Below are stories and blogs from our journey. When we don't have access to internet will will update on our blog site www.svgirlonthemoon.blogspot.com .
This is our last video for this season. If you have trouble viewing it here you can view it on this youtube.com by clicking this link.
Nothing holds the imagination of pacific cruising more than the first view this moorish inspired hotel and marina in the northern corner of Manzanillo Bay. Cut out of a side of a cliff, every step, every stone hand laid to give a old world feel. This tranquil hotel has a great little marina. That is a Med-Moor style tie. Which means you have to back into your space, not a slip but a space. This keeps the majority of cruisers out of this marina.
Most sailboats do not back-up well and since there is really no Mediterranean style marinas except for this, no one cares to learn. We gave it a shot. Our thinking was the more experience the better. So hailing the marina, Leaha told them this was our first attempt at a Med-Moor. The harbor master said she was understaffed but would come out to help. It turns out there were at least ten Mexicans there at our space to give assistance (our to watch our attempt and laugh). The funny thing about our space was that it was placed next to a 100 foot 5 million dollar mega yacht. I was craping my pants. Two crew members dropped bumpers down the side of the mega yacht. Knowing that I had rarely backed up unless I had too and rarely was it ever straight... I held my breath. We lined up, backing up off a turn, okay straight, 70 feet off the dock Leaha dropped the anchor and started letting chain out. It seemed perfect. Backing up we kept going, 20feet, 10 feet then 5 feet Leaha threw the lines to the guys at the dock and we were done. The look on all of the Mexicans was one of disappointment. No show today.
One problem with Las Hadas is that at one time it was a world class resort, now it had befallen the same fate as many of the hotels in Mexico in this economy. It was ruff, run down and needing a infusion of capital to bring it back to the greatness it once was. But it was still a great place to visit and relax.
One of my disappointments however was Manzanillo. Manzanillo is a commercial port city supplying Mexico City and beyond all sorts of products. It is one of the biggest ports of its kind in Mexico, a careful eye must be kept on commercial traffic when sailing in the area. The city itself is loud and busy, which means a lot pollution. Perhaps we caught it on a bad week. Maybe someday we will try it again.
Ensenada Carrizal is probably my favorite stop so far. It's a small undeveloped cove with great snorkeling. When we first arrived at the cove we were the only boat there. We were pretty excited about having the place all to ourselves. Unfortunately two more boat came in a few hours later. A total of three boats still isn't bad.
We spent two days snorkeling. Amazing! There was a ton of bright colored coral and so many different tropical fish you wouldn't believe it! The water was a perfect temperature making it even more enjoyable.
We went to shore one afternoon for a little hike up the hill. Up there were able to see the entire cove and get some good pictures of the boat.
While at the cove my sprouts where ready to eat (thank you Vicki on JoJo for giving me the seeds). I made some great pasta with herbs from the herb garden I started a while back and had a yummy salad with my sprouts & fresh goat cheese I purchased from the farmers market back in La Cruz. We had some really great moments just sitting on boat relaxing and having wine in this quiet little cove. So sweet...
To see more pictures from Carrizal go to the photo page by clicking here.
The short 13 mile leg from Bahia Tenacatita to Melaque was just over 2 hours. When we arrived, there were only three other boats in this beach front anchorage. This was a tricky anchorage known as "Rocky Melaque" for a reason. Miss the fish pens. Set the front anchor. Then drop the dinghy and set the stern anchor. The key for comfort was to set the bow into the rolls of the waves. This took setting a good stern anchor and pulling the aft until the bow was pointed into the swell. This worked great until the next day when the winds kicked up into the high 20 knots and a boat on anchor always wants to point into the wind, finally ripped the stern anchor out. So for the rest of the night we had the "Rocky Melaque" experience. It so happens that the wind that was giving us fits was tearing boats off their anchors in the Barra lagoon. The radio was alive with panic when 3 boats, who's crews were ashore, slid through the anchorage. We listened like it was the best soap on tv. In the end all the other boats rallied, one gal lost her little finger and was sent onshore to get medical attention. Makes for good radio.
Then next day Leaha and I headed to shore, rowing of course since I fouled the engine. We beached the dinghy in front of the La Sierena restaurant and an old man shook my hand and handed me a menu. This was nothing new in Mexico, they are great salesmen. But, alas I told him we had to go to the bank first (in broken english/spanish). He got it and we went down the beach to get into the city center. We went directly to the bank. Funny thing, thru out Mexico I found the generosity of the Mexican people second to none. Mind you they don't make much but if there is someone in need. They always find something to give, if not money, then food, if not food, maybe just a shirt. Really impressed. The Americans would inherently walk by, the Canadians, well some would give. But the Mexicans, even the ones who had little, would give what they could. Sadly, we Americans have come to this. The reason I bring this up now is in front of the bank there was this little fellow in a wheelchair, without the use of his arms. Bright and cheery he said hello to the gringos and locals. As we waited in line for the one ATM within 10 miles I watched as Mexicans, Americans and Canadians walked in past this fellow. It was amazing to see every Mexican gave something. To a person almost every American did not. I think we have some issues to work out people!
Now Melaque was a nice town hot, wind blown, but nice. We did find a great place to shop, the Hawaiian store. Which we found Franzia at only 170 peso a box. Leaha was overjoyed. As we went back to the boat the owner of the La Sierena was there smiling. We sat at a table were the ocean was no more than 10 feet away in the sand and proceeded to have a wonderful meal. NOTICE! The best Margarita of the trip was had here, no two of them! Nice!
Another rolly night led us to move to the Barra Lagoon. This took timing of high tide and a need to follow the gps marks perfectly. Even if the GPS showed us 4 miles onshore! We anchored in 7 feet of water according to the depth finder and this was at high tide. sigh... The Barra Lagoon is a mud sludge bottom so anchors like to run. As crazy as it sounds after talking to the other boats in the Lagoon, we put out 110 feet of chain. 12 to 1 scope... Just crazy. But I do have to say, we did not move while we were there. In fact, during low tide we set off the depth alarm... 2.8 feet below the hull, not good.
Barra de Navidad is one of those places, if you come to Mexico, that is a must. Tight cobblestone streets, busy restaurants, did I mention a world class resort and golf course/marina? Its just perfect. I see why people come here to live on there boats. The lagoon is as quite as a marina as far as boat movements and if you need a ride you can call a water taxi 24/7.
Every morning the lagoon was visited by Leaha's favorite thing... The French Baker. This mobile panga would visit each boat at about nine in the morning. "Hello! The French Baker is outside!!" would come from the vhf on channel 22. Leaha would wait with baited breath... pain au chocolat. There are few things that truly rule her world. One is wine, the other is good pasta, the last would be a good french pastry. So to have good pastries given every morning, well, she was in heaven!
We had four great days here. But the best, in my opinion was the little town of Colimilla. It is a small town located on the lagoon with small restaurants covering the shoreline. If you ever get here try the dish Rollo Del Mar. A perfect fish dish made better by Mahi-Mahi rolled around shrimp then wrapped in bacon and covered with an almond sauce. You must wash it down with a drink called Coco Loco. It will make the world right!
Now lucky enough, we arrived to Barra de Navidad during Carnival. The city was alive with energy. Street food was everywhere. Music. Dancing. Just great!
The 122 miles from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle to Bahia Tenacatita, down the Costalegre coast is a beautiful run with dramatic cliffs, jungles, mountains and flatlands. We left in the afternoon to cover the 122 miles mostly at night and hopefully arrive as the sun rose in Tencatita.
Trip started perfectly with a slightly overcast day a good westerly wind of 10 knots and the windvane set. This easy sailing lasted for the first 6 hours. In fact we coasted past Cabo Corrientes doing 6 knots. The only issue was when a whale breach 20 yards in front of the boat. I actually did a "Crazy Ivan" to miss the whale and her calf. At least Leaha got a few good pictures. About an hour after that, the Volvo was started as the wind dropped to 5 knots. We motored until sunrise. With the first rays of light hitting us as we passed Punta Hermanos, the northern point of Bahia Tencatita.
Bahia Tencatita is sort of a magical place for cruisers. It has two point coverage from the northwest winds from Punta Hermanos and Punta Chubasco. Winter month wind have little to no affect on the main anchorage and Punta el Estrecho protects a good portion of the southerly storms as well. What this means is running from a Lee shore in the middle of the night really does not happen much here. In other terms good sleep on the hook! Because of this and the miles and miles of clean beautiful beaches this is a heaven for the "non marina crowd". The cost of life really slows down here. There are a lot of cruisers who come here and stay... a long time. In fact up to 20 boats were there at any given time. They had daily bocci ball competitions on the beach and drinks at the one restaurant, La Vena. It was close "Lord of the Flys" community. With a daily meeting on channel 22 to discuss needs, problems and of course, daily activities. If one wants to escape this "community", La Manzanilla is 5 miles south. Leaha wanting to make contact with her family thought it would be nice to take the dinghy there. I was a little concerned with this due to the distance and the fact we only had about 1/2 of a tank of gas for our dinghy. Enough for a one way trip. When we arrived we found it to be a cute city completely over run by Canadians. Did I mention no Gas station or Bank? Luckily after asking around we found someone who would sell us some gas. So we relaxed, did our emails and then headed back to the dinghy. The wind and the seas had picked up greatly and launching was going to be fun. We got drenched. The worst part was that I mixed the oil and gas poorly. Our engine died about a quarter of a mile out. Luckily we had our vhf and were able to hail a boat that was anchored there for a tow. Thank you August Moon! Russ and Doreen for helping. It wouldn't have been a fun row back to the boat. But all in all quite a magical little escape.
We have been spending a lot of time in Banderas Bay. While here the boat has been in three different places: the marina in La Cruz, the anchorage in La Cruz and the marina in Nuevo Vallarta. My family even came down for a short visit while we were here.
La Cruz is a great little town. At first I had some doubts about it's popularity but it has grown on me. The marina here is very nice and reasonably priced. I rank the showers as the best throughout the marinas I've been to in both California and Mexico. The anchorage here is also very easy. It's large and the dinghy ride to shore is short. The town of La Cruz is small and convenient. You can find many great places to eat, from cheap tacos to fine cuisine. One of Mike's favorites is Tacos on the Street. It's simple but perfect. The make their tacos and quesadillas with ribeye steak (Mike's favorite). It's cheap delicious and you get to BYOB! What more can you ask for? For something a bit different there is a yummy Tapas Restaurant with a great wine selection. One of the best dishes I had in Mexico was from Masala in La Cruz. They have a diverse menu with excellent flavors and preparation. There is also an AMAZING fish market located right next to the marina and anchorage in La Cruz.
My family came to visit while we were at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. This marina is located in a resort so marina guest can use all the amenities. The have a great beach with palapas (with cocktail delivery), a few pools and a zoo. While the family was here we spent a day Puerto Vallarta, relaxed at the beach & pools and took a day trip to Boca de Tomatlan.
Boca de Tomatlan is at the far south end of Banderas Bay. We had to take a few buses over crazy coastal mountain roads and tunnels to get there. Along the we passed by the set of the classic cult movie Night of the Iguana. Boca de Tomatlan is in a small cove where a river meets the ocean, very picturesque. From Boca we got a panaga (boat) to takes us to a wonderful little restaurant and private beach a few miles away at Playa Colomios (which has no road access). We had an amazing afternoon in Playa Colomitos with a great lunch and playing on the beautiful beach.
After the family left we headed back up to the anchorage in La Cruz. One of the best parts of being on anchor is being able to jump off the boat and swim any day you want! While at the anchorage we prepped to go south while watching many beautiful sunsets.
There are few people who have shaped cruising in the Pacific like Richard, the owner if Profligate and head of the annual Baja-Ha-Ha Rally. For 18 years Richard and the Ha-Ha event have brought countless cruisers to start their aspirations of leaving the dock lines and still inspires countless workers who daydream of life on the rolling blue. Now, on the west coast one does not dream of cruising the Chesapeake Bay. We dream of leaving US soil starting with the Baja-ha-ha.
How many Mexican Marinas owe at least half of there current cliental to folks who came down on the baja-ha? Its funny to see how one man (and the countless others in his crew that help, starting with Ladonna his girlfriend and quite a powerhouse in her own right) can fuel the idea of a different life. Now, I had my on ideas of this enterprise and Richard from my trip on the 08 ha-ha. I thought it was one unrealistic photo shoot after another. Not showing the reality of cruising, not showing how hard it really was. After our sail with Richard and Ladonna, my view as changed. Perhaps with age, our just looking with more time and cruising under my belt.
Leaha, myself, and Steve (Desolina) asked to crew with Profligate for the last race of the Banderas Bay winter races. Now, when we arrived there was a lot of help, more than the boat needed, all were invited onboard. LaDonna was prepping food which Leaha went to help, and Richard was trying to replace the Spinnaker halyard which Steve and I went to help. There were so many people helping that there was little for us to do. So for the most part I was able to watch.
There was a Canadian film crew aboard to shoot a pilot for a new show. It is being based on living and travel. Richard being the leader took over the show and filming. Being that he has done this for 18+ years we did not race like expected. We followed the race and just let the crew get great shots while we set and pulled spinnakers on different tacks. I don't think the film crew could have asked for better shots. The day was great. I found Richard and Ladonna to be down to earth folks who have made a life in a arena that until now, did not exist. I guess, that's the great thing. A great testament to doing what you love and believing enough in it to make a life of it. Thanks Richard for a great afternoon.
This video shows a bit of our daily life on our boat. I left out Mike working on endless boat maintenance and me vacuuming the endless cat hair. You can also video on this youtube.com LINK.
We arrived at the tiny anchorage in Chacala around noon. It was beautiful! Honestly I didn't believe there were places like this in Mexico. Crystal clear water, soft white sand beach, and tall coconut palms everywhere. We set our bow (front) anchor as usual. This anchorage is know to be rolly so we set a stern (back) anchor as well. I made some lunch while Mike put together our dinghy.
We got into the dinghy, picked up Steve and headed to the port captain to check-in. We checked in as usual and then made the short walk into town. We enjoyed a few drinks in one of the beach front palapa restaurants while a band played on the beach. The ocean was the perfect temperature for swimming.
Later on that evening Mike and I went back a shore so I could get some sunset pictures of the boat. Unfortunately a haze covered the sky so my pictures didn't turn out as I hoped. Never the less our stroll along the beach was great.
As expected the anchorage was uncomfortable during the night. It was quite rolly so we had a very restless night...the cats did not enjoy it either. Our little paradise left us with little sleep so we left the next morning for La Cruz.
When Butch and I hit San Blas in 09, it was as close to the high point as one could get for our first trip into Mexico cruising. Cheap food, Cheap beer, and fun everywhere. San Blas... well it doesn't disappoint and it didn't this time either!
After a overnight passage from Mazatlan, one that was mostly motoring. We arrived in San Blas, with buddy boat Desolina, at about high tide. Of course the color of San Blas answered when we called for the marina, Old Norm Goldie... Now last time we were here we had issues with old Norm. Norm took over the conversation from Steve on Desolina (I had been here before). Anyway he was critical with the estuary and said we were in danger because the tide was no going out. Well at least for the last 20 minutes it was going out... lol. He advised Steve that he would call the marina for us and would have the marina send out a panga. After which he would love to meet us in the town square to introduce himself... yeah, been there. Anyway, we went over the bar with 17 feet of room. Making San Blas a piece of cake and Mazatlan look as the worst entrance on the west coast.
So if you are thinking of going to San Blas do it do not listen to Norm on ch. 22 and go experience San Blas - he has been quoted as telling cruisers that San Blas was no longer safe and it was because of some bad cruisers that the locals were angry. The people of San Blas are great. Food is cheap and the only bad thing that you ever hear about San Blas are Jejenes or what we call no-see-um bugs. My suggestion is to Deet in the evenings and putting up screens.
There is so much to see, so much history, and if you were looking for true Mexico without the normal gringo tones, this is it. If you can be there for the festival of the migratory birds in the first of February, do it. Also don't miss the old Spanish outposts or the jungle tour. All of which are great. To really check out San Blas go into the new marina. Its only got 20 slips but it has everything, also very cheap and very helpful.