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Voyages of SV Ponderosa
Mexico Year 2 - Carrizal
02/21/2012, Ensenada Carrizal

February 6 - 8, 2012: I stocked up on goods from the French Baker so we wouldn't go thru bread withdrawals. He makes an excellent living catering to the tastes of the cruisers. We slipped out of the lagoon at high tide and pointed south to our next destination of Ensenada Carrizal. This is a very nice secluded anchorage where few locals come to except for snorkeling. The water is very clear and still warm so Bob took the opportunity to scrub the waterline and clean the bottom and prop. The only drawback to this area is the southwest swell that rocks the boats. A dinghy cruise around the bay for a few photos shots rounded out our stay.

Ensenada Carrizal 19° 05.688N 104° 26.228W

Mexico Year 2 - Sea of Cortez Last Crossing
02/14/2012, Los Muertos

April 17 - 18, 2012: We cleared the breakwater about 8 am facing about a 30 hour passage across the Sea of Cortez to the Baja, destination - Los Muertos. I was happy the entrance to the estuary was calm and the dredge was sitting idle. Also, the skies were clear with no fog in sight. It was good omen except for the lack of wind.

The day passed rather quickly. Eventually, the wind filled in but where else but right on our nose. Why, why, why does it never come from the correct direction? There was one highlight of the journey ... seeing the green flash when the sun set. That was spectacular! Finally the conditions were just right with clear skies and good visibility. The night skies were just as awesome ... so many bright stars along with the milky way. Some of those bright stars kept moving; lots of ship traffic including a ferry and a couple large fishing vessels. Bob also saw a green flash as the sun rose; I can't verify that story since I was happily sleeping.

The morning of the second day found us with flat calm seas and no wind. The remaining 50 miles was a piece of cake. The harbor master at Los Muertos was rather an imposing figure. He came up next to the boat blew, promptly dived but wiggled his tail as if to say hello. Nothing like being greeted by a humpback whale as we entered the anchorage. It's hot and dry over here with the water an incredible blue to aqua in color and very clear.

We had zipped in our dodger windows for this crossing. It was a good idea after getting soaked on our passage from Chamela to LaCruz. Again we encountered salt spray but also very cool temperatures at night. We actually wore long pants and fleece jackets; a first in a very long time. After a bit of food, it was nap time. I wish I was 20 again ... this cruising would be a lot easier.

Mexico Year 2 - Adios Mazatlan
02/14/2012, Mazatlan

April 12 - 16, 2012: The water is nesting our boat now and it sure feels good ... now it's time wash off all the yard dust once our hired hand completes the buffing and waxing the cabin top and cockpit. It's amazing the transformation from dull to a shiny spiffed up boat - Ponderosa is looking good.

Bob applied a couple more coats of Armada to the toe rail which polished off our varnish supply that we carried aboard. Hummmm, too bad we can't do any brightwork for awhile. I did the usual shopping, laundry and cleaning down below along with napping and visiting neighbors; a woman's work is never done.

Just when I thought peace and quiet would settle on Mazatlan after Holy Week, the motorcyclists arrived by the thousands. Apparently in years past, about 7,000 bikers would converge here in town. This year's estimate was only 4,000 but it sounded like 7,000. Lots of Harleys along with other well known bike makers were driven by people of all ages; mostly Mexicans but there was evidence of gringos joining in the fun. I'm not sure where or what all the activities entailed but it looked like everyone was having a good time. Well it's time to go ... all the chores are done, the freezer full and the weather looks good for a crossing to the Baja. Adios Mazatlan!

Mexico Year 2 - Barra de Navidad
02/05/2012, Barra de Navidad

January 25 - Feb 5, 2012: It's nice to be back to Barra de Navidad! This small community is one of the cleanest and most charming of the small Mexican towns. It sure doesn't hurt to be spoiled by the French baker with his delivery of fresh pastries and breads to your boat. Life moves rather slowly here.

We toured around the waterfront assessing all the hurricane damage. Unlike the U.S., these businesses simply blocked off the area of danger ... a few strategically placed chairs and tape and presto they are back in business. No OHSA, no building permits, no nothing! Life is simple and uncomplicated.
I have been busy sewing dorade and handrail covers and will moving onto fabricating the sun shade material between our dodger and bimini. We definitely have needed more sun protection while underway. At anchor we are well covered. The never ending boat chores keep on ticking like a good Timex watch. I have also been spending a lot of computer time organizing our e-books and digital movies. This new e-stuff is not without its burden to keep organized.

Bob worked on the brightwork in the cockpit and added a couple more coats of varnish. It has held up quite nicely thanks to being shaded by the bimini and dodger. Pretty soon I need to face re-oiling the teak down below. It's a constant battle to keep the woodwork dust free (well reasonably clean) especially when our hatches and portlights are open 24/7. Mexico is very dusty!

We wandered into Meleque for a bit of grocery shopping and a quick stop at the bank to exchange our $500 peso notes into small denominations. Rarely do you use $500 notes around town since most stores cannot make change. You stick with $20, $50, $100 & $200 peso notes plus the $10 peso coins. In some of the banks you take a number and wait your turn ... they flash your number along with the cashier window you can make your transaction at.

I am only exchanging about $3500 pesos into small bills and to my surprise the bank turned me away ... they could not make the transaction. Can you believe this??? A bank without enough money to handle the town's banking business. It totally blows me away! No wonder people hide their money in mattresses and tin cans. Last week we had stopped by to use the ATM machine and it didn't have enough money to disburse my request of $4000 pesos or about $300 USD. We always draw out our maximum daily cash limit to lessen the foreign transaction fees.

We will be leaving the lagoon tomorrow to make fresh water and dump our other tanks. There are several nice anchorages with 20-25 miles of Barra so it's easy to move around and take in different scenary. In the meantime, watching the Super Bowl is the most important item on the agenda. Let's hope for a good game!

Mexico Year 2 - Quiet Time at Anchor
01/25/2012, La Cruz

January 18 - 24, 2012: We escaped the La Cruz marina this morning and traveled the arduous mile out to the anchorage area. It is so easy to stay tied to a dock and not move ... but it "ain't" cheap. It's about $33 a night including the Mexican tax of 16%. But since I wanted to go home for Christmas and this is a safe place to leave the boat, I am not complaining just thankful we have the means to take a break from sailing.

Actually, being in the anchorage also allowed us to get caught up on just plain old normal life stuff. I worked on tracking and compiling our 2011 living expenses just so I got a feel for what we spent. It's surprising how quickly expenditures add up ... here's a brief recap:
• $9,000 - medical insurance, drugs, dentist
• $1,900 - storage unit rental
• $12,000 - food, clothing, gifts, laundry, bus/taxi fares & meals out
• $6,800 - car rentals, gas, airline tickets, phone & internet service, motels
• $22,300 - insurance, moorage, repairs, fuel

We have spent more than I thought we would but then again we haven't lived by a shoestring either. It all depends on what you want out of cruising. We carry full coverage on the boat even though it's paid for, some cruisers do not; they cover liability only. We wanted to go back to the states every 6 months to renew our visa, others get FM3 cards which allows them to stay in Mexico while renewing the card every year. We have enjoyed eating out more, to us it has been part of the experience. So it comes down to what you are comfortable with spending.

Quiet time is what we are enjoying while at anchor; some reading, watching movies and even getting to see some of the football playoff games. Our main sail had a hole worn in it so that needed patching and a few other chores got crossed off the list.

Monday, the 23rd, we weighed anchor for our overnight trip to Barra de Navidad. The weather reports weren't promising much for wind but it was time to move on. Banderas Bay was full of whales and a delight to watch. The waters were calm with a slight swell, it was mid-morning so my chances of not getting seasick were pretty good; I also took drugs just in case.
We arrived in Barra at 8 am Tuesday morning after traveling 153 nautical miles in 21 hours. Not enough wind to sail except for about 4 hours in the early evening. The morning was very overcast coming into the lagoon. I scanned the waterfront area with the binoculars to look at Hurricane Jova's damage it created to this community. Wow lots washed out beaches and sunken buildings along the whole area. It will be interesting to walk the town and see how it has changed.

Mexico Year 2 - Never Ending Social Life
01/18/2012, La Cruz

January 15 - 18, 2012: La Cruz hosts a Sunday Artisan market each week which the local gringos visit in full force ... including me as I spoiled myself with a Huichol bead work necklace, earrings and small statute of a pelican. I am now in search of special items to remind us of our visit here in Mexico. The beadwork is quite complicated and intricate as well as time consuming so I appreciate its value and beauty.

The social network is in full swing with boats arriving every day. It has been wonderful to catch up with cruising buddies that we have connected with as far north as Alaska and down the west coast and in the Sea of Cortez. Friendship, if anything, has been the most enjoyable portion of cruising.

We signed up for another guided tour, this time to the PV Botanical Gardens which were located on the south side of Banderas Bay. Again the road was quite the adventure with awesome sights of the water, elegant condos, hotels and local villages. The gardens, of course, were gorgeous hosting native Mexican plants and trees. Our lunch in the hacienda overlooked the river and walking trail with a delightful cool breeze keeping me at a comfortable temperature.

Time had to be spent mucking out the boat after all our playing and being gone for 3 weeks for the holidays. And the batteries needed to be equalized and the boat needed another washing and the laundry needed to be hauled up to the laundromat, etc, etc.

But there was a reward to all this hard work. Nine of us including Panta Rhei, Grace and Alex II hired a van to take us to the El Kleiff, a outrageously expensive restaurant located just a few miles from the botanical gardens residing on a cliff overlooking the bay. The views and sunset were spectacular from this uniquely designed building with several levels of dining area ... it's totally open to the elements. Along with wonderful food and drink, the local varmints made their presence trying to steal the bread ... the waiters called them Mexican raccoons and they did look like a raccoon but I think they may be a lemur (?). Not sure but regardless they were pesky little buggers.

Today, I am a boat potato and internet nerd!

01/22/2012 | Sandy & Linda
Glad you are having a good time. We enjoy your great descriptive letters.

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Ponderosa Voyages
Who: Bob Custer & Sherry Heen
Port: Issaquah, WA
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