Thursday, 27 April 2017

Mazatlan to La Paz

A view of Club Nautico marina from the El Faro lighthouse.
This was my first time to Mazatlan.  I was captivated by this vibrant city.  We spent the first couple of nights at Club Nautico anchored near the sewage treatment plant and then moved a few miles north into the Marina area.  My friends Kim and Jan on Remember Me have made El Cid Marina their home base for the last four years so I finally had a chance to visit with them in Mexico.
One of my first jobs was to locate a new mast top wind indicator.  The frigate birds had been very persistant trying to land on the mast during our night passage to Mazatlan and eventually one of them managed to break off the front of the arrow and the anti bird spike....
Riding in a pulmonia, Mazatlans unique taxis, part golf cart
part volkswagen bug, along the Malecon.

The windex, missing its pointy bits!

 The windex repair view
 Every place in Mexico where lots of boats gather there is a cruisers net in the mornings on the VHF radio.  You are able to get information about events and gain local assistance and knowledge.  One of the things Mazatlan is missing is a well stocked chandelry, however one shout out on the net and I was able to find a brand new windex.  Once again it was a trip up the mast but the mission was successful and we were once again able to tell from which direction the wind was coming.
Enjoying the El Cid Marina facilities with Jan and Anne

One of El Cids pools, I am not sure why Kim and Jan enjoy it
here so much............
 I was able to spend time with Kim and Jan and enjoy the El Cid Marina amenities and we also had a lovely evening out in Mazatlan, one of my best meals yet!  All too soon it was time to get going, Maggies time with me was running out and we had 212 miles to get to playa Bonanza on the Baja peninsula.  The weather forecast was for light winds from the north, which was what we needed as the prevailing wind here at this time of year is from the north and that was the direction we were headed, so light wind was good.  Turned out it was really light and of the 48 hour trip 47.5 was spent with the engine on.  The good part was that the crossing was easy just kind of noisy.

Dolphin statue on the Malecon

Mazatlan Market

When I say the wind was light I mean really light.......
we are 100 miles from land in any direction in this photo.
It was hot and I went for a swim.

Headed to La Paz from Playa Bonanza, Maggie had a plane
to catch. 

We were joined by the crew of Searover II and Seadra for
Maggies last supper in Mexico this trip. They all colour
coordinated by accident!
Thank you Maggie for your help getting Kialoa back to the Baja!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

San Blas, Isla Isabela, Mazatlan

Maggie enjoying La Tovara
 Maggie and I had a few days to enjoy San Blas, which is a lovely town in spite of its notoriety for biting bugs.  Mosquitoes and jejenes, which are tiny biters that make you extremely itchy, are part of the landscape there and bug spray and long sleeves are a must at dawn and dusk, during the day it is not quite so bad.....
We enjoyed the panga trip winding up the river through the mangroves to see the birds, crocodiles, iguanas and fish that all call this area home.  This time we stopped at the headwater spring called La Tovara, where they have fenced the crocodiles out and you can swim with the very friendly fish!
A fish coming to check out my toes

Gary and Karina having their union blessed on a magic
rock by the "unofficial"guide at the old spanish fort in San Blas.
He was happy to accept donations!
 Seadra and Searover II caught up with us in San Blas and we spent a day with them and did a little provisioning for the 140 mile journey to Mazatalan and left in the early morning.  First stop was Isla Isabela, 40 nautical miles away. Kialoas second visit to this amazing place.  We started out with calm weather and motoring, looking out for long lines, eventually the wind did come up, from exactly the direction we were headed and it turned into a bit of slog trying to get there before dark.....
The sun set just before Maggie and I arrived at the anchorage and we were rewarded with a green flash over the pacific.  I have been on the lookout for a while and was very excited by my first ever, however I soon had to attend to the business of anchoring in the very tricky anchorage at Isla Isabela in the gathering dark.  We made it just in time, followed closely by Seadra, Searover had been there for a while already as they manage to go to weather much better!
Leaving San Blas in very calm conditions.

A young frigate surveying its domain, Isla Isabela

Looking out at the anchorage, Isla Isabela

A young booby and its parent, Isla Isabela

Maggie and Karina enjoying the view, Isla Isabela
After two nights at Isla Isabela it was time to head for Mazatlan, a place that Kialoa had not been to before.  It was a 100 nm journey to Mazatlan, with no stops and as there was a prediction for some strong north winds to come we needed to make tracks.  Another early morning departure under motor did eventually turn into some fun upwind sailing and Kialoa was handling it very well keeping up with the bigger boats with no problem!  As night approached we did lose the wind and Searover II headed off towards La Paz and Seadra and Kialoa started motoring for Mazatlan.  We arrived at dawn and anchored inside the breakwater in an area known as Club Nautico, where we then had a quiet day and recovered from the overnight passage. This anchorage is quiet and peaceful except when the charter boats with the bands go by but has the disadvantage of being right by the sewage treatment plant so is blessed with some interesting aromas on occasion.  We also experienced some fog....the first in a very long time!
Fog in Mazatlan, it felt more like Oregon than Mexico!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

New Crew

Maggie enjoying a cup of tea
I arrived in La Cruz two days before Maggie arrived by plane to Puerto Vallarta.  Its about a 1 hour easy bus ride to the airport.  The Puerto Vallarta area like most of Mexico has got public transit totally sorted out.  It is generally easy and cheap to get around.  Sometimes the transport is a little rickety and sometimes the drivers are a little aggressive but I have only been on one bus that had an accident so far and that was only a fender bender!
As I was coming into La Cruz I had an overcharging problem with my batteries and the day I arrived my dinghy engine quit.  So a couple of major issues to deal with.  So Maggie ended up spending more days in La Cruz than either of us really wanted to.  It did mean I got to spend more time with my Auntie who was in nearby Sayulita which was lovely.
I managed to sort out the overcharging problem with a switch installation so I can now just shut off the alternator when necessary.  Thanks to Gary on Searover II for guidance with this project.  The dinghy motor remains unresolved.  We have had to rely on the kindness of friends for rides or paddle.  Kialoas abundance of dinghys has come in handy (I have had to bear quite a bit of teasing about how many dinghys I have on my little boat!) as the rowing dinghy has been pressed into service as well as the swimming to shore with a dry bag method.  We finally left La Cruz and started heading northwards, first stop Punta de Mita, a big 9 mile hop.  It was an upwind sail to get there and took 4 hours of beating, but we were rewarded with a young humpback whale surfacing within 3 meters of the boat!  Exciting and just a little scary as even though it was smaller than Kialoa it was not that much smaller.

A meet up of Bluewater Cruising Association boats in LaCruz
There were 10 boats represented and 3 others in the bay that
were not able to attend.  Talk about an organization that is
meeting its mandate of getting people on boats to head out
Next day we headed for Chacala, some 30 nm this time.  Once again spotting whales but not nearly so close.  I called my Auntie as we were passing by Sayulita and she was heading to Chacala by car!  So a wonderful coincidence turned into a fun dinner at the beach palapa in Chacala!
Maggie and I upped anchor the next morning and motored most of the way to our next stop, Mantanchen bay.  Got a little sailing in at the end and spotted whales again.  A quiet night in Mantanchen and then around the corner the 3 miles to San Blas, which is a very shallow bar and channel up to the Marina.....not the best thing to do on a falling tide but I managed not to go aground and only got a few more grey hairs before we were safely tied up at the Marina.

On the way to town, Chacala.

Kialoa at anchor Chacala

Dinner with my lovely Auntie.  
San Blas sunset

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Single handed

Overlooking the Marina from Jennifer and Davids room!
I returned to Kialoa after leaving my mother to make her way home.
Now I would be truly single handing.  Kialoa was safely stashed in the Marina at Barra de Navidad, which is a lovely place to hang out, with multiple pools and beautiful grounds.  It also gets a little expensive to stay for too long so the day after I got back I checked out and made my way back to the anchorage in the lagoon.  Just after I turned in my towel cards and paid the bar bill at the hotel lobby I bumped into my neighbour Jennifer and her husband David.  They were here on holiday!  What a small world!
We had a lovely dinner together at one of the nearby restaurants and then we all got a ride home on one of the water taxis that make regular runs around the bay to the hotel, restaurants, marina and the anchorage.  There is no need to put your dinghy in the water in Barra de Navidad. I ended up spending a week in the anchorage at Barra as there was some strong weather predicted and some south winds which none of the other anchorages had any protection from.  The lagoon at Barra is extremely well protected and there is good holding in mud.  I had a great week there. I did some kayaking with the Kelly and Clay (Airsupply), went on a road trip to Colima and Comala with John,Jennifer (Spinnaker) and Ed (Seadra).  Colima is an inland town, overshadowed by a very large volcano, 3800m high, and we arrived there on the day of a huge parade of horses.  It was an incredible event with some very beautiful animals being shown off.  Camala is one of Mexicos magic towns, but I actually don't know what that really means.  It was a lovely town and every building is painted white, make sure to take your sunglasses.  It is also known for its traditional Ponche.  This is a mildy alcholic drink that comes in a great variety of flavors.  We all picked some up and found the cappucino flavor is great with coffee.  Yum!
Kayaking with Kelly and Clay in the Barra lagoon

One of the crocs we saw in the lagoon, yup in the wild!
Keep your hands inside the kayak!

One of the fine horses on parade, Colima

Many of the horses were dancing down the street but one fell over
you can just see its legs under the other horses

Jennifer, Ed and John in the magic town of Camala.
After a week in Barra it was time to go.  I needed to be in Puerto Vallarta in time for Maggies (my new crew) arrival on March 2nd.
I had some lovely sailing and some peaceful motoring with the tiller pilot steering.  My first stop was Tenacatita where I spent one night and left early the next day for the bay of Chamela.  My friends on Searover were already there and Seadra showed up as well.
We enjoyed some time at the anchorage in the small islands in the bay, where we had our very own beach to hang out on, play bocce, watch the hundreds of hermit crabs and observe the nesting pelicans.  Who knew they built nests in trees!

A quiet motoring day

Our very own beach at Isla Cocinas, Bahia Chamela.
  Searover II, Lazy lion, Kialoa and Seadra
in the background.

We spent some time in the main anchorage at Bahia Chamela as well, enjoying the town life, beach walks and good food.
Then it was time for the moment I was dreading.  100 nm trip to Puerto Vallarta.....there is only one not very good anchorage to stop at along this route so the plan was to go through the night till we reached La Cruz.  I was not looking forward to this long trip on my own with no chance to rest.  I left first thing in the morning along with Seadra who was also single handing and Searover II came along a little later.  It was a beautiful day that started out as a motor but turned into some beautiful sailing in the afternoon.  As it got dark we set up an hourly radio contact schedule.  I settled into my routine.  Check everything, set the timer, lay down, try and sleep, check everything, set the timer, repeated and repeated.  I never did get any sleep.......but it was an easy and uneventful passage and I arrived at the anchorage of La Cruz at 6:30 am.  It was still dark and I was feeling pretty tired so I eased my way to the edge of the anchorage under radar, dropped anchor and crashed.  I was woken at 8:30 by a cheerful good morning from Jennifer of Spinnaker but had no trouble getting back to sleep again.  By noon I was up and ready for the day.  I picked up anchor ( I was in 47 feet of water) and moved in a little closer to shore.  I considered my first solo overnight a success!  The boat was fine and so was I.  I now know that it is something I can do, but I did discover that I do not love to be on watch with no sleep throughout the night and will plan accordingly in the future!
On the left hand side of this rocky outcropping is a giant bowl
Who knows!  Its mexico!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Fun in the sun

Barra de Navidad sunrise

Mom and I finally pulled ourselves away from Tenacatita and went exploring further south.
We caught up with Searover II in Barra de Navidad, enjoyed some very peaceful sleeps in the quiet of the lagoon and then headed off for more adventures further south.  We explored the area around the town of Manzanillo for a few days, catching up with Avant and enjoying their company before they headed off for points even further south.

Las Hadas anchorage, Manzanillo, this is an incredibly
picturesque anchorage and the resort is famous for being
the location for the filming of the movie 10 with Bo Derek.

Manzanillo is a very large port and there were many cargo ships
anchored in the bay

A fantastic market in Manzanillo

We also enjoyed some wonderful snorkeling

One of the cargo ships took a wrong turn leaving Manzanillo
during the hurricane Patricia that hit this coast and ended up
living out its remaining years stationary.............
The middle of February rolled around and Moms flight was booked out of Puerto Vallarta.  As I was not quite finished with the Barra area we took Kialoa to the marina in Barra de Navidad and hopped on a bus.  The bus was supposed to drop us off at Boca de Tomatlan, but the driver forgot.....anyway it was a short bus ride back once we realized that we missed our stop.  From Boca de Tomatlan we caught a water taxi to the small water access only town of Yelapa.  This very picturesque town is nestled in the hills that surround Banderas Bay and has become a favorite destination for many snow birds and tourists alike.  Moms friend Angus has a place there and we spent two nights enjoying his hospitality and the town of Yelapa.  Alas no pictures due to no battery charge........operator oversight perhaps?
On leaving Yelapa we caught the water taxi back to Boca de Tomatlan and from there I caught a bus back to Barra de Navidad and Kialoa and Mom caught a bus to Puerto Vallarta airport and headed back to the BC snow!  I am sorry about the weather in BC this year!  The only person I know who has been loving it is my son Josh.  Apparently it has made for some good snowmobiling!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

New Crew

There are many of these big beautiful trees in La Cruz

I stayed in La Cruz until my new crew showed up.  My mom arrived on Jan 17th just in time for my birthday!  We had a fun night out with live music, sushi and good friends.
The next day we pulled up anchor and headed south, following in the tracks of Searover II.  If you have ever read their blog then you might get a sense that this is not the best idea!  Somehow when there is going to be a change from the nice weather predicted, it happens when they are at sea........and it was a nice 10 to 15 knots of wind predicted, which should have given us a nice downwind ride for the 100 nm overnight passage to Chamela.  Alas it was not to be.  Moms first ever overnight passage started out with some lovely sailing and we did continue with a downwind ride, however as the night progressed so did the wind speed.  The sails got smaller, the seas got lumpier, the night got darker.  Not a great introduction to sailing and not exactly what mom was hoping for when she got on Kialoa!  Luckily she was lying down below when I had a near miss with Searover II at midnight and did not see just how near it was....I say we followed in Searovers tracks but really we left La Cruz at the same time, and due to different courses and the fact that they tried to sail in the light air early in the day they were not leaving us behind yet, anyway eight hours into the trip we crossed paths, very closely.  The worst part is it was totally my fault we got so close, Searover was the stand on vessel, and I knew where he was but just did not get how close it was going to end up, lucky for me Gary is a quick thinker and was able to change course and we avoided a collision.  What are the odds in that great big sea that we would end up in the same part of it........anyway it happened and I am certain that I will very carefully make sure I am never in that situation again!
Mom at the helm
Bahia Chamela, Gary and his cousin Karen
on our very own beach, lucky us!

Alls well that ends well, so after a long lumpy but pretty fast sailing night we arrived at Bahia Chamela and anchored behind Searover, they did leave us behind after the near miss as they are generally a much faster boat.
We spent a few days hanging out on the beach, snorkeling and playing games. With a south wind predicted and no protection there it was time to go.  Once again we left at the same time as Searover II and what do you know, that south wind came in earlier and stronger than predicted so it was a rather brutal upwind slog to the next anchorage that was luckily only nine miles away.  Nine very long miles for Kialoa.  Mom was starting to wonder what the heck she was doing here, this sailing thing was not very fun so far!  The anchorage at Paraiso was pretty tight and we were the third boat to arrive, I don't think that it would have fit many more.  It also provided no protection from that south swell although when you looked at it on the charts it really looked like it would.  However it was a dramatically beautiful spot with amazing rock formations, crashing waves, blowholes and two small beaches.  We ended up enjoying our stay there in spite of the closeness of those rocks and crashing waves.  Mom and I stayed for two nights, one more night than Searover II, and we had a lovely downwind sail in 10 knots of wind to catch up with them at Tenacatita. But remember that cotter pin that fell on the deck in San Evaristo, 400 some odd nautical miles ago. I finally found where it came from!  As I was raising the main sail in preparation for leaving Paraiso I noticed that the large pin holding the boom to the mast was halfway out!  Yikes!  Luckily it was easy to get back into position and now has a new cotter pin to hold it there!

Here is the pin sticking out, the bottom part of the fitting had
been loose and was making a weird clunking sound that I
had been trying to track down.  Thank goodness we didn't lose
that pin!

The anchorage at Paraiso, the dramatic rocks and waves
did not photograph well but sunrise did. :)
A huge raft up potluck at Tenacatita

Mom kayaking in the mangroves at Tenacatita
We got to be a part of a leatherback turtle release in Tenacatita
they are just way too cute!

Just one of the beautiful beaches in the area
During our stay in Tenacatita we went to La Manzanilla, a nearby town, for
an Art Walk.  This boy band was playing terrible music on their homemade
instruments.  The horns are hoses and plastic water bottles.  I give them big
points for effort!
We had lots of fun in the Bay at Tenacatita so I think that kind of made up for some of the not so fun sailing!