Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Baja Bash - Pausing in Man of War Cove

This is the village at Man of War Cove - all of it. 
Whether under power or under sail, the trip from Cabo San Lucas to Ensenada is called the "Bash" for good reason. With prevailing winds from the northwest it is almost guaranteed that you will be beating into wind and waves for 700+ miles. In order to avoid as much discomfort as possible we stopped along the way, waiting in protected bays for calm weather windows.
For a sailboat it isn't just a matter of comfort. Trying to sail into the wind while being buffeted by oncoming waves can make forward progress impossible. Running the engine is imperative. Sailboats like ours generally can't carry a lot of fuel and options for refueling are few and far between on the outside coast of Baja. Two other sailboats who were bashing up the coast at the same time as we, actually ran out of fuel along the way. One was unable to continue sailing into the wind and had to turn back almost 200 miles to refuel. When your forward progress is only 3 to 6 miles per hour, a 200 mile back track is painful. The other boat was forced to seek refuge in a small bay where no fueling services were available. We are still keeping our eyes and ears open for them, wondering what was the end to that story.
It's a long run from the southern tip of Baja to Magdalena Bay with no options for stopping.  After more than 2 days of bashing with both wind and waves against us, we were glad to reach safe harbor. We anchored at the first opportunity and got a good night's rest. Then we moved several miles further inside the bay to Man of War Cove where there is a small fishing village. It was very pleasant to rest and relax there for a few days. At first there were 2 other boats anchored by the village but more boats arrived over the next couple of days, all of us waiting for another calm weather forecast. By the time we left there were 7 of us, most headed, as we were, north to Ensenada.
The village is on an isolated island. There is a town about 15 miles away but the only way to get to it is by boat through a narrow channel. We needed fuel. All the boats needed fuel. An enterprising local man named Antonio took our jerry cans in his panga and had them filled in the town. It's quite a trip for him but quite lucrative, too, and one of the few ways to make money in his village. We heard of another boat who got fuel from someone else the next day and it fouled his tanks. We were lucky. Another boat had no cash and there was, of course, no way to pay with credit card. It turned in to quite an ordeal for them taking several days to travel by boat, truck, and bus to a city large enough to have an ATM and then back to their boat with fuel.

As my photos show, the beach was literally covered in a variety of seashells. Many cruisers are, as you can well imagine, avid beach combers and shell collectors. Really, what else are we going to do with our time? It's kind of a gray area, though. According to the government body that overseas fishing in Mexico, it is illegal to take any natural materials off the beach. On the other hand, official government websites promoting Mexico tourism often tout the best beaches for seashell collecting. We have heard stories of cruisers who were searched and fined for trying to take seashells out of Mexico. It's all very tempting when you see the shiny chunks of abalone shell or piles of dead coral washed ashore but I try to limit myself to collecting beach glass. I think I can argue that beach glass is not "natural" right?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Los Cabos Marina - Waiting Out Hurricane Blanca

Hazard Flag over the marina in anticipation of Hurricane Blanca
Calm in the marina with raging waves on the other side of the breakwater
Crossing from Mazatlan to Baja took two days. By the time we arrived it was clear that we couldn't go any further until Hurricane Blanca passed by. We expected to be hit hard. Everyone took what precautions they could and we sat and waited in the marina at San Jose del Cabo. In the end, by the time the storm hit Baja it had been downgraded to a tropical storm but we still had to wait for the seas to settle before continuing on.

There is a nice little restaurant at the marina, called The Container because the kitchen and service areas are a remodeled shipping container. The seating is all outdoors with a gorgeous view. At the entrance to the restaurant is a chalkboard sign saying "We don't have WiFi. Talk to each other."

We hadn't planned to spend any time in San Jose del Cabo. But because of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Blanca we were forced to stay and I'm glad that we did. We enjoyed our time there and and I highly recommend it for a safe and easy Mexican vacation.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Yelapa, Jalisco, Mexico

We are in Mazatlan hoping to leave this morning for San Jose del Cabo. The weather forecasts for our 2 day crossing all look good. Or, at least, they look good to me. Mike and the boat would be happier with heavier winds. They are, after all, a sailor and his sailboat. But me and my queasy stomach are hoping the forecasts hold for calm seas and just enough wind to keep the boat moving.

Our plan is to take the boat back to the States this summer. After almost 3 years of full time cruising, s/v La Volante Frances Jane needs some work done and it is best done in San Diego. I'm sad to be leaving Mexico, even temporarily, but San Diego is not a bad place to be spending the summer.

Before turning north last week we sailed to the south end of Banderas Bay and spent a couple days in the beautiful little village of Yelapa. There are no roads into Yelapa and therefore no cars, just a few 4-wheelers and some mules. There was a photo op at every turn.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Comings and Goings

I know that it's been a long time but it is going to be even longer. Not that there hasn't been anything to blog about, quite the opposite, in fact. There has been so much to enjoy that there hasn't been much time left over for writing.

On the 19th, Tuesday, I returned to Mexico after 2 weeks of visiting my daughters on Cape Cod.

Oh how I love Cape Cod in May!

For 3 days we have been running around doing shopping, chores, and errands. In a few minutes we will leave the marina here at La Cruz. For the next 6 weeks we will be meandering as the weather dictates and eventually arrive in San Diego for long anticipated boat work.

I hope to be able to write soon and post photos of the 10 day long fiesta in La Cruz. It could be tonight that I am able to blog. It could be June before I have opportunity again. It all depends on where the wind blows. Literally.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blogworthy News

Sunrise over the anchorage from our cockpit
We went sailing last Wednesday! You would think, being sailors living on a sailboat in Mexico, that an afternoon sail wouldn't be big news. But lately it seems we've done everything other than sail. Besides driving my car to Seattle to do our taxes and buy a few necessities that aren't available in Mexico then flying back to Puerto Vallarta 2 weeks later, we've mostly been getting fat and lazy in one marina or the other.
Although we both would really rather be sailing, it's just all too easy to get comfortable tied to a dock enjoying resort amenities like beachfront naps and waiters who bring food and drink to your lounge chair, a choice of 3 pools, 2 hot tubs and a water slide, dinghy trips to river front restaurants, unlimited electricity (hot water!) and a mini-shopping mall with complete grocery store just a few steps away.
Paradise Village Resort & Marina beachfront

Yes, those are my feet
Fajita Republic, Nuevo Vallarta - best fajitas ever!
But now we are happy to be back on the water, enjoying morning coffee with an unobstructed sunrise view and dinner with sunset from our cockpit, dinghy rides to town, gulls circling overhead, peace, quiet, and a gentle ocean swell to rock us to sleep.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Back To San Blas

After 6 days in San Blas it was time to leave but already we were planning our return. We had heard about an upcoming festival to celebrate the birthday of San Blas, an Armenian bishop martyred in 316. I have no idea what his connection to Mexico is or why this particular fishing village bears his name but I knew that I wanted to be there for the celebration.

courtyard view from our room
A trip that had taken 2 full days by boat was a scenic 3-1/2 hours by car. Our friends Joy and Randy from s/v Spirit of Hanalei came with us and we all spent a delightful 3 days getting better acquainted with the town and enjoying the amenities of the lovely Hotel Hacienda Flamingos in an old hacienda style building that dates back to 1883.

hotel chapel
San Blas from the old fort
Abandoned house - I think I could live here
Another abandoned building in town

peaceful fishing pangas
happily eating the best churros in Mexico

Then came the big day, February 3rd, San Blas's birthday. We knew there would be fireworks in the town square that night but we had no idea that there would be a fireworks display the likes of which none of us had ever seen before. We got our first hint when we walked to the square for breakfast.

A crew of half a dozen men were assembling a framework of fireworks that would eventually reach about 40 feet into the air. It must have been much sturdier than it looked because there was a malfunction during the display and one of the men scrambled up the inside of the frame to release a pinwheel of fire that was not rotating properly.

The celebration started with mass followed by a community meal in the church courtyard. Then several men of the church took the statue from the front of the church and carried him through town accompanied by a a band. We followed to the waterfront where the statue was loaded onto a boat and taken out to an nearby island for the blessing of the fleet. Later were speeches in the square which I couldn't understand and then the fireworks display. The fireworks started going off from the bottom with huge pinwheels and rotating flowers that would light off the next section of the frame. Near the top blazed the words "Viva San Blas" and then at the very top was a flaming disc that separated from the framework and flew off over the town. At the same time were traditional fireworks shooting off from the church. It was an exciting display and well worth our efforts to get there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

La Tovara Jungle Tour - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

For a few days now I've been trying to continue the San Blas story, but I just can't find the words to explain the Jungle Tour. It is peaceful and romantic and adventuresome, interesting, informative and simply a very cool thing to do.

It starts at this boat landing, costs the peso equivalent of about 15 American dollars per person, including tip, and lasts about 3 hours.

300 species of birds (we saw maybe 50), 3 kinds of iguanas, turtles, snakes, ocelots (or so I'm told) and crocodiles live here.

I'm not eloquent enough to convey the awesomeness of the Jungle Tour so I'll just post a bunch of pictures and let you see for yourself.

An old movie set, maintained by the tour guides

Gradually the salt water changes to fresh and at the end there is a large, spring-fed, fresh water pool for swimming (chain link fenced to keep the crocodiles out, of course!).

Friday, February 27, 2015

San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

As in most Mexican towns, exotic flowers grow everywhere
The Virgin
Typical fence in a downtown neighborhood

San Blas Social Club, a popular hangout for expats and Gringos.
Fast Food San Blas style

We have been in Mexico for almost 2 years and I am still in love with this country and her people.

Lately, though, I've been taking Mexico for granted. I feel so comfortable here that I often forget how unique my life is, how lucky I am to be here, and I forget to appreciate the amazing culture that surrounds me. Our 6 days spent in San Blas really brought back the awareness and appreciation.

San Blas doesn't get a lot of attention from cruisers. The cruising guide books warn of a potentially dangerous bar at the harbor entrance and the area is jungle, well-known for hordes of biting insects. So most cruisers seem to do what we did last year, anchor overnight in the large bay a few miles south of the town and move on the next morning.
But Mike had to been to San Blas several years ago and wanted to take some time to explore.

Two other boats were traveling with us (buddy boating) from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta and we all found San Blas to be a delightful surprise.
We spent 3 nights on anchor in Mantenchen Bay swimming in the warm, clear water, exploring the beach, and lunching at waterside palapa restaurants.

With a keel in excess of 8' we are always cautious, but after sounding the entrance from our dinghy and talking to the lovely folks at the Fonatur San Blas Marina, we established that we could safely enter the harbor at high tide and spend a few days at the marina in town.

The ruins of the old fort sit high on the hill with stunning views of the city and beyond to the ocean. We were told, but couldn't confirm, that when the fort was built it was on the cliff side right over the ocean. It only makes sense and old maps in the museum seemed to confirm that the ocean was once much closer than it is now.

I love to take photos through windows and open doorways. The church ruins at the fort provided ample opportunity and I took over 100 shots both inside and out.

Inside the market was this lunch stand with a sign advertising Yaka licuado. I saw advertisements all over town for Yaka this and Yaka that. I ate Yaka muffins, Yaka ice cream, and Yaka bread thinking that Yaka tastes a bit like peaches. Someone told me that it is breadfruit but it turns out that it is jackfruit which is not the same thing. I'm still not sure but I can tell you that it is delicious whatever it is.