Sunday, February 13, 2011

Last days in Manzanillo for 2011

1700, Monday, 7 Feb 2011, At anchor in Santiago Bay
It’s Monday and we are back in Santiago bay so that JG can conduct the Southbound cruiser’s net this evening. We have been here for the past few days enjoying this peaceful anchorage, however, this weekend is a long weekend in Mexico and the beaches are crowded and the waters teem with Sea-doos, tour boats and pangas towing banana boats or water skiers. Rosie goes nuts running up and down the length of the boat barking when they get too close. Some seem to do it on purpose to get her going while others come close to take pictures of her.
We are here with 7 other boats. Optical Illusion is still with us but will be heading north in a few days. Yesterday, Bill and Bob (Katie Hill) and J-G went off on a scuba dive along the point at the entrance of the bay. It was nice to get back to tank diving after such a long absence but conditions were poor. The water here has not begun to warm up. It is still in the low 70’s F when it should be 10 degrees warmer. Besides the cool temps the visibility was not good. There has been a lot of swell over the past few days and that has caused a lot of disturbance in the waters close to shore. The whales seem to be enjoying the cooler temps. We could hear their calls while underwater, how cool is that!! We have also seen several whales in the area over the past week. One seems to be teaching its calf how to breach and skyhop. The baby is mimicking everything the adult is doing.
Last week J-G and Murray and Colette (Tarazed) helped Alan and Rosie (Serendipity, UK) to get loaded on a Yachpath vessel. It was quite an experience to see the process. The crew appeared to be very professional and they took great care with each of the 6 vessels that were being loaded onto the ship. The largest, a 240 ton steel cruising vessel, took the longest and delayed everyone else by several hours. As a result, Serenditity’s loading time slipped from 17:00 to 22:00. Alan and Rosie stayed with us for the following 2 days until their flight departed last Friday. It was odd to have two Rosies on board at the same time but neither seemed to mind and we never got them mixed up.
We have just learned that Full Quiver, naiad and Lunautica have just arrived at Las Hadas. We will be heading back there within the next few days to join them when Optical Illusion departs. Now that the Sailfest in Zihuatanejo is over there will be many boats vying for anchorage spots in all locations in the area. With any luck we’ll be able to get the buoy again at Las Hadas.
Alan (Serendipity) gave us an old 60 lb CQR anchor before they left. We now have that as our primary anchor. I still think the problems we had with the Danforth were due to the wind changes. This is the first time we have had problems with the Danforth. We’ll see how this one fares as we travel up the coast.
Sunday, 13 Feb 2011, At the Sea Scout Mooring ball in Las Hadas
We returned to Las Hadas last Wednesday and met up with Lunautica and Full Quiver. Merry-Lee, which was tied up beside us at El Cid is also here. We are back at the buoy and the bay is full of boats. There were 25 at last count with many anchored well out into the bay. Kirk (Freedom Kirkland), and his friend Perry, arrived yesterday and we had a fish dinner onboard, some of the fish he had caught on his way up. He seems to be the only one catching fish this year.
On arrival at the mooring there was a boat, a newer Beneteau, anchored very close to the mooring ball. They seemed upset when we tied up and came over to advise us that they drift over the ball at night. Fran promptly told them that they would have to move but they were adamant and remained there all night and appeared to keep an anchor watch all night. We thought that the rusty old 60 lb CQR anchor our bow would be threatening enough and J-G emphasised it by putting a few fenders on either side of it. By sunrise the next morning the other boat was about 3 ft away and he was getting ready to fend off. At this point they decided that moving was the better part of valour. The tell-tale pink Ha-Ha pennant they wear indicates that they are this year’s crop of cruisers from the US. I am hoping it is inexperience on their part to even consider anchoring so close to a mooring ball, occupied or not.
Bill and Janet (Optical Illusion) are headed north. We bid farewell to them when we departed Santiago bay. We have heard from our friends Lexi and Gil on Sunday. They are about to leave Costa Rica on their way to Panama. We also got word this week that Doug and Trish are calling it quits for a while. They plan to sail the boat back up to Oregon this spring. They are not making ends meet in Mexico and have decided to go back home and make a go up there. They are looking for crew to bring the boat north from Mexico. Doug will be on the boat while Trish will drive the van back up loaded with as much as they can off-load.
We are in our last week here in Manzanillo. We have had to cancel our meeting with our friends arriving by cruise ship in early March in order to begin our trip north. Bruce and Marge, friends from Victoria, arrive on Wednesday and we plan to take them back to Barra with us with a few stops enroute. They were with us a few days last year. Quite a few boats are beginning the trek north but we will be staying in Barra and Tenecatita for a spell on the way up. We are counting on a warming trend to the cold weather and cool water as we head north. It has been a very cool winter in the Sea of Cortez and we hope that things are back to the balmy conditions we are used to by the time we arrive there next month.
Kirk has delivered the photos that Tanque de Tiburon took of us as we left San Blas last month. Attached are some of them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Barra and Las Hadas

14:00, 1 February 2011, anchored off Santiago Beach, Manzanillo Bay
I have just realized that my last posting didn’t go through and i seem to have lost it altogether so here is a catch-up entry for the past 2 weeks.
We got into Barra de Navidad on the 19th without further incident and negotiated the narrow channel where many boats go aground. Since we have the waypoints permanently installed on the chart plotter it is a safe and easy transit for us.
We anchored in near our normal anchorage spot and joined a group of 26 boats. Several of these are here only for a short time getting ready to travel down to Zihuatanejo for the Sail Fest. We did that 3 years ago and that was enough. Maybe we’ll stop in next year on our way south.
Our plans to fuel and water were thrown in disarray when, as we approached the dock we were waved off. We later found out that a power cruiser had seriously damaged the diesel dock and repairs were extensive, without an estimated time of repair. The only option is to jerry can diesel from the gas station up the hill, a long and arduous task....
In the anchorage we finally met Lunautica with Mike and Judy aboard. Mike is Steve’s (Full Quiver) brother and we sailed with them aboard Full Quiver in last years’ Bay of Banderas race week. Their boat, a Moody 46 is a beauty! We also saw several old friends there including Manasea, Pacific Jade, Serendipity (UK) and Windward Bound. Many of the other boats were sporting the pink pennant of this year’s Ha-Ha event, an organised sail of southbound boats from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. This year there were 170 boats.
We didn’t stay very long in Barra this time as we were impatient to get to Las Hadas to meet up with Optical Illusion. A few days of re-provisioning fresh goods, a pedicure (for both of us), laundry and we were off once again down the coast to Manzanillo Bay.
We arrived at Las Hadas on the 22nd and joined 11 other boats at anchor off the beach in front of Las Hadas. It was nice to meet up with Optical Illusion again and with Serendipity (UK) which arrived a few days later. Three days after we arrived several boats left for Zihuatanejo giving us lots of elbow room. Just as well for us. The normal daily wind-shifts this year bring us around our anchor in a 360 degree circle. Danforth anchors don’t really like that so they tend to flip out and drag a bit before biting back in. This can be very disconcerting in a tight anchorage like this one. We had to re-anchor several times.
Serendipity (UK) is waiting for a Yachtpath ship that will take her from Manzanillo to Europe. She is scheduled to be loaded aboard on the 2nd or 3rd of Feb. Alan has asked me to help him get her to the pickup point and we have offered them accommodation until their flight leaves on the 4th. They are a very pleasant couple who live very close to where we had lived in the early 90’s. It is great to reminisce with them. They are also very experienced European sailors and are a fountain of information on cruising the Med and Greece where we would like to end up eventually.

After a few days at Las Hadas we headed to Santiago Bay for a few days with Optical Illusion (Jan.22nd). This wonderful bay is rimmed by a beautiful sandy beach and the shallow waters are host to many forms of aquatic life including whales. Early this morning at 6:30 Fran heard the tell-tale “whoosh” of a breaching whale and, lo and behold, there was a huge female fin whale and her young calf, no more than 100 ft from the boat. It happened at the exact time that the sliver of the last crescent of the moon was rising and in the same direction. Magic!!! Although it was difficult to make them out in the dark they were there for quite some time after we went back to bed. This may be the pair that were observed a few weeks ago when the calf was born.
One of the reasons we are in Santiago Bay is to have J-G do his evening SSB net control duties in a location where he will be better heard by the listeners up and down the coast. The net serves as a focal point for cruisers to get information on other boats and to get updated weather information from the weather experts. Nets are conducted morning and evenings near the times of dusk when propagation is best.
We are observing that Las Hadas has seen better days. The marina is in sad shape and the management is sorely lacking the experience necessary to run such a complex organisation. Adrian, the manager at present, has been hired on a 60 day renewable contract but he is getting little or no support. He has no marina management skills and has been told by upper management to charge exorbitant fees. As a result he is getting no cooperation from his potential marina clients, the tour operators, fishing charter people, cruisers, etc. or the upper echelons of Las Hadas. There are lots of people willing to give him advice but unless upper management is willing to listen there will continue to be a stand-off. Although we are supposed to be charged a 200 peso landing fee we have yet to see anyone enforce this policy so we continue to use the facilities free of charge.