11/30/2013, Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz
Thanksgiving in La Cruz.
Marisa and I went to Thanksgiving dinner with Lee, Cathy and Ben to the Black Forrest, a German restaurant here in La Cruz. They were serving an American style turkey dinner, complete with salad, rolls, mashed potato, dressing, gravy including coffee and dessert. The turkeys were baked, brought to your table and carved by the owner to your request for about $235 pesos or just about $20 US per person. Not a bad deal and they did a great job. They had a nice wine list as well, that was extra but again very reasonable.
In speaking with the owner while she carved our turkey we learned they are the oldest "surviving" restaurant in La Cruz, predating Philo's by a few months. She and her husband are from Germany where they both were in the restaurant/hotel industry in Germany. They came here to open their own restaurant after visiting Puerta Vallarta. They believed that the La Cruz/Bucarias area was in its early stages of tourist development and they could get in on the ground floor as opposed to PV, which was by then of course substantial. Small business and entrepreneurial-ship thrives in Mexico, which is a land of mostly small business and shop keepers.
Anyway, they made a hit of it and have had a successful run. Their 15th Anniversary party will be held this coming Tuesday evening, I plan to be there.
We saw "Lobo" at Ya-Ya's restaurant, what a treat. His music is characterized as "new flamenco", great music in a small venue. I bought a CD, "Lobo 1985" and am enjoying it now. Wolfgang "Lobo" Fink is a German, and now lives between La Cruz and San Miguel Allende. What an entertaining and personable guy.
We have quite a bit of surge in the marina, which is good, this will clear out the remaining red tide. Pool party today and bar-b-Que sponsored by the marina to welcome the arriving cruisers. Sounds like a plan.
11/29/2013, Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz
We brought Pacifico back from the Puerta Vallarta Marina on Sunday, 11/23 to a lingering red tide. I had an auto pilot problem that needed to be dealt with, which took a couple of days and ultimately turned out to be 'self induced'. We took Pacifico out for a sea trial, which went well and had a bonus event, whales breaching here in the bay. It was close enough to be exciting, yet far enough away to not be threatening. Once back in at our slip we decided to stick around for a couple of days to see Oceanside YC friends Lee Pryor and Cathy Sweet along with Ben Farrell who were flying in on the Wednesday the 27th to Lee and Cathy's new condo here in La Cruz. Fortunately the oppressive tropical heat we had been experiencing began to abate as did the red tide and by Thursday temperatures were in the mid 80's in the daytime and with less humidity and mid 60's at night. The red tide is almost gone and fish are returning to the marina. Almost perfect!
The community of La Cruz is nestled in among low coastal hills along the north side of Bandaras Bay that are quite tropical, almost jungle so needless to say it's quite green. La Cruz services the marina, the boating community and nearby condominiums and residential areas mostly owned and inhabited by either ex-pats or at least snowbirds along with a following of tourists, all very heavily weighted by Canadians and the overflow from the nearby town of Bucarias, also favored by the Canadians. That means we have an abundance of restaurants of various tastes and budgets and as mentioned before a great music scene. In fact tonight, "Los Lobos" formerly of Willie and Lobos is entertaining at one of the local restaurants.
The community has grown and developed, but it still has that Mexican village appeal. The two main streets are cement paved, but most side streets are still paved with stone. Roosters routinely wander the streets, periodically crowing and horses are kept in town. Kids here go to school locally and are always playing in the side streets in the afternoons since there is very little vehicular traffic. The grocery stores, called "abbarotes" are all small, friendly and locally owned, except for one OXXO, which is an equivalent to a 7/11. There is foreign investment here and some of the restaurants are owned by ex-pats, U.S., Canadian and German.
That's about it for what's going on here. The photo above is at the gate at the entrance to the marina. The afternoon attendant coaxes some of the iguanas down out of the trees around the gate area with food and this one while still wild has almost become his pet. We saw a few of these fellows around the docks at Marina Vallarta as well, but none were as docile or as approachable as this one. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
11/27/2013, Marina Vallarta
After checking into the marina I left the boat and took a local taxi to the airport for $50 pesos or $4.00 U.S. Once there I had a beer at a cantina in the airport; oops, I forgot all airports charge way too much, again about $50 pesos for that beer vs $15-25 at most restaurants we frequent down here.
While waiting for Marisa's arrival I inquired about taxi service back to the marina, $180 pesos! The rational is that this is Federal property and the taxi services have to pay large fees to operate there. The local taxis may only drop off, but not right at the door, just down a bit and may not pick up fares before leaving. I inquired of an apparent U.S. couple also waiting for passengers of the taxi situation. We struck up a conversation, but before we could finish Marisa came out. She and I were talking and she said she had met some really nice people on the flight. They were from the Stockton area and she wanted to wait for them. As it turns out the people I was talking to were waiting for those folks so we had all kind of met. Best part is that they had a rented van and offered to take us back to the marina. Not only that, but we all went to dinner together at one of their favorite local 'mariscos' or seafood places on the way, "Mauricio's". This restaurant was difficult to find in a working area and it was good! We all got along well and as it turns out one of them, Lee, has connections to Riverside, my home town and we know at least one person in common. It is a small world. This is our group photo pictured above; Dave & Marisa, Mary & Blair, Annette & Lee.
We enjoyed our new friends company and their gracious ride back to the marina. That's what makes travel fun. Then it was back to the boat and the next day we were up and into Puerta Vallarta, next episode!
11/27/2013, Puerto Vallarta
Again, a late post, I'm playing catch up here from Marina La Cruz. I left Pta. de Mita on Thursday November 21, bound for Marina Vallarta about 17 miles away. That marina is the oldest of the four in this bay and is closest to downtown Puerto Vallarta and is very close to the airport. Marisa was flying in that afternoon and it seemed it would make it easier to meet her and we wanted to be close to the city for a day or two. The photo above is of the entry approach into the channel and of two docked cruise ships. This area is used by cruise ships to disembark passengers because of it's proximity to downtown and deep water. The Mexican Navy has a station there as well as their Coast Guard and the Port Captain. Once past the cruise ships the channel leads off the port (left) about ¼ mile into the Marina Vallarta basin, which is surrounded by shops, restaurants, hotels and condos. This facility is also the oldest marina in the area and unfortunately has become pretty run down and lacking in services, but it is still a great spot for a few days, although there are some pretty large boats slipped there permanently. Location, location, location.
Once inside and safely tucked away I succumbed to one of the swarm of boat workers that meet you when you dock and I paid to have the boat cleaned up. This fellow, Daniel, did a very nice job at what would be a close price to the U.S. As I was told by other boaters, that's the going rate here. Daniel's English was quite good and he was regular crew on a larger power boat. I felt comfortable with him vs. the day workers who are cheaper because of his familiarity with boats. As I say, he did a great job and it was really hot, not what I wanted to do before picking up Marisa at the airport so worth the pesos.
11/20/2013, Pta. de Mita
Sorry, have not posted for a few days, this one is back dated. It is now 11/27, gosh, it's been a week! Time flies.
OK, so how do I get to shore? Simple, the dinghy or "water car" as some call them. This is "Pacifico's" "Clara" (but of course!). It's a simple inflatable 8'8" boat with inflatable floor and keel, and a 6 hp Tohatsu outboard. Bill, do you recognize the motor cover? This inflatable boat is not as efficient as a "RIB" or Ridged Inflatable Boat, but it works well enough and stores better. You will notice the nice "chaps" that Marisa made for "Clara" our last trip down, she did a great job and they are holding up well!
I've been to Pta. Mita several times before and am currently anchored just a hundred yards or so from where we were in December 2010 when Marisa and I came down, but I've not gone to shore here before. I guess I thought it was all condo property, but have been pleasantly surprised to find that it is not. I took "Clara" to shore and found a good spot to beach just inside a small break water. I forgot my sandals, that happens sometimes, so I didn't walk far. Fortunately there is a nice little beach cantina about 50 feet from where I landed the dinghy. After a simple lunch and a cold Pacifico or two I putted around the shore line here and found a couple of spots that are used by paddle boarders to learn how to catch swell, at least when it's small like it was today. Good place to explore, glad I came ashore.
After my excursion it was back to work. The bottom looked ugly along the water line from the red tide in La Cruz. I got in the water and started scrubbing with a soft cloth and found that it is stained and does not come off very well. I will have to try it again with a scrubby tomorrow. I did as much of the bottom as I could get without a huka or tank and found that overall it was pretty clean, but devoid of bottom paint on all the leading edges and rudder. I had "Pacifico" hauled last spring and did a two coat overall with three along the water line, using ablative paint. I don't know if it's today's new anti-fouling paints or not, but there is little of the most recent coats left, disappointing to say the least. I have been using ablative bottom paints for some years now and they've always lasted two to four years, this one isn't a year old and it is in very poor condition. I'll have to research my records for the brand and type to be sure I get it right before I identify it here.
That's about it, water is clear, 80-ish, air is 85-ish, very pleasant in the anchorage.
11/19/2013, Punta de Mita
Checking in from Punta de Mita, Bandaras Bay. Yesterday, Monday 11/18 I finally quit with the excuses and got off the dock. It's funny how those things can grow tentacles. The red tide that seemed to be abating was coming back so that was the determining factor for me to leave. I had been convincing myself to stay and go into Charley's for pizza and MNF last night, just another excuse not to leave, but I needed to run the water maker which was pushing the limits to either pickle or re-start. La Cruz is a great little Mexican town that accommodates cruisers and winter snow birds alike and dock life was comfortable, but it will all be there next week.
I got out of the marina and found the northerlies filling in as had been predicted, 15-20 and in no time I was out of the red tide. It seems the red tide has been pushed back into that n/e corner of the bay. After a run out for a couple of miles I tacked over and made for Punta de Mita, about 6 miles distant. I was able to make water all the way into the bay where I anchored about ¼ mile off the beach in 20 feet of reasonably clear water and no red tide. There are ten other boats anchored here, but it's a large bight or bay with plenty of room. Punta de Mita is the northerly end of Bandaras Bay and it's about 15 miles across to the south end at Cabo Corrientes. There is an indention or bight in the coast here that provides good protection from the north, so while I had 15-20 out of the north there was no fetch, or distance across the water from land and consequently not much wave action. That all calmed down during the night and the fleet swung around to the s/e on the morning's breeze.
Once in I put the boat away, lots of things to tend to on a sail boat; chores first, then a cold Pacifico, then swim. With water at about 80+ there was no hesitation. The air temps are in the mid to upper 80's and still some humidity, the water felt great. I made a pasta primavera, with a whole grain pasta, a glass of wine and just enjoyed the tranquility (another great name for a boat). The photo above is from the anchorage looking easterly at the hills which would be in the direction of La Cruz, about 8 miles distant as the crow flies. This little bay also has its developed side, complete with condos and a Four Season's resort and golf course along the north and west side. Its quiet here, no marina, just a breakwater for the panga fleet and pretty much low rise development.
Up today and checked things over, then breakfast and another swim, it's still over 80 in the cabin first thing in the morning. I participated in the HF radio Amigo NET, an SSB radio net that serves cruising sail boats here in Pacific Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. I could hear boats as far away as Aqua Verde in the Sea and the NET controller in La Paz said I was "booming" in. Good to know. Today I'll get the dinghy down and after some hull cleaning I'll head to the beach for lunch. There are quite a few palapa restaurant/bars to service the beach going vacationers that frequent these places, all a bonus for us cruisers.
That's about it.
11/16/2013, Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz
Well the guys are gone and I'm figuring out what to do solo here in La Cruz. I had mentioned that the music scene here is quite good especially for such a small community. A lot of ex-pats living in this area with musical talents and a few, like Philo, who have made a living at it. He has "Philo's Bar" which seems to be the in place for entertainment, but it is wide spread. Not that I'm going out every night, only about 50/50, more so than at home, but I enjoy the boat too. Last night dock neighbor Dan on "Misty" from Pt. Angeles,Wa. came over; we shared the last of my California Bota Box wine and tall tales.
I've made it a point to meet my dock neighbors, all good folks. I got a tour of the most beautifully restored Islander Freeport 36 "Elegant Sea" that I've seen yet, complete with a/c and a new Beta 38 with twin alternators. You could eat out of the engine compartment and bilge. Eat your heart out Manfred! (that's an inside joke)
I mentioned that this area has been suffering through a red tide, the water in here was thick enough to spoon out with a fork, truly a dead sea for a few days. Needless to say there has been a huge fish kill off. This is all naturally occurring, but in an enclosed marina when the tides are not particularly in the high/ low cycle everything just collects. The marina staff has been working to ready the place for the seasonal influx of boaters, but have been diverted from their tasks to scoop out thousands of dead fish floating around in here. I won't post any photos of it, but you can imagine. This morning Mike from PV Sails hosted a 'lets drag a fishing net behind a couple of dinghies to help get the floaters in the channels' party. I gave a hand and met some nice folks in doing so. The water is getting better, even some fish returning to fill in the void after the kill off. Nature at work.
That's all I'm gong to say today, except that the rain has stopped and I'll try to post some photos on the blogs Marisa put up for me while we were coming down to up date them. And the photo of the lady making the tortillas was from Cocina Economic, Bill and Buddy's favorite spot!
11/13/2013, Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, I tried to post this a couple of hours ago but it did go, so trying again. Sorry if it's a duplicate, I'll delete later.
I'm solo here in La Cruz. I took Bill and Buddy to the airport Sunday 11/10 via bus transport and a stop at Home Depot on the way back. Gee, PV is almost like home, kinda. It has been hot here and humid, started to break today (Wednesday) with a front coming in, only 97* with 20% humidity in the cockpit, 94* in the cabin as I'm writing this. The other day it was 80*/80% at 7 AM and went up from there! The marina is not very full, first of the Baja Ha-Ha rally boats should start arriving in a day or two and the marina should start to fill it in. Slip rates here were about $500 a month when I was here three years ago, it's now $650 plus water, elect and IVA so closer to $750 for my boat and the store, bar and restaurant are closed. Bummer! The staff says they are going to open again, soon, but the boaters say they have been saying that all summer and I see no activity in that regard, also seems maintenance has fallen off a bit. Oh well, it's early in season, we will see how it goes. It is still La Cruz, a great place to be.
Marisa posted some short blogs for me based on what I had said in my Sat phone emails to her and I need to update the photos. I have the Banda Ancha data card connection and it is working fairly well so I have email routinely. I also have a local phone, donated by Bill when he left. My US phone is still in service but with limited minutes so it's off most of the time, I only check intermittently for messages; in fact, don't leave a message unless it's urgent. I'll see that you've called, it burns minutes just to check in!
We had quite the varied trip coming down. Initially a lot of downwind sailing with the gennoa polled out, nice ride, but that was only the first two days after Ensenada. After that it became variable, but not necessarily light. We had wind from every direction, seas as well. We bashed our way out of Bahia Santa Maria into 20-25 knots and soon had gusts to 30 with s/w seas on the nose. It was ugly. Getting the anchor up I was on the bow and took two waves over the head when we dipped into a couple of short troughs. We were going to go into Mag Bay to get inside and up against the mountains of the islands, but winds shifted to the east and blew like hell, choppy confused seas. Ugly number two. "Raymond" had reincarnated and was sending stuff up at us until the final leg into Cabo. We waited for that to pass then tropical depression "18e", shortly thereafter named "Sonia" shut the door and we were stuck. They closed the harbor, but all it did was rain, no wind, no seas. Walked to the beach and the bay was flat as a millpond, no swell at all. I guess it was all out in the middle. When we finally got out we had quite the off wind sleigh ride the first day actually hitting 8-9 and 10 knots (briefly) surfing down some faces with pretty big winds and following seas. We thought we were going to get 'pooped' and put hatch-boards in. That abated the further east and south we got until we were motoring again. We slowed up the last night night out with a wild lightening show in the mountains all around Bandaras Bay. Bill and I didn't want to get close to that stuff so delayed our arrival by several hours until Buddy convinced us it was all in vain. A good trip all in all, but as I said, very, very different weather and conditions for going south along the Baja. We made good time, 8 days to Cabo and 48 hours to Banderas Bay.
After our arrival here in La Cruz we played tourists; took a bus into PV and found a new micro brewery there in the old town area, "Los Muertos Brewing Company". What a name, but the beer was good and great hamburgers. Made a bus trip to San Pancho to see Bill's friend Chris at his beach house there, nice digs. We walked around La Cruz, not a lot open yet, but fortunately Tacos on the Street just opened this week and we hit that twice. Another good find was "Cocina Economica" Buddy's favorite. I feel like I put all the pounds back on that I lost on the trip down! Since the guys left I've discovered a new wood fired pizza joint and sports bar "Charley's" for MNF, Tuesday it was open mic night at La Britannia where all the local talent come to jam and tonight it's Ben the guitar soloist at Gecko Rojo. During the day it's boat projects, laundry and I was invited to accompany our friend Karen Tenorio from the last voyage down by bus to Punta Mita Tuesday for lunch. Bill and I had a chance meeting with Karen at the local farmers market Sunday before they left. It was nice to see Karen again and glad to get a locals lay of the land.
Marisa flies down 11/22 for Thanksgiving break, then home and back again 12/18 for Christmas break. By then the boat hopefully will be in Barra de Navidad, or "the Christmas sand bar" about 150 nm further down the coast.
That's about it from here. Quiet in the marina and town, but at night all the gringos come out, mostly Canadians this early in season since it's already winter up there. This place has a surprisingly good music scene for a small venue, something different nightly, seems the restaurants all share the talent. OK, I've tried to post this three times now, with pictures then fewer pictures so this time without pictures, I'll post them if this is successful!
We pulled into La Cruz about 230 this afternoon, hot and humid. We could have made it sooner but slowed to let the lightening along the coastal mountains subside with the day. Seems it's a nightly event. The place is pretty empty compared to times past, but it isn't season yet. Also, the restaurant and store here at the marina have closed, supposedly for the summer, but some of the residents are concerned that it may be more than that, anyway, oh well.
We had a good crossing from Cabo, got in under 48 hours to Pta. Mita so a little under 6 knot average. Some nice sailing and we caught some fish too, but not keepers. A nice whaoo broke our line and got a way (honest, must have been 5-6 foot) Then we got a sail fish, got him up to the boat and got the hook out and let him go, then we got a marlin, about 5-6 foot so small but what a fish. Let him go too. What we want is another tuna or mahi-mahi!
Bill and Buddy have booked their flights out this Sunday, so I'm solo until Marisa comes down later in the month, lots of boat projects to work on so I'll be busy.
All in all it was a good trip down, very interesting weather, very different conditions throughout the trip.
That's it from here, hope all is well in your world.
11/05/2013, Between Cabo and La Cruz
Hi all, we are half way between Cabo and La Cruz, although we may stop at Pta. Mita if all is good. Good wind out off the n/w yesterday, again at sometimes 20+ more than called for in the gribs, etc. but managed well. Pretty good following sea too, Bill and I were trying to get pictures of it, but that is always difficult to capture in scale. Went light and we motored all night, still doing so but it is filling in from n/e so hope to be sailing soon. All is well, eating well and getting enough rest, looking forward to La Cruz and Tacos Street though!