05/Jul/2008, Neah Bay, WA
BACK in the USA, OK, we came from the USA but the difference is very noticable.
We motored for most of the last 24 hours as our crew as sick (found out later he was dipping into our liquor stores), but we're back on the continent.
This place is as far west and north as you can get on the mainland other than Alaska. There is a little community where you have to drive into Canada to get to but it is further east...
We made it to Zihautenejo last evening - 17 days from PV, but only two overnight passages. We had nice stops at Bahia Chamela, Tenacatita, and Las Hadas on the way down. We have now been out of a marina for a whole month! It is great to be testing all the systems. We have made all our own water and electricity (the new Honda generator has worked great). We put some hours on the new engine and it has purred along - a lot quieter than the old Perkins. We also had some nice sails - proved to ourselves that we could fly the Gennaker and jibe without wrapping it around the forestay.
On New Year's Day, we left La Cruz in Banderas Bay, where we had been anchored for two weeks. We loved La Cruz. The anchorage was calm but had a nice cooling breeze and there was always a sea life show in progress. One-day four dolphins and a whale came into the anchorage and put on such a wonderfully choreographed show I thought they could have had a future if they took their act to SeaWorld. The whale came so close to our boat, I could have reached out and touched him. Another evening as we were dinghying into shore a school(?) of baby manta rays about a foot long started jumping out of the water in front of us. They were so cute as they came popping out and then went plop back into the water after a few feet of frantic flapping. They seemed to have a bashful look on their faces that said "Just wait, soon we'll be doing graceful soaring just like our 30 foot mom." Sea turtles came slowly paddling by and waved their flippers at us. Apart from the sea life La Cruz was a cute village with a great cruiser's bar. Philo's had Internet connection, pizza, and great music, which was provided by Philo's band and cruisers who were invited in for open mike jamming sessions. What more could you ask for?
I met a wonderful woman in La Cruz who is a retired school teacher from Canada. Reta now spends her winters in the small neighboring village of Bucerias where she teaches an after school English program for the poor Indian children. A wealthy American woman established the school because without English, it is hard to get a good paying job in Mexico- especially in the resort areas. Reta has 60 boxes of learning materials in her home in Canada with no way to get them to Mexico. We plotted ways to get the participants in next Year's Baha HA HA to bring them down. Just a few boxes per boat with the promise of a visit to her school and the thanks of the children should work. She has funds from her local rotary to ship the boxes to the sailors. I am looking forward to visiting her school when we return to PV in February.
On New Year's morning we took the bus into Paradise Marina yacht club for Dick's (marina manager) Bloody Marys and commodore Bob, "Sweet Thing" Mary's black-eyed peas, and rice for luck in the New Year and cabbage for money - figured we could use both. It was a good chance to say goodbye to all our friends at the marina. We also picked up our single side band radio from our friends on Avalon. The ICOM M802 had a manufacturing defect and most of the units developed a "clipping problem" which meant a trip back to the factory. Our friends Dave and Kathy from Andante had carried the unit up to Seattle and dropped it off at the Redmond plant when they dropped their two tiny dogs off at the kennel while they traveled to Zermatt for a family ski trip. ICOM then sent the unit to Jim, who had gone up to Tahoe for a Christmas ski trip, who brought it back down to us. It is not easy to get things to Mexico - forget shipping, it will never show up, just seems to get lost somewhere if it has any value. I was a bit envious of the ski trips. I would love to have a few days at Steven's Pass and some time at the cabin in front of the fireplace.
We were offered a ride back to La Cruz on the "dinghy" for the 75 foot trawler Spirit of Ulysses". The owner of the trawler was a nice Irish gentleman who had started out as a janitor and ended up the largest employer in Ireland. The dinghy was a 22 foot with a 115 hp engine. We were flying across Banderas Bay at 40mph when we spotted some three whales. We stopped to watch and they surrounded the dinghy, surfacing within 10 feet and diving under the hull. If they had decided to come up under the boat, we would have truly been swimming with the whales.
When we got back to the boat, we finished our prep for taking off in the early evening. The preferred time to sail past Cabo Corrientes is during the night. We were buddy boating part way down to Zihautenejo with friends Jill and Evan on Avreo. We listened to the weather on the South Bound Cruiser's Net and of course, the Mexican weather god "Don on Summer Passage" predicted heavy winds for the next few days, but we decided to go because Jill and Evan had to be in Manzanillo by January 6 to pick up their daughter who was flying in from Seattle. Luckily, the weather god was wrong and we had light to moderate winds.
Our first stop was Bahia Chemela where we arrived the next afternoon. The beach had huge breaking surf with no safe place to land the dinghy and a hotel, which played really loud Mexican disco music until late at night. We didn't go ashore and only stayed one night before heading to Tenacatita which was only an eight hour sail away. We really loved Tenacatita and wished we could have stayed a lot longer. I think many boats parked there for a month or more. We put down the dinghy and picked up Jill, Evan and Monk, their 90-pound golden retriever, and headed for the beach. We made a not so bad/wet landing in moderate surf. Monk was really glad to be on land after 3 days on the boat. I can't imagine having a large dog on 360°, but Jill says he is a great watch partner and he seems to really enjoy the cruising life. We had a drink at the palapa on the beach and then went back to the boat for dinner on 360°. Jill and Evan left the next morning for Las Hadas while we stayed on for a week to explore. From the bay there is a river which leads inland and then out to a small village on the ocean. It was an hour dinghy trip through the jungle with an overhead canopy of mangroves. Our first trip we went with friends Lou and Laura from Cirque and Rick and Patty from So Cal-So Good, who we had met on this year's HAHA. We had lunch on the beach and wished we had brought our snorkeling gear to explore "The Aquarium", a famous diving spot along the beach. Joel and I went back several days later to snorkel. It had been a long time since I had snorkeled (like 25 years)., The current was so mild and my new mask and snorkel were of a new generation that worked much better, so I really enjoyed it There was none of the salt water in my eyes and nose that I remembered from previous attempts. I read the entire Michener's "Mexico" while we were there. It was hard to pull up the anchor and leave.
Las Hadas was another day sail down the Mexican "Golden Riviera" We anchored in the bay in front of the hotel where the classic 70's movie "10" was filmed. Jill and Evan were in the nearby Marina. The first day in, we provisioned in the nearby city of Manzanillo and I did laundry ($10/load!) plus $15/day to tie up to the dinghy dock. I don't think Las Hadas is a cruiser friendly spot. The marina seems to cater mostly to the mega yachts. We decided to join Jill and Evan and Chris for a bus to the inland city of Colima and then to the village of Comala. I really love inland Mexico and these towns were so clean and uncrowded by either tourists or Mexicans. We had lunch on the deck of a cantina facing the town square with a volcano spouting steam in the background (the last time it had erupted was 1999) while we were serenaded in turn by the seven mariachi bands that circled the square. We did not order any food but plates of wonderful tapas kept appearing faster than we could eat until we finally said "no mas"- when the bill came it was only for the drinks - as long as you keep drinking the food is free! We bought several bottles of the local specialty, "Pancha" a mild liquor that comes in about 20 flavors from pomegranate to coffee (all of which we had to sample) to bring back to the boat. Luckily, we were taking the bus back. Buses in Mexico are wonderful. We had a "premier class" bus for the trip. Seats were larger than first class airline seats - the seats really leaned back and there was even a footrest, free sandwiches and drinks were served plus a first run movie - for $6.50 each way. After last month's 1400-mile drive around Mexico with Joel's mom and sister, it was nice to sit back and enjoy the scenery without having to navigate or worry about the traffic, I just wished we could have stopped at some of the roadside stands which were selling products from the local fields and orchards. After a few more days in Las Hadas we left with SoCal, SoGood to buddy boat down to Z-town. We had planned to stop at a few places on the way down, but when we checked out the first spot, it was full of fish traps that left no room to anchor, so we decided to continue through the night.
The nights get chilly and the air is damp - so although we start the night out with the hatches and ports all open to cool off, by morning we are pulling up the down comforter. I started coughing and developed bronchitis in Las Hadas, by the time we got to Z-town I was headed to the local doctor, who was highly recommended by local yachty net, while Joel checked in with the harbormaster. After listening to my lungs, he said "noisy" and diagnosed "traque bronchitis". He asked me if I wanted to get better "pronto" and of course, I said "si". Before I knew it he had my pants down and had given me a shot of steroids that I thought was going to be antibiotics. The steroids gave me a great buzz and insomnia, which explain why I was able to stay up last night to write this. I also got antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and codeine prescriptions - 2 of the 3 have photosensitivity warnings, so tomorrow Joel will have to clean the decks alone tomorrow while I work cleaning up below deck. After my doctor's visit we stopped in at Rick's Bar (the local version of Philo's) Rick's is sponsoring Sail Fest, which will start January 28 and last through March 3. It is a week of parties, seminars, casual races, etc, with the goal of raising money for the local school. Last year they raised over $75,000. I am so impressed with how generous the cruisers are to the local charities. We were quickly enlisted to serve on the volunteer committee.
We are still finding many things to "fix" - some days the list gets longer and some days we scratch off an item or two. Yesterday as we were anchoring, the down switch on the anchor windlass stuck and we had 180 feet of chain down before we were able to get the main breaker for the windlass turned off. We use hand held radios, when anchoring so we do not have to yell at each other. I was on the bow saying "it won't stop" and Joel, at the wheel, was replying, "stop it", thinking I was just putting out lots of chain. I think the whole bay could hear me when I finally started really yelling what was happening. Another graceful arrival. Our friends Steve and Jan on Baraka were anchored just behind us - we could have almost stepped over for cocktails. With the main breaker off, we could not raise any of the chain, so as the sunset we tore apart the switch with Joel down below in the anchor locker and me above trying to unscrew and rescrew the deck bolts. Since we had experience (the same switch had failed to function at all in La Cruz) we were able to fix it in one hour instead of four. By dark, we finally raised some chain and set the anchor further away from Baraka. Then Joel had to climb way down into the aft lazerette to bleed the bubble out of the DC refrigeration line so we could run the refrigeration. Our traditional shared "anchor beer" was skipped. Today our deck wash bucket sprung a leak, tomorrow we will buy a new one - some fixes are easier than others are. I just finished reading "An Ocean to Cross", the story of a paraplegic couple (they had never sailed) who built a boat in Rhodesia and sailed it to Florida. I try to keep in mind their positive attitude when facing obstacles I cannot even imagine.
24/Dec/2007, Pueto Vallarta, Mexico
As usual we're a little behind on our posting!
We came down on the BAHA the first of November. Our boat wasn't quite ready yet so we spent a couple of weeks getting it ready, then my mother and sister visited for two weeks. We had a nice visit, driving around the interior, Mexico City, Morellia, Guanajato, San Luis Potosi, etc.
It is Christmas Eve, we're headed into town shortly for the Christmas procession from the town square to the church.