Saturday, January 15, 2011

La Cruz

Jordan got out the Hooka gear (diving apparatus) and dove Friday; thankfully, he was able to unwind all of yesterday's tangled fishing line pretty easily. After a lazy afternoon, we pulled anchor at 14:15 to head for La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, about 15 km from Punta de Mita.

We flew the spinnaker with only a whisper of wind. We set anchor (N20°44.855' W105°22.159') once again just as the golden sun was setting in perfectly calm seas at 17:30 on the 14th. Yeah, I know, almost 3 hours to go 15 km but it was a great way to spend an afternoon lazing in the sun, reading and watching the spinnaker fly.

Slow trip, minimal wind, but still sailing!

Early this morning after making some water, we went ashore to explore La Cruz and do some Skyping (making calls using our I-Touch "phone" with Skype). Then back at Sea Turtle, in Jordan's words:
...took in the dusk surroundings. The sun had just gone down leaving the sky a pinkish-orange at the horizon, fading to a pastel blue above, with the 3/4 moon above. I counted 43 sailboats that were now becoming silhouettes on a steely-silvery bay. They were all facing the setted sun and their masthead anchor lights were coming on. It reminded me of being at a rock band concert when the band had finished and left the stage. But the audience wouldn't leave, all looking at the stage, and throughout the crowd they were lighting their lighters, waiting for another song or 2 before it was finally over.
We must send our auto-pilot back to Seattle WA to be repaired before leaving La Cruz, here's hoping that it won't take too long...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chacala and Punta de Mita

We pulled out of the estuary of San Blas under sail on January 12th at 13:45 and ran aground on the sandbar but managed to back off. We sailed all but the last 1.5 hours to Chacala (N21°09.773' W105°13.636'), arriving at 17:30. We spotted 3 whales and 1 dolphin along the way!

The next morning, we rode the surf into shore, without getting wet, where we checked out the little village and long sandy beach with lots of palapas. We noticed the contrast of several very fancy houses owned by gringos set throughout the poor village.

Sea Turtle anchored in front of Chacala

Trying to get through the surf in the dinghy back to Sea Turtle ended up getting Jordan completely soaked as he gallantly protected me from the waves! After drying out, we pulled anchor at 11:15 and motored in rolly seas with 2-metre swells, at which point our auto-pilot ceased working. This time, we only spotted 1 whale next to a panga of happy, waving fishermen!

Punta de Mita has 3 ominous rock reef hazards which we were able to spot by the cresting waves over them. We set anchor safely at 17:45 (N20°45.882' W105°31.'246') on January 13th just as the sun was setting. Unfortunately, for the second time, we forgot that a fishing line was trailing from the stern of the boat and once again the line wrapped around the prop. We need to figure out a way to remind us when a line is out!!

As we set anchor...

Punta de Mita is at the entrance of Bahia de Banderas, a bay that is about 30 km wide and runs eastward inland for 25 km. It boasts two 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf courses for the exclusive use of hotel patrons. So much for boaters...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crocs and avian

While in San Blas of beautiful Mexico, we met up with a few sailors that we already knew and also met some new friends - 6 of whom we joined to go on the infamous Jungle Cruise. This is a really cool panga (boat) trip through a varied landscape of incredible mangroves, reeds, marshes, and bamboo on our way to the crocodile refuge. We left at 08:00 while the morning mist was rising off the water...

Notice on panga edge: "Welcome, the tip depend of a good service"

There were so many beautiful exotic birds such as this multi-coloured one and the striking white egrets...

The many turtles, iguanas, and crocs were soaking up the heat of the sun's rays and some posed for us only a few feet away....

Our panga operator travelled slowly, pointing out the numerous species that our group did not first see. Upon arriving at the crocodile refuge, we were surprised to discover numerous other animals there too such as raccoons, white-tailed deer, exotic birds, tilapia fish, and even a beautiful jaguar. (We also heard the frightening roaring sound of a jaguar out in the surrounding forest!)

2 crocodiles at the refuge

Such a magnificent creature...

After 4 hours of fabulous sights, we headed back to the dock. Travel with us now vicariously by way of the 36 second video below.

After that, we hitchhiked the couple of miles back to San Blas.

One evening, we wandered around the plaza of San Blas, seeing all of the vendors' wares. Of particular interest was the beadwork of the jewellery, masks, and assorted animal items created by the Huichol Indians who come from distant villages. Their exquisite beadwork is considered collectors' items in European and US art galleries.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

San Blas

We motored all night from Isla Isabela arriving at the entry to San Blas in the state of Nayarit Mexico (N21°32.634' W105°17.585') in the midst of a multitude of fishing pangas at 07:45 on January 8th. Crossing the shallow bar here is tricky so, using a copy of waypoints given to us, we crossed to the safety of the inner channel. As we had a few minor boat projects we wanted to do, we decided to stay at the dock, but on our approach to it, we touched a sandbar; we quickly reversed and were advised over the VHF a safe approach in.

After docking, from supplies we had brought from home, Jordan immediately put together some screens for our hatches and entry way to protect us from the evening no-see-ums, teeny tiny pesky bugs with a real bite. We then browsed through the Saturday morning market, bought lots of fresh produce at the corner store, and purchased fresh lobster for supper from a local vendor at a street stand.

Saturday market - What's over there??

Corner store - Do I want this or that?

We have found the landscape to be much greener on the mainland compared to the desert-like areas of the Baja. Here is a glorious sunset at the marina with all the gorgeous palm trees in the background...

Friday, January 07, 2011

Blue boobies

We hiked what is called "the blue trail" at Isla Isabela (Mexico) this afternoon. Hmmm...I wonder if that's because it's where you find most of the bright coloured blue-footed boobies? This trail goes through the forested area and up and down rock staircases, much different than yesterday's trails which were in more open grassy areas.

Our first stop was at the volcanic Crater Lake (Lago Crater) which is not potable and definitely not very inviting for swimming. Here is Jordan overlooking Crater Lake...

We continued on towards the rock spires (Las MoƱas) that are 45 metres tall...

...and here is where we saw all the boobies with their bright blue legs and feet! What a thrill it was to finally see them and be so close as we walked amongst them. (This has been on my "to do" list since I first heard of their existence.)

Blue-footed boobies everywhere!

Foot colour - blue, green, or yellow - yet to be determined!

When we could finally tear ourselves away from this pristine setting, we headed back to Sea Turtle. And at 23:15 we pulled anchor for an overnighter to San Blas.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Isla Isabela

We arrived at Isla Isabela (Mexico) at 02:45 and stood off the south end, adrift, waiting for dawn's light for a safe entry as there are rocks known to be in the bay. We kept an eye on our GPS headings until we anchored at 06:30 (N21°50.585' W105°52.939') among 5 other boats.

Sea Turtle at Isla Isabela

Isabela is a tiny island less than a mile long and is a National Wildlife Preserve. Jacques Cousteau even filmed here in the 1970s. You know you have arrived when you see all the birds flying overhead! We put the dinghy in the water and went to shore. There were several seasonal fishing huts that lined the beach edge and we watched as the fishermen brought in their huge catch.

Fish for sale

Then everywhere we walked along the zig zag trail were frigate birds, brown booby birds with lime-green feet, or yellow-footed booby birds. They were nesting on the ground and in the low trees that were just above head level.

2 boobies inquiring "Where'd you come from?"

As long as you stayed a few feet away they were undaunted to have you around...

Many had new adorable chicks with fluffy down feathers and we listened to the clickety clack of the frigate birds' beaks as they seemed to scold us.

Frigate with chick

The island was also abound with iguanas sunning themselves with whatever rock or piece of concrete they could find, and like the birds, seemed unafraid.

Getting a tan?

After taking hundreds of photos, we returned to Sea Turtle for a nap to make up for our sleep deprivation of the last 3 nights.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Alarm - water coming in!

On our way to Mainland Mexico from the Baja and the Sea of Cortez. 08:00 Tuesday. Both bilge pump alarms blaring! We have a leak!

Jordan opened up the engine compartment to see how much water was really coming in and turned on the bilge pumps. To make matters worse, he discovered the bilge pump hose was also leaking, thereby some of the water we were trying to pump out was just leaking right back in. Jordan quickly taped up the hose and after a frantic search, we traced it forward through 3 bilges.

What we found was not good but it was a relief. We did not have a leak but found raw sea water spewing in through the broken filter housing of the watermaker which was turned on. We immediately turned off the watermaker and started sopping up the mess.

The watermaker is located in a closet, which meant salty wet clothes. Then the water from the closet drained into 2 of the pullman bilges, and from there, it drained into the salon bilge (which is 1 of our food lockers) and finally from there into the engine bilge compartment where it could be pumped out.

And of course, being boaters, every compartment was packed as full as possible. Everything had to be removed, washed, and dried.

But don't forget, our watermaker is now not functioning until we can get a new filter housing and determine why it failed in the first place. This meant being stingy with water, making cleanup more difficult. And to top it all off, we were sailing in rough seas so nothing stayed where you set it down while trying to clean up things!

Eight hours later, we were almost done. Just waiting for any cloth items to finish drying and be put away.

Who said cruising was all fun? But seriously, we're looking at it as just another adventure. No one hurt, nothing badly damaged, a new day tomorrow. Time for a hot chocolate and a good book!

Wednesday was a very uneventful day which, after yesterday, was a real pleasure. We had turned off the motor and set the head sail with a whisker pole when the alarms started sounding on Tuesday and have since sailed the last 2 days with no adjustments needed, staying right on course.

Around 23:30, we saw the streaking phosphorescent show of 2 dolphins in the bow of the boat and then the wind totally died. A cruise ship was coming up fast behind us so Jordan tried to start the motor. The solenoid stuck, causing the engine to rev wildly! I am so thankful that my man is engine savvy and he fixed it right away, otherwise it could have been a real problem.

Monday, January 03, 2011

La Paz errands

We passed this yacht transporter on the way into La Paz Harbour of Mexico...

So you think your boat is big!

Monday, December 27th, we spent running around trying to accomplish what we need to get done here, but almost everywhere we went, we ran into "Cerrado", meaning Closed, and usually until the 3rd of January. Seems many are away for the holidays or closed for inventory. But at least Jordan was able to meet up with the same welder that he used last time we were in La Paz (way back in January of 2010). Jordan fabricated an emergency tiller for Sea Turtle which the welder put together within the week.

The next day, we found a repair man for our old Mercury outboard which we will try to sell after it's been fixed. We are still trying to find a new impeller for the Evinrude outboard that we now have.

Charts, charts, and more charts. What do we still need for the next year or so? Another task to be taken care of before leaving La Paz. We borrowed charts from 2 other sailors (our thanks go out to AKA and Adios III) and had them photocopied so we are all set now for the next couple of years which should take us to New Zealand.

Our next destination of Isla Isabela is about 310 nautical miles from La Paz on the route that we have chosen, about 72 hours of non-stop sailing or motoring. We left La Paz at 17:30 with the engine running so we could make water to fill our tanks. We cleared out of the channel with all of its markers before night settled in.

The hazy broad band of the Milky Way was visible and the multitude of stars in the sky seemed extra bright as we noticed the trail of phosphorescence from the engine churning. Sea Turtle rolled in the steep sharp waves all night.