18 September 2014 | Oxnard CA
18 September 2014 | Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard
12 September 2014 | Port San Luis
12 September 2014 | Monterey Bay
04 September 2014 | Monterey Bay
04 September 2014 | Moss Landing, CA
30 August 2014 | San Francisco, CA
30 August 2014 | Aquatic Park San Francisco
21 August 2014 | Alameda CA
06 July 2014 | Paradise Cove
22 June 2014 | Portland, ME
13 June 2014 | Alameda, CA
22 April 2014 | Alameda CA
Marina El Cid - Mazatlan
01 May 2018 | El Cid - Mazatlan
Pat and Melodie / Sunny
Today is Tuesday May 1, 2018.
We are still in Mazatlan. Who’d have guessed? We sure didn’t think we’d be here this long. After moving over to El Cid Marina we continued to troubleshoot the fuel issue. That’s when the cutlass bearing began to rumble. We made an appointment to haul out and have the bearing replaced. No problem. Except the travel lift at the local boat yard is on the fritz. First it was the starter motor, then a hydraulic issue. A Passport 40 named Mystical Crumpet got stuck hanging in the slings over the weekend. We were told last week it’d take a week to fix the problem on the travel lift. We took the opportunity to take a land tour inland to the city of Durango.
We researched taking a bus or renting a car. It was only $15/day to rent the car, then over $100 to insure it. That, plus the toll road and gas and it was easier to take a bus. We took an ETN Turistar bus that was very nice. Three across seating with your own DVD screen. The bus was much nicer than the TAP bus we’d taken from Guaymas last year. Anyway, the trip up was four hours on a new highway that opened in 2012. Before the new toll road opened you had to take a road called The Devil’s Backbone that took over 6 hours to drive. Even the new highway had lots of twists and turns but is more direct due to the many tunnels dug through the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. It has two suspension bridges that look like the new eastern span of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge. One of them, the Bauluarte Bridge, is the third highest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The scenery along the whole trip was great! We arrived in Durango and took a taxi to our hotel. The taxi actually had a meter, the first we’ve seen in Mexico.
The hotel was called Hostel del Monja and was right across the street from the old Cathedral Basilica and plaza. It was a little more expensive than some of the other choices, but the location was great. They have a walking street that runs for five blocks and is filled with restaurants and coffee shops. This walking street ran right in front of our hotel (photo). We walked around before having dinner in an Asian restaurant. There aren’t many Asian restaurants in Mexico, so we often eat at the ones we happen to stumble upon. This one was very good and much better than many in the states.
We only stayed for two nights, giving us one full day to explore. We visited an anthropology museum and saw how the local Indians used to press boards against infant heads to deform their skulls. We toured the Francisco “Pancho” Villa Museum which covered the Mexican Revolution. We toured a mining museum that consisted of a tunnel that ran for several blocks under the city. We also visited the Central Mercado. The most interesting feature of the market was all the horse tack, you know, saddles and bridles and stuff. They were not ornate, but working hardware for everyday use. A local told us that the ranchers from around the area all come to the Mercado in Durango for their leather items and many are custom ordered.
We found the city very clean, almost no trash was visible as we walked around. It was also notable that all of the buildings were completed and not a bunch of empty building shells like in coastal Mexico. There were several old churches and central squares with nice landscaping and fountains. They had some statues paying tribute to the movie industry. Many Hollywood films have used Durango as a location. I always think of Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart, but there are many others. There weren’t any other Gringos in Durango (that we saw). We asked a waiter about this and he explained the tourist season ends at Easter. The Mexicans call it Samana Santa. He also mentioned that Durango is very safe, and well maintained because the drug cartels don’t have a presence here. It was a great little get away and we were glad we went.
Once we get our cutlass bearing replaced we still intend to head north to San Carlos. We have a June 1 reservation at Marina San Carlos. But we are on a boat and plans change. We are enjoying our time here at El Cid with the pools, hot tub and nice landscaping. The weather has warmed quite a bit and the pool is a nice way to cool off. We had dinner a couple of times at the restaurant here which overlooks the marina and nice sunset views. It is interesting that the waiters often give a refill on wine and a little desert at no cost. The food is quite good and it’s very convenient, however, most nights we do eat on the boat. We will just continue to hang out here for now.
09 April 2018 | Marina Mazatlan
Pat and Melodie
Today is Monday April 9, 2018.
We almost left Mazatlan today after being here for 31 days. We got some repairs done, but are still plagued by our fuel issue. We got our cracked port window in the aft head removed and had a new one reinstalled. We hired two different mechanics to help diagnose the fuel issue without success.
We were going to try to cross over to the Baja and spend some time in La Paz. We thought we’d try a different pool of mechanics. We were all set to go when we called to get a reservation at a marina. We’ve stayed at Marina Palmira in the past. I guess we’d forgotten why we have spent so little time in La Paz in the three times we’ve passed through the area. The slip rates are 30% higher there! We changed our plans and decided to work the issue from Mazatlan a bit more. We decided that we would change our slip from Marina Mazatlan to Marina El Cid, still here in Mazatlan. I like El Cid better as it has more amenities, nicer facilities and is attached to a resort type hotel. It’s also closer to transportation and restaurants. The down side is there is more surge there and the boat moves around quite a bit. The movement is hard on the dock lines if you don’t use enough chafe gear. We use old fire hose to protect the dock lines (Thank you Dan and OFD).
We also had to cancel some planned visits from friends. We were hoping to share some good times with them, but we’ve got to get our boat in order first.
The photo was taken in the old town square in central Mazatlan. One evening we got to hear the Army Band playing in the band stand in the background. They were quite good. The square is lined with restaurants and there are many to choose from. Some good and some not so good. We find the good ones by word of mouth. The morning local radio net even has a category called restaurant reviews. (It’s not all Boaters Assistance and Treasures from the Bilge) Mazatlan has many high quality restaurants providing more upscale dining. They are more expensive than other places in Mexico, but by US standards are very inexpensive for such a quality meal. Melodie got to get three pounds of her favorite coffee beans. The beans come from Chiapas Mexico and they roast them here locally at Etnikafe; a coffee shop and art gallery.
Two big events have occurred during our time here. The first was Samana Santa, which is a holiday for Easter. Many Mexicans take vacation during that time and the beaches were packed with people. The other was Mazatlan Bike Week. Thousands of motorcyclists descend on the city. They close off the boulevard called the Malecon along the beach and only allow motorcycles access. The riders take the chance to show off their rides. They also include ATV’s and the quads (dune buggy looking 2-4 seaters made by Polaris). I’m surprised they let them ride on the street. Several had red/blue lights and sirens just like the police in the US. They also like to take their kids along, many carrying infants in their arms as they ride 3-4 at a time down the street. It was a great place to people watch. These words don’t do the insanity justice…Crazy, crazy…it would never be allowed in the US.
The weather is warming up but remains cool by Mexico standards, low 60’s in the am and up to 80 in the afternoon. It’s really quite pleasant. It’s very wet in the morning with frequent morning fog.
We will continue to try to diagnose our fuel issue and take advantage of the swimming pools at El Cid.
That’s all for now.
Leaving Banderas Bay
07 March 2018 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Pat and Melodie
Today is Wednesday March 7, 2018.
Once again I’ve been neglecting our blog. I gave this some thought the other day. I think it’s because we aren’t doing anything special. Well, it doesn’t seem special to us because we have been hanging out in Banderas Bay for a while. But, keep in mind this is a big vacation destination and just being here is quite special. We are very blessed to be saying that such a pleasant area and living here is just “ordinary”. We haven’t been moving around much or doing anything out of the ordinary. We’ve been getting together with friends. We watch movies in the evening. There are many good restaurants nearby, and they are very inexpensive for great food. Keep in mind it just takes longer to do your daily activities here. For instance going grocery shopping can be an all-day event. I’ve been reading quite a bit. I recently found a series written by Stephen King called the Dark Tower. It’s a series of books he wrote over a number of years. What I find interesting is he incorporates other books, such as The Stand and Salem’s Lot into the narrative. They aren’t short books either. Like The Stand, several of them are in the 1500 page category.
Weather here on Banderas Bay has been wonderful. The temperatures in the low 80’s without any rain. The wind usually picks up in the afternoon to cool things down a bit and make it very nice.
We have seen a few sea turtles swimming in the marina. There are many more things to see in the anchorage, but we’ve been in the marina as of late. Some of the sunsets and rises are spectacular. Occasionally some dolphin will swim through the anchorage. When we were anchored we saw many whales and mothers with their babies. Whales would often swim right through the anchorage. The baby whales would usually be breaching up into the air with their moms alongside. Every day you could see whales spouting in the bay. One morning we heard what we thought was a bird landing close to the boat, but much louder than usual. When pelicans or other birds dive for fish their splash sounds pretty loud from inside the boat. We heard a noise and ran up into the cockpit to look. The sun had just come up and we saw there was movement in the water, it was very turbulent. Then I saw a whale surface less than a boat length from our boat! We have been saying we were “kissed by a whale”.
While at anchor we were being serenaded by whales. At night and the early morning we could hear whale songs from inside the boat. It was very peaceful to be lying in bed and night and being lulled back to sleep by the whale sounds. There was usually lower pitched sounds alternating with higher pitched ones. Perhaps a mom teaching her baby how to sing. Sometimes we could hear them during the day if it was quiet. Melodie even dug out her stethoscope to put on the hull. You don’t need iTunes when you have whales.
The bioluminescence was amazing one week. One night we were making our way to the boat via our dingy. It was as if bright blue lights were shining into the water where there was any turbulence. It was also fun to throw a bucket of water overboard at night just to see the brilliant blue glow.
The race boats from the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race have been arriving. The trimaran Mighty Merlot is docked near us. It is very large and mighty looking.
We go to the Sunday Market here in La Cruz. We’ve learned to get there early, before 10:00 o’clock and all the Canadians show up. The walkways between the vendor booths are only wide enough for four people. A row on each side can browse the merchandise, but the center is for coming and going. Many of the tourists stop in the middle to look and it causes a traffic jam because after 10:00 the place is packed. Melodie enjoys a large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and I usually get a tamale or two.
We got our taxes done. One of the things that cruisers do for one another is they announce when they are headed back to the US or Canada and they will hand carry stamped mail for you. This is how we’ve done our taxes the last 3 years. You can file electronically, but your signature on a piece of paper is still required. Getting repair parts is done in a similar manner, but in the opposite direction. It’s just that people who bring stuff are usually friends or acquaintances. There aren’t generally people willing to haul stuff down from the US for anonymous neighbors. BTW, these would be electronics or specialty boat parts, not generic brown bags of white powder or dried leafy greens. Melodie did have some good quality spices brought down. It’s actually hard to get good spices here.
The photo was taken during the Friday evening Mexican Train that’s hosted at the Poolside Deli here at the La Cruz Marina. It’s a chance to meet new people and pass the time with a fun game. There are several variations of the rules and they are often referred to by where they originate: La Paz Rules, Tenicatita Rules, etc. They serve Margarita’s but lately they’ve been blue. I think she’s using blue Gatorade, but that’s just a guess.
So why the short blog entry? Can you imagine writing a blog that detailed your daily life when you were just kind of living it? Maybe our next entry will contain something more exciting.
We think we will make our way to Mazatlán tomorrow. It’s 175 NM from La Cruz to Mazatlán and should take us between 24-30 hours. There are four other boats headed that way as well.
Tomorrow is also our 31st Wedding Anniversary!
Still in La Cruz, but looking to sail south
23 January 2018 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Pat - Cloudy
Today is Tuesday January 23, 2018.
Melodie and I had a good holiday season. She visited family back in Milwaukee and I made an appearance there during the week of Christmas-New Years. Temperatures in the single digits and below….it was COLD. But it was good to see family and we had a nice visit.
I returned to Starshine in the Marina at La Cruz and continued to troubleshoot a problem in our fuel system. We were seeing bubbles in our Racor fuel filter. The internet said it was a supply side vacuum leak. I had a very difficult time trying to locate the leak. Several other boaters we know had a similar problem, that was tracked to the shut off valve at the fuel tank. I was able to blow air past our shut off valve, so I thought that might be the culprit. I changed the valve, but it didn’t make the bubbling go away. Finally we switched out the entire Racor unit, going from a fancy dual unit to a simpler single unit. That solved the problem. We will either rebuild or replace the fancy dual unit sometime down the road.
We finished our time in the marina, and with the fuel issue solved we moved to the anchorage. It’s been a little rolly, but we deployed our “Flopper Stopper” and it has attenuated the rolling somewhat.
We’ve been enjoying the many restaurants in La Cruz and going out with friends, both land based and other boaters. The photo was taken from the balcony of one of our land based friends.
I got some dental work done in Bucerias, the small town between La Cruz and Nuevo Vallarta. The cleaning was $36 USD and two cavities filled was $75. All done in a brand new facility by an English speaking dentist.
We were going to head south last week, but got waylaid by the weather. A large “swell train” came down from the north and caused there to be some really big waves in the area. We chose to stay here in La Cruz to let the weather pass. That was a week ago today. It’s looking like we may have a window this coming Thursday or Friday. We’ll have to see.
My friend Rich from my Club Nautique days came to Puerto Vallarta for a vacation with his sister. He gave me a shout via Facebook and we were able to get together for lunch down in Marina Vallarta. It was good to catch up, having been about a year and a half since we last saw one another. I was also able to have dinner with my friend Arnstein. He delivered a brand new Jeaneau 54 from San Diego to Nuevo Vallarta. Club Nautique is opening a charter base at Paradise Village. It was their first boat to arrive for their estimated 4-6 boat fleet.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been here almost three months so far this season. We are enjoying the warm weather, but wish the water was warmer too. It was in the low 80’s when we first arrived, but now it’s in the mid 70’s. It makes for a brisk jump in the water, but it’s not too bad after a swim around the boat.
That’s all for now. The next big thing on our calendar is finding a place to watch the Super Bowl.
Enjoying Mexico in Banderas Bay
04 December 2017 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
I've been told by my mother that my blog has once again been neglected.
November was a busy month. After moving all our stuff to a storage facility in Arizona we finally drove to Mexico on Thursday November 2. We stayed the night in Guaymas, near San Carlos in Sonora Mexico. On Friday November 3 I dropped Melodie off at the TAP Bus station and then I drove to the storage yard we've used the past two years in San Carlos (a 20 minute ride). I got a ride back to TAP and we caught the 1430 bus to Nuevo Vallarta.
Why take the bus? Well we took 150 pounds of boat parts, including three gallons of paint for the bottom. That and our new flares made flying impossible. TAP is an ok bus line, but it isn't as nice as Tufesa. It was about 20 hours to get to Nuevo Vallarta. That included an unscheduled and unexplained one hour delay in Obregon, a couple hours south of Guaymas. Did I mention there was no extra charge for the two additional bags? (one was a box from COSTCO, the kind with the yellow lids).
We arrived to find Starshine had weathered the summer pretty well. We were glad to see the interior had no mold, but there was some growth on the exterior. It is very humid in Nuevo Vallarta and rains almost daily in the summer. Our boat caretaker did ok, but there were many details he overlooked. Our boat guy in San Carlos washed the fenders monthly. This guy didn't and now the fenders are kinda trashed. The dock lines had some green growth too. Not something I'd expect from our guy the previous summers. Anyway, we spent the next few weeks getting Starshine back from being "summerized" and back into shape. We also enjoyed the cable TV they provide at Paradise Village Marina. We spent the summer kind of TV deprived as you might recall from other blog posts.
My sister Cheri and her family came to visit during the week of Thanksgiving. We had a very non-traditional holiday. We spent one day poolside. One day we took the water taxi to Yelapa and took a hike to a waterfall. Well we almost made it to the waterfall. A slight detour up the river/creek we were following took us off the designated trail. We did not actually see the waterfall, but we enjoyed the hike nonetheless. We made it back to the beach in time for tacos and beer before we took the water taxi back to Puerto Vallarta. We spent Thanksgiving Day visiting Sayulita, a hippy gringo surfer town north of here. We had vegetarian tacos for lunch and seafood for dinner. No turkey or stuffing, but we ate well anyway. This is our second time spending Thanksgiving at Sayulita. Remember it's just Thursday for the locals.
After the Robertson clan returned to California Melodie and I had Starshine hauled out at the shipyard in La Cruz. It was a planned event. We've hauled out every other November since we bought her in 2011. Everything went well and we were back in the water as scheduled at almost at the estimated price.
Today Starshine is in the La Cruz Marina. Melodie and I will be here for about two weeks until Melodie flies to Milwaukee for Christmas. We'll move to the anchorage while she's gone, as marinas in Mexico are more expensive than California (during the season Nov-May). It will be nice to enjoy the amenities here before going out to the anchorage. We'll also have the chance to see many friends who we've heard on the radio or seen in passing, but haven't had the chance to socialize with yet.
Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Life is good here on Starshine.
Where have we been?
24 October 2017 | Oakland, CA
I have been neglecting our blog since early September. I wrote an update but made the classic mistake of not saving my work. You have seen me make this mistake in the past, but it appears I have not learned my lesson! So here it goes again, post # 2……
In early September I few to Poland and Melodie flew to Milwaukee. Melodie spent time with her family and I met my friend Arnstein for a motorcycle tour around Eastern Europe. I arrived in Krakow Poland a few days ahead of meeting up with Arnstein. I used the time to recover from the jet lag and see some of old town Krakow. We picked up the motorcycles and began our two week ride. In the end we rode about 2400 miles. We were within 150 kilometers of our 4000 KM allotment. The bikes ran well and we had no mechanical issues. We visited seven countries in all, six on the motorcycles and Norway during an 18 hour layover on the trip home. We started in Poland and rode through Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
We visited many historical sites focused on WWII. We ate lots of local food. We stayed in small hotels on the outskirts of towns (mostly). Not many people spoke English outside of the tourist areas, but we made due. Europe was very clean, no litter and people keep their homes free from misc lawn debris. The weather was unseasonably cool and we got rained on a few times. My rain gear worked well so it wasn’t too bad. Overall it was a great trip and I really enjoyed seeing the countryside off the tourist routes.
Melodie and I met back up in the Bay Area and made our way in the camper back to Arizona. We are storing the camper near my parent’s house over the winter. We took about a week to winterize the camper and get it and the truck put away.
We were just about ready to drive back to Mexico when I learned our storage space rent had increased once again. We almost moved our stuff out of California last year, but didn’t. This 15% increase was just too much. So we drove our Acura back to the Bay Area. We are renting a U-Haul and moving our stuff to Arizona. Why Arizona? Well we use my parent’s house as a base for logistics and the rent there is half what it is in the Bay Area.
We hope to return to Starshine by the first week in November.
That’s all for now.
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