Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cruising the Gold Coast, Costa Legre

0515, 18 Jan 2011
Morning watch, on route to Barra de Navidad
It’s another lovely night with a full moon and calm seas. We have just passed Cabo Corrientes, noted for creating its own weather systems. Tonight it is being kind, in fact, all week conditions are expected to be ideal for passing by this infamous point of land that forms the southern extreme of Banderas Bay.
We departed San Blas yesterday morning with Tanque de Tiburon (TDT) and Aeolus, an Australian boat. Don Anderson, the SSB the weather man in Oxnard California, had predicted the entire area to be calm and dominated only by land and sea breezes for the next week. We bid our farewells to our new friends and motored out of the estuary into a flat and windless sea. By late morning the wind picked up a bit so we decided to take advantage of the situation and get some new photos of Gosling under a number of sail configurations. The quartering wind was ideal for deployment of the mizzen staysail and the spinnaker. TDT took a lot of photos but it will be some time before we get to see them as they are headed for La Cruz where they will leave the boat while they travel back home for a few weeks.
We managed to power-sail for a few hours during the night but the land breeze has let up. Hopefully the morning will bring enough wind to let us sail some more. If we continued under power, at this speed we would arrive off Barra in darkness but entering the lagoon must be done in daylight, so we have another night at sea and time in hand.
While we were sailing yesterday we came upon 2 pods of whales. One group of fin whales came quite close to us while the other, humpbacks, could be seen cavorting closer to shore. It was a wonderful sight after seeing very few last year. At sunset we were treated to another spectacular Green Flash, the best we have seen to date.
0545, 19 Jan 2011
Approaches to Barra de Navidad
Another cold night but, thankfully, the humidity is much less than we have experienced to date. The wind is light and the sea is calm. It is absolutely clear with a bright full moon setting in the west, a very bright Mars rising in the east and the Southern Cross visible on the southern horizon. I can’t understand why Fran doesn’t like the morning watch but it suits me fine. In a few hours dawn will break, the sun will rise over the Sierra Madres and a new day will be upon us.
We are getting close to our destination. We sailed most of yesterday in 10-12 kts of wind. By evening it died but we kept the sails up and ghosted down the coast passing Chemela just before midnight. At present we are motor-sailing in 8 kts of wind. Ahead of us is a mess of lights. The navigation aids are difficult to discern from the background lights of Barra, another reason to wait till daylight. We are ready for another few days of warmth. These night passages have been quite cool. Soon we will be complaining of the heat.
We’ll listen in to the morning net to find out who is here. We expect a few of our old acquaintances. On arrival in the bay we will go to the fuel dock and replenish before going to the anchorage. It will be nice to wash the decks and get rid of the dust that accumulated in San Blas. The dirt is so much more obvious on our white decks. Note to self: Grey decks would have been more forgiving....
Fran has been chomping at the bit to arrive here. This is where her favourite hairdresser/pedicurist is. It is also a location for inexpensive laundry and fresh produce.
Still no fish! Have we been cursed?? Last year by this time we were sick of fish.
22 Jan 2011, on route to Manzanillo
We are powering into a light easterly breeze still dragging a lure and still no hits. We have just passed through waters that, in the past, have always produced a hit from a sailfish or marlin but they weren’t interested this time. It has been a quick visit to Barra this time and our shortest but we will return on our way back north.
We weren’t able to realise our plans to fuel and wash the boat. Approached the dock we were waved off and we noticed a float blocking access. It seems a powerboat lost control and smashed into the diesel dock a few days before. There is no estimate of repair time at the moment. Thank goodness we still have lots of fuel left to get us to Manzanillo.
Arriving in Barra is like coming home. We have been here so many times that we enter a nice comfort zone as we anchor in this silty, muddy lagoon. There are 26 other boats here, many we have seen before and lots of new boats sporting the 2010 Ha Ha flags, signifying that they traveled with an organised group from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Apparently this year there were 170 participants.
One of those boats is Lunautica, with Mike and Judy aboard. Mike is Steve’s brother of Full Quiver and both were part of Full Quiver’s racing crew for the regatta last year. It was nice to spend some quality time with them and Rosie was particularly happy to meet Gunner, their 6 yr old Jack Russell. Their boat is a beautiful Moody 46.
We also had a good time enjoying Barra’s hospitality. We did our laundry, pedicures (yes, even J-G had one), market day (Thursday in Barra), a wonderful taco stand and breakfast at the Golf Course with Mike and Judy and another couple, from SV Barramundi, Steve and Pam.
We have heard from Bill and Janet (Optical Illusion) that the marina at Las Haddas is charging an exorbitant fee for landing a dinghy there. This might curtain our activities there and cause us to move to Santiago bay earlier than we had hoped. More on that in the next blog.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lazing about in San Blas

At anchor in San Blas

2200, 13 January 2011, at anchor, San Blas estuary
If it wasn’t for the midges (really tiny black flies that sting like hell) that come out at dusk this place would be an ideal place to hang around for some time. The village is rather small and quiet but has most of the services that a cruiser needs to be comfortable. It has no big grocery stores or movie theatres, but you can find most things if you know where to look. There are lots of cheap restaurants and the Singlar facilities adjacent to the anchorage have the laundry, showers and other services that we have come to get used to.
We have been here 5 days now and have enjoyed the slower pace. We are in company with Tanque de Tiburon who arrived 2 days after we did. Third Day is here as well and has been the brunt of more attacks by Norm Goldie, the local self appointed head Gringo. I have mentioned him in previous posts. It has been disturbing to hear the not so veiled verbal attacks he has made on them. Today he even called the Port captain on the VHF and accused them of hassling him. Later they were visited by a team of immigration people who came down from Tepic to verify if they were conducting a business onboard. What a waste of time for the officials who admitted it was in response to a complaint by Norm. Who needs a movie theatre when we have Norm for entertainment?
Today I split the solar panel banks using the spare 20 amp controller. This one actually has a readout that will tell me how many amps I am drawing through the bank. For the past 2 days I have been watching the fuse holder on the solar system melt away. Today it fell apart. It was made up of 12 gauge wire connected to 10 gauge leads so there was a lot of heat generated at the fuse base. I managed to make up 2 new fuse holders with 10 gauge wire. Hopefully that will fix the problem. The splitting of the banks will also help.
1500, 15 Jan, 2011.
Looks like the solar panel modification worked. I am now getting a good flow of power to the batteries and I am able to make up what we are using during the period where the panels are not producing. One of the fuse holders is still hot but the one I made up is OK. Kudos to me...
We woke up to thick fog yesterday. It took a while to burn off but it sure was a pretty sight. Today the fog was higher producing an overcast sky until about mid-morning. It is also breezy and cooler.
Another project is done! Yesterday I managed to install the springs on the doors of the aft cabin. It was a difficult task and blood was shed but now the doors will no longer be able to crash down to the deck. The doors to the main salon were done 2 years ago. We had so much trouble doing them that we put off this job until we were more motivated. Fran’s dropping the door and ripping off the latch provided that motivation.
Norm’s tirades have led to a new round of concern among the locals. There is a movement afoot to make representation to higher government officials about his visceral attacks on cruisers and the resulting loss of business from the fewer visiting boats. He claims to have been here helping boats for the past 41 years. Boaters who were here 10-15 years ago still find him as irritating as they did then. Can’t understand why he hasn’t been run out of town before now.
Looks like, we will be heading south on Monday morning. The weather gurus are predicting calm conditions all the way to the gulf of Tehuantepec. We’ve decided to take advantage of that and get all the way to Barra de Navidad in one hop. Many of our friends are still in La Cruz and Nuevo Vallarta enjoying the big city environment. Many will be heading down soon. Optical Illusion is already in Manzanillo at our favourite anchorage off Las Hadas.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Last days in Mazatlan

Mazatlan, 21:56 Thursday, 6 Jan 2011
Just back from watching a movie (Green Zone) on lawn chairs in front of a big sheet strung between 2 palm trees on the lawn. It is a twice weekly event and one we have been enjoying, even though we have to bundle up in our warmest clothes due to the chilly evening breeze. They even provide popcorn...
On the 29th we had a visit from our dear friends Reno and Nina from Palm Springs and their daughter Natasha and son-in-law Jean- Francois. They came into Mazatlan on a cruise ship and were here only for the day. It was a memorable but compressed visit where we tried to fit as much as we could in the time available. After a few hours onboard we met them in old town and had a wonderful late lunch before they had to get back to the ship.
We had planned to go out New Years Eve but as it got closer we decided on a quieter small scale celebration. We weren’t alone. Tanque de Tiburon and Full Quiver were on the same wavelength and we chose to go out for pizza and see the New Year in watching the fireworks on the point near the marina entrance. At least we stayed up till midnight this year.
Since then it has been a quiet and lazy stay here at the resort. We have also accomplished a few projects that had been on the to-do list; caulking the underside of the toe rail, refurbishing some of the door catches, devising a new way of securing the life raft canister, replacing the galley foot pump, putting away all of the Christmas decorations, and generally keeping Gosling clean and presentable. The cabinet has been built but remains unfinished. When J-G saw the plans for the finished item he chose to stop it there and pay the carpenter off. All of the hard stuff is done. The basic box is installed with all of the compound curves and angles factored in. Looks like another summer project to build the fronts and doors.
Rosie has especially liked her stay, getting 3 walks a day and lots of attention from the resort guests. Pretty dogs are always chick magnets and J-G likes to walk her a lot....
The weather has been cool and quite windy lately and we are looking at a reprieve over the weekend so we can leave here and head south towards San Blas. We would have left earlier this week but high winds and fog have been prevalent. Kirk is waiting for us in San Blas now. We have his bottom paint and he is probably getting antsy to get it applied so he can leave too.
Optical Illusion has arrived in Barra and has reported that the weather is much warmer down there. The others that left early are all in the Puerto Vallarta area. It’s time for us to leave the resort at El Cid but only after the swap meet on Saturday.
20:30, 7 Jan 2011
We received some great news today. Doug and Trish called on Skype and informed us that Doug’s tumour is gone and his prognosis is excellent. What a relief for them and all those involved in his recovery.
Looks like we will be the only ones leaving tomorrow. Full Quiver has decided to stay on for another week and Tanque is planning on leaving on Sunday or Monday.
Fran and I went off for a much needed massage today. You can’t beat $20 for a full hour. Now if only our soon to be daughter-in-law was here we wouldn’t have to leave the boat. Dove where are you when we need you?
On to warmer waters south folks......