Tuesday 20 June 2017

Getting ready for summer storage

Kialoa at the Fonatur dock, sails off but the flags are flying!

As soon as I arrived in Guaymas it was time to get to work!  There are quite a few things to do to get a boat ready to sit out of the water in the heat and ready to weather any tropical storms or hurricanes that might decide to venture this far up the sea of Cortez.  Kialoa had survived hurricane Newton without any damage so the preparations had paid off last year.
All the canvas and running rigging must be taken off.  This includes rinsing the salt off and then drying it all.  It is best to do the sails on a calm day and many hands make light work! The sail removal and folding for storage is much easier with more people, and so by the time we had the sails off Searover II, Seadra and Kialoa we were a well oiled team!  We also teamed up for haulouts, it is always nice to have extra hands for this stressful event!  My haulout was at Marina Seca which is a short journey from the fonatur docks.  I had Karina and Ed on board and Gary drove around to catch us on the other side.  Due to some confusion about timing of the haulout we were longer than planned, this worked out very well for me as Karina and Ed managed to wrap up every single block, winch and clutch in tinfoil while we were waiting.  I just had to flush the engine, plug the through hulls, finish putting everything inside, wash the decks, empty the water tanks etc, etc......
Kialoa in the slings and headed for dry land!

the inside of the boat.......

the outside of the boat looking clean and clear!

The walking away photo.....Spanish Stroll, the boat just behind Kialoa is
also a southern cross 31, and she has sailed around the world.
Keeping the dream alive!
So that is the end of this cruising season.......I am now back in BC and back to work looking forward to the next adventure!

Tuesday 13 June 2017

La Paz to Guaymas

Every year in La Paz at the end of March Club Cruceros (this is the long standing cruisers club in La Paz) hosts Bayfest.  This fun event is a fundraisers for local charities and brings the cruising community together to play games, eat good food, listen to music and hang out together.  If you are so inclined there is also a sailing race.  Time to clear the decks of some of that stuff that seems to have no where else to go and go racing!  I was lucky enough to be joined by Ed from Seadra and Gary from Searover II for Kialoas first ever official race in Mexico. I say official because whenever there are two sailboats going the same way within sight of each other it is actually a race. So on the morning Maggie headed for the bus Kialoa headed for the start line.  It turns out we should have started much earlier as we underestimated how long it would take to get there.  By the time we arrived the start had happened and the committee boat had left......we were some 10 minutes late.....so as the last boat went by us we turned around and started racing!  We had a great time sailing Kialoa under Spinnaker even through the tricky entrance into the La Paz harbour channel and managed to pass five of the ten boats ahead of us for a very middle finish! Not bad for a boat loaded down with a whole lot of stuff!
chasing down the fleet
After enjoying Bayfest I headed out to the islands, it was time to start making my way further north as the season was starting to come to a close and my plan was to store Kialoa in Guaymas for the summer months again.  I left La Paz in the company of Seadra and Searover II and we made our way to the anchorage at Los Candeleros on Espiritu Santo.  I won the race that day!
We all enjoyed the anchorages in the area, which is a large park and virtually unpopulated.  After Ed on Seadra had returned his crew to La Paz we continued, working our way north anchorage by anchorage.  Some beautiful sailing days, some motoring days and one that was a little more boisterous!
One of the beautiful anchorages on Isla Espiritu Santo 

Ed(Seadra) myself and Gary and Karina(Searover II) enjoying some of the
fantastic hiking and views the Baja has to offer.

Some dolphins coming to visit Kialoa.

It was a great experience single handing Kialoa for this stretch.  All the anchorages are within a daysail or less of one another and I was able to really enjoy each time underway.  The Baja is spectacularly beautiful, the sealife is abundant, and the weather is never less than pleasant, what is not to like! And I had lots of dolphin sightings to bring joy!  I got to explore some places that I had not yet been to and revisit some of my favorites.  
Searover II decided to cross the sea of Cortez from Isla Isabella, Ed (Seadra) and I headed a little further north to Punta Pulpito to cross.  As we were both single handing it made for a slightly shorter trip.  I was nervous about this long (90nm) crossing on my own as the last long passage I had made by myself was pretty hard at the end when I was exhausted and sleep deprived.
It turned out I did not need to be nervous.  After having a lovely visit with some friends from last years cruising (Ptarmigan) and a good if short sleep, Seadra and I pulled up anchor at 2:30 in the morning and headed to sea.  Conditions were calm and it was not until about 10:30 in the morning that we had enough wind to start sailing. It turned out to be a beautiful crossing, I sailed from 10:30 in the morning until I entered the harbour of Guaymas at 8pm, followed shortly by Seadra, I won that race too! What a great way to finish the sailing season!
Seadra motoring in the early morning light

6.6 knots is excellent speed for Kialoa!  And heading directly for
the destination.  It doesn't get better than that for sailing!

Guaymas harbour is in sight!

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!