The Second Season Has Started!

As we neared the boat yard in Guaymas where Carmanah was hauled out for the summer, we had butterflies in our stomachs and there was nervous chatter at the thought of what we might find. But when we arrived just before sunset, she looked fine—from the outside. Finding a ladder to look inside was a little challenging however when we finally were able to climb aboard and slide the hatch back, none of our fears were realized. Everything was as we left it except that the self inflating man-over-board device had self-deployed in the torrential rains of hurricane Newton.

We spent the next four days preparing the boat for launch. We stayed in a nearby hotel with air conditioning which kept us from passing out from heat stroke, it was hitting over a hundred each day. October 13 is a little on the early side for returning, and “they” say it was an unusually hot October. We ended up setting the alarm for 3:30 AM to get as much work done as possible before the sun rose then knocking off for the day by noon. But we were able to launch a day early and motor up to the marina in San Carlos for the final preparations which took 9 days instead of the 4 that we’d hoped for. But we got to hang out with fun people and the 20 peso (about $1) draft beers at Hammerhead’s made it enjoyable. Still we were pretty pumped when we finally sailed out of the harbor and started heading north.

We decided to sail up the mainland coast to Isla Tiburon, the largest island in all of Mexico. The whole island is a nature preserve and homeland to the Seri Indians so we had to ask Lucy to be on her best behavior and not cause any ecological disasters. In return we agreed to anchor at Dog’s Bay on the first night. Right away we felt the seclusion and rawness that can be found north of Vancouver Island or the west coast of the Queen Charlottes. We (Carmanah and Voila) were the only boats at almost every anchorage we visited. We never even saw another boat out on the water other than local fish boats. The window between summer heat and winter gales(cold winds from the north start in late November) is fairly narrow, you have to enjoy it while you can. Kind of like the BC northcoast. The water cooled from 82 down near San Carlos to 76 at Tiburon and when we crossed over to Isla Partida near the Baja side, we ran through some strong tidal currents that caused even colder water to well up between Tiburon and Isla San Estaban creating fog. Really, fog in the Sea of Cortez. A first for us since rounding to Cabo San Lucas last year. We had to fire up the radar….and it still worked. Yes!  The fog only lasted the width of the channel but it was exciting and reminded us of home.

Isla Partida was a convenient midway stop on our crossing to Baja that turned out to be a real gem. Moderately protected but we had very settled weather and we discovered an abundance of fish when we hopped in to go snorkeling. Unfortunately when I pulled back the band on my spear gun for the first time, it broke and I thought I was out of luck for fishing with groupers, sierra, triggers, and bass swimming everywhere and begging to join us for dinner. But I dug out my fishing pole and an unlikely lure and began trolling from the dinghy. Fish-on immediately. And so the fun began. We dinghy fished everywhere after that. In some ways it’s more fun than catching the big fish like yellow fin tuna you can get in the open water and you can keep only what you need for dinner.     The wind came up from the wrong direction on our third night at Partida and we had to do a midnight move to the other side of the island. Luckily we had previously set a way-point for anchoring there and our GPS tracks were easy to follow around the rocks in the dark.

But it was time to move on so the next day we sailed on a close reach to the Puerto Don Juan on the Baja. No port there but a completely protected “hurricane hole” that gave us a base to visit Bahia de Los Angeles, the only town in the area. BLA village sits on the water adjacent to a low area in the mountains that separate the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez so winds can come roaring in with a vengeance from the Pacific side, especially at night when “Elephantes” can reach 50 knots as cold air slides down the valleys.   We decided on a day trip. Very cool little town but with a lot of drive-down Americans who trailer small boats to go fishing. The town map (as with many coastal communities) shows a section called “La Gringa” where most of the expats have homes.

Our last stop in the area was at remote Bahia San Francisquito where we were able to tuck into a small inner lagoon that required high tide entry but was very sweet. White sand beaches and plentiful cactus and green desert scrub made for a beautiful setting and the marine life was beyond plentiful. Of course we were the only boats. We’re getting spoiled. When the north winds started filling in, we sailed the 80 miles down to Santa Rosalia for our first marina stay in a while.

Santa Rosalia is one of the few coastal towns where there is very little foreign tourism. It was built around the beginning of the 20th century out of wood from the Pacific Northwest by the copper mining company which founded the town. We’re used to cement and stucco in this part of the world so it’s strange to walk down streets lined with 100 year old wooden buildings. And it’s refreshing to be at a place not set up for exploiting tourism. We’re more of an anomaly here. It feels good. We’d like to stay on longer but still have a long way south to go before Thanksgiving. We’ll leave after we watch the election results and find out if we want to go home again and if we’ll be welcome in Mexico. But, we’ll definitely be back in the spring though.

sea-cortez-map-as-of-11_6_16

Our Route so far in red, anticipated future route in pink.

hotel-flamingo

Our home while we were in the boat yard. Air conditioned room was big enough to lay out all of our stuff for the boat. $25/night was worth every penny.

paint-bottom

First coat of bottom paint, started at 5:00 AM. Not early enough, the instant the sun comes up, it’s too hot for painting. We began at 4:00 AM for coat #2 and finished just in time.

travel-lift

Carmanah with her new black bottom paint going back in after a long summer baking in the Sonora heat–really no worse for having experienced hurricane Newton.

jimmy-and-son

Jimmy and his son Jimmy completely polished every bit of stainless steel on the boat.

paulo-and-son

Paulo and his son Pablo built a new cruising sun cover for Carmanah out of material we brought from home. One of many father/son businesses.

cover

Our new sun shade is Backpack material on the top and phifertec on the sides for air flow.

tomales

Tamales from Alejandro, he delivers to your boat–very, very good

rimg0995

Both Donna and Lucy look pretty tense on our first leg out of San Carlos on a beat to Bahia San Pedro

fog

Carmanah disappearing into the fog off Isla Tiburon.

a_sail

Ghosting toward Isla Partida from Dog’s Bay, Isla Tiburon.

partida-from-ridge

Voila, Carmanah, and Cahoots looking very serene from the rim of Partida (things were a bit more lively that night)

paratida-pano

The west anchorage at Partida, absolutely stunning. The diving (for fish) was potentially productive but my spear gun band broke on the first draw (summer heat was not kind to all things rubber)

lucy-head-on-coaming

Lucy taking in the sun set while at anchor in Isla Partida

fishermen

Fishermen in the northern sea are very friendly and always willing to trade for fish, shrimp, or lobster.

donna-walking

Donna on a rugged Isla Partida hike sporting her ultra tough rock climbing flip flops.

lobster-dinner-2

Margaret of s/v Cahoots is ready to dive in with the rest of us in Carmanah’s cockpit to lobster traded earlier in the day for candy bars and soda pop with local fisherman.  We cooked them whole and split down the middle on the bbq. 

 

cactus-boat-view

Carmanah and Voila moved to SE side of Isla Partida the previous night as NW winds kicked up a considerable chop in our idyllic anchorage about two hours after the big lobster feed.

guano-island

Looks like early morning snow at Bahia Los Angeles. Actually it’s a bird watchers paradise and that’s not snow.

don-juan-from-hill

The only “hurricane hole” in the area, Puerto Don Juan on a blustery afternoon. As usual, Carmanah and Voila are the only two boats in the area.

bla-resturant

Carmanah anchored off the village of Bahia de Los Angeles. Celine, Moi, and Donna enjoying the best Margaritas of the trip (so far).

gbh-san-francisquito

Great Blue Heron(?) on the small dock at the head of the inner harbor at BSF.

fishing-expedition

The fishing party of Pat & Celine of Voila and me representing Carmanah at San Francisquito.

john-fishing

Trolling just before the hook incident where I got a barbed hook in my finger which was attached to a lure with a berserk fish on the other hook trying real hard to “set the hook”. Ouch x 3. Celine finally held my finger down while Pat yanked the hook out with a pair of pliers. Ouch x 4.

pat-with-fish

Pat, a (early) retired park and rec administrator from Bend, Oregon (and aspiring fishing guide/guru), showing off a bountiful catch of Rainbow Runners. They hit hard and fight like crazy, and they taste great

fish-floor-of-dinghy

Dinghy trolling in Bahia San Francisquito produced a bountiful harvest of Rainbow Runners, Bass, and one really small wahoo. They were all very good on the bbq cooked whole.

sunrise-at-sea

Best part of night passages is dawn at sea.

sta-rosalia-marinia

The town of Santa Rosalia has a harbor constructed of slag from the copper mines nearly a hundred years ago. Pretty sweet spot to tie up for about $15/night.

santa-rosalia-bakery

All of the buildings in Santa Rosalia are unique to the Baja in that they were built out of old growth fir from the Pacific North West by the local mining company over a hundred years ago. Many hundreds of buildings.

mine-shafts

Old mine openings along the road into Santa Rosalia. Pretty spooky that anyone can just walk in. (definitely not us though)

Returning to Carmanah, Finally

newton

Hurricane Newton made a beeline for Guaymas where Carmanah is spending the summer.  We’re hoping for minimal damage.

Well, we’re finally on our way back to Carmanah after a surprisingly busy summer in the NW waiting out hurricane season.  Unfortunately,  one storm–Hurricane Newton–did hit Guaymas on Sept. 6th.  We felt pretty helpless 2,000 miles away watching news reports showing sunken docks and tipped over boats in dry storage.  And, we couldn’t reach anyone to check on the condition of our boat, communications were spotty for several days.  Finally, the boat yard manager emailed us photos of Carmanah looking just the way we left her but we’re  pretty nervous about what we’ll find when we get to Guaymas tomorrow.

On the trip south we drove down the Oregon Coast then took a diagonal course across Nevada to the Canyon Lands of southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  We really enjoyed traveling the Nevada back roads like  “Loneliest Road in America”–Highway 50.  We went many miles at a time without seeing another car.  Later at Bryce Canyon City, when blew an automatic transmission line (almost directly in front of a car repair garage), we were both bummed and feeling pretty lucky that it didn’t happen a day earlier 200 miles from the nearest town.

Our plan now is to get the boat ready for launch on Oct. 18 then spend a few days in the San Carlos Marina  on more boat projects before heading across the Sea of Cortez to the Baja.

pendrell-sup-head-stand

Bob’s daughter Heather shows us how to do a head stand on the paddle board in Pendrell Sound.  The water temp. was in the mid 70s.  We of course ate a lot of oysters.

flybridge-lucy

Lucy’s favorite spot on the fly bridge. Mom and Dad having a beer with Don from Windwalker.  The fly bridge saw a lot of action this summer.  Definitely the cool place to hang out in fair weather. 

donna-sup

Donna mastering the SUP. Looks real relaxed.

dinner-restless

We had many a meal around the galley table on Restless this summer.

mcmicken

Donna & Linda walking the spit at McMicken Island, the final stop on our cruise to  the South Sound  before pulling into Restless’ winter home, Olympia.

linda-helm

Linda is brushing up on her helmsmanship before the challenge of driving Restless into the boat house in a cross wind with only 6″ of room on either side.  She did great.

restless-garage-3

The welcoming committee helps Restless adjust to her new boat house at the Olympia Yacht Club. There’s even room to leave the bimini up.  Wish we could leave Carmanah indoors like this.

bryce-monolith

Amazing erosion at Bryce Canyon

bryce-trail-2

The trails down into the canyon were spectacular. 90% of the hikers were from other countries. It was more like 50/50 up at the rim.

bryce-from-rim

Our camp site was just over the rim from this. Unfortunately our car broke down when we “ran into town” for dinner and we spent the night in a parking lot, not quite the same.  28 degrees was the overnight low.

Tale of Two Boats

You just never know what’s going to happen next with us.  We ended up spending the better part of a month (May) at San Carlos getting the boat ready for summer storage.  It was kind of exciting with boats coming in, getting “summarized”, hauling, then heading to various places and schemes to pass the summer months until things cool down and they can relaunch in the fall.  We learned a lot and made many new friends as the turnover was at a pretty brisk pace.  Most of the veteran Mexico cruisers have it down to a science and usually spend only about 3-5 days getting ready.  We of course took on some major projects like painting the lower section of the mast and having a full sun cover made for the boat to hold back some of the harmfull effects of the sun.  But once we finally hauled out at the yard in Guaymas, we pretty much beat cheeks out of there, it was starting to get pretty hot already.

Several newbies like us bought motor homes and planned to tour the country by road during the summer.  Our van isn’t exactly a motor home but it is possible to sleep inside and carry a lot of stuff.  And on the highway it is a lot easier to drive not to mention gas expenses are much less.  So we wandered around a lot.  After leaving the South West, we worked our way to San Jose, CA to visit sister Linda and our niece Kristi.  Linda just retired and is immersed in opening a local tea shop with Kristi.  It was fun to watch their planning and preparations–and sampling the experimental teas and pastries was delicious.

After a quick visit with sister Lisa and her kids Karrin and Mason in Sacramento, we headed for the Oregon coast to do some more camping before heading back to Bainbridge Island to regroup and modify the van for better camping utility.

Back on the island, we stayed in the guest house of Don and Emily since our house will remain as a rental.  We got to thinking about how much we miss Northwest Cruising and came upon the idea of buying a small trailerable power boat we could keep next to our barn during the winter and cruise up in BC in the summer.  Kind of like camping but very low cost as we planned to anchor out exclusively.  However after talking to dad and later Linda who both wanted “in” on the boat idea too—we realized the boat would need to be bigger.  So off we all went shopping for a 36-40 foot trawler type power boat for us to all cruise on.  And voila, 2 weeks later we made an offer on Restless, a 36′ single engine Universal Trawler.  It had been restored after being damaged in a boat house fire by a guy who upgraded it in many ways to make it the nicest trawler on the market at the time.  Then, two days later we’re on our way to Desolation sound for a shake-down cruise with Inamorata (Bob and Peggy) and Destiny 2 (Mike Curry, Mike Hubert and Gary)–both sailboats as we don’t know any power boaters yet.  So far so good but it’s strange being power boaters after a lifetime of sailing.  Of course we only motor at 7 knots so it actually isn’t all together different.  Sometimes we have the thought that the only thing more financially irresponsible that owning a boat is to own two boats.  But we’re having a great time and thinking that a couple years of winters in the tropics and summers up North sounds like a plan….until it changes which could be at any moment.

 

 

carmanah cover

Carmanah tucked in for the summer with her new sun cover–blocks 90% of sun but wind and rain pass through.

van camp

Car camping our way up from Mexico with our new Honda van. the tent hooks over the back to extend the space.

yosemite

One of our favorite stops at Yosemete National Park in California.

party shot

A bbq at Teri and Ken’s place on Bainbridge Island had many of our sailing friends welcoming us back with a middle digit hand gestures when they found out about our plans to purchase a power boat. Some were a little challenged on the whole “flipping-off” thing though..

restless

Just arrived from the broker

donna and ev on bridge

Donna and Ev on the flybridge of Restless on the Maiden Voyage from the brokerage in Port Orchard

skipper at helm

Dad at the lower helm statiion of our new boat. He looks very at ease in a power boat.

hearts

Looks like Mikey is getting ready the take the hand with the king of diamonds in the vastly intense hearts tournament on the upper deck of Restless in Nanaimo. The silver cooler isn’t bear proof but does have 4″ of insulation all around. Poor man’s yeti.

shuffle board

Our favorite sport–shuffle board–at Haley’s Bar in Friday Harbor. We were all a little rusty though.

raft up

Raft up in Montague Harbor in the Gulf Islands with Innamorata and Destiny 2. They still associate with us at least.

peggy galley

Peggy gives approval for the galley in Restless

lucy on bow of Restless

A little confused by the new boat

lucy hair cut

No more $8 dollar Mexican hair cuts. In Canada, Lucy gets a hack job cut by the Master.  Hey, it’s free–almost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up the Baja Coast

When we left the Baja last December, the strong north winds of winter were making it difficult to explore.  But returning this spring we found conditions to be much kinder and gentler.  Light winds and warm but not too hot.  Gorgeous.

Don and Emily flew down from Bainbridge and met us in La Paz to start the journey north along the Baja coast.  We worked our way up to Loretto—-about 120 miles—in short hops.  Each place seemed to be more spectacular than the last.  It’s such a contrast to the more tropical southern coast.  We also get that kind of remoteness feel of Vancouver Island with cactus instead of trees and sand instead of streams–but just as majestic.  And, lots of wildlife above and below.   Really happy we have the water maker now because we’re drinking massive amounts of water with this 15% humidity.  Another contrast is we often anchor in bays without swell.  No ever-present rolling that we often experienced on the coast.  The Sea can get really choppy at times but when the wind dies, the waves calm down nicely.  Sure makes beach landings in the dinghy more sedate.  But I do miss kayak surfing.

Emily is a avid hiker so we usually had a daily excursion into the back country.  The key is to go early before the sun gets too warm.  But with the dry air, it cools down  into the low sixties in the morning, giving several hours of easy hiking.  Unfortunately, the 10 days flew by and we arrived in Puerto Escondido where Don & Emily were to depart all too soon.  We felt we just scratched the surface of things to do here.  Then it was down to just Donna, Lucy & I.  We had another 10 days to get over to San Carlos/Guaymas where we will ultimately be hauling out for the summer hurricane season.  We found some more amazing anchorages and hung out with some buddy boats before heading across the Sea.  Our crossing from Conception to San Carlos was only 71 miles.  Quite easy compared to the southern crossing–300 miles from Baja to Puerto Vallarta.  And San Carlos is quite nice, not what we expected at all.  We rented a car and drove up to Phoenix where we bought an old van which we plan to make road trips with during the off season.  Next we have to prepare the boat to sit in the super hot Sonora sun for 5 months.  Then, onto the next adventure.

 

Don and Emily near the summit of San Francisco Island. What a view.

Don and Emily near the summit of San Francisco Island. What a view.

The erosion at these pink cliffs in Ensenada Grande are filled with caves.

The erosion at these pink cliffs in Ensenada Grande are filled with caves.

The "short" boulder hike across Isla Partida had Lucy & I seeking what little shade we could find.

The “short” boulder hike across Isla Partida had Lucy & I seeking what little shade we could find.

Emily leading us on a hike across Isla Partida. about 3 miles further than we thought.

Emily leading us on a hike across Isla Partida. about 3(00) miles further than we thought.

Spectacular views from the ridge of S.F. Island.

Spectacular views from the ridge of S.F. Island.

Carmanah at anchor at San Francisco Island.

Carmanah at anchor at San Francisco Island.

Lupe's cantina at San Evaristo. Lupe makes a mean fish taco. He also gave us three fish to take home for the bbq.

Lupe’s cantina at San Evaristo. Lupe makes a mean fish taco. He also gave us three fish to take home for the bbq.

Obviously dogs are no problem at Lupe's.

Obviously dogs are no problem at Lupe’s.

Lucy was mobbed by the school kids on recess at this school near San Evaristo.

Lucy was mobbed by the school kids on recess at this remote school near San Evaristo.

Don decided to take this puffer fish skeleton home on the plane.

Don decided to take this puffer fish skeleton we found on the beach home on the plane.

We met up with Dave and Becky at Lupes before they headed back down to La Paz to put Tranquility on a ship bound for Puget Sound. We left Neah Bay with them last August.

We met up with Dave and Becky at Lupes before they headed back down to La Paz to put Tranquility on a ship bound for Puget Sound. We left Neah Bay with them last August & crossed paths many times.

On a hike across the desert near Bahia Aqua Verde, we found this oasis.

On a hike across the desert near Bahia Aqua Verde, we found this oasis.  Amazing what a little water can do.

Don kneading doe. Advantage of having the founder of the Bainbridge Loafers aboard was lots of great bread.

Don kneading dough.
The advantage of having the founder of the Bainbridge Loafers aboard was lots of really good bread.

Back side of S.F.

Back side of S.F.

Stairway to heaven at Bahia Juanico

Stairway to heaven at Bahia Juanico

Donna and Lucy at San Juanico, amazing rock formations and crystal clear water.

Donna and Lucy at San Juanico, amazing rock formations and crystal clear water.

San Juanico rock formations near the anchorage

San Juanico rock formations gave protection to the anchorage

Getting ready to go deeper into this cave at San Juanico.

Getting ready to go deeper into this cave at San Juanico.

Maggie of Agamere and Lucy lovin a warm morning at Ballandra anchorage

Maggie of Agamere and Lucy lovin a warm morning at Ballandra anchorage

Paddling to a beach fire on Isla de Carman (across from Loreto). So much easier than deploying the dinghy.

Paddling to a beach fire on Isla de Carman (across from Loreto). So much easier than deploying the dinghy.

We had an orca escort crossing the sea from Baja.

We had an orca escort crossing the sea from Baja.  Two passed uncomfortably close under the boat.

Always love to watch the pelicans soar inches above the water in the morning.

Always love to watch the pelicans soar inches above the water in the morning.

San Carlos is somewhere behind the "goat utters". We'll use it as a base while we prepare for the summer haul out.

San Carlos is somewhere behind the “goat utters” as these peaks are called. We’ll use SC as a base while we prepare for the summer haul out.

Dave on a La Cruz beach with scores of Holy Week vacationers. Shortly after returning home, he was hospitalized with a severe case of dengue fever

Dave on a La Cruz beach with scores of Holy Week vacationers. Shortly after returning home, he was hospitalized with a severe case of dengue fever.  We felt terrible that he was exposed while visiting us.

Bye-Bye Mainland, Hello Baja

We can’t believe that it’s only been 4 months since crossing over from Baja. We’ve been to so many cool places and done so many things, it seems much longer. We’ve been chasing the perfect summer for the past 11 months. Heading toward Alaska in May then staying just ahead of the changing season all the way down the coast. We were literally chased from the Sea of Cortez in December by very strong and cold north winds to the balmy mainland coast–further and further south as winter progressed. Beginning in March everything reversed and we all began migrating north, then back to the “Sea” where spring is supposed to be really nice. Unfortunately, come June it starts getting hot, REALLY HOT. They say you don’t want to be here in July-Oct. So we’re planning to store the boat and head north via car for the summer. In the mean time we’re planning to explore the central Sea with what time we have left.
On our way south and again on the way back, we spent lots of time in Banderas Bay, especially La Cruz. It’s such a great place to hang out and easy for visitors to get to. Before heading back to the Sea, we had our lovely niece Ruby Reed come visit for a week. She’s a 20 year old biology major at Colorado State, Fort Collins. One of her minors is Spanish so the trip was educational for her and a lot of fun for us. The last time she traveled extensively on our boat with us on a trip to Barkley Sound 8 years ago. Just yesterday for us, ancient history for her.
When Ruby left, we picked Dave and Mary Utley up in Puerto Vallarta. They previously owned the sister ship to Carmanah so they knew what they were getting into accommodation wise. (Lack of). We didn’t go far–only La Cruz–but it gave them a little taste of cruising in Mexico. They’re checking out potential cruising destinations for their C&C 48—big sister to Carmanah. It was great fun having them along.
The day after the Utley’s left, we sailed the 160 miles up to Mazatlan via San Blas and Isla Isabela. We had stopped at the town of San Blas on our way south and loved it’s authentic small town charm. Not many cruisers stop there because of it’s reputation for jejenes or no-see-ums that can be ferocious. Turns out their presence is dependent on the phase of the moon. No moon on our 1st stop, no bugs. This time, not long after the full moon…..bugs. We stayed only one night but did get a chance to say goodby to our buddy from Bella Coola, Peter, who sadly had to postpone indefinitely his trip to the South Pacific in order to attend to family matters back home. His boat, Fukingvr, will remain in San Blas dry storage hoping for no hurricanes.

Isla Isabela, 20 miles off the coast, is often called “The Galapagos of Mexico”. I hate those kind of comparisons because it’s usually a let-down. But Isabela was spectacular. The geography is very Galapagos like and the isolation results in few natural predators. So the island is home to thousands upon thousands of birds including the blue-footed booby. You can walk right up to them. We were the only boat there. It was very eerie. Poor Lucy had to stay on the boat–no dogs in the World Heritage Site. She would have gone crazy chasing those Blue-footed Boobies around–a white, fluffy ecological disaster. There were tons of fish on the reefs surrounding the island. I was afraid to spear any as it’s a national park as well.


ruby zip line

Ruby on the final zip line leg that ends on the river bank. We ride mules back up to the lodge.

carmanah at isabela

Carmanah all alone off Isla Isabela, the Galapagos of Mexico.

isabela islet

Rock spires off Isla Isabella, the Galapagos of Mexico. Diving around these was great, thousands of fish.

boobie

These Blue Footed Boobies were great fun to watch.

ruby and lucy

Lucy doing what she does best with Ruby on a sail across Banderas Bay to Los Arcos for snorkeling.

john and ruby at liz's

Niece Ruby with me in front of Elizabeth Taylor house in Gringo Gulch in old town Puerto Vallarta. We couldn’t talk our way in. Bummer.

ruby foot soak

Ruby’s feet getting cleaned by little fish who suck the dead skin off. No way, I’ll keep my skin, thanks.

the bull

We introduce Dave and Mary to the Bull in La Cruz. Dave loves those street tacos.

sebastian square gazebo

The plaza at San Sebastian, very quaint.

san sebastian church

The church at San Sebastian

san blas church

The Church of our Lady of the Rosary in San Blas dates back to the 1500s.

rage

Friends we met in San Blas later had their anchor drag while they were ashore in La Cruz with disastrous result. So, so sorry Barry and Connie.

peter and fukengivr

Our buddy Peter on Fukengvr is from Bella Coola. Had to cut his trip to the South Pacific short (San Blas) due to family issues back home. As basic as it gets kinda boat but it gets him there.

judas

Night before Easter in the La Cruz plaza was alive. This “likeness” of Judas is filled with fire crackers and they blow him apart later in the evening. Unfortunately the music doesn’t get going until almost 11:00 so we miss most of it.

dave and mary at beach

Dave and Mary roughing it at the beach in La Cruz with hostess Lucy.

cruiser potluck

Cruiser potluck dinghy raftup at Tenecatitia. Never done this before but it works well when there are too many people to all gather on any one boat.

cross

Good Friday in La Cruz carrying out the cross.

toast linda

A Toast to our sister Linda who retired from an incredible career as an executive in the aerospace industry on April 1. Here’s to you sis.

 

The Big Turn Around

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swimming with these guys at La Manzanilla–interesting but never relaxing.

Our time in Barra Navidad ended up lasting longer than we’d planned. Possibly one of the best places we’ve been, it was very hard to leave. After leaving the resort, we anchored in the lagoon (where they filmed the remake of McHale’s Navy) for 3 weeks. Our routine consisted of:

–Paddling around the lagoon in the morning before the sun is fully up and it’s still cool.
–Oatmeal with goslings on the boat while listening to the morning radio net.
–Boat projects while it’s still kind of cool–usually involving at least one trip to town.
–A trip out through the break water in the dinghy to swim in the clean open water.
–Visit our buddies poolside who are still at the marina.
–Sun downers back at the anchorage.
–head to town for dinner–our favorite dinners usually involve tacos with carne asada (bbq beef) cooked on a mesquite fire. The smell is unbelievable. The barbecues are usually old tire rims with rebar welded on for legs–I want one.
–Finally back to the boat for a movie if nothing’s going on it town.

Three weeks can go by pretty fast this way.

We decided to save Zihuatanejo for next winter. It was originally going to be our turn around point but we were just having too much fun in Tenacatida and Barra and got behind schedule. Oh well. We’re now back in La Cruz waiting for my new tooth to be installed and for our niece Ruby to fly in for a visit. On the way back up the coast, we hit all the same anchorages a second time from our trip south. There was more wave action because of far off storms and I started trying to ride them in my kayak at Tenacatita and Chamela. What a blast. The quick acceleration of the little yak allowed me to catch waves readily even though I’m not very experienced. I’m now in the market for one of those surf skis specially made for paddle surfing.

One great thing about anchoring in the more out of the way bays on our way north is swimming and snorkeling from the boat–the water in so clear that it’s a real treat.

Rounding Cabo Corrientes was much less eventful than our trip south, beam reach in 12 knots of wind. Doesn’t get better. We were accompanied by several different pods of dolphins and a random sea turtle. Agamere who was directly behind us had a large shark follow them part way. Lucy does her best to scare off the Dolphins by barking at them mercilessly. I wonder if that works on sharks?

The water temperature is about 5-6 degrees above normal here and up in the Sea of Cortez which is a little unnerving if it carries through into summer and hurricane season. The water is still 81 here. Not that I’m complaining. Just wondering about the future implications.

donna lucy la manzania

La Manzanilla has the usual restaurants on the sand.  Watching dingies land in the surf is always fun sport.

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Caught right out in the bay, this bass tasted great prepared whole

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Bus system on the coast is fantastic, they even let Lucy “sneak” on.

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The “Secret Beach” is accessed via this incredible path over the rocky headland

lucy wake-up

Lucy telling me it’s time to quit napping and get to work.

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Off to Barra for the Fat Tuesday festivities with Peter from Bella Coola, BC.

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Mardi Gras parade was very “local”.

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One of our weakness’–deep fried doough rolled in sugar and cinnamon–Churros, mmm

suspension bridge

The Crocodile Walk in La Manzanilla included a lot of “faith-based” engineering like this suspension bridge. Yikes there were a bunch of them just hoping one of those ropes would sag a little more.

fat tuesday band

One of the bands at the Mardi Gras celebration in the town plaza

To The Gold Coast

Shortly after our family flew out of Puerto Vallarta, we headed around the notorious Cabo Correntes (Cape of Currents) and down the Gold Coast, first stop: Chamela, 100 miles.  Actually with two knots of current against us it was more like 125 miles but we had a strong (25 knots)  wind with us.  Of course the wind against current made for some very steep waves which were more palatable because we went at night and couldn’t see how nasty they were.  But we chose to go with a strong breeze so we could sail the whole way (we’re still on our 2nd tank of fuel since leaving San Diego in October).  Vanna did a great job steering in those challenging conditions and we arrived at sunrise to a gorgeous anchorage–Chamela– open to the south but well protected from the prevailing NW winds.  We could see our anchor and chain under the boat again which was nice after the low vis at Banderas Bay.  Our boat actually became the center of the marine food chain.  Small fingerlings hung out around us en masse being chased by Bone Fish that struck at lighting fast speeds while several large Yellow Fin Tuna hung out below.  Fish were constantly bumping the hull which was unnerving when you’re below decks.

Ashore there is a place where the estuary connects with the bay that we entered for landing the dinghy.  I took quite a few dings to the prop before I was able to locate the very narrow “ditch” that is the sweet spot in the entrance.  But the town of Perula a short walk down the beach was worth the effort.  Very small but had everything we needed including a “has-everything” hardware store.  The dollar is now exchanging at 18.1 so we’re getting a lot of bang for the buck.  Incredible breakfasts for $2.  Dinners usually about $8.

From Perula, we went a little south to the National Park at Los Novillos Islands.  Totally wild and beautiful but pretty much exposed to the open ocean so after snorkeling the next day we sailed on to the fabled Tenacatita.

Tenacatita is a huge, fairly protected bay with an outer anchorage called Playa and an inner anchorage called Bahia.  Playa has an area we frequented called the Aquarium which as you can imagine has lots of fish and some well developed coral formations.  The beach here is about 1.5 miles long and beautiful.  Until 2007 it had a thriving community with many restaurants, shops and homes.  One day a developer came in with bull dozers and his security force dressed to resemble Federales.  The people were chased out and everything leveled in short order.  Many of the people bought property here years ago and have deeds but the developer is evidently a friend of the governor and I’m not sure how title security works down here.  The whole mess is in legal limbo now so nothing is happening.  But as we talked to some of the displaced locals, their sad story made us feel for them.  Would definitely  do my home work before considering real estate investment in Mexico.

We moved over to Bahia Tenacatita after a few days.  It’s one of the most popular spots on the coast.  Usually 30 boats or so anchored off the lagoon entrance.  But we know almost all of them so it was great fun to catch up.  Some folks anchor here for the entire winter because of the idyllic conditions.  This whole coast is very mellow during the winter because at Cabo Correntes, the coastline turns more east/west and you’re basically in the lee of the stronger NW winds that blow down from the Sea of Cortes.  It gets a little warmer–mid to high 80s daytime and low 70s at night but shade and a little breeze makes all the difference.  The water is about 84 degrees, swimming is very pleasant.  The Bahia is adjacent to an entrance to the mangroves that have had a 2.5 mile channel hacked out to provide a “jungle tour” which basically takes you parallel to the beach to the back side of Playa Tenacatita.  Hurricane Patricia spewed debris in the channel this past October but local volunteers have been out there with chain saws and machetes cleaning it up.  It took us a couple hours each way but we made it through.  Lucy was on croc watch the whole time.

After about 5 days, we decided to keep heading south (really, east) and sailed in perfect conditions the 30 miles down to Cuastecomate–another little Bahia with a sandy beach and small settlement featuring palapa restaurants on the sand.   David and Grant on Jean Butler arrived first and were greeted by a rather large crocodile swimming around the anchorage.  We tried not to think about that as we snorkeled the reef just inside the entrance.  The reef should be called Balloon Fish Reef as we saw huge colonies of them every where.  The visibility was about 100′, the best so far.

We were anxious to check out Barra de Navidad so we only spent a couple days at Cuastecomate.  “Barra has a lot going for it.  A quaint little town that is fairly authentic, a protected lagoon that you can anchor in away from ocean swells, and a marina at the resort that is totally well done.  We spent the first five days at the marina (with full resort privileges) and are preparing to move out to the anchorage today.  The town’s Carnaval starts tomorrow and runs through next Tuesday.  Should be a blast.  After that we’ll keep heading south for a while before turning around and returning to PV for the final on my implant.  Then up to the Sea of Cortes for the spring.  We’ll probably haul the boat out for  storage in Guaymas during the hurricane season.  Since it’s unbearably hot (up to 115) in July-Sept, we may opt out and head north for a while–possibly making it to Bainbridge Island.  Too bad for those who thought they were safe from the Carmanah crew.

mini van

The family transport while in La Cruz–put some pretty hard miles on this van but Linda did a great job at the wheel.

 

sunset anchor at perula

The Anchorage at Chamela was just a little rolly but absolutely gorgeous and the water crystal clear.  We could swim from the boat everyday.

 

perula pano

After a semi successful (normal) beach landing—morning beach walk with Lucy at Bahia Chamela near the town of Perula.

 

Lucy's panga

Lucy finding some shade in an appropriately named panga

 

cantina perula

Jeff spotted the satellite dish so we talked the owner into putting the Seahawks on at this rather rustic cantina. They lost to the Panther after the worst 1st half ever.

 

seahawks at perula

The Seahawks on the little screen behind security bars in this rather rustic cantina. I recommend at least five beers before braving the bano here.  We did have a blast though.

 

perula construction

Formula for Mexican construction project: 1) drop load of sand and gravel. 2) add a pallet of cement bags 3) bring in small cement mixer. 4)add a bunch of guys with 5 gallon buckets. Start the bucket brigade and you have a building take shape.

 

rocker stopper in aquarium2

Carmanah in anchor mode at “The Aquarium” in Tenacatita. All the shade possible and the “rocker-stopper” suspended from the spinnaker pole–makes a huge difference when there is swell–keeps my internal organs from sloshing back and forth at night.

 

what's left

All that’s left of the once thriving community at Tenacatita’s outer bay. A buddy of the governor/rich developer came in and bull-dozed every thing one morning.

 

cuastecomte happy hour

We arrived at the Cuastecomate anchorage to find our fellow cruisers already establishing a beach head.

 

david croc

This croc was the welcome committee at Bahia Cuastecomate as Jean Butler arrived.

 

hodges dingy launch

Mexico veterans Jim & Crissie Hodges from Bainbridge Island performing a perfect beach launch between wave sets.

 

spin pole swing

On William’s birthday, Morgan rigged a spinnaker pole rope swing so everyone could take a celebratory swing off Agamere.  Really fun.

 

jeff_lucy jungle tour

Lucy staying comfy while on croc watch during the jungle tour.

dave_grant jungle cruise

We met Grant & David negotiating a narrow spot in the 2.5 mile jungle cruise.

 

swamp crab

We saw hundreds of these exotic crabs as we motored our dinghy through the “jungle cruise” at Tenacatita

 

paddle board w_simi

In the swell of open water, my Costco stand-up paddle board is very unstable (sucks)—thought it was just me until I borrowed this board from Jean Butler. paddles like a dream even with an unruly  stow away (Simi from Agamere) aboard.

 

kids beach fire

The “rat pack” tending this soon to be substantial beach fire at Bahia Tenacatita

 

Jeffs croc

This croc getting eye contact at La Manzanilla estuary across the bay from Bahia

 

barra marina from lobby

View of the Barra marina from the resort lobby. The lagoon anchorage is beyond. The only non-swell anchorage on the Gold Coast.

 

barra waterfront

The lagoon side of Barra de Navidad town.

 

donna french pastery

At Barra, the French Baker comes to our slip with excellent fresh items each morning. Lucy thinks he’s OK too.

 

lucy haircut

Beat the heat with a $9 hair cut–good and short. Not real happy now but Lucy stays cooler with frequent trims.  At 1/7th the cost of home, she can afford it.

 

barra resort

The resort at Barra de Navidad has a nice marina and the upland buildings are gorgeous.

 

lucy relax

Lucy waiting for the movie to start–obviously having difficulty relaxing. We now have 350 movies on our little external hard drive–can’t have too many.

 

swimup bar

Roughing It. The swim-up bar was our afternoon treat each day at Barra de Navidad marina. Makes the 90 degree air temps feel just right.

 

sunset at barra

The Green Flash! The perfect place at the entrance to Barra to hunt for the elusive green flash at sunset.

Puerto Vallarta for the Holidays

We’re currently anchored off the town of La Cruz in Banderas Bay, about 10 miles from Puerto Vallarta. For about the past month we’ve been in the area during the holidays. (Holiday from what? You say) This area is just about perfect at this time of year. 82 degree high, 62 low each day. The water was 83 when we got here, it’s now dropped to 78. Banderas is the second largest natural bay on the pacific coast. Lots of great day sailing and snorkeling in partially protected waters. Puerto Vallarta is big enough to provide all the services you would expect of a big city. Yep, more dental work for me, an implant this time. Lots of gringos—especially Canadians– come here for “medical vacations”–often at a quarter the cost as home. Many sectors of the local economy benefit.

Puerto Vallarta has grown outward around the head of the bay the past 10 years with luxury resorts dominating the ocean front. Not quite our style so whenever possible we’ve been staying a little out of the city. The bus system is quite good and a ride into town only costs about a dollar. We did stay at Paradise Village, a fancy resort, in Nuevo Vallarta for about 10 days because it seemed like a good place to meet our friends Dale, Tina, and Makai for Christmas. And, it was. We embraced the resort experience and had great fun with them. They had a very nice condo at the marina which was a great base. Incidentally, this is the only marina in Mexico we’ve heard of that has potable water everywhere including the docks. We pickled our water-maker and filled every conceivable container with fresh, free water, should hold us for a while.

Our favorite place to stay on the bay has been La Cruz, a small fishing village that grew in a good way when a marina was put it 8 years ago. Here we can anchor or stay in the marina. The town square is only a block up from the marina. The streets are mostly cobble stone with not much traffic. It’s a pretty quiet little town full of ex-pats but locals as well— always a lot going on. The down town is only a few blocks wide and deep but usually 2 or 3 places have live music going. The town square has music on Saturday nights and there is a great Farmers & Craft Market on Sunday mornings. You can walk everywhere easily or catch a cab or bus to PV. Right now there are no big resorts here. So, we figure, enjoy it now. In another 8 years it may be very different. My sister Linda rented a very cool house overlooking the marina with my mom & dad and Donna’s mom (Ev). We had a great week with them. Sailing on the bay and dancing with the locals in the plaza topped the list. They may have feared for their life when we all strolled by the Beluga Blanca bar listening to their live music (open air). It was jam packed for their anniversary celebration but the owner offered to set a table out side for us—where? She said. I said “how about here”. So they set a table for 6 in the street just shy of the center line. Cars could still j-u-s-t make it around us. We all survived and the margaritas helped take our minds off potential dismemberment and enjoy the music.

On our way into the bay before Christmas, we stopped at the Tres Marietas, a set of islands used for navy target practice turned National Park and wildlife refuge.   The thousands of holes and pockmarks from bombing makes for interesting habitat. It’s a bird watchers dream these days and we had some spectacular diving as well. We’ll try to visit again on our way north in the spring.

Tomorrow we’re planning to head south down the coast toward Zihuatanejo. First leg about 100 miles to Bahia Chamela, then Tenacatita, Barra de Navida, Manzanillo, and “Z-town”.  Many of our buddies have already headed south, it’s cooling down into the 80s there and the water should be as well.

bomb target island

The uninhabited Marieta Islands in Banderas Bay have been called the Mexican Galapagos. Well…. the variety of bird and fish species is impressive, especially considering that the islands were used for target practice by the Navy until recent times. There are holes everywhere from years of bombardment. Makes for interesting landscapes and habitat now that it’s a preserve.

Pool side bbq with the Hodges and Ingalls all of the Port Madison Yacht Club.

Pool side bbq with the Hodges and Ingalls all of the Port Madison Yacht Club (South).

luminati launch

Dale and Jeff coaxing one of our New Year’s Sky Lanterns into flight. The sky was full of hundreds of these drifting upward above the beach. It was Beautiful.

lumanati

Jeff and Mary working to get our second lantern lit. Luckily the fire danger in the area was minimal. Wouldn’t want these things near my home.

carmanah lights

Carmanah lit up for Christmas

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Post New Year’s Eve party-a breakfast hosted at the Vallarta Yacht Club. Beautiful roof top location in the heart of Paradise Village. The Ingalls’ head home to Bainbridge Isl today.

lucy lounge

Lucy adjusted well to having access to a house after 9 months on the boat. The house Linda rented was right above the anchorage and marina.

plaza dance 1

Dad and sister Linda dancing the Cumbia in the Plaza on Saturday night.

ev dance

A local couple teaching Ev the Cumbia, we called it the “Miracle at the Plaza”.

street table

In Mexico, you’re rarely turned away. The grand birthday party for the Beluga Blanca Bar was jam packed, we had a table set for us in the street ( the street was still open to traffic) The uncertainty of surviving the night added to the thrill. Mom looks thrilled…right?

white whale dance

Mom dancing with Donna and I at the Beluga Blanca, a local watering hole in La Cruz.

malecon

The Malecon in Old Town Puerto Vallarta has very interesting public art along the entire waterfront.

Sailulita

Downtown Sayulita. Love this little oceanfront community. A little more intense than La Cruz though.

Crossing Over

Coming back to La Paz was like old home week, many of our HaHa buddies were still there. The main reason for returning from the pristine waters of Espiritu Santo was of course getting my stitches out from my tooth operation. But in the end, the surgeon wanted me to stay on another week to monitor the healing so we got to spend two weeks more in La Paz which actually flew by. It really is a great town and as the cool winter winds start to blow down the sea, the temperatures are quite pleasant. Highs mid 70s, lows, mid 60s. Unfortunately, the water temp also drops big time. It was 83 when we first got there, by Dec, we were into the mid 70s—brrrr. Bring out the wet suit.
We had thanks giving dinner on the s/v Tandem with Joni and Steve the day after we got back. Chicken and all the trimmings. Couldn’t find any turkey but it was a great time.
Coming back also gave me another chance to pick up a spear gun which I’ve always talked about but never actually done. All the years of fishing with hook/line and the many years of free diving —practicing getting close to fish……well, they are possibly coming together. I bought a fairly decent JBL gun. We’ll see. The dentist didn’t want me diving for at least 3 weeks so I’ll have to just visualize for now. But look out fish, trouble is coming.
I was pretty nervous that the dentist would want me to stay around longer if the healing still wasn’t satisfactory. Since we wanted to cross the Sea of Cortez with plenty of time before Christmas, it was a worry because of the unusual weather this year. We didn’t want to be delayed a long time waiting for decent weather for the crossing. But the tooth gods smiled on us and I was deemed good to go when I visited the dental office for the last time. Oh, incidentally—the $250 I paid for the surgery covered all my subsequent visits. Wow, not accustomed to that. Anyway, there was pretty good weather forecast for about 3 days after finishing with the dentist so we went for it. We worked our way back down to Los Frailes for the departure which started out with 15-20 knots on the beam and finished two days later with 5-10. Vanna did an excellent job steering most of the way in fairly steep seas, using no power. Pretty sweet. This was our first long passage without extra crew—we really missed having our HaHa friends, especially at night. At first only Lucy was able to sleep while off watch but by the second day—no problem, we’d sleep sitting up.
We ended up making San Blas our first stop on the mainland side. It’s about 70 miles north of Puerto Vallarta and basically in a swamp with a notorious reputation for jejenes (no-see-ems). Tied up at the marina for the night and ended up staying for a week. That evidently happens when you’re cruising, plans are fluid. We stayed because there were no bugs, the mega super government run marina was only $12/night, and it was our first really authentic Mexican town. No tourism to speak of (yet). Not many English speakers so we relied on Donna’s Spanish language skills and of course I had my Iphone translator app. Very handy but a little awkward in a rapid fire conversation. Anyway, the central plaza was the center of life in San Blas. And, being the Christmas season, there was a lot going on. Like the construction of a 80 foot steel tree with LED lights and decorations (evidently in-lieu of fixing the roads). Each night we went in anticipation of the music and dancing and the lighting of the tree. But it kept getting put off and you can only find out via word of mouth. So of course the day after we left is when it happened according to Mary & Jeff who stayed an extra day. C’est la vie. We had already sailed down the coast to the really cool beach town of Chacala. Anchoring was pretty rolly as we’re no longer protected by the BaJa peninsula, the open pacific just rolls in. But with a stern anchor to keep our bow facing the swell, not too bad. Just 100 yards off a very cool beach with actual surf. The first evening we sat at a restaurant on the sand and watched the sun set on Carmanah.
We still have 4 more days to get to our marina reservation in PV so a stop at Punta Mita and La Cruz are upcoming. We’ll be at Paradise Village Resort Marina for 10 days during the holidays. Dale, Tina, and Makai are flying down from SeaTac to stay at the resort. Also, about half the HaHa fleet will be there. Should be fun. We’re heading up to La Cruz after that to meet sister Linda, mom, dad, and Donna’s mom Ev. Really looking forward to that as well.
Some Random observations about cruising in Mexico so far:
–Watermaker is gold. Glad we bit the bullet on that one. In big towns you can buy bottled water and pour it in but otherwise it’s tough to get clean fresh water.
–Love AIS (boats transmit a signal that shows up on our chartplotter screen) but wish we’d got the one that receives AND transmits. It’s much safer (and fun) if others can “see” you.
–Even in the smallest towns, it’s smart to take your clothes to a laundry service for washing. For 5 or 6 dollars it’s clean, dry, and folded. It cost more to feed the machines at US & Canadian landromats.
–Put your dinghy on deck at night—no sense tempting fate.
–So far, Mexico is a very safe place to be. Feels much safer than say down town Seattle.
–Stern shower is a necessity.
–The Baha HaHa was a great way to travel down the coast. Made many long term friends.
–Some types of medical services are quite good and cheap by American standards.
–Retirement? We’ve been too busy to realize we’re retired.
–Can’t have enough bug screens and fans.
–It’s a worry that 75 degrees now feels cold and 85 is just right. How will we ever go home?
–Fueling up is a hassle and expensive, we try to sail as much as possible. Mainly motor to supplement power when running the water maker. Wish we’d gotten a carbon whisker pole for down wind runs.
–The wifi amplifier system we set up has paid dividends many times over. If we’re within a ½ mile of a hot spot we’re connected.
–Sailing in 25 knots of wind sure feels more hospitable when it’s 80 degrees rather that 45 degrees. (molecules are further apart—right?)
–It feels like summer but it’s dark by 6:00, that was one of our toughest adjustments from NW cruising.

We finally found good coffee in La Paz at Big Sur Coffee. Bought several kilos.

We finally found good coffee in La Paz at Big Sur Coffee. Bought several kilos.

The malcon walkway, goes for miles along the La Paz waterfront. We logged many trips along here. It juts out in several places that seem to take the place of the central plaza.

The malcon walkway, goes for miles along the La Paz waterfront. We logged many trips along here. It juts out in several places that seem to take the place of the central plaza.

Nick from Cielo Grande and I with our new spear guns. Nobody is safe now.

Nick from Cielo Grande and I with our new spear guns. Nobody is safe now.

Best deal on the La Paz waterfront.

Gabriel treated us well at The Shack in La Paz with 32 oz drafts for $2. A regular stop (note the smiles)

Gabriel treated us well at The Shack in La Paz with 32 oz drafts for $2. A regular stop (note the smiles)

muertos road in bush

At Los Muertos we found the concrete road in the middle of dirt road and cow path country. Some rich guy’s villa is out there.

Dinghy wheels are definitely a must have. Just motor right up onto the beach, get out and pull the boat up fast before the next wave.

Dinghy wheels are definitely a must have. Just motor right up onto the beach, get out and pull the boat up fast before the next wave.

The anchorage at Los Muertos on the Baja south cape has stunning vistas. Carmanah is the closest boat.

The anchorage at Los Muertos on the Baja south cape has stunning vistas. Carmanah is the closest boat.

sunrise SC poled out

Sunrise in the middle of the Sea of Cortez on our two day passage to San Blas. Gybing the Jib we roll it in first then move the pole.

san blas pongas on waterfront

Several of the 10,000 pangas on the San Blas waterfront.

san blas street

San Blas, the nicer part of town.

rain in plaza

The giant Christmas tree in the town square was to be lit on the same night the big rains came–didn’t happen. We had fun with Jeff and Mary of Finte anyway.

At the government owned "over the top' marina in San Blas, a huichoes (local indigenous people) horseman provides contrast to the ultra modern facility.

At the government owned “over the top’ marina in San Blas, a huichoes (local indigenous people) horseman provides contrast to the ultra modern facility.

The Huicholes are famous for their yarn-paintings and bead work. Donna and Mary ogling the wares.

The Huicholes are famous for their yarn-paintings and bead work. Donna and Mary ogling the wares.

 

Casting off from San Blas with old and new friends saying good bye. Mel and Larry on the right of "Hemisphere Dancer", long time Mexico cruisers, were a lot of fun to hang out with for us and Finte

Casting off from San Blas with old and new friends saying good bye. Mel and Larry on the right of “Hemisphere Dancer”, long time Mexico cruisers, were a lot of fun to hang out with for us and Finte

Carmanah, happy at anchor, just outside the surf line at Chacala.

Carmanah, happy at anchor, just outside the surf line at Chacala.

Lucy on the back porch looking longingly at the Chacala beach. (are those dogs actually frolicking in the sand?)

Lucy on the back porch looking longingly at the Chacala beach. (are those dogs actually frolicking in the sand?)

On the beach at Chacala just 100 yds the boat. Mainly we needed a wifi password for Carmanah's long range antenna.

On the beach at Chacala just 100 yds the boat. Mainly we needed a wifi password for Carmanah’s long range antenna.

chacala wifi on beach

Got to lock in that wifi no matter how many beers and guacamole it takes.

 

 

Downtown Chacala Christmas shopping with Carmanah just off shore.

Downtown Chacala Christmas shopping with Carmanah just off shore.

Sunset from the palapa on Chacal beach with Carmanah on the right.

Sunset from the palapa on Chacal beach with Carmanah on the right.

 

 

 

La Paz TCB

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El Gallo harbor with Carmanah & Mabrouka anchored in the lee of the cliffs.

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High tide (4′) at the Partida spit fish camp looking across at the anchorage .

We arrived on Sunday planning to find a dentist first thing Monday morning but they’re celebrating the 2nd revolution on Monday…. so 1st thing Tuesday then. Gave us time to repair our jib while it’s still calm. It got ripped in the middle of the night coming up here. Auto (the auto pilot) did a “crazy Ivan” which poked the spreader through the sail. Should have had Vanna the windvane steering. I definitly regret not bringing the fancy sailrite sewing machine along on the trip. Luckily our buddy Dave on Tranquility brought his and I was able to turn the dock into a sail loft. All better now.
Got to love Mexico. After checking for recommendations from the Club Cruceros (local sailors yacht club), I spoke directly to a dentist– Patricia Camon–at 9:30. At 11:00 I was in her chair with an endodontist on hand for a possible root canal. But as it turns out, 15 years ago I’d already had a root canal in that tooth (I forgot). They diagnosed a cyst which could likely be removed with oral surgery Yikes, this sounds bad. But by 5:00 I was back at her office with more extensive ex rays meeting with an oral surgeon. More antibiotics and surgery scheduled for Saturday. Estimated cost–$250 (US). Wow, I like the price but that didn’t help alleviate my reservations about getting a procedure this major done in Mexico. All kinds of things can go wrong.
The next day, the wind came in. Our marina had only a floating break water and the winds–up to 30 knots–had the boats bucking like rodeo bulls. I bought heavy rubber tubing to help absorb the shock. Still, hard to sleep aboard though. Being at anchor may have been better but those folks were pretty much confined to the boat for two days. The fact that it was 80 degrees air temp made it much more pleasant that a storm like this would have at home.
This town is very unlike the Los Cabos area. It’s a real town that isn’t set up to exploit tourists. Nobody trying to sell you stuff, no cruise ships, no “hey buddy, cuban cigars right here”, no inflated tourist prices. And, we loved the many restaurants. The people are genuinely friendly, not just trying to sell you something.
We had one last HaHa event on Thursday. A reunion party so past participants in the area were invited. Yay another party, take my mind off the upcoming surgury. It was a big dinner with local folk dancing followed by mariachis that were better that my memories of Herb Alpert. A local rock band capped the evening with great dance music. Fun!
Saturday, not so fun. Surgery day. Ouch, just a shot of nova-cane? I’m used to something more when they’re removing bone to reconstruct jaw. But I survived which is saying a lot given that I’m a total wimp in the pain department. Time will tell if it’s a success. I can’t do much during the next week, especially sneeze. If I sneeze I could blow out the new sinus membrane. How do you not sneeze? A quick google search revealed a list of anti sneeze techniques. Who knew? Armed with antibiotics, ibuprofen, lime popsicles, and anti sneezing techniques, we headed up to the Espiritu Santo islands for a week of wilderness exploring.
The first cove we anchored in, we immediately got a radio call from Roy on Mabrouka, also anchored in El Gallo bay, wanting to know if we belonged to the Port Madison Yacht Club. Yep, another Bainbridge Islander in Mexico. We did remember him from club cruises years ago. That night over dinner we noted the number of Bainbridge boats down here. Heck there were 4 on this year’s HaHa alone. A disproportionate number per capita for sure. I theorized that if all the Bainbridge boats returned home at once, there’d be a severe shortage of marina slips.
Further up the islands at Partida Cove we anchored with the “kid boats” from the HaHa including Agamere from Bainbridge Island. Boats with kids aboard tend to travel together to facilitate play dates, cooperative child minding, and social interaction. It works really well for them as far as I can see and many long term friendships develop. They invited us to their Thanksgiving potluck raft up on Thursday. Lucy would love all the kid attention. But with Hurricane Sandra heading our way, we’re going to head back to La Paz. She’s not supposed to get this far north (glad we didn’t fall off toward Mazatlan) but there will be some contrary winds felt up here and as luck would have it, I get my stitches out on Saturday so we want to get situated near the dental office incase things kick up in the interim.

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Overlapping spits from Espiritu Santo and Partia form a handicap passage out to the Sea of Cortez from

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Lucy’s favorite beach on Espiritu Santo

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Cactus John with some coral on this Es

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Vultures at this deserted fish camp drying their wings in the morning sun. They didn’t budge when we walked through even with our ferocious dog.

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Lucy jumped in with the “hunting party” going spear fishing for big game at Isla Partida. Nick, Mogan, and Trever came back with a goat fish.

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Our new local Yacht Club has a killer video library.