Activities around Mazatlan
09 December 2013
Connie pleasantly warm in the 70's
Activities around Mazatlan, Nov. & Dec. 2013
The Isla Marina, where we are located, is a small marina on a small man-made island in a harbor that holds 3 other marinas. At the head of the ramp is a Palapa restaurant that is a great place to hang out and meet friends and other cruisers. There is also a Condo/Hotel Resort here. This marina is a quiet, peaceful place to be as it doesn’t have any traffic. Just a short walk away, across the bridge, is Marina Mazatlan and four restaurants. There are several other restaurants within walking distance. The Palapa has Kareoke night every Sat. and Cheryl sings here every Sun. Cheryl sings Blues and a variety of other songs. She plays guitar and harmonica and often another man joins her playing his harmonica. She brings a number of different percussion instruments and she encourages people from the audience to play them. It’s always fun to relax at the Palapa with a beer and listen to her play and sing. In the photo gallery is a video of her singing with friends playing instruments along with her.
The first Sun. in Dec. is the annual Pacific Marathon. The street that runs along the marinas and oceanfront is closed off for the race. We can sit on our boat and watch the runners go by. This is the second year that we’ve been here for this event. The night before the marathon is a fireworks display on the beach. We went to it this year and it was spectacular. The road that runs along the beach is closed off for this event and people fill up the malecon (sidewalk along the beach) and the road to watch. The fireworks were set up about every 100-200 yds. down the whole length of the beach from one end of the bay to the other end. The malecon is about 10 feet above the beach so we could not see where the fireworks were but our location on the malecon ended up being right in front of one of the fireworks launching pads. The street lights were turned off and the fireworks began. I’ve never been so close to fireworks before and it was LOUD, but wonderfully exciting and beautiful. I had to look straight up to watch them, but I could also look right and left to see the other fireworks up and down the beach. All the fireworks displays were synchronized with each other. It was beautiful.
Our friends, Cliff and Lynne, took us to the small town of El Quilite for lunch one day. It’s about 30 miles away from Mazatlan. It was a beautiful drive through lush green hills. We saw some cattle and the occasional cowboy on horseback. Near the town the road was lined with colorful Bougainvillea and other tropical plants. The town was old with cobblestone streets and the buildings had wide roof overhangs that shaded the front porchs that held rocking chairs. The restaurant had been a house and we walked through the first 2 empty rooms, with murals painted on the walls, to get to the patio where the dining tables were. It was a large shaded patio with trees, tropical plants, and fountains. Oh, and it had roosters running around and crowing! There was one shaded patio and one sunny patio with 2 open air dining rooms between them. Crawling on the roof was the biggest orange Iguana that I’ve ever seen. Cliff and Lynne took us out the back gate of the patio to show us where they kept their animals. There were chickens, roosters, turkeys, ducks, goats, and sheep! There was one sheep that kept trying to get inside the door to the restaurant while baaaaaing insistently. One of the waiters came over and said the sheep wanted some milk and let him in?! So we followed him in and watched as the waiter handed a bottle of milk to a customer and she proceeded to feed the sheep from her table. Here we were having lunch in this beautiful tropical patio and it felt like we were in the middle of a farm. Two roosters started flying at each other and having a cock fight right by our table! I’ve never eaten in a restaurant quite like this before in Mexico. After lunch we explored the town a little, looking at a few stores. There was the leather goods store that had saddles, chaps, belts, and other leather goods. While next to it was a room with bales of hay in it. The town had a real western/cowboy feel to it.
The next day we joined some other friends at the El Cid Marina and resort and relaxed around the pool and played a couple of games of volleyball in the pool. It was a great way to spend a warm, sunny day with friends.
We went to the Art Walk which is held on the first Friday of each month. It takes place in the old town around Machado Plaza. All the art galleries and studios are open for people to browse through and they offer refreshments. It was fun to see the wide variety of art they have to offer. One artist makes leather masks and sculptures. It was quite different and beautiful. He had made a sculpture of a horse’s head that hung on the wall, which was stunning. Most of these art galleries are in old houses, so it is quite interesting to see the houses as well as the art. Remember, most houses in Latin American countries just have a wall in front with a door in it. You don’t get to see the beauty of the house until you’re inside where you’ll find inner courtyards and patios, open air rooms, and beautiful architecture. Some galleries used the whole house, whereas others displayed their art in 2 or 3 rooms and lived in the rest of the house. After seeing most of the galleries, we went back to Machado Plaza and browsed through the jewelry and other vendors, then had dinner at Pedro and Lola’s on the Plaza. While we were having dinner a band set up in the gazebo and we expected to hear some nice Mexican music. Boy, were we surprised when they played Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”!! They played 50’s & 60’s music including a lot of surf music. All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening.
La Paz to Mazatlan, Nov 2013
02 December 2013
Connie, cloudy, cool, rainy, and windy
La Paz to Mazatlan, Nov. 2013
We left La Paz in the morning (Sun.) headed for Muertos which is about 60 miles down the coast. We had 20 knot head winds until we turned the corner and headed down the San Lorenzo channel, where the winds were behind us and we were on a broad reach. There were a lot of clouds and it sprinkled on us leaving La Paz harbor. We had clouds all day and as we got near Muertos in the Cerralvo Channel we got rained on again. I don’t know where these clouds and rain came from as they were not predicted. We’re used to warm, sunny weather here in Mexico and we’ve had lots of cooler and cloudy days here this fall. The wind and waves were confused and we constantly had to change the sails. First the wind was from behind us, then from the right, then behind, then from the left. Finally, we gave up trying to sail, rolled up the genny and turned on the engine and motored the last few miles into the anchorage. It was nice getting into the calm anchorage after rolling around on the confused waves all afternoon. Muertos is a great anchorage when a north wind is blowing. The wind blows over a low saddle of land into the anchorage, but the point protects the anchorage from waves and it stays flat calm. We had planned to stay in Muertos for a day before leaving for Mazatlan, because we had heard about some great snorkeling on a reef there. However, the weather didn’t cooperate. It was too windy, cloudy, and cool for snorkeling with the wind blowing at 20+ all day. While we relaxed onboard we were visited by a pelican who perched on our boat for a while. Fortunately I took a picture of him before Ed scared him away. It looked like he wanted to hunker down out of the wind for a while or maybe he wanted companionship because after he was scared off he remained close to our boat in the water for quite a while. We decided to leave for Mazatlan on Tues. because the forecast was for 13-17 knots and calming down Tues. afternoon into evening and calm wind on Wed. But no one told the wind that it was supposed to calm down, so it blew around 20 the whole way across until the last 30 miles before Mazatlan, when it calmed down. What was worse than the wind were the waves, which had built up pretty big after 2 days of wind blowing. They were 5-8+ feet at about 5-6 second intervals. It was like being on a wet roller coaster ride. Connie got seasick (the first time in 3 yrs. of cruising Mexico) and couldn’t help Ed much, so he had to do most of the night watch by himself and neither of us ate anything on the crossing. So when we got to Mazatlan we were pretty wiped out. The only good thing was that it was a fast trip. We buddy boated with friends, Gene and Barb, on s/v Chalet Mer. There’s a picture of their boat anchored in Muertos and another picture of their boat sailing into the sunrise early Tues. morning.
Caleta Partida and La Paz 11/23/13
24 November 2013
Caleta Partida and La Paz 11/23/13
This beautiful sunset happened on our last night here in La Paz. What a way to end our stay in La Paz! But let me go back to the beginning. We left San Evaristo and arrived in Caleta Partida on Partida Island to find our good friends on s/v Kasasa, Ian and Ellen, in the anchorage. We hadn’t seen them since spring so it was good to see them again and catch up with them. Partida is interesting because it looks like one island but is actually two islands. It is joined to Isla Espiritu Santo by a low sand bar that is less than 50 feet wide and the two islands are separated by a break in the sand bar that allows water to flow from one side of the islands to the other, looking like a river. Part of this anchorage is a crater of an extinct volcano. Over time the western and eastern edges have eroded to below sea level, but the rest of the high sloping walls remind you of the volcano it used to be. One day a big blue ocean going trawler came into the anchorage. Its name was Thomas Crosby V (maybe a relative’s boat? But no, that’s only wishful thinking). We went snorkeling on a large reef and saw many colorful fish and other sea life. I have been seeing many starfish recently where before there were almost none around. There are ones that are reddish with bumps and big fat arms, others that are small with skinny arms, and some that look like they have cactus spines all over them. Then there are the big sunflower starfish that have 20+ arms and can be 1 foot across.
Then it was time to head for La Paz for a weeks’ stay. It was a time to get some things done, like taking care of a leaking water pump on the engine, and getting a shade curtain made. Also it’s a time to get together with friends that are here in La Paz. During our week here, on Nov. 20, there was a national holiday called Revolution Day. They had a big parade that lasted 3 hours! There were student groups from all the schools and they each had either a marching band or a truck playing music while they did a dance routine. There was even a group from the culinary school that marched in their white chefs’ outfit with their tall chefs’ hats. There were some cheerleading routines with girls standing on the shoulders of boys. There were many sports clubs and schools (basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, baseball) represented who also performed. A young soccer team put cones and hoops down on the road then ran their practice routines zigzagging around the cones, then picked them up and did it again 50 feet down the parade route. Many boys/mens groups made pyramids while climbing and standing on the shoulders of others. La Paz must hold the record for the number of martial arts schools because there were hundreds of students from many different martial arts schools. They would each stop and perform their moves and routines. The different sections of the police were represented including the dogs and their handlers who put the dogs through an obstacle course. There was a Mexican Folklorico Dance group dancing their way down the parade route on a big flatbed truck. The military was well represented with different groups showing off their skills like: climbing netting, sliding along ropes between 2 trucks, rappelling down ropes hung from cranes and towers, etc. There were classic old cars that carried Olympic athletes and others. And what would a parade be without the horse groups. There were the side saddle women’s groups and the Mexican cowboys and others. This was such a fun parade to watch with so many performances and activities going on.
Our week ended all too quickly and now it’s time to leave for Mazatlan. See you on the other side of the sea for the next blog.
Puerto Escondido to Agua Verde to San Evaristo 11/11/13
21 November 2013
Puerto Escondido to Agua Verde to San Evaristo 11/11/13
We left Puerto Escondido to head south and had a nice downwind sail with winds from the north in the mid teens. Unfortunately, the wind only lasted about an hour, so we had to turn on the iron genny (engine, for those of you unfamiliar with the term). We had been motoring for a while when we noticed a sailboat in front of us that was sailing with just their genny. We were getting closer and closer as there was no wind for them to sail. Finally when we were very close they flagged us down and we went over to see what the problem was. Their steering had broken and they had no engine, so we offered to tow them for the last 7 miles into Agua Verde. We towed them right into the north anchorage where there were 5 boats and not much room to maneuver. We untied them, but evidently it was too deep for them as they didn't have much anchor chain, so they began to sail on their genny back to the main beach where it was shallower, but very rolly. A panga with several local fisherman came out to see if they could help and they towed them back to our anchorage and took them in close where they could anchor in shallow water. The sailor spoke Spanish and after telling the fishermen what the problem was, the fisherman told him that he would take him to Constitucion (the nearest big town) to get his broken steering welded tomorrow. The town is several hours away, part of which was a bad dirt road from the village of Agua Verde out to the highway. This is one of the things we love about Mexico. The Mexicans will go out of their way to help someone in need, whether they are Mexican or gringo. This fisherman took the day off of fishing (which is his livelihood) to drive this sailor to town and find a welder and wait for him and then bring him back to his boat. All this for a stranger in need. We enjoyed a couple of days in Agua Verde with 4 other boats of friends. While we were there more boats kept coming in and by the time we left there were 11 boats in this little anchorage!! More than we'd ever seen there before.
When we left Agua Verde for San Evaristo there was no wind so we motored and Ed put out the hand lines. He had been trolling for a while when a fish hit the lure and Ed caught a nice size Dorado. He was excited because it had been a long time since he had caught a Dorado. (He has hooked up Bonitos and other undesirable fish that he's thrown back) He was just sitting down to rest after cleaning and filleting it when another Dorado hit the line. When they drag behind the boat on the hand line they bounce along the surface of the water on their side and look like they are water skiing!! Two in one day!! Ed was really happy. He cleaned this one and handed it off to me to fillet. I said, "Two fish are enough, why don't you pull in the lines." He said, "No" and kept on fishing, and guess what? He caught another one!! This one was a little bigger and friskier as he slapped his tail and jumped, then dove under water in an attempt to dislodge the hook. But Ed prevailed and pulled him on board too. He was flopping around so much in the cockpit it was hard to get the gunny sack on him, but once we did he calmed down. I said, "Enough, I'm not filleting another fish!" Ed was tired also after catching and cleaning 3 fish so he pulled in his lines. Then just when I finished filleting the last fish and was getting ready to make lunch Ed said the engine was over heating and he turned it off. Fortunately the wind had come up and we could sail downwind wing and wing. So I went out into the cockpit to sail the boat while Ed went inside to check out the engine. So, lunch would have to wait. The engine had lost a lot of water so Ed was going to add more, so he had me start the engine again. Then 30 seconds later he told me to turn if off. Evidently a hose had come off and when he added water it came right out the hose. So he put the hose back on and had me start the engine again so he could add water. Then a minute later he had me turn it off again. There was another problem. The pulley had come off the sea water pump so it wasn't pumping sea water to cool the engine. So this took him a lot longer to fix than the hose. We were getting closer to San Evaristo quickly as the wind had picked up to 15 knots. Every so often Ed would call out to me, "how much more time do I have?" And I would tell him. By this time we were getting quite close to San Evaristo, so I called one of our friends (Rick on s/v Hotel California) on the radio that was anchored there and let them know our situation. They said they would stand by and help us if we needed it. That made me feel a lot better, in case we had to sail in and anchor under sail. Ed came through with 10 minutes to spare!! We got the engine started again, added water, and it cooled right down, just in time to turn into the anchorage. Whew! We jumped in the water for a swim and to cool off, it felt wonderfully refreshing. We had so much fish so we invited several friends over for dinner to help us eat some of the Dorado and we had a great evening together. Boy, did we sleep well that night.
The next morning, Mike and Judy, on s/v Milagro, and Ed and I went ashore and we met some local people who had just arrived by panga. They live on the island of San Jose. We hadn't even known anyone lived on San Jose. We spoke to Alva who told us they have a ranch on the island and there are about 15-20 people living there in their little Pueblo. They raise goats and cattle. They had come to San Evaristo to take some goats to La Paz to sell them. Picture this: Alva came in the panga with her husband, father, 2 sons, AND 27 GOATS!! It was a 1 hour panga ride from the island to San Evaristo with 27 goats. They unloaded the goats and took them to a pickup truck on the beach. The truck had sides and hanging from an arm on one side was a scale to weigh each goat. A man would put a simple rope harness around the goats' belly and pick it up and hang it on the scale (sort of like hanging a fish on the scale to weigh it). Another man wrote down the weight on his paper, then they put the goat in the truck and picked up another goat and hung him on the scale. It was interesting to watch this process. In talking to Alva we found out that she's lived on the island for 20 years (she's 36 and has 3 kids). They get their water from a well on the island, for bathing, washing clothes, etc., but have to come to San Evaristo to get their drinking water. San Evaristo has a desalination plant and they sell water to several small pueblos or fishing camps nearby. San Evaristo, itself, is quite small with no more than 100 people living in it. They have a small store, with basic necessities, which also supplies the fishing camps nearby. The people from the fishing camps come in their pangas to get food, and water in big barrels. They usually come with wives and kids and fill up the pangas with so much supplies that we wonder how they get back to their villages without capsizing. By our standards, these people live a bare subsistence life. But they are a happy people who are very content with their lives. Alva told us they eat healthy, goats and cattle for meat, milk, cheese, and chickens for eggs and meat, and fish, and they grow vegetables. When we asked her if they needed anything on the island, she said they needed a teacher as there was no school there. That was the only thing she was unhappy about. But there were schools in a couple of small communities, Agua Verde being one of them, that they could take their kids to. It was a 1-2 hour panga ride to go to school.
On our third day here we went snorkeling and it was like swimming in an aquarium. The water was very clear and there were a lot of different colorful fish. The rocks had coral, starfish, urchins, oysters, and other things. I saw a small octopus scoot under a rock and a long trumpet fish swimming around giving me the eye. There was a Crown of Thorns starfish about 1 foot across with 13 arms. It looked like a cross between a fat starfish and a porcupine. There was a fish that was perfectly camouflaged in the rocks. He was mottled with shades of brown and was very hard to distinguish from the rock. I watched him for a while and he never moved. I wanted to see him better so I swam down and scooped up a handful of sand, then swam over him and dropped the sand on him. He scooted away about 2 feet and settled on another rock. As I was sitting in the cockpit this afternoon enjoying the day, it was hard to tear myself away from it and go inside to write this blog. We're in a flat, calm anchorage with clear turquoise water, low 80's, warm sun, gentle breeze, and just about perfect conditions. Life is good!
Bob and Carol onboard Sirena Oct. 2013
21 November 2013
Bob and Carol onboard Sirena
Bob and Carol, Connie's brother and sister-in-law, joined us for 5 days on the boat. We met them at their time share, Villa del Palmar, in Candeleros bay and enjoyed lunch at the resort with them. The next morning, Ed took the dinghy ashore to pick up Bob and Carol from the beach. As soon as they were on board we raised the anchor and headed for Honeymoon cove on Isla Danzante. We were in luck because the anchorage was empty and it's so small there is only room for one boat. It's a beautiful little anchorage, narrow with high rocky walls, and a white, sandy beach at the head of the bay. It had clear, turquoise water and we could see lots of fish, so we quickly got out our snorkel gear and jumped in the water. We saw lots of different fish and the snorkeling was good except for being a little dark because we had total cloud cover. The clouds were from Hurricane Ramon and they really cooled the weather down from what it had been. After we finished snorkeling, we were on deck, having just rinsed off with the solar shower, when it started raining. We were surprised as rain had not been in the weather forecast. It rained the rest of the afternoon, so we had to put off going snorkeling again. It rained and the wind blew all night and the next morning until 10:00. When it stopped raining we decided to leave and go to another anchorage and hope for better weather. We went to Ballandra on Isla Carmen and the weather was better there. As we were motoring away from Isla Danzante we watched the clouds move in again and the air was thick with rain over the island. We were glad we left when we did. We went snorkeling again in Ballandra and the snorkeling was good. However, the bugs were awful!! When Ed and I swam ashore to get the dinghy on the beach we got swarmed by Bobo's and No See Ums. They were so thick around us that we could hardly get our gear off and get the dinghy back in the water because we were constantly shooing them away. Ed got bit all over his body and I had a white lycra shirt on and it was covered with 100's of black specks. There were a lot less bugs out on the water than on shore so we decided to pick up Bob and Carol from the water, then made a beeline to our boat. Fortunately we have bug screens on our boat, so that kept the bugs on the outside. There were 2 other boats in the bay that were friends of ours and we got together for happy hour on one of their boats and had a really nice time. Ballandra's shoreline had changed from our previous trips there. It used to have a small stream that meandered through the flat land above the beach then trickled through the sand into the bay. There had been a lot of rain from the remants of several hurricanes and tropical storms and the small stream turned into a raging river and washed out most of the beach and now was flowing into the bay and had created a shoal and sand bar out in the bay. It was quite a surprise to see the nice big sandy beach gone. During the night our weather changed and we could feel the boat bobbing up and down on the waves that were rolling into the bay. Since the wind was forecast to blow hard for several days, we left in the morning and headed for Puerto Escondido, which is a very protected harbor. We spent the last 3 days of Bob and Carols' visit here in Puerto Escondido. We were disappointed that we couldn't show them more anchorages in the beautiful Sea of Cortez, but such is the cruising life, where our travels are influenced by the weather. We rented a car and took them into Loreto to explore the town. We had lunch in a really good restaurant called Orlando's, which was new since we were there last spring. There is also a new grocery store in Loreto called La Ley, which is so much better and has more selection, than the other small stores. So we took the opportunity to get more food for the boat. The next day we wanted to take Bob and Carol to breakfast at a great place called El Borracho (the drunk). Another couple wanted to go with us, so we had to figure out how to get 6 people and luggage in this tiny rental car that was about as big as a small Fiat. The storage area behind the back seat was 1 foot deep, but amazingly held 2 duffel bags and 3 backpacks. Inside we had 3 in the back seat and 3 in the front (Julie sat on Bill's lap in the passenger seat and they had to stay out of the way of the stick shift!) It had little 10 inch wheels and everytime we went over a little bump we all held out breaths!! We had a great breakfast, as always, at El Borracho. It looks like an old cowboy/western saloon with a lot of things hanging on the walls like saddles, stirrups, horseshoes, branding irons, bulls' horns, etc. After breakfast, we took Bob and Carol to the Loreto airport to fly home. Then we went back to our boat to plan for the next leg of our trip to Agua Verde.
San Carlos to San Juanico to Isla Coronado Oct. 2013
21 November 2013
San Carlos to San Juanico to Isla Coronado Oct. 2013
We drove to San Carlos to get our boat and begin this cruising season in Mexico again. We were happy to see that our boat was just fine and survived the hot Mexican summer very well on the hard in San Carlos. This was our first experience at leaving our boat out of the water for an extended time and we were happy with the results. After the boat was launched we spent a few days getting it ready to go again and provisioning it. Then we left around 6 p.m. and had a great crossing to Baja. We had around 15 knots of wind on a broad reach with smooth seas, a full moon, and warm weather (shorts and t-shirts all night!) It can't get much better than that!! We arrived earlier than expected, around 4 a.m., and had to slow the boat down to wait for the sun to come up. We arrived in San Juanico and there were only 2 other boats there. We enjoyed 3 wonderful days here in this beautiful calm anchorage, swimming, snorkeling, and walking on the beach. It was great to be out on the water again. We had spoken to friends on the radio who were in Isla Coronado and we were eager to meet up with them again, so we left San Juanico bound for Isla Coronado near Loreto. It was great to see our friends again on s/v Hotel California, Milagro, and Nirvana. We also met Les and Diane on s/v Gemini. The weather was calm and perfect for a dinghy trip to our favorite restaurant, La Picazon, on the Baja peninsula. So we got on the radio and put out the word to all our friends and everyone wanted to go. The owners, Alex and Imelda, are wonderful people. They are so warm and welcoming that we almost feel like family. On top of that, the food is outstanding. They offer wonderful dishes like Seafood Coquille served on a half shell, Shrimp Diabla served on a half pineapple, and other more casual dishes like wraps and burgers. Most everyone had the seafood dishes, but one friend had a burger and said it
was the best burger she'd ever had. Everyone loved the restaurant so much that they decided we all had to come back in 2 days and have hamburgers for lunch. Fortunately the weather stayed calm and we could dinghy across the channel from the island and land on the beach in front of La Picazon. Alex was on the beach to greet us and we were surprised to find a table set with appetizers, just waiting for us. When we asked how he knew we were coming, he said he could see the dinghys coming across the water. We were all set to order hamburgers when he told us they also had chicken burgers, fish burgers, shrimp burgers, almost any kind of burger we could want!! I got the shrimp burger and it was wonderful, with shrimp in a melted cheese sauce. Everyone was having such a nice time enjoying the perfect afternoon in this beautiful palapa restaurant on the beach. Alex and Imelda came and joined us at the table and we had such a nice time visiting with them. It was hard to tear ourselves away from this great spot to return to our boats. We left Isla Coronado the next day to go to Candeleros Bay where we would meet my brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Carol. They were staying at Villa del Palmar where they own a time share.