Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Have a nice day!

Nancy took this picture while we were in the internet place yesterday. I said watch out they don't take you away! That would have been quite the picture of her yelling and kicking. Put it on the Blog!

More Mazatlan and Jack

Hi Guy's Tony here. Having a hard time keeping the cervesa's cold! Met up with an Hombre who sailed down from L.A. a few years ago. He had a bad time in a storm west of Cedros island and got knocked down in 50 plus knots of wind. His boat a catalina 34 got beat up pretty bad as did he. He pulled through and made it to Mazatlan and has been here ever since. He stay's on hid boat in the harbour and hangs out with the locals. A great guy all around. What a wealth of info and some very humorous story's. plus we have one thing in common, we both love pacifico ballenas, which are very large beers! Cheers Jack!

I am sitting in an internet/laundry/coffee shop waiting for a lady to do our laundry. What a great place this is. Nancy is back at the boat making up some screens to go over the hatches, since the no see-umms will arrive when we go farther south.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nov. 18-24th Cabo to Los Frailes to Mazatlan

November 18th – 24th – Cabo to Los Frailes - Mazatlan

Cabo San Lucas – a great place to go if you’re into lots of energetic goings on. We anchored in the middle of the bay in front of a strip of resort hotels. So in one direction we looked at long sandy beaches with umbrellas, pyjama wearing Mexicans selling t-shirts to the people under the umbrellas. Tony was pleased to see them because he was wondering where all of the pyjama wearing Mexicans were.
Behind us was an incredible rock formation sculpted by the constant ocean surge. An incredible hole drilled right through one of the rocks through which resounded thousands of pounds of green water. I saw some young boys tempting the dreaded surge, then running back screaming as it threatened to smash them back into the rocks.
In between and all around us was the constant buzzing of jet skis, motor boats whizzing around at high speed, parasailors coming and going, water taxis playing chicken with the jet skis, and then on the second day add to that mix 4 huge world class cruise ships and all of their tenders coming and going in between. (No I didn’t like it there)
So, we left – heading for Cabo Los Frailes, which we heard from other cruisers and Charlies Charts was a simple 45 miles around the corner and offered a quiet anchorage with great snorkeling. We left early in the morning 05.45, expecting to reach Los Frailes in the late afternoon. ON THE SAME DAY.
We were having such a pleasant trip, motoring along at our usual 5 knots at 2000 revs until we were presented with the perfect sailing conditions – quite suddenly, but we were up for it. We set the sails with single reefed main and full genoa with about 15 – 20 knots of southeasterly and flat seas – we quickly reached 6.5 knots, reefed the main down again to 2 reefs and continued to fly along for about another half hour – and then – nada – gone. Oh well the motoring was fairly pleasant, so we just put everything away and continued to motor along to the ‘corner’ Punta Arroya de Villorama. As we approached we saw what must have been some kind of tide line – to be a little more specific, what we saw was a white wall. Well we’ve seen such things before and they usually mean a tide line because at this corner there’s likely to be something like that. Fifteen minutes later we are pounding into 6 – 8 foot waves coming around the corner from the north west. At this point we thought we were dealing with Punta stuff. These puntas (points, capes) often deal out nasty waves. Another hour of getting nowhere fast and we decided to turn around and try another day.
We had to go quite a long way back until we found a brand new marina, Marina at Puerto Los Cabos, which we found thanks to Angus and Rolande on Periclees. We met Angus and Rolande very briefly back in San Diego, and then again on the radio as we were heading for Punta Arroya de bloody Villorama. They also turned around and led us into the new marina. When its finished it will be absolutely beautiful and will cater to the sport fishers who leave their boats in Mexico and come in for the fishing seasons.
Up the ramp from the visitors dock to which we were tied (the only boat there) were a few houses in disrepair – (we see a lot of that disrepair here) and a few restaurants claiming to serve international menus to ----- nobody. I’m sure all of those owners are looking forward to the pending coupe when the rich gringos come in droves to the new marina.
Next day we headed for Punta Arroya again – determined this time to keep going. We did and the zig zag pattern we left on our chart plotter proves that we did about 25 miles of tacking to make 10 miles headway.
It was worth it. We really liked Los Frailes – very quiet though windy, very good snorkeling – lots of different types of fish that we usually only see in tropical aquariums; parrot fish, puffer fish, long transparent needle fish and many multi-colored beautifully shaped elegant fish.
A big turtle paid us a visit, our boat was constantly surrounded by fish – no matter what time of day or night. We would shine our big flashlight out onto the water at night and thousands of large fish eyes shone back at us.
We enjoyed a couple of evenings with new friends – Rolande and Angus hosted a lovely lobster dinner on Periclees. Bonnie and Jim from Murray Grey joined us and we were pleased to listen to the experience that Jim and Rolande and Angus were willing to pass on to us newbies. This is their second cruising venture.
The next night we had Rolande and Angus together with Pam and Tom from Kewao over for happy hour. All ex-cruisers say that what they loved so much about their cruising experience was the people that they met. I understand what they mean. Even though we meet these wonderful people for such short times, the times we have together are very good. We seem to see each other very clearly very quickly.
Jim and Bonnie took us for a one mile walk through a couple of fences and away from the beach to a bar – which to anyone who didn’t know would have thought it derelict. Jim was sure that all was well, went to the fridge and took out the beer and told us that the owner or his daughter would show up pretty soon. The place hadn’t seen a broom or mop or even a washer up for a long time, but we found a couple of plastic garden chairs and sat, drank our beer. Eventually the owner’s daughter arrived – a lovely young comely woman who offered us ceviche to go with our beer. Tony and I looked at each other skeptically wondering if we dared eat anything in this very dirty place. Oh what the hell - It was very good. It was a fairly hot homemade salsa with small chunks of lobster cut up into it raw. The salsa marinates the fish and kinda cooks it. It was delicious and as long as we could keep the flies from sharing it with us, it was very appetizing. Eventually of course the flies won, but we’d had enough by then.
We left Los Frailes at about 0100 on the 22nd heading over to Mazatlan. We like to time our departures so that we arrive at our destination in the daytime. Most of the time it works. We had a pretty unevently crossing with no wind most of the time. Unfortunately our autohelm quit working – in fact it fell apart on one of my watches and I managed to put it back together. It fell apart again on Tony’s next watch but this time it was busted proper. So we hand steered for about 80 miles. I hate hand steering on legs, especially at night. I find that I can’t look around as well as I can when the boat is self steering.
Most of the people we know coming over to Mazatlan come to the El Cid marina or the Mazatlan marina.
We decided to come a bit further along to the Mazatlan harbour and anchor out. This is our second night here. We’re anchored outside an old Club Nautico which was probably a pretty grand place back in the 60’s. This is on the edge of Old Town, Mazatlan. All along the waterfront is evidence of much better times. Its sad to see this. The focus of the visitors is now New Town – where the new marinas and hotels are, and as there is not enough money coming here it is all falling into disrepair.
Once again we are in a new community, the manager of Club Nautico is Miguel, he keeps a fridge stocked with beer, the water still runs in the showers and toilets – but that’s all you can say for them, he employs his daughter and son in law. There are a few resident live-aboards, Jack from Chicago who looks a lot like Hulk Hogan and lives very close to shore on a Catalina 34. Jack came into the anchorage 3 years ago from Los Angeles cruising and expecting to keep going. His dinghy was stolen one night, and though he recovered it, he did not get his outboard motor back. So without an outboard or the funds to replace it – he stayed. The batteries in his boat are now flat and he doesn’t think he can replace them so the boat’s not going anywhere. His natural friendliness and charm has brought him a new Mexican girlfriend and he now has no desire to leave anyway. He has excellent Spanish and gets on great with everyone.
Last night in the ‘club bar’ – a few plastic tables and chairs outside the fridge we met Miguel’s family, Larry and Lena from Alaska who are cruising south on Nomad with their dog Morgan, Jacque, a 60 something musician who comes here to play an engagement every year at this time at a hotel nearby. He lives in a mobile home parked across the road and keeps a 47’ boat on Saltspring Island. We also met an American who is currently traveling with a Cook and a Cabin Boy. The Cook is the 14 year old Cabin Boy’s mother and they are traveling south to Nicaragua where they are going back packing. I’m so impressed with the creative way people have of doing things.
So today we got on the local ‘suicide’ bus and headed into town. Jack told us there was a real market in town and an internet cafĂ©. Both of these things were exactly where Jack said they would be and the bus ride was very exciting. Sometimes it was a very good idea to close my eyes. I think that the bus had shape-shifting abilities.
The market was everything I hoped it would be. It was a city block Municipal Market similar to those I’ve seen in Europe and the Caribbean. It was packed full of every type of fruit and vegetable stall, meat and fish. Breads, cheeses, teas – everything. I loved it and now have a very impressive hanging hammock full of fruit and veggies.
We also found an internet store where we could plug in our own computer for a dollar an hour.
There is a beautiful cathedral in the center of town with a park like plaza in front of it. Mass was being said in the cathedral with a pretty healthy congregation in attendance at about noon on a Monday. The town is a buzzing, healthy wonderful place full of Mexicans going about their lives and not caring very much about the gringo.
Perhaps the market stalls selling souvenirs were a little pushy, but I’ve experienced far worse in resort towns. We were pretty heavily laden when we left the market so we took advantage of a cab which saw that we needed him. Quanta es - $40 pesos - $4 bucks. We jumped in and thanked our lucky stars. He did stop about half a block from Club Nautico – maybe that was all we got for $4. We laughed and waved goodbye and thanked him.
We’ve been warned by experienced cruisers to check all fresh fruits and veggies before bringing them aboard for unwanted visitors – la cucarachas/cockroaches. I really hope I checked them well enough. I didn’t want to wash everything because that speeds up the decomposition which doesn’t need much help in this heat.Oh, did I mention that its hot – God I must sweat out about 10 pounds of water every day – just as well beer’s cheap otherwise I’d look like beef jerky by now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

MEXICO - Dox Exxis, Tequila and jumping off the boat

November 12th Blog – Ensenada – Bahia Santa Maria

San Diego, will always be remembered as the place we walked the furthest to get everything we needed, and the place where Johnny left us after living with us in our little pod for 2 months. We also became part of the little community on the Police Dock - which is basically the Municipal Docks which only cost $5/day for 5 days and then $20/day for a further 5 days – then you have to move on.
I have noticed that it doesn’t take long to feel that we belong in these small communities in a very short time. A few boats we knew from the BCA Fleet group were there, including Len and Joan on Warana – Len very generously fixed our battery charger for us, which we would have had to ship somewhere to get a bridge rectifier installed – instead we found the little bugger(the rectifier, not Len) in Radio Shack and Len installed it.
We also found a perfect trade for the 45 lb. Bruce anchor that Tony found while diving in Emerald Bay, Catalina. Our neighbours Peter and Denice on Sapphire had a Danforth which fit perfectly onto our stern rail to be used as a stern anchor, and our Bruce fit perfectly only his bow roller.
We had a little dock party on November 5th which enabled us to meet more of the people who are traveling down the coast. A couple of boats with young families aboard from Washington and Oregon, and other US boats who had already experienced cruising Mexico and wanted to repeat the experience.
Tony was able to help Ernie from Morgana, a boat from Campbell River, with his SSB radio weather fax system and internet. So this is how this community functions, having fun with each other and helping each other out with information.
It is interesting to note also how much mis-information circulates through this community, i.e. paper work needed to exit the US, and the paper work needed to enter Mexico, what you can and can’t bring into Mexico.

The info in the back of Charlie’s Charts on cruising Mexico seemed to be right on, and the marina we stayed at in Ensenada, the Baha Naval, also made sure that our paperwork was in order before running the immigration gauntlet. It wasn’t that bad, some people use agents to help them – the agents speak English and will help you if needed. It did take us about 3-4 hours to get it all done which was a little tiresome as we had only managed a couple of hours sleep on the way from San Diego to Ensenada, another one of those rolly trips that leave your equilibrium disturbed for a day or so after landing.
At the end of the ‘gauntlet’ run we were required to show all of the accumulated papers from the various departments finally to the Customs Officer, who showed us what appeared to be child size traffic lights with a big button at the bottom. ‘You push this – red, we search your boat and green , finito’. We were so nervous about pushing the button that when it turned green we both jumped up in the air whooping for joy.
Then we went in search of a fishing license.
That was a lot easier and so well worth it. We caught our first fish yesterday – a bonito tuna – very yummy and enough for 4 meals. Not bad for $94, maybe we’ll catch some more fish before out of Mexico.

We like Ensenada, though it has its touristic side its still very much a Mexican town that is not totally reliant on the ‘gringo’ – I hate that word – for their living, so one is not constantly harangued by people who need your money – what money?
We went to a really great bar called Housongs,with an old friend we met in Blaine a couple of years ago - Trevor from McCoushla (sorry Trevor) took us around town on our first evening there, - called Housongs. We were almost the only gringos present, the drinks were good and we were basically left alone. On the table next to ours were a middle age Mexican couple – a very proud man having his shoes cleaned while sitting at the table and a woman who was obviously besotted by him draped all over him. I asked them if I could take a picture – I know, very touristy – but it was a huge contribution to the mood in that bar. There was a mariachi band of about 6 men playing around a table of 3 local men and they were all singing to each other just because they liked to. When I applauded I was cautioned not to because it might make me seem even more like a tourist mark – ‘well its rude not to show appreciation for such a great performance isn’t it’.
The Baha Naval has one of the biggest, cleanest haulout facilities I’ve ever seen, the management team, Rogelio and Arturo were great, spoke very good English and genuinely liked their interactions with their c lients.
7th November From Ensenada we were heading for Turtle Bay, landed our first fish as mentioned above, no wind, motoring in calm seas, feeling very happy with the conditions and the speed we were making – a current helping us along, running the motor at about 2000 revs at a 6 – 7 knots. (Now I’m looking at the log because I can’t remember that far back). Generally from this day until the evening of the 9th we went from no wind – to nice sail with a single reef and the happy comment that Moondance is dancing to double reefed genoa only running on a broad reach at about 6 – 7 knots, sometimes more hurtling down a wave to wishing to a helluvalot less of this wind.
Its not so much the wind, we would love to have 25 knots, gusting to 35 without the huge waves that build up with it which never seem to come from one direction. That night I did most of my watch from the cabin, poking my head up to look around to make sure that no other stupid bastards were out there waiting to bump into us, and then darting back like a gofer before getting run over by a truck.
We didn’t come in a Turtle Bay; to do so would have meant taking big seas abeam and we knew we could still keep going. This part of our trip is just about getting as many miles in as possible.
So late afternoon on the 10th we pulled into Baha San Hipolito, which was actually quite a wide open bay and until we got right into it we were still running down the waves and thought it wouldn’t be a good anchorage. But the further in we went the land breeze coming down off space like plateaus took over from the swells and the wind waves which were quite small took over. We were the only transient boat in the bay – a few large fishing boats were anchored way over on the other side and a couple of small pangas were anchored close to the shore.
San Hipolito is a small fishing camp/village, not much more than a few shacks and container type units. The cloud cleared a little at sunset, which we were grateful to see after a couple of days of squally wind filled clouds. We ate crackers and nuts for dinner and went to bed at about 1900 hrs.
After being a sea for a few days doing our 2 – 3 hour night watches we really value our full nights sleep and Hipolito was not exception. A whole night’s sleep has become such a luxury, a tonic that makes us feel so great the next day.
This day started with a visit from a panga with 2 very good men – didn’t get their names, but we really liked them. They spoke way better English than our pathetic Espanol. They had fish and langosta (lobster) to trade, and we were definitely in the market for lobster. They belonged to a fishing cooperative, much like our local farming in Langley. They have buyers for their catch which is mostly sardines and langosta.
They asked how many lobsters we wanted – and when I said 2 – they were incredulous. ‘Only 2????’ – ‘we have no freezer ,ok 4’ ‘It makes no difference to us, have more’.
What you want?’ – Do you ave beer or wine?’ – ‘No sorry, not enough’ – ‘We have childrens, do you have bandaids?’ I knew we had lots of bandaids somewhere but didn’t think I’d be able to find them within the next half hour or so. We settled on a couple of baseball hats and a can of carnation milk. Our first trade, we hoped we had not upped the trading price for others who follow, and we hoped that these nice, hardworking men got what they wanted. They were very happy for us to take their picture.
That day – the 11th November kept getting better – our trip since Sidney recoring 2209 miles, 10 – 15 knot wind all day without the almost constant huge swells, sailing at 5ish knots with lovely clear skies and the anticipation of langosta for dinner.
Just after dinner we were sitting in the cockpit with the side flaps in the dodger – I usually put them in at night preparing for the usually stronger winds and protection from the occasional splashes - when whack, whack, whack and big splash on the leeward side of the boat. Tony starts looking into the rigging thinking a shroud had pinged loose and was flying around the boat . Flying was the right word, as we rolled over a swell a shoal or is it flock of flying fish decided to take off from that wave and unfortunately for them were stopped dead by us. Some of them went right over and splashed into the water on the other side of us, but 5 of them were all flapping about on both sides of the deck. These fish were all about 9 – 12’ long and were desperately trying to fly off the deck. Their wings are beautiful and they also seem to have little floppy fins further down their body which look a lot like undeveloped legs. Tony saved most of them – he went out onto the deck and picked them up carefully, as you would a bird, and put them back in the water. What a mystery of evolution they are.
Another big wind night with big seas - which though I hate because they frighten me, do realize that we need in order to get the speed we need.
After another night of almost no sleep the wind died down enough for us to need to motor. When we started the motor we noticed that our alternator was not only not charging at its usual 14 volts, it actually seemed to be pulling charge from our batteries. So in the aftermath rolling seas Tony put our spare alternator on, and so far so good.
At time of writing we are anchored at Bahia Santa Maria with a few other boats, two of which we met in San Diego. We had another of those fortifying sleeps and woke up this morning full of energy. We swam this morning, and while doing so cleaned the grass which has miraculously managed to grow while we are moving on the portside of the boat, since Catalina Island when we last cleaned it. Tony replaced the zinc which fell off one windy night, we showered and sunbathed.
Days like these count for at least 5 of those nights when I’m scared to look at the following seas and sick of my dirty hair and general feeling like crap.
We are looking forward to so many more of them.
Just arrived in Cabo San Lucas – don’t know anything about it yet, except it has the most incredible rock formation at the entrance to the harbour.I’ll post more on Cabo when I have some info.