Saturday, December 19, 2009

Finally a post - From Banderas Bay December 19,2009

True to form, I am a little behind the eight ball with this post.  Time sure flies when you are doing nothing.  Anyway, lets catch up.....

We left Catalina on the 9th of October and spent almost a week in Newport doing boat work and staying out of the weather. It is a very protected anchorage, so we were able to get lots done. From there we went to Dana Point for another week. We had a blast there. The Wards out did themselves in the hospitality department – again. With their help we were able to provision for the trip down the coast and tie up all the getting out of the country loose ends. In between it all we took surfing lessons, the kids played, we got a little sail in, bought a couple more surfboards and in the end were ready to go.

The trip down from San Diego with the Baja HaHa had some exciting moments. We clocked a gust at 40kts on our 3rd sailing day - was wild and crazy. Josh was very seasick that day, but fine by the next day. So, we left San Diego 10/26 headed for Turtle Bay, should have taken about 2 days (so 2 nights on the water) the morning after we left, the weather forecast was not so great wind and swell wise, so the fleet (most of it) stopped at a place called San Quintin. Probably should have stayed one more day, cuz the next day was worse than the day before! But, the boat was fine and we just hung on for the ride. That day out of San Quintin a boat was surfing down a 15 footish wave and hit a whale, the whale hit them back, ripping out their rudder. The boat sank within 40 minutes. They deployed the life raft and were eventually picked up by the Coast Guard out of San Diego. The crew is fine, the boat is gone. Can’t imagine how the Captain felt as she watched the wind vane pass by her face.
We made it to Turtle Bay on Thursday late afternoon. Had a beach party on Friday, and left there Saturday by 1130. From there on it was great. We had one night of totally cool sailing the wind was 15kts or so all night under a big full moon. Pulled in to Bahia Santa Maria relatively early on Monday. Had another Beach party on Tuesday, left at the buttcrack of dawn on Wednesday and pulled into Cabo San Lucas Thursday mid afternoon. Cabo is beautiful to look at, but very touristy, expensive and definitely wild. Too many days there, and we would be checking into the Betty Ford Anchorage for rehab! Left Cabo the next Tuesday and made it to La Paz by Friday afternoon. No overnights, but 40 -50 mile days which are kind of long at a whooping 5- 6 kts. Met quite a few kid boats, some we knew from Alameda and some new. We felt like we were finally starting to unwind some.

Had lots of irritating mechanical issues from Turtle Bay to Cabo. The fitting on the engine block that holds the oil pressure gauge and a couple of other things broke off and spewed oil all over the engine compartment - that was the night before we left from Bahia Santa Maria for Cabo. Dennis was able to fix it, but in the process, we shorted out the voltage regulator, so the batteries weren't charging. Dennis hot wired the alternator so they would charge until we got to Cabo. Somewhere in there the fresh water pump on the generator died (Turtle Bay actually). We were able to find a replacement in Cabo, but after Dennis replaced the pump, the new one lasted about 20 minutes. He returned it, but they wouldn’t refund our money, so Dennis made them hook up the replacement to a battery -it did not work either, thankfully the last one on the shelf worked, and seems like it will continue to work. The engine (Izzy) had lots of overheating problems all the way down from San Francisco, seems Dennis may have fixed that -we ran it very hard 3 days in a row, on our way to La Paz, so we'll see. It is entirely possible that Izzy is just lulling us into a false sense of security....

To keep me on my toes, I have spent some quality time with Mexican government agencies. It took me about 5 hours to get checked into the country in Cabo San Lucas. A stop at the bank, 2.5 hours at immigration, a long walk to the Port Captain's office for another 2 hour wait. Such fun!! Had to get the Temporary Import Permit for the boat in La Paz. That only took 3 hours. Thankfully our friends from “MoonDance” have access to a vehicle and Carla taxied Tracie (Black Dragon) and I down to the place where that had to be done. The bus ride would have added at least 2 more hours to that process.

Fish wise, we are doing -well - 2 skip jack out of San Diego (soso eating) and a 30lb yellowfin Tuna. Josh hooked a marlin the day we were coming into La Paz. He was so funny, all excited and adrenalin rushed. Thankfully the darn thing spit out the hook, god only knows how we would have gotten on the boat and subdued it without needing stitches!!!!! We hooked a MahiMahi later in the day, but let it go because it was too skinny. Since then we have caught Sierra (yum) and another Jack type fish.

We actually had a traditional US thanksgiving with friends from Alameda. "Moondance" had access to the home of other Alameda friends that are still in SF. They are usually at their La Paz casita by this time of the year, but let “MoonDance” open up the house for them so we could have our little "fiesta de paavo" (sp?). So it was very nice - Turkey and all the usual trimmings.

One of the funniest things we have experienced thus far is the Mexican equivilent of WWF or Lucha Libre.  Yes they take it very seriously.  I wish I had pictures to post.  It was so fake, yet so funny.  The fans just added to the hilariousness of it all. 

We finally decided to say goodbye to La Paz the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  It was sad to leave familiar faces and a place we were comfortable with.  Especially for Josh, as he was able to experience more personal freedom than he has ever had.  There were lots of kids in La Paz, and he was able to run around with them alot.  There is a club house at the marina for them to hang out at, they had a campout on the beach (the Magote), a game night, a bonfire on the magote and he is our designated dinghy driver.  But, it was time to move on to warmer places.....

To get to Mazatlan we left from Los Muertos.  It is about 190 miles, so that involves an overnight sail.  We spent a beautiful day on the beach and at the resort at Los Muertos before leaving at 3am for Mazatlan.  It was a good sail and we arrived in Mazatlan in the daylight as planned.  We spent 3 days at the El Cid Marina and resort.  Josh got his first taste of the Mercado.  Not sure he realized that food didn't come from the animal in packages.....

We left Mazatlan on a Sunday evening and overnighted to Isla Isabella (a wildlife refuge) -got there about 1100a. Sadly we couldn't find an anchorage that we felt comfortable with, so decided to press on to San Blas (note to self, if ever in the same situation again, leave early enough from Mazatlan to be able to bail and reach San Blas in the daylight!). Made it to Matenchen Bay (San Blas) after dark in the rain. The next day was beautiful and humid. We took the dinghy into San Blas, Josh met up with his friend Jamie (a girl) and Dennis and I went for provisions. Jamie came back to our boat for a sleep over and surfing. They all went surfing, and I stayed on the boat and rested- I had a cold, and didn't want to make it worse. We got up and surfed the next day too, before Jamie's family came and got her on their way to the next anchorage. Of course Josh was ready to pack up and leave that minute too..... Surfing was pretty good, small waves. Dennis and Josh are both standing up etc... but although I can catch the waves, I haven't been able to stand up.

The next morning we got up and went in for a Jungle tour. Was pretty cool. Saw lots of birds, a turtle, an iguana and a couple of crocodiles - big too. The half way point was a fresh water pool for swimming, just upstream from the last croc......... hmmm maybe not. Those crocs looked like they would have no problem with that little ol’fence installed to keep them out. Liability is just not that much of an issue here.  It is a pretty spot though, lush and green.
After another dinghy ride into San Blas for Jamie's laundry (another note to self - do not try to pay your 9 yr old sister to do your laundry......) we left for the next anchorage about 8 miles away - Chacala. It was a pretty anchorage, Jamie got her laundry and had a sleep over again with us. Sadly, the surf was so big, there was no beach landing in our future and no sign of a water taxi either. So, not wanting to spend a bouncy day on the boat......

We left the next morning for Punta Mita - Is interesting our charts have us sailing on land...........Punta Mita is the northern point of Banderas Bay (home of Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta). As we came up to round the point, we could see the surf breaking - way out from shore. It sure looked big -like Maverick big.  Gave me a severe case of heart burn. We ended up taking a very wide turn around the point before anchoring at Punta Mita. We all went surfing the next afternoon- thankfully it wasn't as bad as it looked, again I could catch them but not stand up. Josh was a crazy man - said he caught 12 waves - It is scary cool to see him up there doing his thing. Dennis and I went out the next morning hoping for smaller waves - which there were, but they were breaking closer to shore where the bottom is all rocks. I did finally manage to stand up though, so it was not an entire wash.   Because the surf was so big, we had to anchor the dinghy at the edge of the waves (maybe 100 yards from shore?). Since the wave action over the rocks was a little scary, Dennis and I  paddled our boards in to the Palapa (beach restaurant) for a late breakfast. The surf had been building as we were eating, so Dennis left to go rescue the dinghy while I paid. As I was paddling my board out to meet him, he came closer to meet me....I'm sure my expression would have been kodak moment worthy. A big wave was building up behind him, and looked like it was going to break on him. He turned the dinghy around  in time and gunned it as a just as the wave came up - He went almost vertical and said he caught air on the back side.......too close for comfort.

That afternoon we motored down to La Cruz - about 8 miles. Caught up with Jamie (Don Quixote) again and met some nice people living in the Marina. So, here we are. We'll be here in the bay through the New Year. Will probably move around some and explore. I am disappointed with the water quality, it is a huge bay, good anchoring, but I have a hard time wanting to get into it. Dennis was in scraping the junk off the bottom of the boat, and came out with little critters attached to him. Probably is related to the whole scraping thing, but eewww!!

The weather is actually pretty pleasant here, in general not as hot as I thought it was going to be, but the humidity is meeting my expectations. Actually had a cloudy day yesterday - was nice as I was working on a sewing project outside on deck. It was actually cold last night. So unlike Tracy which only has 2 kinds of weather (sunny and hot or cloudy and cool) they actually get a variety here.

We have seen a lot of wildlife - lots of dolphin and some whales.  Rumor has it that the bay here is home to many whales.  We went out today, but did not see any.  We took a 5 day cruise out to the Islands around La Paz and went snorkeling with some Sea Lions at a place called Los Isolotes.  It was very cool.  I just love it when a pod of dolphin swim with us - it is so cool, they seem humanish as they play in the bow wake.

Well, we are caught up,  I promise to try to be better, and will post pictures soon