Monday, November 28, 2011
We arrive in Barra de Navidad midmorning on Saturday November 26th. As it is early in the season we are one of only three boats in the lagoon anchorage and the marina looked fairly deserted also.
This is our second time in Barra, a small tourist beach community. Where there are a fair number of expat gringos who live and vacation here. We are anxious to see how it weathered the recent Hurricane, Jovan that passed through here in October. We had seen some pictures posted on the web but were not really sure if they were a good representation of the destruction.
What we found was mostly the destruction was to the beach front businesses/restaurants. It seemed that what happened was the surf eroded the foundations, and as nearly all construction in Mexico is concrete and concrete block the buildings just tumbled. Some of the restaurants were open with just half of their original decks or building. We had drinks in one such restaurant and when I asked to use the bathrooms I was escorted through the owner’s home (attached) through his bedroom and into his bathroom. If you wanted to walk on the beach from here, there was a convenient ladder at the ready. I love the Mexicans, nothing keeps them down.
As we are here early in the season some of our favorite restaurants were not yet open. But we had a nice dinner out anyway, and found some good music and drinks after.
I am not sure if I describe the water taxi service here. It is great, especially if you are planning on being our after dark as it is a long way back into the lagoon where you anchor. Anyway, the panga is 25 pesos round trip each (about $2.30). You hail them on the VHF radio and they are at your boat in no time. These guys are experts on getting their pangas alongside of your boat so it is an easy step aboard. They then drop you and the dock (use the term loosely) at the towns waterfront. Here you pay and get a colored square of paper that is your return ticket.
You do not need to be in a hurry to return. When it is time to go back to the boat and the cashier has closed all you do is flick the lights switch on the dock. A panga driver is watching for it and will be along to get you. For the night panga drivers I also give them a nice tip.
Only two days here in Barra as we need to hurry down to Zihuatanejo to have time there before we leave.
Friday, November 25, 2011
We left La Paz on Sunday November 20th. We had a good weather window for several days so this was our chance to go. It is a 3 day crossing, and we made it in 74 hours. It was the longest passage Mel and I have done on our own, so it was a bit of a test for us. Everything went well. We fell easily into our watch routines, and while some of the meal prep. was challenging we ate very well. We arrived in Bahia Tenacatita (a popular anchorage south of Puerto Vallarta) at about 11:30 on Wednesday. We were very suprised that there was now cell phone service in the bay. There is a small town near by so I guess they finally got a cell tower. We are happy to have access to the phone and internet to let our family know we are safe and sound and we were able to wish our family a happy Thanksgiving.
Here is how we spent Thanksgiving:
There is an all inclusive resort located here,called Blue Bay Hotel. Mel and I decided to call and found that we could come in for the evening,.
So to get there we need to do a beach landing in our dingy. We have done that here last year so we know where the best place is to go with the least surf. Not so worried about getting in, I am more worried for our return as it will be dark.
We know that we most likely will get wet during the landing process so we pack "dress" clothes in our drybag and wear swimsuits. The landing is very successful. We pull the dingy up on the beach and put on our good clothes and walk the half mile to the resort, good thing I remember a flashlight as it is getting dark fast.
We have an enjoyable buffet dinner and to our surprise they have turkey (we had hoped so, as we knew that gringos stay here too). Turkey they have, side dishes... not so much. One pan was labeled cranberry sauce, and it was, a sauce, warm and thin, placed right next to the gravy! Some things get lost in translation. But they did have a version of pumpkin pie that tasted very good. All in all it was a good meal.
As part of the cost for the evening we also go a show. A local group of young men and women doing various dance routines. The lady EM could talk so fast in Spanish and English that you had a hard time understanding her no matter what language it was.
Well soon enough it was time to go and attempt our return to the boat through the surf. Oh, did I mention we had no moon last night? The degree of difficulty is going up on this surf launching. We return to the dingy, change clothes and drag it back in to the water.
The trick to launching is to watch the wave sets and predict the calm period. Much easier in the light of day. But we make it out with just a bit of excitement as we get over a big swell just before it crested. Yes we got wet, but did not get pitched over.
All of this fun and excitement for a bite of turkey?... worth it, as it brought us a little closer to all of you and thinking of everyone around the table enjoying your families.
On Saturday we will leave and continue our trip south to Ixtapa/Zihuatanajo where we will leave Mazu and fly home for the holidays.
Friday, November 18, 2011
We get busy putting the boat back togther as our plan is to go north up into the Sea of Cortez.
As always with boats there are lots of things to do and you can be sure something unexpected will come up. For us it was discoverying our bilge had a bunch of oil in it. Luckly it was not from the engine, it was some stored oil. What a mess to clean up, taking the better part of 3 days. Oh, and not to mention the freezer going bonkers... got that fixed too
Finally the cuboards and freezer are full and we are ready to go.
We have a fab time, visiting our favorite anchorages, and of course visiting Loreto. We caught up with several of our boat friends and had a great time getting caught up with them and finding our what everyones plans are for the "season".
The fishing was fantastic! I caught 3 good size dorados, also called mahi mahi. They are very yummy. I made my first bach of ceviche, it came out very good if I do say so myself.
This year we have purchased 2 inflatable kayaks. We really enjoyed using them to explore the anchorages and nearby reefs. I am very glad we bought them.
One of the most incredible things to happen to us was having a full blown rain storm. I lasted all night, unheard of. In fact we were told that in one night they got more rain than in the last 2 years combined! It has been the only rain we expirenced here.
We are snug in a marina in La Paz getting ready to make a 3 day crossing on our way to Zhuatanao. We will leave Mazu there while we fly home to Oregon for the holidays.
I am also trying out a new blog site, it will allow me to make posts along the way via my SSB radio.
that new address is: www.sailblogs.com/mazuadventures
check it out I will try an post during our crossing.
Monday, May 30, 2011
We are finally on our way into the Sea of Cortez. We have spent the last 6 weeks in Marina's, Haul-Out and crossing over from the mainland of Mexico. Now it is time to relax and explore the Sea.
We leave La Paz on morning of May 5th, after a farewell dinner, dancing and Margaritas. Our first anchorage is in Partida Bay on Espiritu Santo/Isla Partida Island(s). We have anchored here before, last November. A truly lovely night. I make coleslaw and grill steaks.
We do not stay but one night on Espiritu Santo as we want to get north to explore areas we have not been to. But we cannot resist though another stop on Isla San Francisco, one of our favorites from last fall. Here we find a fantastic shell beach and collect a bag full to go with my collection from La Paz.
In Bahia Salinas on Isla San Jose, once the location of a salt mine, it is now abandoned. We explore the "ghost town" of old trucks, equipment, and small buildings. We then anchor in San Evaristo on the main land side (Baja). There is a small fishing village here, we stay just one night.
We stop in Puerto los Gatos where we are celebrating Mothers day. It is very pretty here with beautiful red rock bluffs and the dramatic backdrop of the Sierra de la Giganta. But the bees are very bad here, chasing us out of the cockpit and into the boat. We leave the next morning.
Aqua Verde This bay ranks as one of my favorites. This bay has good wind and wave protection, beautiful views, aqua colored water, good snorkeling, and a small village complete with a school 2 small tiendas and a resturant (well kind of). It is a popular spot with cruisers and there are several boats here, but it does not feel crowded. We are greeted by our friends, Mark and Emily from Groovy. We last saw them in San Blas. That evening, in our cockpit we enjoy drinks and snacks and catch up on our various adventures.
The next day we take our dingy to shore to explore the "town" and go to the tienda. There are about a dozen homes, a school and soccer field (dirt and with free range goats grazing the sidelines), some sort of official building, 2-5 dirt roads, and 2 small tiendas. The red building is the "SuperMini" tienda. It is a small concrete building with old chest freezers in the yard outside. It is surprisingly well stocked. No shelves but various products in boxes line the walls with bread, T.P. some veggies, box milk etc. Outside in the old chest freezers, (not freezing) are bags of other various veggis. I was able to buy all the veggies I needed. We also run into old frinds David & Donna from the boat Salona.We have not seen them since Tenacatita, on the Mexican mainland.
We spend several days here snorkeling, beachcombing,and swimming. We saddly raise anchor and head to Puerto Escondido to get fuel and water (oh, did I mention our watermaker is not working, but that is another story), and to go to the town of Loreto.
Puerto Escondido/Loretto:Puerto Escondido is one of Baja's most protected harbors with lots of room for many boats and can easily hold over 150 boats. You can either anchor, hook onto a mooring ball, or tie up to the dock at the small marina here.
From here we are able to rent a car for the trip to Loretto where we plan on spending the night. Loreto is a very historic town. It is here in 1697 that Jesuit padre Juan Maria Salvatierra landed to establish a settlement and the first mission of the Californias. Loreto then became the center for the church and government becoming the first capital of Baja. This mission became the center for establishing other missions in Baja and California. Loreto is where Franciscan padres Portola, and Serra left in 1769 to travel north to San Diego and eventually to discover San Francisco Bay. The mission is open to the public and we visit it and the museum next door. It is beautiful. We spend the night in the beautiful Hotel Posada de las Flores.
Loreto is a active oceanside town. There is an international airport (small, arrivals and departures 2-3 times per week) here so along with the localMexicans there is a large group of gringos who call Loreto home, at least for the winter.
We return to Puerto Escandido and take on fule and water and contiue north. Anchoring in: Honeymoon Cove, Bahia Salinas (another one), Carmen Island, Isla Coronados, and Punta Mangles as we contiue north. Along the way I have been reading John Stienbecks, "The Log of the Sea of Cortez". It chronicles all of these areas, it is fun and interesting to read his descriptions of the places I am seeing over 50 years later.
Caleta San Juanico : Another one of my favorites. A large bay with several "lobes". Here there are fantastic reefs, pinnacle rock formations, a small sea cave to explore,varied colored cliffs, birds (we see several Osprey and their nests), clear water and white sandy beaches. We spend several days here where we snorkel, and fish along the reefs (I catch a 4lb. Trigger fish, good eating). The weather is getting warmer but there is a nice breeze to keep you cool and of course you can always cool off with a jump in "the pool".
Continuing north we reach Bahia Concepcion on Thursday May 25th. We have some problems going on with our Chart plotter, luckly we have back-up navigation but it is still a big pain as it beeps a lot and goes off a lot. There seems to be always something to fix on a boat.
Bahia Concepcion: Our guide book says, "RVers, campers, kayakers, fishermen and vacationers from around the world all come to Bahia Concepcion to sample its beautiful bays, and beaches." I can see why, it is beautiful. This large bay is nearly 25 miles in length and protected by a peninsula of land on the east. There are a number of good anchorages and we stay in Playa Santispac, (one night), and El Burro cove. Here we get to see and swim (I swam with Mel watched) with the magnificent whale sharks. As the name implies,these sharks are very large but these gentle sharks are harmles. They lazily swim around with their massive sized mouths open and gobble up the krill in the bay. We are lucky to seem them each day we are there.
We also take a short hike to see the Amerindian petroglyphs in the rocky Mnts. near El Burro Cove.
Along El Burro Cove are rustic playpa style houses, while Hwy 1 meanders through Bahia Concepion these places are off the grid, using solar and generators for power. There is even a resturant and bar is this small community. A beach front playpa can be bought for about 30,000.00 USD, you are leasing the land for about 200.00 USD per month.
Next we will head to Santa Rosalia, the furthest north we plan to go. There is a town and marina there. It is time to restock the fridge.
Pictures in this Blog:
*The abandoned mine building Salinas
*Mel surveys the equipment left on Salinas (hmm... can I make a race car from this?)
*The school yard at Aqua Verde (note the free range goats)
*A boat at anchor in Aqua Verde
*looking through a window of the abandoned mine buildings Salinas
*Courtyard of our hotel, Loreto
*Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto (Mission of our Lady of Loreto)
*Bahina Salinas (#2)
*Whale Shark, El Burro Cove
*Pinacle Rock @ San Juanico
*Trigger fish, San Juanico
*Example of one of the petroglyphs near El Burro Cove (Bahia Concepcion)
*Mel overlooking El Burro Cove
*Mazu anchored at El Burro Cove
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
It is a two day trip from Bandaras Bay to Mazatlan. There are several anchorages along the way so you can make it a leasurly trip if you have the time. We on the other hand did not. We have an appointment to have our boat hauled out (more on that later in the blog) so we have to get up there quickly.
Luckly we did take a 2 day trip north of Bandaras Bay, up the coast a few weeks ago. We wanted to see the town of San Blas (remember the famous Longfellow poem, The Bells of San Blas). San Blas is about a third of the way from La Cruz to Mazatlan. It is a 10 hour motor there from La Cruz. We arrive and anchor to see a magnificant sunset. The cruising guide warns of the prolific Jejenes (hay-hay-nays) tiny, no-see-ums that come out at sunset and for little guys sure can bite. We are far enough out that they are not too bad.
We see that our friends Mark and Emily, on Groovy are there so we contact them on the radio and make plans to take the bus into town the next day.
The next day we have a great time exploring this nice Mexican town. We see the old church, the new bell, visit the square and have a nice lunch. Then a bus ride back for beers at the beach Palapa. We know when it is time to leave the plapa as the Jejenes come out in force.
We have a nice eveing on the boat, and head off to bed at about 11. As it is hot we have all the screens up and doors and hatches open. We have also raised our dingy out of the water and secured it to the boat. As we have been warned of motor thefts in the area. Well, the next morning we awoke to a missing motor. We don't know how they could have been so quiet as to not wake us. We are understandably upset, and decide to cut our visit short and head back to La Cruz. Our friends on Groovy are also creeped out by the theft and also leave. I want to say that this is the only bad thing that has happened to us while we were in Mexico. While there is no excuse for them taking our motor, we should have had it locked. Most people here make about 10-20 dollars per day, and in the remote fishing villages I am sure it is less. I guess we look like rich gringos and cannot resist the easy access to the free motors.
We are glad to get back to La Cruz. Luckly the marine store here had the exact same motor in stock so we were able to purchase a new one. We were having problems with the old one so we can only hope that it stopped working all together for the new "owner".
As I mentioned we have a short time line to get to Mazatlan. We leave La Cruz at 10pm on April 11th. We motor all night and arrive at Isla Isabel at about 12pm. This remote island is called the Galapagos of Mexico due to its enormous number of nesting birds and resident iguanas. This island is also free of natural preditors so the birds do not have any fear. You can walk freely around the birds. There are many various birds including, Blue Footed Boobies, frigate birds,and other boobies.
Our plan was to have the afternoon to explore the island and then head out at dusk, sail through the night to arrive in Mazatlan in the late morning. Well, it was very rolly, and it would be very difficult to get the dingy down and the motor on, and we really needed a nap, as we did not sleep well on our trip. So we decided just to sleep for a few hours and explore the island next year. Also, we were slowly being surrounded by fishing nets. So after a short nap we were underway again by 4pm.
Arriving in Mazatlan ahead of schedule we wait outside of the harbor until light. We are greeted by Larry and Danice from Ladara Star. Larry is a retired dentist from Springfield that Mel knew. They have been very helpful with our plans through-out Mexico and especially during our stay in Mazatlan.
Every few years you need to haul your boat out of the water for various reasons, mainly to repaint the bottom of the boat. Little critters and plant life like to attach themselves to the bottom of boats. It is a special paint you use that keeps them from attaching. Even then you need to have your bottom cleaned every few months or so to remove the growth and barnacles.
The haul-out process is a little complicated as you must be at a boat yard that has a very large travel lift (see photo of Mazu in the "sling" ). After they get you out of the water the boat is then place in various jack stands. They are then free to sand off the old paint and apply the new. It is also an opportunity to give all your fittings, prop, and rudder a good inspection. To get into your boat they place a ladder for you. Many people decide to stay on their boat during the haul out. We decide to rent a hotel. We rent a room in a small hotel on the beach. As we have not watched any tv for a long time. We find a few english channels and get our fill. They also have a couple movie channels with many are english with spainish sub-titles. It is fun to watch these as it helps with our spanish.
The boat is out of the water for 6 days.
We are then need to plan for our crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz on the Baja side. It is this time of the year that cruisers start to migrate to the Sea of Cortez to get out of the hurricane areas of the mainland coast of Mexico. We have been listening to the weather reports and all predictions indicate a several day period of calm weather. We decide to take the favorable forcasts and cut our time short in Mazatlan and make the crossing.
The crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz is about 200 miles across the lower part of the Sea of Cortz. Unlike the other overnight passages Mel and I have done on our own this is not a coastal passage. We will be out of site of land for a portion of the trip. We need to plan our speed and when we leave so that we arrive on the other side in daylight. We leave Mazatlan at about 12pm. on Good Friday.
As I have explained in a previous blog, there is no stopping along the way so we have a watch schedule. We do 4 hours on 4 hours off, 24 hours a day while underway.
We are very happy that the weather reports were correct, the seas are nearly flat. We also have good wind so we are able to sail about half of the time. We are able to sleep well and I can easly cook our meals. It is rare now for us to get seasick and it is not an issue on this trip.
I set out our fishing lines but have no luck.
We arrive safe and sound in La Paz at about 12pm on Easter Sunday. In previous blogs I have written about La Paz, one of our favorite places. While we are here we will have our water maker upgraded to make more water per hour. We will also provision for our 6-8 weeks in the Sea of Cortez, where stores and towns are fewer and smaller.
When we leave here I may not be able to update the blog very often. I will try to when ever I can, even if I can't post pictures.
Pictures in this blog:
New church in San Blas with new bell tower
Old bell tower
Sunset over San Blas in Matanchen Bay
Elaine, Mel and Mazu in Mazatlan
In the sling
old bottom paint
new bottom paint
Friday, April 8, 2011
In La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and in the Puerto Vallarta area you will see some stunning examples of Huichol Art. Our guide book writes:
"The Huichol (ooh-ee-chol) are and indigenous group of people living deep in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains in the states of Nayarit, (La Cruz is here)Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango. The Huichol are one of only a few tribes people remaining in North America. Because their settlements are so remote and inaccessible, their way of life and their religious beliefs have changed little over the centuries. The Huichol have an intimate and complex bond between their physical life and the spiritual life of their gods and the environment around them. Once each year the Huichol make a pilgrimage to their sacred land, Wirikuta, where they harvest the peyote cactus. It is with peyote that the Huichol are able to communicate with all of their gods. The Huichol create stunningly colorful works of art through the use of beads and yarn in order to honor and please their gods, as well as to reflect their own experiences, beliefs, myths, and ceremonies."
I took a short class today on this bead art from a "famous" local artist. I had previously purchased one of his works. He told us that the art was at first made with seeds of various natural and dyed colors. Both men and women are trained in the art. He has works on display in Mexico City, including a volkswagen covered in Huichol art. The Photo is of 2 sides of a jaguar head, and a coconut shell covered inside. The outside is carved with figures of animals and birds.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
- Monday, we go on a Jeep tour in the Sierra Madre
- Tuesday, day sail to Playa Animas for fun and sun on the beach
- Wednesday, tour old town and to to the bull fights, (yes the bull really dies)
- Thursday, enjoy the resort and go to a Mexican Fiesta in the evening
- Friday, sail to La Cruz, dinner and great music at Philo's bar
- Saturday, enjoy walking around La Cruz
- Sunday, farmers market. Great food, local crafts, and music
- Monday, rest and take Spencer to the airport
It was sad to say good-by to him, and we are exhausted! It takes us several days to recover. We are going to stay here in the La Cruz marina. We find this area to me quieter. Much better that the fast paced (and more expensive) tourist area of Puerto Vallarta. As an example; there is a grocery store right next to the marina in PV. It caters to the gringo crowd that keep their boats there or live in the condos around the area. They carry plenty of name brands from home. One of the items I saw was Triscuit crackers. Now, I have not seen these in any of the stores in Mexico. I know that Spencer loves these so I pick up a box. We also see Fig Newton cookies, one of Mels favorites, so these go into the cart. When I reviewed the receipt later, I found that the Triscuits cost $8.00 for one box as did the Fig Newtons. Ouch!
So we have decided that the smaller, "Mexican" La Cruz fits our style.
Monday, March 7, 2011
- get up 7:30 ish make coffee turn on the VHF radio, drink coffee in the cockpit and look for dolphins or sea birds.
- listen to the cruiser radio "net" for local weather, boat check in (who's in the area) and check outs (who's leaving), anouncements etc.
- make breakfast, eggs, sausage, oranges
- rinse off boat with fresh water (it was very salty from the passage), as we had plenty of water
- clean windows on the dodger, wipe down the stainless steel (there is a lot of that on the boat), shake out rugs, dust and wipe down the interior of the boat
- take a rest, and check emails (we are getting good wi-fi here), read a book
- get into the dingy and visit our neighbor boat, Groovy (met them here before)
- make lunch, tuna sands, chips and apple
- go to marina to get rid of a bag of garbage, look for a part in the chadlery
- return to boat, study spanish, read, research on the internet
- cocktail hour rum and cokes with chips and salsa
- cook and eat dinner, soft tacos
- watch sunset
- clean up galley
- watch 2 episodes of X-files on DVD
- bed at 9:30, write in diary, and read
After a while I take a look out the stern of the boat to check the lines and too my horror, I see a bird attached. We are still several miles out and in very lumpy windy conditions. It would be too dangerous to try to reel in the line. There is nothing I can do. On top of that I see that my two lines are getting very tangled together. Again, nothing I can do until we are in protected waters. So along we go. We are about 2 miles from the bay when again I look back at my line ( it is only one line now as the two have become one twisted line) and see a fish on! He his caught on the second lure. Still nothing I can do until we reach the bay, so he is pulled along. At least he will be dead when I reel him in and will save me from having to bonk him on the head.
One of the habits cruisers get into is leaving your VHF radio on (usually on channel 22a) This is how other folks in the anchorage contact one another throughout the day. It turns into a party line as we all listen in on the conversations. The proper etiquette is to call the boat name you want to talk to and then say your boat name, "Windy, Windy, Windy, this is Mazu". You then wait for them to answer then you change to a different channel as to keep 22a clear. Of course others may change to that channel too to listen in. I admit I am guilty of this, it is human nature I guess. Sometimes if one of the boats signal is not strong or is far away you may only hear one side of a conversation. This is what happend while we were in Tenacatita, which is too bad as it is very dramatic. Here is what happened.
I could hear over the radio the boat next to me asking another boats its position, then I could hear him ask if they needed assistance. Then I heard him ask if they wanted him to call the Navy. Then I heard him say that he was getting into his dingy now and comming out to help. By this time others must have heard because several dingys and one sail boat were on their way. Of course once we saw there was ample help going Mel and I were glued to the radio. As we were listening we gathered that a sail boat just outside the bay were were in had an encounter with a whale. It seems that a whale came up on the side of there boat and was bumping it. Then it went under the boat and they thought it was hitting the boat with its tail. They were of course very frightend, it when on for a while. The boat was taking on water, (not good). The guys who went out to help were able to get the water stopped and the boat was towed in to the bay. Here one of the guys dove on the boat and discovered that the propeler shaft and rudder were damaged. They left early the next morning trying to get to Puerto Vallarta to effect repairs. All this was relayed over the VHF radio. An important safety and communication device for us.
We have a great sail in light wind with our colorful spinnaker out. I catch another Crevalle, bigger than the first, 36" long and again very heavy...
We lower our spinnaker in the early evening prior to dark. The wind has died so we motor sail with just our main sail up.
We pass around Cabo Corrientes at about midnight. This puts us into Banderas Bay way before daylight. So we slow down and finally at at about 5am we just turn off the motor and drift while we wait for enough light to get into the anchorage.
We are now safe and sound hanging on the hook. We have napped and I am now cooking dinner.
- my big fish
- Mel relaxes in the central "square" in La Cruz
- A croc in La Manzallia
- On the beach in La Manzallia
Friday, February 18, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
- A crocadile in the marina Ixtapa. This was taken just off the back of our boat, less that 20 ft. from us, (Yikes!)
- Mel on the walking bath from Playa Madera to Playa Ropa at Bahia Zihuatenajo.
- A view of the fishing pangas at Playa Madera. This next to where we land our dingy when we want to go ashore.
- Sunset at anchor at Isl. Ixtapa
- A afternoon basketball game in Z-Town, note it is right by the beach. This is also next to the town "square" where there is music on Tue. and Thurs. nights. Other nights families and teens gather and the young children play in the court.
- Me by the bus station
- Boats at anchor in the bay (Z-Town, this is where we spent about a week)