Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 – Barra

Today is packing day. Dale and Sharon are headed back to Phoenix and I am headed for Boston. Low tonight in Phoenix is 37 and I did not dare look at Boston. Earl and Daisy will have peace and quiet for a week.

We had a fun time in Tenecatita. We took Dale and Sharon for a ride through the mangrove jungle in our dingy. It was a complete change from the sandy beach and something they had never seen before. Then Dale, Sharon and I walked down the beach to the hotel and took a cab into La Manzanilla, a little town at the other end of the bay. It was fun to show them a small Mexican town. We bought some souvenirs and had lunch at a typical small Mexican place, Lupita’s.

The next day was back to Barra. Sharon and Dale treated us to a fancy dinner in town at Sambucca’s (the treehouse). It was wonderful. We had a seafood appetizer – shrimp, scallops and calamari in a white sauce – which was unique. Then I had a chicken in mole sauce and the others had shrimp with wonderful coconut rice.

Now is time to call a water taxi and leave.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011 – Tenecatita

Coming into Tenecatita, no fish, but there were porpoises and whales which were entertainment enough. We anchored in the bay which is a lovely large anchorage, about 20 miles north of Barra. There were a number of boats already there when we arrived and more came. I think there were more than 20 when the sun went down, but the anchorage could easily hold twice that number.

Sharon and I went kayaking. It was Sharon’s first try and she did very well. We beached the boats and took a walk, and when the time came to go back out through the surf, it was not Sharon who capsized. I’ll have to take lessons from her.

After a super peaceful night, Earl was itching to go on Thursday morning. We talked him into staying put for most of the morning, but then he needed to move. We headed off for Paraiso, with a short stop in a portion of Tenecatita called the Aquarium for lunch. On the way out of the bay, there were several humpback whales feeding on the surface. We got close and it was a thrill.

It was about 20 miles to Paraiso and the wind came up and with it some swell. It was a bouncy trip. The whole afternoon of fishing produced one very small bonita which I will make into ceviche. By the time we got to Paraiso it was really too late to play in the water. It turned out to be a poor choice for an overnight anchorage. Even with the stabilizer out, we rolled all night, and Earl spent a large part of it keeping anchor watch. Dale and Sharon were good sports but I don’t think it was the best time they ever had.

This morning, even before sunrise, Earl had the anchor up and we were underway. Once the stabilizers were engaged, the going was nice and we had a much pleasanter ride than before. We made our way back to Tenecatita and finally we caught some fish. Unfortunately from a dinner standpoint, they were jack crevalles instead of dorado. This fish is known for putting up a significant fight and never breaking water with jumps. As one guide book put it “few fish are tougher or less spectacular”. Whatever, they were enough to exhaust three of us. They are not particularly good eating, so we let them go.

Now we are enjoying a peaceful afternoon at anchor. Earl is making up for his lack of sleep – and I think Daisy and I will go join him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - going north from Barra

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 – leaving Barra

Joan and Clark left at 9 am on Sunday morning. Shortly after, the French baker arrived, so we loaded up and then we left to go anchor out. Half an hour from Barra took us to Cuastecomate, a intimate anchorage, just over the hill from Melaque. It was Sunday and the beach was crowded with locals playing in the water. The Mexicans enjoy their shores. It was lovely and peaceful and we enjoyed the solitude. Then, Monday it was back to Barra to get ready to greet the Klints on Tuesday.

The airport in Manzanillo is 20 miles away from Barra and 30 miles away from the town of Manzanillo. There is no bus service and only the airport taxis can be used from the airport. To meet the Klints at the airport would have been difficult, so we told them we would meet them at the Barra water taxi. I tracked their plane and it landed right on time. We were anchored in the lagoon, so I called a water taxi and arrived on land in plenty of time to be there before they could arrive. After about an hour, I started to worry. I realized that we had not told Dale how to call us from Mexico and worried that if something had happened they would not be able to reach us. I did try to call Dale’s cell, but there was no ring. I told myself that there was no reason to worry and settled down with my book. The next thing I knew, Sharon was leaning out the window of a cab yelling –“There she is!”.

The poor Klints had had a long day – starting at 2 am – so we opted for a quiet night on board. We will do the Barra night life when we return near the end of the week. Two margharitas and a good dinner later, we all retired by nine.

It was 54 degrees when we woke this morning, but by 10 am it is already into the mid 70’s and it is perfect weather. There are no winds forecasted and we are running north, hoping to catch a fish. Dale said he had checked his horoscope and he had excellent karma, so we are hopeful.

Big excitement – no fish yet, but Dale’s karma has brought us some porpoises.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011 - Marina Barra Navidad

OOPS ! I posted the photos in reserve order.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 – underway to Tenacatita

We spent a quiet day at anchor on Tuesday, watching boats come and go. Clark installed a wonderful “ap” for me so help me identify the stars and planets which I look forward to using. That evening Earl called us out to see the luminescence. He threw a little water off the boat and the surface below lit up like a 4th of July sparkler. Whenever a small fish broke the surface, there was a little explosion of sparkles. We found that even just spitting at the water would result in stars. It was an extraordinary display – both the luminescence and the four old people spitting at the water.

It is only forty miles or so from Chamela to Barra and we decided to scope out the potentially anchorages. So the next day we ran an hour or so through the Bay, where we saw a couple of promising anchorages, and on down to a lovely cove, appropriately named “Paraiso”. The water temperature was up to 76, so Clark got brave and went swimming. Joan and I followed and it was lovely. There was no current so we did not even have to make an effort to stay near the boat as we usually do. Such a special spot deserved a special lunch, so we had bay scallops which Earl grilled on the barbeque, together with Joan’s wonderful coleslaw and some brochette with fresh tomatoes. What a life.

Around 3 we picked up the anchor and ran an hour south to Bahia Careyes (Turtle Bay) where we anchored for the night. It is a little bay and the anchorage was tight, especially after we were joined by MV Harmony, a 112 foot Westport Yacht, built in Earl’s home town. We watched the chefs in their aprons cooking up a wonderful smelling dinner – they were only about 100 feet from us. The houses in the community appear to have had a contest to see which could come up with the most vivid colors – blues, yellows, reds, oranges and it is charming.

However, it was not an ideal over night anchorage – the quarters were far too tight – and Earl spent much of the night on anchor watch. Now we are headed south to Tenecatita. We passed the huge monument, Copa del Sol, and a number of extraordinary, huge houses. Copa del Sol is an enormous bowl perched on the top of a cliff. I searched the internet but could find no history of it. The seas are glassy and we are headed for a place that everyone raves about. Can it be any better? (Especially after hearing that there is 18 inches of snow in Boston and more in the Berkshires).

Saturday, January 15, 2011 – Barra Navidad Marina

It was not a long run to Tenecatita which is a large bay. There are 4 good anchorages. We anchored in one and will save the others for another visit. The swimming was lovely and we enjoyed our visit even though we did not get the dingy down and explore the shore. There is room for at least 100 boats. While we were eating dinner, some whales started jumping not far from us. They stayed near us all night and in the morning Earl heard them spouting while he was making our coffee. Then the local cruiser net came on which was unexpected and something new for Clark and Joan. Boats in the area report in and out, people announce activities and stuff to swap, and, of course, there is a request for anyone returning to the US or Canada to carry mail – the Mexican mail being very unreliable.

Joan and Clark leave on Sunday the 16th from Puerto Vallarta which is 5 hours north of Barra where we are headed so we felt we should arrive at Barra on the 14th so that they had plenty of time to check into transportation between Barra and the Puerto Vallarta airport. We found that there are two buses a day but they get into Puerto Vallarta too late for an afternoon flight. Rather than taking the bus and then over nighting in Vallarta, Clark and Joan opted to get a cab to take them directly from the Marina to the airport. It will cost close to $200, but we will have them for an extra day and it will be much easier for them.

We had heard from many people that Barra was one of the best places to visit, but we were still overwhelmed by the hotel and marina. It is a beautiful place, lovely buildings, beautiful grounds and in every way a five star development. Unfortunately, the prices match, so we will only be staying in the marina for two nights. In the future we will join the boats at anchor in the lagoon.

The town of Barra is across the water from the marina and there is a wonderful water taxi system which will take one from the marina, or from the lagoon, to the town for a modest fare. In addition, as we found this morning, there is a French baker who makes the rounds in the morning with fresh goodies. It turns out that he is from Bordeaux, my grandmother’s home. We broke into the baquette immediately and found that his baking was excellent.

The town is quite charming. We had dinner last night at a restaurant called Sambuca. Treehouse would have been a most appropriate name. It looked like one of the illustrations of monkey town in the Barbar books. Dinner was excellent and the people lovely. Today we will explore the town a little further.

Saturday evening, January 15, 2011 – Barra de Navidad Marina

Today Joan, Clark and I took a local bus 2 miles to the town of Melaque which is a little larger than Barra. We had been told of a store there, the Hawaii, which has a good collection of groceries and will deliver your order to your boat. It was a dusty ride – but very cheap, about fifty cent per person. The Hawaii was small and jammed with people and groceries. We found most everything that we needed. They were delivered back to the boat before we returned – so Earl got to put them away.

We wandered the streets of Barra and had a light lunch overlooking the beach that curves from Barra to Melaque. There was a pretty impressive surf running, and I can see that we will need to choose our future beach landings carefully.

This evening we went up to the hotel lobby to get some cash from the ATM machine. The hotel is built on a hill and the lobby is 7 floors above ground level. When the elevator doors opened there was a collective gasp –the view is unbelievable. It is a very swanky hotel – very lovely – but the ATM ate Clark’s card.

For dinner Earl cooked up the shrimp we had bought in Barra. He tossed them around on the grill and the four of us ate a kilo. Yummy. Equally yummy were the 2 small tarts from the French baker that we shared for dessert. The strawberry was very good, but the apple was even better.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 -Bahia Chamela

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 – Underway to Isla Isabella
We left Muertos at 3:30 am. It was a little lumpy, but the wind had mostly abated and it proved to be a good day to travel. We had thought to have company crossing, but the El Tiburon had problems with his mast and apparently chose to head to Cabo for repairs. Earl thought there was a mast light ahead of us, but it turned out to be a bright planet rising.
By evening, the water and air were already becoming warmer. Clark and Joan took the early watch, but Earl could not sleep, so we took over at around 10. As usual, the payoff for giving up a night in the bunk is the beauty of the night sky and stars here. I can never get enough of it. Around midnight we were joined by a bunch of dolphins. There was enough luminescence in the water that we could see them streaking all around us. Earl used a flood light to try to see what they were feeding on. The light illuminated bright red things that may have been eyes. This morning we had small squid on the deck so that was probably what they were feeding on.
So far today, aside from seeing a turtle, the big excitement has been marlin. Earl had seen one swimming on the surface and we circled it, hoping it would bite, which it did not. About 10 minutes later Earl had one on, probably 6 feet or so. It was on long enough to get the adrenaline flowing, for Earl to yell conflicting instructions to all of us and for Clark to see it jump, but then it went away.
We should reach Isla Isabella in early evening. It is a quarter of two and we have 28 miles to go. It is a rookery which we visited last year. Our plan is to spend a couple of hours on land tomorrow morning and then head for San Blas which we enjoyed last year.
Friday, January 7, 2011 – Leaving San Blas
We anchored on the south east side of Isla Isabela, tucked in behind the Monas. After a peaceful evening, we were all looking forward to a good night’s sleep after our crossing. It was not to be. By 2 am Earl and I were tired of hearing the water slamming against the hull and of rocking back and forth in our bed. Up came the anchor and we headed for San Blas. The planet which we had seen the prior night rose again around 3:30. Clark had told us that if it looked red, it would be Mars. It may have been just our imaginations, but we decided that indeed it was red. Joan and Clark said the sleeping was great once we got underway and the stabilizers kicked in. We had the stars to admire and pretty smooth going. I went down and napped and Earl talked to a couple of sail boaters going our way.
We arrived at San Blas around 9 am, pretty close to high tide, and had an easy crossing of the bar. We had decided to tie up at the marina rather than anchoring in the river as we had done last year, thinking that it would be nice to have the Wi-Fi etc. The marina personnel, as always, were lovely, but it was the marina where nothing worked. The Wi-Fi was out, the water was questionable, the electrical power was weak and erratic and our neighbors had been waiting for most of the week for the boat lift to work. But nothing could spoil San Blas.
I was struck again by how charming this little town is. It is truly a Mexican town, with very few tourists. Joan, Clark and I went into town to get some fruit and vegetables at the public market and then made our way to the panadaria to get some bread. I wish I had taken the camera. The panadaria, the owner assured us, made the best bread in town – because, as she laughingly added, it was the only bakery in town. She had quite an assortment of sweets on the shelves and quite a number of bees enjoying the sugar. There was a particular sweet that looked like slices of a jelly roll that the bees loved – it was covered with them. We left them alone and they were perfectly happy to ignore us. To our delight, we found the baked goods to be the best we had found in Mexico.
Tied up two boats down from us was the Molly J, a Cal 2-46, the same boat as Clark and Joan have. Like theirs it is 35 to 40 years old. Jon and Lisa Hansen invited us on to tour it and see the modifications that they had made. Jon has spent 7 years and a fair amount of money on the boat which is now their home. He has made every modification he could to make life on board and sailing more comfortable. Some of the things he has added are electric sail handling winches which are spiffy, in-the-boom roller furling, a washer dryer, a little stove, a furnace, air conditioning, and a water maker etc. They hope to eventually cruise around the world.
The next day, Clark and Joan took the boat trip up the jungle to see the birds and crocs. We had been last year and opted to meet them for lunch at McDonalds. Before we are accused of being ugly Americans, McDonalds has nothing in common with the chain in the US of the same name. The tables are covered in Mexican tiles and the food matches. Very yummy.
Today, being the sixth of January is the feast of Epiphany which the Mexicans take quite seriously. All around the zocolo there were tables set up, and the baker we had met yesterday was busy putting together the traditional bread of the three kings which would stretch most of the way around the square. At around 6 pm the fiesta would start and there would be bread for all.
That evening our neighbors on the Albatross, a 32 foot Island Packet out of Texas, came over for drinks. Kevin, from Boston, Lisa from Toronto and their two sons, Teagan aged 10 and Mick aged 9, are a lovely family. They came down on the 2009 Baha Haha and had met our friends on the Black Dragon. Last year Lisa home schooled the boys. She found it much harder than she had expected, especially since she found that, despite having good grades in school, her younger son seemed to know very little arithmetic. In addition, she and Kevin decided that the boys must have agreed each morning which of them was going to be the bad student for the day. They had hoped that the kids would learn Spanish, but of course all the cruisers speak English so that had not happened. This year they have a slip in La Cruz and are sending the boys to a Mexican private school where they are among the 10 or so non Mexicans in a school of 300. The kids love it and are rapidly learning Spanish and improving their soccer. The school costs about $300 per month for the two children. Since the parents need to provide transportation, Kevin drove their car down from California last summer.
This morning we left at about 7:30 for the 8 hour run to La Cruz. The weather forecast was not at all good, but it is beautiful out here. There is a long gentle swell and no wind to speak of and we have seen lots of whales and jumping rays. The air and water at 10 am are both in the mid 70’s and it does not get any better than this.
Friday, January 7, 2011 - Approaching La Cruz, Banderas Bay
What a lovely day we have had. The swells were long and rolling and the sea calm. I think we have seen everything. First we saw multiple groups of the mobula (small rays) jumping and flipping. Clark then complained that we had seen no porpoise. Well, the gods heard that and sent us an enormous bunch, made up of at least two different types of porpoise – spotted pan tropical and some other type. Off in the background there were whales flipping around on the surface. Soon after, a couple of smaller whales came right by the boat. We saw turtles floating by every once in a while, whales breaching and tons of sea birds all day.
Sunday January 9, 2011 – La Cruz Marina
La Cruz is so pleasant, we decided to spend an extra day. Yesterday Joan, Clark and I went to the Mega and bought two large grocery carts full of stuff, most significantly a large bag of dog food. We were almost out. In the afternoon we watched a children’s sailboat race. The kids ranged from 6 to 10 and were in little boats, one to a boat. They looked like a flock of little ducks among the larger sailboats in the bay. In the evening we had dinner in the courtyard of a charming little combination restaurant gallery. In the background was wonderful Huichol art work, and overhead little lanterns lit up the tree branches. Today we had a good time at a local craft fair and then had lunch in a darling little taco place that was obviously favored by the locals. It is only open on Sunday. We returned to our boat to find that we had front row seats for sailboat races featuring remote control boats about 2 feet long, with rather older sailors then yesterday. The little boats from time to time go astray and we just had to dislodge two that had gotten stuck together and ended up against our boat.
Except for weak WI-FI, life is good! Tomorrow we are off south.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 – Bahia Chamela
We left San Blas shortly after 6, about an hour and a half before dawn. Earl threaded his way through the fleet of sail boats anchored outside the marina and we were off for a long day of traveling. There is little reliable anchoring between Banderas Bay and Bahia Chamela, 100 miles south of La Cruz. In between we passed Cabo Corrientes which, like all headlands, can be nasty. It was not. There was little wind and we made our way south cruising past a seemingly endless sandy beach. We saw few boats. One was Nord Star #1, a Nordhavn motor sailor. He was going north and, curiously for a sailboat, appeared concerned about the winds ahead on the cape. In comparison to our trip to La Cruz, we saw little sea life except for a few whales way off in the distance.
Around 10 pm we finally made it into Bahia Chamela and anchored in 35 feet of water. There was a gentle swell which did not stop me from sleeping. This morning we got up after the sun and were able to see this pretty place. There are about 12 other boats anchored here, mostly sailboats. We are at the north end of the Bay and there is a little town on shore and a small resort. It is a surf beach and, if I were to guess, we will not put the dingy down and go explore the shore. The Bay is huge and there are other anchorages to explore which we will probably do later today.