03/03/2012, Santiago, Mexico
We've spent the last 3 weeks in Zihautanejo 2 of those weeks were spent in the company of our good friends Lynne and Harvey from Vancouver. Once again I won't go into to to much detail about their visit because they did say that they would send a blog and I will post it, but it was a good visit and we are happy they came and spent some time with us.
On March 1st, we decided it was time to head back north. The leg between Zihautanejo and Manzanillo is a long one with only a few very marginal anchorages to stop in none of which would be good in bad weather. So it is important to try and get a good weather window to leave in. The weather was calling for 10 knots from the SW and 10 to 15 from the W the next day. So with that we decided to go even though the W wind would be mostly on the nose. We had large swells which made for a lumpy trip but the winds were mostly on the light side but we were able to motor sail all the way. Basically motor sailing is really motoring with the sails up to catch what wind there is so instead of doing say 3 knots you are now doing 5 to 6 knots. We also lucked out with a current in our favour for over half the trip giving us almost an extra knot of speed. The wind was clocking around for most of the trip so some times we actually had great wind and we got up to 7.5 knots but only for a short time as the winds were also a bit gusty sometimes up to maybe 12 knots and other times maybe 6.
It took us 35 hours to do 185 miles which averages out to 5 and a quarter knots of speed which for those non sailors is about 5 miles an hour. Imagine driving 185 miles at 5 miles an hour! But we were happy with that and arrived in Santiago Bay at 9:30 pm last night. Since we had been here before anchoring in the dark was not a problem. Coming into the bay we had a big freighter go by us about half a mile away which sounds like a lot but when they are as big as they are it feels too close. Just after it passed us there was a huge splash as a whale breached about 100 feet away from the boat. So an exciting entrance in the dark. We did have a half moon but it was hidden in a cloud so didn't help too much.
Had a great night sleep and today we are still recuperating. Ian is suffering from a sore throat so we are taking it easy today. Tomorrow we will probably head out to Barra 24 miles north and the next day on to Tenacatita. We are in a bit of a rush to get to La Cruz as our FM3 visa's expire on March 22 so we need to get there in time to renew them. Too bad as we hate to rush.
So that's where we are for now. Things are good and life is great.
We arrived in Zihautanejo on the first day of Sailfest and jumped right in with both feet. We didn't really know what to expect having never been before but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Sailfest is a 5 day fundraising festival put on by the local gringo population here along with what ever boats that are here and want to participate. All the money raised goes to the local schools for supplies, new buildings, new schools, scholarships etc. This was the 11th annual Sailfest and I believe that this year they raised over 400 thousand pesos which equals over 30 thousand dollars.
There are various events all throughout and each event has a price to attend or participate. To enter your boat to participate in the Race or in the Sail Parade is 300 pesos. We decided to enter into the Sail Parade. Tickets are then sold to local people or visiting tourists at 300 pesos per person to go aboard one of the boats in the parade for the day. We had 9 guests on board Kasasa and it was a very fun day. The weather wasn't the greatest as it was overcast with a few rain drops here and there, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves anyhow.
Other events included a Chili Cook-off, a concert of local musicians, a beach day for the school children, a sailboat race as well as 2 auctions for local art and restaurant gift certificates and there were raffel ticket draws for great prizes all week long. It is amazingly well organized and my hats off to all the volunteers for making it such a fun event. It's a great way to have fun and help out at the same time.
We had the pleasure of having one of my best and oldest (not in age) friends on board Kasasa for 2 weeks in January. Maureen and I have been best friends since the age of 15 and together have spent many great times. Well Mo finally made it out to Mexico and had a great visit with us. She is very attuned to nature and loves being on the water. Having had previous experience on sailboats, she made for a great crewmate and we really enjoyed her company.
We started off in Tenacatita and La Manzanilla for about 4 days for her to relax and get into the cruising mode and what better place than Tenacatita to make you feel like your cruising. I'm not going to go into great detail here where we went and what we did because I am hoping that Maureen will find some time to blog about her experience and I will post it. I just really wanted to acknowledge that she came and that it was a very special time for us to spend together. Thank you Mo.
After we said our goodbyes in Santiago, Ian and I set off for Zihautanejo as our next set of guests Lynne and Harvey will be arriving here in less than a week. We had an uneventful trip down the coast to here and are now enjoying Sailfest which is an annual event involving the gringo community, the cruising community and the local community to raise funds for the local schools. It just started yesterday and so far has been fun. I will write more about it once its over but for now that is where we are and what we are up to. We will be here until the beginning of March.
01/29/2012, Santiago Bay, Mexico
The day started out like any other, coffee in the cockpit, croissants from the French Baker (in the Barra Lagoon) and a beautiful sunny day waiting to be enjoyed. Our good friend Maureen was on board with us for a 2 week holiday in Mexico. We decided to go for a walk over by the Grand Bay Hotel's golfcourse and walk across to the beach. Along the way there is a small mangrove island that we were cruising by in the dingy. Ian was showing Maureen the birds in the trees and as we passed a tree with 6 big vultures sitting in it, we heard the loud cries of a young and very distressed sounding cat. Both Mo and I convinced Ian that we had to go to find the cat. We motored up as close to the mangroves as we could and out came a tiny little ginger kitten from under the tree with the vultures in it no less!
We couldn't get the dingy right up to the shore line because the branches were sticking out but that little kitten knew a good thing when he saw it because he climbed right up on those branches and walked out to the dingy even when the branches went into the water he kept on coming. We scooped him up as soon as we could reach him. Poor little thing was skin and bones as you could feel all of his ribs and spine bones along his back.
We went back to Kasasa with him and tried to give him some milk or water while we tried to figure out what to do with him. Maureen was trying to persuade us that we should keep him but Ian and I both felt that with us possibly going home for a few months in the summer it wouldn't be fair to the cat as we would have to find a sitter or new home and we are still heartsick over having to leave our beloved cat Farley in Vancouver. So off we went into Barra on a tip from another boat that there was a restaurant in town that had hosted an animal rescue seminar the previous week. At the restaurant, they were only able to give us the name of the animal rescue place in Melaque. So off Mo and I went with little Mani Grover (Mango for short) (we couldn't help ourselves but had to name him)! We couldn't find the animal rescue group as they were no longer at the address we had for them. The taxi driver took us to the closest vet office. We convinced the vet to take little Mani and find a good home for him. He told us he would. With that Maureen and I left the office feeling both good about that and teary that we would not be seeing Mani Grover again.
Since we were in town, we decided to do some shopping and at some point along the way I went into the public washroom and Maureen continued shopping in the store right next door. While I was in the washroom, the earth started shaking and there was a bang. I knew it was either an earthquake or a truck had hit the building. I went running out into the street calling for Maureen. All the mexicans were out in the street, but Maureen having not heard or felt a thing was happily shopping away. She heard me and came out to see what the fuss was all about and couldn't believe she was the only person to have not felt the earthquake!
One of the best things about this cruising lifestyle is the people you meet. We have met more new people in the last year than we have in the 20+ years Ian and I have been together. And having such a major lifestyle in common really breaks down the barriers to getting to know someone and feeling at ease in most cases instantly. It's a good thing most of us have Boat Cards (like a business card) because you can file them away and refer to them when you see a familiar boat entering the anchorage so that you are prepared to hail them by name on the vhf to say hello come on over for a drink. We have made many many acquaintances and some of them have become very good friends.
But there is no denying that meeting up with the friends from back home is a heartwarming experience especially when those friends are also cruising on their boats and living similar experiences to your own. Ian and I belong to a group called Bluewater Cruising Association who's mandate is to help their members go offshore. We have been members for 18 years and through those years we have learned a lot about what we needed to do to make this dream come true. Along the way we have befriended other members of the club dreaming similar dreams to ours. And so when we meet up with them here it is extra special and makes for fun get togethers.
In the above picture aboard the sailboat Full & By from L to R is me (Kasasa), Ann from Full & By with Dick behind her, Carol from Nautimoments, Ian (Kasasa) and Ken from Nautimoments. This was taken in La Cruz marina when all three boats were beside each other.
Our one regret is that we speak such poor Spanish and therefore we have made some friends who are from Mexico, but not as many as we would have liked. They are the most wonderful people you could ever hope to know and we hope that if we continue to cruise in this country that we will improve our Spanish and be able to meet and talk with the locals and then our friend capacity will double!
This picture was taken at Los Arcos in Banderas Bay on board Naomi and Andrew's boat Amizade.
For the past two months we have done next to no snorkeling or even much swimming - the water was just too cold. Now that we are further south we are finding warmer water again at 26.5 celcius it's quite comfortable. We did a snorkel up in Banderas Bay which wasn't very inspiring as the water was murky and there were about 75 people off of various tour boats in the water. But today here in Chamela, we had the best snorkel since last June on Carmen Island! We just went out to the rocks in front of the anchorage and WOW I can't believe the variety of fish and the clarity was great. Some of the fish we saw are: Flag Cabrilla, Scorpion Fish, King Angelfish, Threebanded butterfly fish, Giant Damselfish, Rainbow Wrasses, Mexican Hogfish, Bumphead Parrotfish, Triger fish, a very large school of Yellowtail Surgeon fish, at least 4 varieties of puffer fish, a green eel, Pipefish, Panamic Fanged Blenny's and these are just the one's I can identify by our books. There were lots of neon blue fish, some tiny black fish with neon blue dots, some yellow and blue fish and many more. It was FANTASTIC!!!
After about an hour in the water, Ian was cold (I had my shorty dive suit on) and so we got out. Tomorrow is another day and many more reefs to explore. I wish I had an underwater camera to share the beautiful fish I see but you'll just have to look them up on the internet or in a book if your interested.
We are excited to be back south and are especially looking forward to the company of friends coming to visit us over the next couple of months. As fun as it is to meet and befriend new people, it's great to reconnect with old friends and to share our cruising lifestyle with them. We will also be covering some new territory as we move slightly further south than last year. We plan to spend a few more days here in Chamela and then move to Tenacatita one of our favourite places.