Friday, March 29, 2013

Banderas Bay Blast

I am working toward the worst blog of the year award.  I am not sure why I have not been posting.  I like writing and picking the images so it seems strange even to me that I have payed so little attention to our blog.
The second season is different from the first and that might have something to do with it.
We are visiting places for the second time and are much more relaxed about everything.  We thought it might get boring spending another season in Mexico but it is not boring at all.  
There have been some fun "season two" surprises.   Like the joy of hooking up with people that we met last year.  It is so fun to see a familiar boat pull into the bay and realize that friends are aboard!  This is always call for a group dinner and time to catch up with stories of off season exploits or summer in Mexico melt downs!

The surf really is mellow at Punta de Mit

Spent the day in Sayulita and San Poncho drinking buckets of beer on the beach with our good friends
Keith and Olina of S/V Anon

We met this guy on the beach in San Poncho.  He is really into this cool music with a whale songs overlay.

He also makes crochet shoes.

Happy Hour with Russ and Doreen of August Moon.
We have a love/hate relationship with this cool town La Cruz de Huanaxctle. .
We really do love it but we hate the way we get stuck there.  We spend so much time hanging around because there is always something cool going on.  Great live music, benefits for the local orphanage, CD release parties, etc.  We stayed for the Banderas Bay Blast, a fun beer can regatta to kick off the sailing season in Banderas Bay.  Jeff and I crewed aboard a 47 foot Lagoon Catamaran  Moontide and a 38 foot Lagoon Catamaran Younger Girl.
We had so much fun and really appreciated the experience of sailing a Cat.  We learned a lot and it was a good reality check for me as I have a romanticized view of everything and thought that a Catamaran would be the perfect boat but as usual, reality interrupted my fantasy life and we found that there are some significant issues with Cat's.  That being said, we are looking forward to crewing again aboard the 47 footer named Moontide for the Banderas Bay Regatta mid March.

Tataware a local flamenco guitar group.  Fantastic music with brunch.

Jeff's Birthday dinner at restaurant 99.  Everything on the menu is 99 pesos!
Bob and Sheri along with their daughter and son in law helped us celebrate.

So did the staff!  Tequila shots for Jeff

After dinner we all went to AnnaBananas to rock out to the classic rock.
I brought a home made Kaluha Cake to share with everyone there.  Jeff received
Some great gifts.  Spam, Chicharones and a soccer ball.

Capt. Bill and Judy of Moontide with Debbie of Younger Girl

A great party was provided for all participants, free food, drinks, T-shirts and hats.
How cool is that!

 Then it was time to head to Ventura to spend time with our family for Christmas.  Cheers.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Underway

Thanksgiving is different underway.
First of all, we could not contact our family and share a few minutes together via email, skype or cell phone.  Secondly, no turkey dinner with all the fun side dishes.  Last, no friends around.  We were alone.  Aboard our 42 foot sailboat in the middle of the Sea of Cortez making a 2-3 night passage directly to San Blas.  Hum...This is different but not all bad.

One of the unexpected outcomes of cruising this last year is that we have become much closer as a couple, and not only in proximity!  We have really become content together without needing a big party for every holiday or event.  It feels like we are at peace and can enjoy commemorating special events with little more than a special dinner or toast with some Chilean wine.

While under way I made dinner rolls, Salmon, veggies, potatoes and yams for our special Thanksgiving Dinner.  We ate our meal in fresh air under sail.  Unfortunately no wine since we choose not to drink any alcohol under way.

After two nights and three days we were approaching Mantenchén Bay in San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico.
The sun was setting and we knew we would not make the bay before dark.  Armed with way points in the GPS and the memories of the bay from last year we felt comfortable entering the bay by fog shrouded moon light.
Our only apprehension was the sight of numerous fishing trawlers and the unseen longlines that fill the waters between Isla Isabella and San Blas.  Our original plan was to stay at Isla Isabella overnight so that we could navigate the fishing line filled waters with the benefit of day light, but Isabella was like an over crowded RV park when we arrived earlier in the day (perhaps six or eight boats!), so we decided to make a run for Mantenchén Bay hoping to arrive with some light.

As we approached Mantenchén Bay in the dusk several large fishing trawlers were in a line making unusual turns and basically running-a-muck.  Every time we changed course to go around, another trawler would turn and our course was blocked again.  This with the sun disappearing into a fog obscured sunset and the appearance of lights ashore added some unease to the end of a long trip, but all went fine.  We sighted an engineless panga pulling in his line as we motored into the middle of the bay in the dark.  Luckily he had a flash light and shined it on his hull so we could see him, and we were thankful that we did not get caught up in his line.  We dropped the hook and poured a rum and coke for the well deserving Captain.  Job well done.

Fishermen bringing in their lines on a foggy morning in Mantenchén Bay.

 First surfing trip of the season and I cant wait!

Homes and restaurants line most of the beach in the bay.

Leaving the Bay and going around the corner in search of surf.

S/V Nirvanna's Bob on the board and Sheri at the helm
No surf from mother nature but we will not be denied.  We skurfed instead.

After working up a big appetite on the water we had a wonderful lunch at a beach side 
palapa restaurant.
The owner Ismael and his son we so gracious.  They pulled out all of the fish and taught us the different varieties and how good fresh fish should look.  We ordered two different whole fishes to be prepared by the son who generously demonstrated his method for Sheri and me.

Jeff, Bob, Sheri, Ismael and son

 The open air kitchen, notice the two buckets under the table, they catch all of the gooey, fishy water.

The spice rack

Fresh fish, rice, salad, fresh tortillas, live music and buckets of beers on the beach.  
What more could we ask for?

Besides a nap in a hammock like this little guy.

As the day wore on the coconut husks start to burn.    The smoke helps keep the biting no-see-ums away.  We took this as a symbol from God that it was time to head back to the Buena Vida for the evening and prepare to depart for Chacala the following day.

We spent a few nights anchored in the bay of Chacala with our buddy boat Nirvana.  Nirvana needed to head on to La Cruz but we decided to stop at a charming town called Jaltema.  We did not visit Jaltema last year so it was fun to explore a new place.  We really liked the playful spirit of Jaltema but the anchorage was so rolly.
We planned on anchoring off the town for the day and moving to the protected lee of a big rock island about a mile off shore.  Well, we could not get a good bite with the anchor.  
All rock at 15, 20, 25 feet enough!  We anchored in the best spot we could find, but it was a  bumpy night!

Joyful beach scenes of Jaltema

Notice the toilet seat in the bow of the panga.  I'm sorry but no... that is not going to happen in my life.

Sweet children on a field trip wander through the tourist zone.

Beach access from the lively resort at the end of town.  The magenta and lime seem to work.

We love the real deal where the locals like to eat.  Usually the best food at any price.

We never tire of the charms of daily life south of the boarder.  Mexico is so close to the U.S. but so different.  I feel that I have often underestimated the cultural differences between us.  We have so much in common and share a common history but the values and priorities of the everyday Mexican is so different from the life we are familiar with.  Besides great sailing, beaches, and restaurants, we love learning more about our neighbors to the south.

Now, off to La Cruz.  One of our favorite little towns.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Sea of Love

The Sea of Cortez stole our hearts.

After two weeks of preparing the Buena Vida  for another  cruising season, we overcame the gravitational pull of the marina complete with electricity, cell reception, wifi, access to groceries and restaurants, and sailed up the Sea for our shake down cruise.
It is a strange sensation that overcomes many of us cruisers and causes some fear about going into a marina, it is hard to leave.  We get lulled into complacency about the weather, electrical use and water supply.  One can just step off the boat if there are no tomatoes or the trash can is full.  But once out of the orbit of the marina the pace of life settles into a beautiful rhythm worth mourning the loss of wifi.

Our first sail to Isla Partida was a lively romp in 15-20 knot winds with a bit of chop.
We tacked out and back a couple of times to take advantage of the fun wind and remind ourselves how to handle the lines.  Cruisers hardly ever tack or hand steer so this was a fun and playful start to season two.  The Buena Vida was healed over romping along like a horse out of the gate!  She sailed beautifully and we were super stoked cruising along at 6 knots in swim suits.  (Stop what ever you are doing and bring your boat to Mexico - This is just to good to miss!)

  " Kilo Kilo 6 Alpha Mike India"  aka Jeff since he passed his
Technician and General Ham Radio License exam.
So proud!
The stunning colors of Ensenada Grande, the rock walls and the pale blue water was spectacular.  We passed the time snorkeling, hiking, snorkeling, reading, snorkeling and gathering with other cruisers for group dinners.
I lost my battery charger for my underwater camera and missed out on the best photo opps of our Sea of Cortez snorkel trips.  Gin clear water with 40- 50 foot visibility.
Tons on diverse fish life, I saw a big green eel swimming freely around the rocks, we saw a gorgeous octopus moving along the rocks changing color and texture with every move as we hovered, mesmerized.  Jeff saw a young turtle resting on the sandy bottom.  Our snorkeling in Ensenada Grande was far superior to our Dive trip the week before and it always feels good to swim freely with out all that gear.

Once in a life time opportunity to see the Baja so green.
After four years of sever drought the Baja Peninsula received record rainfall this summer as well as a visit from Hurricane Paul so every plant that has been laying dormant is now alive and in bloom.  People tell us this is a once in 20 year kind of event and to enjoy it while it lasts so... we are.

The red cliffs of the mountains are now scattered with lush green plant life, magenta, blue and yellow flowers and delicate yellow butterfly’s.  With all the extra water this last year there are also lots of little bugs.  Nasty little Bobitos fly in your face and hover around your nose and eyes.  In response, a new feature to the SSB nets are a bug report.  In the morning we listen to Sonrisa Net for weather, to hear the location of other boats, the conditions where they are anchored and this year, a bug report.
Thanks to the information from other cruisers were were able to pick anchorages with as few bugs as possible but on occasion we were swarmed too!

 Julie protecting herself as we sailed by an island and were swarmed with Bobitos.  
Got to take the bad with the good.

Spectacular hike up the canyon on Isla Partida.

Do you see the crab in the upper right corner?

No trail, rock scramble.

Buena Vida laying contently in Ensenada Grande

We connected with our friends Bob and Sheri aboard S/V Nirvana and S/V Eagles Tom an Jeanie via SSB and sailed over to San Everisto to meet up.  After a couple of nights in Evaristo we all traveled back to Ensenada Grande and spent a few more nights there.  We couldn't get enough.  

Good Morning Sunrise and Moonsettting at 6:00am, San Evaristo

Now we are all back in Marina Palmera each of us dealing with various and sundry issues with our floating homes.  We had a coolant leak so Jeff was able to fix that out at the anchorage, one of the boats received some bad fuel up in the sea and need to deal with polishing the fuel and cleaning their fuel tank.  We do not hear about that happening very often but it only takes once to really  screw things up for someone.
It probably is related to shortages that are taking place up in the Sea of Cortez as a result of Hurricane Paul.  Many roads were washed out and supplies are short up in the Sea.  Cruisers report fuel shortages, folks without water makers were struggling to find water and the likes.  So as the fuel was running low at the station up in Puerto Escondido our friends must have gotten the dredges along with all the debris.  Bummer.

We have loved our time in the Sea of Cortez so much we actually considered staying here all winter, but we know it will get too cold for us.  Since one of our cruising goals is to avoid being cold, off we go heading south in a few days.  We will likely be at passage crossing the Sea of Cortez on Thanksgiving day, I am a bit sad about that.  I always miss our family on the holidays and the next best way to celebrate is with our fellow cruisers but, we are waiting for just the right sailing weather so that is how it will be.

Happy Thanksgiving and Hasta Pronto