20 December 2017
It was a busy morning pulling up floorboards and closing seven of the sea cocks (or thru-hulls) out of the 14 on the boat. These are for the two heads, two showers and the kitchen. The remaining thru-hulls need to stay open as they are used for draining the decks, draining the cockpit, feeding cooling water to the engine and draining the bilges.
I also had to slide plastic hose over the mooring ropes, there is significant surge in La Cruz which can cause the lines to be abraded through over a two month period. Gonzalo will also scrape the bottom of the boat early January and early February, apparently you have to do this at least once a month this far south in Mexico as the growth, including barnacles, is prodigious.
We took a taxi to Puerto Vallarta airport and had a comfortable flight to San Francisco. It was very strange after sailing 2040 miles in two months to fly back in only 3.5 hours. It made the whole trip seem magically unreal – how could all those anchorages, those people, those reef fish, those islands, those hikes, those long sea crossings, all fit into a small space that could be covered in just a few hours in an aeroplane.
I will be coming back to La Cruz Feb 11th to prepare her for the next leg of the trip. Anne will come out on Feb 17th and we plan to sail down the Gold Coast to Zihuatenejo before going back north, with a change of crew, to the sea of Cortez as it warms up in March and April. So much to see………
19 December 2017
Rory and Emily wanted to go mountain biking at Sayulita, a few miles up the coast. They found a company who had a number of mountain bikes and set off by bus. They arrived to find that the bikes were broken so they set off on foot and had a splendid hike in the hills. They went to the beach at Sayulita and it was really busy, this is the busiest time of year for visitors apparently. Most of the people were in the 20-30 age group and there were a number of surfers, but this was not of interest to Rory as apparently there were so many novice surfers who had no clue about the etiquette of who goes first that it would have been frustrating and potentially dangerous to rent a board. Rory had been successful selling his board that morning after posting it on the board in the yacht club at the marina. The radar was not operating properly so Rory went up the mizzen mast, took off the dome and found that the drive belt had come off and a setscrew was loose on the motor shaft. It seems to be working fine now. I am going to miss Rory who has been wonderful crew, always willing to get it done whatever the circumstances and Emily, always good at managing the sails and providing meals for us.
18 December 2017
I wanted to get the teak cap rails (the wood that goes all round the edge of the boat) and the teak seats in the cockpit restored to plain wood without the cetol varnish which over the years has become orange and chipped in many places. I had two people interested in doing the job, both I think very capable, but I eventually chose Gonzalo who came highly recommended by Richard, the owner of another Hallberg-Rassy just 2 boats away from us. He will also strip and varnish the binnacle and the hatches, so there will be no more orange Cetol anywhere on the boat. The best thing about Annita, a boat built by a great boatbuilder in 1975, is that all the external wood is teak and all the interior wood is mahogany. Visiting the boat show in San Francisco in April I was shocked that many expensive new boats now use chipboard and veneer, little better than what you would see in a recreational vehicle.
17 December 2017
We were told that today was market day. We walked to the other side of the marina and were amazed at the size of the market. There must have been at least 100 stalls set up. There were the usual food stalls selling everything from fresh produce to full meals, but most of the market was a display of fine arts and crafts. There was a man blowing glass and creating colorful animals; there were painters and potters and jewelry makers; there were handbags and purses and all manner of leather goods; there were beautiful colored butterflies made from recycled plastic soda bottles. It was an incredible display of the ingenuity and artistry of the local people.
Isla Isobel to La Cruz
16 December 2017
Almost as soon as we left a stiff south-easterly wind sprang up but our track was about 25° off the wind so we hosted the main and mizzen and motor-sailed, quickly putting two reefs into the main as the wind strengthened over 20 knots. By the time we reached Banderas Bay in the morning the wind was heading us, gusting at 30 knots and creating short steep seas so we lowered the mizzen and tacked into the bay under double reefed mainsail alone, along with a bit of help from the engine. Tacking was more comfortable and slowed us up enough for the wind to moderate to about 14 knots as we entered La Cruz Marina. The marina is modern and efficient and built just next to the charming village of La Cruz, which, with its cobblestone streets and colorful houses dripping with bougainvillea, is one of the most attractive towns we have seen in Mexico. La Cruz is a favorite of cruisers mainly because it combines the creature comforts of a good marina with the charm of a little Mexican fishing village.
It was hard for us to believe that this was the end of the first leg of the trip and that we would be flying back to Moraga in 4 day’s time. We had arrived one day later than I had planned 2040 miles away in San Francisco when we started the trip. We gave each other high fives all round but it was a bitter-sweet celebration – it was sad to be at the end of a cruise when we had got so used to working as a team, sailing the boat to incredible anchorages and seeing places and things that many people only dream about. This was especially true for Emily who had never been out of the States before.
15 December 2017
For an anchorage that is only regarded as temporary, we had a very comfortable night. There was significant swell, causing the waves to crash against the rocks beside us, but the wavelength of the swell was too long to make Annita rock and roll.
Connor and Chase arrived in the morning shortly followed by Manatee a large sailboat which will be sailing to Tahiti in March. The owner, Irene, and her husband Chris, the parents of three adolescent boys on the boat, told us that she had grown up on Manatee when it belonged to her mother and father. She came over in her dinghy and gave us a pile of shrimp which she had just got from a local fishing boat, and we gave her one of our fishing lures as they said they had had no luck at all fishing with their cedar plug! She obviously grew up trading and bought us some chocolates as a further trade for our lure.
We swam over to the rocks and snorkeled for about an hour and saw more fish, and more varieties, than we had seen before, even at the other prolific anchorages. We saw parrotfish, guinea-fowl puffers, moorish idols, giant damselfish, spinster wrasse and many others not listed in our detailed, but obviously limited, field guides.
Emily sold her paddle board to Connor who went paddling off around the bay as we began to get ready to leave. It was a sad farewell to Sea Casa, we probably won't see Chase or Connor again as they are heading down to Panama.
Rory can hold his breath for two minutes and swam down 20 feet to rearrange the anchor chain which had wrapped its way around a number of rocks and would have been very tricky to extract otherwise. After all the dire warnings about having to leave your anchor if stuck fast in the rocks it was a happy event, thanks to Rory, to pull it up free and clear as we set off for Puerto Vallarta, our last port of call before the Christmas break.