Friday, March 20, 2015

Back to work

Now that our friends have departed its back to work, on the boat that is if you can call that work. I have a few projects to work on before we head north to the sea of Cortez. Apart from the regular servicing of various boat systems I decided to replace much of the running rigging as most of it is as old as the boat and some of the lines are getting a little hard. I particularly want to replace the mainsail halyard, main sheet, the topping lift and spinnaker halyard, the last of which I use to be winched up the mast when necessary. I also need to replace the block at the top of the mast which has cracked and is also used for hoisting me up the mast.  I also need to replace the wind vane and bird protector on the top of the mast since those dammed FRIGATE birds keep landing on the top of the mast and flying off with various parts of my boat. I have no idea how they removed the bird protector as it has to be unscrewed.

One other BIG project we had embarked on is to have a stainless steel arch made to hold the solar panels, act as davits for the dinghy and hold various other pieces of cruising equipment. One of our sister ships, Kewa, another HR46 is here in the marina and they have just had one made which I liked the design of and thought it is a good opportunity to get one made when I can see the design and quality of workmanship. Mexico is a great place to get work like this done as labour costs are quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else. So having pushed the button it took about a week for the wheels to start moving but now progress is being made quickly.

We did debate whether to have the work done as it would delay our departure to the Sea of Cortez but it’s an opportunity too good to miss. Another advantage of staying is that we will get to see more of our friends who are departing for Australia on the Pacific Puddle Jump and attend the seminars kindly put on for sailors in the area. The seminars cover topics such as weather, fishing, mechanics, how to provision on long passages. Did you know you can keep eggs for over 3 months without refrigerating them? And no it does not involve covering them in Vaseline or varnish.

This week is the week when all the guys heading off to the Pacific Islands and beyond start to leave on the Pacific Puddle jump. The first leg is nearly 3000 miles and takes around 3 weeks to make the first landfall. It is likely to be the longest passage many people have made or will make. Our friends Richard and Geri on SV Panthera, whom we met in Friday Harbor are leaving tomorrow and we wish them fair winds and following seas. Have a look at some great photos and videos at  There are apparently about 300 boats heading to the Marquesas islands from all up the west coast of America (North, Central and South). It sounds a lot but it’s not really given the distance. We have started to listen to the Puddle Jump cruisers net on the SSB radio to hear the positions of our friends and acquaintances that have left already. It’s amazing that we can hear people on the radio hundreds and even thousands of miles away and out of reach of wifi.      
We continue to meet more wonderful people and Katya has been enjoying “hanging out” (definitely not playing) with people her own age. Katya is becoming more independent with each month that goes by. It’s a wonderful thing for me to see her growing up and being there with her. (Not sure of she feels the same though)
One of the other families Katya has been spending time with are on a boat called Family Circus. There are x people on board with. Check out their blog on

We also met the wonderfully inspiring Jeanne Socrates on here Najad 380, Nereida. Jeanne has completed a number of solo circumnavigations, she became the oldest woman to have circumnavigated solo around the Five Great Capes of the southern Ocean and has been presented with the Blue Water Medal and nominated for the Yachtsman of the year award along with being presented with the Duchess of Kent award and a host of other accolades too numerous to mention. Check her blog out at

Even more friends from afar

Check out the teenage stance...

 Colin, another great and long time friend joined Lawrence, Linda and Callum to stay with us, bringing with him a lovely bottle of Welsh whiskey – yes Welsh whiskey! Although his trip only overlapped for a couple of days it was great to see everybody together and have a few beers. We talked about their planned trip on the motorbikes from the UK to North Africa, which is coming up later in March and I am disappointed that I cannot make the trip but I am sure there will be other times.

When the Lees departed we hired another car and went back to Chacala and to Sayulita, two of our now favorite towns which are close to La Cruz. We also went back again to Yelapa and walked the trail back to the waterfall which was just as special. We had a wonderful sail on our return to La Cruz and even saw a duo of breaching whales, mum and calf.

Colin and took the kayaks out for a 5 mile paddle along the coast to a couple of pristine sandy beaches and went for a snorkel. Apart from a couple of locals collecting lobster there were very few people about given the proximity to a few major resorts.

Katya has been attending “silks” lessons, which is a sort of acrobatics class using long ribbons in which you entwine yourself and perform ever more complicated moves. Looks like a great exercise and muscle building activity.     

Monday, March 9, 2015

More friends from afar.

 Our long time friends Lawrence, Linda and their son Callum arrived on the 12th February all the way from Wales. What a magnificent effort they have made to come and see us, along with a bit of business as well. It is so wonderful to see them after so long. I had taken a short trip to Mexico City and almost missed their arrival due to a delayed flight but in the end it worked out great as I was able to meet them at the airport and we all travelled to the Marina in a minibus.

Coffee beans
Apart from sampling the delights of La Cruz (eating tacos and drinking cold beer), we hired a Minivan and went up in the mountains to visit the old silver mining town of San Sebastian. The old Spanish colonial town is beautiful, well at least I thought it was but the children thought it was a bit uninteresting. I must say that driving on the Mexican roads was nowhere near as bad as some people made it out to be, infact its better than a lot of places in Europe and definitely better than driving in Asia. The following day we drove up to Chacalla and lounged around on the beach, had lunch and swam in the sea and enjoyed the surf.

Yelapa was on our places to show people as really there are not that many places you can take people within a day or two of La Cruz, but it’s a great place and it would give us a chance to meet up with Steve and Sandy again after fleeting visit with TC and Kelly.

Off we went to Yelapa with hopefully a sighting of whales and other marine mammals along the way. We did see some but from a distance. Now that we are old hands at visiting Yelapa Domingo showed us to the same mooring buoy and we arranged for him to take us ashore, meanwhile we went for a refreshing swim.

Steve had VERY KINDLY arranged for one of his friends to guide us up to the larger waterfalls. The walk takes about 1 ½ hours up the donkey track which is also lined with small shops, local businesses, homes and the occasional bar. It’s a wonderful walk: so much to see and hear. The walk takes you up a gradual shaded incline and has two river crossings which cool the feet nicely. The final stretch goes through the jungle and you can hear the waterfall from about ¼ mile away by which time I was ready for a cooling swim in the wonderful swimming hole that accompanies the waterfall.

Jude buying fresh coffe

Rose, Katya and Callum

Sunset over Punta Mita

Having spent a an hour or so swimming and enjoying the area we headed back down the mountain where Steve dragged us kicking and screaming to a bar/restaurant to have refreshing marguerites and food. How could he do such a thing!

We had one more beer on the beach before we said our goodbyes to Steve and Sandy and Mike and Domingo dropped us back to our boat in his panga.

River crossing on the way to the waterfall

It was our intention to stay overnight in Yelapa and head back to La Cruz early the following morning so we settled down to a few more drink and supper. The winds slowly built in the evening and the swell coming from the north with it. The motion was not too bad for us but looking around we could see others having a really rough time of it, some boats rolling over 30 degrees each side like a metronome. I set the anchor alarm and headed off to my bunk only to be awoken at around 2:30am by the alarm going off. I went and had a look outside and sure enough our mooring buoy must have dragged and we were probably 15 feet away from another boat and closing. I quickly started the engine and gave it a brief blast forward to take us away from the other boat, I then went downstairs and woke Jude so that we could release the mooring line and make our way back to La Cruz under the cover of darkness. With the start of the engine everybody was up, well apart from the kids who stayed in bed. We slipped the mooring line and headed out of the bay, a light breeze picked up so we raised the sails.

Shortly after leaving  Yelapa a pod of dolphins came streaking through the water leaving a trail of glowing phosphorescence in the wake. They played on the bow giving us all a real thrill with the lightshow. How wonderful it was.

We sailed about half of the way to La Cruz before the wind died so we motored into the anchorage and waited on the hook until it was light before entering the marina.

We were sad to see Lawrence, Linda and Callum depart, we had a wonderful time with them and we will look forward to seeing them in the summer.   

Yelapa to Chemela. Distance 90 Nautical Miles. Forecast. 10-15 knots WNW

In order to arrive in Chemela we would depart in daylight at 5pm with the aim of arriving sometime after dawn. The winds were light in the bay of Banderas so we motored towards Cabo Corrientes. We spotted our friends, Neil and Jesee on The Red Thread on our AIS system so we hailed them and agreed that we would meet up in Chemela but would keep in touch every few hours.

As we rounded the Cabo the winds picked up to about 10-15 knots and we raised the sails and cut the engine, silence at last. The seas were relatively calm. Given we had TC and Kelly onboard we set up a three hour watch routine which would give us all a good 6 hour sleep between watches. We followed Red Thread down the coast seeing them on the AIS and speaking to them every few hours, we were only about 3 miles behind them when the wind started to pick up to around 25-30 knots behind us with occasional gusts to 35 knots. We reefed the sails and hooked up the preventer to guard against an accidental gybe. The seas built and with it came the usual rolling action of sailing dead downwind so I headed off about 15 degrees which gave us a little more speed and steadied the boat. 

Night came and TC came on for his watch during which he noticed that Red Thread were doing a 360 maneuver so must be having some sort of issue. Later we found out that they had some minor issue with the in boom furling. When I came back on watch I gybed Sarita and started a track towards land. We had plotted a course that would keep us about 6 miles offshore to avoid the “long lines” (fishing lines with over 1,000 hooks set) as these can get wrapped around the keel, rudder or propeller. I reefed the boat further and then the winds shifted to the south for a couple of hours then started to die down and eventually we had to motor the last few miles to Chemela and arrived as dawn broke at 7am.

We dropped the anchor off one of the islands with one other boat there and then we all went to get some sleep after our exciting trip down the coast. When we awoke Neill and Jesse we anchored of the island as well. The winds had picked up again and were blowing at around 25 knots now from the south. The anchorage is a little exposed in southerlies so we went on a search of the bay to try and find some better shelter but failed so we anchored where near where we were originally.

Over the next few days we all went snorkeling around the area with TC and Kelly definitely winning the prize for covering the most distance. They went miles, around islands and across the strait to another island and back again.

We really enjoyed the area, it was the first time since we have been in Mexico were we chilled out and swam off the back of the boat and to the beach and we will look forward to coming back sometime.

Having spent 4 days chilling out it was time to head north again back to La Cruz so that TC and Kelly could catch their flight out on the 4th Feb. we left at 7:30am with the aim of staying overnight at Ipala. We had a great sail up the coast albeit in heavy rain but the winds were on the beam and from the east so the sea was as calm as it could possibly be in 15 knots so we made great progress doing 7.5-8.5 knots most of the way to Ipala. As we approached Ipala the winds shifted from the east to the south which left us exposed and in a uncomfortable anchorage so we decided to up the anchor and take advantage of the southerly winds to push us north around Cabo Corrientes and back to La Cruz or possibly Yelapa again. Well as all sailors know you can never rely on the wind particularly near a coast so about ½ an hour after leaving Ipala the winds died completely and then suddenly changed 180 degrees and were on our nose. I had all the sails set for a down wind run with a preventer so I had to quickly sheet in the sails and close haul our way up the coast. We beat our way up the coast making slow progress in the building seas and 25 knots but we persevered. I hoped that the wind would stay in its current direction once we rounded Cabo Corrientes but of course it did not it swung around to be on the nose on or course for La Cruz so I decided to motor rather than tack all the way back. We arrived in La Cruz anchorage at 4:30 am exhausted after a rather lumpy ride back.

We said our goodbyes to TC and Kelly and hope that we they will join us again on our travels somewhere in the not too distant future.