Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mazatlan, Sinoloa, Mexico

We are back in our home port of Mexico, Mazatlan. We made the crossing from La Paz to Mazatlan in 40 hours, a distance of 240 miles. It was an uncomfortable crossing with rolly confused seas changing directions all the time. The beauty were the nights with all the magical stars.

We are happy to be back in Mazatlan, feels like coming home. We are busily putting Andanzas away for the summer before returning to the States.

As we end our cruising season we are reflecting back over the season. We have traveled 2900 water miles and 500 travel hours on the water. We have traveled from San Diego to Mazatlan to Zihuatenjo to the Sea of Cortez. We have been in 35 ports of call and 23 anchorages. We like to review what some of our favorite things were:
Favorite city: Mazatlan
Favorite village: La Cruz
Favorite anchorage: Agua Verde and Tenacatita
Favorite place to listen to music: Philo's in La Cruz, and Rafael in Mazatlan
Favorite restaurant: Fat Fish in Mazatlan, Tacos in the Street in La Cruz
Favorite things to do: Relaxing on the boat, being on the sea, collecting sea shells on the beach
Favorite new place: Ixtapa and Zihuatenjo
Favorite new experience: Zihuatenjo Sail Fest

One of the gifts of cruising is Time. Time to do whatever we want whenever we want. Time to think, time to cook, time to read, time to watch a movie, time to play, time to play with Angel, time to learn, time to be with friends, time to do nothing.

What we value most of cruising are our friendships we have made. Some we meet may be only for a day or for that anchorage only, perhaps someday we will meet up again. Other friendships have developed into best of friends where we have shared all the joys and adventures of this amazing cruising lifestyle. "Friends are the chocolate chips in the cookie of life". - unknown.

Life is good!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sea of Cortez - May 4 - May 12

Agua Verde anchorage followed Escondido. One of the advantages in the Sea is our passages are usually not long. Agua Verde is about 24 miles from Escondido. It was a beautiful anchorage. The mountains were in the back drop, the water was clear, the winds have calmed down and the sea is flat.

We spent 4 days at Agua Verde. We hiked, snorkeled and kayaked. The fish and colors of sea life were the most abundant we have seen. The town was quite small, however, the locals were very friendly. We had 2 little boys who took us to the local tienda and restaurant. Wally’s highlight here was that he gave each of the little boys 10 pesos each of which they took to the tienda and bought cookies. Before they took a cookie they offered Wally a cookie before they ate one. People are very giving.

Our highlight meal was lobster. The locals came and sold us their local catch. John made a delicious bar b q lobster.

From Agua Verde we went back to Los Gatos. We explored the south beach. There was so much marine life to see in the tide pools. We only stayed one night as the bees and the wasps were so bad.

Los Gatos to Ensenada el Coronal on Isla Partida, a distance of 56 miles. We had real choppy seas with the wind on our nose. Ensenada el Coronel is a long shallow bay going about 1 ½ miles into Isla Partida. This bay almost divides the island. We took a easy hike to the other side. The trail had mangroves along the way. The geological formations along the bay were beautiful. Many places it looked like clay lace. In addition there was much birdlife.

Onward to Puerto Balandra which is on the Baja Peninsula. This is a huge bay surrounded by white sand. The water is like a swimming pool all along the edges. We stayed the day and night there. During the evening strong corumel winds came in and the seas were so rolly. So off to La Paz.

We are currently in La Paz at Marina Palmira. We have had a wonderful month at anchor, however, it is nice to be tied up to dock and not worry about anchor watch, the winds, the sea, making water, making power. We will be in La Paz waiting for a weather window to do our last passage of the season back to Mazatlan.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sea of Cortez - April 27 - May 3

We anchored in Puerto Escondido for the past week. It is one of the most protected harbors in the Sea. It is surrounded by mountains except the channel entrance. One can anchor at Escondido or one can attach to a mooring ball, which there are over a 100 moorings.

Our alternator is repaired. We had quite an experience finding a mechanic in Loreto. The locals called the mechanic the chicken mechanic. Trying to find a business location in a foreign city that does not name all streets is challenging. As with all experiences we have had this was just another adventure that ended well.

We enjoyed the surrounding country by renting a car. John and Rosie of Serena Ray, and Ed and Annette of Wind Song joined us. We spent a day exploring Loreto. Loreto has a population of about 15,000. Tourism is the major industry in Loreto. The stores had the usual crafts to sell of which I think we have one of everything and we actually did not buy anything.

One day we traveled north by car to see Bahia Concepcion and Mulege. We had decided not to travel north by boat, however, we did want to see these areas. Concepcion was beautiful. It is nearly 25 miles long. The surrounding land was quite barren.

Mulege is slightly more lush. It is located along a river. It has hundreds of date palms. Mulege was badly damaged during last season’s hurricanes.

We participated in the fund raiser, Loreto Fest. It has been an annual event since 1996. It is sponsored by the Hidden Port Yacht Club. The charity is for local community, schools and hospitals of the area. There were more than 100 boats in attendance. We enjoyed seeing many of our friends.

One of the highlights we saw in Escondido was a whale shark. We were able to follow it by dinghy and by kayak. It was huge and graceful.

We continue to have our time dictated by weather. We have continual winds. Cruisers who have been in the Sea indicates that the weather this year is far different than usual.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sea of Cortez - April 15-April 26

The Sea of Cortez is a blend of geological formations of the desert, the changing colors of the ocean and the contrasts of the sky. The Sea is approximately 700 miles long with an average width of 93 miles. Years (and years ago) the Sea of Cortez actually went as far north as Palm Springs, California. The Salton Sea is the remnants of the Sea of Cortez.

There are about 100 islands within the Sea of Cortez and on the outside of Baja. Many of these islands are preserved as natural parks. According to the Nature Conservancy “the Sea of Cortez is the second most diverse marine body in the world.”

We have been without internet or cell phone coverage for the past 2 weeks. It is the first time we have experienced not knowing the date or day of the week. It is great!

We have been buddy boating with our friends John and Rosie on Serena Ray, Ed and Annette on Wind Song and new friends Trudy and Del on Island Grace. We have enjoyed many Happy Hours, Pot luck dinners, picnics on the beach, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and a new game – Bocci Ball. And at each new anchorage we have met new friends and seen old friends.

Our first anchorage after La Paz was at Caleta Partida, which was a cove between the channel of 2 islands, Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. Its origin is from a volcano as it is a crater of an extinct volcano. We spent time kayaking and hiking. The water looks like pool water around the shores, so clear. We went on a hike through one of the canyons on Isla Partida. It was hard work climbing over huge boulders and rising elevation. The climb was well worth it for the scenery and also the absolute quietness. The surrounding rocks are layered of dark brown, black and ivory. During our snorkeling we saw many scallops which we would of loved to have, however, it is against the law.

We experienced winds which we have found is common in the Sea. The winds around these islands are called the Coromuels. These winds usually begin in the evening and blow all night.

Surprising it is much cooler in the Sea than we expected. When under passage in the morning we have worn sweat shirts. Day temperatures are not much hotter than 80 degrees, night time has gone to the 60’s and the most unfortunate part is the water temperature is only about 71 degrees.

Our next anchorage was Isla San Francisco, which I think is our favorite so far. It has a crescent shaped bay surrounded by white beaches and views of red rocky cliffs. When we hiked to the top of the ridges on the islands we could see both sides of the island. It was a magical view. We were also able to walk to the opposite side of the island for good swimming. Shell collecting has become one of our favorite past times. There are so many shells.

Next stop was San Evaristo (on Baja). So far this is our least favorite anchorage. Evaristo is a very small fishing village. On our walk the village was very dry and dusty. There are limited activities at this anchorage. We had to stay longer in this anchorage due to high winds. The winds always seemed to come at night. We clocked 44 knot winds, (we heard some areas clocked 87 knots) thus a miserable night.

Onward to Puerto los Gatos. This was a very rough passage. Wind was on our nose. At times we were taking water over the Dodger. The uniqueness of this anchorage is the dark red cliffs and rock formations. We took many walks along the beach rocks, again the views are beautiful.

We are currently at Puerto Escondido. We have arrived here earlier than we planned due to our alternator has gone out. Thank goodness for Wally’s mechanical ability to diagnose a problem. We are about 14 miles from Loreto where hopefully we can get it repaired. We will be in Escondido for about a week. We are participating in a fund raiser, Loreto Fest. Actually it will be filled with social activities with fellow cruisers, games, eating, crafts, and special workshops.

Angel has become quite a swimmer and hiker. She too is enjoying the cruising lifestyle!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

La Paz, Baja California

La Paz (Spanish - The Peace) is the capital city of Baja California Sur. La Paz has a population of approximatly 190,000. La Paz was first inhabited 10,000 years ago by the Neolithic hunting gathers. Their existence has been found in the form of rock paintings in Baja California. We are looking forward to viewing some of these paintings.

The year round temperature of La Paz is 75-77 degrees. We have been experiencing 90 degree temperature during the day, however, the winds pick up in the evening and becomes quite cool.

We have been enjoying walking the beautiful La Paz Malecon which is a seaside walkway. Many statues are along the walkway. As usual we also see many fishing pangas. There are also many restaurants. We watch many beautiful sunsets across the bay.

The city has a much different feel than the mainland Mexico. We see many more American products in the grocery stores. Some of the food items and restaurants seem higher also.
We have not seen the normal cobble stone roads. The streets are clean and the city appears well tended. We took a city tour which was very picturesque of the city, however, the tour guide never talked about any of the sites. Oh well, not all tours work out.

Marina Palmira
Sea Turtle
Flying manta ray, we think
Rosie and Linda enjoying the water
La Paz Melacon
La Paz at sunset
Andanzas at sunrise
Statue along the malecon
"El viejo y el mar" (Old Man and the Sea")
The following is a poem that was written in Spanish under the statue.
I have a paper boat
It's made from a page
On which I have written my dreams
It has neither anchors, nor mooring ropes
I want to sail in it
On the seven seas; in the eighth
Where I know I will run aground in the port of my desires
...Has someone even seen the light shining from the lighthouse?

We plan to leave La Paz tomorrow to explore the surrounding islands.

Friday, April 9, 2010

La Paz, Baja California

We had a beautiful day from Muertos to La Paz. We had flat seas with about 5 knots of wind until the last couple of hours coming into the Bay when the wind went up to 20 knots. The coast line was desert mountains. We went 52 miles to Marina Palmira in La Paz. We continue to travel with Wind Song and Serena Ray. We will stay in La Paz for a few days.

Sunrise in Muertos

Baja Coast

Baja Coast

Serena Ray

Wind Song

My crew

Marina Palmira