Tuesday, May 5, 2009

February through April 2009

The last time you heard from us was mid February when we were in Barra de Navidad which is about 160 miles south of our home base in Puerto Vallarta. We started to work our way home on February 20 with three stops along the way before reaching Punta Mita early in the morning of February 28 where we anchored in front of our condo. Our passage by the dreaded Cabo Corrientes (sometimes called Mexico's Point Conception) was nowhere near the challenge we encountered last year during the same passage. Staying comfortably anchored in a rolly Punta Mita became quite a challenge so before nightfall we headed east to the marina in La Cruz. While enroute we were treated to a thrilling tail splashing show put on by a mother whale and her calf. We were able to get as close as we dared as the whale splashed her tail over and over, each time with a tremendous thud on the surface of the water. After a while we saw this little tail come up and do the same thing. Very exciting for us to witness this unexpected show put on by two large residents of Banderas Bay.

We settled into life ashore while getting ready for John's college friends Bill & Bonnie Nurre and Bruce & Nancy Barley to spend time in Punta Mita. They stayed in a condo close to ours and by the time they left we had learned all kinds of new things about the area in which we live. This due to their outgoing personalities and thorough exploration of the whole area. It's crazy when visitors end up knowing more about the local area than we do. Super time was had by all.

Three days after their departure we had Destiny ready for more adventures and we took off, loosely traveling with our friends Louis & Laura on Cirque, with the ultimate goal of visiting the astoundingly beautiful Sea of Cotez. Our first leg was a day trip to Matanchen Bay which is just south of the town of San Blas into which Spanish galleons once sailed. From there it was an overnight trip to Mazatlan. During this leg we encountered an engine fuel leak, discovered just as we were entering Mazatlan. Through other cruising friends who were already there we found a mechanic who was able to diagnose and repair the problem. We also had him install our spare alternator as the old one sounded like it was about to give up the ghost. He and his partner were so professional that we decided to use their services to haul the boat on our return trip to Puerto Vallarta.

Three days later we departed Mazatlan for the sometimes bouncy overnight trip to an anchorage on the Baja side called Muertos (death in English)and from there it was a day trip on into La Paz. We had been told that the wind can come up at night in the Sea of Cortez and we were initiated the first night in Muertos when it gusted up to 35 knots. We were not really worried but as you will later read we should have been.

Upon arriving in La Paz we hooked up with 30 other boats to participate in a Latitude 38 sponsored event known as Sea of Cortez Sailing Week which started on April 1. This consisted of informal racing on four legs of 20 odd miles each and overnight stays in two beautiful anchorages. The sailing conditions could not have been more perfect with off the wind sailing in good breezes on all four of the legs. Although clearly not among the fastest boats participating, Destiny was never far behind the leaders and our red and white spinnaker really helped us out. Clearly one of the best sailing and socializing events we've ever done.

When the event was over we were back in La Paz (a town we very much like) to get ready for more adventures further into the Sea of Cortez. Our first adventure was anchoring in La Paz where the ever changing winds and tidal currents, not to mention other boats close at hand, make it a real challenge. We thought our anchoring experiences in the wind and currents of San Francisco Bay would give us the background we needed for La Paz. Wrong!! We could not take the anxiety anymore and went into a marina at 9:30 PM on our last night there and slept like babies.

We departed La Paz on April 9 for Ensenada Grande about 27 miles to the northeast. This was just the first of many beautiful anchorages that we've enjoyed in the Sea. The water in most all places is a clear emerald green with white sand beaches. The swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and boat bottom cleaning are among the best we've encountered in Mexico. Because there are so many attractive anchorages close by we've tended to move around much more to explore as much as possible while we're here. Compared to mainland Mexico the anchorages are generally quite calm and dinghy landings are easy without any kind of surf to survive. On the other hand, the wind can come up strongly from almost any direction so it's not unusual for the boat to turn much more than 360 degrees over any 24 hour period.

Since we've been in 16 anchorages we cannot describe them all but here are some highlights (actually, maybe low lights):

San Evaristo. Although there was a 14 knot breeze, we were enjoying ourselves on Easter Sunday afternoon when we noticed Destiny dragging. We got the engine fired up and went to pull the anchor only to find to our complete dismay that the anchor was not attached to the end of the chain. Had this happened when we were off the boat or sleeping at night, it would have been a real disaster probably resulting in loss of the boat, or at the very least serious damage. Our very fancy and expensive Italian made stainless steel swivel shackle had broken. We re-anchored with our spare, close to the place where we thought the anchor might be and spent the rest of the afternoon recovering and trying to figure out how to retrieve this bulky 55 pound object buried in the sand. The next day we used our GPS to spot where we thought it might be and then placed a marker over the spot. Gilly was the first to swim out there and found the anchor in short order. John then dove down in about 13' of water and attached a line and we then pulled Destiny over the top of the anchor and wrestled it on board. Had we not been able to recover the anchor it probably would have meant cutting out the balance of our cruising plans for this year. We've since heard of two other boats in Mexico with the same type of shackles that recently broke resulting the loss of their anchors. We strongly recommend to anyone using this type of shackle to toss it in the garbage. We were sooo lucky.

Isla Coronados. The Sea is a fantastic place but bees can be a problem. We were taking an afternoon nap (something we seem to do often) with our bedroom door closed as the generator was running when bees took over the boat. We opened the door to find them all over the main cabin. While John hid away from the action, Gilly quickly went on the offensive and ended up killing more than 100 of the pesky critters. She looked like a swatting fool and did a fantastic job saving her man.

As this is being written we're in an anchorage known as Los Gatos making our way back to La Paz and then on to Mazatlan which requires an overnight trip across the Sea of Cortez. Our Destiny will be hauled there to have the bottom sanded and painted with hopefully not too many other items to be done. After that it's back to Punta Mita where we're very much looking forward to a visit from David & Susan Sherill in early June.


realestate680.com said...

Great story. It's living proof Italians make good leather coats, stained glass windows and food! Best regards, from Chris and me.


The Crew said...

All too true and they should stick with what they know, however, the American version of this shackle has also failed.