Monday, January 31, 2011

Costalegre 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off in Barra

Mike and Gary from Roosters Restaurant

Ballet Folklorico Xalixco

Friday, January 28, 2011

Scenes from Barra de Navidad and Melaque

Sunset from Bananas Restaurant

Tortas at Morris with Seattle friends, Larry and Karen Nelson on SV Panta Rhei

Sunrise over the lagoon

"This is the way..."

Balloons in Melaque

Michael's new haircut and brunch in Melaque

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Week in Tenacatita with the mayor and Chippy

We had a nice sail from Chemala to Tenacatita, mostly uneventful until we needed to gybe (which means we have to bring the sails from one side of the boat to the other with the wind on our tail - not always the easiest maneuver).  We observed Meridian, who was a short distance ahead, as they attempted to gybe their free-flying headsail. For a while it looked like Roger might be propelled off the bow of their boat into the water as Roger struggled with the big sail.  Finally, things were under control and they headed towards the anchorage.  Then it was our turn.  For a while we were headed further away from shore as we prepared for our gybe, which didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked, but in no time at all we were following on Meridian's heels.

Tenacatita is a wide open anchorage with room for many boats.  The bay stretches 2 1/2 miles from one side to the other.  The most popular and protected anchorage, this time of year, is the NW corner tucked in behind Chubasco.  This is where we anchored. 

Three years ago, when Michael and I visited Rob and Teresa Sicade aboard Yohelah, another Baba 40, one of the anchorages we visited was Tenacatita.  We were looking forward to seeing Tenacatita again and creating some new experiences.  On our previous visit, we took a 1 1/2 mile dinghy ride through the mangroves.  At the end of the estuary we were able to walk a short distance to an elegant beach filled with beachside palapas serving food and drink and a few tiendas where we could buy some basic provisions.  The estuary is still there, but all of the palapas and tiendas are gone.  We had heard that some rich guy decided that he owned all of the property abutting the beach and kicked out all of the palapas.  The end of the estuary is now manned by guards prohibiting entrance to that beach.  We decided to leave our pleasant memory intact and opted out of the estuary tour this time.

One lone palapa and an RV park are all that remains along with an all inclusive hotel, The Blue Hotel at the end of the beach.  Across the bay lies the quaint village of la Manzanilla, populated with restaurants and tiendas selling an assortment of provisions and souvenirs.

Monday I heard what sounded like a fog horn and poked my head up to check on the commotion.  At first glance I thought it was Roger letting someone know they were approaching a shallow area near their boat.  Then over the radio came an announcement by Roger, "Attention Tenacatita fleet, the mayor of Tenancatita has arrived."  I later learned that the "mayor" of Tenacatita is Robert Gleese on Harmony, along with first lady, Virginia.  The sound I had heard was Robert blowing on a conch shell.   We soon found out why Robert was elected mayor.  He was responsible for organizing many activities; one of which was the 1:00 p.m. swim to the beach most afternoons from the stern of Harmony.  Those who didn't swim, would take their dinghies to shore to join the shoreside activities which at times consists of a walk on the beach to the hotel and back, bocce ball and Mexican dominoes under one of the palapas with food and drink.  Fridays at 5:00 p.m. Robert hosts the Tenacatita dinghy raft-up where good food is passed around from dinghy to dinghy.  This is also a good time to share books and meet some of the other cruisers in the anchorage.

Getting to shore in Tenacatita requires a surf landing.  After our experience in Chemala I was prepared to be wet.  I had on my swimsuit and everything else was in a dry bag, including my prescription glasses.  We had watched the wave patterns for a long time on the boat and then again as we motored over to time our landing to catch the wave just at the right time.  Everything seemed to be going okay and then the next minute I was in the water looking at the bottom of the dinghy which had flipped over and the motor had stopped.  Michael and I quickly recovered in the shallow water and got the dinghy ashore.  We ran back out to grab our bags and shoes which were all floating.  About that time I realized I had lost my sunglasses and Michael had lost his prescription glasses.  We were looking for the glasses when some of the group appeared to let us know that one year there were nine pairs of glasses that were lost and only one recovered and that was because they saw the glasses as they went to the bottom and were able to grab them.  Oh well.  The big concern was getting the motor cleared of salt water and started again.

One of the nice things about the cruising community is the way everyone jumps in to help.  Three of the guys gave up their beers to help Michael start the motor to no avail.  Then Robert towed Michael and the dinghy back to the boat.  A happy ending to the story is that after 1 1/2 days of working on the motor and lots of moral support from others in the anchorage, the motor finally started.

Friday, we decided we weren't quite ready to leave Tenacatita yet, but we needed more provisions.  So, off across the bay to la Manzanilla on the dinghy along with Ann on Taking Flight.  I wasn't looking forward to a another surf landing, especially knowing we would have lots of bags of provisions, but on we went.  I am the worrier in our family and Ann said she is the worrier for her family.  Ann said if she wasn't worried then there really wasn't anything to be worried about.  Along the way Michael spotted a whale between us and the shore - to some it would be exciting - to me it was just another thing to worry about.  At any rate, we had a successful surf landing, a good shopping trip, lunch and a very successful launch and then a long trip back to the anchorage.

Our last day in the anchorage we had been reading about "Chippy" the friendly dolphin who is known to visit a few of the anchorages in the area.  Chippy got his hame because of the chip which is missing from his dorsal fin.  We had hardly put the cruising guide away when an announcement came over the radio that Chippy had been sited.  Sure enough, we looked out to see Chippy swimming around our boat.

So there you have it, how a week in Tenacatita can go by before you know it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Passage to Chamela

After a 334 mile, 57 hour passage from Los Frailes, at the tip of the Baja, traveling through three days and two nights in a more or less straight line (124 degrees magnetic) we arrived in Chamela  on mainland Mexico.  Chamela is a wide open bay approximately 100 miles south of Puerto Vallarta.  We were greeted a few miles out by the breaching of a humpback whale and, later, a sea turtle drifting in the current.  As the turtle passed our boat I looked back at him and he lifted his head to me as if to say “Don’t just stand there, throw me a line.”

A record was set for Odessa and crew as we sailed non-stop for 52 hours and a second record was set sailing on the jib alone for 33 hours.  The novice (like myself until recently) might wonder how two people make a passage of this length.  We each take 3 hour shifts changing at 3, 6, 9 and 12 around the clock.  Whoever is on watch is in charge of the boat making sure the boat stays on course, watching for other vessels and keeping a look at the engine temperature and battery level (if motoring).  The most challenging watch seems to be the midnight to 3:00 a.m. watch.  The crew member not on watch is typically down below trying to get a little sleep and rest and prepare a meal for the crew.  Passages are not my favorite part of cruising.  As one person put it, “It’s something to get through.”

While in Chamela we had lunch at a palapa on the beach where the menu consisted mainly of fish caught by local fishermen.  Following lunch, we walked into the village and were pleasantly surprised by the variety of supplies and food available at several small tiendas (stores) at which we purchased a few items.  When we returned to the beach it was time to experience our first dinghy surf launching.   I sat in the front while Karen and Roger helped Mike push the dinghy out.  As Mike rowed beyond the breaking surf, one of the waves caught us head on and drenched me head to toe and to a lesser extent Mike.  It was a somewhat sobering introduction to the reality of surf launching.  Lesson learned:  Don’t wear anything you don’t want to get wet.

This morning, our third morning at the anchorage, we awoke to dolphins, lazily swimming around our boat as we prepared to depart for Tenancatita, 30 miles further south.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Time to Leave La Paz

It's hard to believe we have been in La Paz for three weeks.  There is still so much to see and do here - it will have to wait until our return trip.  Odessa went back in the water on Wednesday and we have been busy re-provisioning and getting the boat ready for our departure tomorrow morning (Sunday) along with Roger and Karen on Meridian.

A place to stop for mango ice cream when the load
is too heavy and you need a break (like I did today).
When we were still in Seattle I remember naively asking cruisers - "What do you do with all of your free time?"  Until you have been out and cruising on your own, it is hard to understand how much time things take.  For instance, I spent the good part of yesterday and today grocery shopping and then trying to find a place to stow all of the things I bought.  Without a car and not speaking the language what used to be a simple errand can become a major chore.  Karen mentioned how easy it is when you have a regular refrigerator and freezer to just put things in it.  On a boat, there is a lot more planning and organizing so you know what you have and things can be reached.

The plan is to head to Bahia de los Muertos (where the dragging incident occurred), watch the weather and, hopefully, make a departure for the mainland on Monday.  The trip is estimated to take 60 hours to arrive in Chemala or Tenacatita.  That would put us arriving Wednesday or Thursday.

As soon as we have internet connection again we will be updating the blog.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Feliz Año Nuevo! from La Paz - translated: Happy New Year from "The Peace"

Odessa being hauled out at Marina Palmar

When all is said and done, the damage to Odessa was manageable.  As Cecil Lange, the surveyor says, we were very lucky.  No one was hurt and the damage to both boats is repairable.  Due to the holidays we were not able to have the boat hauled until after Christmas and the repairs are in process.  We expect to splash Odessa tomorrow.

In the meantime, we have taken the opportunity to explore the charming city of La Paz.  La Paz is a city of 275,000 and growing rapidly.  We are surprised to find so many Americans and Canadians making La Paz their home, many full-time and some for the winter months.

There is a wonderful cruising community which seems to be centered around Marina de La Paz where Club Cruceros is located.  We are now members - one of the benefits is to be able to receive mail at the clubhouse.  The problem being - not knowing when we will be back to pick it up.   A "net' every morning (except Sunday) at 8:00 a.m. on channel 22 on the VHF radio allows boaters (or non-boaters) an opportunity to hear the weather report, learn about local events, ask for assistance or announce items needed or for trade.  This is also the time to find out who is coming or going to the states or Canada to deliver mail and packages.  Coffee follows the net from 9:30 to 10:30 at the clubhouse.

Listening to a net on the SSB

Doing laundry has been a pleasant surprise, as it seems inpossible to find a self-operated laundrymat.  Instead, we leave our clothes and a few hours later we are able to pick up our laundry - clean, nicely folded and packaged for transit back to the boat - all for about what we would have paid had we done it ourselves.

A simple shopping trip can take all day when you are on foot, don't know where you are going and don't speak the language.  Grocery shopping is a good example.  Try asking for celery when you have left your "cheat sheet" at home and have to draw a picture.  I must say I was able to communicate this to the clerk, unfortunately, they did not have any.  By the way, "apio" is the Spanish word for "celery".

Being on shore affords us more opportunities to try the local restaurants.  We have found quite a few good ones.  The downside being that eating out cuts into the cruising kitty.  Our favorite discovery is arracharra meat - very spicy BBQ type meat similar to flank steak.  It makes wonderful tacos and our favorite place is Rancho Viejo.