Friday, February 26, 2016

Mexico … October - December 2015

The Day of the Dead celebration honors friends and relatives who have passed away, and it's a major event in La Paz. The many "Catrina's" are happy to pose with you for photos. This year Kathryn and two of her cruising friends decided to add their own Catrina makeup for the event. The husbands were the makeup artists … with a little more practice we'll do better next year.

A Catrina with Kathryn at Dia de los Muertos

One of our favorite stops in the Sea of Cortez is San Evaristo, about 50 miles north of La Paz. It's a well protected anchorage where we waited for one of the winter "northers" to blow itself out. This season there was a norther every week, and we sailed from one protected anchorage to the next to wait out the high wind and waves. 

Kathryn & Virginia from S/V Harmony in front of San Evaristo's restaurant

The restaurant in San Evaristo is Lupe Sierra's & Maggie Mae. It's rare in Mexico for a local business to do any marketing, but every day Lupe gets on the VHF radio to announce that they are open for business, a great service for new cruisers. This year one sailboat caught a marlin on the way to the anchorage. He called Lupe on VHF to ask him if he would clean & cook the fish & invited the whole anchorage to dinner. Thanks Brett & Marne on S/V Liahonna - it was delicious and a very fun evening.

Agave Azul's shell on the memory tree

We were getting tired of hiding from the Sea's northers, so we sailed to the Bahia de los Muertos anchorage during a break in the weather. It's a popular stopping point for cruisers heading across the Sea to & from Baja to the west coast of Mexico. We went ashore for a margarita and a snack. When we were heading to our dinghy to return to the boat, we met Steve & Pat from S/V Ahelani. We knew Steve & Pat from Sequoia Yacht Club in Redwood City, and we were on the same dock at West Point Harbor Marina. They had just sailed from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas in the 2015 Baja HaHa, and were heading up to La Paz and into the Sea of Cortez. Small world, eh? Of course, we went back ashore to catch up and welcome them with a margarita.

Steve & Pat - S/V Ahelani in Muertos

The next morning we departed at dawn with two other sailboats for the 190 mile overnight passage to Mazatlan. This was our 5th trip across and our weather forecasting was right on … it was an uneventful crossing.

Dawn departure from Bahia de los Muertos

We always enjoy spending a week or two in Mazatlan. We like the marina and hotel, there are lots of boat services, and the historic downtown has lots of great restaurants. It was also a good place to wait out "Sandra", a late season hurricane, which weakened before it arrived in Mazatlan.

Marina El Cid

The trip south from Mazatlan is always interesting because December is the height of the shrimp season and there are always lots of shrimp boats working at night. This year was no different, and we spent the night focused on avoiding them.

Sunset on the way to Chacala

The reward for the overnight from Mazatlan is the small town of Chacala. It's a beautiful spot with a few palapas on shore & a great place to relax after the overnight passage.

Agave Azul at anchor in Chacala

Kathryn with her new paddle board

We didn't see much evidence of damage from Hurricane Patricia, but this palapa lost its roof. We watched  these workers putting on a new one - no evidence of OSHA in Chacala!

Putting on a new palapa roof

Birthday dessert at Masala in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

One of the highlights of this season was a visit from my son Mark. He flew in to Puerto Vallarta, bought a "beater" long board from another cruiser in La Cruz and surfed at Punta de Mita and La Lancha. Unfortunately, the surf didn't cooperate when we sailed further south, but he did manage to surf in both Canada (50° latitude & 0° Celsius) and Mexico (20° Latitude & 30° Celsius) in December.

Mark researching our next anchorage

Mark sailed with us on our first trip south from San Francisco Bay in 2011 and was looking forward to doing another passage. We had a sporty ride from La Cruz around Cabo Corrientes, anchoring just south of the cape in Ipala. The next day we had an easy sail to Chamela.

We spent a week with Mark at anchor in Tenacatita and in the marina in Barra de Navidad. Barra has some of the best tacos al pastor I've had.

Tacos al pastor with Linda & Mike, MV Trinity Rose

Before Hurricane Patricia arrived, the Manzanillo port captain closed the harbor and ordered all the commercial ships out to sea to avoid damaging the port. All but one made it. The 700' bulk carrier, Los Llanitos, was one of the last ships to leave and they only made it a few miles before being blown ashore just south of Barra. As you can see, the hull is broken and the ship is being dismantled for scrap. 

Los Llanitos on the rocks

Mark met some budget cruisers while we were anchored in Tenacatita; five 30-somethings on an aging 30' boat ... tight quarters. But they were the perfect recipients of Mark's board when he left. 

The skipper leaving with Mark's board

Yep, this is the dinghy they used to get to shore

We were in Barra for Christmas and there were lots of local celebrations. Here's one of the parades while we were in town.

Angels … 

& Santa's Helpers

We woke up on Christmas morning to see this boat arrive at our dock. What an interesting vessel … interesting crew, too.

SV Patricia Belle, Seattle

Cruisers always try to get together on Christmas. This year the pot luck dinner & white elephant gift exchange was at one of the restaurants in Barra overlooking the bay. As you can see, everyone was having lots of fun.

Deanna (S/V SpeakEasy), Kathryn & Virginia (S/V Harmony)

Kathryn's sister and her husband, Thom, visited us in Barra for some sailing, anchoring and time at the marina.

Lynn & Thom

They were onboard for a real fishing surprise. When a fish hits the line, the usual process is to take in the sails, start the engine, reel in the other line, then start trying to land the fish. This fish was a bit different. I asked Thom to reel in the other line quickly, but the fish was taking out line faster than he was reeling in. He got the other lure back onboard just in time, then the fight began. I saw the fish jump once out of the corner of my eye … all I saw was something white well behind the boat and I thought it might be a sailfish. When it got closer and I was finally able to lift it close to the surface (not easy), I saw it was a marlin. We've caught Striped Marlin before and this didn't look anything like one of those. Later we looked at the fishing book and learned that it was a Black Marlin. That species is much larger than either Striped or Blue Marlin and can weigh up to 1,600 pounds. They are seldom seen in this part of Mexico. This was a small one, only about 9 or 10' long - what a day!  It was his lucky day also as we released him back to the sea.

Our first Black Marlin

Lynn & Thom - sunset in Barra

Robin & Kathryn say goodbye to 2015