Zihua to La Cruz

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.

Happy New Year–Baja to the Mainland

Our last blog post was clear back in November. Carmanah’s wifi booster isn’t working and we’re on the verge of getting our service with T-Mobile cancelled for “excessive international roaming”. So, basically, I’ve been too lazy to hike up to a hot spot to post updates. Donna has been doing better with her Instagram postings though.

We’re having a great season in Mexico so far. It was beautiful coming down the Baja—the ocean water stayed clearer and warmer for longer than last fall. The swimming and spear fishing were of course much better with such favorable conditions. We managed to cross the sea to the mainland before the strong winter northerlies started up in earnest. When we arrived in Banderas Bay on December 2nd, the water was still in the low to mid 80s. Our southerly pace stayed fairly brisk though as we had a planned visit from Greg and Jenn for mid-December down in Barra de Navidad.   Ended up being great fun. We split our time between Tenacatita and Barra. And we had the first rain we’d ever experienced on this coast. Everything got washed. Yay. We were probably more excited about the rain than Greg & Jenn who came from winter in Boise Idaho  for the sun.  After celebrating Christmas with our fellow cruisers in Barra, our Nephew Mason came down to hang out with us for a week in the Barra area. He flew into Puerto Vallarta airport so we decided to rent a car for the 4.5 hour drive up the coast to meet his plane. Greg & Jenn did the same basic travel program as Mason but took a bus from the airport. The roads are pretty challenging but the drive was very scenic through the many small towns connected by farm lands and tropical forest.

In a couple of weeks, we plan to cruise down the coast to Zihuatanejo for Sailfest 2018. About a week ago, the water here turned more green than blue, underwater visibility dropped dramatically, and the water temperature went from 82 to 75. We’re told this is only a temporary condition as it’s still very early in the season. So hopefully things will be back to normal on our return trip from Z-town.

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.