Post #2 – The Last Month: The Alenuhaha Channel, Kihei, Naked People, Molokini and Lahaina.

The winds veering around the island were suppose to have decreased down to five knots in the evening. As I laid in my bunk in Nishimura anchorage at midnight the wind generator was still howling, a good sign the wind hadn’t decreased. By 0100 I was worried the wind generator would take off, taking the back half of the boat with it. The wind was seriously blowing now.  Well, at least the batteries were charging. Maybe we wouldn’t be heading across the Alenuihaha Channel tonight; or for the next week. There was suppose to have been a break in the weather for a few hours tonight. At 0130 the wind died completely, almost ominously. Looking through the hatch it was eerie. Pitch black and I could hear the breaking waves on the rocks 75 feet away. Is the wind gone for the next few hours? Can I make a break for it? Never mind. Stupid wind generator; there it goes again, threatening to disintegrate again from the howling trade winds funneling through the channel. 0230, the wind has dropped to a faint breeze for at least the last 1/2 hour. The wind generator’s motionless blades tell me it’s time to raise anchor and make a run for it. usa-alenuihaha-channel

At 0330, Camanoe and I were on a beam reach three miles into the Alenuihaha channel with a 12-15 knot breeze cruising along at six knots. We had a 6-7 foot swell every five seconds hitting us on the beam causing us to roll a bit. As the sun rose around 0630 it was easy to see how the trade winds could funnel through this channel creating havoc on any poor soul caught in the middle. It was even easier to understand this was one of the worst feared channels in the world. It has been the death of many people and more ships, including Captain Cook’s ship, during his sixth circumnavigation. Apparently, as the day progresses, the wind builds in strength through the channel. By noon, on average, it is an unsafe place to be. Fortunately, the wind remained steady as it clocked around to our stern pushing us to within five miles of Kihei, Maui, before it changed 180 degrees onto the nose.

What is that? Yup, it’s what I think it is. As I was dropping the main sail and rolling the head sail in preparation to motor the last five miles to Kihei I spied me a nude beach 100 feet off my starboard side. Unfortunately, the water was full of coral, not a great place to drop the hook. This would have made for a perfect blog photo!

Less than an hour later I was anchored in Kihei in front of the Mana Kai resort. Kihei - Mana Kai resort What a difference from the big island. This was paradise; beaches on either side of me for five miles, full of people swimming and boating. Camanoe was anchored less than 100 feet from shore; an easy swim. After swimming ashore with my gear in a dry bag, I walked five miles down the main strip. It’s a beautiful place lined with beaches, parks and people smiling. It was great chatting it up with the locals after being confined on the boat for the last few days.

Even though Kihei was beautiful, my real reason for stopping there was Molokini crater. Molokini Crater, easily visible from Camanoe’s anchorage, is considered one of the top 10 places to dive in the world. Essentially, it is the remains of a volcano crater that has been sinking/erroding back into the ocean. Molokini crater The land, coral and wildlife are protected, so it makes for fantastic diving. Anchoring is not allowed, so the state has installed first come, first served day-use mooring buoys. Unfortunately, the top of the buoy is 15 feet underwater, so you must dive down and tie up to it. Not so easy when you are by yourself and it’s blowing 15 knots towards shore and you’re only 75 feet from it. Unless you’re a fast swimmer, you really only get one chance. Unfortunately, the local dive charter boats consider these moorings their personal property. By 0900 every morning the moorings are pretty much full until 1500. These are day-use moorings only. But, because the charter boats hog them all day, it was easier for me to sail out to Molokini at 1600, grab a mooring and make a dive, then leave for Lahaina, the next anchorage, by nightfall. Instead, I ended up spending the night on the mooring. The wind had really picked up by nightfall. It was coming from the direction I wanted to go. No sense beating into it for 20 miles. This worked out perfectly. Only exception being the chains holding the mooring to the sea floor were banging into the sea floor every couple seconds. Loudly, I might add. I had weird dreams that night of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas past.

The dive itself was beautiful, very peaceful, especially since there was no one else around for at least five miles. Tons of coral, fish and a few reef sharks. None of the sharks were over five feet, so I followed a few. It always amazes me how confident they appear as they swim around the reef with power and attitude. Initially I descended down to 80 feet and did a drift dive towards the edge of the crater working my way up to 30 feet. Perfect!

By 0830 the next morning charter boats were circling the mooring giving me the stink eye. By 0900 I departed Molokini for Lahaina 20 miles away. The wind was light to non-existant, so we drifted the first five miles in three hours. Then, all of a sudden, before I could put a reef in the main, the wind picked up to thirty knots on the nose. By the time I put up the stay sail, running back stays, and reefed the main, the wind started to peter out. The last 10 miles was a perfect close reach into Lahaina. The Vic-Maui Race had just finished so the Harbor and Yacht Club mooring balls were full, so I was forced to drop the hook way out in Mala anchorage. As I was weaving my way through all the derelict boats I noticed a trimaran sailboat motoring in circles really close to the breaking waves on the reef. A second later, a guy frantically ran up to the bow and threw over an anchor while he made a cross with his fingers over his chest, praying the anchor would hold. I motored over only to find his steering was stuck and he could only go in circles. To make matters worse, something was wrong with his boat’s electrical system. He had no juice to run the anchor windlass or the blender for an Oh Shit margarita. Fortunately, he had some friends with him to help with the praying. It worked! By the time his anchor caught he was in only 10 feet of water and 30 feet from the reef and it’s breaking waves. After circling for an hour, he couldn’t repair his stuck rudder. He claimed his boat was too large to kedge (use a series of anchors to pull the boat into deeper water) without the windlass. It was also too close to the reef for Camanoe to side tie to him and use my engine to over power his stuck rudder and pull the boat into deeper water. Eventually, one of his religious friends onboard swam a  line out to Camanoe so I could help pull him into deeper water and hopefully over-power his frozen rudder. No luck. A stuck rudder on a trimaran can’t be over-powered with Camanoe’s single rudder and 44 h.p. engine. After an hour of pulling, we finally gave up. He stayed there close to the reef for three days, until one morning I awoke to find he was anchored behind me here in Mala (trimaran in pic shown below). He hasn’t been on his boat since he dropped the anchor three days ago, so I don’t know the full story yet.

Tri-maran in question

-CAPT

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Customs, Immigration, and a Bunch of Greedy Hawaiians.

It has been a long first week. I’m not sure where to begin, so I will start with clearing customs and finding a spot to anchor, then do a second post on exploring Hilo. Camanoe and I sailed into Hilo, Hawaii just before sundown on June 14th, 2012. A momentus occasion, as it marked my first long distance solo ocean passage. Upon arrival we anchored just off the Bayfront Beach before sunset. No one yelled at us or chased us away, so I figured it was good enough for the evening. The next morning, I had a difficult time contacting customs, the Harbor Master, Immigration and Agriculture. When I finally contacted the Harbor Master they informed me I would have to move Camanoe to Radio Bay (a mile to the southeast) and clear customs there. I couldn’t row my dinghy ashore and walk. No I had to go to Radio Bay because, “I couldn’t walk through town until clearing customs.” Upon entering the tight Radio Bay I dropped the hook and lowered the dinghy quickly, because it was crowded so I couldn’t lay out too much chain. I rowed to the beach as instructed and began the walk to Customs. Supposedly there were signs all over pointing to Customs. Guess what? There were no signs, and I had to walk through a mile of town in order to make it to the Customs building. Clearing back into the states was quick and painless.

Customs: Do you have any weapons on board?  Me: No.

Customs: Do you have any fruit and meat on board? Me: No.

Customs: Are you smuggling illegal aliens into the country? Me: No.

Customs: Can I see your passport and vessel paperwork? Me: Sure. Be careful with the passport, I just finished making it.

Custom: Welcome to the United States, you need to check in with the Harbor Master next.

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First picture in Hawaii on my way to Customs.

 

At the Harbor Masters:

Them: When did you come into Hilo Bay? Me:  Last night.

Them: Were you anchored by the beach? Me: Yes.

Them: If you were anchored by the beach then you need to pay for the evening with the DLNR. Me: I’ll get right on that!

Them: Are you going to stay here in Radio Bay for a while? If so it’s $10 dollars a night plus $30 for an annual mooring/anchoring permit. It’s only valid in Hilo, but you can only stay here for 30 days maximum anyway. Me:

No, I will anchor way outside of the bay (seriously trying to hide my contempt. Why should you have to pay for anchoring? They don’t provide any services; not even a dinghy landing.).

Them: Oh, ok. If you anchor outside of the bay, you need to contact the DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) so you can pay them. Here is the phone number.  Different organizations control different parts of the bay. Me: Sure; will do!

Afterwards, I moved over next to the break wall and stayed several days for free until my parents flew in to visit. Apparently, none of the GREEDY organizations had a boat to come and collect the fees. After talking to several other cruisers it’s safe to assume Hilo is a greedy, third-world country for boaters. They expect anchorage fees, but make no attempt to provide anything in return. They could at least provide dinghy docks or designated dinghy beaches, there is no security for your dinghy or boat whatsoever. I have obviously been spoiled by Mexico and their hospitality towards cruisers. 

-CAPT

La Cruz Changes

Coming back to La Cruz after cruising south for a couple of weeks was a unique experience.  It was the first time we’d returned to a port or anchorage that we had already visited.  In a way, it was nice to not have to question where and how to go ashore, where to anchor, where to eat, where to get supplies, etc.  We knew it all!

Or so we thought.

While La Cruz was mostly unchanged, it was now the latter part of the cruising season and some things had changed to adapt to the lack of people.  First of all, the anchorage was bare in comparison to the amount of boats that were there when we left just two weeks prior.  Mostly single-handers at this point, so Dave will fit right in when I return to the States.  It’s been a little sad sitting at anchor with no Charisma, Convivia, Dos Leos or Navigo sitting next to us.  Now I have to play with Dave (LOL…just kidding Capt!).

The morning net solely consists of the weather, tide information and maybe one or two announcements.  One morning we woke up at 8:45a, just missing the start of the 8:30am net.  It was already over.  It used to be that the first 10 minutes were boats checking in!

Also, we learned the hard way that happy hours at our favorite drinking holes have moved from the late afternoon to the evening. Boo.  What happens now when I want a Cesar at 4pm??  The Tuesday and Friday produce market? Moved to Thursday. (Well, maybe only for one week, but still, totally disappointed I couldn’t pick up some fresh calabacitas and jicama). 

One of the more welcoming changes was noticing the lack of dinghy dock fee enforcement.  Sometimes the guard is there to collect your daily 20 pesos, but more recently, there hasn’t been any sign of the guards.  Perhaps it’s not worth it to the marina to pay a man to sit there all day for so few dinghies.  Of course, if they see you, they will run (and I mean RUN) down the dock to collect. Even if you’ve been there all day and are in the process of starting your motor to leave.  I’m tempted to ignore the guard and just motor away, but with so few dinghies coming in, they’d probably figure out who we are and invoke some sort of fine. 

The town plaza renovations were completed during our absence and there’s a celebration going on in La Cruz this week with all activities surrounding the beautiful space.  It was a pile of dirt when we got here in January.  You couldn’t walk through, the streets were a mess with construction, piles of dirt and torn out concrete at every corner…it’s a colorful, peaceful site now. 

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The completed La Cruz town square.

Along with the plaza is the arrival of a small Kiosko (like a 7Eleven in the states) on Langosta Street leading up to the highway.  While we were super happy to find out that we could recharge our TelCel account there instead of walking all the way up to the OXXO store (another 7Eleven type store), I’m a bit sadden that the sale of drinks and snacks there will push out the lovely mom and pop tiendas in town.  The main one on Delfin Street that has the twice weekly produce market will probably be fine, but what about the one just up the street from the new Kiosko or the one on the next street over (Marlin St.) across from Tacos de Lena? 

I don’t believe I’ll ever sail back down to Bandares Bay after I head back to the States, but I do hope I’ll be back to La Cruz one day.  It’s proven to me to be a much better place to visit than Puerto Vallarta, so I don’t think I could ever come back and stay at a big resort knowing that a quaint little town is just around the corner.  I just wonder what it will look like a year from now. Two years. Ten years from now.  I hope that La Cruz can hang onto what makes it so special to me – it’s small town, cruiser friendly atmosphere.  The marina is in the process of building…something. It’s hard to tell.  At first I just thought they were paving the dirt lot next to the marina office for a parking lot – but after an initial paving of some spots, and erecting structures for banners and signs, I’m unsure what they’re planning next.  I think it would be a shame to build up a huge complex and lose the amazing view of the bay.

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Banner holders, concrete foundation pads…what are they building at Marina la Cruz?

The face of La Cruz is definitely changing.  People thinking about cruising down here, should hurry up.

-SME

Manzanillo (aka: our southern most stop)

I think one of my regrets for traveling in and around the Baja/Sea of Cortez area of Mexico was that we didn’t go to that many places.  Sure we hit as much of the La Paz islands as we could, but there were so many stops farther north that we just didn’t make time for and the weather was getting too cold. We took advantage of winds heading south and across to the mainland and sometimes that’s what you have to do when you’re mainly dependant on weather.

What I’m getting at, is that we have these Mexico cruising guidebooks by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer (pretty much every cruising couple owns these books and when I’ve referred to our “guidebook” it’s the one I’m talking about).  We bought one for the Sea of Cortez and only utilized three out of the 14 chapters.  There’s  A LOT to see in that area.  Bummer we couldn’t see more. 

However, I am happy to report that as of Manzanillo, our most southern stop on this adventure, that we have now utilized four out of seven chapters of the Pacific Mexico cruising guide.  I know that still doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s more than half of the book…and two of the remaining chapters are super short.

But onto the sailing…we had another smooth sail, although, upwind, into Manzanillo.  There was a bit of confusion on my part as to which anchorage we were pulling into.  The chart plotter is so off at this point that it showed that we were past the point (Punta Santiago) that we needed to be around before heading towards land and into the anchorage for Las Hadas (Manzanillo).  But we weren’t past it, not even close, so I thought the bay just around the corner from Las Hadas, called Santiago Bay, was where we needed to go.  Dave and I had a quick debate and figured out that we still had a couple miles to go based on the guidebook’s anchorage waypoints (lat. and long. coordinates).

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Fun with maps…click for larger photo and to see captions

We were able to use the wind and the current to sail right into the Las Hadas anchorage with just the mainsail up.  Dave gets very excited about these things while I sit in the cockpit and try to wrap my mind around how we’re going to stop the dang boat to anchor while the sail is up. (Hey, I only took ONE sailing course).  Apparently, just heading into the wind will suffice and we anchored without much issue.

You can’t beat the view from this anchorage. The water is super calm since you’re protected from the wind and swells (except for the occasional, annoying jet skier) and the beautiful Las Hadas resort lines the beach.  For 200 pesos per dinghy you can use the marina/resort’s dock to tie up and use the hotel’s services; mainly the pool, but still a decent deal if you want to hang out all day. 

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View of Las Hadas from the cockpit.

We liked the pool, but it was a bit chilly for swimming and the restaurants have ridiculous prices (aka – American prices), so we stayed for a couple hours and then headed back to the boat for lunch.  But since the day pass is good for 24 hours, we headed back to shore to get our moneys worth.  We wandered around the grounds and got our bearings as to where the bus stops were for heading into central Manzanillo, we found a calm beach down the way where we could tie the dinghy up safely and for free, and a restaurant with a good happy hour and free WiFi (which, for a couple of drinks we got the WiFi code and were able to pick up the signal from the anchorage for the rest of our time in Manzanillo – SCORE!).
 

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Las Hadas Resort pool, spiral tower and views of the marina and anchorage.

Heading into Central Manzanillo was fairly simple.  We hopped on the only bus that stops through the Las Hadas area for 6 pesos per person. That bus stops at Soriana, a large supermarket/Target-like store; from there you hop on the next bus that arrives that says “Centro” in the window (for another 6 pesos).  There are multiple lines that run into the Centro area and we just got off when we saw the main Manzanillo harbor with all the large tankers and fishing boats.  From here we quickly recognized the large, blue sailfish statue that was listed in the guidebooks as a must-see.  From there we just roamed the streets looking for a good place for a little breakfast and seeing what Manzanillo had to offer.

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Sailfish statue (top), streets of Manzanillo (bottom left), and the 5 de Mayo marketplace (bottom right).

It reminded me a lot of Mazatlan; the hustle and bustle of all the people, the traffic, the large markets, the busy harbor, etc.  There wasn’t very much to actually see or do, so after breakfast and stopping through the large 5 de Mayo market, we wandered back to the harbor and went into Bar Social, a bar also listed in the guidebooks as a must-see.  It was a quiet, dimly lit, old saloon.  It has a big, round bar, a dozen or so blue booths, and looks like the type of place where you can equally have a good time or drown away your sorrows.  There was only one other couple inside, so Dave and I took a couple stools on the far side of the bar and ordered Caesars (like a Bloody Mary but with Clamato Juice instead of tomato juice) and played some super competitive Rummy.  We were surprised that with your drinks you’re given complimentary tapas (called botanas).  We had a nice little spread of chips, homemade salsa, guacamole, beans and a plate of jicama and cucumbers.  Who needs lunch?!  We didn’t even mind too much when we asked for two Cokes after awhile and the bartender mistakenly gave us two more Caesars.  Oh well, just eat more…

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Bar Social (left) and our spread of botanas with Caesar drinks.

On our way back to the boat we stopped to walk through the Soriana to grab a few items and passed the Manzanillo cinepolis (movie theatre).  We were curious to know how much a movie ticket costs in Mexico. At least in Manzanillo it’s only 35 pesos (about $2 USD).  Granted, most of the movies are American with either Spanish dubbing or subtitles, but that’s pretty amazing to only have to spend $2 for a movie.  The teenager behind the ticket counter asked what it was in the United States and Dave said ten, but I said it’s probably more like $12 now.  Oy.

I’m very happy that we made it as far south as Manzanillo – it was a good last southern stop.

-SME

Melaque & Barra de Navidad

After our stop in Careyes, we decided to skip Tenacatita and hit it on our way back North.  So our next stop became Melaque (Pronounced “Meh-lah-key”).

We recognized a couple of the boats already at anchor when we pulled into Melaque, which was a nice sight since the only boats we were seeing out on the water were all heading north, so we thought we might be the only boat left down here.  Lynn and Pat from s/v Cricket, who we’d never met before but have mutual acquaintances, dinghied over soon after we set the anchor and gave us some tips on Melaque.  Mainly that we could make a dinghy beach landing right in front of a restaurant called Conch del Mar (In English: seashell) where the dinghy would be safe if we left it, but also that the restaurant has an all day 2 for 1 special on all drinks.  That sounded like the perfect spot for us!  🙂

Sure enough, we stopped at Conch each of the three days we were in Melaque for a cheap margarita ($23 pesos each or under $2 USD) or a Ceasar (like a bloody mary) or just some plain cervaza ($11 pesos each or under $1 USD).

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View from our table at Conch del Mar.  Camanoe is anchored in the background somewhere and you can see our dinghy pulled up underneath the umbrellas.

You could pretty much get whatever you needed in Melaque,  There were lots of produce stands and tiendas stocked with galley goodies.  One place called the Hawaii Store, specializes in American items that you can’t find at other Mexican stores.  I picked up a jar of pickles (seriously, why doesn’t Mexico have pickles???  They don’t know what they’re missing!) and Dave found a 2 liter of Root Beer.  We hadn’t had Root Beer since we left the states and haven’t seen it in any of the big stores like Walmart or Mega or even Costco.  I wanted to also get a jar of pesto pasta sauce, but the jar they had was pretty tiny and was about $50 pesos.  I figured we could make do with the marinara and alfredo sauces we still have on board and I put the jar back. 

One day we decided to head into Barra de Navidad on the other side of the bay.  A lot of cruisers go to Barra for the convenience of the lagoon anchorage.  Unlike Melaque, which is quite open to the sea and has the nickname “Rocky Melaque,” Barra’s lagoon has no swells or rolling and you can pay a water taxi a small fee to go into town and thus not worry about your dinghy.  But we decided we didn’t want to maneuver the boat through the shallow marine entrance for only a couple of days.  We liked the beach scene in Melaque and didn’t mind having to make beach landings to go ashore.

So to head into Barra, we made our usual beach landing in front of Conch del Mar and then started walking through Melaque, south towards Barra.  We were attempting to walk the whole way through the paved streets and avoid walking along the beach, but eventually we got to a point where we HAD to walk on the beach due to the lagoon.  It was the longest walk of my life.  We were already a couple miles in, but the last half mile was all sand.  You couldn’t walk on the packed sand near the water because the waves were breaking too high and rough, so we trudged through the loose sand with the buildings of Barra just taunting us in the distance like a mirage.

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A long beach walk…lagoon on the left, ocean on the right (left); the very blue lagoon water (right).

We eventually got to Barra and were pretty hungry and in need of a cold drink.  Unfortunately, we’re used to La Cruz where the restaurants don’t close for siesta, but apparently Barra does because NOTHING was open.  We kept walking by taco restaurants with their gates closed down with no one around.  We finally stumbled onto a little cafe near the water taxis and enjoyed some burritos (which are not at all like the burritos we Californians love, but it got the job done).  We did a little bit more walking around, found the malecon overlooking the ocean and the lagoon, but mostly weren’t too impressed with what Barra had to offer.  We were pretty tired from our trek in the sand, so we hailed a bus that said Melaque and got on for $6 pesos per person (under a $1 USD for the two of us).

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Statue along the Barra waterfront; looks to be a replica of one of the statues along the Puerto Vallarta Malacon (left); One of the Barra water taxis with sailboats anchored in the lagoon in the background (right).

But as we should already know, the bus system is never as easy as we’d like it to be.  As soon as we got over the highway passing the lagoon the bus started rounding back in the direction we came from going through residential areas.  We’d been on this type of bus before back in Puerto Vallarta and I really didn’t feel like meandering for an hour out of our way and getting deposited in the middle of no where, so we hopped off at the first chance and walked back towards Melaque.  We think the bus only goes to the outskirts of town…or maybe we just got on a special bus.  We weren’t in town long enough to figure out what we did wrong.  Thankfully, because we’d walked through the town heading towards Barra, we easily recognized where we were after a couple blocks.But, we still had a lot of walking back to the dinghy to do.  Sigh.  My butt hurt.

But in all, we did enjoy Melaque and seeing this part of the “Gold Coast.”  I probably could have done without a couple of very wet beach landings/launchings…but, I guess it’s all part of the adventure.  We also wish we could have enjoyed more of the after dark festivities, but we didn’t want to have to make a dinghy launch at night, so we missed some good restaurants and live music venues that only open for dinner.  On the other hand, we saved some money by making dinner on board…Dave’s been experimenting with the pressure cooker, so maybe I’ll have a new cruising cuisine post soon!

-SME

UPDATE 3/29/12: Oops! Forgot to tell you about the goat! We were walking through downtown Melaque the afternoon after our beach trek and here comes a random, white goat just parading down one of the main streets. There was a bus behind it, just inching along, waiting for the dang goat to get out of the way, and everyone was just going about their business like there wasn’t a GOAT meandering through town. Crazy.

Ipala, Chamela and Careyes Stops

It’s only been a few days, but the first couple of stops we’ve made after Banderas Bay have been a bit of a blur.  We hadn’t sailed in two months, so I’ve felt a bit rusty getting used to the boat heeling and the rolling swells of the Pacific.

We didn’t want to have to do an overnight sail if we didn’t have to, so we decided we’d make a stop at Punta Ipala (40 miles south) instead of making the trek to Chamela about 90 miles south.

We had a lovely, easy sail into Ipala.  Not a ton of wind, but enough to keep us moving with the jib up.  Ipala is a very small anchorage with ponga moorings and fish pens that make it even smaller.  For the first time in our travels we had a ponga driver come by and request that we donate money to his children’s school.  We felt like we couldn’t say no, but we are also are on a tight budget, so we gave a small donation and we could tell the local wasn’t too impressed with what we gave him.  Maybe it was just all in our heads, but we didn’t get a very welcoming feeling from Ipala and we were eager to take off early the next morning and head to Chamela.

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The town of Ipala with colorful fish pen buoys covering a good majority of the anchorage.

Of course, there was no easy sail for day number two.  The swells were bigger, the wind was much stronger and I was not feeling too hot from the rolling.  We got a large gust while we were talking about taking some sail down and it was too much for our windvane to take and we started to round up very fast.  Dave is quick on the sheets so we were fine, but that ended my watch up top. I went down below to nap and try to keep my breakfast down.  Dave always says he enjoys solo sailing and has a lot of fun messing with the sails and the windvane, so I try not to feel too bad about abandoning the cockpit. 

A few hours later we pulled into Bahia Chamela and anchored outside the town of Perula.  The next morning we lowered the dinghy and made a nice beach landing despite the breaking waves.  We met our neighbor from the only other boat in the anchorage, Jerry from s/v Northern Sky, on the beach and he helped us lug the dinghy up to dry sand as we had forgotten to attach our dinghy wheels.  Oops.

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We walked the beach and part of town for a little while to stretch our legs.  Dave wanted to find a pineapple, so we meandered from tienda to tienda until one of the shopkeepers opened up a box of freshly delivered pinas.  We also grabbed some jicama (my fav!) and some other odds and ends and headed back to the boat to prepare for the next morning’s sail.

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Chamela’s beachside sites.

We set off by 8am the next morning hoping to get to Tenacatita by mid-afternoon.  The wind, unfortunately had other plans.  We motored out of the Chamela anchorage and then immediately started sailing.  The wind was lighter than the morning before so I felt pretty good about hanging out in the cockpit.  But come 11am, we were in gusty winds and bigger swells than I like.  We realized we were right outside of a small anchorage called Bahia Careyes, which we had planned to bypass, but since it was right there and the weather was turning crappy, we decided to hole up there for the rest of the day.

The anchorage was even smaller than Ipala’s, but with more ponga moorings and a very rocky shoreline.  Once we finally got settled between a boat with only rope rode (boooo, they swing too much) and a good-sized power/fishing boat tied up to a mooring ball, I went downstairs to work on my taxes (yay for e-filing!) while Dave pulled out his snorkel gear. 

The first thing you notice about Careyes (besides the waves breaking over all the rocky reefs), are the colorful buildings all along the beach.  Blues, pinks, greens, oranges…so beautiful.  Pretty nice place to hide away in from the weather…

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…more stop recaps to come…

-SME

Escapees Board Camanoe

This story has been sitting in the back burner of my mind for about three weeks.  Not sure why I keep failing to tell it here because I’ve already told it to all our friends here in La Cruz.  (And if Convivia is reading this – HOPE YOU DON’T MIND ME SHARING).

So, Dave and I were working on boat projects one day (like every day).  Dave was outside on deck and I was down below figuring out how to make the sewing machine work in my favor.

Dave yells down to me, “I think the Convivia kids are escaping.”

I look out the hatch and sure enough, the cute kids from s/v Convivia are in their dinghy, but the dinghy is getting farther and farther away from Convivia. 

This doesn’t seem right to me.  While their dad had recently told me he showed Ruby (7…and a half. Can’t forget the half) how to start the dinghy motor, I was pretty sure that since neither parent was on deck supervising this dinghy adventure that perhaps they weren’t supposed to have left the boat.  Plus Ruby was trying to start the outboard while it was already in gear – so they’d float while she pulled and pulled on the cord and then it would eventually kickstart and send Ruby and Miles (4) flying back into the stern.

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Have you seen these escapees?  They’re armed and very cute.

I ran back downstairs and called for Convivia on the radio. No answer and by this time the kids had floated/half-motored their way over near our boat.  I ran back up on deck and waved them down and invited them on board for a game of Uno.  Of course, this was just a ploy to get them safely tied to us and out of the water.

Miles was enjoying squirting me with his water gun filled with salt water and Ruby was excitedly talking about taking the dinghy for a ride.  Dave at that point had resumed calling Convivia and let their mom know that the kids were safe and that one of us would take them back in a bit. But for the time being, we decided to have a little fun. (Their mom later told me that she was glad for the break because she was able to vacuum the whole boat without interruption. Glad I could help!)

We played a couple games of Uno and then Ruby taught me how to play Crazy 8s before Miles started getting restless and wanted to go back home.  Ruby invited me to come back with them to color and Miles wanted me to “come shee my towys.”

So I got the kids into their lifejackets and put them into their dinghy.  I got in, and like I do with our own dinghy, cast off so we could start the motor without hitting any of our lines (we have a flopper-stopper line that could definitely foul up someone’s engine).  But, since they have a different motor than I’m used to and Ruby wasn’t able to get it started either, I soon realized we had floated quite a bit away from Camanoe and in the opposite direction of Convivia.

They have oars on their dinghy, so I just started rowing.  But unlike Camanoe’s dinghy, their oars aren’t really made for rowing in the strong current that had picked up that afternoon.  The only good part about the oars and my rowing was that at least we were treading water. Thus, NOT ending up on the rocks on the beach.

At that point both Dave and Tucker from Convivia had noticed our little problem.  Tucker couldn’t do anything but watch, but Dave jumped into our dinghy and started heading towards us.

Dave got their motor started and soon we were flying over towards Convivia.  Unfortunately, Ruby cut the engine a little too soon, so there I was again, with two small children, desperately trying to row them to safety while all their parents could do was watch.

Eventually we made it close enough to Convivia that we were able to toss them a line and secure the dinghy.  We headed downstairs where I got the royal treatment…literally.  Ruby and I played dress-up where I was the queen, complete with tiara, and she was a princess. Miles kept wanting to show me his Legos and other toys.  All three of us sat down to color and before I left I got to read them some stories in hopes of getting Miles to take a nap/have some quiet time.

It was a really nice day not spent in front of the sewing machine and I’m so glad I didn’t lose their children to the sea. 

-SME

La Cruz Moments – Part Dos

As we prepare to weigh anchor and head south towards Barra de Navidad, here are a couple more La Cruz moments that we won’t be forgetting any time soon.

DOCK DRAMA:
While we do LOVE La Cruz, there was a bit of drama a couple of weeks ago when the marina here decided to impose a dinghy dock fee to those of us anchored out.  This isn’t a horrible thing; we’ve been to numerous marinas along the coast and baja and while most have been free, the occasional, and very nominal fee does pop up.  Nominal meaning somewhere between 10 and 30 pesos.

So here we are, listening to the morning cruisers’ net and the marina spokeswoman announces nonchalantly with her other daily announcements, “…and lastly, today is the start of a new dinghy dock fee. $5 (USD) in order to tie up to the dock. Thanks.”

Oh, the uproar!  At $5 USD, or 67 pesos, that’s twice the amount of the highest dinghy dock fee we’d had prior (in Cabo).  It’s also the amount we spend for one of us to have dinner at our favorite taco place (food AND large beer). In La Paz in the Sea of Cortez, the dock fee is $15 pesos daily and that includes garbage drop-off and potable water and security for our dinghies.  La Cruz wasn’t going to provide any of that with this new fee.  We were afraid we’d have to move on from La Cruz, because we couldn’t afford to pay $5 USD every time we wanted to go ashore

After much complaining and then gathering together as a group and talking with the marina owner and manager, both sides agreed to 20 pesos for a 24-hr period (including garbage drop-off).  Everyone listened to each sides’ concerns and reasoning and things seem to have settled down. 

In hindsight, Dave and I are unhappy with the way the marina treated the cruisers.  We don’t have a problem with a fee being imposed. A FAIR fee. But the way the whole thing was handled was really shady and made us feel very unwelcome.  We had considered going into the La Cruz marina for a couple of days to stock up and power up the boat, but we really don’t need to, and if we do, there are a couple of other marinas in the area that we’d rather patron first.

This hasn’t changed our opinion of La Cruz or the wonderful locals we’ve met and we’re glad that the marina’s politics haven’t affected the economy of this small town, which is what surely would have happened had the $5 fee stood.

HAPPIER MOMENTS:
OK, so onto happier memories…With other cruiser friends in town, every night can turn into a great party.  And as a cruiser…pretty much everyone is your friend.

Bob and Camelia on s/v Navigo sailed back into La Cruz a couple weeks ago. We hadn’t seen them in over a month and we were so happy to get to spend a little time catching up with them.  One of their first nights in town I joined them at Ana Banana’s – a restaurant in La Cruz that Dave and I had somehow skipped our first month in town.  They always have live music and there have been rumors of free tequila shots.  So I tried it out with Navigo on a Monday night when the band Pacific Rock Company was playing.  This band was awesome.  Someone told us the band has been playing there every Monday night for eight years.  Not sure how this is possible when the guitar player looks like he’s 15….but it doesn’t matter, because they rocked it.  We danced and sang along until midnight.

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Pacific Rock Company before the crowd hit the dance floor.  Three guys; awesome tunes.

ATTACKING TREES:
Dave and I checked out Ana’s later in the week just for dinner because it really is quite nice on their patio under all the trees.  Too bad the trees started attacking us. 

We’re sitting there enjoying the evening and our dinners when all of a sudden I feel something fall onto my forehead.  I quickly brush it away, but I accidentally brush it INTO my food.  Lo and behold, a small, but fast, centipede.  He quickly crawls to safety under my french fries. I shriek.  I practically brush all the french fries to the floor trying to get the little buggar off my plate, all the while, people at adjoining tables are looking.  I smile; situation now under control and everyone returns to their conversations.

Not even a minute later and something falls from the trees onto our table right beside both our plates.  I shriek again.  A small piece of fruit or nut from the tree above has crashed onto the table and then rolled onto the floor.

I still like Ana’s, but every time we go now, I pick a spot clear of the trees.  Now I’m just waiting for a bird to come crap on us.

 

Spotted on the Street:
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Gremlin.  Me Gusto.

 

Girls Destroy Guys in Catch Phrase Marathon:
With tequila shots on the line for the losers of each round, things were definitely tense onboard s/v Charisma the other night.  As you can tell from the photos….

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C’mon! You know, the thing, with the thing…”

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Wha…??”

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“Who’s team am I on?”

J/K guys…you were good sports…especially when Ann was dealing out your medicine.

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AND IN OTHER NEWS:

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Nice hat.

 

-SME

The Snuffelopogus Situation

 

As much as we love La Cruz, there is a slight problem with sitting in the anchorage for more than a couple of days.  You see, the anchorage has a fur problem.  It comes out of nowhere and gloms onto any surface beneath the water line.  The boat, the anchor chain, the propeller…

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What is this you ask?

 

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It’s the underside of our dinghy. 

Yuck.

-SME

La Cruz de WannaStayForever?

Some people get to the port of La Paz on the Baja side of Mexico and never leave, coining the term, “La Paused.”  Well, we’ve been in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (pronounced wanna-cox-lei) for over three weeks and we really have no plan as to when we’ve leaving.  Thus, I’ve decided that we’re now in “La Cruz de WannaStayForever.”  I’m up for other name suggestions along this same idea.

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Hanging out on s/v Charisma with Charisma rum drinks, the setting sun and Camanoe in the background. (Thanks Ann for the photo!)

Anyway, I haven’t been writing much because, although we’re loving this area, I can’t say that when we finish up a day that I have anything EXCITING to share.  We get up, Dave starts a project while I either go ashore for provisions or work on my own small projects, then by early evening we’re cleaning up the boat and ourselves and either making dinner or going ashore for cheapo tacos.  We go to bed and start all over again.

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Enjoying “Tacos on the Street” where they only serve three dishes, but they do them very well (L) and “Tacos de Luna” (R), or as we call it, “The Backyard Taco Place” or “The 10 pesos a taco place.”

The little town of La Cruz is very sleepy. Not much opens prior to 10am, except for the Mercado del Mar where we’ve bought freshly caught shrimp a couple of times.  Most of the taco joints don’t appear until 7pm or later.  And when I say, “appear,” that’s exactly what I mean.  All of a sudden, people appear with grills and they’re dragging out plastic tables and chairs and they serve THE BEST, cheapest tacos you can imagine.  A lot of the time during the day, I just roam around and meet up with other cruisers.  I’m in no hurry to be anywhere or to return anywhere and that’s a nice feeling.  The produce market is every Tuesday and Friday at 5pm; there’s usually a cruisers’ swap meet on Saturday mornings and there’s a large artisan/farmer’s market every Sunday from 10am-2pm.  Otherwise, you just sort of hang around La Cruz and wait for something to happen or someone to invite you to go do something.

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Tuesday produce market (L) and the Sunday morning market along the Malecon (R) in La Cruz.

I’ve travelled into nearby towns, Bucerias, Sayulita and Nuevo Vallarta.  While Nuevo is very much a smaller version of Puerto Vallarta, mainly a resort town, Bucerias and Sayulita are small beach towns that are frequented by locals and tourists alike just looking for a little sun and surf.

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Enjoying a beach and surf day at Sayulita with a warm empanada.

Dave’s been working on various boat projects he wants done before he jumps to Hawaii in a couple months.  He has a sea anchor and a sea drogue for dire emergencies and he’s glassed-in, bolted, and basically secured all items necessary to deploy either one should he get into a bad storm.  We’ve hooked up a trolling generator (which I made a canvas cover for), which required Dave to make a step on top of the wind vane platform in order to attach the generator.  He’s reinforced our stanchions and glassed them in to keep them from leaking.  He figured out why the propane locker was letting in water whenever it rained or we had the hose on and then proceeded to fix that.  I’m sure I’m forgetting something else that he’s worked on and I can’t even begin to explain EXACTLY what all those projects were and how they help, but just know that while I’ve been soaking up the La Cruz atmosphere, Dave’s been a slave to Camanoe. 

I’ve helped out where I can, mostly with the sewing machine.  We have a lot of open shelves in the salon and galley, so my job has been to sew lee cloths/curtains for all these open areas.  There was also the trolling generator cover to protect it from sun and moisture and I also created a sleeve for our two hatch covers so they can be stored nicely without banging into each other or scratching up the boat. 

Lee Cloths (3)   Lee Cloths (20)   Lee Cloths (21)

Lee Cloths (23)

Pre and post lee cloth shelves in the salon (top photos) and galley (bottom photos).

Yes, I realize how little time my projects took compared to Dave’s.

So, what’s next after the projects are complete (or at least, complete enough for Dave to sail to Hawaii)?  Well, I’m hoping to head a little farther south to Barra de Navidad and possibly Manzanillo before heading home to the Bay Area.  There’s no exact date set yet for Dave to begin his crossing, so when we figure that out, I’ll have to get a plane ticket.

But, in the meantime, La Cruz is a nice place to play and relax and work on boat projects.  The anchorage is full of friends, the town is sweet, and we have everything here that we need. 

Sorry for the rambling…I think the La Cruz lifestyle is causing my brain to go soggy.  Maybe I should just do photo posts instead. 🙂

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Double rainbow anyone?