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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Las Hadas, Manzanillo

We're living the high life at the formerly isolated resort made (in)famous by Bo Derek's debut in the 1979 movie, "10." It's now surrounded by condos, luxury homes, and more hotels but it's still very beautiful, even if it's not as posh as I imagined it. We joined friends for dinner at an Italian restaurant overlooking the Las Hadas marina and I felt overdressed in a very simple frock and sandals. Maybe the hotel guests are ordering room service and the restaurant was filled with people who had driven in from other, more casual, resorts.

The Tuesday after Christmas we pried ourselves out of the Barra lagoon mud to motorsail to the Manzanillo bay area. Our first stop was a small bay called El Carazol just inside the northern point where you turn in to enter the larger bay. Although it's not very well protected from the ocean swell this has always been a favorite spot of ours. There is nothing onshore making it secluded and quiet - no crashing surf (or at least not the rumbles of thunder we could hear outside the Barra lagoon), no barking dogs, no roosters crowing, and no yells from panga fishermen netting bait fish at dawn. There are one or two pangas which quietly set nets on the reef at sunset and pull them in at first light. And there are snorkeling pangas and day trippers in small boats who come in to snorkel the same reef which is being fished overnight. But it's mostly peaceful and we had a nice, if greenish, snorkel ourselves one afternoon.

On Thursday we motored a few miles across the bay for our first ever visit to Las Hadas. We've been put off by the exorbitant dinghy dock fees in the past, but we decided to pay the price for the convenience of staying dry and having easier access for provisioning. Currently the daily fee is 200 pesos (something less than $20) or 800 pesos for a week. This includes access to the hotel pools, beach, gym, and discounts for several of the restaurants and bars. The best part is that you tell the dock master the number of people you want on the "pool pass" which she issues to you. So we said we wanted ours to be good for a total of six people and now we can invite our local friends to visit us here. We're not normally pool rats but we'll take advantage of swimming in clear water, lounging on chaises with nice big hotel towels, and ordering drinks from the pool bar now and then.

We're looking forward to having a good view of fireworks around the bay from the anchorage tonight. It'll be a miserable night for Ziggy but I'm sure he'll find a deep dark place in which to hide until it's over. It will probably be well past midnight until the music and fire crackers taper off so we plan on having a quiet New Year's day!

Linda

{GMST}19|06.110|N|104|20.708|W|Las Hadas|Las Hadas{GEND}

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Barra de Navidad

The number of anchored boats here in the Barra lagoon has doubled from the dozen that were here when we arrived two weeks ago. Over the past few days they've been scooting in the narrow channel and picking their way carefully through shallow water (literally 8-12' - or less, if a boat strays out of bounds) to attend the annual Christmas cruiser's potluck dinner at the Sands Hotel. For a per person cost of 50 pesos we will have deep-fried turkeys served up in a tropical outdoor seating area accompanied by delicious treats pulled from the depths of hard to reach lockers, or searched for high and low in Mexican stores. Yes, you can find canned pumpkin, yams, and cranberry sauce - if you look hard enough.

With Ziggy and Nakia once again under the watchful eyes of Barb and Gary on S/V Hoorah, we took an hour bus ride to spend a long weekend in Bahia Santiago for a Posada party at SolCasa. It was a sleep deprived "lost" weekend full of good things like homemade lasagna, my first "Cubano" torta (a grilled sandwich chock full of just about everything - including hot dogs - which threatened to fall apart in my hands), and reunions with the wonderful people we met at the 4-day PATA spay/neuter clinic last March. The Posada is an annual Christmas party and get-together for all the volunteers who work tirelessly to provide free spay/neuter clinics for dogs and cats throughout neighborhoods in the greater Manzanillo area (http://www.patamanzanillo.com - a donation would make a great gift for that animal lover in your life!). Stan and MJ provide the venue and drinks and everyone else brings food for about 35 people. An interesting cultural divide is when the American and Canadian ex-pats arrive at 7 PM bearing desserts and appetizers, and the Mexican locals arrive at 9:30 with the main courses. Then all of the former have left by midnight and the last of the latter have to be told, "It's 4:30 AM; party's over!" before they'll call it a night.

Oh, and pinatas (sorry, I can't type the cedilla that should go under that "n"). One of the locals donated five pinatas and John and I offered to fill them as our contribution to the party. MJ and I grabbed our backpacks and walked to the nearest dulceria (candy and party supply shop). Assuming there would be few if any kids at the party, I figured that the pinatas were mostly just for show and a little adult hilarity, and that there would be tons of candy left over that we would be forced to polish off. So I chose mostly fruit and caramel flavored hard candies, deliberately avoiding all of the "enchilada" (spicy) flavored ones. John and I inadvertently tried some of the those our first year in Mexico (think mango enchilada) and have never acquired a taste for them. MJ tried to tell me that the locals would sweep up all the candy and would really prefer the enchilada variety but I didn't her take her seriously (are you kidding?). John insisted that small toys should go in the pinatas so we bought a few of those as well. Well, someone should just hand the locals the money and let them choose the candy because those pinatas were all for them and we heard later that no one ever puts toys or so many fruit candies in them! They were doing full body sprawls on the floor to get as much candy as they could sweep up (for their nieces and nephews...). It was all in fun and everyone was grateful to Stan and MJ for holding the party under the thatched palapa roof of the beautiful new addition to SolCasa.

Other than our brief road trip we've been enjoying the peace and tranquility of life in the lagoon. Sunrises here are some of my favorite in all of Mexico because they are filled with birds! Huge flocks of white Great Egrets fly out of their nighttime roosts somewhere in among the western mangroves, and then over the lagoon - and the anchored boats - to perch in the northern mangroves, warming up in the rising sun before feeding on the muddy flats surrounding the lagoon at low tide. They are joined by smaller flocks of Snowy Egrets, both White and White-Faced Ibis (the former all white with black wing tips and the latter a solid dark brownish color), and the usual Great Blue Heron, Cormorant, Tern, Magnificent Frigatebird, Pelican, and (later in the day) Black Vulture. There are Black Skimmers, Osprey, a few American Oystercatchers, and we even had a Kingfisher land on our wind indicator. There are Roseate Spoonbills whose bright color I can just make out through the binoculars on the far reaches of the lagoon. The only thing we haven't seen yet this year is the Mexican Eagle which was usually also looking for fish on the sand flats of the canals. Unfortunately Ziggy has managed to catch two swallows which made the mistake of landing on Nakia. I've put red Christmas garland on the bow pulpit and forward lifelines in an attempt to discourage them from their favorite roosting area (as well as to help Nakia look festive over the holidays!).

The small beach resort town of Barra is full of souvenir shops and restaurants, as well as Canadian and U.S. license plates. It and the larger neighboring town of Melaque are favorites of the snowbirds, and many beautiful second homes abound here. There was some damage to ocean view restaurants on the narrow bay-front peninsula from hurricane Jova, but we're told that much of it was from large ocean swells rolling in and washing away the spit before then. We appreciate conveniences here such as water delivery by panga from Maria's tienda, and the Taxi Aquatico panga service which, for 25 pesos per person round trip, saves us from having to use our dinghy when the NW winds blast through the lagoon in the afternoons. Yesterday was our first big blow since we arrived (a high of 20 knots was recorded by a boat in the very protected marina, so we imagine it was even higher out here in the lagoon) and by some miracle none of the newly arrived boats dragged anchor. Going aground and/or dragging anchor are time honored traditions of the Barra lagoon although, knock on wood, Nakia has yet to experience either.

We wish everyone Feliz Navidad and Prospero Nuevo Ano, and thank those of you who have emailed us holiday updates of your own!

Linda (and John and Ziggy too)

{GMST}19|11.514|N|104|40.468|W|Barra de Navidad|Barra de Navidad{GEND}

Friday, December 09, 2011

Punta Perula, Bahia Chamela

Along with Punta Mita, Punta Perula is now one of our favorite anchorages. It too is a small beach resort (even smaller than Mita) at the end of a road far from the main highway. There are a few hotels including the Playa Dorada at the eastern end of the beach. Anchored out in front of the hotel their internet reaches Nakia for a very reasonable 50 pesos/day or 75 pesos/week. Normally we would be tucked into the western edge of the beach for protection form the swell but conditions were calm enough to stay the night here last night.

We actually arrived at Isla Passavera on Sunday after an overnight sail from Mita, and we came the two miles to Perula on Monday to do some shopping. We looked like rookies when we blew a surf landing and ended up with wet butts and a dinghy full of saltwater. It was simply impatience and bad timing, but we were experienced enough to have all our belongings in a dry bag. We drained the dinghy and walked into town to see what was new since our last visit. We noticed a few houses, RV parks, and the Playa Dorada which we didn't remember from the '07/'08 season. There's a tsunami warning siren in the town square. Our favorite tiendas were open but a number of shops had their doors closed. There's a nice new cafe and dive shop on the corner of what we always referred to as the "nursing home." A Frenchman and his Mexican wife are running the business, both speak excellent English, and they offer Wi-Fi at the cafe.

M/V Lazy Days told us about road access to town from a protected cove with a small sand beach if we wanted to avoid doing another surf landing. We had made it off the beach just fine with our shopping and John had even done a solo round trip without incident on Wednesday. But yesterday we decided to check out the road for hiking opportunities. The cove is a bit rocky but we found a narrow clear approach into the beach and pulled the dinghy high up off the sand. We set off past a ramshackle abandoned house to a single track, dirt lane leading to a large warehouse type structure from which came sounds of sawing, hammering, and a loud radio. We walked away from the warehouse towards town and I finally got a closer look at the RV palapa visible from the anchorage. I've admired this for years as it's a pretty little clearing halfway up the hillside with a nice view of the beach. On it sits a full sized RV under a thatched "car port" surrounded by close-cropped green grass, shrubs and flowers, and a barbed-wire fence. We've never seen lights on at night or people there, but it's obviously well tended.

From there we followed a fork in the road that ended up taking us all the way out to the open palapa visible by boat as you round the point to enter the bay from the north. This was very intriguing because the workmanship was lovely with rounded edges and river rock detailing on the concrete foundation, and a built-in concrete double bed under the round thatched roof. It's completely open-air and the "yard" surrounding it has been cleared. There's nice rock wall along one side of the "driveway" with newly planted bougainvillea and (already dying) trees. It has gorgeous views of the ocean with beach access to a lovely cove from the rough road leading to the point. The major drawbacks are the distance from a paved road, no water, no electricity, no sewage, etc. - but it is breathtaking!

We were thrilled to be able to walk the entire length of this road without the usual "Propiedad Privada" or "Prohibido" signs preventing us from going farther. Things are still very green with flowers and butterflies to entertain us along the way. We never found the cows that left their pies for us to step around, but we did catch a glimpse of two coatimundis scurrying off into the dense underbrush. Their tracks were everywhere on the dusty road, but even so we were surprised to have actually seen any.

One of the crews we met on the Blast arrived late Wednesday and left before we got back from our hike, but we should see them again in Barra. Mazatlan shrimpers have been anchoring for the day and leaving before sunset. A small Navy boat appears to be taking a break here. John suggested I bake a cake for them so we took that over yesterday morning and thanked them for their service. We were very aware of the fact that we were two foreigners coming alongside a military vessel, unannounced, in a small boat, bearing foil wrapped objects as we approached. Never would have happened in the U.S.

Except for the green ocean water full of organic stringy stuff (not conducive to swimming) we are loving Mexico again!

Linda

{GMST}19|35.152|N|105|07.608|W|Punta Perula|Bahia Chamela{GEND}

Monday, December 05, 2011

Banderas Bay Blast (11/30-12/2, 2011)

We were starting to have thoughts about lunch last Wednesday when we noticed a 65' catamaran moving through the anchorage at Punta de Mita. As long time fans of the San Francisco sailing rag, Latitude 38, we immediately recognized it as "Profligate" belonging to Richard Spindler, the magazine's founder and Grand Poobah. Richard drove the big cat up next to Nakia and asked us if we were interested in sailing with them to La Cruz for the first of three days of the Banderas Bay Blast. (The Blast is a charity event benefiting local area children who might not otherwise be able to attend school.) We said "Sure!" and scrambled to get ourselves ready while he waited for his partner, Donna, and the rest of the paying guests to be delivered by panga. Fifteen minutes later we got in our dinghy which was trailing behind Nakia. Richard backed the now enormous looking cat (with something like a 25' beam) towards us until we could hop onto the steps of one of the hulls. And so began three days of sailing on Banderas Bay.

Being so spontaneous, the first day held the most excitement for us. We met the rest of the volunteer crew for that day, most of whom turned out to be non-sailors out for an adventure. We also had our first introduction to the boat and how to help sail it. Richard was in charge of the helm and called out directions for whatever sail trim was needed, even as he shot photos of other boats for the magazine. Donna patiently showed us where things were and what to do for each maneuver. As the more experienced crew for that particular day we stayed on our toes for the downwind sail to La Cruz marina. John mostly raised sails and trimmed spinnaker, while I assisted with the main sheet and traveler, and generally went to wherever I was needed.

Richard had reminded us to bring bus fare for the trip back to Mita after the finish. We also had in the back of our minds the question of how we would get from shore to Nakia. I told John that's what made it an adventure and he reminded me that an adventure is nothing but poor planning. We knew that the last resort was a swim out to Nakia but we hoped for a ride from a fishing panga going out for the night. It was after dark by the time we arrived at the fishermen's harbor where we found a panga off-loading charter guests. The driver agreed to take us out to our boat. This is where we made the classic mistake of not negotiating a price before stepping into the vehicle. And maybe we shouldn't even have asked at all, but just jumped off onto Nakia and waved our thanks, because the guy wanted 200 pesos (about 15 USD). Considering Nakia was anchored right outside the harbor entrance this was outrageous. We gave him 100 and told him that was all we had as we stepped off the panga. He then moved a couple of boat lengths forward of Nakia, cut his engines, and proceeded to clean the day's catch. Even 100 pesos seemed steep for a trip he would have made without us aboard!

After we had made the recommended donation to the charity event on our first day, we were free to join the boat for the next two days of racing. Those days were a blur of new names and faces amid light air sailing tactics. We never got to see Profligate's full potential as our speed remained well below 10 knots. But John loves sailing on boats bigger and faster than Nakia and, even though the "racing" was all in fun, he enjoys the challenge and tactics of out-maneuvering another boat. On the legs from La Cruz back to Punta Mita and then Mita to Nuevo Vallarta we exchanged email addresses with new friends, some of whom we might be seeing again in anchorages farther south.

We'd like to thank Richard for inviting us aboard and especially Donna for making us feel so useful. I commented that it must get tiresome to have to go over everything with each new batch of crew, but she graciously replied that we had been lots of help and had made her job easier. It was great fun and we appreciated the opportunity to sail with them.

For pictures and more detailed reports about the Blast on 'Lectronic Latitude, start at this link and work forwards or backwards by date from there:

http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2011-12-02

Linda

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Day Sail out of Punta Mita

Tuesday morning we prepared the boat for an overnight trip south to Chamela. When the breeze came up at 1 PM we scrambled to get underway and were soon sailing along on a gentle swell and a barely riffled ocean surface. It was perfect whale watching weather and we sighted five unique animals, two of which made repeated and relatively close-up appearances. I also particularly enjoy slow sailing on flat water because I can see very small things like jelly fish in the 2-3 feet of the water's surface. Yesterday's jellies were 4-inch strings of small beads which we call "string of pearls" even though we don't know for sure if they are the stinging variety.

The breeze felt a little cool standing in the shade of the main sail. We've had a variety of weather conditions over the past few days (or at least, what we call "weather" in Mexico where there is no weather to speak of during the winter!). One night we had a heavy dew fall and I was able to do a poor man's boat wash, wiping the boat down with a rag and wringing out dirt and saltwater with the fresh water provided by Nature. The next day was so cloudy and windy that I got cold sitting in the cockpit listening to John play his ukulele at sunset. The day after that was clear and sunny with no breeze at all, and noticeably warmer water when we jumped in for our late afternoon "swim" (aka bath). Tuesday's hourly recorded water temps in the log out on the bay ranged from 78.4 to 80.1 degrees.

As the wind slowly died John made popcorn for a late afternoon snack. By the time we finished eating Nakia was barely making 2.5 knots and there was no wind in sight. John got on the phone to Hoorah and learned that they had motored the entire way to Chamela the night before. Then he called Stan for a forecast, who confirmed windless conditions for that stretch of coastline for the next few days. We fired up the engine and, deciding that 2.5 hours of motoring back to Mita would cost less than the 20 hours it would take to continue motoring south, we turned Nakia around to head back across the bay.

All in all we felt it had been a pleasurable outing and we had no regrets about "wasting" a day going nowhere. So when we started passing small groups of dolphins I was over the moon with excitement because the day just kept getting better and better. The first few were busy feeding and didn't stick around to bow ride for long. But they were beautiful spotted dolphins, covered in white freckles and small in size. While we were watching for more dolphins a butterfly passed us and this time I could clearly see that it was a Monarch. Every evening before sunset we watch butterflies of all colors and sizes fly through the anchorage headed to shore. But until we were actually motoring at 5 knots alongside one I hadn't been able to confirm John's feeling that the bigger ones were Monarchs. I couldn't believe that something so small (as John said, "with a 2-inch waterline") was so easily passing us.

Another dolphin was headed for our bow and we raced up to see if it would stay longer than the others had. This was a big bottlenose which was joined by two more swimming right up against Nakia's bow just below the surface. As we watched them watching us and barrel rolling in our bow wave, we were fascinated to see that two of the dolphins had remoras attached to them. The interesting thing was how the remora would appear to lose hold but was actually sliding around the dolphin's body as it rolled through the water. We were surprised that the remoras managed to keep a hold of the fast swimming dolphins. One by one our visitors eventually peeled off until the last one surfaced to take a big breath (splashing my leg a little in the process), and then disappeared with the others.

The sun was setting, we had one more good look at a big, black, glistening humpback's dorsal fin and then its tail fluke, and panga fishermen were out with flashing lights in the water. It wasn't long after dark before we were threading our way through the anchor lights of other sailboats to tuck into one of our favorite anchorages again.

Linda

{GMST}20|46.026|N|105|30.980|W|Punta Mita|Punta Mita{GEND}

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sayulita

You may be asking, why did John have to take Nakia out to Punta de Mita on November 18, and why was Linda in such a hurry to take the bus out there the next morning? The answer is we had another social engagement on our calendar involving a casita in Sayulita, about 10 miles NE of Punta de Mita's northern flank. The rental house is owned by cruising friends who had invited us to be their guests if we ever wanted to take a break from Nakia. So John organized a get together with Eric and Sherrell (S/V Sarana), who would drive their Toyota Dolphin camper down from Mazatlan, and Stan and MJ (SolCasa), who would drive up from Santiago Bay and give us a ride. We were leaving Nakia anchored at Punta de Mita so that Gary and Barb (S/V Hoorah) could feed Ziggy for us while we were away. They have two cats of their own and have watched Z. for us before.

After I got home Saturday morning I repacked my things for a four night get away, and Hoorah came over for a refresher briefing on the care and feeding of the beast. John ferried me and all of our vacation stuff (ukulele, computer, novel, snorkel gear, playing cards, freshly ground coffee, Tahitian rum, and Mexican snacks - salty dried peas, chickpeas, and fava beans) to shore where I settled in at El Coral restaurant. He returned to Nakia to raise the dinghy out of the water, and called Hoorah to hitch a ride to shore with them. We bought lunch for our cat sitters and were soon joined by Stan and MJ, who were happy to take a lunch break themselves before hitting the road again.

Yay, road trip! Well, for John and me it was only a 15 minute drive to a town we had sailed past exactly one week earlier. Sayulita is known as an artsy surf town full of tourists and it lived up to that reputation and then some. It may have been even busier that usual because we had inadvertently scheduled our stay over a holiday weekend celebrating the 1910 Dia de Revolucion. There was a local parade Sunday morning with kids shouting "Viva Zapata," "Viva Pancho Villa," "Viva La Revolucion," and "Viva Mexico!" They even staged mock battles complete with cannon fire, gun shots, and wounded revolutionaries being carried off by stretcher bearers.

We ate and drank ourselves silly with the following high (and low) lights. Buddha Mar, where we had a long wait for an average meal. Apparently they had recently changed the menu/kitchen from sushi to basic Mexican, and we were the only ones seated in the large dining area. As we waited patiently for our food to arrive, the very young, very blonde waitress periodically checked to make sure we were doing okay, punctuating every sentence she uttered with, "Awesome!" We were never offered chips and salsa or anything to make up for the delay. Choco Banana was always packed for breakfast but our food arrived lukewarm, was nothing special, and we had to ask for tortillas to replace the non-descript white bread which was served with the meal. Rollie's on the other hand served up a substantial and piping hot breakfast, and Rollie himself threw in a free pancake plate to share for "dessert." Everyone else thought Rollie's gringo shtick was a little over the top, but I thought the thin custardy pancakes were well worth a return visit. Panino's provided us with the most beautiful, heavy loaves of fresh bread I've seen anywhere in Latin America, and they didn't last long when we devoured them with Sherrell's homemade humus. MJ made a green salad and cooked up a pot of spaghetti for a dinner at home, which turned into two when we ate leftovers on our last night. We ate gorditas in the street at Yeikame where they served up a simple meal with unusual twists. The gorditas were made with blue corn meal and each sealed maize pocket held a choice of unique ingredients. I can't remember the extensive list but there were lots of vegetarian options like spinach and mushrooms along with the more common beans and cheese, potatoes, and meats. This was also the only place we ate where we actually had to heed the waitress's warning about the picante salsas. Finally, we were in Mexico!

Besides eating, our activities included walks through town and lots of card playing. We dedicated one day to the traditional beach resort pastime of lounging in chairs under umbrellas provided by the beach restaurant we patronized. We chose Pablo's El Capitan where all we had to do was eat and drink to pay for the luxury of digging our toes into the sand and repeating "No, gracias" to every beach vendor that walked by. The next day we worked off all the beach beers and ceviche with a nice long hike out the north end of town and through the woods paralleling the beach. We saw enormous spiders and a weird quad-winged dragonfly that flew like a helicopter. We were lucky that each translucent wing tip was dotted with yellow, or we probably wouldn't have been able to see it. As it hovered from spider web to spider web we weren't sure if it was plucking out spiders or bugs caught in the webs for its snacks. Our quiet walk was also rewarded with bird sightings! John and I are rarely able to spot any birds at all when we're out walking, but this time we saw orioles, a group of four black-throated magpie jays (big birds with crested heads and long, long tails), and something resembling a Trogon. Eric even managed to get a good zoom lens shot of the latter sitting in a tree. We were exulting over our good fortune as we returned to the main road. Our excitement turned to dismay as we silently passed a tour guide about to lead a gringo family on four ATV quads over the same track we had just exited. But as Stan gently pointed out to me, they were there to get a noisy, bumpy thrill ride, not to look at bugs and birds.

This is already way too long, but I can't close without relating the highlight of our mini-vacation which was - a baby iguana in our toilet! Yes, Sunday morning in the casita John lifted the toilet seat and lid up together and began shouting that we had to come see for ourselves or we would never believe him. We took pictures and then someone reached in to try and grab him. To our complete surprise the iguana turned tail and shot back into the bowels of the toilet. OMG! Needless to say for the next 24 hours John and I very gingerly lifted the lid up and made a point of turning on the bathroom light at night. On Monday we told the housekeeper about our uninvited guest and showed her our pictures so she wouldn't think we were pulling her leg. While we were out, her solution was to drape a hand towel into the bowl and over the rim to give the iguana a surface on which to climb out. Then she cornered it in the shower and caught it in a towel to release it with its bigger brothers in the iguana tree outside the house. Of course she had her own pictures to show us that it came out alive and well!

Finally I'll close with a big thank you to Susan and Elba for their gift to us of a stay in their lovely Sayulita casita. Not only was it a nice break from life aboard Nakia, but it was a great place for a reunion of good friends from afar!

Linda

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mills Birthday Week

What has Nakia been up to, you may be asking? Well, it's been a busy November, but it's time to get the blog caught up.

On November 12 we left Chacala for the mostly motoring, 44 nautical mile, nine hour trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in Banderas Bay (near Puerto Vallarta). At the same time, Mills College friends, Amy and Carole, were winging their way from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta for a week's vacation at the Melia resort in Marina Vallarta. It was a special trip to celebrate Carole's 49th birthday and Amy's 50th this month.

Almost a year ago they sent me a message telling me about their plans and asking us if we could be there to help celebrate their milestone birthdays. We were in Hawaii and had already been thinking long and hard about returning to Mexico to visit Stan and MJ and to see if we still felt as strongly about Mexico as we did when we left there in 2008 (we loved it). Amy and her daughter flew to Mazatlan to surprise me for my 50th birthday in 2007 (wow, was it really that long ago?!), so this news clinched our decision to sail to Mexico from Hawaii.

34 days of sailing across the Pacific and almost nine months later Nakia was in Puerto Vallarta. And the next day Wendy arrived from SF to make it even more of an event. I hadn't seen Carole or Wendy since before John and I left California in 2004, and we all had to keep pinching ourselves to believe that we had managed to regroup in PV of all places.

In between the important activities of shopping, eating, and relaxing in the warm air, we spent the next week catching up on news of each other's families, work, and life aboard Nakia. We also shared some really memorable events, the first of which was Carole's birthday dinner at La Palapa on the 13th. What a beautiful setting in which to enjoy a gourmet meal.

On Monday we were off to Punta de Mita where Jose, aka "Picudo," took us out to Las Marietas in his panga for snorkeling and a view of the blue-footed boobies nesting on the islands (we even saw a couple of fluffy white babies). After our morning boat trip we were hungry for the pescado especial at El Dorado beach restaurant at Punta de Mita. Well, only I ordered that heart attack, but it was muy delicioso. After lunch Amy decided to go for one last little dip. As she was picking her way through the rocky shallow water she stepped on a stingray which leaped clear out of the water. Wendy was the only one of us on shore to witness the ray jumping. The rest of us were relieved to hear squeals of shock and not pain, as Amy had dodged a huge bullet and not been stung. John can attest to the fact that a ray sting is incredibly painful and we're glad Amy was spared that vacation souvenir.

We then took a local bus back to La Cruz where John made two dinghy trips to load everyone on board Nakia for a sail to Marina Vallarta. Amy had warned us that she can get deathly seasick (but not on power boats), and I was almost sick worrying about her on slow poke Nakia! But everyone enjoyed the first couple of hours of fast (for us) sailing. When the late afternoon breeze began to die, and Amy was looking a little pensive, John fired up the motor to smooth out the motion and she bounced right back. We entered the marina just after sunset and tied up in our reserved slip for the next four nights.

The next morning was filled with massages and pool lounging for the vacationers while I got some much needed boat chores done. Later we all got together (minus John) for some girl shopping on the newly renovated Malecon which is now a beautiful pedestrian mall. On Wednesday they took a Los Arcos boat tour while John and I got to work on a boat project. He spent a few hours at the top of the mast and I fetched tools and pulled and released lines as needed.

Wendy had an afternoon return flight home on Thursday, and we all went shopping on Isla Cuale. John gave advice for price negotiating and helped fend off over eager vendors. Carole and Wendy returned to the condo for lunch before her flight, but Amy stayed with us to find an authentic Mexican restaurant. On the advice of a friendly dulceria (sweets) shop keeper, John found a comida corrida right in front of the Our Lady of Guadalupe church. This is a little place with a set lunch menu from which you choose a main course. It's pretty basic, but is what the locals eat. Amy even had the authentic experience of a waiter spilling soup on her leg as he tried to impress her with how many bowls and plates he could carry!

Friday was our last day together and we three remaining girls had a reservation with Vallarta Adventures for their "Outdoor Adventure." But first we had to say goodbye to John and Ziggy as he was moving Nakia from Marina Vallarta out to Punta de Mita that morning. I had my overnight things and would be spending that night in luxury at the Melia.

We joined our afternoon tour at La Maritima, the cruise ship pier. We boarded a huge zodiac boat with about two dozen passengers for the fast smooth ride across the bay to Boca de Tomatlan. Before we boarded the huge Mercedes Benz expedition trucks for the climb into the jungle, we were surprised to see a 30ish foot sailboat with its port side buried in the sand on the beach. It didn't look like it had been there long and we wondered if it could be salvaged. Always a sobering sight, especially for anyone who's boat is their home.

The truck ride was bumpy but we were never airborne off our seats so it wasn't that bad. When we arrived at the base camp we were fitted out with the zip line gear and led to mules for a 20 minute ride up a steep dirt road into the jungle. At the top of this road we met our guides and were given a briefing for how to ride the zip lines. After hearing all about how not to do it, I was getting pretty nervous. Carole and Amy had both done zip lines before, but not like these where you had the option of braking with one heavily gloved hand. The problem was in knowing how much to brake. Too much and you would stop yourself midway across. Too little and you would go flying into the landing platform. (As it turned out you never really needed to brake at all because the guide on the platform controlled a rope to help stop you.)

This was truly an adventure and we three had a phenomenal time on each and every leg of the course. There were long flying rides over small canyons, a vertical rappel alongside a waterfall, a full dunking drop into a fresh water pool, a free fall vertical rappel, and a couple of fun "bridges" where we could mug for the professional photographer. Back at base camp we bought the photo CDs and ate and drank before loading up into the trucks for the descent. But wait - there was one last surprise stop at a tequila distillery where we learned how to drink small shots of silver, gold, anejo, kahlua, and almond tequila (yes, one of each!). Carole liked it so much that she bought three bottles as souvenirs.

It was late when we finally returned to the Melia for showers and a one-week-early 50th birthday dinner for Amy. I hadn't brought suitable attire for the reservations only restaurant so the girls dressed me like a doll in a fuchsia dress with matching sandals of Carole's and a pretty sweater of Amy's for our last evening together.

The next morning we said goodbye before breakfast as I had to take a bus to return to Nakia early. It was the end of a memorable week spent with my best friends from college, and one I will always treasure. I'm so happy we were able to be in the right place at the right time - not always an easy feat for a cruising sailboat!

{GMST}20|39.100|N|105|15.000|W|Mills Birthday Week|Entrance to Puerto Vallarta Harbor{GEND}

Friday, November 11, 2011

San Blas to Chacala

We ran out of our good streak of sailing wind yesterday and mostly motored the 24 nautical miles to Chacala. Motor trips are usually pretty tedious but this time we were rewarded with our first sea turtle and whale sightings of the season. One lazy sea turtle didn't even move until the auto pilot had taken us right alongside him and he didn't scoot away until we had him amidships. Vertical whale spouts were clearly visible along the coastline and we patiently watched one slowly coming closer to the boat. Finally we had two good looks at the top of its back as it came up for a few breaths about a quarter of a mile away from us. Spouts are a common sight and don't always result in an animal sighting, so they're interesting but often disappointing as they disappear on the horizon. But it's still always a thrill to get a clear look at any part of these magnificent creatures as they make their way through the ocean around us.

We were also passed by a few fishing boats, most of which were out of Mazatlan. One came up so close behind us that I got the camera out as a gentle warning that I was recording the encounter. To my surprise as they passed us I could see that they were taking our picture and flashing the peace sign and waving for my camera. I always feel guilty for letting tales of fishing boats ramming sailboats outweigh the far more prevalent accounts of aid and brotherhood among boats of all nations. It never occurred to me that they would find us picturesque enough to divert to, especially when we weren't even properly sailing!

Five hours after leaving San Blas we tucked into the north corner of the beach and set both a bow and a stern anchor to keep our bow pointed into the swell. [Note to 2012 Puddle Jumpers: This is a good place to practice your stern anchoring technique for your stay in Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.] Chacala is a quiet little vacation spot with brightly painted, lovely homes and a small sandy beach lined with thatched palapa restaurants. We fondly remember our previous short stay years ago when we were anchored much farther out from the protection of the northern point. Since we will not be likely to get such a perfect anchoring spot later in the season when there will be many more boats here, we have decided to stay an extra night so that we can go ashore for a visit today.

Linda


{GMST}21|09.828|N|105|13.634|W|Chacala|Mexico{GEND}

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Isabela to San Blas

We're anchored in the river estuary of San Blas for the first time ever. We've always avoided this stop because it's known for terrible no-see-ums, but we were low on provisions and decided to brave it anyway. We departed Isla Isabela at sunrise Tuesday and had a very gentle downwind sail all the way here. I guess I should mention that we covered 41 nautical miles in nine and a half hours. Our previous trip from Mazatlan to Isabela was 89 nm in 18 hours, which includes the hour and a half that we drifted waiting for the sun to rise.

We enjoyed our stay at Isabela and after a morning nap we took advantage of some of the clearest water in Mexico to go for a snorkel. We swam over to the area in between two striking rock formations which jut out of the water and found good numbers of all the usual suspects. The most notable aspect of the snorkel was how much bigger than normal the fish were. Even the Moorish Idols were good-sized.

Above water the bird life was fantastic. The island was covered in a dense thicket of some kind of sturdy leafy bush on which birds perched. Blue-footed boobies took cover in the shade of the thicket at the top of the beach. But most of the birds soared overhead, probably keeping cool in the thermals since they didn't appear to be doing any fishing. A couple of male frigates had inflated their red pouches and I saw a juvenile practice plucking a nesting stick from the water's surface. But I think we were too early for the actual nesting season.

Our stay was made more comfortable by the deployment of our rocker stopper and by the knowledge that our anchor was firmly buried in a sandy part of the bottom. It's a forbidding looking anchorage with waves breaking on rocks to either side and the alternative anchorage, while calmer, has an even rockier bottom which has been known to "swallow" anchors. Two boats arrived later in the afternoon but after taking a look at both anchorages they elected to continue on their separate ways, one to Mazatlan and one to San Blas. We're happy that we decided to give it a try since it turned out to be much nicer than its initial imposing impression.

Unfortunately I don't think we can say the same about San Blas. Thanks to coordinates from another boat we had a safe crossing of the bar entrance and are anchored in a shallow river across from the marina. But the mangroves are host to no-see-ums which bite day and night whether you are imprisoned below in your heavily screened boat, or sitting in the town square. Panga fishermen roar up and down the river all day and all night, so it isn't what you could call peaceful. We will spend another night here to make our exit on a high tide tomorrow morning, bound for Chacala, about 20 miles away.

John has been fishing on our passages but has only come up with black skipjack in the very warm waters (around 85 degrees). He often has them up to the boat and off the hook before Ziggy has a chance to get out to the cockpit to see what's going on. Poor Z is then left sniffing the air, wondering what happened to his dinner.

Linda

{GMST}21|32.566|N|105|17.721|W|San Blas|San Blas{GEND}

Monday, November 07, 2011

Isla Isabela

We departed Stone Island in Mazatlan at 12:45 PM on Sunday and we had such a good sail that we had to heave to at 0400 this morning to wait for it to get light enough to approach the island and anchor. It's a bit rolly, but we're anchored in a patch of sand on the SE side of the island. The beach landing looks steep and rough so we'll probably just rest up on the boat and hope we don't take too many guano hits during our stay. Did I forget to mention that the island is a bird rookery and the skies are black with frigates and booby birds? Ziggy is going to have an interesting time!

Linda

{GMST}21|50.876|N|105|52.756|W|Isla Isabela|Isla Isabela{GEND}

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Stone Island, Mazatlan

Well, let's see if I remember how to do this! We have actually departed Marina Mazatlan and are on the hook at the little anchorage just outside the Port of Mazatlan. We decided to come here rather than anchor in the Old Harbor, thinking that it might be quieter. But we don't have Wi-Fi here, so please send any email to our Sailmail address and not our gmail or yahoo accounts.

The two hour motor trip this morning was rolly (from beam to beam) so poor Ziggy threw up his breakfast after we passed Deer Island. Fortunately I saw the signs of imminent upchuck, and I managed to catch most of it in a rag in my hand. He drank some water after we dropped anchor and is now well into his afternoon nap. I can't wait to see his reaction when he wakes up later today and realizes we're not tied up to the dock anymore.

Unfortunately John is wishing we'd stayed in the marina because he has taken a turn for the worse with his head cold, and it's now migrated to his chest. In the slip he'd have plenty of electricity to watch movies and TV, not to mention plenty of fresh water for showers, and an air conditioned cruiser's lounge for surfing the web. There's a south wind blowing today and we are back to hot and humid temperatures, but we're pointed into the breeze and the water temperature is down to 83 degrees.

Life is good hanging on the hook for free!

Linda

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

paint done!

It's been a couple long weeks of work but the teak is finally covered with four coats of varnish, one coat of paint primer and three coats of paint top coat. I'll be happy not to have to spend the next couple days on my knees (though I have at least one more day of knee killer to go just to remove the adhesive residue from the tape).





Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Projects

It's been a long time since our last post. NAKIA is still in Mazatlan, with John and Ziggy on board. Linda is still in Seattle getting colder by the day. Here is a brief video of the latest project. Don't get too excited, I'm going to paint over all this varnish.

video


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Last nights Thunder Storm

Last night a pretty violent thunderstorm came through the marina. I couldn't sleep for all the lightening so I got up to take a short video.
I've saved it to our Picasa page:

https://picasaweb.google.com/svnakia/Jul172011#5630390697015866706

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fuel tank clean!

Looks like the crud in the fuel tank was definitely exacerbating our engine problems. After a couple days work the tank is clean and ready to be put back together and filled.

I put some pictures on Picasa:

https://picasaweb.google.com/svnakia/FuelTankCleaning

Basically the job is this; 1) empty the tank 2) remove the tank cover (a piece of stainless about 1 foot by 1.5 feet) 3) drop a scrub brush with a long handle into the tank 4) wedge your body into the drawer opening situated above the tank cover hole 5) scrub 6) dump a bunch of paper towels into the tank and sop up all the crud 7) repeat 5 & 6 until clean.

Thanks to Brian, the worker from Marine Services Mazatlan! Without him I would have certainly gotten stuck in the drawer opening (I can fit, it's just getting in and out is a pretty tight squeeze).

John

Friday, June 24, 2011

First rains and more engine work

The first rains have come to Mazatlan. Nothing heavy yet, but we did have a pretty strong clap of thunder the other night. Ziggy is enjoying his Catio quite a bit, he can even stay outside when it's raining because his perch on the folded up dinghy is covered by a Sunbrella awning.

The broken screw turned out not to be the problem with the engine. So now I've changed to 'shotgun' mode to fix the problem. I've replaced all the fuel lines from the tank to the engine. Re-bedded all pipe connections and rebuilt the check valve that keeps the fuel from back-flowing into the tank when a filter is opened. I also replaced both filters and cleaned the filter housings. That was all yesterday and today's engine start went pretty well. The only 'smoking gun' I could find was some gunk in the check valve that was keeping it from working. Could low fuel level in the tank, coupled with the stuck check valve allow air to be sucked into the fuel line from some questionable connection? I sure hope so! I may have to clean the fuel tank to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Tomorrow I'm moving to a different slip, hopefully the engine will start right up and I won't run out of fuel getting from one slip to the other.

John

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Smoking Gun?



It's been quite awhile since we've posted to the blog. Allow me to catch everyone up:

We made it to the marina in Mazatlan. Stayed our first month in the Singlar (don't say Cingular!) marina for the month of May. We tore the boat down for the summer, all sails and running rigging are removed and the dinghy is put away. I built a 'Catio' for Ziggy so he can hang out outside at night. Linda flew to Bothell, WA to stay with MJ for the summer. I started working on two main boat projects; 1) rebuilding the top of the hatch turtle and 2) rebuilding the engine.

Whoa! Rebuilding the engine!? Is that really necessary? We came to Mazatlan to answer that very question. There being a Yanmar trained mechanic available through Total Yacht Works, we figured this would be a good place to handle the work.

'Lil Thumper', our Yanmar 3QM30, has got 5100 hours and is over 30 years old. It has two problems; 1) fuel is getting into the lubricating oil and 2) it can be very hard to start. It's not far fetched that it would need at least a set of piston rings. But after spending 15 minutes bent over the running engine, Javier pronounced its compression good ("there's no blow-by, you don't need rings"). Huh. So much for the big rebuild. But what about the hard starting, Javi, not to mention the fuel-in-the-oil (FITO) problem? "We'll change the simple things first; start with the lift pump to fix the FITO and then move on from there." I should say at this time that I consider myself to be a good amateur mechanic, and have already replaced the lift pump (about two years ago when the oil problem first started). But if Javi says to replace the lift pump again, that's what we'll do! I got the spare out and he put it in.

The thing to do now was to run the engine and see if the oil level changes and see if the starting problem comes back. I waited a week before starting the first time as the starting problem seemed to get worse the longer the engine sat. After a week it started hesitantly, but well. After 3 hours the oil level hadn't changed (when fuel leaks into the oil, the level on the dip-stick raises). So maybe the FITO problem is fixed.

On the second day, the start didn't go well at all. It took maybe 20 seconds to get going, the whole time doing the ka-chunk-ka-chunk-ka-chunk thing. I resolved to bleed the fuel system at various points before starting it the next time to see if I get bubbles anywhere (a sign of air in the fuel system which would cause the ka-chunk starting).

On the third day bleeding at the injection pump showed a few bubbles. Humm, maybe the problem is there. It started and ran well, oil level steady. Fourth day, the same. A few bubbles, good start, steady oil.

My theory at this point was that there was air being drawn back into the injection pump when the engine is off. The tank is low and there's no doubt a bit of negative pressure on the fuel system cause by the diesel trying to siphon back into the tank. The question was: where's the air leak?

Today, Sunday, is the fifth day and I resolved this morning to give myself the day off. Oh but maybe I can just bleed the injection pump to see if I get bubbles. Open the engine compartment, unscrew the bleed screw, pump the lift pump, a couple tiny bubbles, tighten the bleed screw, break the head of the bleed screw off! I'm sure even the least mechanically inclined will realize that last step shouldn't be there. It seems the bleed screw may have been in the process of shearing off for some time, making it very hard to get a good seal on the injection pump. All the screwing and unscrewing finally did it in. (Javier also had to crank that screw to bleed the system after replacing the lift pump.)

As I said, it's Sunday, so there's nothing to do about it today. But tomorrow I get to ride the buses looking for 1) an appropriately sized screw and 2) a machine shop to drill a hole in it (the bleed screw has a tiny hole to let air out when it's unscrewed).


John
{GMST}23|16.120|N|106|27.35|W|Marina Mazatlan|Maz{GEND}

Friday, May 13, 2011

Singlar Marina, Mazatlan

On our way to Mazatlan we spent a week in Banderas Bay. In La Cruz we took on fuel, got a propane tank refilled, had laundry done, and walked the town. The secret to anchoring out at La Cruz is to be back on your boat for lunch. The mornings are pleasant but the wind blows extra hard there all afternoon until sunset. We don't really care much for this stop, but we were happy to discover a new restaurant called La Ya Ya. It's a charming place complete with birds, a dog and cat, fast Wi-Fi, a book exchange, good chilaquiles, bottomless coffee cups, and friendly service - all for a very reasonable price, which is unusual for generally over-priced little La Cruz.

From there we motored out to Punta de Mita where we were happy to see Ralph out on his new (old) boat. We were sorry to hear that he and Nikki have split up, but she is still running Mita'z Pizza and bakery. Other than more new condos, expensive homes, and an Oxxo (like a 7-11) not much has changed in the little town itself. The beach in front of the old ramada style restaurants appears to be shrinking rapidly and there's not much room to park a dinghy there anymore.

We had a long and boring overnight motor trip to Mazatlan. We arrived mid-afternoon and pulled into the Stone Island anchorage to catch up on sleep. On May 5 we motored to the marina basin and chose Singlar for its cheaper short term rates. We'll stay here until June 1 when we move to Marina Mazatlan for their five-month summer rate of $.24/foot, which we believe is the best rate to be found in Mexico.

Our primary focus since arriving in Mazatlan has been to clean and stow everything on the boat's exterior in preparation for hurricane season. The first thing we did was wash the Manzanillo grime off of everything - decks, teak, sail covers, running rigging, and halyards. Every piece of rope has gotten a soapy bucket wash and several rinses. All three sails were thoroughly hosed down, dried, folded, and stowed below. The dinghy has been broken down, scrubbed, folded up, and stowed with the floor boards in its bag on the foredeck. To make room for sails and lines we rearranged the quarter berth storage (above and below), and moved some things into the shower. The last of the halyards are drying on the lifelines today, but everything else has been stripped off and put away, even the life raft.

While we've been working harder than we're used to, we've also managed to have enough free time for catching up with our friends, Eric and Sherrell, on Sarana. We've had impromptu happy hours on the dock, and we went out for Thai food to celebrate Eric's birthday. We all took a bus to Old Town one evening for the last day of Art Walk 2011. This annual event is always a lot of fun as it gives you an opportunity to see not only galleries, but also artist's studios, homes, and interesting spaces not normally open to the public. So in addition to looking at art, we "toured" a model penthouse condo with rooftop garden; a small living room with a big screen TV showing (of all things) U.S. football; a gallery in a beautiful and completely remodeled minimalist space which may also double as a home; we walked in on one artist finishing an ice cream cone in his studio/home, spoke with an artist about her interesting monotype process in her older, lovely studio; talked to a wildlife photographer with amazing shots of panthers and jaguars in local jungle areas, and watched an exhibition of tango dancing in a gift shop gallery; and we enjoyed meeting an American woman who paints and is very involved in a local rescue program for cats. Most places offered wine and a small snack but we capped off the evening in Plaza Machado for a last drink and bite to eat before catching a bus back to the marina.

Getting Ziggy used to marina life takes up a lot of our time. The main reason John wanted me to take Ziggy to Seattle with me was to get him out of John's hair while he's trying to work on the boat. But we've decided to forego the expense of Z's ticket and keep him on the boat this summer. And that's the worst part - he refuses to stay on our boat and insists on roaming as far and wide as we'll let him. Currently the routine is roughly this: 0400-0530 Z jumps on our bed and pesters us to let him out. We throw him off the bed. Repeat half a dozen times. 0530-0900 One of us finally gives up, feeds Z, puts him in his harness, and sits outside on the dock (with coffee) to make sure he doesn't wander or get on an unoccupied boat. When the other person gets up around 0700 (sunrise) we take turns keeping an eye on him. Sometimes we put him on his leash and a long tie down to give ourselves a break. 0900-1600 (plus or minus an hour) Z sleeps. 1600-1930 (sunset) He's back out on the dock either tethered on his leash, off-leash but supervised, or let loose to explore the part of the dock opposite us from the ramp to the gate. There are other cat boats at that end who don't mind an occasional visitor. At sunset he comes inside with us for the night. Since he's normally allowed full in and out privileges when we're at anchor this must be the hardest change for him to accept. John's planning to construct a "catio" on the foredeck so that Z can be outside and unsupervised for at least part of the time. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it will satisfy some of his urge to be in the great outdoors.

So far the weather has been hot and sunny during the day with an excellent dry breeze in the afternoon, and cool enough to still need a blanket at night and a sweatshirt before the sun comes up in the morning.

Linda

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hasta luego Manzanillo!

It's been another enjoyable month in marina Santiago. Well, technically it's an anchorage and we moved a few times within the small bay, but we stayed so long it almost felt like living in a marina. Several times we discussed moving to the "big city" of Las Hadas anchorage but due to inertia or disinterest, we still have not stayed in the part of Manzanillo Bay made famous by Bo Derek's debut in the movie, "10". For us the only benefit to Las Hadas is having a proper dinghy landing. But we're not hang-by-the-pool kind of people and we prefer the La Boquita and Club Santiago area in spite of the surf landings. If we needed to play it really safe, we used La Boca (the mouth of a little river into a lagoon behind La Boquita) for drier takeoffs.

We spent the last month doing the usual housekeeping chores, and fetching and carrying of things like laundry, groceries, fuel, and water. John got to know the water truck guy so well that Enrique would wait for John at the La Boca dinghy landing on pre-arranged delivery days. There were more futbol games to attend, and our favorite taco vendor returned to keep the fans fed. On Sundays with no soccer games John and Stan went to (very) minor league baseball games to which they brought their own beer and snacks. A typical "play date" with Stan and MJ usually went something like this: John and I took the bus to SolCasa (what we call their house) in Santiago. Sometimes we would bring our computers to do a little surfing, or we would watch some U.S. television, and play with the cats. We'd walk into town for lunch at tasty little comida corridas (daily specials), or splurge for higher-end, delicious meals at places like Carlos and Tanilo's (for shrimp and fish) or Sam's Pizza. It was such a treat to meet genuinely warm people like Carlos (and his wife, Sussy, who owns the lavanderia we took our laundry to) and Derek, a Canadian who married a local woman and named his pizza place after their daughter, Sam. After lunch we returned to SolCasa to spend the rest of the day playing cards. The guys had fun making micheladas, a strange beer-on-ice concoction consisting of Clamato or spicy V-8 juice and whatever other interesting things came out of the spice cupboard like worcestshire sauce, hot sauce, garlic salt, etc. I'm not a beer drinker so I didn't partake although I tried it once to be polite at a birthday party at Diana's house (she's one of the PATA founders). I could drink it, but it's still not my beverage of choice!

Through Stan and MJ and their PATA connections we became acquainted with several of the local ex-pats either living here permanently or as snowbirds, and we were invited to a few of their beautiful homes for dinner. On these occasions we broke our back-before-dark rule, but were always happily surprised to find our trusty dinghy still on the beach where we parked it, even over a busy holiday weekend. One weekend I volunteered to dog-sit for a Canadian couple who drove to Guadalajara to do some shopping for their brand new house on the golf course. I rattled around in a two-story, three bedroom, gorgeous house with a pool for a few days while John stayed on the boat with Ziggy. He came over with Stan and MJ a couple of times to visit, but having the rest of the time to myself was bliss.

Stan and MJ treated us to a day of sightseeing a little ways down the coast, and we visited a turtle refuge (tortugario), salt museum, and crocodile refuge. These were places that required a car for access and we really appreciated being out and about on another road trip. The cocodrilario was especially beautiful with a mostly tree-shaded, raised (and heavily fenced) wooden "trail" circling a small lake in which we spotted a few lazy crocs.

On days we spent aboard Nakia we didn't get a whole lot accomplished due to a new wonder of technology. A cruiser told us about a web site where we found TV shows and movies to download, and now we have a growing entertainment library. It's nice to finally catch up on media not available to us (or only on poor DVD copies), and it will be especially appreciated once we're back in more isolated places like French Polynesia.

We certainly enjoyed our stay in Santiago Bay but it was finally time to pull up stakes and head to Mazatlan where we'll put Nakia in a marina for the summer. The plan is for John to stay on the boat, crossing things off of his To Do list. He's decided it will be easier for him to do the work without having Ziggy or me underfoot or complaining about the heat and humidity. So I'll be flying to Seattle with the cat to spend four months in Bothell where MJ summers; she has graciously invited me to stay with her. We'll be taking summer classes at the local college, working out at a gym, and we may even get jobs to support our more upscale U.S. lifestyle (just as long as there's no dress code)! After I return to Mazatlan John and I will get Nakia ready to head back to Manzanillo for another winter. We'll try to keep you updated with any interesting activities in the meantime.

Linda

Monday, March 28, 2011

PATA Manzanillo 5-day clinic

A PATA Manzanillo 5-day free spay/neuter clinic for dogs and cats was held March 17-21 (http://www.patamanzanillo.com). This is one of two big clinics held each year (the other one is in November) and John and I were fortunate enough to be here to volunteer our help. The clinic turned out to be especially successful with a total of 298 animals over the 5-day period and a record breaking 77 animals for a one day total on Saturday. Ten volunteer veterinarians rotated through the days with some coming from as far away as Texas, Guadalajara, and Colima to round out the local group. Other volunteer labor was provided by local nationals, full time ex-pats, and snowbirds from Canada and the U.S.

John and I did a little of several things including cleaning crates and cages, helping MJ sterilize surgical instruments, and attending to animals in the Recovery area. John was especially helpful lifting the (sedated) big dogs from Surgery to Recovery or into crates as they began to come out of the anesthesia. Being a cat person I hung out with those little guys who took a long time to wake up. A few were dirty and covered in fleas but most were in better shape than the dogs. Dogs in Recovery were given a spa treatment of tick removal and matted hair trims, so that they usually looked better than when they first arrived. Recovery animals were monitored for temperature, gum color, and pulse to ensure there were no complications coming out of surgery.

The days began at 0800 (or earlier for some) while John and I usually arrived off the bus at 0900. We'd try to leave in time to get back to the boat for a swim and a bath before dark, and one day we had to leave early because of a Carnaval parade which was scheduled to close the main road. We made two exceptions to our "back before dark" rule. First for the final day of the clinic and second for the thank you dinner for volunteers the following night. We made it out through the surf just fine because we left the dinghy on a well-lit part of the beach (where no one bothered it during the day, over a holiday weekend!).

It felt strange to be on our feet and "working" long days after so much time off doing our own thing. We went home each night feeling tired but extremely satisfied. It was especially gratifying when an owner came to pick up an animal and recognized our efforts with a handshake and a "muchas gracias" accompanied by a big smile. Kudos to all the many people who made this event a success and who will continue to work to improve the lives of local cats and dogs.

Photos from the clinic may be viewed at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/svnakia/PATAManzanillo5DayClinic#

Linda

Colima overnight

On March 14 Stan and MJ picked us up in their van for an overnight to Colima. Ziggy stayed on Nakia under the capable supervision of Tony and Shannon, S/V Sweetie, anchored nearby. Stan drove the back roads, both to save about $10 USD in toll fees and to give us a slower, more scenic route. We enjoyed seeing the big brick ovens which are themselves used to fire bricks. We even saw a man cutting bricks out of prepared mud just off the side of the road. There were lagoons, salt ponds, and orchards galore of mangoes, limes, tamarind, papaya, and who knows what else.

Our first stop was a museum in the little village of Nogueras. As we pulled into the parking lot it occurred to us that it was Monday and the museum might well be closed. To our surprise it was open and we happily bought our tickets and entered the first exhibit. We had the place mostly to ourselves for awhile and then tour busses arrived with passengers from a cruise ship we'd noticed in the port of Manzanillo. For once we were very happy to be inundated with tourists because we were certain that was the only reason the museum was open for us that day.

We saw a nice exhibit of artwork by Alejandro Rangel, who might be best known in the U.S. for the Christmas cards he created for UNICEF in the late 1950s. The museum has been created out of his former hacienda, and there are other displays of local artifacts he collected, in particular the "Colima Dogs" and other figures. The museum displays are absolutely beautiful with English translations. After seeing what was on offer in the gift shops we took a stroll through the gardens learning the Spanish names for some of the trees, plants and herbs growing there. Stan even hopped a short fence to rescue a turtle flipped on its back in the hot sun.

http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/460-la-hacienda-de-nogueras-in-comala-colima

Then it was on to Comala for a much needed visit to the botaneros for their famed feast of snacks which are included with drinks. Taquitos, tostadas (coaster sized, wafer thin, flat chips of corn meal) spread with guacamole or ceviche, and mini soft tacos were just what we needed by mid-afternoon. After sampling some of the local "ponche" we went off in search of a few bottles to take home. Ponche is a drink made of cane alcohol with flavors like walnut, coffee, peanut, coconut, and pomegranate to name a few. We liked the thick creamy coffee flavor the best and think it will go well in iced coffee.

The rest of our stay included a stroll through the gift shops off of Colima's main square (jardin), more eating and drinking, a visit to the museum off the jardin, and finally a trip to Sam's Club for supplies. It was a great getaway with good friends to see something more than just the coast for a change!

Photos from the trip may be viewed at:

http://www.picasaweb.google.com/svnakia/ColimaAndComala

Linda

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pacific Track


I finally put some of our old tracks into our navigation software (OpenCPN). It made for such an interesting picture I thought I'd share it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Santiago Bay

Some of you may be wondering how we've been spending our time now that we are finally back in Mexico again. First and foremost we've been enjoying spending time with our good friends, Stan and MJ, who live full time in Santiago. We've also renewed cruising friendships with several boats, and met people on boats new to Mexico since we left. A lot of time is spent at Ramada El Rey which is one of the restaurants lining the beach here at La Boquita. The cruisers have regular bocci ball games on the sand followed by Mexican Train dominoes and drinks at El Rey. We don't usually join the games, but are happy to partake in the refreshment portion of the ritual. Another semi-weekly event is an outing to La K'Melia which is a botanero (I think I have that right; from the root "botana" which is "snack") complete with live entertainment. Stan and MJ introduced us to this concept before we left Mexico. These are bar/restaurant establishments in which you order drinks and are then served a variety of appetizers at no additional charge. The snacks are usually things like simple tacos, ceviche, taquitos, etc. and they bring you enough to make a meal of it. The one we went to gets started at around 4 PM and the entertainment wrapped up by 6 PM (the day we went it was a band and singers). We don't quite understand how they stay in business, but it's a fun concept.

Having ordered a full set of poker chips while we were in Hawaii, John organized a Friday poker game at El Rey. Eight people played Texas Hold 'Em for 50 pesos each and the game lasted a good 2-3 hours with several changes of fortune amongst the players. We had a lovely surprise when the ultimate winner kindly donated her winnings to PATA Manzanillo (http://www.PATAManzanillo.com), the animal welfare non-profit that Stan and MJ spearheaded after their move here.

On Sunday we all attended a 3 PM futbol (soccer) game played in the local stadium between our local Picudos and a team from nearby Colima. Stan was organizing cruiser attendance for these games before we left and now, between the cruisers and the local ex-pat community, I think the gringos almost out-numbered the locals. It's a fun chance to yell and shout, although we miss the vendor who used to sell messy tacos. Now we bring our own snacks, but you can still see 10 year old boys delivering cups of beer to their dads in the stands. We won this game 1-0 after lots of blood and sweat. Everyone is so welcoming and one of the trainers even shook our hands and thanked us for coming.

The more mundane side to our lives involves re-learning how to do surf landings and take-offs in the dinghy. After two wet take-offs we've taken to going into the mouth of the small river and landing in the protected water there. The downside to this method is that the tide can be very strong, creating rapids at the entrance especially on an ebb tide when the surf is breaking. I will most likely never take the dinghy out by myself again after I over confidently returned to the beach ahead of John with clean laundry and promptly filled the dinghy with about six inches of sandy saltwater. It isn't nearly as easy as John makes it look, especially since he has me hop in first and I had no idea that he was continuing to push us out farther before he climbs in.

So I dried all the salty carpets, towels and blankets and made a second trip to re-wash it all a few days later. I've since made another trip with all of our salty passage clothes. I take what I can carry stuffed in my backpack and one plastic carryall, which is what will just fit into a medium sized front loader. I opt for auto-servicio (do-it-myself) and no dryer, and I carry it all back to dry on the boat. It's a dinghy ride to the beach, half hour walk to the bus stop, and a 6 peso bus ride to Santiago proper (I think the peso is about 12 to 1 at the moment). Reverse to go home. John keeps trying to get me to take a 60 peso each way cab ride (and MJ keeps insisting I can do it at their house!), but I kind of like getting the exercise. Actually I'm probably done with that and will do the light nylon things by hand and drop the rest off at a fluff and fold place from now on. It was just those first few things that needed special handling.

John has kept busy fixing things like our anchor windlass, battery charger, an old backup PC which he wants to give away, the pressure water pump (surprisingly yukky), and servicing (cleaning) the hand pump for our head (double yuk!). He's decided he's not going to tear apart the bilge pump to try to fix it, but will just buy a new one. As original equipment on the boat he thinks he can retire that item! He's also made two visits to the water truck which has a regular schedule to the beach restaurants, and has bought a total of 12 five-gallon jugs of water to fill Nakia's tanks.

We didn't notice any particular behavior changes in Ziggy other than his joy at being able to run from down in the cabin, up the companionway steps, across the cockpit, and up the main sheet onto the boom. He also wants to jump in every dinghy that stops by for a visit and is remarkably polite to people he doesn't know (i.e., he tolerates holding and petting). We've already had two visits from dolphins, and there are numerous pelicans, frigate birds, booby birds, terns, gulls, and herons all after the bait fish that frequent the murky greenish brown water. With 24-hour access to all the sights, smells, and sounds we think he's a pretty happy cat.

As are we!

Linda

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Manzanillo

We had a terrific last evening at sea in spite of the haze obscuring any real sense of "land ho." Our good friend Stan greeted us on the VHF radio to arrange a rendezvous for the next day. He didn't even have to identify himself because we recognized his voice as if we'd spoken to him just last week! There were whale backs breaking the bioluminescence and fluking whales off our bow by moonlight. As we entered the anchorage at Carrazol we were treated to the same wonderful scent of flowers that greeted us three years ago. Early the next morning we spoke to our first "live" person in over a month on a boat called Narama from Sydney, Australia.

We were mistaken about the time zone here and had to make one more change to U.S. Central Standard Time to catch up. We hustled over to the actual Port of Manzanillo eight miles away so that John could spend the day waiting in offices for officials to figure out how to process us in to the country. Not too many sailboats clear in here and there were special manuals to be searched for to find the special code for "sailboat" to be entered into the computer. This was after being redirected to about three different offices in search of the right place to begin. But we probably saved a couple of hundred dollars by not using an agent, and John got to spend the day hanging out with Stan while they waited together.

Formalities were finally completed by late afternoon and we motored the short distance back to the other side of the bay to anchor at La Boquita in Santiago Bay. This is a beach where the roads ends at the mouth of a small river. There are lots of beachside palapa restaurants offering all manner of fish lunches with vendors strolling by exhorting you to buy jewelry, woven masks and baskets, brightly painted pottery, wood carvings, beach cover ups and dresses, and assorted gew-gaws. John bought a woven finger pull toy without even blinking at the requested price, and Ziggy now has a new toy. We shared a table with Casey of V'ger and Stan, both of whom made sure John got his fill of Pacifico!

Before going to shore for lunch we spent yesterday setting the boat to rights by undoing all the things we did in preparation for passage making. Our projects were pleasantly interrupted by the appearance of old friends and acquaintances visiting by dinghy to say hello and catch up on news of each other. This is one of the main reasons we're back in Mexico, and it's already fabulous!

Linda

{GMST}19|06.338|N|104|23.722|W|La Boquita|Santiago Bay{GEND}

Thursday, February 17, 2011

HI to MX Day LAST!

I'm happy to report that we've arrived safely in Ensenada Carrizol, Manzanillo Bay Mexico. We'll be moving to Manzanillo town later this morning to get checked in.

According to our charting software, we sailed 3445 nautical miles to make a rumbline distance of 2881 nautical miles. It took 34 days 9 hours for an average speed of 4.17 kts. Not our fastest passage by a long shot, but we're here and it was a mostly boring passage which is important.

{GMST}19|05.750|N|104|26.232|W|Hawaii to Mexico Arrival|END{GEND}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

HI to MX Day 34

We should arrive early tomorrow morning and none too soon. We've been dealing with ship after ship. I'm not sure if we just happen to be off one of those points on the globe that sees a lot of shipping traffic or if all these ships are going in and out of Manzanillo (I can't imagine the latter, it would make Manzanillo busier than San Francisco).

We had a little extra excitement last night at about 1 am. Linda had started the engine after the wind died and had just put it into gear when BANG! there was a very loud sound. She said 'what was that?!,' and I said 'turn off the motor!' We looked over the side to see if maybe a line had caught in the prop, but saw nothing there. We took the engine cover off and checked the belts and shaft coupling, all good. I checked the oil and it was a little low, but not milky or anything out of the ordinary. Finally I noticed sitting on the floor a small chain that holds up one of our large aft port holes. Ah, that's what it was. These port holes are about 10 inches in diameter and are very heavy. If you drop the opening part from the top, stowed, position it will make a serious BANG. Kind of like slamming a door. Why the chain chose the very moment that Linda put the engine in gear to drop off, we have no idea.

Counting the hours to arrival ...

4:30 PM local time (which converts to MST in the States), Wednesday, February 16. Linda here:

Well, it's been a busy last 48 hours what with all the ships and trying to keep the boat moving. We kept track of all the ships yesterday and last night, but finally gave up entering them into the log book today since there were so many. Closest one was eight tenths of a mile away on John's watch. I had one at 1.5 miles but I turned away quite a bit to increase the distance or it would have been closer than that. Both in the day time so not bad, but with the humid haze we only have about 4 miles of visibility.

So "land ho" became, "yeah, I can sort of see the white guano on those rocks off the coast." We still can't see much more than the outlying rocks and we're only four miles from shore. We've been motoring on a mostly glassy sea all day. I was excited to see my first turtle again, but then I was sad to see that the top of it's shell was dry and it was barely moving on the surface of the water. I thought it must be dying until I saw a dozen more just like it in the space of 20 minutes. Some even had booby birds which had been sitting on them for so long that they had left their "mark" like whitewash all over the shell.

I had a bit of an anxious day yesterday. Maybe the lack of sleep caught up with me, but I find I usually have a brief period of depression during the last 48 hours of a long passage. I think it's partly the thought of re-entry into "normal" life and the small stresses we have to look forward to. We've been in this self-absorbed bubble for so long, entirely focused on sleeping, eating, keeping the boat moving, and entertaining ourselves. So it's somewhat of a transition to get back into shore mode again. And partly the enormity of what we've accomplished finally sinks in, and there is a bit of a let down to think it's finally over.

I'll state here for the record that I have never (and I don't think John has either) experienced the hallucinations of extra crew members or things like that on any of our passages. Many cruisers report vivid experiences of talking to an extra person on board. Maybe we are lacking in imagination, but that's never happened on Nakia.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my captain for bringing me safely across another part of the ocean. John does these passages practically single-handed, doing all the sail handling, navigation, repairs, and maintenance, and I get to come along for the ride. I wouldn't be doing this without John and I can't think of another sailor I'd trust my life with out at sea.

We'll be finishing up this passage just in the nick of time - we only have one page left before we finish our current passage log book and have to start a new one. Hey, John's calling me to come out and watch a pair of whales. And so ends another day at sea.

{GMST}19|08|N|104|48|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 34|Day 34{GEND}

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

HI to MX Day 33

We're in the home stretch now, less then 200 miles to go. We've had some great wind the last couple days so we should arrive a little ahead of our last estimate. Last night the waves got pretty bumpy for a few hours which made sleeping difficult, but it calmed down this morning so we're getting caught up on rest now. We've really been lucky as far as getting good rest the entire last half of this passage. We're both getting enough sleep that we could easily walk off the boat on arriving in Manzanillo and go for a day in town without collapsing from exhaustion. Normally we're able to do a few things but would be looking forward to getting to bed before 9pm on the arrival day.

We've been able to fly our (asymmetrical spinnaker) quite a bit over the last three days, which has been keeping the boat moving well. The only down side is we have to run the auto pilot when we're sailing under the spinnaker as the wind vane wanders too much, so we use more electricity. We really haven't flown this sail much since we got it 6 years ago, it's normal use is as a big pillow when we're sleeping in the quarter berth on passage, but this passage I've been happy to have it as a sail instead.

The other day I was running the generator to charge the batteries and the battery charger started acting up. I took it apart and found that a teaspoon or so of salt water had gotten into it when that hose broke. The water corroded a resistor so badly the solder connection to the printed circuit board completely disappeared. So now we don't have a battery charger until I can find an electrical parts supplier and replace the resistor. Good thing I got the alternator/regulator working!

Still no fish, and the water clarity continues to decline. I'm keeping the lures out just in case. We still have one onion, half a carrot, 1/4 of a cabbage (we really haven't been going through the cabbage on this passage) and a pound of ground beef so we're not hurting for fresh food. (We also have canned and dry goods for another 2-3 months, just in cast anyone is worried that we have to live on hale a carrot and a pound of ground beef for the next two days).

We've had to turn off the VHF radio so the off watch can sleep. Mexican fisherman just love to talk on the radio, even if there's no one to talk to. When they get tired of talking they sing, when they get tired of singing they do barn yard animal impersonations. It's pretty annoying. We're keeping a hand-held VHF radio on down below so if there's anyone close by calling us we'll hear them.

The wind is supposed to die tonight, so we'll no doubt be motoring the last 100 miles (we have fuel for 200 miles motoring, so we're in good shape there).

{GMST}19|55|N|106|59|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 33|Day 33{GEND}

Monday, February 14, 2011

HI to MX Day 32

This is really too good to be true. Yesterday was a nice day in spite of having to motor all afternoon. It got very clear and calm by the end of the day and John announced good potential for a green flash sunset. Sure enough that last blip of sun turned bright green. Unfortunately John will never know what one looks like since he's slightly color blind.

John shut the engine off at 8 PM and he furled the jib and hoisted the spinnaker an hour later, just in time for my watch. Aside from a few hours early this morning we've been flying it ever since, and have been cooking along at about five knots. There's been some wind chop coming down from the Sea of Cortez to give us a bit of a roll now and then, but otherwise it's a very smooth ride.

The entire night and all of today have been almost eerily crystal clear without a speck of cloud in the sky, for the first time of the entire passage. It's just surreal. And warm! The sea surface temperature rose to 70 degrees at Noon yesterday and has been in the low seventies since then. The only downside to that is that we've lost the beautiful indigo blue of open ocean and now the water is a greener brown that we associate with coastal cruising.

Lots of voice traffic on the VHF today with ships calling port control somewhere. John heard cruising boats hailing the marina in La Cruz (near Puerto Vallarta) so he tried giving Sarana a call, but no joy there. I even heard a boat calling El Cid marina in Mazatlan.

We ate our last chicken breast today and have one package of hamburger left in the freezer. John's had both fishing lines out, but so far has caught only a piece of plastic.

Almost forgot - we took fresh water showers in our head yesterday. How fantastic is that on top of everything else?!

Just a little over 200 miles to go as I write this!

Linda

{GMST}20|33|N|108|24|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 32|Day 32{GEND}

Sunday, February 13, 2011

HI to MX Day 31

Sometimes it seems like everything happens at once. Last night we were sailing along under double headsails with the wind slowly shifting to be more on the beam. The double headsail rig is only good for almost dead downwind, so when we were finally 30 degrees off course I decided I had to make a change. Start with the main, hoisting it so the drifter can come down in its lee. Then drop the drifter. Furl the jib. Take down the pole (of course the control line for the pole jammed in the pole mount so I had to get back to that). Move the jib to the starboard side. Finally finish putting away the pole. This is about 20 minutes worth of activity, during which my attention is focused only on NAKIA. After everything was put away I take a look around and right there off our bow is a boat, or at least a light from a boat. It's very bright white, which should mean I'm looking at the stern of the boat but since we're back in Mexican waters the color of the light doesn't mean squat (Mexican fisherman don't seem to carry a copy of the navigation rules). So I do all the things I normally do when there is a boat close; I turn on all the deck lights and start the radar. The radar takes 2.5 minutes to warm up so while I'm waiting I grab the binoculars and go on deck to see if I can tell which way the boat is headed. When I get there, the light is gone! Great, I think, the fisherman has seen me put my deck lights on and figures I see him so he can turn his light off (don't laugh, they actually do this kind of thing). So I start squinting through the binoculars trying to see a boat with a very dim light when I notice a brightly back-lit cloud on the same bearing as the boat. I wait a minute or so and a nice bright planet (probably Venus or Jupiter) comes out from behind a cloud. It wasn't a boat at all, it was this planet rising on a clear horizon! You'd think that after almost 20,000 miles at sea in the last 6 years I'd learn.

{GMST}21|38|N|110|55|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 31|Day 31{GEND}

Saturday, February 12, 2011

HI to MX Day 30

Well, John finally took it all off today - his hair that is! He shaved off his beard (except for his original goatee)and took the electric clippers to his head, and now I have my Bruce Willis guy back again. I was off watch for the event so I haven't seen the before and after pictures yet, but we'll post those when we have internet again.

As John already wrote, we've run out of fresh fruit and now it's finally time to break out the Thai banana chips which were a going away gift from Mike and Mon on Windy City (thanks guys!). I've been saving them for last because I knew we'd appreciate them most at the end of our trip. They are a good treat and even with careful rationing I'm sure they won't last more than a few days!

The water temperature has increased slowly but surely over the past few days, giving us hope that we'll soon be back in tropical weather. Last night we didn't see less than 66 degrees for the first time in awhile. I'm not sure we'll be able to re-acclimate in less than a week (after four weeks of feeling like we were freezing!) but hopefully the Mexican mainland winter temps will be easy on us before we have to face the Baja summer.

On Thursday John's fishing line caught a two foot piece of the kelp. We's noticed several floating by the day before. He reeled it in and we put it in the cockpit well for Ziggy's entertainment. It turned out to have the bonus surprise of half a dozen assorted sized "bugs" crawling on it. These closely resembled what we call "beach roaches" but instead of being black, these were kelp colored. Ziggy was completely captivated by the creatures, but when he decided the "toys" made good food, we pitched it back over the side. Of course Ziggy managed to scoot into the cabin below with one last snack. He spent the rest of the afternoon periodically checking the well to make sure he hadn't missed any.

Friday morning at sunrise we had the pleasure of seeing a fishing boat headed in the opposite direction. We had the twin headsails rigged and must have been quite a sight for them with our blue and white striped drifter. They came in for a closer look, but I was disappointed that they never got close enough to wave. Later we heard Asian voices on the VHF so maybe that was them. Now we seem to be getting the fishermen out of Cabo yakking day and night on channel 16.

Of course after John ran the generator to charge our batteries Friday morning the wind completely died by late afternoon and we had to motor until early evening. It never seems to fail that we have to motor after we've already run the generator. Kind of the opposite of the ukulele effect! This seems to be the pattern lately. Windy sail at sunrise, tapering off by lunch. Motor from noon to mid/late afternoon. Sail in extremely variable, and mostly light, winds all night. Repeat.

Hopefully only to be repeated for five more nights (but who's counting)!

Linda

{GMST}22|15|N|112|12|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 30|Day 30{GEND}

Friday, February 11, 2011

HI to MX Day 29

NAKIA is back in the tropics! The nights are still cool (the water temp is still just 66 degrees) but at least we're not freezing every night. I haven't shaved since before we left Hilo so I would have the benefit of warming facial hair. It's been very itchy and I'm ready to trim it back today, after taking a 'before' picture for the blog of course.

We have about 600 miles to go, and with fuel to motor for 250 of that we'll probably keep going on to Manzanillo. The forecast looks a little better in the near future and if we can manage to sail 75% of the time we should make it just fine. Anticipating Thursday, February 17th as our arrival time. We'll see.

We're now out of fresh fruit, the last orange went yesterday.

{GMST}23|3|N|113|58|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 29|Day 29{GEND}

Thursday, February 10, 2011

HI to MX Day 28b

We continue to have light winds and had to motor 6 hour yesterday. It seems like the wind comes up a little more at night and we can make good progress with the big poled out to port and the drifter set in the second furler track to starboard (twin head-sails). The main is just in the way with this sail configuration so I just set it with a deep reef to keep it from blanketing the drifter.

Yesterday while motoring, our trusty Yanmar 3QM30 diesel engine ticked over 5000 hours. That's the equivalent of 225,000 miles in a car. A lot of other Hans Christian owners have replaced this motor with newer models, but we're keeping ours until it fails to start at least once. To date it's never given us any major problems (not counting the transmission :-)

It's looking more and more like we'll have to stop in Cabo San Lucas for fuel. We don't really want to as it will be expensive (the marina there is outrageously expensive) but it may not be avoidable if the wind doesn't fill in the next couple of days. Right now we have just enough fuel to motor all the way to Cabo but that's it...

The bread turned out pretty good the other day. This was a new method, where I just mix the ingredients and kneed it a little then place it in the refrigerator in a zip-lock bag over night. The next morning I take it out, kneed a little more then put it in a loaf pan to rise. Once it's risen enough (about three hours) I pop it in the oven and bake. The loaf was much smoother then normal and it rose very well. Also because there was not as much kneeding it was a much cleaner way to bake bread. The only downside is that a gallon zip-lock only holds enough dough for one loaf, so we're going thru it pretty fast. I guess I'll have to make a loaf every other day or so to keep up.

{GMST}23|59|N|115|22|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 28b|Day 28b{GEND}

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

HI to MX Day 27

John was a little loopy yesterday and read the day of the week as Thu instead of Tu. So we're back to the counting the days correctly today. I'm counting from January 13 at 4:15 PM local Hawaii time, which means today isn't day 27 until 2:15 PM PST. Confused? Half the time, so are we...

The other half of the time we're wishing for more wind! Had to turn the engine on after lunch today for some more motoring in no wind. We really don't want to waste time making a stop just for fuel.

We can't decide whether Ziggy would make a better futbol (soccer) goalie or forward. He makes some great blocking jumps and captures when we toss him his favorite toy - a curled up twist tie. But once he has it on the ground he likes to dribble it forward where he passes it into the 12-inch opening underneath our enclosed toilet. Goal! Right into the bilge. His coach then has to get down on all fours to stick her arm as far as it will go in the aft direction of this cramped opening. Invariably when we go fishing for the most recent "ball" we find two more just like it. The sun has come out a bit more since I started doing email and he's snoozing under the dodger right now soaking up some rays.

John made bread this morning, and otherwise we're just going along with our same old routine and chores.

{GMST}24|48|N|116|39|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 27|Day 27{GEND}