos was our favorite stop along the route—lush and green and agricultural on the Pacific side surrounded by miles upon miles of desert.  An oasis on several levels.

Don and Emily got the full wild Baja experience as we slowly worked our way from La Paz to Loreto (130 miles), not a single town between.  Emily loves to hike so we did a lot of hiking on the remote islands adjacent to our anchorages—well, some hiking and a lot of bouldering, bushwhacking, and scrambling up slopes of scree.  But saw a lot of amazing country and we achieved some amazing viewpoints.  Don recently had knee surgery so had to be a little more careful.  We ate very well even though I didn’t do well fishing with the new lures —- we but did quite well with the 100 peso bills down at the panga landings.  We had no trouble finding fresh fish.  D&E flew out just in time to miss Semana Santa –holy week—a wild, crazy and very loud time here in Mexico.  We stocked up on supplies here at Loreto and are heading back to some of the more remote areas to celebrate in a quieter way.  As soon as Donna hits “Send” on our Turbo Tax electronic form, we’re out of here.

Banderas Bay Regatta

Mark rounding

Mikey, Alex, and Mike prepare for the mark rounding on day 2 of the Banderas Bay Regatta for leg 2–a reaching leg.  Good for the asymmetrical spinnaker flyers like this J-105 but not so good for us with our symmetrical kite.

the boys

The “boys” getting ready to strip the deck of non-race things before the first day of racing

ready to hoist

Mike and Mikey getting ready to hoist the spinnaker at the mark.

fred passing

Wings just to windward of us after the first mark rounding on day 2. They end up beating us by 1 point in the overall regatta.

pv yacht club

Mike, Alex, and Teri having Margaritas at our corner table in the Vallarta YC after the 1st day of racing. Yehaah.

cockpit crew

Bob trimming the main sheet by backward sighting via the reflection off Teri’s sun glasses. Pretty impressive.

Spinnaker drying

mike and spinny

Mike supervising the spinnaker drying after a fun but slightly wet day on the water. Spinnaker hoisted upside down by the two clews and the head is tied to the dock. And of course the wind always comes up with a vengeance when you do this.

patches repair

Poor old “Patches” the 34 year old spinnaker required surgery back at the condo after day two of racing. Only 9 holes, not bad. Mikey has the hair dryer prepping the spot to be taped.

on the rail

Bob, Teri, Pat, Mikey, and Mike keeping the boat flat on day 3.

dancing

The crew of Carmanah dancing up a storm at the Vallarta YC.  Yeee Haaa.

After seeing how much fun some of our fellow cruisers had in the Banderas Bay Regatta last year, we decided to arrange our schedule to be back in the Bay by February 28 so we could join in this year.  The timing necessitated leaving Zihuatanejo to head north a little earlier than we’d have liked but we did have time to revisit Barra de Navidad and Tenacatitda as part of the 330 mile return to La Cruz. We were a little afraid we’d be forced to beat into strong head winds that often prevail in the area but actually left “Z-Town” under spinnaker and often were forced to motor for lack of wind. Our friends from back home–Mike, Mikey, Bob, Teri, and Alex met us at Paradise Village (Race headquarters) two days before the regatta started. They rented a very nice condo near the dock where Carmanah was moored. Hanging out there, I did figure out where the uptight assholes that have been pretty much missing from our Mexico sailing experience do reside. They’re condo owners in Paradise Village.  I won’t go into the sordid details but now at least the mystery is solved. I’m glad that they’re congregating in this one place; we’ll simply avoid it as much as possible in the future.

Anyway, we’ve had a blast with the Bainbridge crew this week. We took the boat out the day before the regatta and did some organized practice starts with some other boats then sailed back over to La Cruz 6 miles north to participate in the Wednesday Beer Can race as a tune up. Carmanah has about 9,000 lbs of extra “cruising weight” aboard which we can definitely notice (speed wise) but she did great, finishing second behind the local sail maker. For the big regatta, we decided to switch from the Cruising Class to the Performance Race Class which pretty much eliminated the possibility of finishing very high. But, there were several fast cruising boats that were in the Performance class that we wanted to race against as they were more comparable to Carmanah. We figured that would be more fun than probably winning the cruising division. And, it was in fact very fun–very close racing. The first and second days, we finished mid fleet—ahead of the other “fast” cruising boats but behind the pure race boats with their carbon sails–not too far back though. And, on the third day we were right near the front of the fleet finishing third—but only 39 seconds out of 1st. Pretty fun. Old Whitey, our 39 year old #1 jib really came through again as did “Patches” our 35 year old spinnaker. The crew did great, just like old times back in Puget Sound. On the last day, Pat and Celine, fellow cruisers from s/v Voila joined us as well.  Celine volunteered to keep Lucy below during the race which helped us sail faster and the surprisingly competitive Pat caught on very quickly to sailing an old war horse—Carmanah. The regatta festivities culminated with a big awards dinner on the beach followed by the migration back to (brrrrr) Washington for our friends, except Bob who stayed an extra week with us on the boat in La Cruz. The local churros street vendor sold Bob enough of the doughy deep fried treats to send his oldest to private school. Yayyy Bob.

Now all the “racing” sails are stowed and we’re back into cruising mode. Our lovely niece Ruby just arrived for a spring break visit from Colorado State. We’re looking forward to hanging out with her. Next Saturday she goes home and our nephew Sam will arrive to sail with us on our crossing of the Sea of Cortez to La Paz.

 

 

Zihua and Sailfest

Well, we’ve hit our southernmost (really easternmost) terminus of our 2016-17 cruise—Zihuatanejo. We didn’t have time last season to make it this far. It’s an extra 400 miles round trip from Barra de Navidad. We had 7 months, so who knows what happened, the time just went by so fast. But we’re really happy to be here now. Sailfest 2017 is happening and the town is hopping. The air always seems to be about 5 degrees warmer than up the coast and the water temp is 83 vs 78 so we’re loving the swimming. Sailfest is a weeklong benefit festival with the beneficiaries being the local kids and schools.   Last year the festival raised 1.3 million pesos. There are concerts, auctions, chili cook-off, and beach parties. The cruisers take people (mostly gringo tourists) out sailing on their boats in return for donating to the cause. We had a really fun group of Wenatchee farmers aboard Carmanah for the race around the Roca Negro on Wednesday. The wind was light and Carmanah walked away from the fleet with “Old Whitey” the 39 year old #1 jib powering her along. It’s truly a wonder sail. How many races has “he” been in now? Several hundred just with us. Who knows how many in the 26 years before that. They should make a TV Special about the amazing Old Whitey.   There are actual rumors (started by me) that his Dacron threads were the by-product of a super-secret government project during the cold war. Anyway, amazing sail who’s been waiting in the storage locker for the past 18 months waiting for a chance to shine.

There are no marinas in the actual harbor of Zihuatanejo so we all anchor out, beautiful anchorage just off the town. The dinghy landing puts you right in the downtown which is one of the most nicely done towns we’ve experienced. All the extra wide sidewalks are covered for shade, the streets are well laid pavers, all the shops are doing well, many many great restaurants, lots of tropical vegetation–just a very nice town.   You could easily spend a lot of time here. We were a little worried about the higher heat but with the constant light breeze, it was pretty comfortable with day time highs in the upper 80s and lows in the 70s.
One thing about cruising a 2nd year in Mexico is that we have gotten to know a lot of folks from various boats who we keep Running into on our journeys. It’s fun to get together when we cross paths and its sad to say good bye. But for the most part, we know we’ll see them again. It’s like a big family here in the Mexican cruising community. Everyone is so nice all the time. Ass holes are very rare even though they seemed to be very common back home. Not sure why, I guess this lifestyle just brings out the best in people or we’re seeing them at their very best. Also, we all know we may need to rely on each other if there’s trouble. We had to say goodbye “for real” to some of the boats continuing on to Central America and the Panama Canal so there was more a sense of loss there. Boats like Wild Rumpus and Finte won’t pop up down the road. It’s real, they’re gone for who knows how long. The same will happen back up in Puerto Vallarta this spring when we’re up there. The folks heading to the South Pacific “jump-off” from there in late March and April. We’re still planning to cruise Mexico at least one more year. We’ll make our way north along the Gold Coast to Puerto Vallarta area for much of March to meet Mike, Mike, Bob, Peggy, Teri, and Alex for the Banderas Bay Regatta then a week with our niece Ruby. After that, we’ll cross over to Baja to meet-up with Don and Emily for an encore cruise up the peninsula to Loreto. In May we’ll haul the boat at San Carlos/ Guaymas and drive back to Washington to get Restless ready for a summer of NW cruising.

zgold-coast-5

The halfway point of this season’s cruise. Well over a 1,500 miles so far.

barre-birds-eye-1

The lagoon at Barra de Navidad is the only land locked anchorage on the entire coast with zero ocean swell.

beach-run

Run, Swim, Run between the towns of Barra and Melaque. Lucy hates the swim part.

lucy-in-scarf

Lucy trying to stay cool by digging a hole in the sand at the Hidden Beach near Barra.

pompano

Our new favorite fish–African Pompano. Delicious! This guy was deep and rather difficult to bring up. I ordered a reel for the speargun to allow me to surface then bring the speared fish up.

tenecatita-anchorage-from-beach

Lucy’ early morning walk.  The beach at Tenacatita is one of the best on the coast. Lots of boats are regularly anchored here.

jungle-tour

Early morning “jungle paddle” though the mangrove passages at Tenacatita. Lucy is of course a hood ornament on Donna’s kayak-always on the verge of falling in. Luckily no crocs near us today (we hope).

ship-aground

The bulk carrier Los Lianitos aground since hurricane Patricia–cat-5 in 2015 outside the Barra Lagoon is a constant reminder to us sailors of how nasty this usually benign climate can get at times.

sun-set-sailboat

Heading south to Zihua involved some spectacular sailing, we made it in just over 30 hours.

sailfest-banner

The 17th annual event that has raised millions Por Los Ninos.

zihua-harbor

The Zihua anchorage (Carmanah far left) being welcomed by one of the many bronze statues around town–part of a regional art project

zihua-pangas-on-beach

Pangas in Zihua get beached when they return from fishing–usually with a running start at high speed so beware you beach walkers

z-waterfront-walk

The public walkway which includes sections of sand beach encompasses much of the Zihua harbor.  Many early morning walkers.

donna-in-water

Yayyy! The water is warm again.  83 degrees.  Lucy hates swimming.

julian-learning-to-drive

5 year old Julian of Wild Rumpus using his “learner’s permit” with dad Trevor in the family car–the inflatable dinghy.

selvar

We randomly ran in to our vacationing next door neighbors–Karen and Diane–in a Zihua restaurant. It also happened to be Karen’s birthday so of course we needed party hats.  They have a farm next to our home on Bainbridge.

zfest-guests

Our guests for the Sailfest Race Around the Rock race were delivered to Carmanah in the anchorage by panga. Jim and Mark of Quincy, WA are fruit farmers along with Janelle, Barb, and Gretchen. They were a lot of fun and great crew.

old-whitey-goes-up_5

Up goes “Old Whitey” for the start of the Race Around the Rock. Tissue paper thin from use but loves the light air.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Final leg on Race Around the Rock. We flew “Patches” our 1982 3/4 oz spinnaker that is more repair tape than spinnaker cloth.

market

Donna at the Public Market in Zihua trying not to see or smell the dead pigs next to her as she shops for veggies.

dinghy-ride-with-jeff-and-mary

Jeff and Mary of Finte are getting ready to head south through the Panama Canal and up the east coast. Tough say a real goodbye, we’ve been crossing paths since leaving the NW.

covered-walk-way

The sidewalks of Zihua are a joy. Shaded and minimal trip hazards. You can almost look around a little while you walk. Don’t try this in most Mexican towns or you’ll break something.