Archive for the ‘Beautiful Beaches’ Category

Heading Down the Pacific Coast of Mexico

07/30/2012

 After waiting 3 days for a weather window we left Chamela, our next stop was La Barra De Navidad. It was 137 nautical miles and it took us overnight to arrive in the afternoon.  La Barra De Navidad has a lagoon where boaters anchor and locals fish.  It was very shallow going in at low tide and we ran aground.  First Mate Mike was sent up forward to “watch” as we went forward.  But he was preoccupied checking out all the boats in the anchorage, scanning for familiar boats that might contain friends from La Paz.

  It wasn’t long before a small boat was headed our way.  In the boat was indeed friends we had met in La Paz from the boat Third Day. They had seen us come up the channel and had come to say hello and lend a hand.  We welcomed them aboard while Mike and Jason went up to the bow and caught up on past events. We adults went back in the wheelhouse out of the sun and passed around “cold ones” while waiting for the tide to rise.

This was probably one of Mikes favorite stops.  His friend Jason was taking surfing lessons the following day and invited Mike to come along.  Mike was able to hang out with J and surf with him a good part of the day. The two of them did great and got a real workout.  The seas were a bit rough and the waves were just right for practicing.

We anchored the boat in the lagoon there and the trip back and forth to shore was a long one.  Coming back  to the boat at night was the most exciting with the brightest phosphorus I had ever seen.  A flashlight wasn’t needed due to the light reflecting off of the transom and the outboard.  The sea life was ever so active jumping and darting in all directions. The outline of sea snakes would come to the surface and move their heads back and forth looking around, while everything was a bright flourescent green.  It was down right eerie.

Our friends from Third Day have a boat made by the same designer as ours, a William Garden.  It was nice to see the two boats anchored together.  We had a nice visit and just wished we had more time to play.

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La Cruz, Mexico

04/02/2012

March 28th, 2012

Day 4

Last year we bought “Pacific Mexico A Cruiser’s Guidebook.“, by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer. It was a smart purchase. The information inside contained places to visit, restaurants to eat at, transportation available and other services that boaters would find interesting.

On our cruise south, we planned our stops according to the anchorages listed in the book. Notes were made concerning what side of the anchorage provided better protection from the winds and weather and whether or not the anchorage was exposed to sea swell/rollers. What we didn’t gather from our guidebook was how hard the wind blows DAILY in Banderas Bay along the coast of La Cruz.

Last Sunday we left Punta De Mita, the Northern Tip of Banderas Bay, because of the large rollers that came in the anchorage during the night. We had to wait for daylight to pull up the anchor and head to a better anchorage. We had decided on La Cruz because the guidebook noted that the town was located outside the marina where a dingy dock was provided with security .

After the anchor was set the guys went ashore to check in with the Port Captain. I was invited to go but thought I better stay behind to keep an eye on the anchor. No sooner were they out of sight, the wind began to gust and each time the gusts were stronger. We had white caps and rollers in the bay. The anchor held beautifully, but I was a bit worried as the wind continued to get stronger. I decided to get a beer to calm my nerves and put on some music while I watched the kite boarders and racing sailboats breeze by. When the guys returned, they were surprised to see how quickly the weather had changed. After sunset, the wind calmed down. We later learned that this is a normal weather pattern for this area.

A trip into the small town of La Cruz is a special one. The town has an old charm. Many or most of the streets are cobblestone and red dirt. The buildings are close together with very unique uses of building materials. I had never seen a garage roof made of bricks before and the pattern was rolling and not flat. Ceramic tiles placed in creative patterns that gave you the desire to stop and look at them for awhile. A small park was located in town. It contained large huanacaxtle, pronounced “wah-nah-KAHSH-lay.“ , trees that were seriously huge. Not only tall but bumpy and wide. Black tropical birds with long black tail feathers squawked back and forth with high pitch voices. A concrete center was built in the middle of the park with metal supports in a circle. Beautiful timbers were used to connect the supports to a common place in the center of the circle. Park benches were placed close together around the park. The wood used looked to be shaven from a reddish wood that looked like rosewood. It looked “too nice” to be used for the general public. It was obvious that the community respected their park due to the condition these benches were in. They looked like fine furniture.

Just like other places I had been in Mexico, when you are walking around you best keep your eye on where your next foot is going to land. If you are looking around and walking, you can very easily miss a hole in the sidewalk or street, or a step up onto the next section of sidewalk just happens to change abruptly. Unlike the United States, you are responsible for yourself. If you fall and hurt yourself while walking around, it is up to you to pay attention. Law Suits aren’t as popular here in Mexico.

Day 5

 

Advertised on the VHF this morning was a Jazz concert being held this evening in order to raise money for a film that was made of the locals in the area telling the general public that La Cruz is a safe place to visit. Once again the Media in the United States over exaggerates the crime here. The logic most people live by is that there are bad neighborhoods anywhere in the world you go. That includes in the United States. Unfortunately the news that we all hear is selective and bias. Something we all seem to overlook at times.

We decided to go, sounded like fun. There were four different sets of performers. We learned that many Jazz performers that made a decent living on the west coast of the U.S., retired here to La Cruz. What a treat for the locals to have these musicians that are willing to continue to play for enjoyment of the public.

Day 6

The day is spent running errands and picking up supplies. We had been walking everywhere up till now. We knew we needed to take a cab to the ATM to get pesos but had no idea where to find one. We stopped at the security check point at the marina and asked the guard where we could find a taxi. The guard turned and faced the woods and began screaming at the top of his lungs ‘TAXI! TAXI!”. We started laughing and then a car zips around the corner and a man rolls down his window and says “You need a Taxi?” He drove us maybe 5 miles and charged us 80 pesos.

Day 7

Today was The Cruisers Swap Meet. Actually it was a cruisers Yard Sale. These events are fun to go to. You never know what people are getting off of their boats. Michael bought Night Vision Binocular , A oil change kit, some shackles and a surf board for Mike. Mike was excited to go off to the beach at Punta De Mita to meet a friend of his and do some surfing. It was a wonderful diversion for him. Staying on the boat with his folks drives him insane some days, which is understandable.

Last night we attended a “get together” at the marina. On the way I met two men that were carrying guitars. They asked me if I’d like them to sing me a song and of course I couldn’t refuse. The younger of the two smiled at me and said he had a special song for me. He called it “Kiss Me All Over.” I’m sure I blushed at the title of the song and fortunately it was sung in espanol, so I didn’t understand many of the words. Both of the men’s guitars were chipped and broken in places.  The older man played his guitar in a classical fashion. He was the musician of the two.

The “Get Together” was for cruisers to socialize and meet other cruisers that were traveling in the same direction. Many of the people here were waiting for the perfect weather window to do what they call “The Puddle Jump.”. These people are headed across the Pacific Ocean to the small islands that lead over to Tahiti. There were suppose to be other people heading south, but we didn’t meet any.

We did meet a man, a gringo, at the bar as we first arrived that seemed to be real friendly. But as the night progressed, he ended up coming across as very strange. Alcohol was his issue, I’m sure of it.

My crew ended up going to a nice restaurant for dinner. We had barbecue ribs that were made with pineapple and mango sauce. They were delicious. After our meal the guy from the “cruisers get together” came in “only to have a beer. “ he said. He told the owner he was kicked out of the last place he went to. Then he sat at the bar and chatted up about us and how he had met us previously. He then told the Owner “to sit back and watch, things were about to get strange.” He picked up a pocket knife the owner kept at the bar and was opening it up and waving it around. At that point, he was asked to leave, as he took the knife from him and put it away. I felt uneasy when we left the restaurant to head back to our dingy. Then I remembered that both my guys knew Judo one of which is a brown belt in Judo. In this case the trouble maker wasn’t even Mexican. We had a nice walk back to the dingy dock and safe ride back to our boat.

Day 8

 

Big day for vendors selling goods they have made along the malecon (A walk way that runs along the waters edge) at the marina. I had heard about this market from the locals and wanted to check it out. As we approached this morning we saw people everywhere. My first thought was to turn around and head back to the boat. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds. But since Michael and Mike were with me I didn’t want to change my mind on them.

It was a good thing we went because there were so many nice things that people had made. Things like tiny beads made into designs that had to take a long time to do. Jewelry of all kinds with pretty stones, paintings of local scenery, pottery from the area of Oxaca with gorgeous glazes, ice cream made with coconut and carrots, marlin empanadas, fresh bread., organic coffee and vegetables. Many of the people wore festive garments of bright colors and beautiful embroidery with large sombreros.

What I was looking for was art work done by the Huichol people that live deep in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. It is said that these people are one of only a few tribes people remaining in North America. Once a year they harvest the peyote cactus. They believe this helps them communicate with their gods. Their artwork is the product of their beliefs. I did find a vendor with many pieces to choose from. We haggled about the price and eventually I was able to purchase a beautiful piece that I liked. It is said that if you don’t haggle over price you are considered weak and are disrespected. I still find it hard to do.

As usual the afternoon wind was blowing hard as we rode back to the boat in the dingy. It was a real challenge to keep my purchase dry. Somehow, we made it. The rest of the day was spent putting away clean laundry and helping Michael with tools while he did maintenance on the boat. For dinner I made a shrimp scampi with white wine, garlic and lime juice. It was a hit. J

Underway

03/25/2012

Thursday

“Up and at em” Michael said, early this morning. SURE!  He went to bed a 5:30 last night.  I should have figured this would happen.  For some reason I didn’t get much sleep.  Perhaps a little anxiety about getting “underway”. I got out of bed, fixed my tea and didn’t quite have it finished when Michael gives the word for Mike to pull up the anchor.  Things ran through my mind that I wanted to get done first.

Things like: Put the harness on the dog, Stowe anything that might become a missel. Wash my face and put my hair up. Things that were going to be done “on the fly”.

As Mike pulled up the anchor I was there to assist. Tangled tight around the chain came a fishermans net. Everything came to a hault as Mike put the inflatable dingy back in the water to remove the net with a knife in hand.  He worked maybe 30 minutes on this thing, eventually freeing it up from our chain and then we were off!

It was a beautiful day with light winds.  As the day progressed so did the winds making a nice sail south. We spotted whales all day. While Michael went below to take a nap, I spotted a whale off our port bow.  It was so close all I could say was “wo wo wo”.  It came up and checked out the boat as if to determine who had the right of way.  I was so excited my steering was off 20 degrees in either direction.  Mike had come up top and said “Mom don’t head straight for it.” I knew that.! 🙂  Michael was able to get up on deck with his camera and take a few shots. You can see a shot of the wale on Michaels blog “Halcyonpassages.wordpress.com”.

Thursday night was totally awsome on the water.  There was absolutely no moon and the sky was brilliantly lit up with stars that reflected off of the water.  By 7:30pm Mike was tired and asleep on the lazzerette. His shift was to start at 8pm.   I told him to go to bed and I’d take his shift. The autopilot was on and all I had to do was keep a watch for other boats, rocks and whales of course.  I turned on the tunes listening to Sara McGlaughlin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, some old Eagles and Sting. I sat on the deck and watched the sky for hours.  The milkyway covered a large expanse of the sky for north to south.  Two planets were so bright that I watched each one sink into the western horizon one by one as the colorschanged from a bright white to a reddish orange. On the south  horizon I spotted lights moving in a northerlydirection.

A call on the quiet VHS radio was hailing the sailboat headed southbound.  I knew they were calling us.  The boats name was El Tiburon, another sailboat and they had just left Bandaris Bay and was headed back to La Paz.  They mentioned they had transmission issues and had to get a part/repair in La Cruz and recommended a good mechanic.  We exchanged fairwells and continued on our ways.  I was surprised he could tell what kind of boat I was considering the distance between us.

By 12am I was ready to sleep.  I woke up Mike and he was ready to go.  Hopped out of bed and on deck within minutes. He did the 12-4am shift. Michael did 4-6 as I appeared on deck once again and told him to get some sleep.  Each time we saw boats or had a question, we would wake him to check it out. (As per his request.) So he didn’t get much sleep.

All day Friday was truely a dream.  The wind was gradual and the sun was warmer than what we experienced in Mazatlan.  I took the oportunity to sunbathe most of the day while the guys worked the sails and kept the boat moving south.

At 6pm we arrived at the outside channel marker of Bandaris Bay.  Michael navigated in the dark, the boat all the way to the anchorage at Punta De Mita.  We all were asleep by 9:30pm.  Woke up this morning around 6am to look around and see what this place looked like in the daylight. Wow! Absolutely breath taking.  Tall, tall mountains surrounding a huge bay with white sandy beaches and rock cliffs.  Mexico still takes my breath away.

By 7:30 Am  the VHF Radio Channel 22 broadcasts. Local cruisers report who’s in the area along with local weather and tides.  We laughed as we recognized many boats from La Paz over 300 nautical miles away visting the area.  In the cruising community it is a small world.

Sea Trials

04/19/2011

The day was getting so hot that we were dragging our bodies around as we went about our chores.  The high was predicted to be 95 degrees and I think it was close to it by 11AM.  The deck looked like a bomb hit it. Michael turned to me and said “Let’s clean this all up on the way out of here”.  Those were the best words I had heard all morning.  So he started up the motor and out we went, cleaning up the deck as we motored along. 

The water was Blueberry Blue and the hues changed lighter to white as the water got shallower.  We motored up to the same place as before, a couple of weeks ago. There were people in kayaks, waverunners, and fishing boats. The anchor was dropped in 20′ of water.  The GPS set to announce any dragging of the anchor.

Mike jumped into the inflatable dingy with a 4 stroke 10 hp motor on the back.  Off he flew to go check out the sights.  He was so fun to watch as he bounced off the waves from a nearby waverunner.

As my eyes scanned the water I  saw several schools of fish right on the surface of the water.  Each time a bird flew over it was as tho the bird had a magnetic pull as a soft swosh sound would occur and many of the little fish would pile up in the direction the bird was flying.

Later in the evening the guys were out on the deck, when a kayak with a father and son pulled up next to the boat.

The little boy yelled “HOLA!” As if he were saying “I said Hi!   He spoke some english and asked if he could come on board and have his picture taken.  Up comes Father and Son.  More voices came from behind the boat. Three more people climb on board. It was Mom and two daughters. The children looked to be between the ages of 9-12.  They all wanted their pictures taken on the boat.  So we took their pictures.

As the sun  set and the full moon crossed the mountain, it reflected into the sea.

Michael was  done for the day and goes to bed.  Little Mike says he’s wired and can’t go to sleep.  Says he doesn’t like being on the anchor.  I tell him he’ll have to get use to it because we’ll be anchored out much over the next 3 months. He explains that he should have gone to bed while we were still up so that he could feel that someone was on watch.  So I tell him that I would be up for a while.  He finally settles down and goes to sleep.

If I weren’t so sleepy I’d stay up for hours sitting in the companion way watching the stars and the bright lit up moon. There’s a gentle breeze blowing which carries the sound of the mariachi bands tuba player over from the nearby beach.  Someone must have gotten married today due to the  white tents set up and music being played all afternoon.

By the next morning the guys go over the routine check of the engine and find a leaky transmission seal and a few other issues that need to be addressed.

It is decided that we head back to the marina and address these matters.  Shouldn’t take more than a day or two and hopefully we will be out again for another sea trial.

Bitter Sweet

04/13/2011

A week has passed, almost two…but I thought I’d better update my blog.  Our family pet Wally passed away Sunday two weeks ago.  It was a very sad time for us.  We had the boat ready for a sea trial so we took the opportunity to motor out into the bay and bury Wally in close to 100′ of water.  The ride out was exciting.  The boat handled like a dream.  The day was clear and warm with virtually no wind and the water was crystal clear. Dolphins decided to escort us as we crossed the downtown area of La Paz.  They stayed directly under our bow wake and when I talked to them, they would surface and blow water at me.  It made me smile.

We left the dock around 3:30 pm and arrived at a deep place in the bay close to sunset.  As we looked around for a spot to say goodbye to our friend, we passed a seal playing around in the water.  I poured two shot glasses of Coconut Rum and one of Grape Juice as the three of us offered a toast to Wally.  He was wrapped in red canvas from the boat, weighed down with some heavy weight and slid into the bay.  We watched as his body sink below the depths out of sight. Not one of us could speak a word.

Michael slowly walked back to the wheelhouse, put the engine in gear and headed out to a nearby island where we would anchor for the night.  We pulled into a cove and dropped the anhcor in about 20′ of water.  We had a light dinner of salsas, bean drip and tortilla chips.  As the light faded away the wind began to blow and blow it did hard until 2:30 AM.  Michael set the alarm on the GPS, as we all took sights on land to get an idea where we were so if we dragged anchor we would know.  By the time we finished dinner the wind had picked up considerably and we were concerned that we had dragged, so the three of us went on topsides, Mike at the wheel, Michael on the anchor as I am handed a flashlight and the VHF Radio to give Mike orders as Michael attempts to reset the anchor.  The wind just howled in our ears.  Michael had to yell for me to hear him giving me directions as to where to shine the light all at the same time giving me directions to relay to Mike.  With all of the mix of emotions running around in my head, I notice I’m pointing the handheld radio at the anchor while talking in the flashlight. Not helpfull!

Michaels content at last that we are staying in the same spot and goes below to bed.  While Mike makes a place on the deck to sleep.  He wanted to keep one eye open in case we start to drag.  I bring him a pillow and warm blanket while our other dog snuggles up to him to keep warm.  Me…I felt I would be most useful if I just stayed up all night.  The sun warms up the land during the day and when the sunsets the cooler air covers the land as the warmer air rushes upward.  It felt like the wind blew over 30 knotts that night.

By 4:30AM, I went to sleep.  Guys got up by 7Am.  I joined them, fixed a big breakfast then we lowered the little boat over the side while Mike and Caelin, our black lab, took a ride to the beach for her morning walk.  Then we splashed my kayak over the side and off I went for a morning paddle.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The farther out I paddled the clearer the water got and I could see all kinds of large fish under me.  It made me feel like I was up high looking down, as my heart sank.  A sea plane passed overhead and then circled around the island as well as an ultralight float plane.

As I paddled around the rocky cliff, white sandy beaches came into view. Wow what a day.  When I returned to the boat I noticed the tide was going out, we were in 7′ of water.  Our draft is 6′.  Michael seemed content to stay there but on went the motor, then up he pulled the anchor and out to the bay once again.  We headed back across La Paz and over to the marina where we have been staying.  It took 1 to 2 hours to get back.

Once we were back in our slip at the marina we felt exhausted, mostly from the sadness in our hearts from losing our friend.  It was a bitter sweet time.

A Glimpse of La Paz BCS, Mexico.

08/12/2010

So here we are, one week later sitting on the back of the boat in the hot steamy and breezy air.  Each day as the sun goes down the wind picks up off of the desert and blows, sometimes pretty strong.  It’s warm and sticky.  The only difference is that the sun isn’t beating down on you at the same time.  I hoped to post pics of the drive down the Baja Peninsula and I will.  But for now here are some pics of the area of La Paz.  The name means Peace! As to the boat, I’ll be posting the latest update real soon.

The above pic is of Down Town.  The Sea of Cortez comes right up to the sidewalks on the left.  In the evenings families walk the boardwalk while vendors set up tables and walk the streets selling drinks, food, jewelry and other local charms.

I am told that this boardwalk extends from one end of the city to the next. 

This is one of many stops along the beach after you pass thru town.

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Places such as this set my mind to wondering about its history.

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Many of the mountains are shaped out of rock.  The roads outside of the city can be rough especially when going around blind curves on the mountain sides.  If you look closely  you will see these shrines set up along the side of the road for the loved ones who have been killed in car accidents. 

 Driving in Mexico is entertaining to say the least.  It is to our disadvantage that we can’t understand many of the street signs.  We have driven up one way roads and have gotten the “what the hell look” with hands wide open from side to side, from the police.  We have driven thru stop signs but learned quickly what signs meant.  In Mexico, the speed limit is mearly a suggestion, as well as the stop signs.  No one actually stops unless it’s a red light.

I liked this walkway. Not sure as to it’s purpose.  It dead ends right into the hill.

At this intersection you can choose to go left to the Ferry that will carry you and your automobile from La Paz BCS to Mazatlan, Mexico on the mainland.  Should you choose to go right you will go directly toward two of the many best beaches around. 

The color of the water is crystal clear blue.

The iron work on the gate at this hotel is just an example of Mexico’s craftsmanship.


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