Friday, December 1, 2006

Chacala - Puerto Vallarta

It's so hard to get good pictures of the two of us, thanks to Robert we were able to get some.

Robert and Matey

Matey snuggling between Greg and I - I'm the lump on the left. Mornings are always time for snuggles and belly rubs as Matey tries her hardest to get us up and out for a play on the beach.

It's after New Year's and we are finally in the calmest anchorage yet. Unfortunately, it's not an anchorage at all, but the boatyard where we are hauled-out. How did we get here do you ask? Well, it has to do with a boat, a new marina breakwater and an unmarked rock in the center of an entrance. Christmas Day we decided to escape the rollies of the La Cruz anchorage and head into the breakwater where they are building a new marina. All was going well until we discovered a rock or something similarly hard at about 5 1/2 feet. Since we draw 6 feet, you can see this is a problem for us. It was a pretty big thump (sort of a ride up then down) and we thought for sure it was just a gouge. Upon further investigation (ie, diving on it during a snorkeling trip to the tres marrietas) we discovered it's about a 4 inch split -- oopsy!!!!! That explains why we are now resting on the hard - at least we'll get a good night sleep after we drink enough to forget how much of our cruising budget we are giving to Opequimar Boat Yard. But even though they are gouging us, they so far are impressing us with the quality and speed of their work, so hopefully, we won't be here that long.

Onto better things, our friend Robert came to spend a little time with us while he was traveling in the area. While he was with us, we explored the Tres Marrietas Islands, Punta Mita, and Yelapa.

At Punta Mita we had the most fabulous dinner at Cafe Luna. It's a small restaurant that features 2 fancy shmancy items a night for a fabulously reasonable price. The night we went their tables were full, but we decided to wait and when we finally sat down were rewarded with a HUGE plate of fresh sashimi on the house for our trouble. Then since we were the last table, and able to chat with the owner throughout dinner, he discovered we were cruisers and came out to chat for awhile. What a great surprise when he pulled out his guitar and decided to play us a tune. He used to work with Willie Nelson, and he was a great guitarist and singer. I even thought it was worth every bit of worry that I had going back out through the big surf in the pitch dark.

Robert giving Greg surfing lessons in Punta Mita.

Surfer Greg

Surfer Robert

We also visited Yelapa which was another treasure. I remember before we left our neighbor, Skye spent the evening making us margaritas and telling us about Yelapa. He was absolutely right, it's a bit of paradise. It's not really a typical Mexican village, but something unique to itself. You can only get there by boat, so there are only cobblestone trails - no cars, but lots of horses. It's so magical, and you (or I) feel totally at peace there. Greg and Matey had an eye to eye 'talk' about not turning into a maniacal hyena every time she saw the horses and by the time we left, she started to get it and was actually able to walk past them under control. There were dogs everywhere - more so than anywhere else we've been. Of course chickens everywhere, and I think there were as many Americans as Mexicans - but not the least bit touristy, at least once you get off the beach.

But the anchorage is another story, there is nothing relaxing about the anchorage, and you only wish you were someplace else - though I don't think that's why shore seemed that good :-)

Upon entering a panga roared up to us offering a mooring, but we had been warned that this mooring wasn't good and we'd rather just drop the hook, so we said we wanted to look around. Then another panga roared up asking what we were planning, he asked about the mooring and told us it was no good and pointed out the best place to anchor. He even directed us with his panga to it and advised us exactly where best to drop it. So we dropped anchor in 70 feet on sand. Even though it was 70 feet (we usually anchor in no more than 25 feet) we were SUPER close to shore, so much so that we could have swum there if we wanted. We backed down hard and felt we were secure, so all was good. We decided we didn't want to take the panga to shore, so we just tipped him for his help and launched the dinghy. Overall, it wasn't that rolly, but we were there on a calm evening. But it was freaky being so close to rocks and the shore with pretty big surf rolling in. We also had our first real rain storm of the trip. It was very different at 75 degrees instead of the very cold rain in the Bay Area.

We'll return to Yelapa again, but just not in our boat.

Notice the fishing rod precariously on the lifeline as Greg tries to get the hook out of an unwanted SkipJack...There is now a skipJack swimming around with not only one of our favorite wiggle butt Rapala lures, but our fishing pole and reel also.... luckily we have a backup, but it was still a sobering moment...

Pacifica in Yelapa

Yelapa, our new most beautiful anchorage (sorry, Chacala)

Yelapa - we walked across this river to go to dinner, I don't think I have ever had to cross a river by foot to eat dinner before. Actually, there was a path, but this was much shorter and more interesting.

Main drag of Yelapa complete with horses and Matey being a maniac.

Greg, Robert and I in Yelapa

Softball vases

I've never seen a rooster in the trees before, but can you see all of them above this horse?

Other than those two jaunts, we laid low in La Cruz and enjoyed the slow life.

Romping in La Cruz with 2 other cruiser doggies.

Church in downtown PV

River in PV, we crossed a rickety swing bridge getting to this island, but I was a dope and didn't take a picture...I hate when I do that ;-)

I love these Christmas decorations, it looks like designs kids cut into paper.

hmmmm, massage with chocolate all over, ahhh, I don't think so...

We hear this is fabulous, they cook the Rotisserie chicken and let the drippings drip on the potatoes and peppers below - it's not weight watchers, but we are hoping to try this before we leave.

Pacifica signed the cruiser wall in La Cruz....

A fabulous local band who we are happy to say we went to their 1st and 2nd concert. They were wonderful!!!!

One morning we woke to this fisherman unwinding his fishing net from our anchor. For some reason, they like to string these fishing nets just under the surface through the anchorage. But he was super nice about it quietly untangled it, but he didn't put it back there...

New Year's Day, Greg had a poopie job, literally - don't worry, I won't go into details...

Mazatlan - Chacala

After a couple of days, Greg got over his Turista. He finally had to resort to antibiotics since it seemed to be getting worse. Since the symptoms started to get better by the second dose, when I started to have the slightest cramping I also started antibiotics. You probably don't want all the details, but I got off easy and Greg had a quick recovery after modern medicine intervened.

We were finally off to Isabela. We left around 8pm and planned to motor through the night and get to the Island in the late morning. It was uneventful except for the amazingly warm flat water. Who can mind night watches in this weather? well, come to think of it - after I haven't had much sleep, I can, I get cranky. But if I've had a little sleep and can keep myself awake - the nights and stars are amazing!!!

So as we get closer, around 10 or 11 the next morning, we start to see the island up close and there is a moving haze flying around the island of frigate birds. They continued this the entire time we were there - the outline of the island was constantly moving with flying birds.

The anchorage leaves a lot to be desired but we had gotten there at the start of a calm couple of days, so protection wasn't a big deal. But the bottom...oh the bottom...shudder. After 3 times anchoring and basically wrapping our chain around a rock instead of setting it - once Greg had to break out the scuba gear to free our chain from a crevice. We finally just snagged a bit of pebbly stuff and decided to call it set. Since it was calm, we thought it would be fine, but I do remember getting up a number of times through the night. After a snorkeling session and lots of motoring around sniffing out a good spot, we realized there is really only 1 good spot just under Las Monas that has sand. It's big enough for one boat. And another boat was already in it. Luckily the next morning we watched that boat up anchor and move on. So we upped anchor and grabbed the sweet spot. The snag a rock type of anchoring just doesn't settle well with us :-)

This was taken before we moved to the sweet spot. Shortly after this photo we moved more behind Las Monas to the sand.

Isabela shore

fish camp in the South Cove where we landed the dinghy.

Iguana hanging out on a rock. These guys were scurrying all over the island also.

The island was amazing. Frigate birds would look down at you with curious eyes, but not move when you even walked within feet of their nests. And you can't help but do that since they are nesting EVERYWHERE> The trails literally walk under trees with 6-7 nesting frigate birds in them.

Frigate Bird

The trail leads up a cliff to where the boobie birds nest.

Brown Boobie

Isla Isabela from high on the hilltop.

Playful Boobie. This little guy kept hiding behind this pole and peeking around at us as we were walking toward him. He never moved, as we walked by, he just stayed by his pole looking at us.

Mama and baby boobie

Adolescent Boobie

Greg Boobie - In order to make the blue-footed boobies more comfortable Greg tried walking like a boobie and quacking like a boobie. It seemed to work!!!

Gossiping Boobies

Blue Footed Boobies. Whenever I see their eyes, I sing the song " Look into my eyes" from Jungle Book, you know when the snake is hypnotizing the boy...

Zen Frigate. There were about 5-6 Frigates in another section who were also in this pose. I didn't want to walk over to take their picture for fear of breaking their Zen moment. But it really did look like they were meditating...

After more snorkeling, we decided to head to San Blas where we anchored in Mantanchen Bay since it's usually cooler on the water and when we leave Matey on the boat, we feel more comfortable knowing she has a cool boat to hang in.

Sunset in San Blas

The first thing we did was check in with the port captain - took only 10 minutes...

Serious fishing boats. Notice how they aren't tied up to a dock, just crammed against each other. But makes a cool photo.

Greg in the ruins

Central Mercado

Greg shopping

Drinking coconuts

We spent a day and a half here hitching a ride into the city. we were told that's just how things are done here by a couple of other cruisers. But it is Greg and I we are talking about. Neither of us had done that before so it took us walking for a couple of kilometers and the road shoulder narrowing to about the width of a foot before we built up the courage to lift our thumb. It just felt weird. Luckily we got lucky both ways and some nice guy took us in and later another nice fellow took us back.

The town was very cute but very buggy. We didn't have much of a problem with noseeums, but there were gnats and flies and those big moth things that are about 3 inches long. They always seem to find my head to land on. In Isabela, a huge one came on the boat and after a lot of screaming from both of us, I grabbed the 409 and started squirting him. At first, he was stunned, but then he became superbug and was walking into the stream as I was spraying. I finally came to my senses and grabbed a shoe. I sure hope he wasn't protected under the bird sanctuary preservation, he sure was big enough.

Anyway, the shady side of our boat was constantly covered with little tiny flies. So when the Norther was forecasted to give us a little window to get to Chacala, we took it with a couple of other boats.

Unfortunately, it was a motoring trip, hardly a breath of wind and it was forecasted to be 15-20...

Motor to Chacala

Just as we were heading into the cove, we hooked a nice yellowfin tuna. Here Greg is telling the fish how much he loves it...

Here the fish is trying to get back at Greg...

But we made it in early to once again get the sweet spot. We got tucked in close to the panga dock and set our bow and stern anchor.

This was the first anchorage where it was obvious the charts were way off and our charts didn't have a zoom to correct it close in. Fortunately, our guidebook gives significant waypoints and it was daylight.

Where our GPS says we are... Don't worry mom, we aren't really anchored on the land... But in our tracking, you can see the little blip where we headed out to pull in our fish.

Here's proof, we're the second boat from the right.

This place is great. We are finally in a mode of realizing that we are really at all these wonderful places we've been reading about for years. It's so hard to believe. And they are as wonderful as we had imagined. Chacala is the coolest place we've been so far. There is a Norther blowing out in the Sea, winds are up to 30 kts, we can see the whitecaps outside the cove. But here inside the cove, we have a nice gentle land breeze blowing off the shore. It's like we are in a protected oasis. We've already walked literally everywhere in this little town which has one main cobbled street and a couple of dirt side streets.

Beautiful old house...

Beautiful Chacala...

Roosters and Chickens run free here. I was prepared for all kinda drama when Matey saw this, but she couldn't care less. She's so past birds... She's on to fish now....

relaxing with a Pacifico

Christmas Spirit, still hard to believe it's less than a week away.

All throughout town you see these huge gorgeous mansions right next to some of the poorest houses.

The video arcade in Chacala...

Pinata fun...

But it is very relaxing here, not sure yet how long we will stay...

Pacifica resting in the sunset.