We took an eight day journey from Puerto Escondido to La Paz, A mere 98nm but we like to travel slowly and enjoy the people and places we visit. Our short little adventure brought us time shared with friends new and old, photo opportunities, and a longing for more. Continue reading
If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Which is exactly why we are now doing most of our cooking on the BBQ grill. This girl is HOT, HOT, HOT! I have always been a heat seeker. Having been raised in southern Florida and coming from a whole family of warm weather loving folks. I have been known to often whine and carry on about never getting warm enough. Well now I am crying Uncle! Continue reading
A hop skip and a jump from La Paz to Puerto Escondido!
We sailed north from La Paz stopping in 2 of our favorite anchorages on our adventure towards new territory. Two nights in Calita Partida and three nights in the small fishing village of San Everisto where we got to spend time having great conversation and good food with our friend Lupe at Lupe Sierra and Maggie Mae’s Palapa Restaurant. Continue reading
The day has arrived! The boat projects are complete (well mostly, they are never really done). Tomorrow we buy enough food and supplies to last us for three to four weeks. The next town large enough to have a grocery store is Loreto, just 125 nm from here with a lot of remote anchorages to be explored along the way. So we plan to take our time and stop often. We will set sail heading north Sunday 6/26/16. Continue reading
Steve and I each spent a few weeks traveling to various parts of the world. He went to Germany to participate in the wedding of our good friends Lars and Anna. We pieced together a few different mile programs to cover the flight costs and came up with a super wonky flight plan. One of the blessings was the long layover in Miami, FL which afforded him a brief one day visit with his brother Alan. Once in Deutschland he was able to enjoy a wonderful week long visit with our friend Axel in Bavaria and then visit his old friends in Vaihingen/Enz following the wedding festivities. Continue reading
Wow, a blog post from Steve!
It was Friday May 6. We had been anchored in the unbelievably beautiful little bay of Calida Partida for 6 days. You have seen pictures of this place in the blog, and believe me, it’s even more spectacular than pictures can show. Continue reading
We shot some video while while exploring Isla Espiritu in the Sea of Cortez
On April 22nd while traveling with the WWS rendezvous from San Everisto to Calita Partida we ran into a problem. The trip began with a lovely morning of sailing with full main, jib and staysail, clipping along at 3 ½ knots. After four hours we realized that we would not get to our destination before sundown at our current rate of speed, so we started the engine and “The Drama” began. Continue reading
WWS (Women Who Sail) is a 7000 members strong, strictly female virtual sailing community on Facebook. While we spend a great deal of time helping each other online, we rarely get to meet other WWS members in person unless we are already in a high density sailing area. Last year Holly Scott organized a rendezvous in which women from all over the US and Canada met and sailed chartered boats around the British Virgin Islands for one week. This year the second annual WWS Rendezvous was in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico and Holly opened up the event for people to Bring Your Own Boat (BYOB). Although this is an all Women organization, husbands of the BYOB’s were also invited to attend. Continue reading
Cruising is a strange mixture of hurry up and wait, of discomfort and relaxation, of thrill and boredom. It is a life of extreme sensations where nothing is constant. If you are enjoying a moment you better soak it up, because it will be short lived. Thankfully, the same is true for the difficult times and this often gives us strength when the situation gets tough. We live the accelerated life of travel. Where everything is constantly changing.
After a slow and uneventful 36 hour passage up the coast from Chacala Bay, we arrived in Mazatlan in the early morning hours. Having already traversed this difficult harbor entrance once before we knew that we needed to wait for high tide to enter safely. Maneuvering his way past the shallow breakwater, Steve had no problems with the entrance. I on the other hand was having a heart attack, practically weeping as depths on the sounder read 2 feet under the keel. This while waves are breaking behind us, pushing us past the dredge in the narrow channel with the current flowing at about 3 knots. Man did that ever harsh my mellow!
Steve and I both like El Cid, despite the harbor entrance. But our visit to Mazatlan this time around was very short because the weather was demanding our attention for the upcoming crossing to La Paz. We could not complain however as we did manage to enjoy time hanging around the pool, beach, and local neighborhood. Additionally, we had the opportunity to share a fabulous day with Jim and Deb from s/v Brainwaves exploring downtown Mazatlan.
Our adventure began as we checked out the famous “Shrimp Ladies” which is a must do experience. We caught the local bus and told the driver where we wanted to get off. Once there we found our way to the corner with the multitude of blue tattered umbrellas. There before us was an entire block of women sitting before tubs of ice filled to top with fresh uncooked shrimp of various sizes and stages of preparation. We purchased two kilos and headed around the corner to Mariscos Dunia, a restaurant where they cook your shrimp for a ridiculously low price. We had our shrimp prepared two different ways and had two cervezas each and I think the whole bill came $300 pesos ($17 US). The shrimp diablo was some of the best shrimp I have ever had in my life! Oh how I wish I could bottle that sauce.
After filling up on shrimp we journeyed about 10 blocks through the streets of downtown to the Mercado Municipal. This colorful taste and sight sensation is hard to describe. Here you can find everything from meat, veggies, fruit, and candies to herbal medicines, purses, shoes, and jewelry. There are tasty treats like toasted coconut balls to make your mouth water and sights at the meat counters to make your stomach turn. After making some purchases of eggs, fruit, veggies, and candy the place began to overwhelm the senses and soon became to much to take in. So off we went wondering the streets of downtown further to the Plaza de Machado. Along the way finding great places to shop and a wonderful restauant called Topolo, which is now our favorite dining location in all of Mexico. Great food, beautiful ambience, delightful service. The day ended as the sun was setting with a noisy trip back to our marina in a Pulmonia through the crowded streets. It just so happens that this weekend was the annual rally which has 21,000 motorcycles descend on Mazatlan. So much fun and adventure!
All too soon we found ourselves needing to leave El Cid and Mazatlan as we wanted to be in La Paz in time to meet up with a Women Who Sail (WWS) rally that is due to depart La Paz on April 17th. The weather was giving us a small window which meant leave now or we would be stuck for at least a week. So we left El Cid at high tide early on the morning of April 3 and began our 56 hour journey to La Paz. The first day started out a little bumpy with medium swell on the stern quarter and winds on the nose, but soon the seas smoothed out and we sailed with light winds on the beam. Unfortunately, that was the only sailing we were able to achieve during this passage which was a major bummer. However, this also meant we were able to make the rhumb line and head straight to La Paz which was sweet!
The light conditions gave us some of our most memorable passage making experiences to date. Our second night out delivered a moonless sky and the only light was that of our running lights and millions of stars. The water was so placid and clear that it acted as a mirror, reflecting the stars in the night sky. That coupled with the intensity of the green biolumenescence in the wake of our bow made it feel as if we were sailing through a dream. Floating through the starlight sky.
There was no discernible horizon and the pinpoints of light being cast across the sky and water made it difficult to tell what I was looking at. Is it a boat, a light house, a star low on horizon, a reflection? This phenomenon was beautiful and enchanting but became downright annoying when my navigation equipment gave me false AIS readings on a small 500 foot tanker that was coming my way. Once again the beauty is balanced with a bit of heart stopping excitement.
As morning came Steve witnessed a school of dolphins just as the horizon was beginning to lighten. Their black silhouettes barely discernible in the golden light. Followed shortly by a sunrise that is by far the most breathtaking I have yet to witness on our adventure. The sky and water at first being the color of steel, slowly changing to shades of pink, purple,yellow, orange, blue and green. I took a million photos and still was unable to capture the beauty.
Just outside of La Paz is Islas Espiritu Santo and we spent the night at one of the anchorages before heading into Marina Costa Baja. The still waters and calm conditions continued and we had an evening of entertainment as we watched Mobula rays leaping out of the waters around our boat and huge schools of tiny fish all jumping at once to make a sound like that of falling rain. In the morning we saw what at first looked like hair floating on the waters surface later discovering it was Sea Salps (see “the silly things we do“). The adventure has left us wanting more and we will soon be sailing around the islands in the Sea of Cortez.
For now we wait to leave with the WWS rally. In the meantime we got some engine maintenance work done, have been exploring La Paz, hanging out at the infinity pool, and making new friends with another adventure just around the next sunrise.
We look forward to returning again next winter!
I am on a 145nm passage from Chacala to Mazatlan. At an average speed of 4 knots it will take us roughly 36 hours to get there. That’s two full nights, one full day and then some. Why am I traveling on a boat, spending two days to get to a location that would only take a few hours by car? Why do I live without little luxuries like running water? Why do I live in a situation where taking a shower requires set up, organization and the heating of water by solar power or propane? Truly I must be insane!
It is my turn to stand watch and the winds are calm and gentle. The water is placid. Soon the sunlight fades into the horizon and the sky slowly fills with a multitude of stars. Reminding me that there is a bigger plan and I am just a tiny thread in the fabric. As Pablo slices through the smooth waters, my mind drifts through a lifetime of memories. Tonight my heart is heavy so I choose to spend time in the halls of sadness. I watch as the bio luminescence sends sparks upon the water and I cast forgiveness mixed with tears into their wake, feeling myself let go of resentment and pain. Loosing myself in the night sky, I cry to the universe seeking forgiveness of my own and I can feel myself healing from remorse and regret. I pour out and breath in. I find peace, I find balance. Soon my turn on watch ends and I am once again free. Again the sea has given me a place of reflection, some time to dig deeper into my soul. I have been cleansed.
When morning comes my heart is light. I spend the day with the man I love, living in this grand adventure. We laugh, we play, we read to each other, we sail our boat. We talk of the future and share dreams and stories, some of which we already know. We do simple tasks like washing dishes and I am at peace. I have a serenity that only comes from being still. A quiet contentment that I find when traveling so slowly. 145 nm in 36 hours.
Chacala, Nayarit Mexico, by all accounts via the internet and the cruising guides is a sleepy little town of 300 residents. This quintessential beach town with a beautiful shoreline consisting of soft sand with a mild surf and palm trees swaying softly in the background is the anchorage of our dreams.
We arrived on Monday, March 21, 2016, the beginning of Semana Santa (Saints week), the week before Easter, which is one of the biggest holiday weeks in Mexico. With every arrival into a port or anchorage I searched the distance through my binoculars, assessing the situation. As we sailed toward Bahia de Chacala I noticed a wide variety of color splashed along the shoreline. Beautifully painted houses I thought? No. Umbrellas! Hundreds of umbrellas! This was not a quiet little anchorage at the moment. We had arrived just in time to spend what could be compared to spring break in the States. Families from inland towns and cities had converged on this little beach to spend the holiday and we would be one of the guests. What a treat, what a blessing!
Arriving around 4:30 pm, we had our first opportunity of setting a stern anchor which was needed to keep the boat from rolling in the swell and made our life aboard much more tolerable. Typically we only set our bow anchor, keeping us in place for the duration of our stay, leaving us to gently swing with the wind and current around the anchor. However this anchorage has a steady swell coming from the west and its best to keep your bow pointed into that swell for maximum comfort. Using a stern anchor keeps the boat pointed in the direction of choice, prohibiting the natural swing. It was great to put theory to the test and have it work so smoothly. We got to work getting Pablo squared away; we got Picasso (our dinghy) inflated and launched, the sun shade up and all travel gear stowed just as the sun was setting. We would go ashore the following day to check in with El Capitan de Puerto de Chacala and explore this little town.
Up early the following day we boarded Picasso ready to see the sights. On the north side of the bay is a Panga/Dinghy dock. Well, dock is kind of a stretch. There is a place were Pangas tie up to a concrete wall and there are two sets of steps going up the wall. Steve and I rode our dinghy back and forth, skirting the pangas tied to the wall on various posts or tree branches stuck into rocks or cracks in the wall. All the while being careful not to get ourselves caught in their stern lines secured to floating bouys behind them, some of which were not actually floating but submerged just below the surface of the water. We decided to wiggle our way between a few Pangas, inching toward one of the sets of steps. I reached forward as we approached and grabbed the wall pulling Picasso toward the step. I made the short leap to land and was able to manuver Picasso toward a post where I tied her securely in place and viola, we were tied to the dock just like we knew what we were doing. Feeling quite proud of ourselves, Steve and I stepped ashore, unloaded our packs, and headed toward the port Captains’ office. The locals on the dock paid us no mind as we wandered into town. To them this was an everyday occurrence to us this was a whoohoo moment. This was just more of what we had been longing for, another check mark on the list of things we had looked forward to experiencing when we left home. We were once again giggling, Teehee…. we were really doing it. Traveling in a foreign country, transversing the land and customs. Yay for us!
Arriving at the Port Captains’ office we discovered it was locked. Hmmm…. it is reported to be open daily 8-3. Oh well, we will check back later. We wondered further down the street taking our first turn to follow the road that parallels the beach. Lining the road on each side are shops selling beach goods, abborrotes selling grocery items, and stands selling fruits and vegetables some familiar and some not so much. We cross between two building to walk the sandy beach in front of the multiple Palapa resturants, each one the same except somehow offering a different vibe, a different experience. We chose one and sat down, ordering a cerveza and a sangria. There we sat watching the families around us, people on holiday, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. All laughing and playing.
We spent a week going back and forth between our boat and the beach. While on the boat we could hear the various impromtu Mariachi bands that wondered the beach. Listen to the sounds of children squealing in the waves and watch as two Pangas with large banana shaped rafts in tow took people on often wild rides around the anchorage. We soon became a point of interest in the bay as they would circle us and wave. Several times we had swimmers or people on rafts come out to Pablo to visit with us. Through our little bit of Spanish and their little bit of English they told us where they lived, shared their love for Chacala and their hometown, and asked about us and where we came from. They were curious about Pablo and our journey. It was a friendly visit with strangers, a chance to learn a bit from each other. It was sweet!
Unlike the other beaches we had been on, we were in the minority. This was not a destination for foreign tourist. This was a tourist stop for Mexicans. There were vendors on the beach, but they were not selling necklaces and pareos. They were selling ice cream, yummy homemade roasted coconut treats, rice pudding in cups, umbrellas, and beach toys. Families set up large tents on the beach with tables and food. Little kids with giraffe and dolphin floaties played freely. There was not one drunk, hooligan or police officer. The only time we saw anyone that looked official was a guy in an orange vest directing traffic. As for that Port Captain, we finally got ahold of him by VHF radio. He said he was on the beach and if we needed anything to call him on channel 16. There was no need to check in.
We look forward to visiting this beautiful bay again. I do not expect it will be the same, unless we chose to come on a future holiday weekend. Who knows, maybe this will become our favorite place to spend Semana Santa. Its possible.
We arrived in Bahia de Banderas in early December, knowing that we needed to have a safe place to leave the boat while we traveled home for the Christmas holidays. Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta therefore became our home port in this area. The plan was to get Pablo settled, go to the states and then start moving further south when we returned. Like so many “plans” that just did not pan out as expected. And frankly, Im starting to enjoy the unexpected!
It is now late March and we have spent three and half wonderful months exploring this area from one end of the bay (Yelapa) to the other (La Cruz). Sure we spent two weeks traveling a bit further south and hope we will do more next season, but this bay is a wonderful place and we will miss it. The mountains, the lush vegetation, the people, the art, all of it!
The next 1-2 weeks will be spent moving slowly North, visiting various anchorages and places along the way. The “plan” is to spend the spring and summer in the Sea of Cortez. Plans are really becoming more like basic outlines, which seems to be the best way to maneuver in the beautiful lifestyle we have chosen.
So off we go…….
It was a beautiful day to begin our journey south. Final destination unknown. We did some research, got the low down on a few good anchorages, and the skinny on the marina in Barra de Navidad. So we plotted our course and left the dock around 2pm. This would give us an arrival time of noonish at our first stop, Bahia Chamela which is a 22 hour passage for us if we maintain an average speed of 4.5 knots.
Earlier that week we had changed the fuel filters and had some trouble bleeding of the fuel lines. We felt we had solved the problem but we ran the engine off both tanks one more time just to be sure and everything was working great. Releasing the dock lines we motored away, grinning with gleeful excitement. There we were with our sails still tied to the boom or lashed to the foredeck, motoring out of the harbor when, you guessed it…. the motor died. Now, for whatever reason earlier that morning Steve and I had played the “what if” game in reference to dying engines and rocky harbor channels so when it happened we said a few ugly words and just kinda got to work. Just before the harbor channel there is a large turning basin and thankfully we were still in that basin when the engine died. Steve dashed below to see what the problem was while I coasted in circles all the while watching for the best place to dock the boat should the motor fail to restart. However, in a short time the motor was up and running again. Hooray!
I am certain that most savvy, experienced, salty sailors would have gone back to the dock to make sure that the problem was truly fixed….. but not us, no, no. We charged right out of the harbor mouth and into the bay and you guessed it…. The engine died again. At least this time we had some distance from hard things like rocks, docks, and boats. So we hoisted the sails and Steve again went below while I sailed around the beautiful Banderas Bay. After an hour or so we had the port side tank running, but could not run the engine off the starboard tank for more than 15 minutes. We assessed our fuel consumption for a trip of this type, we took mental and emotional inventory of our selves and decided to go for it. We would sail to Bahia Chamela and address the situation again once we got there. So away we went.
Once out of Banderas Bay we rounded Cabo Corrientes and pointed south. At some time in the wee hours while I was on watch I noticed the lights of boats ahead of us. Keeping careful watch and eventually adjusted course further offshore until I passed them. They were large commercial fishing vessels all lit up like christmas trees. Shortly after passing the three fishing boats we ran dead into a fog so thick I could barely see the bowsprit. I awoke Steve so that we would have four eyes on watch instead of two, but by the time he came on deck the fog began to ease. So he goes below and back to bed. Before ten minutes pass the fog lifts and there before me are, I kid you not, 20+ commercial fishing boats all with their nets in the water. I quickly adjusted course again to move further off shore and watched the boats as we glided safely by. The remainder of our journey was peaceful and uneventful with a beautiful sunrise and easy sailing. We arrived in Bahia Chamela around 16:00 and easily dropped anchor.
On the north side of the bay is the small fishing village of Perula, offering small aborrotes (mini grocery stores), a single store to purchase gasoline (most likely from a barrel), and at least 20 Palapa restaurants on the beach. There were so many empty chairs chairs under palm frond roofs along the beach that Steve dubbed it the bay of chairs. We watched the pangas come and go for the first day at anchor while we did further assessment of our fuel system and made no further progress in repair. Now all work and no play make for grumpy sailors so by day two we decided it was time to try one of the feats we had been dreading since the beginning of this Grand Adventure, landing and launching our dinghy through the beach surf.
You see, in order to go to small towns like this one you must land your dink on the beach because there is no pier or dock. While this sounds rather simple there is the issue of timing with the surf coming in and the pulling up of the outboard motor so that we do not bury it in the sand, causing severe damage. We had gotten advice from friends, we had read step by step articles, and we had spent way too much time watching others and discussing their technique. It was time for us to make our move. So we two brave souls launched Picasso off the deck, hoisted the motor onto the dinghy and made our way toward land. We crossed back and forth waiting for the perfect set of waves and “bingo” we landed smoothly onshore, where we were met by some sweet folks at the Palapa la Prieta who helped us drag our dinghy up and above the water line. Of course we felt the absolute need to celebrate so we sat and enjoyed a beer as we gazed at Pablo across the anchorage. Cheers to us!
We left Picasso under the watchful eye of these fine people and we journeyed through this small town, seeing perhaps only five other gringos. We had arrived in Mexico. Not a Mexican resort, but Mexico with all its culture, genuine pride and friendliness. We wondered the dirt roads, purchased some eggs, searched for non-existing wifi and eventually made it back to Picasso and the Palapa la Prieta where we ate the most incredible shrimp empanadas of our lives.
I would love to tell you that the launch went smoothly, but it did not. We walked Picasso into the water until we felt it was deep enough to start the motor. Steve jumped in, got the motor running and starting calling for me to jump in. I did the most graceful belly flop landing almost head first into the bow. Once upright I saw that our timing was awful. We were staring straight at a four foot wave. I started yelling… Go, Go, Go! Steve gunned it, I leaned forward to add weight to the bow and we crested the wave just as she was breaking, soaking us and everything we owned. There were no words, only laughter. We didn’t do it gracefully and it could have turned out badly, but we did it and for that we were joyous.
We stayed in Chamela for a few more days. However, on the third day we encountered electrical problems with our refrigeration system so Steve slyly hooked up the compressor to a new power source by tapping into the spreader light wiring. That was working great until the fan on the compressor died. Ugh! Not being so easily defeated, Steve quickly gorilla taped a 12v cooling fan which had yet to be installed to the compressor to provide cooling. And with that we left to go further south.
Our next stop was Bahia Tenacatita. It was an easy downwind sail until the last two hours when all hell broke loose. The winds suddenly rose from just a breath of maybe 5 kts to a screaming 15kts before we could blink. Our preventer snapped and we just managed to keep ourselves out of what could have been an ugly accidental jibe. We got ourselves quickly under control by reefing in the main, installing the backup preventer, and away we went. Sailing on a beam reach into the bay. Our newly gained experience was starting to show and we felt proud that we recovered the situation so quickly.
We dropped our anchor in an anchorage with about 15 other boats and settled in to our easy routine of dinner, sundowners, bird watching and relaxation. This large bay has pretty much nothing; A few hotels catering to Canadians, a town not easily reached by boat or dinghy, a campground (empty at the time), and an estuary through the mangroves. We wanted to go through the estuary but the tides were not in our favor. We again landed our dinghy ashore and had the same results, a smooth landing and a wet launch, still so much to be learned.
In the following days we fretted over the fuel situation and the fact that we could not get the motor to run off the starboard tank for more than 15 minutes. So we made the decision to head north back to Bahia de Banderas, where we were familiar with people and places to get some help with the fuel lines as well as the refrigeration system. Since we would be motoring directly into the wind and swell on our journey north, we had to get the fuel out of our Starboard tank to refill our Port tank. Steve, again proving his resourcefulness, rigged up some hoses and clamps and connectors and tapped into the fuel line on the starboard tank so we could syphon fuel into jerry cans. Just call him Steve “MacGyver” Brenner.
We caught a great weather window and had an easy 34 hour ride back up to Bahia de Banderas and docked in the Marina Nayarit in La Cruz. We have the fuel line issue solved, a missing bronze washer on one of the filters which acts as a gasket on the bleed bolt. We are attempting to solve both the electrical and broken fan issue on the refrigeration system, which I am certain will be completed soon. In the meantime we are enjoying this lovely little town with cobblestone streets, little tiendas, farmers markets, and marine services. We got to spend some more time with our friends John and Diane from s/v Konami. Our last bittersweet evening was spent dining and exploring downtown Puerto Vallarta, as they left to cross the Pacific Ocean this morning. It’s so wonderful making friends, it’s so hard to keep saying goodbye.
Soon we will begin the journey north. The weather is still quite cool in the Sea of Cortez, so we aren’t exactly in a hurry. We will take our time, maybe explore some new places as we travel up the coast. There is no real plan, just a basic outline.
All is well with my soul…..
We have spent the week working and saying our goodbyes. We have rebuilt the head (read toilet), replaced all five fuel filters, re-spliced the anchor rode, sewn new items to make our lives run smoother and reinforced the stitching on our sunshade which we rely on heavily to keep us cool. We’ve washed the boat, stowed the gear, done our online banking, topped off the fuel tanks and water in the batteries. We spent a few great evenings having dinner with various friends, saying our see you laters and now its time to go.
The destination is flexible, we are hoping to get as far south as Barra de Navidad, but there are many beautiful coves between here and there, so who knows how far we will get. We will stop and stay in each place until its time to move on. In other words, we don’t really have a plan other than a departure day and a direction. Which is exactly the way we like it.
Within the next three weeks we will turn around and start heading north, our destination being the Sea of Cortez. There we will spend the spring and possibly the summer. But for now….. The Costalegre coast is in our sights.
For those who like to follow our track the Delorme inreach is up and running again and we will turn on the Mapshare when we depart the dock, sometime tomorrow in the early afternoon.
We just returned from a lovely 5 nights in the anchorage of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico where we had a great visit with our dear friend Holly who was in town to pick up a boat that she was hired to deliver back to San Diego, I attended a Women Who Sail conference, and we finally caught up with John and Diane of s/v Konami.
Konami is a Westsail 32 like ours from the northwest coast. Diane and I have been following each others blog and progress as we each have traveled down the coast. We have kept in contact for at least a year, hoping to meet up in one of these anchorages. Finally, the day arrived and we had a lovely afternoon of lunch, comparing of notes and boats, and friendship. Boat people everywhere speak the same language and it was especially nice to take it one step further and have conversations with folks who have the same boat. Our love, problems, and solutions are the same or at least similar.
While the bulk of our time was spent in town eating, visiting, and wondering we did have a few sweet moments floating around the anchorage. Our mornings were spent watching the large school of fish that made Pablo their place of refuge. The sounds of them swimming around the boat were so loud at times that we could hear the splashing from our bunk. The birds shot like arrows from the sky diving after them, plunging into the water so near to us that we could almost feel the wind from their feathers. Mornings on the veranda (cockpit) are my favorite time of the day when we are at anchor. Everything feels so alive!
Our short trip has inspired us to move further down the coast. So we will soon be leaving Banderas Bay and doing a slow hop down the coast toward Bara de Navidad. Not sure if we will make it all the way as there are many beautiful places to stop along the way. In the meantime we are back in Paradise Village Marina and busy getting a few minor projects completed before we leave the dock.
I feel the winds changing, the sea is calling our names………..
Yelapa! Butterflies, toads, birds, jungle, beach, passion fruit, people, songs of the night, cobblestone paths, donkeys, the river, the waterfall, food, hammocks, ahhh….. Tranquilo!
We just returned from a two night stay in this beautiful little village, which sits on the south end of Banderas Bay surrounded by jungle covered mountains. The water is warm, the people are friendly, and the very air is infused with the rhythms of life. This is a place to explore and relax. You can hike to the top of a waterfall, laze about in a hammock, or sip margaritas while lounging by the shore. Or like us, do a little of everything. We could very easily have stayed here a week or more. Perhaps next season we will.
Our trip started on Friday morning 2/5/16 with a taxi cab ride to Boca de Tomatlan where we picked up a water taxi that delivered us to Yelapa. Unlike our last visit where we had to jump off the front of the boat while it bounced in the surf, we were able to depart the boat at the pier. For this I was grateful as I was carrying my camera in addition the hauling my backpack with my minimal belongings. Although I have to say that exiting the boat onto the dock in high swell is not much easier than jumping onto the beach. Instead of getting your feet wet you might loose your fingers when the boat smashes against the pier, but hey this is an adventure, right?! I’m happy to say that Steve and I still have ten digits on each of our hands and feet, proof that we did well. After getting onto land the next step was to find the location of our accommodations. This task is only slightly hindered by the fact that Google has no street map of the area as there are no streets. Luckily we found a sweet young boy who showed us the way. Truthfully, once we got familiar with the area we realized a blind man could find his way. There are not that many paths to wonder on, but we did not know that when we arrived. So at the time, we were lost. The paths are paved with cobble stones and are just wide enough for an ATV, which is the primary method used for moving goods like water, ice, and groceries around the village. You often see products being moved by wheel barrow and donkey, but it obvious these methods are being replaced by the Motos (as they call them)
After traveling up and down a few steep hills we found the Yelapa Oasis, our home for the next couple of days. We were greeted by the proprietor Lisa who gave us a tour, served up some fabulous sandwiches and made us feel warm and welcomed. Our friend John, whom we know from Santa Cruz and is a part time resident of Yelapa was there as well and the two of them quickly gave us the lowdown on the area; where it was easiest to cross the river, the best time to visit the waterfalls, the best places to eat, and information on the live music event that would be featuring John on Saturday night. The magic of Yelapa was already working its way into our bones and we had only been there a few hours.
We chose to stay in the Oasis because of its rustic charm. The rooms, if you will, are actually called casitas. A building made of concrete with no ceiling or glass in the window openings. The roof is thatched palm frawns and the the windows are covered with bamboo shades that you can open and close for air and light. The bed is covered in mosquito netting, a fact we were much grateful for and the furnishings took minimal to an extreme. The property sits right on the river and is beautifully landscaped providing various areas with hammocks or small patio areas. Perfect for quiet conversations, personal introspection, and naps. It was earthy, romantic, and peaceful.
Once settled in we quickly changed into our bathing suits and headed off for the beach.
Our casita was located on the other side of the river from the beach and normally the river is shallow at this time of year and easy to wade across. However, we were just in time for the cane toad mating season so the river was blocked making it more difficult to pass. This meant taking a sweet walk through the jungle to get to a bridge further up the path making it easier to cross. This also provided a wonderful opportunity to take photos, view the wildlife and explore. So, over the river and through the woods…. we finally make it to the beach! Where we spent the remainder of our afternoon. That evening we fell asleep to the wild sounds of the jungle. You can’t imagine how loud amorous toads can be, really!
Morning had us hiking up to the waterfall. We had hoped to get breakfast at a place at the end of the trail but they were not serving yet. So we went to Cafe Bahia which is right in front of the pier, which gave us real insight into the importance of those water taxis. We watched tourists with suit cases leave from the pier, while more tourists arrive both for the day and for an extended visit. We watched as pangas showed up loaded with fruits, vegetables, water, and jugs of gasoline. We saw local families coming and going on what we assume is a variety of errands in Puerto Vallarta. As we watched a local fisherman casting his net to catch bait fish a boat arrived with what looked like someone’s home possessions. After fighting the swell the driver tied up and off loaded the belongings onto the dock which were carried away by men with wheelbarrows up into the hills. Only one item was observed falling into the water, never to be seen again. Such an interesting way of life!
The rest of the day was spent lounging by the shore sipping passion fruit margaritas and soaking up the view. Time was well spent having a wonderful conversation with an old man who walked from Chacala, three hours away. The sweet man tolerated my low level of Spanish, helping me with words as I tried to express myself. We shared strawberries and grapes and the appreciation for all things simple. Afterward Steve and I wondered the town, handing out candy to every child we met and marveling in the simplicity of this life. Late afternoon was for hammocks and naps, conversations with other visitors like ourselves and a maddening attempt to get a picture of a woodpecker. Evening brought the great tastes of tapas from the kitchen at the Oasis and an evening of music with our friend John playing the conga drums. Sleep came easily even with sound of the toads filling the night air.
It was difficult to leave when morning came, but when its time you just have to go. We plan to return, but really even if we didn’t, this place has left its mark on us. A magical time spent in the jungle of Yelapa.
Too much time has passed since I last made a post. Our days have been so full of adventure. We have worked a bit on the boat, getting her boom re-installed along with a few other projects. We have met some great people who have convinced us to crew in the Vallarta Cup races and we have explored a few new places.
We returned to Nuevo Vallarta on January 8th after a wonderful three weeks in Santa Cruz, visiting with family and friends. We enjoyed a small cozy Christmas dinner in our rented cottage, shared many great meals and conversations with our children and grandchildren, and greeted the New Year in the home of good friends, lazing about watching silly movies and eating great food with loved ones. However, leaving again was difficult and took some adjusting upon our return to Mexico. Honestly, it was harder leaving this time than on our original departure, at least for me. Saying goodbye again to our children was heart wrenching and is no doubt the crappy side of this life we have chosen. I love being here, but also find myself counting down the months until our next visit.
After settling back into our lives one of the first things we did was to take a trip out to Yelapa. A small village on the south side of Banderas Bay that can only be reached by boat or donkey. We left our marina and took a taxi car to the last town on the road that skirts the bay, Boca de Tomatlan. The views of the bay from the taxi window were breathtaking as the road is high on the cliffs. From Boca we took a half hour water taxi ride, the driver stopping along the way in small bays to deliver supplies by tossing them off the front of our panga to people standing at the waters edge in knee deep water. We were eventually dropped off on the beach, jumping off the front of the panga, landing in the warm water at the shoreline in front of Rogelio’s, a well known palapa restaurant to anyone who has traveled these parts. Our day was then spent sipping the most delicious passion fruit margaritas, eating the best ceviche to date, and wandering the paths of this little village. We connected with a friend of ours from Santa Cruz, who lives here for part of the year and spent the better part of the afternoon with him. There is still so much to see and explore in Yelapa so Steve and I have decided to rent a Casita this coming weekend and spend a few days there. We will hike up to the waterfall, wandering the meandering trails as there are no roads or cars, and relax on the beach. Can’t wait!
Another day has us traveling to the town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle which is a well known cruiser’s haven on the north end of the bay. We decided to travel by bus which is really no big deal since we have been using buses in each place we have visited San Jose del Cabo, Mazatlan, and here in Banderas Bay, but the buses here are kind of wonky. Its easy for us to take a bus going south once you know which buses to take, however the bus system going north is a bit challenging. First we take a bus from the marina, getting off on the highway entrance ramp. We then walk/run across four lanes of highway traffic, stand on the side of the highway and wave down a bus. Sounds crazy, but we have been able to do this several times now and we giggle each time we transverse this system successfully. The bus from there is a short 20 minutes and we arrive in the lovely, fun and funky town of La Cruz. Cobblestone streets, chickens on the loose, tiendas and cafes, many restaurants and music venues all with a low key feel. Its wonderful. There is a marina and an anchorage in La Cruz and we hope to bring Pablo there soon, very soon.
In addition to our personal and individual exploration, we took a guided tour to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Oh my, what an adventure. The gardens were beautiful and the bird life was spectacular. I saw a few birds that I could not photograph, but took my breath away with there stunning colors. The plants were beautiful and the forest was filled with giant strangler figs. After the gardens the tour took us to a local family run tequila distillery where we sampled various tequilas and had a fabulous marisco lunch. If anyone plans on going I say its worth the trip, just remember to bring bug spray.
In addition to transversing the local area, we have made wonderful friends. We spent a lovely evening at a local Spanish paella restaurant, we have crewed with a salty new friend in the local Vallarta Cup race, and made friends with a Canadian couple of whom I am certain will cross our paths again. We have also had the wonderful pleasure of running into old friends from our time spent in San Jose del Cabo and the Baja Haha and had a lovely time hearing about their adventures. The people we meet along the way certainly add spice to our adventure.
Of course, in between the fun and adventures we got a few things done on the boat. Pablo is now sporting an improved and reinforced boom. We pulled the alternator, which was not working to capacity and had it repaired. We are moving the reefing points on the boom to make it more user friendly and installing lazy jacks, because the sight of Steve and I flaking a sail is like an old Laurel and Hardy routine. We’ve had a special visitor on board and had many moments of laughter and fun that are too simple and small to even try to share.
I suppose thats all I can account for at this time. Please know that we think about all of our loved ones every day. And I hope that each of you is happy that we are following our own silly path. We love you all and are grateful that we have been granted this time to explore, adventure, and make memories that will last an eternity.
Still loving this crazy life!