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South Pacific Tour/Demelza
San Blas/ Nayarit
03/19/2010

San Blas scares off a lot of people. First you have the bar, breaking waves and shallows of the entrance to contend with, then once you are in you have the famous bugs,the interesting character of Captain Norm Goldie; the self proclaimed maritime mother duck of the area, and if Crocodiles scare you yes they are there too. If you are willing to take a chance or if you are like us and wander in there unaware then it is a convenient , interesting, secure and absolutely wonderful place to spend some time and generally for someone who will "give it a go", a lot of time. People get their hooks into the mud of the estuary and don`t want to leave. Such is the case of Demelza. After getting Torrey and Lucie on the road again, Elizabeth and I set out to explore this fascinating place. One of my passions is birds; I could easily become an avid bird watcher. No better place than the mangroves and channels around San Blas. One of the highlights of San Blas, as the case for most Mexican towns,is the central square. As luck would have it there was a Migratory Bird Festival on during our visit. Bird watchers from afar had come to celebrate the Estuary. Every night for a week there were various events in the square, the highlight for us was the Guadalajara Junior Symphony Orchestra. The square was always jammed with young and old enjoying the beautiful warm evenings. The Estuary tour of San Blas is a must. Russ,Heidi, and Will, of Tillicum 1 met us at 7 in the morning beside the bridge and sure enough there was a panga operator there that would give us the tour. It was all it is chalked up to be ; the day was spent slowly winding our way through the channels with the birds, crocodiles, turtles, and the wonderful tropical plants of the area. A swim in the fresh water spring that is the head of the channel was a refreshing highlight. A visit to the Crocodile breeding farm gave us some nice photos of these huge ancient reptiles. The following day we spent also with Tillicum 1 crew on the beach doing what most Mexican tourists do, lying on the beach, playing in the breakers and sand. It was a lovely day off the boat. San Blas has so much going for it: the estuary anchorage, the Singlar Marina which is cheap, new, and most of all convenient to the rest of the town, wonderful restaurants, a beautiful beach for surfing, and of course that typically Mexican beautiful square full of families and laughing freely playing kids. Every night in the square we met people from all over that made San Blas their winter hideaway, and for good reason: a hidden away gem as close to typical Mexican as one can find.

Passage preparation
David
03/01/2010, Puerto Vallarta

March in Marina de la Cruz is a beehive of actvity. The Puddle Jumpers are getting ready for, in most cases ,the biggest passage of their lives in fact it is one of the longest anywhere. 3 weeks at sea on their way to the Marqueses and the gateway to the South Pacific. Everyone who sails dreams of the South Pacific. There has been such a huge commitment to get here and everyone is nervously busy with last minute repairs and seminars as put on at the beautiful Marina. Demelza, Elizabeth and I were amongst that group.
Not all was work as we spent some time at Philos bar and restaurant: the Vancouver olympics were on and he had CTV`s excellent coverage on the big screen. The Canada /US hockey was especially raucous and fun. The beer advertisements made us a tad homesick. The closing ceremony was fantastic.
I really wanted to catch the Sicorro/ San Benidicto island which lie 300 miles off the Mexican coast on our track to The Marqueses. Because it is a marine reserve you have to have a permit to visit. Lovely Maria at Philos worked hard and acquired that for us. Cost about 600 pesos.
Demelza was hauled at Opeqimar boat yard in PV where we painted the bottom,polished the hull, cleaned the heat exchanger and various odd jobs. 6 days and some times it was like an oven as the boat yard is flanked by tourist high rises. Spent some time with s/v Chanty, Ivan and Jane from England. Got to know another pretty green boat Brian and Dorthy off Tagish. March 12 2010 Demelza splashed in and was more or less ready for passagemaking although Gordon was to arrive in a few days with more boat parts from Waypoint Marine, Sidney. Back we went accross Banderas Bay to anchor at La Cruz. Elizabeth flew home Mar 18 and Gordon was coming in a couple of days later. He was laden with boat parts including a 5 ft shaft from Hydovane for our neighbors Mike and Hyo on IO. Gordon and my mission was provisioning which we did with a few bus trips to the big stores in PV. We had to have enough food!
Another trip across the bay to Paradise villge for our Zarpa exiting Mexico. Full of water, fuel and provisions we headed out mid morning under motor until the wind filled in at the mouth of the bay. Passing Punta Mita and the Islas Tres Marietas we headed for open ocean. Quite an introspective time. March 23 2010

Guadalajara/Jalisco
02/07/2010

I have always loved the way the name rolls off your tongue ; Guadalajara. Demelza was safe at Singlar marina San Blas so we decided to take a bus trip inland to one of the major cultural centers in Mexico; Guadalajara. Peter on Delphis(from Queen Charolottes) had agreed to look after her. We caught the 7am bus in San Blas which took us through Tepic, the Agave cactus fields around Tequila and on to Guadalajara; love Mexican buses. We might as well do it right and stay at the Francis hotel which is just off the central squares of the city. The Francis was a monastery from colonial Mexico of the mid1600s of 4 floors circling an open central court yard. Gorgeous with Mexican charm. Our time there was spent in the many squares and fountains amongst the old Spanish architecture that forms the center of this huge city. It so reminded us of our time in Spain many years ago just after we were married. This area is the home of the Mariachi so music and bands were everywhere.For $11 we caught the philharmonic; were we styling. One of our side trips was to Tlaquepaque with all its art galleries, fine restaurants and classy Mexicans. Another trip took us on a open bus tour of Guadalajara and Zapopan. One night out was the restaurant La Fonde de Sao Miguel Arcangel where we were served amongst parrots, fountains, and old Mexican artifacts: a must see in Guadalajara. After 4 days we made our way back to San Blas, Demelza and the task at hand which was getting to Puerto Vallarta and prepering for passage making.

bikes, whales and Blue Footed Boobies
Jan 2009
01/24/2010

Once you leave the dock or maybe just your back yard you realize the wonderful and exciting things that people are doing. Torrey Pass and Lucy Poulin had left Alaska the previous Sept and were simply pedaling to Argentina. They are from Montreal and have spent their lives on bikes. Bike couriers, competitors and guides. They have never owned a vehicle. Torrey an English prof and Lucy in design with Chatelaine magazine ( Lucy is not a Chatelaine type of girl) but they wanted to do something of note. Pedaling from Alaska to Argentina qualifies. They arrived in La Pas and ran into a bit of a roadblock; the Sea of Cortez. Kurt from s/v Raven ,after meeting them in the bathroom of Marina Palmira, brought them for us to meet this "lovely Canadian couple". How could I help them; I have a 32 foot boat? Soon we had a tape measure out to size up their bikes, equipment, and our Maggie ( dingy). My main concern was protecting their equipment from salt water. Elizabeth and I decided we would give it a shot,we would transport them across the Sea. Packed up we headed out beating into 20k of wind. They had hardly been on a boat before; soon Lucy was green and puking over the side but still willing to give it a go. We had better anchor and get them feeling better. Bahia Ballandra where they snorkelled and spent the night. Lack of wind the following day found us motoring south in sun and smooth. Muertos, then Fraile anchorages as we got to know each other. Their metabolism was still on pedaling mode, a fact that they had warned us about. Boy could they pack away the groceries.At Fraile anchorage we dinged to Cabo Pulmo for a lovely day of snorkelling and swimming with the sea lions. Crossing was delayed for a day waiting for a weather window as a northerner raged. Pulling anchor with their bikes and equipment tarped in Maggie on the deck we were off. As it turned out we didn`t have to worry; smooth seas on an overnight passage to Isla Isabela, a nature reserve nw of Puerto Vallarta. Nice to be with people that are enthusiastic and keen. Lucy and Torrey kept night watch and enjoyed flying fish leaping over the boat . Closing on Isla Isabela as the sun rose over the Mexican mainland whales breeched and sea birds were everywhere. They liked it, you just had to be there. Anchoring at Isabela was a bit of a challenge but we got hooked with the help of Chris on Namaste. The next 3 days were spent ashore photographing Boobies and frigate birds that nest on the island. While on board we watched whales breach and slap the surface a short distance off shore. The last day caught us weathered in by a northerner; large waves rolled past. We were glad we were there hunkered down behind the island ,hoping the wind didn`t switch to east or south. Purchasing fish off the locals kept us fed; we were almost out of food. Wind subsided and we made the passage into San Blas entering over the bar with assistance from Captain Norm Goldie who was on shore with a radio. Our time with Torrey and Lucy, 9 days in all, was coming to and end. They had been such great company not to mention cooks and crew. They had willingly done it all. After a day of provisioning we had heavy hearts to see them pack their bikes and pedal off. We had enjoyed immensely our time with them, what fine ambassadors for young Canadians as they pedal to their goal of Argentina. Elizabeth and I realized how much we missed our boys; Torrey and Lucy had filled that void for awhile. They are currently in Argentina nearing their goal. Check them out at pedalingsouth.com.

Landfall Isla Isabela
01/22/2010

Sun rose over the mainland and Isla Isabela, whales breached all around and sea birds circled and dove for their food. You just had to be there!

Copper canyon
Nov-Dec 09
11/20/2009

Small boats take you so many more places than watery passages. We were driving to Mexico and the Copper Canyon with truck and camper. We had purchased a life raft in Vancouver in the summer of 09. You can`t fly a life raft; explosive goods. Sounds great anyway. Five days of driving took us through the States, visiting Bryce Canyon and friends along the way, and into San Carlos. Demelza had been through Hurricane Jimena in Aug giving some tense times moments and feeling so helpless and distant. Marina Seca had done a wonderful job of communicating and looking after the 200 or more boats in storage. Hurricanes are not supposed to come that far north in the sea. The area and yard was devastated by the flooding so what would we find on board? Everything was fine. High water mark from the river that swept through the yard was 3ft up the keel. Another foot or two and all those boats would have been swept into a massive pile of broken fiberglass and aluminum. After cleaning her up and showing her some love for 3 days we continued south on our rubber tired adventure towards Creel; the gateway to the famed Barranca del Cobre and 1 1/2 days drive farther south. We were to meet Gordon and Nancy in Creel. They flew to La Pas then ferried to Los Mochis where they got on the scenic train ride that brought them up through the canyon to Creel. This Albertan camper and van making it`s way through the crowded narrow streets of Creel was intercepted by Gordon at the main square. They had arrived 20 minutes before. Gotta love a plan that comes together nicely. We hired a guide and tour that took us down the white knuckle track to the depths of the canyon and Batopilas where we would spend 2 nights. En route we would visit cave dwellers and villagers of the canyon; the Raramuri/ Tarahumara Indians, the worlds greatest long distance runners. They live there relatively unaffected by modern civilization tending their marijuana plots. Every once in awhile the government goes in and rousts them out, I think more of a show than anything. There were some guns around and very nice pickups. No problemo. Hotel Mary was simple, clean and so typically Mexican gorgeous. Batopilas was a silver mining area at one time. I had so much fun photographing the buildings of the minesite. Let your imagination take you back in time. We had gone from the pine forest logging and frosty mornings of Creel to a semi tropical climate at the bottom of the canyon with papaya mangoes and avocados. A drop of 1850 meters. Leaving Creel we headed towards Alamos near the coast east of Navojoa. We heard of this World Heritage site, an example of Spanish colonialism that escaped demolition after Mexico attained independence in 1821. It did not disappoint. Ex pats are rebuilding this once grand silver mining town. Enough of dry land travels. Lets go sailing: 2 days drive took us back to San Carlos and Demelza. Relaunch was fun and successful and we were off across the sea in 25k of wind and pretty rough seas, leaving San Carlos well before daylight. Nancy bonded with the side berth for the crossing and remained pretty well horizontal. Don`t think anyone puked but they had good reason to.Water flew about everywhere. Demelza and I were having a blast after too long on dry ground. Santa Rosilia was our landfall. Punta Santa Ines then back into Bahia Conception where we visited Gordo and Gwen in Playa Santispac. We had met them the previous July in Liard Hot springs in northern BC on our way to the Yukon to visit our son Brad and Lindsey. Small world. Punta Pulpito offered us some grand vistas while hiking and a chance to get off Demelza. Time was getting tight so at Loreto we put Gordon and Nancy ashore to bus to La Pas and fly home to Victoria. Elizabeth and I were on our own once more so stopped at Honeymoon cove on Isla Danzante. Agua Verde welcomed us once more then on to the red rocks of Puerto Los Gatos. There we ran into a couple ,the girl a crazy Canuck, who were hiking from Agua Verde south with their dog. They were dry and beat after wandering around in dry gulches and impossible desert mountains. You cannot carry enough water to sustain yourself and a dog in that heat. Salt water doesn`t cut it and that isn`t even accessible most of the time. Further south was familiar territory on our way back to La Pas. We had a truck and camper to get back to Alberta. Before we left La Pas and Marina Palmira we realized yet another dream when we swam with the whale sharks off el Magote. These gentle giants gave us a nice show. Storing Demelza in lovely Marina Palmira we took to Mexican public transport once again. Ferry to Los Mochis bus to Guaymas then taxi back to marina Seca. Headed north once more and after 5 days of driving were were in a blizzard from Lethbridge home. We are really getting around.We had paddled above the arctic circle in the Canadian north, toured Mexico by truck and camper, and sailed the Sea of Cortez. All in 1 year. My perfect year. We had a lovely Christmas at home with the family this time with another granddaughter Andrea along with Kaitlyn.

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