Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sunsets in La Paz



Date & Time: 12/28/2010 4:09 PM UTC (Zulu)
Location: 24°09.36'N, 110°19.62'W , La Paz, BC

While the US is suffering from winter storms we're enjoying beautiful sunsets in La Paz. Today was clear and sunny with a high of 80°. We almost feel guilty, almost.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rounding Lands End



Date: 12/17/2010
Location: La Paz
Lat/Lon: 24 09 N 110 19 W
Weather: Sunny and Warm

We have arrived in La Paz and it feels like coming home. We've been in La Paz 4 other times in the last 2 years and the city has become very familiar and comfortable. We still think it is the prettiest city on the Mexican Pacific and we just enjoy walking around town.

We had a great passage around Cabo Falso, Land's End, and past Cabo San Lucas. It got a little lumpy off the cape but not too bad, the wind and seas were coming from the West so it was all from behind us and the boat just gently rolls in those conditions with the stabilizers out. We arrived at los Frailes in the early afternoon and had a nice afternoon nap, then dinner and back to bed for the night.

We did have one final adventure on our trip. Los Muertos was our last stop before La Paz and when we anchored it looked like it was going to be a calm and peaceful night. Not so. Just before midnight the winds picked up from the west, not very strong winds, 15 kts or so, but at a different angle from when we and the other boats anchored. Our anchor alarm which measures the distance from a way point we create when we drop our anchor to the current position of the boat, was indicating that our boat was dragging the anchor and although we couldn't see that we were moving the different direction we were pulling was getting us uncomfortably close to a small sailboat that anchored close to us in the afternoon. After getting up at midnight and watching the wind and boat location for half an hour we decided to pull the anchor and move away from the other boats and let out more chain. Once we moved about 1500' from the other boats we let out nearly 200' of chain and got a good set on the anchor. We sat up for another half hour to make sure everything was ok and then went back to bed to try to get some rest. Frank got a couple of hours sleep while Linda laid awake for most of the rest of the night. We're not sure why our 110 lb Bruce anchor dragged, it never has in the past, but maybe it pulled out of the sand bottom when the direction of the wind changed and it never got a good set after that. This is the first time we have pulled and reset the anchor in the middle of the night and were pleased with how well we handled it, no panic or confusion just a well trained crew... well not really.

At the dock in Marina de La Paz we had the marina mechanic come down and look at the leaking raw water pump on the Gen. He doesn't have a new seal for it so it's off we go with pump in hand in hopes of finding a seal in town.

We couldn't find a new seal for the Gen raw water pump in town but the mechanic found
a 'near new' seal in his shop so we are going to have him install that one. It looks in better shape than the one that was in the Gen so we hope to get through the winter with it and get a new one when we return to the states next summer.

We were going to stay in La Paz for 2 weeks but Linda wanted to stay through the first of the year so that took us up to 18 days and the way the marina prices the slip rentals 19 days at the daily rate is the same as paying for one month so we decided to spend a month here. So goes our plans.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bahia Santa Maria

Date: 12/11/2010
Location: Bahia Santa Maria
Lat/Lon: 24 46 N 112 14 W
Weather: Winds W 5-10 kts, morning fog, mostly sunny

In Punta Asuncion we discovered a water leak coming somewhere from the Generator. Frank spent a few hours in an embrace with the Gen trying to locate the source of the water only to find that the sea water pump is leaking from the shaft seal. Not something we can fix out here and we don't have a spare pump, should have one of those. The leak is not so bad that it stops us from using the Gen and as long as we're moving the only critical need for the Gen is to make electricity so that we can run the water maker. So we run the Gen for a couple of hours per day to make water (50 gals in 2 hours) and we'll be able to get the pump rebuilt in La Paz.

Continuing south, we finished our second overnight passage this morning starting yesterday at 10 AM in Abreojos (ah-bray-OH-hoz, love those Spanish J's) going 23 hours for 145 NM to Bahia Santa Maria. This is a large, open bay (bahia) that could easily hold 200 boats. Which is a good thing because when we arrived here at 8 AM the fog was so thick that visibility was less than 1/4 mile. Using both radars, the GPS, and electronic charts, not to mention Linda standing on the bow, we found our way into the bay and anchored clear of the 4 other boats already here. The overnight passage was full of stars and easy rolling sea, about as good as it gets for the outside of Baja. The evening started by both of us seeing a 'green flash' at sunset. This occurs just as the sun sets under the horizon and then seems to pop back up colored a bright green and then quickly disappears again. To my knowledge this only happens when the sun sets on the ocean and the air is clear. It's a well know phenomena amongst boaters but this is the first time we have witnessed it.

The weather continues to improve for the next few days so tomorrow we are going to move south 20 NM to the mouth of Bahia Magdalena and then the next day depart early to go around the lands end of Baja California and head north into the Sea of Cortes.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Turtle Bay

Date: 12/6/2010
Location: Turtle Bay
Lat/Lon: 27 41 N 114 53 W
Weather: Winds W 5-10 kts, some overcast, mostly sunny

Clear sky's, calm seas and we're back on the water. Life is good. Six months on the dock in Ensenada has made us soft and out of practise on running and living on a boat in motion. It's different staying on a boat in a marina than cruising on a boat, closely watching the weather and charts and planning for your next anchorage. People who travel on their boat develop different skills from those who stay in the marina.

We're in Turtle Bay, officially Bahia San Bartolome, a little short of half way down the Baja peninsula. Turtle Bay gets it's gringo name from the abundance of turtles that were here when the gringos first arrived. There are few if any turtles left. We had 2 nice day passages and one overnighter of 30 hours. The seas could not have been better, at night you could see the stars reflected on the water it was so calm. The only challenge was an area of dense fog that Linda encountered at dawn of our overnighter. We had planned to anchor at Isla San Benitos, a small group of rocky islands west of Cedros Island, but the fog deterred us from entering the rocky anchorage that we had not been in before so we changed course for the east side of Cedros and an anchorage that is open and familiar to us.

The next morning it was a pleasant passage of 7 hours to Turtle Bay where we found 15 other sailboats and one trawler anchored. When we were here last in March 2009 there were only half that many boats. Turtle Bay is a village of maybe 200 people where the main road into town is the only paved road. We took Enrique's water taxi into town and had lunch at the hotel and bought some Coke and chips at one of the many small tiendas (stores), returned to the boat and decided to leave the next morning. Turtle Bay is a safe place to anchor and get some sleep but there's not much to see or do here.

It is getting warmer. We no longer run the furnace at night and you can wear shorts and t-shirts mid-day. Our outdoor thermometer is broken or I would give you the actual temp. We are eager to continue south, which we will do tomorrow.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

What We Did Last Summer


We've been in Ensenada for nearly 6 months without posting any blog updates so it's time for a quick overview of what we've been up to before we leave and head south.

To start with, it was nice to be in one place for longer than a week. We got our car out of storage in Tucson and started living somewhat like 'regular people'. Going to the grocery store, renting movies, going out to dinner, etc....

We did many trips to San Diego to buy stuff and to just get back to the US. It takes about 3 hours to get to SD going through Tecate, where the boarder wait time is always under 30 min., while going north through TJ can take hours in line. No thanks. We went north via Tecate and south via TJ. Most of our trips were one day, up and back by dinner time. We spent a lot of $ but had fun doing it. If you're in SD and need a clean, inexpensive room for the night look up the Dolphin Inn in Point Loma. Nice place in a great area for $55. Every time we came back south across the boarder we were glad to be back home. Once you've been out of the States for awhile it's strange to return and it seems to be getting stranger all the time.

Boat Projects. 2 new heads (Tecma), new paravane rigging, boom winch cables, SSB radio upgrades (more later), haul out for bottom paint and cosmetic touch ups, having the rugs cleaned, cleaned and reversed the anchor chain, and many more too numerous to mention.


Discovery drawing a crowd during her haul out.

We both got our Mexican Residence Visas known as a FM-3. This is a long term Visa that gives you some additional rights in Mexico, but it's main advantage over the Tourist visa is that you don't have to leave the country every 6 months to renew it. You can hire an agent to do all the paperwork and standing in line for you but we did it ourselves. It's not that difficult and it gave us some first hand knowledge on how the Mexican government works. Linda compiled a list of all the steps, forms, and documents (including the number of copies of each) required to get the visa and passed it on to the local cruiser community. It's not difficult and certainly something that a gringo can do on their own without using an agent.

We traveled a lot around Ensenada and northern Baja. Having a car, we drove all over town. Sometimes looking for some parts for the boat, sometimes just for fun. Linda wanted to check out every large grocery store in town looking for those elusive items you can't normally find in Mexico. We also took day trips to the north, east, and south. It's amazing how much construction is underway on the highways trying to keep things in shape. Northern Baja is very hilly with a cool marine environment so there's a lot of wine and olive groves in the area to visit.

Ensenada is a working class town trying to become a tourist center but still rooted in it's working class base. It's not the prettiest town in Mexico but like all of the places we've been in Mexico the people are very friendly and helpful and we always felt safe wherever we went. Ensenada has all the shopping you could ask for; Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, Starbucks, and all the major Mexican grocery chains so you don't want for anything and there is the best fish taco stand in all of Mexico at the corner of Floresta & Juarez.

We stayed at Cruise Port Marina while in Ensenada. We liked the proximity to down town and it was cheaper than the other marinas. The staff at Cruise Port could not be more helpful. Jonathan and Vanessa will do anything to insure you have a great stay here. The marina is extremely well maintained by a full time crew and we never had problems with the infrastructure here and the bathrooms were always very clean.

The downside of staying in Cruise Port is it is in a very dirty area, the dock water is almost salt water, and there is no WiFi. The cruise ships tie up right next to the marina and run their engines and generators continually covering the boats in the marina with a fine coating of gray dust. The commercial port is also upwind and adds to the dust and dirt cloud. You need to wash your boat weekly or it will start to stain the gel coat. The interior of the boat also gets coated with dust and needs constant cleaning. Which brings us to the dock water. Cruise Port has it's own well and it seems they didn't dig it deep enough to get to a clean water table. The water has a ppm (parts per million of solids) of over 700, anything over 500 ppm is not potable according to the World Health Organization. We tried running the water through multiple filters but could not get the ppm below 600. For drinking water we started running the dock water through our water maker at 200 psi and that produced clear water with a 50 ppm. Washing the boat with dock water is like using sea water. All the stainless fittings start to rust and everything is streaked unless you immediately wipe it down. The boat never seemed very clean after it was washed and within a few days you could start to see the dirt build up from the dust cloud surrounding the marina.

When we first arrived at Cruise Port in June they had a commercial WiFi service that cost $35 a month. The marina then went to a new "free" service that never did work right. The service seemed to only support 2 or 3 connections at a time and even those were painfully slow. Complaints didn't help, it seems the new service was ordered by higher ups and the local management didn't have any control over it. We ended up getting a Telcel Banda Ancha WiFi USB card.

That about covers how we spent our summer. We had a good time in Ensenada but will we come back next summer? No. It's a long distance from the Sea and it's cold up here, even in the summer. By Thanksgiving we were running our diesel furnace every night. This was the first time we ran the furnace while in Mexico. I guess we've grown use to the heat and we're eager to get back south.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vacancy



There are 2 major marinas in Ensenada, Cruise Port Marina and Marina Coral. There are a couple of smaller marinas but they are old and only have room for a few dozen boats. We have always stayed in Cruise Port Marina mainly because it was near the downtown area while Coral is outside of town and you need a bus or taxi ride to get to town. Cruise Port is also cheaper, this year a lot cheaper as Cruise Port lowered their rates from last year while Coral had a slight increase. Coral is at a resort and has the amenities of a resort including a swimming pool and onsite restaurants. Both have newer, well kept docks and clean well cared for grounds.

What is surprising is that Cruise Port Marina is only 37% occupied according to the office manager, down a great deal from previous years and Coral's occupancy is also down from last year. It seems that many boaters have taken their boats back to the States or left them in marinas further south in Mexico. Whatever the reason, both major marinas in Ensenada have very low occupancy this season.


This is jellyfish we saw floating around in the marina. It's about 15" across.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Portia RIP

We lost another member of our family shortly after arriving in Ensenada. Portia died at the age of 16. We will miss her a great deal.

We are now without a cat companion for the first time in 20 years. It is very quiet at night with out the pitter patter of little paws around the boat.

Here is a picture of Portia, on the left, with Clouseau who passed earlier this year.

Baja Bash



May 30th - June 5th - Los Frailes to Ensenada

All of the weather forecasters said there was at least 4 good weather days coming to the outside of Baja so we left los Frailes at 7 PM on Sunday in order to go around Cabo Falso in the early morning hours when we hoped the seas would be calmer. Well it was a good idea at the time. As we approached the cape at around midnight the seas began to build and the wind started to howl. We had 10-15' seas, the nice steep sided, low interval ones, and winds over 40 kts from mid-night to 6 AM. After rounding the cabo we plotted a course near shore hoping to get a break from the seas but we had to get behind Isla Santa Margarita off the south end of Bahia Magdalena before the seas calmed down. By the time we were off the entrance to Mag Bay, 10 AM June 1st, the wind had died and the seas calmed so we decided to continue and not stop at Mag Bay. The next go or no go point was Punta Abreojos but when we go there at 13:00 on June 2nd the weather was still calm and improving so on we went. And so it went. With the improving weather as we went north it became harder to stop and risk losing the good weather. If there were just 2 of us on board we would have been tired and stopped but with 3 of us we were all getting some rest and felt like continuing.

At 9:00 on June 3rd we were off Turtle Bay and decided to keep going. At 14:00 on June 4th we were off of San Quintin with continuing good weather and we could be in Ensenada in just another 24 hours so on we went.

We arrived in Ensenada on Saturday June 5th at 8 AM. 7 days and 6 nights after leaving Los Frailes. 134 hours
of continuous cruising. Here's the numbers from La Paz -

Engine hours - 153
Fuel Used - 322 gal
GPH - 2.1
NMPG - 2.6
Avg Speed - 5.53 NM per hour
Distance - 846 NM from La Paz, 742 NM from los Frailes without stopping.
No mechanical failures or issues. The boat performed beautifully.

We all felt a great sense of accomplishment and were very tired. We had given ourselves 16 days to get to Ensenada and arrived in 10. As it turned out we could have stopped and rested, the good weather continued for another 5 days but we didn't know that at the time.

Our good mate and friend Nancy started worrying about all the things she needed to do back home and moved her flight up 3 days but we had 4 days in Ensenada to mess around and we found maybe the best fish taco stand in Mexico. Time well spent.

If we do this again we'll give ourselves more time, at least 3 weeks, and stop and rest at least in Mag Bay and Turtle Bay. The outside of Baja is an interesting place and it is too bad that we missed it all this trip.

Los Frailes

We spent 3 days here waiting for a good weather window and while swimming I ran into a school of what looked like jelly fish (see photo) that gave me a nasty sting on my forehead. It felt like a bee sting but only lasted 90 minutes and then was gone, just like that.

Here's a pic of the little bugger that got me (or at least one of his relatives) -

La Paz

We arrived in La Paz on May 17th, 6 days before our additional crew member and Linda's friend since grade school, Nancy, was to arrive at the Cabo airport and then it was up the outside of Baja to Ensenada, weather permitting of course. We spent those days provisioning and readying the boat for the 900 NM trip up the coast. It's amazing how dirty a boat can get in 50 days without being washed.

May 27th - Depart La Paz

There was a good weather window starting on Sunday or Monday so we left La Paz on Thursday planning to stop in Los Muertos and then waiting in Los Frailes for 2 nights until the good weather developed on the outside of Baja. We had a beautiful trip to los Muertos and then onto los Frailes on Saturday and spent two nights there and departed late Sunday so that we would be rounding Cabo Falso at 4 AM Monday morning. This sounded like a good plan at the time.

Islands in the Sea

Ok it's catch up time. It's been a couple of months since our last update and a lot has happened.

After crossing from Mazatlan to Baja on April 1st we spent 50 days in the Sea of Cortes going from one anchorage to another. It was a great time! At first it was a little cool but on May 5th it was as if someone threw a switch and it was summer, the air and water both turned warm and at times hot. We traveled from the SE tip of Baja to Bahia Concepcion, went to Loreto Fest and returned south to La Paz for a total of 50 days at anchor or on a mooring ball. At one point we nearly ran out of food and had to return to Escondido a few days ahead of schedule to go into Loreto and do some major provisioning.

Despite the blustery weather we had a great time in the islands for over 50 days before going to La Paz.

Isla Coronodos
Our favorite location might be Isla Coronodos for it's crystal clear water and sandy beaches. We spent 4 days there and it was just great including a get together with the other boaters in the bay one evening on the beach. When we first arrived at the anchorage we were the only boat there but by night fall there were 13 other boats in the bay, including one nearly an arms length away from us.

Whale Sharks
Here's some pic's of the whale shark we saw in Bahia Concepcion. It's a young, small shark only 15' or so in length, they can grow to over 40'. See Wikipedia - Whale Shark . We also saw one in Bahia Escondido.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Southern Crossing


After 10 days in Marina Mazatlan we had a good weather window to make the 190 NM crossing to the Baja Peninsula. We departed at 7:30 AM on March 30st. There were 4-6' swells for the first 10 KM but once we got clear of land the seas calmed and we had a beautiful crossing with a full moon. The nicest thing about a calm sea is that you can get some sleep and you do not get as tired when on watch. We arrived well rested in los Muertos at 2 PM on the 31st to find 4' seas coming into the anchorage from the south so we decided to leave los Muertos and head north overnight to Isla San Fransico north of La Paz. With the waves coming from the south into the anchorage at los Muertos we didn't think that we would get much sleep so we might as well keep going with the following seas and hopefully get some sleep along the way.

Our experience with the passage from los Muertos through the Cerralvo Channel is that it's one nasty piece of water. The waves funnel through the north-south channel and then collide with the out coming current and waves from San Lorenzo Channel to make very steep, straight sided waves. So this time we thought we would try something different and go up the east side of Isla Cerralvo and Isla Espiriu Santo to try to avoid the strong currents and resulting waves. Well, it worked on the outside of Isla Cerralvo but as soon as we cleared the north end of the island we got hit by steep 6' waves on our beam coming out of San Lorenzo Channel. There was a strong west wind coming out of La Paz, known as a Corumel, that was creating a mess of the seas and we were stuck in it for the rest of the passage. It was right on the beam and every few minutes an above average size wave would hit us so hard on the beam that it sounded like someone had tossed a bowling ball against the side of the boat. At times we took spray from the port side all the way over the top of the pilothouse. No sleeping that night!

We passed Isla San Francisco at 4:30 AM and could see at least 8 anchor lights in the bay and the waves were entering directly into the anchorage so we continued north first thinking that we would go the 9 KM to Punta Evaristo but then stopped short of there and went into Bahia Amortajada. This is an anchorage off of a lagoon lined with mangroves and there is a large anchorage with protection from the south so we decided to stop here and we dropped the hook and then went directly to sleep. Six hours later, around 1 PM, we were awakened, actually Linda was awakened, I'll sleep through anything, by a voice outside the boat saying "Hola, Hola, Discovery, Discovery." By the time we got up we saw the local park ranger motoring away in his skiff. We're sure he just wanted to check our park permit, which we have, so we weren't too concerned. The wind had started to pick up out of the north and the waves were coming straight into the bay so we pulled the anchor and motored the 6 KM to Isla San Francisco where the bay is protected from northerlies. We spent 3 days in "The Hook" and had a wonderful time but the water was still a little cool for swimming, 72°, so we headed north into the Sea to find warmer waters.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mazatlan


We do enjoy Mazatlan. This time we started out by anchoring in the old harbor on the south side of town. There's room for 15-20 boats there and there's easy access to buses from the dinghy dock that only costs 30 p a day. There's also a lot of entertainment with the traffic in and out of the port (cruise ships, ferries, fishing boats and every other kind of boat you can think of). The only downside to the anchorage is that right across the street is the city sewage treatment plant and when the wind is out of the north it does stink! Unfortunately for the 4 days we were there the wind blew out of the north. It stunk so bad that it would wake you up at night. So we moved in Marina Mazatlan into the same slip we had when we were here before.

Our mail that was sent to PV is still MIA but we got lucky and the mail sent to Mazatlan arrived the day after we did. Wow! It didn't contain our boat documentation apparently because the mail packet was sent before the copy of the documentation that we ordered from the Coast Guard arrived in Anacortes. So we had our mail FexEx'd from Anacortes to our daughter in Nampa and she scanned the boat documentation and emailed it to us in Maz. Now we have all of our important mail so no more waiting around for the never arriving mail. We also got the last financial document we needed so we could complete our taxes and file them electronically while we had wifi here in the marina.

As we talk to family back home and hear of their challenges and heartaches in dealing with the economic downturn and other issues of regular life we are very thankful that we can live the life we do. While family members struggle with health, family, and financial issues our biggest daily problems are trying to catch the right bus to get downtown and to pick the right weather window to move on. We are truly lucky to be able to live our care free life in Mexico although we wish there was more we could do to help family back home. And that's not to mention the political sh*t that is going on in the states. What's with all the hate and anger? People should just turn off cable news and talk radio and take a breath, life is too short for all this crap.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Heading North



After visiting Tenacateta and Barra Navidad, we decided to return north and spend a couple of months in the Sea of Cortes before continuing up to Ensenada for the summer. The Mexican mainland has some beautiful cities but few good anchorages where you can swim and snorkel, so it's north we go.

This time when we arrived in Puerto Vallarta we decided to stay closer to town in the Vallarta Marina. We called beforehand and were assured that they would have room for us and when we arrived at 8 AM we tried to call them on the VHF radio with no luck so we just went in and tied up at the first easy spot we could find and walked up to the office. The office staff are not particularly friendly or helpful but we did get a slip and settled in. There were 2 things we needed to do in PV; 1) get mail from the states and 2) renew our Mexican tourist visas which expired in March.

We immediately sent an email to our mail forwarding outfit in Anacorts to send our accumulated mail to the marina office here. Our past experience is that it takes 10-14 days to receive mail in MX so we were optimistic. Next was a trip to the PV immigrations office to try to get our visas renewed or a new visa issued. No deal! We had to leave the country to get a new visa, no exceptions even though we had renewed our visa in Guaymas last summer with no problem. Our only option was to fly to the states and re-enter the country. Some searching on the internet found that the cheapest way to do this was to take a Mexican airline, Volaris, to Tijuana and walk across the boarder. The airfare was half the cost of flying directly into San Diego or any other city in the states. So that's what we did. We flew to TJ, took a taxi to the boarder, walked across and took the trolley to San Diego and checked into a motel in Chula Vista. We spent a couple of days shopping and walking around and then came back into Mexico, got our new 180 day visas and flew back to PV. Not cheap but necessary.

When we returned we were disappointed that our mail had still not arrived. We had hoped to come back, get our mail and leave but now it looked like we would be stuck here until the mail arrived. After another week of waiting we started making plans to leave and have a very nice lady that we met check for our mail and forward it to wherever we are when it came in. Some people are just nice and it's great when you meet them in a time of need.

PV is a great town for cruisers, and others. It has a terrific bus system, more stores than you could hope for and restaurants on every corner. We had a great time here but after a month it's time to move on.

Clouseau RIP -
Our beloved cat and family member Clouseau passed while in PV from aliments brought on from old age. He was a member of our family for 18 years and will be dearly missed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Punta Ipala


This is another small bite where you can get an overnight anchorage in calm weather. The added attraction here are large rocks on the eastern side of the anchorage that are only visible at low tide. We found what we thought was a good spot only to discover at low tide that there was one of these rocks directly behind the boat. We pulled in some chain to move forward a little and kept a close eye on the rock and the tides and left at first light the following morning.

Chamela - Night of living dangerously

We had heard that Chamela was a beautiful anchorage that was well protected from the ocean swells but what we found was an large bay that was open to the southerly swells. The first day we anchored on the outside of the group of 6 boats and the next day we moved further into the bay when most of the other boats left. We deployed our flopper stoppers, large stainless steel plates that are hinged so they act as barn doors when suspended from the outriggers. They do an excellent job of reducing the roll from the swells, better than the fish that we drag while underway. The weather forecast was spotty, unstable weather was predicted for the area but the reception of the daily net on the SSB radio was very broken up and we had a hard time getting the full forecast. The weather forecasts for the Mexican mainland are poor at best. The forecaster on the SSB net in our experience has a .500 average at best and the other forecaster for the area who uploads his forecasts to the internet was having technical problems and had not been able to upload forecasts for a week.

As evening approached we could see lightning out at sea and as the sun set we had a spectacular light show well offshore and the winds were light so we were not worried. We had 175' of anchor chain out in 30' of water and felt comfortable with our anchorage as we went to bed. Around 11 pm we were awakened suddenly when our anchor alarm sounded, the winds had picked up and the alarm indicated we were pulling hard on the anchor. We immediately got up and found that the lightning was just offshore and the wind and swells had increased greatly. We turned on the radar to monitor our position to shore and the other boats in the anchorage and sat and waited and watched. What we experienced was the scariest night we've had at anchor. The lightning moved right over us, a continuous explosion of light directly over our heads and the winds increased to 50 kts with 6' swells in the anchorage. At one point a nearby sailboat drug it's anchor and moved past the boat next to us as if it were under power. The sailboat managed to stop themselves after letting out 240' of rode. A sail catamaran drug it's anchor and stopped itself just as it entered the surf line near the beach. All this time there was constant lightning all around us and we feared getting struck and losing all of our electronics. We stopped counting how long the thunder arrived after the lightning bolt with one-missisippi, 2-missisippi, and started using one-holy crap, 2-holy crap... We watched the radar closely and we were not dragging our anchor but the boat was pounding into the swells and we were afraid that this would pull the anchor out of it's set so we kept a close watch on the radar and anchor alarm as we sat huddled together in the pilothouse.

After an hour the storm cell started to pass over us and headed inland. The lightning moved on shore and the winds died down but the swells continued. At 3 AM we decided to try to get some sleep only to discover that our forward hatch had leaked and our bed was wet. Linda laid down in the mid-cabin and I laid down on the pilothouse berth to continue our anchor watch. As the winds eased we started to lay abeam of the swells and started to roll excessively from side to side. Neither of us could stay in our bunks with the rolling. Something was wrong with the flopper stoppers and I was afraid that we had lost them in the storm so I worked my way outside to the cockpit and started to pull them in. What had happened was 2 of the 4 lines that the floppers hang by had broken leaving the floppers hanging vertically in the water and useless in stopping our roll. I bought the floppers in and replaced them with our fish which are about half as effective in stopping the roll and but made the boat at least livable inside.

As the sun came up the seas calmed and we were able to get some sleep. The next day on the radio a sailboat 100 yards from us said that he thought he had been struck by lightning but had not suffered any damage and a person on shore reported that a palm tree just back from shore had been struck and caught on fire. We were lucky not to have been hit by lightning and that our anchor held. We have a 110 lb Bruce anchor that has never failed us and love it. If we ever see lightning like that in the future we will move our anchorage to an open area and let out twice the rode as we normally would. In high winds you need lots of space around you and to be clear of other boats. The danger is not only that you will drag your anchor but that the boats upwind from you will drag and end up on top of you or foul your anchor and cause you to drag. You have no control over other boats other than to get well clear of them before the storm arrives.

Watch the video -
video

La Cruz - Banderas Bay

This is the cruisers hangout in Banderas Bay, just 15 mile from Puerto Vallarta at the head of the bay. We anchored the first night just outside the marina along with 20 other boats, all but two were sailboats. There was a blow forecasted so the next day we moved into the marina. The town of La Cruz is an old village with some nice restaurants that cater to the gringo boaters. We took the 30 minute bus ride into PV and walked the malecon along with all the other tourists.

Busted!
We rented a car for a day to run to Costco and the grocery store to do some major provisioning and along the way I got stopped for speeding. I was doing 55 kph in a 40 so he had me, no argument. The police had radar set up on the side of the road and as I went by the policeman stepped out and flagged me over to the side of the road. He was very polite, asked for my id and I gave him my WA state drivers license. He told me the rules were that he had to keep my license until I went to the station, paid the fine and returned to him with the receipt. At that point I knew I was in trouble. What if I returned and he was not there? I would never get my license back. I explained to him that it was a rental car that I had to return it the next morning and because it was late in the day I might not be able to get to the station and return before he left. He said that I could pay the fine to him but he did not have receipts. The fine was 870 pesos, about $65 USD, so I gave him the money and he smiled, handed me my license back and reminded me to obey the speed limits. The ticket costs more than the rental car did for the day.

San Blas

Juanary 14, 2010


San Blas is a small town about 125 miles south of Mazatlan on an estuary with a large bay next to the town. We anchored in the bay and took the bus into the town one day and the next time we were waiting for the bus a person in an older pickup with Washington state plates stopped and offered us a ride, which we accepted. The bay is large, over 3 miles across, and has good anchorage. You can anchor in the estuary in town but there are bugs, no see-ums, and we enjoy anchoring in a large bay.
We went on the 'Jungle Ride' which is a panga ride on an estuary just off the bay that goes through a mangrove swamp with wild jungle creatures such as parrots, iguana, and crocodiles. It's a fun 3 hour ride and worth the money.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mazatlan Market

Here's a couple of photos of the Mazatlan Market in the centro district.




This little piggy went to market...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mazatlan



We had a near perfect passage from los Frailes on Baja to Mazatlan on the Mexican mainland. The boat ran perfectly, finding it's sweet spot cruising at 1575 rpm and 6.5 knots. The seas were a little rolly on the Baja side but once we were 30 km offshore the swells smoothed out to a gentle roll that slowly calmed down as we approached the mainland. The marina we arrived at is in a new area of Mazatlan that looks to be a slice of San Diego with modern wide streets lined with new shops. Two days after arriving we took the bus, a nice air conditioned bus, downtown to the public market. The city was packed with people as this was 2 days before Christmas and everyone was out shopping and the resorts were full of gringos here for the holidays. The market is a crazy scene and we'll return next week with a camera and post some pictures. Mazatlan is a large city that varies in nature from the fancy resorts on the beaches to working class neighborhoods with a Wal-Mart stuck somewhere in between and we're having fun riding the buses all over and exploring the town.



After having Thanksgiving dinner with over 200 people in La Paz we decided to forego the group holiday dinners in Mazatlan and spend Christmas and New Years with just the 4 of us (don't forget the kitties!). We didn't buy presents for each other but we did get a present for the boat, a waxing. We hired a local worker in the marina to wax the boat for us, the first time we have ever paid someone to wax or clean the boat, preferring normally to do the work ourselves.

We are considering spending the next hurricane season, July 1st to Nov 1st, in Mazatlan. The city has a lot to offer and the marina is very nice and has excellent summer rates. Best of all there is an outstanding coffee shop, Rico's, just a block away. What more in life could you ask for?