NAVEGAR É PRECISO
We left La Cruz Tuesday morning 28 December for Barra de Navidad, which is about 130 nm south. Banderas Bay is a huge bay, it took us 5 hours motoring to reach the end of the bay and start heading south. We had light winds (8 to 10 knots) and decided that we will hoist the drifter. Dinis has been telling me for ages that sailing downwind with the drifter or the spinnaker the boat should be able to handle up to 15 knots for the drifter and about 12 knots with the spinnaker, but I am still a bit wary. This trip I am very proud of myself, we manage to sail with the drifter up to 18 knots before we took it down and I have to concur with Dinis that the ride was more comfortable the stronger the winds became, as the boat rolls much less. It only took me so long to become comfortable. Now the spinnaker is still on my wary list.
We arrived in Barra de Navidad midday Wednesday. The entrance to the bay is quite narrow, but well marked with red and green buoys. The canal to the anchorage is not marked and a person has to be careful as the canal runs between sandbars. We got all the way points and plotted our course and was doing well, except that we misjudge the dark green round buoys for the fuel dock. We should have kept the bouy on starboard side and ended up on the sand. Luckily not too bad and we manage to get ourselves off with the help of a fellow cruiser in his dinghy.
Barra de Navidad is surrounded by mangroves and has a jungle feeling to it. It is a beautiful setting with a small town and lots of touristy activities.
There is also a small village that we still want to explore and a big hotel. We will stay here until after New Year.
Happy New Year to all !!
We left Isabela Island on Saturday morning 18 December, had a good sail for about 2 hours when the wind dropped. We motor-sail the rest of the way. We noticed that the landscape is becoming sub-tropical, greener and more flowers.
We drop our anchor in a beautiful bay called Matanchen, just south of San Blas. Our friends from S/V Maloose join us the next day to do some exploring. We had a lovely BBQ fish at the beach restaurant and then we took a taxi into San Blas town. We visited the ruins (the Bells of San Blas and the old Spanish Fort).
We spend 2 days in Matanchen Bay and then made our way south to La Cruz in Banderas Bay. Dinis was lucky again by catching another mahi-mahi on route. We arrived in La Cruz on Wednesday afternoon 22 December.
We did all our shopping, getting the propane tanks filled and are ready for Christmas. We will spend a few days here after Christmas and then keep going south.
We were suppose to leave Mazatlan on Saturday afternoon, but after filling the diesel tanks in El Cid marina we decided to spend the night in front of Isla Pajaros. While we were anchoring we heard our friends Ian and Ellen from Kasasa on route to Mazatlan. We contacted them via VHF and they drop their anchor close by just before sunset. We spend the evening catching up on news from home since we have not seen each other since San Diego.
We left Mazatlan around 4 pm on Sunday afternoon 12 December. We had a good sail with full main and genoa in rather light winds (7 to 10 knots) until midnight when the wind dropped below 5 knots. We motored the rest of the way. It was a very clear evening with lots of stars.
On Monday morning around 7 Dinis caught his first fish !! It was a Dorado and we estimate it's weight at about 10 lbs. We were both very excited. Dinis fillet the fish and we put it in the fridge for supper. By this time we were very close to Isabela island. We drop anchor at around 9 am on the east side of the island. There were 8 sailboats anchored at the time. Isla Isabela is a bird sanctuary with a small fishing village on the south side of the island. There are lots of birds and fish and we also saw whales. It is such a peaceful and beautiful place that we decided to stay longer.
On Tuesday we did lots of snorkelling and we also did some diving using the hooka system. Lots and lots of fish, some of them is so colourful, looks like tropical fish. While we were snorkelling we saw that the bottom of the boat needs a bit of a scrub.
On Wednesday afternoon Dinis got energetic and he dived to clean the starboard side of the hull. There was quite a bit of growth on the hull. Hopefully he will keep the energy level going for the port side. The zinc is still looking OK.
On Friday, our friends Jake and Vicky from S/V Maloose and Dinis and myself went for a dinghy ride around the island. We stopped at the fishing village so that we can take pictures of the birds and to explore. What a fantastic day we had, I took many pictures of the booby and frigate birds. I also took 2 videos of the frigate birds. There are also lots of iguanas.
Mazatlan is great, we are having so much fun that I do not know where to start. OK... from the beginning, we left Los Frailes on Thursday morning 2 December and sailed on a beam reach most of the way. It was blowing 15 to 16 knots constant with gusts of 18/20 at times. We manage to sail about ¾ of the way before the wind died and we went the rest of the way under motor. We dropped anchor late Friday afternoon.
Saturday morning we decided to leave all chores for the next day and head into town to explore. There were several cruising couples on the bus with the same idea. On route to the centre of old town, Dinis jumped up and started to wave through the window as he saw a familiar face. He was unable to flag this person down and ask the bus driver to slow down and made an exit. Now all this happened very fast and Dinis disappeared before I could do anything. The other cruising couples looked at me a bit confused and said 'your husband just got off the bus'. I managed to smile and said 'yes, he saw someone we know and was trying to get in touch'. I am sure that all this must have looked strange. Anyway I got off at the next bus stop and started to make my way down the street to find Dinis.
I found Dinis and Hugh 2 blocks down. After Dinis got off the bus he ran after Hugh unable to remember his name. Now how do you get a person's attention without knowing his name. The only thing Dinis manage to shout is 'Hey Cannuck...' Well it is great that we all manage to connect that day. Hugh is visiting his parents Trudie and Steve. They stay part of the year in Mazatlan. We all know each other from Vancouver, all liveaboards at Shelter Island, Richmond. Before we left on our trip we got all their contact information, but we lost these details and were wondering how we will be able to get in touch with Steve and Trudie.
We met up with Steve and Trudie and their friend Ron later Saturday afternoon at a fantastic restaurant. They told us that on Sunday they are going to Stone Island as there is another great restaurant. They usually take the panga there, so we all decided that it would be more fun taking the boat there, anchor and then going ashore with the dinghy.
On Sunday we anchored off Stone Island and Hugh decided that swimming to shore will be great, the rest of us decided that we will take a chance on Dinis and my 'not so perfect' beach landing record. We went ashore without any problems. Great our beach landing went up to about 70% !!
We had a lovely time catching up with events from home and life in Mexico. The food was great again. The time flew by and we decided that it is about time to head back as the sun is getting low. Should we make several dinghy rides to the boat or would all 6 adults fit in the dinghy ? Sure we will all fit. Trudie got into the dinghy first as not to get wet and the rest of us watching the waves, deciding when to make a run for it, so that Dinis can get the engine started and get us out of there. Neat less to say our co-ordination was not in sync. By the time Dinis got into the boat and got the engine started, Trudie got soak with several waves, the dinghy looked like a small swimming pool and both Hugh and me were wet. We manage to get ourselves into the dinghy. Where are Steve and Ron ? Oh no, knee deep in the waves out of reach. Dinis tried to stear the dinghy closer, avoiding the waves, but it was not close enough without Steve and Ron getting wet getting aboard. By now we were all laughing so hard. Well our beach landing record went down again, but we will all remember this day. We hadn't had so much fun in a long time !!
On Monday Steve and Trudie took us shopping. We needed a major provisioning, the last one was in Vancouver. After Sam's Club (Costco) and Soriana (Safeway) we manage to pack Steve's minivan quite full. Steve, Trudie, Ron, Carol and Hugh took us for supper. These Mexican restaurants are great, the food is fantastic. At night Steve and Hugh drove us back. We manage to put all the groceries in the dinghy. It took us about 2 hours packing all the provisions.
On Tuesday we drop the laundry for washing and went to the market to buy some seafood as Dinis and myself want to cook our friends supper. We did not find what we looked for and decided that prawns will do. We bought 4 kilos of prawns, some onion, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro. Dinis did a fine job and we had a great time. We also met Steve and Trudie's Mexican family, Raul, Lupita, Alex (middle son) and Rodriquez (youngest son). What a great family.
Well it can not be all fun, so today we have to do some boat chores. On Thursday we are meeting our friends again at Stone Island and then we will monitor the weather to leave and head south when weather permits.
We wanted to sail more north into the Sea of Cortes, but change our plan as we have misjudged the winter northern winds. It blows for about 3 to 4 days and then you have a weather window for about 3 to 4 days. With the delay in Cabo San Lucas and the northern winds we decided to head to Mazatlan instead and make our way south from there. We are looking into sailing to Socorro Island which is about 400 nm offshore Banderas Bay and then make our way back to Manzanillo. This would be a great trip getting ourselves back into offshore sailing. We are also changing our route to sail to the Marquises Islands, from either Golfito, Costa Rica or Acapulco, Mexico, instead of Panama.