Monday, January 1, 2007

Puerto Vallarta - Manzanillo


Santiago Bay, MX

Pacifica getting hauled out - very weird, Greg had to stay on the boat to fend off of the cement wall, then climb off the bow when it got to ground level. When she was put back in, he experienced a swinging motion on the forward strap.

Even before the stands are in place, Arturo was already tackling the gash and starting the draining process. I don't think Pacifica ever felt so pampered, it was like she was at a plush spa.

Last we left you we were in the boat yard fixing Pacifica's gash in her bottom. Although the yard in PV is VERY expensive, the guys who actually do the work are also thankfully very efficient. So within 30 minutes of us being taken out of the water (Pacifica wasn't even in her stands yet), Arturo was grinding out the gouge and putting heat lamps on it so we could dry out the keel. She dried for about 2 days, then they re-fiber glassed her, faired her out, put on an epoxy barrier coat and prepped the whole bottom and gave the whole boat another coat of paint (these barnacles down here are brutal).

To give you an example of the costs, a gallon of bottom paint down here is $280, we balked at that and Auturo came up with a couple of gallons that were already opened for $180. But somehow he also claimed that Pacifica needed 2 gallons to coat her bottom. Strange to us because on our last 2 bottom jobs that we did ourselves, she only needed 1 gallon per coat. This was the only negative - we probably should have stayed around and hovered over them while they worked, but we didn't, we explored instead. Oh well...

Matey found a cute little playmate (you can only see his tail, but he was another runner and they were so cute sprinting around these boats).

We sure with we could have fixed Pacifica like this... :-(

Matey was a true sport. we started off by having her in her life jacket with a backup line threaded through, but she was so good, she never wiggled and by the time we left she would go up and down with a little giggle and a glint in her eye.

How's this for a trooper? Her back room was torn apart with projects and there wasn't another space to lie down, so she just made due the best as she could.

Auturo did work to get us back in the water 2 days early (saving us $75/day in layday charges), so we splashed down late on Saturday and after topping off with fuel had a beautiful evening sail to La Cruz. How nice of the wind to pipe up for our return to cruising.

We spent a couple of days in La Cruz delaying our Southern departure by a day to take in a concert in Bucerias with our friends Greg and Janice on Gitana. Gitana will be heading North from here, so this is the last time we will see them. We sure hope to get together with them in California at some point.

Greg and Janice, off of s/v Gitana, and Greg and I when we went out to Bucerias for a concert. They were super cool!!!!! It was an absolute pleasure to meet them....

Matey took some time to spend with Tajate who is a very cute 10 month old cruiser puppy. But she is actually from Mexico and her parents adopted her up in Loreto when she was a puppy. What a lucky little girl!!!! She also reminds us so much of Matey when we first adopted her (ie, she was still a pup).

Finally on a day with a forecast of light and variable winds around Cabo Corrientes, we took off. Not our choice of forecasts, but it's all we had. So, we were planning for a motorboat trip around the point, then a quick overnight at Ipala and heading to Chamela the following day. You know what they say about plans... and forecasts..... By afternoon we were screaming along in big seas with gusts to 30.

So I had always feared catching a boobie bird on our fishing line (they can be really dumb). Well, on the way to Corrientes, a Brown Boobie flew into our fishing line and got his wing wrapped up in it. We had to reel him into the boat. Greg held on to him while I unwrapped his wing. He even pecked me once with his open beak, but he was so gentle, it didn't hurt at all. We were really fast and he flew away shortly after we dropped him back in the water. Matey, of course, was down confined to her room.

By the time we got to Ipala, there were about 10 boats in the anchorage (with another 3-4 coming in right after us) and lots of fishing nets strung across the anchorage. Both Greg and I didn't feel comfortable here, so we decided to do an overnight on down the coast. We had a nice overnight with just a little bit of jib out to keep our speed down. Since it was more comfortable to go a tad faster than 4 kts and we wanted to make our next landfall after daybreak, it made more sense to sail to Tenacatita which is a little further than Chamela. We figured we can catch Chamela on the way back up the coast.

So around 8 am the next morning we found ourselves in the inner anchorage at Tenacatita. It's nice and calm. Unfortunately we came down with some kinda cruiser flu/cold so we spent the first couple of days hunkered down. We did get out for beach romping and exploring on the jungle trip. Matey totally loves Tenacatita beaches - they are long, with a slow slope and hard packed (but soft) sand. She is also learning to body surf in the waves as she tried to hunt fish. It's just about the funniest thing to see her surfing into the beach, then sprint around and run out for more. Her recall is hurting as she is starting to catch on that when we call her from the water, it is usually to put her leash on and end her fun.

I don't think Matey enjoyed this that much, but we gave it a try lowering her down to the water for a swim (at one point Greg was 'chasing' her while she tried to swim to the beach). She does like to be wetted down in the sun shower on hot afternoons though.

The jungle river trip. It gets very narrow - about the width of your dinghy, very cool.

Tenacatita anchorage

Snoozing little girl... There is a fan that blows here right onto her tummy... Since her room is so cave-like, often with the fan going, it's the coolest.

Sadly though with our cold, we missed the cruiser activities because we didn't want to pass on our germs. Tenacatitia is known for having a cruiser mayor who organizes activities such as a daily swim to the beach, movie night, bocce ball on the beach, and the dinghy raft up. We're planning to stop here again on the way up the coast to hopefully partake in the fun then.

This is the little tienda in Tenacatita and hopefully you can see it, but there is a rooster walking out the door. I tried to get a better picture of him walking in the store, but he was a bit camera shy.

When we were feeling better, we were ready for more exploring so we went out to the outer anchorage which is known as the aquarium because of the fabulous snorkeling. We snorkeled and romped on the beach. Synchrony who is also from the Berkeley Yacht Club pulled in one evening - we were very happy to see them. We ended up spending a good amount of time finally getting to know them. We had a long walk down the length of the beach and a wonderful dinner. It's funny that we were both in Berkeley and even in the same yacht club but didn't know each other. We had to come to Mexico to get to know them. Actually, we met them in San Diego - they also did the HaHa, but this is the first time we got to spend any time with them. We hope to run into them on our way back up the coast (they aren't going as far down as Z town).

Fellow Berkleyites and Berkeley Yacht Club members, Herb and Juliet of Synchrony. They are super cool and we can't wait to catch up with them again.

Another boat, Arabella, came into the anchorage. They are longtime Mexico cruisers who sail with their doggie Buddy. I had emailed them before we left to get insider advice and when they looked at our website saw their boat pictured as part of Greg and I's charter out of San Carlos. I had been hoping we would see them, so that was a special surprise seeing them come into the anchorage, motor by us and call out Matey's name... Sadly we won't be seeing them again, Buddy will be returning home to the States and Arabella will be traveling to the South Pacific.

Arabella with Buddy

After a couple of days playing in the outer anchorage of Tenacatita, we pulled up anchor, motored around to say goodbye to our new friends and departed for Santiago Bay. This was mostly a motoring trip, but at least we had a chance to make a lot of water and get ever topped off power wise.

Matey finding shade where she can get it...

There were so many long lines (fishing lines held up with floats that stretch for miles). We'd be relaxing in the cockpit, then notice a panga roaring in our direction. This was the first hint that we were coming up to one (if we hadn't seen the buoys first). Sometimes they would flag us to an opening, but a couple of times we just had to head between 2 buoys and ghost over with the engine out of gear and hope the line didn't catch us. We never caught a line and all instances resulted in lots of nice waves and thank you's from the fisherman, so we figured we were doing it right.

As we entered Santiago Bay, we finally got a little bit of sailing in. So we sailing around the Bay a little with the laptop trying to find a good connection to "borrow". But no luck, so we just dropped anchor near the other 5 boats that are here.

We plan to stay here a day or so, then go to Las Hadas for a couple of days since it sounds interesting and it'll allow us to explore Manzanillo. Then continue South to Z town for Sail Fest.

So the funny thing about this picture is what is in these bins. The top 3 bins are beans, beans, beans, the second row is: beans, beans, dog food, and the third is dog food, dog food dog food. This is how people here buy dog food - I haven't seen a single Pet Food Express. Since it looks like Matey might need more food before our return, it looks like this is where we will get it - From what I've read, get dog food that has a high turn around (less chance of bugs and it being bad). 

The butcher...

Beautiful Produce

This is the inside of one of the busses in Manzanillo. Each is driver decorated so they range from totally bare bones to totally decked out. Some have very elaborate decorations from leather shift covers/matching leather dashboard covers and leather frames and trim on mirrors etc. Of course, there is also the Calvin and Hobbs dude pissing on things :-)

OK - I was the hero of this story... This morning Greg got up early and fish were jumping like crazy around our boat - so what does any sane person do? Yep grab the fishing pole and start fishing. A little bit later I am woken up by Greg yelling down that he has a fish on the line. So I come up to Greg on the bow in his underwear fighting this fish on our little spinning rod. After I get his pants and dress my sweet hubby, we continue to reel in the big guy (the fish, not Greg). Pretty soon the fish wraps the line around our prop... Normally this is an automatic fish win, game over. But with 82-degree water, I can pop on the bathing suit and jump in. So I jumped in with this fish swimming below up on the hook and unwrap the line from the boat. Eventually, after a little more fighting, we finally net him. Unfortunately, we soon learned that he is a Crevalle Jack and is not considered to be a good meal - too dark and oily. Though Matey liked him and after we felt she had her fill of sushi, we gave him back to the sea.

On the way around the corner to Las Hadas. No fish from the trip, but we tried.

Las Hadas and the anchorage. We are checked in - they charge $10/day US to use the dinghy dock, but you also get to use their pool and walk around the resort grounds. They do have a marina, but it's all med moor. Pacifica doesn't much like med moor and neither do we (with the wind vane and the rest of the stuff on our transom, it would be too much of a nightmare). Anyway, I actually like being at anchor - it's something about the motion and there is usually more breeze out in the anchorages.

So, we spent some time today exporting Manzanillo, not sure what we will do tomorrow, but I think I must run, I hear a freshwater pool with a couple of islands calling me....

Melissa, Greg, and Matey

Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo



Finally, here we are - the furthest South our trip will take us (Latitude 17 degrees, 38 minutes North). And we are almost to our halfway point of our adventure. We can't really feel melancholy about it since we still have 6 months of exploring. In fact, we are currently feeling very excited about exploring Zihau. This seems like a fun town to explore - a little bit small, but then walk a few blocks and you get to a HUGE Mercado and even a real grocery store.

So, we had one question from our last post that I'd like to clarify. In Las Hadas, I mentioned that the marina was all med moor - this means you tie your boat perpendicular to the dock, stern (rear) to. This is the typical way of "parking" your boat at harbors in the Mediterranean. Most more modern boats have very cool swim steps and openings to walk through the transom. Unfortunately, Pacifica is about 30 years old and therefore doesn't have the fancy schmancy transom - so for us, a med-moor would be so much trouble.

Marina at Las Hadas. The boats are all tied to the docks with their Stern toward them. The dinghy dock is all the way to the right of the photo in the center of the marina.

If any of you have questions about my trip reports, please let me know. One of my weaknesses is I tend to assume everyone knows what I'm talking about when it comes to cruising terms. And there are a lot of people who receive this email who have no sailing/cruising experience.

Since you last heard from us we explored Manzanillo, did lots of swimming off the boat in Las Hadas (the water was 83 degrees). I know all of you out there getting snow don't really want to hear this, but it's really hot here - especially when the wind isn't blowing (which is what is really nice about being at anchor, the marina is usually stuffy HOT). Anyway, at night we don't sleep with covers except maybe in the wee early hours of the morning just before the sun comes out. We are usually just enjoying the cool breezes that come in with the wind scoop.

Manzanillo Sailfish

Who you pointing at????????

End of a downtown Manzanillo street.

We had to check out of Las Hadas before we left, so our departure was delayed until Monday at around 10 (we also wanted to get a little more fuel). We could have just left and told the next port captain that the previous one wasn't in the office when we wanted to leave, but we did that when leaving La Cruz and thought it would be bad form to have that excuse for the last 2 ports. That made it a little inconvenient in that we couldn't go straight to Zihau and have a daylight arrival. Most of the anchorages according to the guidebook are kinda marginal between Manzanillo and Zihau, so most cruisers go straight through. On our return going back to Manzanillo, we will probably harbor hop because we want to see the anchorages we missed. We ended up stopping at Caleta de Campos for a couple of hours after a fabulous overnight sail - we had great wind almost the whole way. We arrived around 11am and after sharing a couple of drinks with s/v Suzanne 2 we departed at 7pm for an overnight trip.

Rockin along to Caleta de Campos

Hitchhiker on the way out of Manzanillo - Matey was great, I don't think she even noticed and we didn't point it out to her ;-)

Sunrise photo just outside of Zihuatanejo Bay

We had a beautiful flat motor to Zihau (if you have to have the motor on, it's nice if it's at least flat) arriving into the Bay just as the morning net came on. We sniffed out a great anchor spot just off of Playa Madera in about 20 feet of water.

Playa Madera, Zihau Bay

Flamenco musicians

the lagoon

Rinsing our feet so we don't have to walk around with sandy feet all day long.

Iguana we saw on a walk up in the hills around the Bay

Rooster on guard, they are everywhere... It's the true sound of Mexico...

Matey and I looking over the bridge

Modified bug

Sunday in the Town Square

Kids on a dancing game - they were great!

We registered for Sailfest and the schedule looks like it will be 5 days of lots of fun starting next Wednesday. We also joined the yacht club they have at Rick's so that we can get internet access from the boat and have free showers. Don't worry, we have no intention of trading in our BYC membership :-)

School tour for Sailfest

Kids having fun. They absolutely LOVED seeing the result of their antics on my little camera screen. The two little girls in the center even came up to me later to ask that a picture of only them were taken.

Mexican dog. He held on to this cookie for at least 5 minutes before finally taking the chance to eat it.

Mercado - we still aren't used to seeing the meat just hanging there - again, I could even walk past the meat with Matey next to me ...


And we also entered Pacifica in the sail parade where we will be taking 4 guests aboard for a sail to Ixtapa and back. That should be fun and the money that the guests pay gets donated to the kids for Sailfest. This is a great way for cruisers like us on a budget to still donate money to Sailfest (It'll make $200 for them).

Zihuatanejo Bay