28 July 2017
What a difference a year makes…I blogged like a crazy woman our first year, but haven’t posted a single blog this second season, so here goes. One mother-of-all-blog posts summing up this past season….
After our first year of cruising in Mexico (October 2015-August 2016), well, eleven months to be exact, we returned to the states for a few of months, August through October 2016. We visited family, toured the East Coast, went on a Mississippi cruise/family reunion, and then flew back to La Paz and our floating home in mid-October, 2016. There were so many great adventures in the states, it would take forever and a day to retell. Suffice it to write that a good time was had by all!
We had thought we’d have already headed off to the South Pacific or the Caribbean by now, but we’re finding that cruising in Mexico has afforded us plenty of opportunity to fine-tune our boat, remain in contact with family, and it is some of the best cruising grounds in the world!
This season brought more variability with the wind, seas, and more visitors. It has been fun, but it has also been different this second time around.
So here’s a quick recap of our second nine-month season. We returned to the boat in La Paz in mid-October 2016, and several projects took us through Thanksgiving in this beautiful port. The main project was revamping the bimini and the dodger, and it has made all the difference. I’m at least a couple of shades lighter than I was this time last year! The sun is relentless! We were happy to get a reprieve from projects with some sailboat racing pals from back home, Patty and Leslie, who visited us after their Ha Ha ride. Other projects were completed mid-November, and we were off and sailing for year two. Many cruisers do a six month/six month approach, cruising during the prime winter months from November through April, and then either returning state-side or doing other traveling adventures during the hurricane season, May - October. Our seasons have been 10 months our first year and 9 months this second year. It feels like we’ve packed in four cruising seasons into two years. It has been fun and intense!
So this second season, after getting some major projects completed in La Paz, we crossed the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific side of the mainland in December and landed in Mazatlan. We had several boats in a little armada and we all began to head south. Our posse included Hotel California, Mystic Eyes, and Orca.
From Mazatlan, our next main port of call was La Cruz. This particular trip included some long-line issues with one of our buddy-boaters. The captain had to dive on their boat at 3am to try to untangle some wayward fishermen’s lines. We stood by to assist, and fortunately we all got back under way without any problems. We were surprised the next morning when we noticed what we all thought was a dolphin following our pals, but it turned out to be a long line and a floater buoy trailing behind them. Guess it wasn't all cleared away, and easy to understand considering having to dive on it at 3am! It obviously slowed them down some, but luckily no harm. We found this whole season to be a bit of a dodge-ball game with all the long lines off shore. As a cruiser, we prefer to purchase our fish to help the local economy, but that said, the local fishermen are having to go further and further off-shore to compete with the large commercial vessels from Japan. The Sea of Cortez is really getting fished out, and it is quite sad.
Daughter Lauren and son Jack flew in and joined us in La Cruz/Puerto Vallarta for Christmas and New Year’s. It was a magical holiday, and everyone had a fabulous time. Nothing like a pineapple for a Christmas tree! It was also the year of the mango margarita! Who knew that Lauren was totally fluent in Spanish, especially after a couple of those crazy concoctions! We had plenty of opportunities to go on mother/daughter shopping junkets, and while it wasn’t South Coast Plaza and Trader Joe’s, we found plenty to satiate our need to be gathers. Lauren proved to be quite the negotiator with all the vendors, especially with the mango beverages fueling her Spanish language skills! Jack filled up the forward cabin berth, and had to twist his long self a bit like a pretzel, but he never complained. It was wonderful to have time together to chat, hear about his new job, and basically get more than snippets of intel via international phone calls and texts. And other than the one time at his 8th grade graduation, I’ve never danced with Jack, but New Year’s Eve we brought the local pub Baleena Blanca down! Made this mama very happy! It was great to catch up on all our kids' adventures and wonderfully successful lives. We are so proud of them both.
Both Lauren and Jack left after New Year’s, and we continued our voyage south. We went to Chamela, Tenacatita, Barra de Navidad, Santiago, Las Hades, Isla Ixtapa, etc., all the way to Zihuatenajo again this year for the annual Guitar Fest. On the way south, my sailboat racing pal, Leslie, joined us for about a week in the Barra de Navidad area. We also met up with our pal Ian Hoffman and his lovely girlfriend, Pec for some diving in the Aquarium near Tenacatita. This is a wonderful reef area that probably has the best snorkling in the world, thus the name, The Aquarium! Ian and Pec live in Barra de Navidad where Ian is a drummer with many of the local bands. We’ve enjoyed getting out and listening to some fabulous music. Leslie was a good sport and indulged us by watching the Super Bowl with us while in Barra, which is huge considering she's a Canadian and hockey fan. She flew back from Manzanillo airport, and think she had a great time.
We continued heading south and got to the Santiago/Manzanillo area where we met up with our other Canadian pals we jokingly refer to as our Canadian abductors. We first met Raymond and Christina last year when they decided to take us under their wings. They offered us rides to provision, laundry facilities at their gorgeous condo, a fabulous land-home cooked dinner, and always fun, fun, fun! We met up with them both on the way south, and again when we returned north. We made sure to wear the Canadian maple leaf socks they’d given us the previous year, and we returned the favor with some gaudy red, white, and blue hockey socks.
Michael Brietensten joined us again this year when we got further south to Zihuatenajo, and we had a blast at Guitar Fest. He had a far better visit this time than last year. He’s built up an immunity to the terrible touristas, it appears! We met up with our pals Daniel and Susan on Kinnipopo. We did a lot of buddy-boating with them last season, and it was great to catch up with them again. They were on their way to Costa Rica with plans to continue to the South Pacific. Other boats we traveled with on the mainland side this year included Viva and Manatee. Along with Kinnipopo, they’re all heading further south to Central America and exotic ports thereafter. We really had to hold ourselves back from continuing along with them! Others we hung out with included Kanga, Fandango, Eyes of the World, and Catitude. There have been tons of familiar and new cruising friends this year. Too many to list!
From Ziehuatenajo, we turned our sights towards heading back north. Our Corsair Yacht Club buddy, Craig Barnes, joined us and stayed with us for about three weeks all the way up to La Cruz. It was great having another hand for the overnight passages. There’s a big difference with watch schedules with three on board. Six hours of sleep is far better than two or three, that’s for sure! We had a particularly bad passage from Chamela to La Cruz. I jinxed it, I’m afraid. I made a comment about the notorious Cabo Corrientes, which translates to cape of currents. I mentioned how it has always been quite calm every time we’ve passed through, and I thought all the comments to be wary were much to do about nothing. Well, boy, did we found out why others remain wary of this passage! We had a little armada going including Hotel California, Orca, Mystic Eyes, Coaster, and Apple Seeds. Safety in numbers, and it was nice to have the VHF available to chat with each other at 2 am. We all departed from Chamela at about 6pm, figuring we’d round Cabo Corientes about 3-4am, when it is supposed to be light winds and flat seas. We all checked the weather again before heading out, and it looked like we were good to go.
Once we got out of Chamela, we were greeted with some wind and swells on the nose. But we knew it was going to get calmer, according to the weather reports. A huge pod of dolphin led us out and stayed with us for quite a bit. At one point, we had a perpendicular line of over 20 dolphins off our bow, all leaping in synchronized formation. It was quite a show. I ran up on the bow and was totally doused with the bow swells, but wasn’t overly concerned because the weather reports said it was going to settle down.
It didn’t, though. Poor Craig Barnes had the bow v-berth, and it was impossible to sleep up front. First Craig, and then John had watches. Winds were in the 20 knot range with gusts in the 25k range, totally on the nose. I came on deck at 3am for my watch, and not much sleep with the pounding we were taking. It was supposed to be calm, but….the moment the watch captain went down the hatch to try for some much deserved sleep and I came on deck to start my watch, the wind began to build even more. I saw 30+ knots and swear the bottom of the keel had to have seen air. It was a particularly dark night, and when looking out, it was impossible to separate the water from the black night sky. At one time, I was surrounded by what may have been dolphin…or perhaps not! Was never sure what kind of sea life it was, but it was kind of scary! The phosphorescence made things quite bizarre. It was an arduous passage, but I kept telling myself that adversity builds character. It wasn't dangerous, just a little like getting knuckle-punched in the kidneys for 18 hours. I was never so happy to see La Cruz!
We left the boat in La Cruz and flew back to Southern California early April, took care of taxes, gathered a long list of parts, and then flew back to Puerto Vallarta/La Cruz after two weeks in California. From there, we headed north back to Mazatlan, then across to Bonanza on Isla Espiritus Santos. We were anxious to get up into the Sea of Cortez in time to meet my sister Lori and brother-in-law Peter who were coming to visit, so decided we’d make do with the status of our diminishing provisions and head north rather than stop in La Paz.
It was a very blustery day, and we had Myla going 9k on a close reach almost until we dropped anchor. The next morning, we were surprised to see a familiar steel-hulled boat come into the cove. Amy and Jim from Millie J had changed their cruising plans from heading to Central America and ultimately to Puerto Rico to returning to Oregon. They were headed to La Paz to put their boat on a cargo ship back to Oregon. They were part of the original Ensenada posse for the 2015 Baja Ha Ha. We had a great time with them, and hope to visit them on our upcoming road trip to the Pacific Northwest.
We continued heading north into the Sea. We had to high-tail it north to be in Loreto in time to meet our arriving guests. With the unpredictable and variable winds, confused seas, and even some fog, we wanted to get to Loreto early rather than later. We got there a few days ahead of time, and were met with some pretty gusty winds. We picked up Lori and Peter, and they took the blustery winds all in stride. Always great to have sailors as boat guests! The wind probably helped dampen our deranged singing and carrying on into the night! We really had a blast. Some hiking, some diving, and even though their visit was far too short, we had a great time.
After they left, the winds continued to howl, so when we had a weather window to continue north, we jumped on it.
We were delighted to have other members from the original Baja Ha Ha Ensenada Posse, Jeff and Dianne on Stryder, arrive in Loreto. We continued buddy-boating with them up through San Juanico, Bahia Conception, and Santa Rosalia. Along the way, we picked up pals on SeaMoore and Nelli Jo (not to be confused with Millie J). We also met Steve and Susan on Kashmira. We had a great time in Santa Rosalia. Another weather window, and the upcoming Loreto Chocolatie Clam Festival hastened our departure and we headed south again.
We met up with Sam and Joanne on Mystic Eyes again, along with Judy and Mike on Milagro, Nancy on Aldabra, Josie and Christian and family on Shawnagin, Gary on Gypsea, Terry and Diane on Harmony, and Don and Peggy on Interlude. We left Loreto and headed over to Marquer on Isla Carmen to meet with Les and Diane on Gemini. Les is a Spectra water maker guru, and we were having some issues. Cocktails and appies at 5 after a day of working on the watermaker – boat projects in exotic places with great people!
There have been a lot of familiar faces and places this second year. We continued to clean beaches as we did last season, picking up plastics whenever possible. This past week, we took 10 bags to the recycling bins in Loreto. We collected at just about every beach we stopped at while we circumnavigated Isla Carmen. Perhaps the most exciting thing this second year was our return to Ensenada Carrizal on the Pacific Mainland of Mexico, just outside of Manzanillo. We were there our first year, and recruited several other cruisers to help clean up that beach. It was literally carpeted with plastics. Along with some other cruisers we recruited, we took out over 30 bags of trash. I even submitted something to Latitude 38 about it and it was published - think it was the June 2016 issue. When we returned again this second year, we were quite excited to see that the beach had remained relatively clean. We still managed to remove about 10 bags, but that was considerably better than the previous year's 30+. That particular cove seems to act as a funnel for plastic debris. It was proof that we really can make a difference. We saw many beaches during year two’s tour that remained in good shape after our clean-up efforts from the previous year. We encourage everyone to take on a cove, a beach, anywhere, and make it better than when you arrived. Reuse plastics, reduce your trash, and look for products with environmentally friendly packaging. Together, we really can make a difference!
Meanwhile, even though we had more boat projects awaiting some attention once back in home port, La Paz, we tried to squeeze out as much fun as we could before heading back to the stable. I was getting anxious for access to phone and internet communication, however, and there were some boat projects that were starting to demand attention, so on June 17, we were back in La Paz. We had encountered a few issues that seemed to point to a short somewhere in the engine starter. John, ever the McGeiver, gets some brownie points for getting this figured out. We weren’t happy about having to head back in early, but we were rewarded with a killer whale and blue whale sightings on the way in while passing Isla Espiritu Santos. We even got a great close-reach sail, and that’s saying something being down here in the land of the “noserlies”. We had a lot of wind this year, and 9 out of 10 times, it was right on our nose. Ugh!
We did quite a few projects on the boat once we were in La Paz, and then departed the boat soon after July 4th. This year we drove back to the states rather than fly. We went north overland with experienced Baja cruisers and land travelers, Don and Peggy from Interlude. That road trip took seven days, and included three days in their wonderful condo in Nopolo, just south of Loreto. Lounging at a lap pool, walking the beach, and sleeping in a non-moving bed with hot, showers – it was fun living large. We continued north, had some wonderful stops along the way, and saw a side of the Baja we had missed only seeing her from the coast. It was a great trip, and while not sure I’ll ever do it again…it was a great time with some dear, fun friends.
We arrived in Orange County about a week after we left La Paz and got swept up by my sister Lori for a night of pampering. We were off the next morning to LAX for our flight to see our daughter and other family in the Washington D.C. area for a month to visit family and explore more of the East Coast. In addition to visiting family, we have several relocated Baja cruiser pals here on the East Coast who we are hoping to see. We've seen Alan and Elizabeth on Vivacia in Annapolis, and hoping to connect with Hartley and Leslie on Atsa! We’re not having much of a problem with the weather here. It is in the high 90s with humidity not too far behind. It is amazingly similar to what we left behind in La Paz.
From the East, we fly back to California to check on our home, visit friends and family, and then we will begin an epic three month long road trip up into the Pacific Northwest where we look forward to visiting with many of our cruising friends.
No plans to collect moss under our feet, and no barnacles on the bottom of our hull as we head out for more adventure. Not sure what we’ll be doing next year, but if these past two years are any indication, I suspect it will involve boats, travel, and our continued journey! Thinking we're heading to Central America this time around! Wishing you all health, happiness, and adventure!
Wonders of Nature
06 July 2016
In most situations, it might be a little awkward to hear your husband excitedly exclaiming, “Boobies, boobies, boobies! Wow, look at all these boobies!” But knowing we were the only ones in the entire anchorage with a spectacular, uninterrupted view of the Sierra de la Giaganta Mountain Range, I was pretty sure what he meant. It was nearing sunset, and we were at Bahia Santo Domingo, a lovely cove on the end of the peninsula that frames the entrance of Bahia Conception.
We were on our way back south from Santa Rosalia, the port furthest north we went to this first season. Santa Rosalia is a lovely town with an interesting history. In the mid-1800s, it had been a copper mining town owned by the French. How they got the infrastructure, communication, and transportation issues together in such a remote place as half-way up the Sea of Cortez was beyond us. It is just part of the uniqueness of this quaint town. What was particularly poignant was a photo proudly displayed in the central community center that showed a grainy sepia-tone harbor with several tall ships crowded in a harbor transporting the copper ore. What made this picture so amazing was that upon closer inspection, we could see the stone breakwater behind the ships, and realized that this was the same sea wall and harbor that was our current port of call. Over two hundred years later, and we were in the same spot as those tall ships.
We toured all over the town. We visited the Mahatma Gandi Library. It was a large structure, and I never was able to ascertain why it was named after Gandi. There was more shelf space that was empty than full, about five people “working”, and no patrons other than us. It was air conditioned, though, so perhaps that explained why there were people there. We also toured the church designed by Gustave Eiffel…yes, the same man who designed the Eiffel tower. The town had a distinct French feel, particularly with the distinctly European architecture. We toured the town’s museum, and while the docent did his best to give us the benefit of an English translation, we had better luck picking out words we understood in Spanish. The town is very proud of their history.
The cruisers’ guide mentioned a particular restaurant that serves up chicken and mashed potatoes. We went there, and John still gets a bit misty eyed remembering the mashed potatoes and gravy. He said he hadn’t tasted anything like that since his mother’s. Maybe I ought to do a little less granola and salad type cooking for this mid-west boy! If you go to Santa Rosalia, you have to stop at Terco’s Pollito and try their chicken and mashed potato dinner. It was a great treat to have some good ol’ home cooking that didn’t light your mouth on fire with chilies. There were tourists, both Mexicans and Gringos, all over the place. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants, so you may want to put this place on your must-stop list either by boat or road. There was a huge bus terminal right next to the marina and ferry service from the mainland. Beware the 6am ferry horn blast, though. Startling is an understatement! It was particularly brutal as we’d partied the previous night with several other boats who were preparing to launch across to San Carlos to put their boats up for hurricane season. While some cruisers continue cruising further north to hunker down in the Northern Sea, others cross over to San Carlos and put their boats up on the hard, and then there are people like us who continue cruising south back to La Paz.
We began the final leg of our almost year-long adventure heading back south from Santa Rosalia and returned to Bahia Conception, but only for one night. It was kind of a turning point for us; kind of like ponies heading back to the stables. We were on our last run to the finish. And that’s where John got so excited about the boobies. We’d already been to Bahia Conception, in fact, we’d spent nearly a week there on our earlier journey north back in early May. We can highly recommend Playa Santa Barbara as our favorite cove in the Bahia Conception area. We had some adventures in Playa Santispac where we ran into fellow cruisers aboard the S/V Comet. We’ve been playing tag with them since Ziehuatenajo, so it was great to catch up with them. There was guitar and singing fests into the wee hours more than a number of nights. We also ran into Jim and Daniella aboard the M/V Capo Doste. We first met Jim in La Paz. He was the skipper of the boat that our Corsair pals, Charlie and Susie were on for the motorboat equivalent of the Ha Ha. We had a blast snorkling, swimming, and generally sharing some great adventures.
Perhaps the greatest adventure was our attempt to assist a local retrieve “his” little sailboat that was anchored off a nearby island. The story went that the boat had been left abandoned for over four years, moored off the island outside of Bahia Coyote. A local man named Jesus said he had been told that the boat was his if he could just move it. He had assisted Capo Doste get supplies and had befriended all of us. His mother-in-law owned the local store and palapa restaurant, and he and his wife worked at both. We heard the story, and despite what the James Taylor song claims, this Jesus was not a sailor, so we offered to assist the fellow. We zoomed over in flat water in our dinghy along with Jesus and assessed the boat. It did indeed appear to be abandoned. We soon realized that the rudder off the stern had permanently seized into an upright position. That, along with the wind picking up helped us decide to try to tow the boat back to the harbor rather than sail. I attempted to steer the boat by standing on top of the rudder to give it some contact with the water while hiking off the transom. Jesus also attempted to steer, sending me hither and yonder, and John gave it the goose with our dinghy. We had just got the boat across the channel and into the harbor when a fishing boat came zooming up to us, with two English speaking gentlemen who asked us what we were doing with their boat. Jesus suddenly claimed, “No comprende”. John was busy getting tools off our boat, so I was left to explain the story. The Gringo claimed to have just bought the boat 4 days ago. I explained that there was obviously a misunderstanding, and offered to promptly return the boat to the previous mooring. The man had no proof that he had purchased the boat, but even though we had the word of a man named Jesus, we thought it was better to acquis. The man who claimed to have just purchased the boat declined to have us return it and said he actually had wanted to get it over to the harbor, so we’d done him a favor. He wasn’t too appreciative, however, and we decided to leave for calmer seas soon thereafter!
This adventure had occurred during our trek north, but after Santa Rosalio, we began retracing our course and headed back south to the scene of the pirating incident, Bahia Conception. Maybe there’s something about the place that brings out the pirate in us, because this was where John excitedly proclaimed “Boobies!” I came up on deck and yes, they were everywhere! We watched the red-hued sunset while flock after flock of boobies (the fabled blue-footed variety! What were you thinking?!) did their feathered ballets as they sought nighttime sanctuary. It was a memorable night. In keeping with our image, we toasted glasses of rum to another great day out in the Sea.
We continued south to San Juanico where we also ran into fellow cruisers, Ian and Leslie, S/V Fandango. They were friends we met while cleaning up our first harbor, Carizel down on the Pacific side. We’d lost touch with them, but reconnected several hundreds of miles away in San Juanico. They are farmers from Canada. Where else but cruising in Mexico do you get to meet so many people from so many different walks of life, but with so much in common! They continued north to put their boat up for the season in San Carlos, and we continued south. Our next stop was a return to Loreto.
Loreto has a way of stealing your heart and never letting you leave. Besides the fact that we ran into our friends, Rick and Pamela on Hotel California, Terry and Diane on Harmony, Ron and Gail on Locomakai, and Jeff and DeAnne on Strider, and Daniel and Susan on Kini Po Po, the place does hold a spell over you that makes it hard to leave. Our Corsair Yacht Club buddies Bob and Margie have a place in town and made a special visit so we could see them. Our fellow cruisers and Corsair members, Don and Peggy Cox joined us, and we had a fabulous time. We stayed around the area for several weeks, visiting Isla Coronado, Isla Carmen, and other amazing places again and again. We met expats Larry and Diane from Juncalito who couldn’t have been more welcoming and gracious. We met Elizabeth from Nopolo, a retired attorney from San Francisco who offered me knitting lessons and sent me off with a whole starter kit. There was Lettia and Jason, professors from Utah who were land cruising and let us join them for an inland tour. We kept coming into Loreto to reprovision after cruising about this gorgeous area, only to hear from other friends coming into town or making new friends, so of course, we stayed. Many cruisers were preparing to put their boats in the San Carlos area or to weather out the fearsome summer heat during the hurricane season in the safer regions of the upper sea. Others were like us, having one last hoorah before heading south to La Paz for the conclusion of a season’s adventure.
We had to stick around a little longer in the Loreto area than we expected while I recovered from a kidney and bladder infection. Once we were sure I was good to go, we set off from Loreto to continue south. We went to Agua Verde where we bought the obligatory goat cheese. The locals directed us to the “store”, which was really an open air shack with several chairs and an open air kitchen. There were several locals sitting about, and we were instructed to have a seat while this sweet little old lady got the cheese. She had a large slab of cheese wrapped in some sort of cheese cloth in a vice grip of sorts. I was appalled at the lack of hygiene, but the welcoming smiles on everyone’s faces made it impossible to turn it down. We were the only cruising boat in the harbor, so we took advantage and decided to stick around. On day one, we went hiking. We ran into a man originally from Czechoslovakia who had carved out a charming, simple life for himself here. He had immigrated to the USA where he became a chef, left his wife and retired at 50 and moved to Mexico. He had a small sailboat on a trailer and a large SUV that he called home. He’d set up a hibachi kitchen on the ground next to his rigs and had a kayak he used to catch his dinner. He was delighted to have some company to hear his story. While the desert, mountains, and sea are breathtaking, it has been the people, both those fellow adventurers who have found themselves here in Mexico and those who have lived here all their lives that have made this experience so special.
So Agua Verde night one – hiking, meeting fellow travelers, and having the entire cove to ourselves was fabulous. Before on our trek north, we had to anchor off the main beach, less than a favorable spot, but the only spot available. There were well over 30 boats back then in May, but in late June we had our pick of the place. Night two brought a large, beautiful fishing boat from Ft. Lauderdale. We hoped we’d make their acquaintance, but they weren’t too friendly. This was the first negative experience we’ve had with fellow boaters, or with anyone for that fact, this entire year. With the entire harbor available, they plopped their anchor down nearly right on top of us. After a restless night with their generator going well past midnight, we pulled up anchor and continued south.
We had had to boogie up from La Paz to Loreto to meet our friends Kelly and Warren who joined us for a week of cruising, but in so doing, we’d skipped some great spots along the way. We loved that they made the effort to join us and share this amazing adventure. We had a great time with them and there’s much more written about it in a previous log. But now, this south trajectory was all about continuing our journey of discovery. Sounds romantic, right? It really has been all that and more. From Agua Verde, we went to Los Gatos. We dipped into several coves along the way, but seeing that there were some southerlies, we thought Los Gatos was the best choice. Turns out that while the winds were subdued, the swells were anything but. This was the first time we’d had the flopper stoppers out since we’d been on the Pacific Mainland. We had the whole cove to ourselves and took advantage of hiking on the beach. We’ve continued to clean beaches everywhere we go, and this beach looked pretty pristine already. Upon further exploration, however, we found a huge trash heap set back behind some dunes in the mouth of an arroyo. And it wasn’t the typical plastic trash we’ve found that washes up on the beach after storms. This was heaps and heaps of garbage deliberately set there. Upon further investigation, it became very obvious that this was trash from cruisers. There were bottles, cans, and containers of all sorts with American brand labels clearly still affixed. There were English magazines, newspapers, and even a student’s handwritten essay about Zooks and Mooks needing to get along. The paper was still intact, which means the trash was fairly fresh, most likely new from this year’s cruising season. It was absolutely heartbreaking. After clearing trash from countless beaches, it was sad to come upon such a beautiful beach so horribly disrespected by our fellow cruisers. There was more trash than we could possibly have attempted to clear out, so we left Los Gatos with a heavy heart.
We continued south and found a somewhat uncharted cove called Bahia Rincon. This was one of the most gorgeous coves we’ve ever seen. It is surrounded by steep mountain cliffs that come right up to the shore, reaching almost 500 feet into the air. Once again, we had the cove to ourselves. We launched the dinghy and went ashore. This is an “off the beaten” track cove, not frequented by many cruisers. There were no beautiful white sandy beaches like in Los Gatos, but perhaps that’s what made this spot so special. We tied off to one of the large boulders that had tumbled down and proceeded to walk about this rocky shore. No sooner had we arrived, we started picking up bits and pieces of trash that had been driven ashore by previous storms. We got right back in the saddle and resumed our little thank you gesture to Mexico, our temporary home during this past year. We secured two large trash bags full, and then went diving in some of the most beautiful rocky, coral strewn water we’ve seen. It was as if we were being rewarded for not giving up the fight after the disheartening experience in Los Gatos.
We then continued south to San Evaristo. This appears to be a popular spot amongst cruisers, and sure enough, we arrived to find three other boats in the harbor. There’s a little palapa restaurant, and rumor has it that the owner caught some fish, so maybe I’ll get a reprieve from the galley tonight! I even heard that they have internet, so perhaps this will even get to be posted. If not, we’re 51 miles from La Paz, our final destination for this year. I suspect the sounds of the city, congestion, etc. will be a bit of a shock to us, thus we’re relishing every last second as we continue. We may stay here a few more days. We may not. We may head to Isla San Francisco or Caleta Partida, or who knows. It really does depend upon which way the wind blows. As the crow flies…or rather, as the boobies fly…the adventure continues.
Up and down
26 May 2016
It has finally happened. Rather than that moment in the morning when you first awaken and collect your thoughts to determine the day of the week and the long to-do lists ahead, we now have to take a pause to determine the month. It isn’t a long pause, so no reason to get worried here, but time has taken on a new meaning. We are indeed fortunate to have this opportunity to live a life that is so different from the 405 freeway rush hour style we left behind. Rather than the multitude of emails and other forms of constant communication that necessitated a frantic pace and a strong heart, we are finding a peacefulness that we’re still adjusting to even eight months into our journey. Finding contentment in facilitating the necessities of life is quite the adjustment. Where sleep, showers, food, and water were after-thoughts in our previous lives, we now find that finding balance is the driving force in our life.
Is it overcast? Could it be overcast? Are we going to be underway, and if so, what’s the wind doing. Will we be motoring? What’s the distance to the next port that will have diesel? Laundry and food provisioning is something that is planned out much like lesson plans – well ahead and thoroughly, with the anticipation that there will be a multitude of variables coming in from all angles. Water and power fill our thoughts, and we strategically plan everything. Repairs and improvements are consistent, everyday activities in addition to our planning for our basic needs.
Life at sea is a perspective change, for sure!
Not sure where last we left off. Cell and Internet access is proving to be harder to come by up in the Sea of Cortez. And yes, this is making me crazy. I still have the need to stay connected, and bills do need to get paid still! After being on the Pacific side of Mexico where it was much more available, the lack of availability is proving problematic. Yet another opportunity to become strategic about our travels, should anyone think we’re completely carefree. We left the Pacific coast of the mainland of Mexico where we’d gone from San Blas and south to Zihuatenajo, and back up to Puerto Vallarta area. Not bad for a new cruiser’s first year. We flew back to the states for the first week of April and were greeted by our wonderful son at the airport. Periodic emails and phone calls doesn’t make up for the long absence. It was great to feel my arms around him. Soon after, both John and Jack were on the couch in the house, listening to a basketball game, while Los Primos (our favorite Mexican food restaurant) food wrappers lied strewn upon the table. It was as if no time had transpired.
Our visit to California was obviously to see our son, but also, in addition to dealing with taxes, we had some unexpected landscaping work that needed attending and this cut into our opportunity to see more of our friends and family. We will not schedule just a week next time. It was a whirlwind period and not everything was accomplished. We return in August, so hopefully we can continue to handle everything from afar. We were able to secure a long-time lease through a referral from dear friends Wendy and Conrad. This has provided quite a bit of relief and has secured matters for another year of adventure. Our neighbors are so wonderful and rallied for a spontaneous potluck that materialized during our short stay in town. Some Corsair friends got wind and joined in the unscheduled festivities. Thank you Al and Barb for coming all the way down to visit us, and thank you Bill for finding a moment to pop over. We were sorry that Bev wasn’t able to join you, but with your continued care, we know she’ll be up and going soon. Reconnecting with friends was such a delight. Our visit back home was short, but we returned to our floating home here in Mexico to a period of jam-packed action.
We headed out of La Cruz for Isla Isabella, then the cross over to La Paz, but while we were departing the harbor, we heard our pals Jeff and Deanne being hailed. Turns out they were just ahead of us heading directly across to Los Muertos on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez. We joined up with their little floatilla and it turned out to be quite the comfort on this 312 mile non-stop journey. We then went to La Paz where we took care of some minor repairs and re-provisioning. We had to hustle to make it up to Loreto to meet friends scheduled to arrive, so nothing was left to grow on our keel as we set sail to head up into the sea. Glad we did because we got to catch Bob Kreidel before he headed off to Florida to pick up his new yacht. It was fun having dinner with Bob and fellow cruising Corsairs Peggy and Don Cox.
Our friends Warren and Kelly Stone visited us for a week while we were up in the Loreto area. Knowing that this was a week reprieve for them from their busy working lives up in the states, we endeavored to make their stay with us as much of a vacation as possible. There were no repairs, improvements, or a significant focus on balancing electrical power. Rather, the focus was on fun, and we sure had a lot of that! We met them in Escondito where the 20th Loreto Fest was taking place. We connected again with fellow Corsair cruising members Don and Peggy Cox of S/V Interlude and had a fun time sipping margaritas while being immersed in the cruising community. Kelly and I were able to catch a ride into Loreto for provisioning along with Amie aboard S/V Millie J and Sally Honey S/V Illusion. We went to several stores and had a decent tour of the town.
Fully provisioned and ready to rumble, we went six miles to Honeymoon cove on Isla Dazante. We all drifted into a relaxed state (okay, with the help with some well-timed beverages) where we could behold the beautiful mountains that produced silhouettes of turtles, faces, and mushroom shapes. It was obvious that we were in for a fun week.
From Isla Dazante, we visited another nearby island, Isla Coronados. The Loreto area is just gorgeous with several islands and a multitude of coves a short distance away. It would take a year or more to explore this area, and even then you’d just scratch the surface. We were greeted by varying hued aqua blue water, white beaches, and harsh, jagged rocks. With the waters full of seasonal jellyfish, we decided to venture upon the volcano that makes up the small island. It was one of the more rigorous climbs we’ve done, but it was amazing.
From Isla Coronados, we headed south to Isla Carmen. We first went to V-Cove, also known as El Refugio. Warren thought he’d seen it from the air when they flew over it and landed in Loreto, so we had to check it out. Our fellow Corsairs, Don and Peggy had also highly recommended this spot. We were so glad we went there as it proved to be one of the most amazing coves we’ve been in thus far. I know, we say that about every new place, but this one really stands out as the best. We anchored almost upon the beach with a stern anchor to assure we didn’t end up on it! You could almost step off the boat and walk across the translucent aqua sheen to shore had it not been for those pesky jellies. They were somewhat compliant as they did drift in and out of the harbor allowing us some opportunities to cool down and explore. The surrounding caves were the highlight of this cove. Disneyland has nothing on this place, but I bet one of the designers was here and got their inspiration for Pirates of the Caribbean.
From El Refugio, we went around to the east side of Isla Carmen to Bahia Salinas. No jellies, no swells, and light winds made this a surprising spot. It is a wide open harbor that used to be a salt mining operation, but it has since been abandoned. Walking about the remains of the town was a bit ghostly, but interesting. Suddenly, amidst the ruble, I happened upon an absolutely pristine piece of paper that turned out to be an inventory of the area when it closed down. How it suddenly appeared and could have survived the brutal environment was beyond us, but it was interesting. The rusted heaps of cars and machinery were in stark contrast to the pristine coves we’d seen up to then, but the place gave us all plenty of opportunities to ponder nature, time, and humans’ role on earth. With all that swirling in our heads as we meandered through this deserted town, we went back aboard S/V Myla to another evening of revelry. While we’ve learned that cruisers sure know how to party, Corsairs do it with a flair! The next day we went diving and discovered new friends, Greg and Julie aboard S/V Adventura. A good time was had by all.
From Bahia Salinas, we went around to the west side of Isla Carmen to Puerto Ballandra. It was a welcome treat to get back into cell and internet connection, but the price was a bit steep. Poor Warren and I became the sacrificial lambs to the multitude of mosquitos that swarmed us suddenly in the evening. John and Kelly made it out relatively unscathed, fortunately. Without hesitation, we left in the morning and headed to Loreto. What a lovely town! We toured a bit, but found partying aboard was all the fun we needed. We ate and drank like kings. We wanted this vacation to be memorable for our guests, and we think it most certainly was. It sure was for us, too.
We bid our guests adios and stayed another night to get laundry and re-provisioned. We were joined by Terry and Diane aboard S/V Harmony for an evening of revelry and homemade soup, and then we left the next morning for Caleta San Juanico. The trip there was rather unadventurous with light winds, but we were reminded again how electronic instruments are only one piece of the navigation puzzle. The Navionics and Garmin systems placed Mangles Rock to port of us, but having learned early on to use these navigation systems as good ball-park locators, at best, we remained vigilant. John spotted this submerged reef located well off the coast first, fortunately, and imagine our surprise as we found it to starboard. Paper charts will never be replaced in our opinion, and luckily we had them and were aware to be on the alert! Thank you Shawn and Heather, and word to the wise – have several redundant systems going at all time. Nothing replaces vigilance, too. Harbor John, we have learned to be ever vigilant, indeed!
We met up with Tom and Annie aboard S/V Tapanze in San Juanico. These two early-retired engineers have been cruising for three years now and are full of great advice. We went hiking with them over to La Ramada cove and other surrounding areas. After this particularly strenuous hike, largely due to the blaring sun and hot volcanic rock beneath our feet, we went swimming in La Ramada cove. The cool water provided immediate relief, but soon after the rush of cool water hit our overheated skin, we all began to feel a tingling, stinging sensation. None of us saw them, but we certainly felt the jellies. They may have been some microscopic variety, or the lingering remains of the season influx of the nasty little plague we’ve been experiencing in the area. Regardless, we will certainly have a repeat visit to Caleta San Juanico as it is really quite beautiful.
We then did a 53 mile hop to Bahia Conception. The winds were predicted to be blowing 10-15k southeasterly, but turned out to be more in the 20-25 range for a period. It was wonderful! We finally got to let the engine rest and let Myla fly. We hit some 8k and everything just felt, well, groovy! Then the wind began to get shifty. It went light, shifted to a southwesterly direction, picked back up, went light, and then shifted more northerly. The last shift made for a fine entrance to Bahia Conception, and the other shifts gave us great opportunities to consistently adjust trim. With more motoring and motor-sailing than we’d ever expected here in Mexico, this opportunity to sail in almost every condition was a real blast.
We arrived in Bahia Conception with plenty of time to choose one of the many coves to anchor. We went to Play Santispac and ran into Raine and Don aboard S/V Comet. We first met these California cruisers back in Zihuatenajo and have run into them in several ports along the way. We buddy boated with them from Chamela to La Cruz, and it was a nice reunion to see the one other boat in this cove was our pals. We ended up having a dinner of chips and guacamole with our guitars and singing as entertainment well into the night.
We left the next day after determining the one source of internet was unavailable. The little palapa restaurant that advertised having the service was closed. This forced us to determine what the day of week it was, not just the month. It is Tuesday. Of course, the place was closed…for no other reason than it was Tuesday. We have learned that there is often no rhyme or reason to some things, particularly to us Americanos. T.I.M. (This is Mexico) has become an often repeated statement to explain that which cannot be explained, is unexpected, or not understood. The multitude of variables that necessitates an ever developing level of flexibility is becoming more and more a part of our nature.
We stayed a few days in El Burro, Bahia Coyote, Playa Santa Barbara, and Isla Requision. We returned to Santa Barbara, our new favorite and were joined by Jim and Daniella of M/V Capo Doste. We had a collective dinner together from treasures we caught from the sea and had a great time. We then left to head further north, and they joined us. Proving that power boats and sailboats can get along, we both went about the same speed up towards Isla San Marcos and Sweet Pea Cove. It was alright, but the bees decided to attack. I’m still sporting a nasty reminder on my hind end – don’t ask!
We then headed over to Santa Rosalia. What an interesting little town. It used to be French mining town, so there’s a lot of European styled architecture. It was then owned by a Mexican company, and now a Canadian/Korean venture. Like the many abandoned structures throughout Mexico, this town has a lot on display. Interesting history here, and a visit here wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Turkos chicken restaurant. This is certainly not a tourist town targeting Americans or Canadians. They have a museum with old mining artifacts, but everything is in Spanish. It was still very interesting and we even are beginning to understand more of the language. It is also a common harbor where cruisers converge to then head across the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos where they store their boats for a few months through the hurricane season. We are surrounded by familiar cruisers we’ve seen along the way and look forward to seeing them next season.
We will begin our journey tomorrow back south to La Paz where S/V Myla will have some work done and will stay for a few months. We will take our time and catch up with friends along the way. We are planning a road trip for the hottest months of August and September through California, Oregon, and Washington. We will visit family in California and DC, attend my high school reunion in Long Beach, and otherwise continue our adventures. Adios for now!
"And here we are..."
01 April 2016
Well, here we are…that’s become a rather frequent phrase here aboard the good ship Myla. Every time we drop our Ultra Anchor, we sit back with a great sigh of relief and satisfaction knowing that we are safe and sound, and John will inevitably begin every conversation with…“Well, here we are…” We have done a popular route amongst the cruising community of crossing over from La Paz, and then heading south for winter, and then starting back north in spring. The plan is to get into the Sea of Cortez for spring and summer. After that, it is finding a safe place to hole up during hurricane season. We’ve been discussing our options of where to have the boat where it will be safe, sound, and insured for those hot and blustery days of hurricane season, and we’ve decided it’ll be La Paz for this first year. We have plans to head up into the states for some land touring August – October. We’ve heard it is terribly hot in Mexico then…as if it isn’t already hotter than Hades. But meanwhile, back to our travels. I may have already covered some of these coves in the previous blog post about our southerly trek, but we visited many of them again while heading back north. Seeing them a second time has added a better appreciation and sense of familiarity to these beautiful coves. Our southerly trek began back in January after about a month in La Cruz. Our first stop was Chamela. That was our newfound favorite cove with beautiful islas that provided great snorkeling and anchoring. After all the boat repairs, this was our first port where we could sit back and fully appreciate our surroundings and relax. We also reconnected with our good friends Don and Peggy Cox of Intrepid. We were new fish together in the Corsair Yacht Club 15 years ago, and they’ve been cruising in Mexico now for 10 years. It was great to see them and learn some of their wonderful, seasoned cruising tips. Peggy outfitted me with a macramé shell anklet, and I really began to feel like a cruiser! The town of Perula in Bahia Chamela turned out to be quite quaint and inspiring. I found a place to get my hair attended to while John went roaming about the town. He ended up locating a nonprofit English language school that was just getting set up after the hurricane. There was a huge pile of dirt to be moved, and John found his way to lend a hand, and a very strained back by the end of the day, too. Meanwhile, while John is being altruistic and phal trophic, I was being vane and anticipating becoming bald or worse at the hair salon. Only after the color had been applied did I realize that there was no running water in the place. The dirt floors should have given me a head’s up! But the gal did a great job, and I miraculously looked 20 years younger when she was done. I later joined John at the English language school and discussed their programs with the owner’s wife. Once a teacher, always a teacher! We both returned the next day to give another round of help. John brought along our pal, Daniel McCoy from S/V Kini PoPo and the two of them helped move quite a bit of the dirt to the backyard garden. I brought over quite a bit of costume jewelry for craft projects and some school supplies. We had hoped to stop again on our way back through while heading north, but the surf made a dinghy landing a bad idea. We will be sure to stop by when we go through the cove this time again next year. From Chamela, we went to Tenacatita. We heard there were more boats there this year than there have been in the last 10 years. I think there were at least 40 boats. There are planned activities such as bochi ball and mermaid swims, and there’s even a mayor of the fleet aboard S/V Harmony. We felt like the slurking newcomers to this established fleet at first, but seeing Don and Peggy again helped us to feel like we were part of the gang. We went on a jungle river ride on a dinghy with our two intrepid solo sailing friends, Daniel (Kini PoPo) and Patty (Kiwi 3). We reconnected with several other pals we’ve met thus far along our cruising adventure, and otherwise loved this place. The bugs seem to really like me, and especially at Tenacatita. We’ll be better prepared when we pass through again. Even with bugs, this was our new favorite. La Manzanillo is close by and provided ample opportunity to re-provision. From Tenacatita, we went to Melaque – not called Rocky Melacky for nothing! We soon moved on to the Barra Navidad Marina where amenities of a luxury hotel resort are included with the slip fees. We soon found ourselves in a pool with a swim up bar. Something about a gin and tonic, cool pool water, and luxurious surroundings to make you feel special. After all the native gypsy living we’ve been doing, the reprieve was thoroughly enjoyed! From Barra Navidad, our new favorite place, we went about three miles back north to Cuastecomate. We got together with Peggy and Don again as well as fellow Ha Ha sailors Stephen and Benta aboard Wind Star. Benta introduced me to how a lady drinks tequila, and we had a wonderful progressive dinner that led well past cruisers’ midnight. We headed back south to Santiago where we did some terrific hikes to some abandoned hotels and homes way up on the surrounding hills. We then went to Ensenada Carrizal where we did a beach clean-up. I mentioned this in a previous post. We fueled up in Las Hadas, and along with our pal Dan aboard Kini Po Po, we headed south to Cabeza Negra, Bahia de Maurata, and Coleta de Campos for about one night each. These are coves that are often passed by as they have a reputation of being a bit rough and not as welcoming to cruisers. We found them to be delightful stops and rather than doing the long overnight trek from Santiago to Zihuatenajo, we’re very glad we explored these coves. Each had tremendous views, great hikes, and a more Mexican feel than many of the more touristy areas. We even helped set a baby sea turtle free. Yes, cousin Roz, I think we did have a pet turtle named Myrtle. We always had turtles won at school fairs and such, but none of them were as grand as this baby sea turtle we came upon in Mexico. How we became freedom fighters for this little guy began at a restaurant where a waitress delivered a bowl we thought was chips. It was dark and we almost reached in when we realized that the bowl contained some water and a little turtle. The waitress asked us if we’d take him out with us when we returned to our boats and set him free as far off the shore as we could. Here’s hoping Myrtle is out there growing to be a big turtle now. From Caleta de Campos, we headed to Isla Ixtapa, otherwise known as Isla Granda. It is grand, but not large. It is about a mile long with more palapa restaurants than sand. It is a tourist destination with a fleet of pangas bringing people from the local hotels in Ixtapa all day long. Sounds horrible, but it actually was pretty neat. There were attentive servers about every third lounge chair or so down the beach. There’s even a favorite palapa amongst the cruisers. This savvy owner brings a round of beers or a bottle of tequila, and even some fresh sashimi. That got our attention and our continued business, for sure! We met quite a few fellow cruisers who were all heading to Zihuatenajo, so our fleet grew. We headed to Ixtapa Marina for two days for some much needed boat washing. While we didn’t see it at the time, there was a crocodile swimming behind our boat at one time. Our buddy Kevin and his guest, Lamar, aboard the M/V Adente snapped this one. We then did the 5 mile trip south and arrived in Zihuatenajo where we saw a lot of familiar boats. There weren’t a lot of the 2015 Baja Ha Ha fleet, but many other cruisers we’ve met along the way. This was our new favorite harbor. At night, the hills are lit up like a Christmas tree. The guitar festival was really a lot of fun. Our pal, Michael Brietenstein, came down and joined us. He is an amazing musician himself and got to stand in with a local blues guitar player during a gig. We wrapped up his stay with a lovely day at the beach at Playas las Gatas. The music was fabulous the whole week, and we’d highly recommend the guitar festival to all music lovers. The ambiance of Zihuatenajo was a mix of La Cruz, Santa Barbara, La Jolla, and La Paz. We were sad to leave. When we exited the harbor, there was a moment when we considered throwing away our plans to head north and just continue south 112 miles to Acapulco and beyond. We were only a little over 300 miles away from the Mexican border and Guatemala. Panama Canal anyone? But that may have to wait for another time. After having some starter problems and some much appreciated assistance from Ian and Leslie aboard the S/V Tango, we headed north as planned and revisited many of the harbors we’d seen. We did a few overnighters to take advantage of weather conditions. We did a night landing in Santiago in Manzanillo Harbor as it is particularly well lit. From there, we visited Barra Navidad, but we stayed in the lagoon this time. The French baker visited the next day with some delicious treats, and we made a stop at the carnaceria to pick up the best bacon and pork chops in all of Mexico. We also got to meet up with our amazingly talented friend Ian Hoffman. He’s a drummer for several bands in the Barra area. He’s also the brother of our dear friend Lauren Sinz. It was great to see him and hear him play again. Meanwhile in Barra, a boat dragged their anchor in the lagoon and had several cruisers not come to assist, the boat would have surely swamped or worse. Of course, they didn’t have an Ultra Anchor…nor did the three other boats that we know of who have dragged in La Cruz. Just sayin…..our anchor has been a dream of dependability and comfort. From Barra we then went to Tenacacita again and reconnected with our Ensenada and Ha Ha friends, Jeff and Deanne of S/V Stryder. With only about 10 boats this time and the mayor not in attendance, the activities were pretty low key. We decided to have a spontaneous raft-up to get to meet some of the other cruisers. Several boats joined us, including one couple who have obviously spent a lot of time there because they had written a song about it. There we all sat aboard our respective dinghies, bobbing about, sipping drinks, and sampling appetizers while a delightful gal aboard a S/V named Traveler played her ukulele and sang. It was quite magical, until the bugs of Tenacatita descended. I’m sporting about 50 bites at present. First year cruisers’ learning curve! We left Tenacatita and continued north for Chemela. We had a solid night’s sleep and left after a nice walk along the beach the next day with fellow cruiser and gal sailor Rainy aboard the S/V Comet. We banded together with Comet and Strider with the plan to round Cabo Corrientes at about 3am. It has been rather strange that regardless of the direction we’re heading, the wind is directly on our bow. I’m beginning to think we have a motor boat with a sail for stabilization purposes. We motored the entire way, except for a few fervent attempts, and rounded at exactly 3am. I had the watch from there on and caught a gorgeous sunrise in Bandaras Bay. After spending almost all of December and some of January there, it felt like a homecoming of sorts. We stayed in the anchorage and it was a great reunion of many familiar faces. What made it even more exciting was seeing our friends we met earlier who stayed in La Cruz to prepare for the Puddle Jump. That’s the rally that goes to the South Pacific. We got to see new intrepid pals Jeanie and Merv aboard S/V Meridian Passage start their final leg of their 18 years of cruising. They’re heading back to New Zealand. They were quite generous with their friendship and great tips, and as you can imagine, we were totally enamored with their accomplishments. It was an exciting time to be in the harbor, for sure! We then moved the boat to Paradise Village Marina, where the boat currently is docked until we return after a short trip to the states to deal with taxes, etc. We were more than delighted to see several of our Corsair Yacht Club friends at the marina. Sandy and Rich Lewis looked radiant as they hosted family for spring break. Barb and Huge Tate, former members, were there, too. If there is a commodore of the marina, we think it must certainly be the Tates! They’ve got a lovely trawler now, and look quite happy with a great group of friends in the marina. We also spent quite a bit of time with Jacques and Theresa Lorch aboard Jacques Beateau. Jacques and Theresa are preparing to do a little cruising in the Sea of Cortez, then bash the boat back for a season with the Corsairs in Catalina. We’re hoping to catch back up with them near La Paz. Our last in night in Paradise Marina before we left began innocently enough. We banded together with Theresa and Jacques, then we were joined by Ha Ha friends Leslie and Hartley on S/V Atsa and Steve and Pat on S/V Ahalani. Then we were joined by some new friends from Long Beach aboard a 50 ft. Cheoy Lee motor sailor headed south to Panama, and friends from La Paz, Rick and Sharon aboard S/V Between da Sheets. We all decided to check out the “all you can eat shrimp buffet” at the resort. Honestly, we didn’t know, but there was all you could drink, too. Let’s just say we were very glad there was time to recuperate and rest the next day on the flight home! A great time was had by all. We are now home taking care of taxes, renewing visas, and fixing up some home repairs, etc. It is so weird being back in our home. It seems so expansive and cavernous. It is a beautiful home, and while we lived here, I think we were often so busy with work and the day-to-day stress of living in the Southern California fast-paced environment, that we didn’t appreciate it enough. I’m loving it now! Fast Internet! No limited solar showers off the stern for me here! But then again, I don’t get to see any dolphin jumping while I rinse off. Trade-offs! Looking forward to returning next week and rejoining our fellow cruiseros as we venture into the Sea of Cortez.
09 March 2016
We’ve arrived in Zihuatenajo, the furthest we plan to go south in Mexico. We’ve basically been sampling Mexico like a box of Whitman’s chocolates – stopping at every cove we can. We keep finding our new favorite places all along the coast heading south, and we have to say Z-town is our new favorite. We’ve met new friends and reconnected with friends we had met previously. It’s like a migrating fleet, and the similarities to our beloved Corsair Yacht Club experience is amazing. We’re here for guitar festival, and our friend Michael Brietensen has joined us for this week. We’ve been going to town every night listening to some pretty amazing musicians. The highlight thus far was sitting on a white sand beach, dining at tables set with linens and candles, surf gently lapping, and listening to a live performance of some of the best guitarists of the festival. Glad we made it this far south our first year, and hope to do this again next year. This is totally worth it!
Along our way south, we’ve seen some very “off the beaten path” towns where we were the only gringos, and some very tourist-friendly places. We’ve loved them all. Here is an article we wrote for Latitude 38 about some of our adventures coming down from Barra. Don’t know whether it’ll get published, but regardless, we’re going to continue to do our part to give back to the environment down here in Mexico. It’s the least we can do with them opening their shores to us with such warm, welcoming arms. Here’s the article:
We always knew that we would eventually go cruising. We’ve dreamed about it our whole lives, and now that we’re out here, we’ve been learning just how life changing it can be. My husband, John King and I officially began our life as cruisers with the 2015 Baja Ha Ha. We’d quit our jobs, sold our previous racing boat, and purchased our new-to-us cruising boat less than two months before the start of the rally. We knew we’d have little time to adjust and a long list of projects ahead, but we thought we were up to the challenge. And challenges are what we have enjoyed with 40-plus years of racing in Southern California. However, while cruising here in Mexico, we were finding ourselves missing the adrenaline rush of racing. Besides spending our days snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, swimming, swinging in hammocks pretending to read, hiking, meeting a multitude of great new friends, and let’s not forget the endless list of repairs and projects, we were finding that even amidst paradise, we were missing something.
We both thrive on the energy expenditure and adrenaline rush of racing, and expending energy is how this, the Cove Clean-up Cup Challenge was started. We were going on our fifth month as new cruisers in Mexico. We were in Ensenada Carrizal, what appeared to be a pristine cove just north of Manzanillo. There were maybe six other boats in there, and everyone was pretty quiet, staying to themselves. John needed to get off the boat and take a break from the endless list of boat repairs and projects. He wanted to stretch his legs, so he went on a hike with fellow cruiser and friend, Daniel McCoy of S/V Kinnipopo.
From our boats in the cove, the shore looked beautiful, but a bit foreboding with a steep face, lots of rocks and pebbles, and little to no sand. However, when John and Daniel went ashore, they discovered that the beach was literally covered with a blanket of plastic trash. Much of it had been washed ashore during the recent storms, and some of it was washed so deeply into the shore that it was literally imbedded into the land. When John returned to the boat, the shear amount of trash he’d seen in this gorgeous cove weighed heavily on him. That next day, John and I went ashore and spent several hours gathering trash. It was hard work, especially with the sun beating down on us and the thermal boost from the fire-hot rocks below our feet, but it was also quite the challenge. We felt like we were on a very tough weather leg of a race, and the weather mark was nowhere in sight. We’d gone ashore with four large trash bags, but very soon discovered that we needed a lot more bags. We were able to make a dent in the trash gathering, but there was still much more to do. We weren’t even halfway around the course.
We’d sure burned off some energy and were exhausted, but we needed some social time fun. We decided to invite all the other boats in the cove over for an impromptu sunset raft-up. Everyone showed up and we had a blast getting to know our fellow cove-mates. It wasn’t too long before several of them asked what the heck we had been doing on the beach earlier that day. What was that big pile we had created on the beach all about? We told them about the trash and invited them to join us the following day to finish the job.
The next day, Ian and Lesley McCallum of S/V Fandango, Marcus and Cyndi of S/V Rebecca, and Daniel McCoy joined John and me from S/V Myla on shore to finish up the beach. It went amazingly faster with the additional crew and dare I say, it was a lot more fun. Altogether, we’d accumulated over 30 bags of trash. Even Pat and Melodie Williams of S/V Starshine got in the action. They arrived after all the trash collecting had been completed, but noticed the many bags of trash on everyone’s boats. They wanted to get involved and volunteered to take a few bags on their own boats to dispose of properly in our next ports of call.
Either racing or cruising, everyone who’s plied the seas knows that never an outing goes by without lessons learned. What we learned with this plastic clean-up event is that a little effort goes a long way, and the more hands that help, the quicker and better the job is done. Kind of reminds us of racing, right?! We learned that we will be more cognizant of packaging, single use plastics, items we purchase that are made of plastics, and how we dispose of them. We learned that the raft-up, much like a regatta party, was a great way for us to meet our fellow cruisers in the cove, create some community feeling, and to rally the troops for a very rewarding clean-up project. We not only left a cove renewed to its natural and pristine state, but we also made some great new friends.
It doesn’t matter if it is a beer can, one-design, or off shore race, we love the challenge this sport provides. Adopting a beach or a street or a town to clean up and help make a difference provided us a similar rush. Many cruisers out there are doing a multitude of activities to improve their surroundings, and we’ve discovered that the whole community is quite cognizant about their footprint on their environment. Our cove clean-up experience allowed us to learn firsthand that we can have a positive impact on our adopted home here in Mexico, or anywhere else we’re cruising. We still will jump on any boat we can to race, but we’re finding that there are other avenues where we can appease our need for a good challenge. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire cove clean-up experience, and the similarities to racing are uncanny. We’ve since made picking up plastics and trash along our cruise through Mexico part of our everyday life. That’s why we’re throwing out the gauntlet to all on the sea and shore. We’d like to invite all cruisers and fellow ocean goers to join the “Cove Clean-up Cup Challenge”. Submit your pictures and stories of cove clean-ups to Latitude 38! You, too can be a Cove Clean-up Cup Challenge winner! Hosting a raft-up to recruit fellow cruisers as a regatta party makes it especially fun. See you out there!
Since we wrote that article, we’ve spent countless hours walking beaches with trash bags. We saw freshly hatched sea turtle egg shells surrounded by flipper marks heading to the sea. That sure was inspirational. At one palapa restaurant at either Bahia de Maruata or Caleta de Campos, the waitress greeted us with a bowl we thought were chips. We very quickly realized that it was filled with water and a live baby turtle. She asked us to take the turtle back with us to our boat and release him. We named him Murtle, and it was a moment when we set him free in the sea. We hope he’s one of the lucky ones!
We begin heading north at the end of this week, then stop in Puerto Vallarta for a week for a trip to the states to renew visas and see family and friends. We then return and head to Mazatlan, then across to La Paz and then up into the Sea of Cortez for the next few months. This is turning out to be all we had hoped, plus more. We miss our family, friends, yacht club family, and home dearly. I miss my students and colleagues. This is a very different kind of life than we were leading just a year ago, but we’re so happy to have this opportunity to “live the dream”. We have some pals who had to turn around and head back north due to health issues. They were just 4 years older than John, but had waited too long to start their adventure and head out. This is not for the weak or faint of heart, for sure. Here’s to living life to the fullest as long and as hard as we all can! Come and visit!
Never too much to Barra
10 February 2016
We are currently in Barra Navidad. We're loving this place! Having access to the beautiful resort isn't bad - almost forgot what it was like to feel so fancy. Heck, anyone who knows us knows that we're never so fancy, but liking it nonetheless! John is getting worried that I may like it too much! I'm in a beautiful lobby, air conditioned, and heading to the pool it a bit! As for cruising plans, we're going to be heading further south to Zihuateneajo for Guitar Fest. Michael B will be joining us down there. We're then going to begin the trek back north to PV. We'll be flying back to the states for about a week to renew visas and such in early April, and then head back for Mazatlan. We'll then cross over to La Paz and then head further up into the Sea of Cortez. We're planning on staying up in the Sea May - June/July or so, and then probably make a temporary homeport in La Paz for hurricane season. We're thinking about some land-trips, and perhaps more stateside visits then (June-October period). We're having a blast, learning more about our boat, ourselves, and making new friends every day. We are loving our Ultra Anchor and have made some Ultra friends, too. We have had some funny chats with the folks on "Worth Waiting For", a beautiful trawler with an equally beautiful Ultra Anchor on the bow. They're veterans down here and are planning on heading up into the Pacific Northwest soon. We were both anchoring in ports along the way from La Cruz down to Barra, and our anchors came up looking like they'd seen the underwater sea monster. Tenacatita was a particularly lively anchorage with a lot of growth on our newly painted boat bottom, too. I think only Ultra owners would understand the passion to polish our anchors once they're back up, poised on our bows! Barra is a particularly fun spot. We've heard so many stories from our boating friends in Corsair Yacht Club over the years about the French baker and other traditions along this route. We couldn't help ourselves from nearly buying the poor guy out the first day! I can now say that the almond crossant is my favorite! It was magical to have him personally deliver, too! Another amazing Barra experience has been coming upon the Cielo Mare, one of the largest sportfishing boats on the west coast. One of our pals from home, Ray, has a sister who worked her way up the corporate ladder and is the proud owner of this yacht. It is by far the most amazing yacht we have ever seen in our lives. And the most gracious owners, too. They invited us aboard for a day of fishing. It was a magical experience, for sure! Yes, we were on a powerboat and LOVED it! Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, I managed to bash my toe while baking some cookies as a little thank you for the captain and crew. At first, I thought all the blood on the floor was from John. He's always getting little nicks and such with his hands in the bilge and engine all the time. I got very mad at him for not stopping to take care of it and for getting blood all over the custom carpets from Anne and Dennis Lynaugh of Welcome Aboard. He pulled himself out of the engine, looked over himself, and said he wasn't hurt. We then looked at me and noticed the baby toe. It wasn't anything too serious, but quite a messy injury. Happy to say that the carpets cleaned up like a charm with just a hose.The carpets have turned out to be one of the best additions we've made. We highly recommend checking them out with Welcome Aboard. Also happy to say that somehow or another, we managed to get out on the dance floor in the town square later that night to celebrate Mardi Gras. Wishing you all well and fair weather.