Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 26, 2015 - Santiago Bay and "a three hour tour"

Today we planned to motor back to Carrizal where we had snorkeled last week.  It is on our route back north and the water was so clear that we wanted to return for another look at the reef, and the beautiful fish that call it home.  After lunch we pulled anchor and left our very roomy anchorage in Santiago Bay.  The winds were calm and the water was quite smooth.

Kevin helps Kathy make peanut butter cookies this morning.
Yummy!!!!  BTW-only cool time of the day!
As soon as we rounded Punta Juluapan we encountered strong winds and seas.  We slogged along for about 30 minutes until we reached Ensenada Carrizal.  Unlike our previous stop there, where there were just a couple of boats, we found the bay filled with three times as many boats.  This is a large number of boats for a small bay.  To make matters worse, the wind was blowing in the mid 20's and the ocean swell a bit larger than a week ago.  It was a completely different place this time around, and it didn't seem very appealing today.

We circled the anchorage looking for a decent spot to drop the anchor, but the boats were a bit too tightly packed for comfort, and the few available locations were a little deeper than desired.  We talked to our friends on sv Zoe B who anchored there yesterday (and still there today) and they informed us that the snorkeling wasn't very good this time.  The water had been churned up by the wind and waves and visibility was terrible now.

The water starts to get rougher in the 25 knot winds.
After a few minutes of discussion we decided to head north to Barra Navidad, but as soon as we left Ensenada Carrizal and began our trip to Barra, the sea conditions worsened.  Not wanting to bash our way through the waves for the next 3-4 hours we decided to just turn around and head back to the calm, and uncrowded anchorage of Santiago.  It was a smooth ride back to Santiago since we were travelling with the wind and waves.  There were several Booby's following us and diving for fish close to our boat as we neared Santiago.  We were back in about an hour and re-anchored soon after.  Ah, it will be nice to sleep tonight not having to worry about being anchored close to a rocky shoreline, and so close to other boats.  Also, Santiago has far less swell, no wind waves, and we are hundreds of yards from the next boat (compared to perhaps 40-50 yards in Carrizal).  It was a good decision.

A Booby ready to dive into the water for a quick snack.  They are fast birds
and very slender.  They can dive surprisingly deep and are very fun to watch.

Here's a good look at a Mexican Booby in flight.

Unlike the crew on the SS Minnow, our 3-hour tour ended well, with no drama, even though we made no forward progress at all today.

February 26, 2014 - Santiago Bay

We left the out-of-place architecture of Las Hadas and motored less than an hour to Bahia Santiago.  It is a spectacular bay with a beautiful sand beach that arcs in a gentle curve for several miles.  The Bay is protected from the typical NW winds and SW swell, so it's a great place to be this time of year.

The beach is lined with dozens of small Ramada/palapa restaurants.  We only ate one meal ashore, but it was good, the beer was cold, and the prices cheap.  This is far less touristy than most of our previous stops.  Very little English is spoken here.  I think we are now experiencing the genuine Mexico culture.  Almost all of the visitors are Mexican's, nobody seems to know English, prices are cheap, and the food is great.  The people are warm and friendly too....

The kids helping this solo trimaran gentleman get his dinghy back in the water.  
We are still working through the surf landings and exits, they are always a bit stressful.

You never know you will see next on a Mexican beach.
Hal, Kevin, Zoe, and Cindy check out the 3 horses.

Mexican Navy during some kind of training exercise.  Orange smoke signals, liferaft
in the water, and a smaller patrol boat too.  Our friends Tom and Annie on
sv Tappan Zee anchored out in front of the action.  One of many freighters coming in.
A Blue-Footed Booby perched on one of the last visible portions of a 300' freighter
that ran aground in the 1950's.  

The remains of the 300' steel freighter San Luciano which sank in 1959 during
a category 5 hurricane.  It is now home to thousands of sea creatures.
We were going to snorkel here but it was very murky water with terrible visibility.
The Playa de Boquita area of Bahia Santiago.  Shipwreck foreground.

We can only guess that this is some sort of monument to those lost at sea.
It is on a small, very rugged island, pretty far from town.

We did go snorkeling at the "aquarium" but the visibility was poor.  We didn't
see many fish this day.

February 23, 2015 - Bahia Manzanillo - Las Hadas

Some milestones were reached on our stop in Las Hadas, Bahia de Manzanillo.  Not only is this the furthest south we are planning to go, but we have been gone 180 days or six months now.  We have traveled approximately 2800nm and gone a bit more than halfway to the equator from our home territory on mv Adagio.  Our lives have changed and the experience truly rewarding.  Our thresholds for weather have increased quite a bit and now are not very concerned with leaving the dock when 20+ knots are in the forecast.  We crossed many ocean bars in the northwest and are more tolerant of sea swell.  I don’t know that we expected to be lonely on this voyage, but I can say that we have met so many new friends on this voyage, inspiring people, and people that share a same passion for adventure and life experiences.   Loneliness is NOT a concern while cruising.  Socially, I believe we have had more interaction than I thought we would.  I don't think that we realized how wonderful the morning VHF communication nets would be for us to find out about weather, find or give goods/services, and meet new people.  We are about to turn back northward and there are vessels, some that turn around as we are, and some that will continue their voyage south or cross the Pacific for the fabulous cruising grounds in the South Pacific.  I have been ecstatic to see so many young people out here, more than I would have expected.  We fall somewhere in the middle, but the majority of the cruisers out here are retirees.

We anchored just outside the Las Hadas resort. We certainly felt that it could have been off the coast of France, Greece, or Italy.  We had planned to go from Carrizal to Bahia Santiago for the next leg but Steve got up in the morning with a sore shoulder, feeling once again like it could be cellulitis.  Left shoulder also so I said that we should go to Las Hadas which has the resort and on-staff medical people, heart problems came to my mind as well as the bacterial infection.  He seemed fine within a day or two, and is just fine now.  The sv Zoe B was on the same path as us headed into Santiago and we could not catch them on the radio.  As we were trying to hail them, the sv Tappen Zee with Tom and Annie hailed us and we were happy to once again understand we would meet up with them as they were in the anchorage we were headed to.  We were happy when also to find out that sv Zoe B came in a few hours later and anchored nearby to us at Las Hadas anchorage.  The kids are having a wonderful time together and us adults get along as well.  Good people, good friends.

The resort charges you $200 pesos to dock your dinghy boat so we did have some costs there (about $14/day).  We were able to use their pools and such though which was nice.  Provisioning was great and several large grocery stores were within walking distance, several miles, and turned out to be a cheap cab ride back.  We sat by the pool and chatted, got together on our vessels for more conversation and too many late nights!  The kids made two movies using the iPad’s.  The kids had fun for hours with acting, and coming up with scenes for their movies.  I am hoping we can get them posted somewhere and then we will post a link to them.

Anchored in front of the Las Hadas resort.  It looks a lot like the
French Riviera!  Not quite what you expect to find in Mexico.
Adagio anchored in front of a very cool waterfront restaurant.
Iguanas are a pretty common site in this part of Mexico
The kids standing under the waterfall at the Las Hadas resort pool.
Zoe, Kevin, and Hal.  Zoe and Hal are from sv Zoe B.
Paul, Samara, Cindy, Zoe, Kevin, Hal, and Steve.  Kathy taking picture.
It was a full boatload heading into the dinghy dock at Las Hadas.
Zoe, Cindy, Kevin and Hal enjoying their Pinatas (Pina Colada w/o the alcohol).
Wonderful view of Manzanillo Bay.
The cruiser's anchorage in Manzanillo Bay
Our family and the sv Zoe B family took the bus from just outside the resort to Manzanillo.  Seems we are finally in a more authentic Mexican town.  Most of the Mexicans do not speak any English.   Our family still struggles with Spanish so it was nice that we were with Paul from sv Zoe B as he is fluent in Spanish (and Greek).  Anyway, he took care of all of us!  The bus is $7 pesos or less than a dollar for each of us to ride the bus for about an hour.  Cheap way to travel down here for sure.  

The kids waiting for the bus to old town Manzanillo.  Just above the Las Hadas

It was a crazy, bumpy, bus ride to Manzanillo.  The kids were laughing most
of the time as the bus lurched, clanked, and banged along the rough Mexican roads.

A HUGE sailfish sculpture on the Malecon of Manzanillo.

Walking through old town Manzanillo.  This is REAL mexico.  Virtually nobody
here speaks english.  There were almost no gringos to be found anywhere.

The large market in Manzanillo.  The fresh fruits and veggies were amazing.
Shopping at the market.  Kevin and Cindy are there, can you find them?

On the bow of a Mexican Navy ship.  It was open for tours when we arrived.  Free too!

Another shot from the Navy ship (about 200' long) that we got to explore.

Manzanillo Bay has a long history dating back to the 1500's where it was key factor in the creation of the Manila trade route.  Goods traveled thousands of miles, across two oceans.  From Spain, ships transported people, goods, and money to Atlantic Mexico where it was transported across land to the Pacific.  From Manzanillo items were then shipped to Manilla in the Philippines, and vice versa.

Today Manzanillo is still a major shipping port, and is one of the busiest on the Pacific coast.  A sizeable portion of the goods from Asia destined for the central United States arrive in Manzanillo via ships.   There are always freighters coming and going through this bay.

Kevin and Cindy - doesn't this look like they are super-imposed in this scene (blue screen background)?
Funny.....but this was the real backdrop and how a flash can change a photo!
Eating Chinese food for lunch in Manzanillo (hahahaha) - Cindy, Kevin, Hal and Zoe

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 24, 2015 - BF - The Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

     Pelicans are very interesting creatures. They dive from the sky and float in the water. These birds are about the size of a large microwave oven and have very interesting features.

     A pelican looks amazing. It has a long large beak that is a gray color and a head of white, but has a yellowish streak in adults. The stomach is black and brown, but the rest of its body is a brownish gray color with a rusty hue. It has feet and legs of a black color. Although the size is remarkably large, it is the smallest of the eight pelican species!

     Diving through the air, a pelican is aiming to catch a fish. It splashes into the water, submerging fully. Pelicans often eat fish, but sometimes they will eat an amphibian or crustacean. Pelicans live in the western hemisphere, in the coastal areas of the southern and western U.S. but pelicans are spread out all around America’s coastal areas. They build nests on trees, bushes, and on the ground. Their nests are made of mud if on the ground, or feathers if in trees or bushes.

     Another interesting fact about pelicans is that they are some of the least concerned animals in the rate of extinction. They live to be about 40 years old, and have 2-3 young to take care of at a time. The young lives with parents for 68 to 88 days, and then the young go off on their own. They eat up to 1.8 kilograms, or 4 pounds, a day. The brown pelican migrates up north to British Colombia for the summer, then migrates down south to warmer waters for the winter.

     I have seen pelicans from Southern California to all the places I've been in Mexico. They look odd when they fly, because their heads rest on their bodies when flying. It is always fun to watch them dive into the water, and see which one makes the biggest splash. They are so fun to watch! 

by Cindy Elston

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 19, 2015 - Carrizal

In most of the locations we anchor, there are villages, towns or resorts.  Carrizal is a small cove with no population or development of any kind, which was a nice change.  We motored into the secluded bay after a short passage from Barra, and were startled at one point as we passed a very loud blow hole in the rocks on shore.  It was a surprise and was something we knew we would check out later in the day once we were settled.  There were two other sail vessels already in the small bay and we anchored further out in about 30 feet of water.  Large hills surround this cove and seem to make us feel small within their walls.  After a couple of hours, we decided to put the kayaks down and check the reef for snorkeling.  We had seen some jellyfish on our way in so we were a bit concerned.  These were similar to the moon jelly back home with no trailing tentacles although a bit different in that they were longer and had a solid white round sport in them.  A panga with tourists came in and people dropped into the water to snorkel with only swim suits so we knew it was safe.  Also, we never saw the jellyfish in the reef area just at the entrance to the bay.  We were close enough that in this anchorage, we could snorkel to the coral reef from the boat so the big dinghy never even went in the water.  The snorkeling was spectacular!  The coral reef was just beautiful and seemed to be thriving.  After finishing our snorkel, another sailing vessel came in.  Soon a very nice girl came up to our boat and introduced herself as Zoe from the sv Zoe B.  Zoe has a twin brother and they are 11 years old.  The following day after both families' kids were finished with home school, the kids got together to play.  Sometimes with parents around it is difficult for the kids to get to know one another so Steve and I went out in the kayaks for a ride, stopped by their vessel and told them they could go over to our boat to meet and play with Cindy and Kevin.   Well the rest is history as they get along well and have a lot of fun together. 

Cindy and Kevin got to go over to their vessel and swing from the main boom (like a rope swing) and also jump off the bow.  That was followed with fun on the kayaks and then a water war.  They had many fun hours in the afternoon sun, playing in the warm water.

We did more snorkeling the next day, and got to talk a little more to the parents on sv Zoe B.  They have been coming to Mexico boating for more than 10 years.  They spend about 5 months of every year on their sailboat, in Mexico.  The rest of the year they live on their ranch in the mountains near Castle Rock Colorado (and leave their boat in Mexico, ready for the next season).  That sounds like a nearly perfect life to us!

View from the beach of Carrizal
mv Adagio and sv Zoe B looking out of the bay
The colorful reef and fish made the snorkeling very interesting.
Angelfish swimming over the coral reef

spotted star clinging to the coral

Reef cornetfish
Kathy goes Kayaking
Zappa gets a very strange kayak ride.

Steve in front of a very noisy and powerful blowhole

Video of the blow hole.

Kevin jumping off the bow of sv Zoe B
Cindy swinging out on the line from the boom
Hal, Zoe, Kevin and Cindy, upside down kayak balancing
Cindy and Zoe getting ready for water war
water wars. it was boys against girls, Kevin and Hal here in one kayak

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 17, 2015 - Barra Navidad

We had a great time in Barra de Navidad.  What a quaint little town and wonderful anchorage in the very smooth waters of the lagoon.  We were anchored in less than 10 feet of water and it was a nice break from the ocean swells that often exist in the bays we've anchored in.  I am certainly not complaining, the swells are generally not very noticeable.  You go up and then you go down with typically a long period or frequency.   We had some rain, winds and cloudy days here.  We met one person who said it is unusual to have this many days of cloudy/rainy weather this time of year.  The Pineapple Express is finally lifting and so we are getting ready to move south again.  I know you are all wondering if we are just going to continue to the Panama Canal or such.  We are actually getting ready to turn around and head north after a stop in Manzanillo, which will be the southernmost point of this trip.  We are very thankful for so many experienced boaters that told us to explore the mainland coast while the Sea of Cortez is in winter and what would be considered cold (I know, maybe not to us Pacific Northwesterners).  We are feeling the itch to head north and explore the islands and bays, and to do some snorkeling and hiking in the Sea of Cortez.  The pacific coast of Mexico has been wonderful.  The morning VHF nets have been interesting and very helpful.  We have met many new people that we can call friends.  Some we will see again and others are off for faraway lands.  One common theme is that everyone is living their lives, fulfilling a dream, and looking for adventure.  As whole, cruisers are a very happy and generous group.  You don’t meet many grumps out here.

We said goodbye once again to sv Flying Squirrel.  They are headed north now and need to get to San Diego by Mid-June.  We may see them in the Sea of Cortez in April; we hope so!  Their adventure and life is much like ours, two children, the same ages and sexes as ours with a year-long trip planned.  They also home school using the same curriculum we are, so Cindy and Morgan have the same books while the boys were actually a year apart in school due to the separation of the their birthdays.  Morgan and Matthew are 20 lessons ahead of us though!  We need to be more diligent in this part of our lives.  We both struggle to motivate the kids to get to their work.

Waves at the breakwater entrance of Barra de Navidad

The Lagoon anchorage

cute waterfront development on our way to the dinghy tie-up spot.

Walking through town, cobblestone side streets

Mural wall

The mural wall had many historic panels and was quite interesting

There are many streets like this one in Barra.

They are dredging the lagoon entrance and this pile of sand towers
between the ocean and the waterfront restaurants.  This sand came from
the lagoon.

We had laundry done here.  The laundromats do the laundry for you down here.  12 pesos a kilo.  Our cost then for just clothes, no towels, was only 98 pesos (less than $8).  We have a washer and dryer aboard Adagio but the washer uses about 45 gallons of water for each load.  We make water (desalinate) on board but only at approximately 6-7gallons per hour depending on water temperature and salinity.  It takes a long time to replenish the water used when doing laundry.  Most of the marinas here do not have drinkable water on the docks, but some do.  If we know that a marina has good water available we will do laundry before arriving, then refill the tanks at the marina for free.  But sometimes it is just easier to take the laundry in somewhere.  It is a short walk from the dinghy tie up area to the lavanderia, and the rest of town which is filled with interesting shops and restaurants.

We swam in the pool at the Grand Hotel here.  SV Flying Squirrel was in the marina and invited us over several times to swim.  Nice hotel and pool that we would not have gotten to enjoy without their generosity.  We did not take the big boat into the marina at all.  This one is a bit more expensive at $.75 a foot but still not as costly as it is up in the San Juan Islands of Washington.  During the first several months of this trip we were at marinas at every port we visited.  But since leaving the US, we have spent the majority of our time at anchor.  It is nice to be swinging on the hook , free of charge, and away from the marina crowds.  When at anchor our floating home needs more diligent monitoring because it is more exposed to weather issues.  See below for incredible pictures of a lightning storm that passed us at 1:00am in the morning, while at anchor.  Winds went from 5 knots to 25 knots in just minutes and then subsided after the storm passed us an hour later.  We kept an eye on our anchor and swing radius and also on other vessels to make sure that they were not dragging anchor and drifting towards us.  The winds generally increase here most days in the afternoons but the winds only reach about 15 knots.  Our solar panels were not strapped down and we lost some support poles in the winds.  Live and l.earn, as they say.

The Grand Hotel pool slides and kid fun.....................

A fun water slide at the Grand Hotel

The pool is quite long and follows the contours of the land. 

Water slide fun.
Fun times in Barra.

Adult fun too, except this hot tub was deceptive, it was cold, maybe 90 degrees
A nice lunch out!
Looking above at the restaurant photo I thought I would give a shout-out or mention for Nacho's Restaurant (next door to this one).  We have been there the last 5 days or so as their internet is nice and fast and it allowed us to catch up on business and blog entries.  We originally only had drinks there but have expanded now and are eating some of their wonderful food.  We will post something on Trip Advisor, they are wonderful there and tasty food at reasonable prices.  I believe it is Paco and his wife that have a cooking class on Wednesday's at 11:30am.  Paco works at the restaurant and has sat down to chat with us a few times.  The locals are all so friendly.  We are leaving tomorrow so I will miss it but possibly on our way back if the particular day puts us around here.
shipwreck in the lagoon!  Somebody's dreams have been dashed.

Kevin and Cindy wanted to salvage some parts from this wrecked and abandoned
boat.  We would not let them however.

Valentine's at Banana's Restaurant.................

The adult table.  Adagio and Flying Squirrel.
The kid table

Sunset with kids playing on the beach
The french baker comes to the marina and out to the anchorage daily to bring goodies for all!

You can pre-order or choose from whatever he has left when he comes to your boat.
Croissant was $20 pesos ($1.50 or so).  Everything was EXCELLENT!

The lightening storm at 1:00am  - made it like daytime!  There are no streetlights out here....
Lightning turning night into day.  It was pitch black just seconds before this picture.

1:00 and it's still light out?  Not really.  This is a lightning flash.

Here is a video (we hope) of the lightning storm.

Kathy had a wonderful couple of hours kayaking around the lagoon watching wildlife:
Vultures!  I got close to these and they seemed to growl almost like dogs at me.


When we entered the bay we heard some fellow state on the VHF hailing channel that he just
saw a flamingo fly by.  Nope these pink birds have wide bills.  Kids made a quick comment that
flamingo's don't fly - at least they don't in the zoo and the theme parks!
We are leaving tomorrow morning for bays further south.  We will not go beyond Bahia Manzanillo.  What a gem the Gold Coast of Mexico has been.  We are not going to venture as far south as Zihuatanejo but have enjoyed it all from Cabo Corrientes so far.

Our travels, if you are following us closely, will soon show us northbound as weather permits, hoping to be in Puerto Vallarta area by Mid-March.  This distance is minor compared to our voyage so far.  Overall we have traveled approximately 2750nm or 3165 statute miles.  That is greater than the distance between Seattle and Miami.  It's within a few miles of the straight line distance between Seattle and Bermuda.  We only travel about 7-7.5mph and have quite a few weather delays.  It takes a long time to travel by private boat.  We have been gone almost 180 days now and our next blog may be the party that celebrates this milestone for us.  One fellow boater mentioned to us that we are now in the top 1% for distance traveled by private boat (we have not verified this though!).