30 March 2008 | La Cruz
Sunny, pleasant AM, blustery PM
PHOTO: Playa Rosa in Chamela
We left Barra de Navidad the Thursday before Easter and have stopped in every viable anchorage along the way coming north, mainly because of bumpy seas and a few mechanical disfunctions. We stopped in Careyes, Chamela and Ipala for overnighters, each time hoping for a little uninterrupted sleep, but not having brought any major drugs along, we were very short on shuteye by the time we arrived yesterday in La Cruz. Winds were only the normal sea breezes, but strong rollers jerked us hither and yon in the berth and kept us awake wondering if our anchor would hold. Here at Marina La Cruz we had credit for two days' stay and moved happily into a slip yesterday afternoon. Hot showers, an excellent meal at Los Amigos Taqueria on the Plaza, and a full night's sleep! And the dogs, of course, got a long walk last night. We're all feeling civilized again.
Internet here is sporadic, so rather than try to reiterate the day-to-day experiences, please see http://www.blissbloggin.com for details on each off these anchorages, some of which may be useful if you're headed that way.
NOT ALL CERVEZA AND CEVICHE
10 March 2008 | Barra de Navidad
Clear, chilly evenings, breezy afternoons
PHOTO: The dinghy landing dock, courtesy of the Sands Hotel
Just in case you think it's all margaritas and ceviche for us cruisers here in Mexico, lately we've seen some examples of the wild and hairy side of cruising life on the Costalegre (Happy Coast).
First, there was the report on the VHF radio morning net from a boat that had just arrived in Tenacatita. He said a Mexican navy vessel had approached his boat, with the intention of boarding. On deck were several sailors wearing black ski masks and carrying automatic weapons. The startled cruiser quickly contacted the US Coast Guard, which radioed the Mexicans and asked them firmly but politely to back off.
But there's more to the story: boardings by the Mexican navy are reportedly becoming fairly commonplace from this area south, because the Navy is charged with helping to stop the flow of drugs along the coast. Apparently a gringo sailboat looks to them like good camouflage for a drug shipment. They wear black masks to protect their identities, because arresting officers in all the forces in Mexico have been assassinated by drug cartels. The unfortunate result is that a Mexican naval boarding party looks a whole lot like a bunch of latter-day pirates or guerillas, not a confidence-inspiring sight.
Someone else on the Net remarked that they had been approached for boarding, but had managed to simply talk the navy out of it, by producing their documents and being very polite. Even if a boarding is accomplished, apparently it's done in a courteous, non-threatening manner. Another cruiser chimed in that the navy is just doing what the US government is paying the big bucks for: to help in the War on Drugs.
In the afternoon when I came back from exploring the Thursday tianguis (Mexican rummage sale) and crafts market, the Capt said I was just in time to help move the boat, which had dragged its anchor and was close to going aground on the Isla de Los Perros. Winds had gone from nonexistent in the morning to a howling 25 knots by 3pm. We started motoring around the island looking for a little shelter and finally decided to return to our spot and re-anchor. Caramba! Suddenly the motor quit, the gearshift refused to budge, and the Capt correctly deduced that something (a line, to be specific) had wrapped around our prop shaft.
We put out a call on VHF for a diver, but none was to be found. The Capt did his best from the dinghy to pull the line loose and finally he put on his wet suit and dived into the shivery cold water to untangle us. It turned out to be the loose end of our own jib sheet (embarrassingly enough.)
We were somewhat consoled later when we heard about a boat coming in to Melaque (just across the bay) who not only had his jib sheet wrapped around his prop shaft, but also had his spinnaker wrapped around his head stay! Whatever was he doing with a spinnaker up in such winds, anyway? Several dinghies from the Laguna sped across the bay to rescue him.
And on the next morning's net three or four skippers were thanking the dozens of people in the lagoon who had helped them when their boats dragged anchors. Apparently yesterday afternoon offered plenty of excitement, and most folks in the know were sitting in their cockpits keeping an eye on their positions and those of surrounding boats.
And then this morning we started over the the fuel dock to fill our water tank and suddenly were surrounded by a thick fog. Thanks to GPS, which had waypoints programmed in to get us around in the laguna, we knew roughly where we were, but I had to stand on the bow and watch for pangas and other boats. We passed a half dozen fishermen in their pangas, laughing as they watched us ghosting cautiously past. Later for the water, we decided, feeling our way back to our home spot.
Oh, well, a cruise with no mishaps would be pretty boring, I suppose. And as the Capt says, every mishap has a lesson in it, if we pay attention. Now our jib sheets are both neatly coiled on the foredeck, as Bruce Bingham, one of our mentors, recommends.
Skyview of Barra
05 March 2008 | Barra de Navidad
Over the past couple of weeks I've had unreliable internet connections, and haven't posted on this blog as often as I had hoped.
For now, here in Barra de Navidad I have a wifi card ($45 a week) which will give service as good as I can find anywhere...so far, anyway.