Busy Days In PV

Somebody asked “what do you do all day?” Geez, with a small boat, living space less than 200 sq ft, we should be almost free to do anything. No…, that’s just a fantasy!
Cruising is suppose to be 90/10 ratio – 90% fun, 10% work, maybe 80/20 even. That’s a fantasy also, but once in a while we get out and do fun activities.IMG_0086

Here is a snapshot of our day from the time we get up. If this is too boring then please stop reading and find something really fun to do, I think I would do that.

We get up at 7:00, John makes our coffee.

Coffee discussion time to figure out what to eat. Since we don’t have a toaster we can’t just pop in the bread. We locate the bread in a settee cubby hole. Next, dig to the bottom of the giant cooler like refrigerator by pulling out the bags of veggies, move the bottles and jars that shifted during the day, move cans of beer, slide the yogurts from one side to the other and FINALLY, there is the little plastic box of butter at the very back that has a 1/2 tablespoon left in it. Back to the front of the fridge to pull out the carton of milk, cream, juice, beer, meat and any other item dumped in on top of the sliding tray, set it all on the 1′ X 2′ counter space, lift out the tray and under the cheeses, are the soggy wrap cubes of butter.
Repack everything, maintain patience and try to put it back in some order that makes sense for the next cooking event.
Light the oven, put the bread on the rack, wait to cook the other side of the toast. Breakfast is ready. Don’t ask for eggs, the pans are in the dumpster behind the stove, first you’d have to move tea kettle and booze to open the dumpster, move lids and the bread pan to get to the frying pan.
After eating, place the plates into the sink, don’t wash them yet, we can’t waste water for 2 plates, 1 knife and 1 spoon.

Start loading our backpacks with shower bags, remember the towel too. Dig around in the overstuffed drawers for clean clothes, if you can’t find your favorite shorts, rummage around on the side of the bed or up on top of the hanging closet/drawer combination where all the other clean clothes are stored. John’s clothes are generally stored on top of the dresser as he has fewer items. Climb up the 3 steps, check your pocket for the dock key – nope, gotta locate that first, now walk 2 – 3 blocks to the shower room.
If we’re anchored out then we shower in the cockpit with a liter of water each, saving time, Yay!
We are anchored some of the time here  so we have to adjust 3 or 4 solar panels to make the most of the amps required to run the fridge, electronics and lights. John spends about 15 minutes to angle the panels toward the sun. The boat moves in the current or wind, and 20 minutes later John goes down back out to readjust the panels. Several times a day.

It’s now 9:15, we’re ready to start the day. Have a second cup of coffee and check the “to do” list. Sigh, today is grocery shopping, and we need some boat parts too. Load up the sacks, wallets, sunglasses and hats, check for enough pesos.

Launch the dinghy first. Untie the ropes and sail cover. Hook the dinghy to the rope, start winching it up and over the life lines and lower it into the water. Tie the step ladder to the side of the boat so John can get in and move it to the back of the boat. Unlock the motor, hook it up to the back of the boom blocks and begin lowering it to the dinghy. Hook up the gas line, throw in the garbage and backpacks. 20 minutes later, we’re ready to go if John remembered to get the key to the dinghy motor. Sometimes we repeat a couple of steps. Sigh. Motor in to shore, secure the dinghy. Shuffle around on the dock, rearrange the skirt or shorts, wipe off salt water sprayed during the ride. Walk to the bus stop and wait, or start the 1 -2 mile walk, depending upon the city we’re in.

Walk each isle of the store to find the specific cans of food, it’s not the same category as the U.S. stores. The coffee cream isn’t located next to the milk – find a grocery clerk and in the poorest Spanish accent, ask for “media crema”. Pretend to understand her response but the blank look will tell her she needs to walk us to the case of cheeses and meats 25′ feet away.
Now that I have the case memorized, we’ll soon depart for a new destination in Mexico.

It’s now after lunch, we’re hungry and vendor food carts are out of my stomach’s comfort zone. Walk to various corners and look for a small cafe. Hem and Hah, check around for local citizens, if they don’t eat there, keep walking. Okay, give up.
Start looking for the hardware stores. Wave arms, make faces and gestures, draw pictures of parts that we need. The Spanish Book for Cruisers is great in reading mode only, don’t try to pronounce the words, we only confuse the clerk a little more. Give up.
Catch the bus or walk back to the dinghy, reverse order back to the boat and dinghy launching. The dinghy car is valuable and there have been many thefts. The boat next to us lost theirs while in Mazatlan.

Oh, before loading groceries onto the boat, discard all boxes, bags, wrappers. Cockroaches LOVE boat rides! And they invite their large families, have lots of little ones in a matter of days. We found a baby, John smashed it the other night. We’ve been on the hunt for possible family additions. So far we haven’t seen anymore.

It’s now close to 3:30p.m., we’re hot and tired from walking nearly 5 miles with heavy backpacks and and have a bad case of Hangry! Groceries need to be put away, we haven’t done the laundry and we didn’t have wifi today to catch up on the Blog, Facebook, and emails.

Day is over, beer thirty is upon us! Cruiser’s midnight is 7:30 p.m.

Mazatlan Pictures

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Lou and Diane at our favorite breakfast café.   Freida artwork is seen everywhere.IMG_0011

 

 

Mazatlan Mercado

 

Beautiful bead work by the Huilchol Indian women.  I would’ve bought it all!

 

 

John and Lou prepping the boat with wonderful fresh food from the Mercado.  Lou bought some delicious Mexican cake made with apples, walnuts, and cream that were our favorite.  The pineapple cake was great for breakfast.

 

IMG_0038On passage from Mazatlán to Isla Isabella, warm and nice breeze, just enough to tease us.  Long motor but was great to have Lou on night watch with me!  Time went by so quickly.

 

 

Isla Isabella was so close but the waves were pounding on the shore, there were 3 boats in the anchorage and no spare room.  We departed for Matanchen Bay, 40 miles Southeast, 4 miles from San Blas, Nayarit.  The sunset was beautiful, the weather and temperature was a definite change from the cooler Mazatlán area.

IMG_0050Mantenchen sunset

We spent a day at Sayulita, a tourist resort area with pounding surf, nice beach under palapa shade.IMG_0087Lou traveled back to Portland, we were so happy to have her on board with us.  Miss you, girlfriend!

 

Adventures to Puerto Vallarta

Girlfriend Lou arrived from Portland with a bag of goodies and a nice bottle of bourbon for us. We spent a couple of days in Mazatlan highlighting some of our favorite areas, stocked up the fridge and prepped the boat for a 3 day passage to PV.

We departed at 5:00 p.m for an 85 nm passage to Isla Isabella. The island is less than half a mile wide and about three-quarters of a mile in length. It was made a National Park in the 1980s, and it has been called the “Galapagos” of Mexico. Isla Isabel is a major breeding and nesting area for frigate birds brown boobies and blue-footed boobies, which are all very tame.

It was wonderful to have Lou on watch with me, John was able to get about 5 hours of sleep. When we arrived at the anchorage there were 3 boats and that was a crowd. The entry has 2 large submerged rocks and we couldn’t take any chances especially with large swells driving in crashing waves. We motored back to the east side hoping to day anchor but the only spot had lobster pots planted directly in our desired depth. The waves were large and crashing on the beach, there was no way we could’ve landed the dinghy there either. Disappointed, we departed for Matanchen Bay, 40 nautical miles away, about 5 miles SE of San Blas, Nayarit.
All was well in the cockpit, John went down for a nap, Lou was reading. All of a sudden something very large appeared along my side of the boat. I immediately lunged for the transmission lever yelling “WHALE” pushing us into neutral. Startled Lou jumped up and yelled “What’s wrong?” and I again yelled “It’s a  whale, whale”! It continued to slide out from under the bow, touching the boat and it was damn scary! They come in pairs, they breach, blow lots of water, they could get mad! Only it wasn’t a grey whale, and when you haven’t seen a strange creature before your brain goes to warp speed, trying equate it to something – it’s a sea monster!! About 30′ in length, nearly the length of Konami, white and brown with spots, and had a large head shaped like a square shovel. Lou and I were speechless, imagine that.
Hearing my “whale” shout, sleepy John figured it was too late to see anything, came into the cockpit just as we passed it. We believe it wasn’t injured, as it continued to float on the surface, its  3′ pointed fin tail began to wave back and forth. It didn’t really move very fast. My heart rate and breathing went back to normal and we slowly throttled up and watched for several minutes looking for any other whale sharks in our path.
Whale sharks actually float on the surface skimming the water for plankton according to the ocean mammal book.
We arrived at Matanchen Bay, dropped anchor in calm water, enjoyed a great swim and wonderful dinner in the cockpit with a beautiful sunset.

The next morning we departed for Chacala Bay, again we motored in calm winds. Dropped anchor in 28′ depth, the swells were coming out of the west right into the bay. Konami hobby horsed, rocked and bounced, and I didn’t feel comfortable enough to leave the boat unattended to go ashore. We swam in warm water and enjoyed another beautiful sunset. Since the weather forecast was for lots of wind and steep seas near the Punta Mita point where we were headed, we decided to leave out at 1:00 a.m and run into Banderas Bay, about a 12 hour passage. We didn’t get any sleep as the wind shifted, and Konami went sideways to the large swells. Roll from side to side, pitch up, roll the opposite direction, pivot and pitch down. The half moon helped us out motor out, and of course a motor ride with light winds, confused chop and short seconds in the beginning. Roll this way, roll that way, slap and bang.
By mid afternoon the winds and swell died down, and we caught a perfect size skip jack tuna. Just as we finished cleaning the fish and got settled with the line back in the water, the bow of the boat hooked the line to the a flagged pot about 200′ off to the right. John threw the boat into neutral, ran forward and grabbed the boat pole to unhook it and watched it slip from under the boat just as we realized that our 60′ fishing line was still in the water! Sure enough, our fish hook caught the pot’s line. Another “oh crap”.  We were lucky it wasn’t a heavy line that could’ve wrapped around our prop. One more exciting moment in a mind numbing motor ride.

About 2 hours prior to rounding Punta Mita, the sea built back up 5 knots of wind  and 6′ waves, just enough to make it uncomfortable. We passed between the Marietta island and Point into beautiful sailing conditions. 10 – 15 knots of wind coming from our aft quarter, the waves smoothed out and Konami responded immediately to her sails. We sailed across Banderas Bay bound for the La Cruz marina 10 miles away.
Just as we finished dropping sails a manta ray with a 7′ wing span was gracefully swimming 15′ from the boat. We watched in awe as it swam away. A beautiful ending to a 3 day motoring adventure.

The La Cruz marina is a cruiser’s paradise. It has all the desired amenities, superbly clean, the beaches nearby are fantastic and perfect for sunbathing. The town is quaint with nice cafes serving eclectic food, shops and a great bus service. We had 2 fun days with Lou in La Cruz before she departed. It was wonderful to have a friend visit, a peace of home with us.

Mazatlan – Part 2

I thought I’d have pictures ready to upload but somehow time flies by and the wifi is either down or overloaded with frustrated users.  Maybe at midnight. So here’s the second part sans pics.

The snowbirds are so attracted to Mazatlan!  The beaches, the incredibly beautiful Cathedral of Immaculate Conception completed in 1880, the Mercado plaza in historic central, street vendors, music blaring from every store front, throngs of people shuffling down the sidewalks, and shopping at the modern, upscale Gran Plaza mall attract visitors.  We met so many Gringos who migrate from the cold US winters that have condos or rented apartments here, they do look so happy!

Restaurants cater to the foreigners’ food tastes or you can enjoy a very cheap, authentic local meal from a vendor cart on the street corner. Iron stomach John indulges in large quantities of cart cuisine without consequence. Having had my fair share of “tourista” (upset stomach), I tend to eat very plain food. “No mayo, crema or cheese por favour”, and carry extra packets of Pepto Bismal and Imodium at all times!

The old marina was a 10 minute bus ride or within 20 minutes walking distance. The quickest transportation was the “Pulmonia”. Chopped up, open Volkswagen cars that keep you hanging on to the side supports as they zip through the traffic and narrow streets listening to blaring music. Cheap thrill ride for an average cost of $3 to cross the city.
The sidewalks here are no better than LaPaz, but it’s a fun hike through the city, greeted by the locals with a cheerful “Bueno Diez”. The historical center plaza – “Machado” is defined by the cathedral with park setting surrounding it for a couple of blocks.  The fresh food and clothing shopping center “the Mercado” covers several blocks. In the enclosed Mercado – you find specific meat stands with butchers standing ready to slice to order – fish,chicken, beef, or pork. Multiple fruit and vegetable stands, cheese and butter, bakery goods, canned food stalls, lunch counters, and cheap clothing. It’s crowded, filled with different smells, noisy and very colorful, much like the Pike Place Market in Seattle. The food is very fresh, though cheaper compared to the US public markets. A fun place to hang out and people watch for hours.

The beaches are mesmerizing blue, it’s warm and inviting. Across the street are restaurants, shops, and roaming sun weathered vendors wanting to sell various trinkets and cheap jewelry. You get accustomed to saying “no gracias” without feeling guilty. Our favorite lunch cafe was on the malecon along the beach front. We met up with Dan and Tammy on several occasions for lunch, Puerto Viejo cafe became our favorite eatery. They had the cheapest, frosty glass draft beer on tap in all of Mexico, and delicious food!

Interesting that the sailing community is considerably smaller than LaPaz and Puerto Vallarta. Perhaps it’s too far north for the Pacific Puddle Jumpers (boats that depart for the So Pacific) or the newer marina entrance is too difficult to go in and out for day sails. Whatever the reason, most of the sailboats that come in are stop overs bound for Puerto Vallarta (PV) and beyond. And there are the ex-pats living on their boats that found Mazatlan too enticing to travel on, they have weathered with their boats.

Our days were filled with going in to the city for movies, museum, architectural viewing, looking for places that sold boat parts, water filters, chain, and other misc. hardware and grocery shopping, and eating. Never did find most of our boat parts, so we’d stop for beer instead.  On to PV for the boat parts.

We waited for our friend Lou to show up and departed Mazatlan for a 3 day passage to PV. Our plan was to visit Isla Isabella, Chacala Bay and round the Point at Punta Mita into Banderas Bay. Sailing and weather don’t always follow “the plan”!

The Sail to Mazatlan – Part 1

It was a busy 10 days in Mazatlan, so just now catching up on our latest adventures.
The sail out of Topolo:
We waited for the slack high tide to cross the shallow channel, Anjuli was right behind us. We sailed all but 48 miles of the 206 total distance from the Topolobampo sea buoy. We calculated a 40 hour run averaging 5.0 – 5.5 knots to allow for entry in the daylight. The first day was extremely rolly with 6′ following seas (waves coming from behind the boat) and the light winds didn’t help. After changing sail configurations several times we gave up and sailed with a double reefed main and partially furled Yankee which slowed us down considerably but the banging, snapping sails and potential rigging damage worried us. We didn’t sleep that first night, the rolling was relentless. We couldn’t walk in the cabin nor stand in one spot without being thrown down onto the settee, using the head was darn near impossible! I couldn’t sit up in the cockpit without being tossed from side to side so I hunkered down in the cockpit well my entire watch. Waves pitched up behind us but never quite washed up over the stern. Tammy on Anjuli took a wave over the stern, drenching her with cold salt water.
The second day out we had great sailing. We shook out the sail reefs and scooted along at an average of 5.5 knots. The sea had smoothed out, it was warm and very comfortable in the cockpit. We had hearty meals that day making up for our lack of appetite the prior day.
Just before dusk, John hooked a fish just as he was putting out the hand line. We were excited, hoping that it was a white flesh fish as we had seen large dorsal finned fish swimming past the boat earlier in the day. Turned out to be a 10 pound skip jack tuna. Most people don’t care for the stronger tasting red meat fish, but eaten as sashimi, it’s delicious!

By nightfall the wind was beginning to die. We struggled to maintain 2.5 knots of boat speed and the boat began to roll. Just as I came off watch at 3:00 a.m., the wind totally died, we were drifting along with flat slapping sails. John started the engine and we motored the last 48 miles. Disappointed to run the engine but our calculations indicated that we would spend another night out as our arrival time was just after dark – 6:30 p.m.

We arrived at the channel entrance at 3:30 p.m with heavy shipping traffic, outbound fishing boats with helicopters on board, and tourist ferries following us. We motored in and started looking for our spot amongst all the abandoned sail and power boats. Just when we thought we found a good place, the waft of sewer stench blew over us. Argh!, what’s that smell?? They built a giant, 3 tank sewer treatment plant right at the shoreline! We continued to motor around a bit trying to avoid being directly downwind of the ghastly tanks. We dropped anchor in 25 feet, just east of old abandoned boats, and a little further away from the smell. We only had to close up and hide down below a couple of times.

But it was free anchorage, we had wifi at the shore if we held our breaths long enough. The dinghy dock was $3 per day, that included free tap water but not potable, and we had to jug it back to the boat. The facilities are run down, it was built in 1960s and the sea and wind have taken their toll on the structures. We had showers with 110V elements wired into the faucet head. I always checked to see if the black electrical tape was still attached to the exposed wires before I stepped in. Are these things even sold in the U.S.? As long as I kept the water flow down to just above trickle, the water temperature stayed fairly warm and sometimes hot. John’s shower was the opposite, lots of water flow but just above lukewarm. Can’t have everyththing you know.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 and pictures.