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.
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.
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.
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.
As I write this, we are anchored in the Lagoon at Barra de Navidad. It’s 83 degrees outside, I’m sitting in the cockpit under the new shade cover we had made in Guaymas, and a flicker of breeze is keeping it cool. We paddled at sunrise and may stroll around the town later today. Aside from the Seahawks’ loss last night, All is Very Well. Happy New Year, everyone! You may have noticed the postings have been a little sparse–we’re going to many of the same places as last year, and loving the cruising life even more. Last year was the year of discovery–every single moment contained new information, decisions, stresses, and epiphanies. This is still happening in 2017, but it seems some learning took place last year, and as a result we’re able to avoid a few pitfalls and maximize the “fun units” (as friend Sandy White would say). In 2017 we understand the weather better, we know more people (both cruisers and locals), we don’t have medical issues dictating the calendar, and we’re able to experience this beautiful country in more depth. 2017 is also a year of taking a breath and reviewing the intense months (and years) leading up to the trip South, and thinking of all who have helped, encouraged, and mentored us–as well as those who make fun of us and keep us entertained. New friends and old, family near and far–each of you adds richness to our lives. We wish you all a healthy and peaceful 2017!