Friday, February 19, 2010

Relaxing at Las Hadas

Las Hadas, Manzanillo Bay, 2200, Thursday, 18 Feb 2010
We have been anchored off the beach resort of Las Hadas in Manzalillo Bay for the past 5 days, where we have had a quite the mix of weather. We had light rain most of last night and all day yesterday after suffering through a few days of sweltering temperatures. This evening there was another “wind event” that peaked at about 30 kts here in the anchorage. There was lots of chatter on VHF about boats dragging anchor in Santiago. We’ll find out tomorrow how boats fared in other locations that were more exposed.
Manzanillo is a large industrial, centre with one of the most important commercial ports on the west coast of Mexico. The port and city centre is on the south side of the bay. The town of Santiago is on the north side and features most of the resorts and tourist havens. It also has the most sheltered anchorages for cruisers with Las Hadas and Santiago bay. Cruisers tend to spend a lot of time here because of the excellent local facilities, shopping and warm clear waters. It is also a convenient stop-over for vessels heading north or south. This is a favourite haunt for Linda and Steve (Warren Peace) who have been here a few weeks already and have seen many cruisers come and go.
Today there are 8 boats enjoying this location. 300 pesos (about $26 Cdn) buys access to the dinghy dock and the pool and beach at the resort. With the heat we are having we are taking full advantage of it. There are very few guests at the resort, about 80 (capacity for 500+) so they don’t mind us boaters. Unfortunately they don’t receive the TV feed for any station covering the Olympics so we have to contend ourselves to see the daily reports on the news web pages. Before leaving Barra on Monday we were able to see the opening ceremonies at the Grand Bay Resort a large complex across the bay from the town of Barra. One big advantage of this location (Las Hadas) is access to free WIFI provided by one of the restaurants bordering the Bay. We support it by having the odd meal or attending their happy hours.
When we arrived Gil and Lexie (Sunday) were here with their guests. They left the following morning for Zijuatanejo and their way south. After our close association for most of this and past 2 seasons it was a tearful farewell. We hope we will cross paths again in the near future.
We have begun Spanish lessons with Linda and Steve. Twice weekly we taxi or bus to Santiago for lessons with Theresa, a Canadian who has lived here for the better part of 20 years. Yesterday we met several of the boats in the anchorage at Santiago at a get-together at Stan’s place. Stan was a cruiser for many years but sold his boat and moved ashore when he arrived in Santiago. He has been an invaluable asset to the cruiser community for the past few years with his SSB and online weather information.
We will stay here for another week or 2. We are expecting Bert and Vicky from Victoria to arrive in a few weeks for their spring holiday in Maleque. We have arranged to have them meet us here and we will take them for a few days sailing up to Maleque before we start our trek northwards back to the Sea of Cortez. There is a lot to do and see. On Saturday we are planning a trip to Colima where there will be a horse parade at noon and then we will continue to Comala to see the volcano again (we saw it 3 years ago when we were here in Royal Exchange). This time we will be on a private tour with Steve and Linda. Ned and Kristen (Bristol Blue) have volunteered to dog-sit Rosie for the day.
Rosie seems to be getting the hang of life aboard, as long as we are at anchor or alongside. While at anchor she needs her daily walk so it is J-G’s task to dinghy her ashore for a 30+ minute walk each day. She gets a lot of attention from passers-by and is a very good and mostly obedient pet. She still isn’t comfortable while at sea but we are hopeful that she will adapt.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lazing in Barra de Navidad

1300, 2 Feb 10, Anchored in the Barra de Navidad Lagoon
What an idyllic spot to be! Although it is a muddy shallow bottom and a 10-12 minute boat ride to the town it is a wonderful anchorage, well protected and not too hot, thanks to the land and sea breezes we have every day without fail. There are also a lot of our cruising mates here. Bill and Janet (Optical Illusion) arrived from Santiago Bay soon after we did as did Don and Lynn (Prairie Seashell) who we hadn’t seen in 2 years. To our relief Sunday arrived a few days ago. We hadn’t heard from them in a few weeks and we knew they had had to weather out the gales in the Sea of Cortez that had delayed us on our way down.
We have also met more boats from Victoria and Vancouver Island (Angus and Rolande – Periclees), Goff and Linda (Curare), Joe and Deb (Pacific Jade) and (Deb and Lynn - Dolphin Tales, who we had met aboard Sea Turtle IV in Victoria just before they left). Out of 20 boats in the lagoon almost half are Canadian.
It has been raining on and off most of the day, a very rare occasion and the first rain we have experienced this far south at this time of year. It caught us by surprise in the middle of the night having lightly doused Fran’s side f the bed (she is closest to the hatch). We are looking forward to another day of rain. It certainly is different to be hunkered down with nothing else to do but read, watch movies, play card games with the neighbours or doing some indoor projects. It was also quite surprising to see the number of boats that wanted a visit from the French Baker who sells his wares by skiff from boat to boat. Everyone, it seemed, wanted a pastry of some kind today (comfort food?); strange phenomenon. Unfortunately for Fran he was sold out of chocolate croissants but her disappointment was short-lived. She bounced back, declared this a soup day and her creative brain went into overdrive in making a superb pumpkin soup.
Nothing much has changed here in Barra over the past 3 years. The Sands Hotel still provides the cruisers with a dinghy landing, a convenient bar, WIFI and a pool to use with your 20 peso daily fee. Market day is still on Wednesday and the same gadget stands and tourist treasure dealers still offer the same junk for sale year after year. The DVD sellers always do a brisk business at 20 pesos each or 3 for 50 pesos. Avatar is already on the stands here. Fran’s hairdresser is still there but only provided a pedicure this year for both of us. Yes, even J-G got one. It was long overdue with all of the calluses formed over the past few months of wearing sandals. Our lavanderia is still there and still does our week’s laundry for less than $10.
The morning net covers most of the anchorage areas along this part of the coast including Tenecatita, Malque, Barra (lagoon and the marina) and anyone who can hear the net in Santiago Bay and Las Hadas in Mazanillo bay. It is always very informative and we have shared in the net controller duties on various occasions
On the weekend we helped Phil (Mannasea) prep the local school in Colimilla for painting. Phil has taken this as a project this year and we had promised to help him out. Although we are a month late we will be able to get the outside of the school done this year. The interior will be next season’s task. While the boys were scrapping Fran was painting the figures on the boys and girls washrooms. This weekend she will fancy up the kindergarten’s outhouse with painted flowers.
The solar panels have been a bit of a letdown. Although they put out 4-5 amps during the day they have just been maintaining what the boat draws during the day. At night the batteries drain slowly requiring an alternative charging method to bring them back to normal and today, with a cloudy day, they aren’t much use. Fortunately we brought down a 2000w generator this year and we have been running it a few hours a day charging the batteries back to full charge. Last year we had to run the main engine a more expensive proposition than the small amount of gas we now burn. We are still hampered by the lack of a suitable water-maker to satisfy our domestic water requirements. We can average 7-10 days on the 120 gallons in the tanks we have on board and then we have to drive to a water source for a refill or dinghy in jugs of water from ashore. By Thursday we will have to go to the fuel dock for a refill. The water-maker we have is only capable of producing 1.7 gals/hr so we only use it to make our drinking water and that is done outside the anchorages where the quality of the raw sea water is not suitable.
Thursday, 4 Feb 2010
WOW!!!! We have just lived through the wettest and wildest few days of our entire time in Mexico. We have had over 6 inches of rain over the past few days, winds to hurricane force, albeit a very short burst, and very unsettled weather.
It started 2 nights ago as we were playing cards on Sunday. We have only seen a thunderstorm on 2 other occasions; one was in Mazatlan only a few weeks ago and the other many years ago when we were in a timeshare. This one lasted the better part of 4 hours with a superb (and scary) show of lightning. We got back aboard by about 10 with the storm in full swing, lightning all around but none close to the anchorage. Fran went to bed but J-G stayed up just in case things got worse – and they certainly did. At about 23:30 a violent gust of wind which peaked at about 70 kts hit the anchorage with full force. The boat heeled over about 30 degrees and the air was white with a spray. Thank God the anchor held. We may have dragged a bit but everyone did, some more than others. Several boats were moving after everything settled down, having dragged enough that they needed to re-anchor. By 2 AM the wind had abated completely but it continued to rain for the next 24 hours. We have had over 6 inches of rain. Today we are back to nice sunny weather but all the boats look like Chinese laundries with all of their wet things hanging out to dry.
This is an El Nino year and things can be expected to be very different. Hopefully we won’t see any more of this type of weather.
We plan to be here for another few days and do some painting at the school over the weekend then head south to Manzanillo.