La Cruz to Santiago Bay
13 March 2018 | La Manzanilla
After Loren left, I stayed in La Cruz until February 3rd, with most of the time out in the anchorage, although a few days were spent in the marina. I also flew to Oregon for several days to pickup a new linear drive unit for my Alpha Spectra autopilot, and consequently renew my Mexican visa.
On Saturday, February 3, at 1200 hours, I raised anchor, and accompanied by the sailing vessel Eagle, set sail for points south and east. Cabo Corrientes was the first hurdle, passed without any issues. We arrived at the small anchorage protected by Punta Ipala at 2100. Next morning we were underway by 0800 but were unable to find any wind. We motored for ten hours through a rough and tumble seastate until anchorage was found in Bahia Chemala just before sunset, on Sunday, February 4. We spent a few days there, making it ashore a couple of times, before leaving on February 8th, Thursday, for the 28 nm trip down to Tenacatita Bay, motoring about halfway before decent SW wind carried us the rest of the way under sails alone.
We spent the night of the 8th, Thursday, anchored of Playa Tenacatita, near an area known as the "Aquarium". Our intent was to do some snorkeling on the various reefs in the area. There was a big SW swell running, however, making the anchorage uncomfortable, but also making snorkeling difficult over the shallow corals. Thus, on Friday, February 9, we sailed over to the main anchorage in Tenacatita Bay, just off the mangrove lined estuary, which Tom and I went up aways on Thursday in his dinghy. There must have been 40 boats anchored here, though, with a boat coming in after me that just had to anchor between Anna Marie and Eagle, putting the darn thing just too close for me. So Eagle and Anna Marie left the following morning, Friday, and motored over to the anchorage off of the town of La Manzanilla.
La Manzanilla is a great little town. The beach is not terribly difficult to land a dinghy on, and there are some good restaurants lining the beach. We stayed here until Tuesday, February 13, then went back to the main anchorage across the bay for one night. Then on Wednesday we sailed down the coast a few miles to the anchorage off the village of Cuastecomate. Again, a great little town, although it does not offer much, and the palapas on the beach roll up their businesses before sunset. Only thing going after that is the hotel, which does manage to make noise well into the night. That kinda of nonsense doesn't seem to happen at La Manzanilla, although it does from the isolated hotel down the beach from the Tenacatita anchorage.
On Friday, February 16, Eagle and Anna Marie weighed anchor again and sailed the short distance to Marina Puerto de la Navidad, at the Grand Bay Resort on Isla Navidad. Anna Marie stayed here at the marina until Tuesday, February 20. On Saturday, February 17, I caught a ride down to the Manzanillo airport (the son of a boat maintenance contractor drove me down in his car - for some compensation for his time and fuel) to meet daughter Jessica, arriving from Portland, Oregon at 1630 or so. Great to see her! Jessica has joined me to do some sailing and exploring for several days. It had been my plan to sail down to Zihuataneo and fly her home from there, but after consideration of the timing, we decided to stay in the general area surrounding Barra de Navidad.
So, in the week we had after leaving the marina, we visited Cuastecomate, La Manzanilla, Tenacatita, and Santiago. Jessica and I sailed down to Santiago Bay on Sunday, February 25, and anchored of the NW corner of the long crescent beach lining Santiago Bay. Eagle and her crew joined us on Monday. Here we sat until Wednesday, February 28, when, with Tom's dinghy, we took Jessica ashore with all her luggage, successfully making a surf landing without getter her or her gear wet, ate lunch at a palapa ramada, then got her on a taxi to the Manzanillo airport. It was great having her aboard, and I started missing her within hours! Unfortunately, while Jessica was aboard, I had to change out a lengthy of sanitation hose that had become blocked with age. What a colossal pain that was! We had to go with an operational head for about four days.
Eagle and Anna Marie spent a few more days anchored here in Santiago Bay before sailing the short distance over to Las Hadas Resort in the NW corner of Manzanillo Bay, just to the southeast, on Friday March 2. One night in the anchorage just off the resort, enjoying dinner ashore in a nice restaurant overlooking the anchorage. Then off to Ensenada Carriizal back up the coast several miles on Saturday. In our short overnight stop here, we managed to get in some snorkeling on the coral reefs, but water clarity was compromised by some sort of algae bloom. From Carrizal we sailed back to Santiago Bay on Sunday March 4. Once here again in the anchorage, I managed to get my laundry done in the village of Miramar, where we also did some provisioning.
With March well on its way, we decided it was time to work our way back up to Barra de Navidad. We left Santiago Bay on the 7th, stopping again in Carrizal for the night as there was insufficient wind to carry us the 35 nm to Barra before sunset. With barely enough wind on Thursday, we made the anchorage in the Barra de Navídad Lagoon before sunset on Thursday, March 8.
Anna Marie stayed anchored in the lagoon, in all of 11 feet of water, until Monday, March 12, when I weighed anchor at 0930 (just managed to catch the French Baker on his rounds before the anchor was up, purchasing one of his delicious almond croissants). While in the lagoon, I also took delivery of 160 liters of water (in 20 liter carboys, delivered by Maria, the water taxi lady). I sailed up to the anchorage off of La Manzanilla, rejoining Eagle. Two nights in La Manzanilla, then over to the Aquarium on Wednesday, March 14 to try again to do some snorkeling.
La Paz to La Cruz
07 January 2018 | La Cruz Anchorage
I ended up staying at Marina Fonatur La Paz from November 23 until December 11. Most of the time here was spent doing boat maintenance. On Saturday December 9, I caught an Aguila bus from La Paz Malecon (walked the nearly 5 miles distance to the bus station) to Todos Santos. Once there, I met my son Loren - who had flown into Los Cabos Airport on Friday December 8 - and his uncle Ted, who promptly took me to his house near El Pescodero. On Sunday, Ted drove Loren and I back to Todos Santos where we caught a bus to La Paz.
On Monday December 11 we moved Anna Marie from Marina Fonatur to Marina Palmira. Here we topped off the fuel tanks and attempted to get an early start out of La Paz on Tuesday December 12. We were delayed because I had to wait to get my $50 US key deposit back, so our "early" departure was at 0900. Once we got through the Lorenzo Channel and had rounded Punta Coyote we were able to sail most of the remainder of the total 53nm trip to Ensenada de Los Muertos. We had NW apparent wind from about 10 to 15 knots off our port quarter most of the day, arriving in Los Muertos after sunset at 1840 hours and anchoring in 30' with about 120' of chain let out.
We left Los Muertos a little after 0700 on Wednesday December 13 and set a course of 94 magnetic to carry us the 192 nm across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan on the Mexico mainland. We were only able to sail a fraction of the distance as, except for a few hours on Wednesday morning, the winds were light and variable. We arrived off Mazatlan before 1500 on Thursday December 14 in light wind, but frequent heavy rain squalls. By the time we arrived at our assigned slip in Marina Isla Mazatlan, we were quite soaked! With the heavy rain it was difficult to spot the narrow entrance channel to the estuary where the various Mazatlan marinas are located, even though I had been here a couple times previously. Loren and I spent Friday December 15 exploring the old section of Mazatlan. Plenty to see and do here thus we had an active and enjoyable day!
The following morning, Saturday December 16, we pulled out of our slip at 1040, put on fuel at Marina El Cid, and reentered the Pacific Ocean for our 133 nm trip down the coast to Ensenada de Matanchen. Duration of the trip, from casting off lines in Mazatlan on Saturday morning to dropping anchor in Matanchen on Sunday morning, was exactly 24 hours. We came within such close proximity to over 15 sizable fishing boats during the nighttime that I had little sleep. It is hard at night to understand the course of any vessel one might pass, but fishing boats, with their seemingly random zig-zag courses, offer a particularly interesting challenge.
In Matanchen, we anchored in 16' of water, but well off the beach. After Anna Marie was secured and shipshape, we inflated and launched the dinghy, and after getting the Honda outboard safely attached, went ashore (with dinghy wheels attached) and enjoyed a couple of late afternoon beers at one of the many palapa restaurants that line the shore here.
The following morning, Monday December 18, we took the dinghy ashore, and leaving it, with permission, at one of the Palapas, we hiked the short distance to where we found pangas for hire to take us up the Rio Tovara to La Tovara Spring. A nice jungle river tour with plenty of wildlife to view, including crocodiles and tortoises. In addition to the Springs, we also visited a crocadile preserve. We were joined by the crew of Sea Casa, a pair of young brothers (Connor and Chase), for the trip up the river, as well as our later taxi ride into San Blas and the old hill fort called La Contaduria.
We left Matatchen at 0630 the following morning - December 19, Tuesday - and motored the entire 52nm distance to the anchorage off of the village of Punta de Mita. We has steep, short, and relatively confused following seas the entire distance, but little wind until we round Punta de Mita. An interesting phenomenon. During the day, the autopilot started acting up. It would suddenly steer the boat hard in one direction or the other - usually starboard - and some short time later steer back to course. Sometimes it would take a gentle nudge on the wheel to get the autopilot to resume the original course. This issue seemed to get worse as the day commenced. We arrived at Punta de Mita at 1640 and anchored in 22' with 120' of chain out. The following morning on Wednesday December 20, we raised our anchor around 1040 and motored the 9.5nm to Marina La Cruz, arriving around 1230 and entering our assigned slip 9B-24.
Loren and I caught a bus into Bucerias on Thursday morning, December 21, and did some souvenir shopping and enjoyed a seafood lunch at one of the many restaurants in town. Later, after returning to the marina in La Cruz, Loren packed and took a taxi to the airport to catch his evening flight back to Portland. I will miss having him aboard! Not only did I enjoy his company but he was a good crew member.
26 November 2017 | Marina Fonatur, La Paz, BCS, Mexico
Anna Marie arrived back in La Paz on Monday November 20. After leaving San Evaristo I accompanied Eagle down to Isla San Francisco. The large crescent shaped bay here is quite picturesque. Spent three nights in the bay, only one of them reasonably peaceful. The last night here was down right horrible due to the several large motor yachts now anchored in the bay. The biggest, about 150 feet I think, spent the day ferrying passengers ashore right by my anchorage spot. And going full throttle both in and out in their tenders. All day. Then a late arrival cranked up its disco music and partied until about 0200 the next morning. Absolutely without regard for the other 15 or so boats in the bay.
I eagerly weighed anchor on Friday morning, November 18, around 0900 and sailed south to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida. I was able to sail all the way with both sails set, arriving around 1400. On the way I had to fix the DataMarine instrument display due to a shorted wire. My wash down hose burst while raising the anchor at Isla San Francisco, so that needed repaired as well. We spent a quiet but windy night anchored in the central lobe in Ensenda Grande. We left the following midday for the short sail down to Bahia San Gabriel on Isla Espiritu Santos. Had a good sail under genny alone, arrived at 1445 and dropped the anchor in about 20' of water. Total trip odometer from Portland to this moment shows 7009 nm. I donned my snorkeling gear and dove to check the zinc anodes and general bottom condition. All is well.
Pulled anchor at 0830 and motored into La Paz Harbor, arriving at an anchorage off the Municipal pier at 1200. In about 22' of water with a strong current and opposing wind, my first attempt to set anchor failed. Second attempt seemed to hold well. About an hour later, however, I raised the anchor a second time and moved the boat a few hundred feet to take the place of a Canadian boat that pulled up and left. My original location was a wee bit too close to the channel.
Since my house batteries (two 6v 300Ah AGM batteries in series) have been failing these last couple of weeks, I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday looking at my options for replacing them. I found that it would take up to four weeks if I ordered exact replacements (Lifeline GPL-6CT batteries), and was perhaps lucky to find a 12v Lifeline GPL-8DL 255Ah battery at Lopez Marine Services. So after a little more research I purchased the battery.
In order to take delivery, I needed to find a temporary slip somewhere in La Paz. Both Marina de la Paz and Marina Palmira were full, as was Marina Don Jose. Marina Costa Baja has slips available but it is located up at the head of the entrance channel several miles away from Lopez Marine. Another choice near downtown is too darn expensive. With a bit of work (had to take a taxi there as the office did not answer the phone), I secured moorage at Marina Fonatur, a few harrowing miles into the shallow inner bay.
So, getting Tom aboard to help, I motored the few miles into the Marina Fonatur on Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, and was able to get delivery of the battery that afternoon. By Friday evening, November 24, I had the new battery installed and charging off of shorepower. Took some considerable effort to reuse as many of the original cables as possible and to squeeze the battery into the spot the original batteries sat. The original installation was a custom installation so everything fit just so.
Working my way south
14 November 2017 | Bahia San Evaristo, Baja California Sur
I left San Juanico at 0700 on Thursday, November 9, still in the company of sv Eagle and crew, Tom Wordell. Set both sails, first reef still in the mains'l, and sailed in a generally south easterly direction, steering mostly to keep both sails full with the wind dead astern or off the port quarter. We made 5-6 knots with a 10 knot apparent wind using the autopilot to steer. Around 1130, Anna Marie caught a breaking wave on her port quarter (seas were high and short), causing quite the surge aboard. The boat suddenly steered hard to starboard, gybing both the main and the Genoa. Both sails backed now with the wind over the starboard quarter (my boom brake held the main over to starboard and for some reason did not ease it across as is usually the case). It took me some moments to realize the autopilot had malfunctioned and another few moments to get the latching mechanism disconnected and control back to me. As luck would have it, I was able to force Anna Marie back across the wind and back onto a port tack. I had no luck getting the autopilot to work again, so gave up on that and while hand steering furled the jib. My hope was to figure out a way to get the main down and the jib back out, thereby giving me more control as I approached landfall. Too windy and too rough to do that without bringing Anna Marie into the wind so I continued on towards Isla Carmen and our night's anchorage in Puerto Ballendra. The point guarding Puerto Ballendra from the north gave me the protection I needed from wind and seas to get the main down, engine started and a safe entrance to the protected cove of Puerto Ballendra. On Friday morning, I weighed anchor and motored in calm seas the few miles to Puerto Escondido, where i took a mooring ball, registered at the Marina Escondido Marina office, and settled in. We stayed two nights in Escondido. On Saturday I was able to fix the autopilot.. Seems it was only a loose rudder feedback wire in the Alpha Spectra CPU. Probably caused when the breaking wave pushed the CPU too hard against it's restraints. I could breathe a big sigh of relief with that problem fixed! I am still faced with a rapidly fading house battery bank (two 300 amp 6v AGM Lifeline, in-series batteries in this case).
On Sunday, November 12, I cast off the moorage line and tied up at the Puerto Escondido fuel dock, taking on about 18 gallons of diesel and 20 gallons of fresh water. By 1000 I was on my way in Eagle's wake with a heading towards Bahia Agua Verde. I spent a very rough night off the beach in Agua Verde with very little wind and a nasty NE swell rolling in all night. On Monday, November 13, we made our way here to San Evaristo, 45 nautical miles down wind. We were able to sail nicely with jib alone for some of the trip, motoring the balance. We stopped briefly in Puerto Los Gatos so Tom on Eagle could fix an autopilot problem that he had just experienced.. Spent a gusty but secure night tucked into the little northern cove in Bahia San Evaristo, and we plan on staying here until tomorrow, Wednesday, November 15.
Anna Marie Back in Action
07 November 2017 | Caleta San Juanico, BCS, Mexico
I arrived back in Mexico on October 26. I left Portland OR on the afternoon of the 25th via Alaska Airlines, arriving in Tucson AZ, early evening where I met my friend Tom Wordell off the sloop Eagle. Later that night we caught a TAP Royal bus to Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, arriving around 0800 on the 26th. From Guaymas by taxi to San Carlos and back to Anna Marie.
I spent the next several days re-rigging Anna Marie and otherwise preparing her for departure from Marina San Carlos. Finally, by the evening of Saturday, November 4, we were ready (more or less). Eagle had left the marina a few days prior and anchored near by in Bahia San Carlos. At 0600 on Sunday, November 5, 2017, I eased Anna Marie away from the slip and made my way out of the marina in near darkness to join Eagle outside the bay. I raised the mainsail with a single reef (in anticipation of some brisk winds out in the Sea of Cortez), unfurled the Genoa, and, motor sailing in 5-8 knots in south to west winds, set course on a bearing of 182 degrees magnetic for Caleta San Juanico on the Baja Peninsula. By 0900 I was able to shut the engine down and in 10-12 knots of westerly apparent wind maintained an average of nearly 6 knots speed over ground for the next 14 hours. I used the Monitor wind steering gear for the bulk of the trip. It worked well. The sea was rough, with choppy confused waves, causing me to expend considerable energy just trying to maintain my balance.
We arrived at anchorage in San Juanico cove at 2300, where there were four or five sailing boats already anchored in the best close -to- shore spots. I anchored Anna Marie in about 20 feet of water and put out 90 feet of chain. The following morning, Monday November 6, I let out an additional 30 feet of chain in anticipation of strong winds in the anchorage. Which there have been each afternoon - to 20 knots out of the north. As I write this on Wednesday, November 8, we are waiting out the northerly blow that had started on our way across the Sea. Weather reports indicate that today will perhaps have the strongest winds, with enough abatement by tomorrow (Thursday) to continue our cruising towards the south in relative comfort.
Summer layup at Marina San Carlos
12 May 2017 | Marina San Carlos
So starts my third hurricane season in Mexico. And to think I had not planned on spending even a season here. Star Marine finished the work on Anna Marie by Wednesday evening, May 10. Marina SECA was able to launch me on schedule Thursday morning, May 11. This photo shows Anna Marie on her way into the water. I will be keeping her in the water over the summer as opposed to being on the hard in the dry storage yard. Much cheaper up there, but I just can't bring myself to store a boat out of the water. Heck, I hate storing her. She is my home and I should be on her.
They launched me into what turned out to be a 20-25 knot westerly, which put this breeze right on my port beam. So I had the dubious luck of reversing Anna Marie down this narrow and crowed fairway with this wind howling and her wanting to turn to port into the dinghy dock and the bow into the downwind side. It was hairy, to say the least. But I did manage to get her out of that narrow fairway and into the larger, but still tight fairway that would take me to my assigned slip (which they had changed. How is it that everybody else gets to reserve a slip, but I can't seem to?). And Anna Marie would not turn bow into this wind without some major coaxing. After being pushed almost to the eastern end of this fairway, I managed to get her turned full circle and powered into the wind in a fairway "crossroads" and heading towards the slip. Which was an inside slip facing the east on B dock. Which I knew I could not negotiate in this wind, so I ducked into slip B-26, the same one I had prior to haul out, and favorably facing west. And here I sit on Friday evening, May 12. I will move the boat in the morning to slip A-20, which will cost me more per month but puts my bow into the prevailing westerlies that blow through this marina. I am getting increasingly anxious to get Anna Marie decommissioned and me on a bus heading north into the states.
I have been here about a month and am not impressed with San Carlos or the marina. Lots of cruisers come here but I have to believe that it mostly has to do with how close this area is to Arizona. I have noticed that many boats have inland hailing ports. The boats are kept here year after year, occasionally changing owners. Most of the boat owners I have met have a car or truck here.
I had a boat next to Anna Marie in the work yard for a couple of days. The owner came down to check on it and in order for him to stay aboard, the boat had to be hauled out of the adjacent dry storage yard and into the work yard. The owner told me that this was his first visit in over four years. And he said he was going to sell it cause he is not using it. I wonder how similar his situation is to many of the 600 odd boats in dry storage?
From here I will catch a bus to Tucson and get back to the PNW one way or the other from there.