Just finalizing a few things with the marina, the port captain and we hope to head out today to anchor off of La Cruz which is a bit north of Nuevo Vallarta where the boat is actually docked at the Paradise Village Marina. We plan to fuel up and head out either Wednesday or Thursday to begin our trek to Ecuador. We will be travelling along the coast of Mexico until Puerto Angel where we hope to push off into open water. We think it will take a about a month to get there, approx. two weeks along the coast of Mexico and then 10 to 12 days in the open ocean. I have been truly spoiled in Mexico and will have to learn how to cook all over again as the eateries are very cheap and easy to take advantage of. I have even had my laundry done by other people all during our stay in Mexico. Reg and I truly love the people of Mexico and would come back here in a minute. If you take the time to get out of the resorts a whole different world awaits you. As for the dangers that keep cropping up in the newspapers, we have seen none of it. I think Mexico is the same as anywhere else, you need to be careful, pay attention to your surroundings and stay out of unknown places after dark, especially in the big cities. Please send us emails via gmail or our sailmail account and keep us updated on your lives as well. It is great fun to receive a note at sea and it really helps to keep us connected. Take care all, we love you and will post again at every opportunity...cheers
|Puerto Vallarta & Banderas Bay||
01/31/2012, Around the Town and Banderas Bay
We arrived Dec 30 in the early morning and elected to stay at the Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta with the expectation of staying a week then moving to an anchorage in La Cruz on the north side of Banderas bay for another week before the planned arrival of Phoebe's brother, wife and sister-in-law in the 3rd week of the month. Our plans were altered with the news of the unexpected death of Phoebe's sister's husband, Ron. We made hasty plane reservations and left the boat and returned to Canada for 10 days on Jan 1.
The area is notorious for abundant wildlife, including calving and breeding humpback whales from late November through to late February. Upon our return we had ample exposure to the whales, dolphins, rays, and tuna in the bay, in addition to iguana, various birds and saltwater crocodiles near our marina slip. However, this was intended to be a people contact month as well with boating friends joining us for New Years in the original town on the Malecon, a dinner with the owners of the coffee shop in Bayfield who winter in Puerto Vallarta, a rematch of a cribbage game with a couple we met in San Diego who recently moved to La Cruz, and of course the aforementioned week with Phoebe's family members. We had a great time New Years Eve, with renewed appreciation for the importance of family in Mexican culture. Dinner with Doug and Carlos of Bayfield was very pleasant in a beautiful authentic section of the old town of Puerto Vallarta. We handily won the cribbage match despite the influence of wine, and the event packed weeklong visit with family completed our month in Banderos Bay.
|Puerto Vallarta & Banderas Bay||
01/31/2012, Island off the cost of Mainland Mexico
This destination would be our first test as a couple with a significant passage, and proved to be a very successful one. In all we sailed 252 miles (400km) in approximately 44 hours, and slowed down deliberately so we would arrive at daybreak rather than in the dark. We spent a full 24 hours in winds of 25-30 knots with higher gusts and 6'-8' seas and ran completely under the control of our wind vane steering system. All in all the success of the passage under the control of our wind vane steering encouraged me to be confident that the boat and its systems are capable of doing what we aspire to. It also gave us pause as the island is 1.5 miles north of its charted position, so we must take care to arrive in new destinations in daylight.
Isla Isabella is a small and beautiful island bird sanctuary, with researchers from Norway on site. It has been filmed by both Cousteau and National Geographic and is considered to be an ecological treasure. We arrived at daybreak and it did not disappoint. The harbor was small with two boats at anchor and so we chose to anchor off the southeast corner in the lee of two prominent rock towers called the Monas (Mannequins). As we finished anchoring we were treated to whales jumping out of the water, admittedly some distance away. Phoebe had two closer sightings but we got no photos of the whales. Birds, on the other hand, were readily available to photograph as evidenced by the accompanying album. Every tree on the island housed at least 2 or more frigate birds, the shores had boobies nesting on the ground, and other unique species in less numbers flew around the heights. After a short nap we took the dinghy to shore and explored, returning to the boat for a quiet evening and night. In the morning we rowed the dinghy around the Monas then departed for Puerto Vallarta early afternoon, with the intention to sail overnight and arrive in Banderas Bay in the early morning.
12/31/2011, Ensenada el Candelero
So named for the formations on the sandstone cliffs along the shore and the more defined profiles on the island that stands candle like in the middle of the bay. We sailed there after overnighting at Isla San Jose, and encountered a large pod of dolphins as we approached Isla Partida en-route.
Candelaros is a beautiful bay, and we saw a couple of turtles around the boat shortly after our arrival and schools of fish dancing on the surface in a swirl of water and fins. They were likely trying to avoid something from below but inadvertently drew the attention of the pelicans from above. It becomes more apparent every day that small fish are the basis of the food chain of the sea, and we had better take steps to ensure their health. Unfortunately Candeleros is open to the southwest and that night we had a consumel wind, a local phenomena that comes off the heated land from the southwest, and it was uncomfortable though it seemed to bother me more than Phoebe. The bay compensated for it in the morning. There is a very old trail at the head of the bay behind a small by attractive sand beach. The trail took us past the interlocking stone floor and wall footing remains of a Mexican Navy cabin and the old well that served its occupants at one time. About the area of the cabin were some lovely red flowers that were likely remnants of cultivation by earlier occupants. Climbing it further we came to a dry waterfall and some amazing fig trees that openly root in every crevice to obtain water. The sandstone cliffs were sculpted by the wind in smooth flowing formations and the trail hugged their faces. En-route we encountered the first animal we have seen in the islands, 3-4 small greyish chipmunks too elusive to photograph, undoubtedly there because of the availability of fresh water as evidenced by the well and dark damp looking soil in the old water bed.
Later that day a young couple in a kayak greeted us with their daughter. They were from Banff and headed to the beach to camp for the night and came by attracted by our Canadian flag. There are quit a few Canadian flagged vessels in the La Paz area and it is easy to see why. The cruising is beautiful, provisioning is generally inexpensive, the anchorages are usually pretty secure and an easy day sail apart, and the people are very friendly and helpful.
The next morning we sailed to La Paz to provision for our crossing to the mainland, anchoring in a cove north of the customs house and ferry terminal to get our import permits for the boat. Christmas was a week away and we had plans to film a Mexican themed Christmas greeting for our family and friends before we left La Paz.
|La Paz and Surrounding Islands||
12/31/2011, Baja Islands
When on Isla San Francisco two weeks earlier we could see this large saltwater mangrove lagoon on the south side of Isla San Jose, the next island north and had determined that given the opportunity we would like to see it for waterfowl photos if possible. As it was a short sail across the channel from San Evaristo to the southwest corner of the island, where we would be sheltered from prevailing NE winds, we settled in early afternoon and dinghied to shore. After looking for shells on the beach we took the dinghy around to the south shore and through the breach in the sandbar into the lagoon. We saw Ibis and egrets and attempted to get a good photo of two elusive ducks that we had not seen before. It is a beautiful large lagoon, apparently the largest in the Sea of Cortez, and teeming with waterfowl and fish. Unfortunately the water close to the mangroves was too shallow for easy dingy access, and prompted us to renew our commitment to obtain a kayak. The return allowed us to run the rapids of the ebbing tide through the breach and a rapid return to the good ship "Three Sheets". Beware of the no seeums of San Jose, an appropriate caution.
|La Paz and Surrounding Islands||
12/31/2011, Baja Sur
Population 200 in season. Dale had told us of this modest fishing village on the coast of the Baja where she had kayaked and come to know the villagers well. It is also one of the respected anchorages in strong winds and one we had attempted to reach on our prior trip to Isla San Francisco so we were easily persuaded to make it a destination. We arrived in front of a forecast for strong northerlies after an overnight stay in Coleta Partida and settled in for what turned out to be three days. We had a great dinner in what is the most modest diner I have experienced to date. A couple we met who were capable in Spanish helped us arrange to have a fish dinner prepared for 4 people, ourselves and another couple anchored in the harbor we met that day. We arrived at 5:00, since it was on the beach with limited lighting, and feasted on generous helpings of delicious fresh fish tacos, salsa, grilled peppers, beans and pasta salad served under a galvanized steel and tarpaulin cover seated in plastic lawn chairs in the sand accompanied by the owners dog, who was charming, polite and eager and a story in his own right. We really enjoyed the meal, it cost 300 pesos per couple which included 3 Cervesas and a 20% tip. After the meal we met the owner's daughter who prepared the meal and hosted us and some of the children of the village. We enjoyed a limited exchange of conversation and gave a few gifts for the kids. Once again we were reminded of how limited our experience will be in other cultures without better command of the local language as I would have liked to spend more time getting to know them and their families.
Bobby the dog greeted us on our first walk in the village and was a great solution to our need for a pet fix. He was affectionate and followed us on our hike unless distracted by critter holes and other smelly attractions. Phoebe managed a few photos of some birds, including a local woodpecker, despite Bobby's efforts scouting ahead. Eventually he introduced us to Ensalma, his master and the owner of the pallapa where we had dinner. She is the daughter of one of longstanding citizens of the village and our understanding is many are connected through family. There is obviously a lot of what we might consider poverty in Mexico, but the community was very welcoming and appeared content and proud. In addition to fishing there was a large salt flat with a few people raking and gathering the salt, and the fishing boats seemed well kept and powered by fairly large and modern engines. It seemed familiar, but not to the same scale, as my youth as the son of a local tradesman who made his living taking care of the needs of the wealthy cottage owners who came in season and hired us to do the stuff they didn't want to do. We were considerably poorer but quite content, much as I think this community appeared to be.
We bought some fish and took leave of Bobby, who wanted to jump in our dinghy and snorkeled again on the morning of our departure to San Jose island and the mangrove lagoon we wanted to see before we headed back to Ensenada de Candelaro, La Paz and eventually across to the mainland.
|La Paz and Surrounding Islands||