Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mexico Season Summary - Spring 2015 Highlights

Here are a few highlights from last season's cruising in Mexico. Below is one of our favorite spots, Yelapa, on the south shore of Banderas Bay. You can only visit Yelapa when the weather is right. In normal wind conditions, the bay is a lee shore and last year one sailboat dragged up onto the beach. This year the weather was right and we were here for 3 days.

Yelapa has one of the nicest beaches in Mexico

The bay is very deep, in fact it's too deep to anchor. As you near the bay two pangas approach at full speed. It's a bit disconcerting, but they are competing to arrive first to rent you a mooring ball. "Buly" took good care of us last year, so we waited until he arrived. 

El Buly

We met a nice couple on the beach who recommended we try parasailing. It didn't look too scary and after I learned that the pilot had multiple certifications I decided to try it. The photo below shows the takeoff. A speedboat pulls you off the beach with a line that pays out as you get higher and higher. That was the scary part. The boat kept getting smaller and the pounding of the waves hitting the boat transmitted up the line. Uh, how high are we going?


As soon as line was released, the ride was amazing. We turned south over the mountains, riding the updrafts. The feeling was what I imagine flying must be like. I'll do it again if we stop in Yelapa next year.

Yelapa Parasailing

We see sea turtles constantly when we're sailing. In Banderas Bay, local environmentalists and marine biologists work with volunteers to assist the baby turtles to insure they make it safely into the water. Kathryn and Nelda from sv Diamond Girl, volunteered and here they're ready to release two of the hatchlings.

Kathryn, Nelda & friends

On it's way ...

We wanted to visit Tequila … again. So we rented a car with some cruising friends and drove from La Cruz to Tequila. This is the main square in town, so it's a good place to get tourists to act goofy. The Jimador uses a tool called a Coa to harvest the Agave plant. 

Robin doing his best Jimador imitation

Our road trip partners were Rob & Nancy from sv Shindig, also from the San Francisco bay area. We met them when we raced in the Banderas Bay Regatta, and we travelled to many of the same places on the west coast of Mexico and in the Sea of Cortez. We've shared many great times and great margaritas over the last 2 cruising seasons!

With Rob & Nancy at the Don Valente distillery, El Arenal, Jalisco

One of our best finds last year was the Miravalle distillery. When Kathryn and I toured the Herradura hacienda (3rd largest tequila producer) we asked our guide if there were any small distilleries nearby that make great tequila. She gave us a general idea of where it was located, and although there was no sign on the main road, we just kept making right turns down dirt roads until we found the place. 

Tequila   Miravalle

Miravalle tequila is excellent and reasonably priced. It's our favorite tequila for making margaritas and their añejo sipping tequila is frequently the taste test winner when we do a blind tasting onboard.

The modest tasting room at Miravalle distillery, Amatitán, Jalisco

Jose Cuervo is the largest tequila distillery, located right in Tequila. We had just enough free time, so we took their tour. Here is part of a mural depicting the tequila making process.

Piña steaming ovens & Jimador

Another favorite stop is a tiny anchorage with room for only 2 or 3 boats, called Paraiso - "Paradise". We met Richelle and Brian, sv Woodwind II, in Banderas Bay last year. They were great crew when we did the Banderas Bay Regatta and we visited them in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island on the way back from our Alaska trip. They sailed down the coast with us this year to Barra de Navidad.  

Richelle & Brian

Tenacatita is a large protected bay with room for lots of boats. It has just one palapa on the beach that serves food & drinks, so the cruising community has developed its own Tenacatita cruiser culture; group swims, bocce ball on the beach, dominos at the palapa, dinghy raft ups on Friday afternoons, etc. Just landing on the beach is sport in itself, both for those on their dinghies and for the spectators. There is also a long estuary that flows inland and it provides quite an adventure for a few hours.

Melody & Pat, sv Starshine, leading the way up the estuary

Kathryn enjoying a Tenacatita sunset

During our first season in Mexico we weren't too successful catching fish. This year was different; we learned a few tricks and caught Dorado, Sierra, Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin. About an hour outside of Chamela we caught a large Dorado (Mahi-Mahi), but I lost it at the stern of the boat while trying to get it onboard. Kathryn and I were both very disappointed, because Dorado is delicious and it was a really nice fish. Fortunately we hooked another smaller Dorado about a half hour later. We learned our lesson about landing the fish and the photo below is the happy result. 

Dorado for dinner

So what do you do when you catch a large Dorado? … Invite your cruising friends over for fish dinner, of course. We cooked the fish on the BBQ. Below are (clockwise from top) Bob & Sherry - Nirvana, Pat & Melody - Starshine, Nancy & Rob - Shindig, Betsy & Kenny - Alcyone, and Lynda & Mike - Trinity Rose. In the photo below we have finished dinner and are enjoying our tequila tasting. Nirvana & Alcyone continued south to El Salvador this year.

Great time with our cruising friends

SUPer Club. Almost every morning the girls would get together for a paddle on their Stand Up Paddleboards. Kathryn either borrowed one from another boat or joined them with our inflatable kayak. There is an inflatable SUP in our future for next season.

Kathryn, Nancy & Katie

One of our favorite marinas is in Barra de Navidad. There is usually a nice breeze to keep us cool, it's protected from rough weather and the adjacent hotel's pools are the nicest we've seen. But the bonus in staying in Barra is The French Baker, who delivers fresh bread and pastries right to your boat. Yum!

The French Baker

One day we were disappointed to see a large yacht dock right next to us, blocking our view. The next day dozens of people showed up to clean the boat and set up sound, lighting and camera equipment. We were amazed to see a very popular Mexican soap opera Hasta El Fin Del Mundo - translation Until The End of the World. They were filming just a few feet from Agave Azul. The story line involves a wealthy heiress, her race car driver / mechanic lover and the unscrupulous businessman who wants to steal her money! How lucky can we get?

Filming Hasta El Fin Del Mundo

Dozens of film crew & the starlet

One more brief fish story. On our return trip from Mazatlan to the Sea of Cortez, we hooked into several Striped Marlin. Same time of year and same place as the one we caught last year.

Striped Marlin

As we reeled in the marlin, he decided it was time to do a tail walk right next to the boat. I jumped back to avoid the bill and when he fell back into the water, I noticed that my rod was in 3 pieces. We released the fish … Fish 1 / Fisherman 0.

Three piece rod

We did experience some real Mexican culture this year. Below we are visiting Mission San Javier, founded in 1699. The mission is near Puerto Escondido, a popular anchorage and hurricane hole in the Sea of Cortez.

Mission San Javier

When we completed our week of decommissioning & hurricane preparation on Agave Azul, we decided to find out if the fishing in the La Paz area lived up to its reputation. We contacted the owner of Tailhunter restaurant and he set us up with one of his fishing guides. We only had to wait for a half hour for our first fish and the fish kept coming the rest of the day. Nothing big, but lots of action, many different kinds of fish and we learned a lot about fishing that we will use next season.

Rob with a nice dorado

We brought our fish to Tailhunter Restaurant in La Paz and the owner prepared a wonderful meal for us with our dorado and grouper.

Happy fishermen Robin, Mike & Rob

Owner Jonathan Roldan serving our ceviche - delicious!

What a nice way to end the cruising season

Adios Mexico until next year … we're looking forward to new adventures.

Sunset at Caleta Partida anchorage

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