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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Chamela Bay

We had a great sail south from Ipala, with 12 knots of breeze on the beam, we were able to make 6 knots under sail.

Along the way, we saw a fantastic display of whales playing very near our boat.

At one point, while we were running the engine, the motor stopped. I determined that a fuel filter had clogged. We have two fuel tanks, so we switched to the other tank. Then I showed Francois how to bleed the air out of a diesel engine fuel system to get it running again.

We had hoped to make it to Carreyes, but that would have put us arriving at sunset, with no margin for error. So we decided to pull in earlier at Chamela Bay. We got into Chamela just around 630 PM and dropped anchor in 20 feet of water. I tested the anchor by running the engine in reverse and looking to see if the boat moves. It did, which indicated we didn't have good holding. So we decided to raise anchor and try somewhere else.

In raising anchor we had trouble with the windlass again; the circuit breaker kept popping off. As a result it took a long time to raise the anchor in order to reset it elsewhere. We finally got the anchor up, and set it down in a different location, where we found firm holding.

When we get to a marina, I will have to look at the windlass and consider replacing it. It's clearly not up to the task.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Anchored out at Ipala Bay

We departed Puerto Vallart this morning at 8 a.m., sailed out of Banderas Bay and headed south. Conditions were light with winds under 10 knots. This was a good thing because the point, Cabo Corrientes ("Cape of Currents") is notorious for big seas due to the washing-machine effect of the currents washing around the point. With the light winds the passage wasn't bad at all.

Initially our destination was to be Chamela, but after rounding the Cape we found that we would not make it by nightfall, so we decided to head for nearby Ipala Bay. This is a small anchorage with a tiny fishing village at one end. The anchorage is tight because most of the inlet's good anchoring spots are taken up with oyster pots.

We'll leave Ipala early tomorrow morning to get to Chamela.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Last Night in PV
01/20/2009, Puerto Vallarta

We have prepared the boat to depart Puerto Vallarta early Wednesday morning, destination Chamela. This anchorage is 65 nm south of PV.

We'll leave at sunrise so that we can be assured to arrive in Chamela before dark.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Jaguar Crossing

Road sign along the way: Jaguar crossing.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Getting a fill-up, Mexican style

At one of the tiny villages in the high mountains, a sign advertised "gasolina", so we stopped to get a fill-up. They filled our gas tank from plastic jugs and a funnel.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Off Road Driving to Ayutla

We left Tecolotlan in the morning, and drove west along the highway towards Barra de Navidad. Not wanting to end up in Barra, our plan was to cut across the back roads and mountain ranges between this highway and the other one parallel to it, a hundred miles north, that leads from Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. This way, we could see some Mexican backroads and little towns.

Boy, did we get to see some back roads. As soon as we left the main highway, it was unpaved dirt-and-rock roads, or, when we got to a pueblo, cobblestone streets. We found that, once in the backcountry of Mexico, there were no road signs at all. This meant that, at any crossroads, we had to rely on our gut instinct for which way to go, or ask directions from a local. We did a lot of asking for directions, which helped sharpen our Spanish speaking skills.

Heading into the Mexican outback, we gained altitude, heading up into the 7000 to 8000 foot elevations. We forded several streams, (heading out on foot first to make sure the depth was not too much for our Renault Megane rental car). We went through dozens of dusty little villlages. Every native we spoke to was extremely nice to us and helpful.

As we approached the 8000 foot elevation and near the summit of our mountain pass, we asked for directions once again, and the local guy looked at the ground clearance under our rental car and said, in Spanish, that he didn't recommend we continue. He said that we'd have to ford a stream further along where the riverbed was lined with basketball sized boulders, and we could get stuck or damage the car. He recommended and alternate route; unfortunately this route added another 8 hours to our trip.

We decided to take his advice, so we took another dirt road and ended up in the town of Ayutla. There we stayed in the only hotel in town, a fairly simple inn on the town square.

If only we had known, the next town along that road, Cuautla, was a pretty scenic town with some nice hotels. Cuautla would have been a nicer place to spend the night.

The next morning we drove from there north to Talpa De Allende and from there back to P.V.

(Photo: Francois checks out the depth of a stream we are about to ford)

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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01/15/2009 | Judy Armstrong
What an adventure, but it sounds a little scarifying! I'm glad you made it safely to your destination.
Stopover in Tecolotlan
01/11/2009, Tecolotlan, Jalisco

On the way back from lake Chapala we stopped in the small rural town of Tecolotlan. This is a real authentic Mexican town. I think we´re the only Anglos in the whole town. Whereas the town is poor to modest at best, we find it to be clean, litter and graffiti-free, and the people apparently have great pride in it. The people are really friendly, as they are everywhere in Mexico.

We´re staying at a little hotel in town (150 pesos a night) and right now are at an internet cafe.

photos to follow.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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01/24/2009 | roberto
my parents where born and rased in tecolotlan and they love it. it is a very welcoming place and you would love to go and see the beautiful places in and outside of there. i too have gone to see tecolotlan and it is very, very beautiful. so stop by and see the eye sites and meet some people.

Lake Chapala

We arrived at Lake Chapala yesterday afternoon, and enjoyed lunch at the house of friends Michel and Vivianne. They are French expatriates who have lived here 12 years. We last saw them in Mazatlan two years ago.
Afterward we checked in to the Hotel Real de Chapala. It's a very fancy hotel on the shores of the lake. Today we'll visit the towns of Chapala and Ijijic.

Photos to follow.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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01/11/2009 | Larry & Karen
finally was able to connect to your site, thanks to Michael.... your link on the sail blog goes to Face Book....

Sounds like a superb trip.... I have not been to Guadalahara in 40+ years, it was always fun to go there in my late teens and early 20's. Your current side trip sounds great, Karen & I are taking notes for future road trips to Mexico. We both really enjoy it there.

Hopefully you and the boys are getting a little surfing in while in Mazatlan. I remember the curl there being one of the best I ever surfed.... I wish you, Pascale, Francois, and Antoine a very happy new year, and continued safe voyage. We look forward to your next update.

Love to you all;
Larry & Karen

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