Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Single handed

Overlooking the Marina from Jennifer and Davids room!
I returned to Kialoa after leaving my mother to make her way home.
Now I would be truly single handing.  Kialoa was safely stashed in the Marina at Barra de Navidad, which is a lovely place to hang out, with multiple pools and beautiful grounds.  It also gets a little expensive to stay for too long so the day after I got back I checked out and made my way back to the anchorage in the lagoon.  Just after I turned in my towel cards and paid the bar bill at the hotel lobby I bumped into my neighbour Jennifer and her husband David.  They were here on holiday!  What a small world!
We had a lovely dinner together at one of the nearby restaurants and then we all got a ride home on one of the water taxis that make regular runs around the bay to the hotel, restaurants, marina and the anchorage.  There is no need to put your dinghy in the water in Barra de Navidad. I ended up spending a week in the anchorage at Barra as there was some strong weather predicted and some south winds which none of the other anchorages had any protection from.  The lagoon at Barra is extremely well protected and there is good holding in mud.  I had a great week there. I did some kayaking with the Kelly and Clay (Airsupply), went on a road trip to Colima and Comala with John,Jennifer (Spinnaker) and Ed (Seadra).  Colima is an inland town, overshadowed by a very large volcano, 3800m high, and we arrived there on the day of a huge parade of horses.  It was an incredible event with some very beautiful animals being shown off.  Camala is one of Mexicos magic towns, but I actually don't know what that really means.  It was a lovely town and every building is painted white, make sure to take your sunglasses.  It is also known for its traditional Ponche.  This is a mildy alcholic drink that comes in a great variety of flavors.  We all picked some up and found the cappucino flavor is great with coffee.  Yum!
Kayaking with Kelly and Clay in the Barra lagoon

One of the crocs we saw in the lagoon, yup in the wild!
Keep your hands inside the kayak!

One of the fine horses on parade, Colima

Many of the horses were dancing down the street but one fell over
you can just see its legs under the other horses

Jennifer, Ed and John in the magic town of Camala.
After a week in Barra it was time to go.  I needed to be in Puerto Vallarta in time for Maggies (my new crew) arrival on March 2nd.
I had some lovely sailing and some peaceful motoring with the tiller pilot steering.  My first stop was Tenacatita where I spent one night and left early the next day for the bay of Chamela.  My friends on Searover were already there and Seadra showed up as well.
We enjoyed some time at the anchorage in the small islands in the bay, where we had our very own beach to hang out on, play bocce, watch the hundreds of hermit crabs and observe the nesting pelicans.  Who knew they built nests in trees!

A quiet motoring day

Our very own beach at Isla Cocinas, Bahia Chamela.
  Searover II, Lazy lion, Kialoa and Seadra
in the background.

We spent some time in the main anchorage at Bahia Chamela as well, enjoying the town life, beach walks and good food.
Then it was time for the moment I was dreading.  100 nm trip to Puerto Vallarta.....there is only one not very good anchorage to stop at along this route so the plan was to go through the night till we reached La Cruz.  I was not looking forward to this long trip on my own with no chance to rest.  I left first thing in the morning along with Seadra who was also single handing and Searover II came along a little later.  It was a beautiful day that started out as a motor but turned into some beautiful sailing in the afternoon.  As it got dark we set up an hourly radio contact schedule.  I settled into my routine.  Check everything, set the timer, lay down, try and sleep, check everything, set the timer, repeated and repeated.  I never did get any sleep.......but it was an easy and uneventful passage and I arrived at the anchorage of La Cruz at 6:30 am.  It was still dark and I was feeling pretty tired so I eased my way to the edge of the anchorage under radar, dropped anchor and crashed.  I was woken at 8:30 by a cheerful good morning from Jennifer of Spinnaker but had no trouble getting back to sleep again.  By noon I was up and ready for the day.  I picked up anchor ( I was in 47 feet of water) and moved in a little closer to shore.  I considered my first solo overnight a success!  The boat was fine and so was I.  I now know that it is something I can do, but I did discover that I do not love to be on watch with no sleep throughout the night and will plan accordingly in the future!
On the left hand side of this rocky outcropping is a giant bowl
Who knows!  Its mexico!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Fun in the sun

Barra de Navidad sunrise

Mom and I finally pulled ourselves away from Tenacatita and went exploring further south.
We caught up with Searover II in Barra de Navidad, enjoyed some very peaceful sleeps in the quiet of the lagoon and then headed off for more adventures further south.  We explored the area around the town of Manzanillo for a few days, catching up with Avant and enjoying their company before they headed off for points even further south.

Las Hadas anchorage, Manzanillo, this is an incredibly
picturesque anchorage and the resort is famous for being
the location for the filming of the movie 10 with Bo Derek.

Manzanillo is a very large port and there were many cargo ships
anchored in the bay

A fantastic market in Manzanillo

We also enjoyed some wonderful snorkeling

One of the cargo ships took a wrong turn leaving Manzanillo
during the hurricane Patricia that hit this coast and ended up
living out its remaining years stationary.............
The middle of February rolled around and Moms flight was booked out of Puerto Vallarta.  As I was not quite finished with the Barra area we took Kialoa to the marina in Barra de Navidad and hopped on a bus.  The bus was supposed to drop us off at Boca de Tomatlan, but the driver forgot.....anyway it was a short bus ride back once we realized that we missed our stop.  From Boca de Tomatlan we caught a water taxi to the small water access only town of Yelapa.  This very picturesque town is nestled in the hills that surround Banderas Bay and has become a favorite destination for many snow birds and tourists alike.  Moms friend Angus has a place there and we spent two nights enjoying his hospitality and the town of Yelapa.  Alas no pictures due to no battery charge........operator oversight perhaps?
On leaving Yelapa we caught the water taxi back to Boca de Tomatlan and from there I caught a bus back to Barra de Navidad and Kialoa and Mom caught a bus to Puerto Vallarta airport and headed back to the BC snow!  I am sorry about the weather in BC this year!  The only person I know who has been loving it is my son Josh.  Apparently it has made for some good snowmobiling!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

New Crew

There are many of these big beautiful trees in La Cruz

I stayed in La Cruz until my new crew showed up.  My mom arrived on Jan 17th just in time for my birthday!  We had a fun night out with live music, sushi and good friends.
The next day we pulled up anchor and headed south, following in the tracks of Searover II.  If you have ever read their blog then you might get a sense that this is not the best idea!  Somehow when there is going to be a change from the nice weather predicted, it happens when they are at sea........and it was a nice 10 to 15 knots of wind predicted, which should have given us a nice downwind ride for the 100 nm overnight passage to Chamela.  Alas it was not to be.  Moms first ever overnight passage started out with some lovely sailing and we did continue with a downwind ride, however as the night progressed so did the wind speed.  The sails got smaller, the seas got lumpier, the night got darker.  Not a great introduction to sailing and not exactly what mom was hoping for when she got on Kialoa!  Luckily she was lying down below when I had a near miss with Searover II at midnight and did not see just how near it was....I say we followed in Searovers tracks but really we left La Cruz at the same time, and due to different courses and the fact that they tried to sail in the light air early in the day they were not leaving us behind yet, anyway eight hours into the trip we crossed paths, very closely.  The worst part is it was totally my fault we got so close, Searover was the stand on vessel, and I knew where he was but just did not get how close it was going to end up, lucky for me Gary is a quick thinker and was able to change course and we avoided a collision.  What are the odds in that great big sea that we would end up in the same part of it........anyway it happened and I am certain that I will very carefully make sure I am never in that situation again!
Mom at the helm
Bahia Chamela, Gary and his cousin Karen
on our very own beach, lucky us!

Alls well that ends well, so after a long lumpy but pretty fast sailing night we arrived at Bahia Chamela and anchored behind Searover, they did leave us behind after the near miss as they are generally a much faster boat.
We spent a few days hanging out on the beach, snorkeling and playing games. With a south wind predicted and no protection there it was time to go.  Once again we left at the same time as Searover II and what do you know, that south wind came in earlier and stronger than predicted so it was a rather brutal upwind slog to the next anchorage that was luckily only nine miles away.  Nine very long miles for Kialoa.  Mom was starting to wonder what the heck she was doing here, this sailing thing was not very fun so far!  The anchorage at Paraiso was pretty tight and we were the third boat to arrive, I don't think that it would have fit many more.  It also provided no protection from that south swell although when you looked at it on the charts it really looked like it would.  However it was a dramatically beautiful spot with amazing rock formations, crashing waves, blowholes and two small beaches.  We ended up enjoying our stay there in spite of the closeness of those rocks and crashing waves.  Mom and I stayed for two nights, one more night than Searover II, and we had a lovely downwind sail in 10 knots of wind to catch up with them at Tenacatita. But remember that cotter pin that fell on the deck in San Evaristo, 400 some odd nautical miles ago. I finally found where it came from!  As I was raising the main sail in preparation for leaving Paraiso I noticed that the large pin holding the boom to the mast was halfway out!  Yikes!  Luckily it was easy to get back into position and now has a new cotter pin to hold it there!

Here is the pin sticking out, the bottom part of the fitting had
been loose and was making a weird clunking sound that I
had been trying to track down.  Thank goodness we didn't lose
that pin!

The anchorage at Paraiso, the dramatic rocks and waves
did not photograph well but sunrise did. :)
A huge raft up potluck at Tenacatita

Mom kayaking in the mangroves at Tenacatita
We got to be a part of a leatherback turtle release in Tenacatita
they are just way too cute!

Just one of the beautiful beaches in the area
During our stay in Tenacatita we went to La Manzanilla, a nearby town, for
an Art Walk.  This boy band was playing terrible music on their homemade
instruments.  The horns are hoses and plastic water bottles.  I give them big
points for effort!
We had lots of fun in the Bay at Tenacatita so I think that kind of made up for some of the not so fun sailing!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

What happened in Dec and Jan

Tropical sunset Mantanchen Bay
Jay was running out of time, his flight was leaving from Puerto Vallarta on Dec 21st.  That was a real deadline, so we made tracks out of San Blas, we spent one night in Mantanchen bay and one slightly rolly night at Chacala on our way to the La Cruz anchorage in Banderas Bay.  Jay made his flight on time and I was alone on Kialoa.  That was a new experience and there were a few learning moments.......I ended up spending a month in La Cruz.  I had Christmas dinner with my lovely friends on Riki Tiki Tavi, I spent time with friends on Avant, Adios and Ultegra, started going to yoga in the mornings, got some projects completed on Kialoa, visited with Marshall (he is the one that helped get Kialoa to SanFransisco way back when) caught the bus to Sayulita, caught up with a high school friend, and bought a new spinnaker pole.  Yup that was one of my learning moments.....
Jay waiting for the bus to the airport and back to cold BC
see you later Jay.
flopper stopper in action
Oh, that spinnaker pole.  During the summer my friends on Searover II and Avant worked out how to make flopper stoppers (these are things that go in the water to help stop the boat from rolling too much in the swell when at anchor and are useful in the anchorages in this part of Mexico as there is often swell entering them) and had parts made as a group project that I was able to buy into. So one of my boat projects in La Cruz was to put my flopper stopper together, which I managed with help from Rob of Avant, and then of course I had to deploy it to test it.  The flopper stopper hangs in the water off the end of my spinnaker pole and does actually attenuate the rolling motion, yay, however during testing the wire to the outboard end of the pole failed and the end of the pole dropped in the water.  I got everything back on board and raised the inboard end of the pole up the mast, everything was going fine till it got kind of stuck and one extra tug on the line while I was looking up sent the pole right down at me and gave me a fat lip and a chipped tooth.  The cast aluminum fitting on the end of the pole had actually broken.  The end result was a visit to the dentist and a new spinnaker pole. Its better than the old pole anyway.

One of my projects was rebedding the starboard side cabin top
hardware.  There had been a leak over the summer so it was time.

rebedded and leak free

While I was at it I thought I would clean up the mess on the
under side.

Some paint added much more light to the head and
it is nice not to have a mess of wires any more.
It is a small world.  This is Lisa, who I knew in high school, she now lives and
owns a breakfast cafe in Sayulita, just slightly north of Puerto Vallarta.
In this picture she is standing outside my Aunties house in Sayulita.  As you
can see it is for sale in case you are interested in a lovely home in Sayulita.
It was fun to catch up with Lisa and I enjoyed the bus ride over the hill from La Cruz
Heres a horse picture just because.

Monday, 16 January 2017

San Blas

The travelling fish band

The area around Isla Isabela is quite shallow with depths of 100 - 200 feet.  This means there are lots of fish, which means there are lots of long lines.  We had some light wind on the morning we left and were able to sail, which was a good thing, the first long line we spotted got hooked on the fishing gear we had trailing behind....after that we were better about spotting them.  The long lines are anchored at one end and have pop bottle floats every 200 feet or so with a flag at the far end about a mile away.  There are many stories of entangled boats and wildlife.  Kialoa with her full keel was able to pass over them but we were glad not to have the engine running as they could have easily been sucked into the propeller.  We picked up a troupe of fish on the way.  I have never seen fish travel with the boat before but this small group was with us for about an hour.  Jay tried interesting them in his fishing lure but they were intent on their goal and did not bite.
Kialoa doubles as a dryer
 The entrance into San Blas is very shallow and we had a bit of nail biting trip across the bar and up the river to the marina.  San Blas is renowned for its mosquitos and jejenes, and they were there, but with some bug spray and long pants and shirts at the right time of day it is manageable.  Here we had a chance to do laundry and reprovision.  It is a lovely mexican town and was once the main customs port for the spanish on the west coast of mexico.  Due to the shallow river depths and bugs the center of commerce moved further south.  The old spanish fort has been restored and commands an impressive view of the town and surrounding area.
The slow moving rivers and mangrove swamps in this area also provide a perfect breeding ground for crocodiles.  Along with the crew of Airsupply we spent an interesting day touring up river and seeing crocodiles in the wild.  Keep your hands to yourself!
A historic church in San Blas, the canadian flag is providing
shade for one of the local vendors!

heading up river
A crocodile

The curious cat fish
We are not in the desert any more!  

The Galapagos of Mexico

A beautiful sailing day

Jay and I left Los Frailes on Dec 7th making way for Isla Isabela, also known as the Galapagos of Mexico.  This small island is 30 miles off the mainland coast of mexico, some 70 nm south of Mazatlan.  It was a 214 nm journey from Los Frailes.  As I planned for a 4 knot average speed we gave ourselves 48 hours to make the passage.  The first day out we had beautiful winds, as predicted, and far exceeded our 4 knot average planned speed.  As our arrival time was looking to be around 2 am we had to start slowing down, and slowing down some more and in the end drifted for a while near the island waiting for daylight.  The anchorage is tricky, wide open to the south with lots of rocks and reefs, it is important to take good care.  Jay snorkelled around and found us a small sandy spot to drop the anchor.  We had timed our arrival to coincide with a period of very calm weather and were delighted that the predictions held.  It gave us 3 days to explore this very unique spot.  The birds are phenomenal.  Every bush is full of frigate birds, and not just a few, many!  The grassy areas are the home of every variety of boobie.  This is their breeding ground and due to the remoteness of the island the birds are not frightened of people and tend to just watch you walk by.
There is a small fishing camp and an old research station but other than that it is untouched.  We had some fantastic snorkeling trips.   The rock formations underwater were beautiful.  This wild, remote island definately lived up to our expectations.
Kialoa at anchor, Isla Isabela

Rugged cliffside

A small collection of the fishlife

The Igaunas were not very concerned about us.
Trees full of frigate birds
A closer look at a fully ballooned male

Blue footed boobies involved in courtship
Jay and the fish

Next stop San Blas!