Friday, March 28, 2008

Publishing today's email...

If you've read all these emails, please scroll down to the photos that follow....

The last time you heard from us we were enjoying Tenacatita Bay for the second time before heading back to Puerto Vallarta. During this stay there were large swells coming through the anchorage and crashing onto the beach with an almost deafening roar. Because of this, dinghy landings on the beach were all but impossible so we were sequestered on the boat until the swells eased up a bit which finally happened after 3 days. We were ready to get off the boat for a walk along the beach and a tall cool one at the local palapa restaurant so we bravely took off and landed the dinghy without any problems. Embolded by our success in landing, John thought getting out would be a "piece of cake" since we could see what was coming at us even though Gilly did not show the same degree of optimism. As we stood on the beach getting ready to go we saw another dinghy going out and literally flying over four large and very steep waves. The trick (we're told) is to wait for a calm period as the waves come in sets so that's what we did. We got in the dinghy and took off as fast as we could but all of a sudden a big wave was on us and we got tossed out into the water. John had not fastened on the "Kill switch" to his wrist so the outboard kept going, but fortunately at slow speed and the dinghy came back to John who was able to reach up and stop the engine. He jumped in and made it out through the surf but had to leave Gilly who soon after swam out through the surf and got into the dinghy. With most of the anchorage watching us we provided the afternoon's entertainment, but fortunately no one was hurt and we'll try it again with hopefully better results next time.

We departed Tenacatita with calm seas in the early morning of March 1st headed for Chemela 44 miles to the northwest. Our plan was to stay there for a few days before making it the rest of the way back to Puerto Vallarta. The large swells were once again running and we found out from other cruisers that the anchorage was very rolly and dinghy landings impossble so we decided to continue on to Cabo Corrientes (Cape of Currents), another 50 odd miles further north, which is the entrance to Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta. The weather forecast was for little or no wind so we felt confident in continuing on through the night. Unfortunately forecasts are not always accurate and we got slamed with 24 knot+ winds and steep seas. The boat handled it very well and we got some good experience taking only 1 hour watches throughout the night. We arrived off our Punta Mita condo at 6:00 AM dropped the anchor and slept until 10:00.

We've since being doing more work to the condo which has turned out better than we ever anticipated and had a wonderful 9 day visit from Scott, Hillary and the grandkids as well as Nick making it down for a few days.

This weekend we are heading to La Paz with our condo neighbors Richard Spindler and Dona
aboard their 63' catamaran where we'll do something called La Paz Race Week. Should be a lot of fun and we're very much looking forward to it. We'll then take the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan and then a bus back to Puerto Vallarta.

We'll soon be posting some new photos to our blog later today.

Publishing our February 26th email

Sorry it's been almost 3 weeks since we last brought everyone up to date with our travels. The stress of retired life is such that we don't always get around to the most important things we should be doing each day. In fact, we're not sure what we actually do as the days just fly by, and before we know it another sunset marks the onset of a star filled night making us promise to, "Let people know what we're doing".
Enough for shabby excuses... We departed Tenacatita on February 11 in the company of our new friends on two other boats for the short 12 mile trip further south to Barra de Navidad. Unlike our nice sail from Chemela to Tenacatita there was no wind so it was motoring all the way presenting a good opportunity to charge our always hungry batteries. One year ago we visited Barra de Navidad with David and Anneka Dury aboard Freedom so we had a reasonable idea of what to expect. On that trip we stayed in the upscale marina adjacent to a 5 star resort hotel with full privileges to all the facilities. However, on this trip we were planning to anchor in the nearby lagoon which we understood to be muggy and loaded with bugs ready to suck the blood right out of us. Our plan was to fuel up with diesel, fill our water tanks and stay for maybe 2 days before heading back to Tenacatita. The great thing about cruising is being able to change plans on a whim.
The Barra lagoon reminded us of the California Delta which we've always enjoyed. The water is about the same color (but salt rather than fresh), it's shallow with a mud bottom, nice and warm, the wind comes up every afternoon and there's no rolling in the calm conditions. We looked around and felt so comfortable that we ended up spending 2 weeks rather than 2 days. And, the bugs never really attacked us as advertised. The afternoon wind is sometimes brisk so some unattended boats end up dragging anchor (called the "Barra Shuffle"). A call goes out on the radio and a whole fleet of dinghies quickly descend on the wayward vessel to keep it off the surrounding shoals or other boats. The same thing happens as boats stray from the narrow unmarked channel into the adjacent shoals when entering and departing the lagoon. Great entertainment for all except those receiving the help.
The little town of Barra de Navidad is a low key tourist destination with small hotels and plenty of inexpensive sidewalk restaurants. We ended up going there at least every other day to mostly wander around enjoying the ambiance and resupplying our always dwindling supplies of wine, beer and rum. We have not had any luck catching a Dorado (otherwise know as Mahi-Mahi and Dolphin fish), but there is plenty of VERY fresh Dorado available in Barra for much less than we'd ever pay at home. No need for us to put out our fishing lines for a while.
All good things must come to an end so we departed Barra on February 23 for Tenacatita as we begin our trek back to Puerto Vallarta. We had a nice breeze from the SE and ended up screaming into Tenacatita Bay at more than 8 knots. We'll stay here for several more days and make one more stop before reentering Banderas Bay and readying our condo for Hillary, Nick and family to visit (Yippee!).

Publishing our February 6th email

We departed the small anchorage of Ipala at 0730 on January 26 bound for Chamela 52 miles further south. Not enough wind for sailing so we motored the whole way and were unlucky enough to catch two large Toro's (otherwise known as Jack Crevalle). With the first one we thought we had a real catch until Gilly started to fillet the large fish and found nothing but very dark red (almost purple) meat. We found out they're really bad eating so we ended up tossing it back which we really hated to do. We hooked another one, had real trouble removing the hook but we're finally able to release it.
We found Chamela to be a very pleasant, although a bit rolly, anchorage. There are several palapa restaurants on the beach with $1.00 to $1.20 Pacifico's so this gave us an excuse to further hone our dinghy landing skills through the surf. Fortunately we never crashed and burned getting on the beach, but we did have one case where the dinghy took on lots of water on the way out so we had to go back empty in it out and try again. We're making good progress, but it is a bit nerve racking every time we do it. We ended up spending time with new friends who also have Catalina's which participated with us in the Baha Ha Ha from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas back in November. We explored the little village together with each of us contributing a bit of knowledge to assist the others in finding what they needed. Lots of fun to share this experience.
We departed Chamela on February 1 in the company of our friends on Moody Blues (Catalina 50) and Jammin (Catalina 42) for the 30 mile trip to Tenacatita with an unusual 11-13 knot breeze from the southeast. It was an absolutely fantastic sail as we tacked our way down the coast under warm and pleasant conditions. We had our fishing lines out and ended up catching two more Toro's which after some difficulty we released to be caught by someone else. We're beginning to think these are the only fish in this part of the world as our friends were catching the same thing.
We were fortunate enough to visit Tenacatita one year ago with David and Anneke Dury aboard Freedom, which is our all time favorite boat. We knew then that we wanted to come back and spend much more time in this very special place. The anchorage is large enough to accommodate many boats but right now there are only about 30 with people coming and going each day. Although there is an all inclusive hotel at the very far east end of the beach, there is nothing else except one small palapa on the beach. No provisions of any kind are available here. On Sunday in the company of 5 other dinghys we did what is known as the "Jungle Cruise". There is an estuary on the west end of the beach with just enough water coming out so that under the right tidal conditions it's possible to float through and then proceed about 2 miles up the river into thick vegetation that ultimately becomes a canopy blocking out the sun. Lots of wildlife to see along the way and then it ends in large lagoon where we beached the dinghys. We then walked a short distance to palapa restaurants on a nice beach where we enjoyed lunch with the 9 others who did the trip. All and all a fun trip that exceeded our expectations.
Yesterday, with our friends from Moody Blues and Jammin, we did a totally different kind of dinghy excursion this time going across Tenacatita Bay to the 4 mile distant village of La Manzanilla. We left at 10:00 AM in calm seas with no wind and after a quick ride Gilly did get completely drenched with our less than perfect beaching but we were able to walk away from it. La Manzanilla is one of the typical villages that we love so much, supported by panga fishing and some degree of tourism. While enjoying what was probably the best lunch we've had in Mexico, the sea conditions were building to at least 25+ knots so no way we were going to tackle that in our dinghys, but it gave us more time to explore La Manzanilla and return to the same restaurant for a light dinner while things became a bit more suitable for the trip home. While assisting us in launching our dinghy through the surf, Dave from Jammin stepped on a sting ray and received a very serious wound. We know this is extremely painful and today after proper treatment and antibiotics to hold off any kind of infection he seems to be doing as well as can be expected.
Speaking of medical issues, Gilly's elbow seems to finally be on the road to full recovery. The swelling and pain have much subsided so we're hopeful this marks the end of this episode in our cruising adventure.
As soon as we get to an internet connection, we will be posting photos to our blog.

Publishing our January 25th email...

Sorry it's been so long since we've brought you up to date with our adventures in Mexico. For the last six weeks it's been fairly mundane as we've been living in our Punta Mita condo while working to furnish and take possession of the place. The developer has done a fantastic job and most everything has exceeded our expectations. When we first saw the vacant lot two years ago and put down a deposit we wondered how in the world this strange looking piece of overgrown beach front property could ever be turned into what has become a gorgeous six story structure. Our two bedroom two bath unit is on the third floor with a great view of the pool, palapa and the ocean. Furnishing the place has been a bit of an adventure but gave us a good opportunity to explore Puerto Vallarta while trying to find everything from bar stools to bedroom furniture. With most of this now behind us we're back on Destiny which after six years of living aboard truly seems like our home.
While working away on the condo we kept the boat at Marina Vallarta which is in a super location with shops, restaurants and other amenities located close by but the marina itself is in a sad state of disrepair. Security is non-existent and the marina staff avoids anything that might cause them to do a bit of work. Fortunately we had only a few small problems with the boat while we were away doing other things.
Last Saturday we planned to sail Destiny to Punta Mita and anchor off the condo for a day or two before heading further south in Mexico. Unfortunately Gilly's elbow flared up again and the original doctor who treated her could not see her until late Monday afternoon. After seeing her he declared that she needed to go back on antibiotics and start icing the elbow which she has been religiously doing and it all seems to be working. So Tuesday we took off on a brisk sail to Punta Mita and caught two sierra fish while pounding to weather in 19 knots with gusts to 22. Gilly quickly filleted these great eating fish and it was sashimi for the crew of Destiny that night.
Early Thursday morning we departed Punta Mita for the 40 mile trip to the fishing village of Ipala where we are presently the only boat anchored. The anchorage is only a 1/4 mile wide with a few palapa restaurants on the small beach and neat looking little homes in the village. Sorry that we cannot send along any photos until we are able to get an internet connection which may be some time from now.
At every turn we have found the people of Mexico to be very warm and friendly. We feel honored to be guests in their country and fortunate to have the ability to explore this wonderful land.

4th and last stop. Barra de Navidad. Probably our favorite spot.

La Manzanilla - a wonderful little town on the other side of Tenacatita Bay.

We, with two other couples, dinghy'd the four miles across the bay to visit this little town. We were stuck there for 9 hours as the wind piped up to 25+ knots. This was where our friend, Dave from Jammin, was stung by a stingray.

3rd stop - Tenacatita and the jungle cruise

Our great sail from Chemala to Tenacatita - some super wild life shots compliments of our friend Susea McGearhart....

2nd stop - Chemala - we really enjoyed this anchorage

January 22, 08 - heading south: First stop, Ipala...

December '07/January '08 in Mexico

Early December - Banderas Bay Blast