Bahia Tenacatita

March 24, 2001. Bahia de Tenacatita, Mexico.

A couple of day ago, I decided to make a grain salad using barley. So I got my bag of barley out of its tupperware and placed it on the counter. To my horror, the barley started moving as dozens of weevils came crawling out! I felt like I was watching a horror movie in which one gets assaulted by an unending stream of bugs. Clark was quick to pour the bag content overboard, then we killed the bugs on the counter, cleaned the tupperware and sprayed the carpet with bug killer. Hopefully no weevil has survived to contaminate other grains. We decided to add bay leaves to all the grains recently purchased. The leaves are supposed to prevent weevils eggs to hatch. Fortunately, our habit to keep all grains in sealed containers and ziplock bags protected us from a bigger problem. I have also vowed to not shop anymore in stores offering their grains in bulk. That will not eliminate the problem since another boat found weevils in the rice they purchased in a 1kg sealed plastic bag, but it may help.

This morning we went snorkeling with friends but the water was too cold to stay in very long (about 70F/20C). Then Clark cleaned the hull of Temptress which was covered with barnacles, algae, baby crabs, etc… No wonder our speed had dropped by nearly 2 knots! The knotmeter was buried in the dense flora near the bow which explains why we were not getting readings anymore. The scrubbing work kept Clark somewhat warm. When he came out of the water, he was covered with baby shrimp and crabs which looked more like crawling silverfish. It was gross! He had to take a long shower to get them all out of his hair.

Still on the subject of bugs, I have met the infamous no-see-ums during my morning stretch near the beach. They are tiny black biting flying insects which are even more fearless than mosquitoes. Now I have to cover myself in mosquito repellent before going running. Their bites itch long after the bite. Fortunately, they do not fly out in the bay as our mosquito screens would not stop them. Yesterday, I did finish the companionway mosquito screen.

On the bright side, the hills are becoming dotted with patches of pink among the fresh green as many still leafless trees are blooming. As the weather warms up again, dolphins come fishing regularly between the anchored boats and sometime they like a good scratch against the anchor rode! Birgitta

Laundry
This is the first bay where we didn’t find a shore laundry facility that we wanted to use. I dug out the wringer and washtubs and did the laundry by hand. I was really impressed with the wringer. It made the project fairly easy to do and allowed me to use a minimum of water for rinsing. I did what would have been a load in a machine with less then 8 gallons of water. That’s just about an hour of watermaker time. And as we have been making more electricity then we need here we easily have the power to spare.

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Bahia Tenacatita

March 19, 2001. Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico.

Friday was a bad day for us. We had been thinking about going to the next bay south to visit the town of San Patricio/Melaque during the festivities celebrating the town’s patron saint: St. Patrick. However, our battery monitor/alternator regulator failed Friday. The battery monitor allows us to check the batteries health (which Clark does daily) and troubleshoot electrical problems. We can use a portable meter instead. But the alternator regulator, as its name indicates, control the alternator which makes electricity when the engine is running. Since the solar panels provide ample electricity, it did not seem like a problem to me until I realized that the engine actually uses electricity when running (for the fan, sensors and alarms) and lifting the anchor, then re-anchoring also consumes a lot of electricity which is usually provided by the alternator. So, going to San Patricio/Melaque, or anywhere else, was going to result in a big power deficit (since there was not enough wind to sail).
Clark tried to install a spare alternator with internal regulation but one of its diode was not functioning so he had to remove it. Fortunately, another boat was carrying alternator regulators for sale and … was going to be in San Patricio/Melaque Sunday. So we went to San Patricio/Melaque, just 12 miles south from Tenacatita, Saturday. We were glad we went. The St. Patrick parade was unimpressive at best but the rest of the party was fun.

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After the parade, we went to a charreada or mexican rodeo. It includes cowboys demonstrating their skills with horses (making them lay on their side, walk backwards or sideways, or making them walk with funny steps), bull riding, and live music. People danced on the bleachers while vendors walked among the crowds to sell fries, fruits, sodas, etc. The bull riding was exciting but did not last long.  After the charreada, we walked through the street fair, watching the people, the kids on rides, tasting fried plantain served with creme fraiche and strawberry jelly, and waiting for the fireworks. The whole town was gathered in the main plaza, eating, dancing, chatting, and quite a few gringos were wandering around too.

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The fireworks were great. They were mounted on a fancy tower with a lot of spinning wheels and were lit one side at a time. The wheels were spinning with gusto when lit, throwing fireworks all over the crowd but it was part of the fun. Kids were running close under the tower with cardboard shields over their head, screaming with delight.

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Something like that would be unimaginable in the safety obsessed US. At the end, the top wheel, mounted horizontally, started spinning then lifted on fireworks rockets like a flying saucer before falling back into the crowd. It was spectacular! Some kid caught it with some fireworks still burning. It seemed to be quite a trophy. By then it was nearly 11 PM and we were both freezing. We had not expected to stay up so late and did not bring sweaters. We were hoping to stay until the firework spewing “bulls” came out of the church but as the mexicans were rigging the firework tower for another round, it seemed like it would be too late. Apparently, after the firework from the tower are finished, people carrying a frame covered with bull skin run blindly through the square, wildly throwing fireworks through the crowd. But we had to miss it or freeze to death.

Sunday, we went grocery shopping in town then we got our alternator regulator from our friends and Clark helped Scott set up his email software. Then we said good bye as they are on their way to the South Pacific via the Galapagos Islands.

Today, Monday, we came back to Bahia de Tenacatica, just in time for another dinghy raft-up/potluck. Bahia de Tenacatita is also a much more comfortable anchorage then San Patricio/Melaque, which was quite rolly. I made fresh pita bread and hummus for the party which turned out quite nice. We still hope to get our battery monitor/alternator regulator fixed in the future as it is a very good one, which is nicely integrated within our custom control panel. It did last nearly 10 years and Clark suspect that all it needs is a new voltage reference chip. But in the mean time, after Clark installs the new regulator, we will not have to worry about motoring or anchoring depleting our batteries.

Bahia de Tenacatita

March 16, 2001. Bahia de Tenacatita, Mexico.

It is getting cold here! We sleep with two blankets again, and wear jeans and sweaters in the morning. The water temperature is barely at 70F/20C. It feels warmer on land but the wind keeps the boats cool. I am sure you would not consider this cold but it is all a matter of what you are used to and prepared for.

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Since last email, we have hiked to the little town of Tenacatita, done some boat work (repaint propane cans which were starting to rust, move a pump, replace hinges) and spent time with friends, chatting and playing games. Lately, I have been studying my vegetarian cookbook with the goal of eating vegetarian 50% of the time. I am also working more with the pressure cooker to reduce propane consumption and also reduce the heat produced by cooking. This will be particularly important this summer in the sweltering heat of the sea of Cortez. Yesterday I made a cheesecake in the pressure cooker, and it was good too! It takes just 20 min to cook (versus 1h15 min in the oven including pre-heating the oven which is slow in a boat) but you have to sacrifice the crust.

Some people wonder how we keep in shape when cruising. We do not have the facilities available in cities for workouts; but we have plenty of time, so we can walk, row, paddle, or run. I like the bay of Tenacatita because beach landings are easy at the river entrance (not much surf), so I can paddle the inflatable kayak to the beach and then run on the beach or on the dirt road along the river. I am slowly learning to paddle more efficiently and control the kayak better. When the water gets warmer and clearer (in the sea of Cortez, this spring), we will also swim and snorkel a lot more.

Bahia Tenacatita

March 10, 2001. Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico. N 19 deg. 17′ W 104 deg. 50′

 

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Bahia Tenacatita is a lovely large bay, relatively calm, with a wide white sand beach. One hotel, one french restaurant and two palapas (open air small restaurants nestled under thatched roofs) line the beach without crowding it. There is no town so the area is quiet except when the hotel starts blaring loud music in the evening. There are about 20 boats in here, several of whom we have met before. It is fun to meet friends again. Many people come here to stay weeks or months. The boat that has been here the longest (since January) holds the title of mayor. This is cruising as one often dream about it: a nice protected cove, with friends around, but without the bustling and sometime dirty presence of a town. Yet, since the french restaurant gets your groceries daily (for a minimal fee), bakes fresh baguettes or quiches on demand and sells cheap beer, we still have the convenience of being close to food supplies! Note that I usually do not mind towns as much as Clark. I like the human activity, the weekly markets, the music in the square and a place to walk around.

Yesterday, we had a dinghy raft-up in shallow water, with one dinghy anchored and holding the others (more or less). It was a potluck “happy hour” meal with each boat bringing some finger food and passing it around. Everybody introduced themselves and traded stories while eating. It was fun. The day before, we had had cheese fondue brought by friends from the trimaran Meshach and I used the left-over fondue mix to make mini-quiches for the potluck. It wasn’t too bad but the best dish was tiny meatballs in a sweet sauce based on blueberry sauce.

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Today, we went up the river into the mangroves with friends from “Long Tall Sally”. The mangroves close over your head so that you travel in a green tropical tunnel until you get to the lagoon at the end.

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We saw many birds but no caimans (crocodiles). The yellow leaves floating in the water were shimmering in the sun like golden tiles in a mostly blue mosaic.

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The lagoon opens up near another anchorage in the same bay where many palapas line the beach. We all had excellent fish lunches (ceviche [raw fish “cooked” in lime juice and mixed with vegetables], seafood soup, fillet a la mexicana) except Clark who had a disappointing chicken. 
Then we walked to yet another beach, directly facing the ocean (instead of being inside the bay).

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It was a long beautiful and lonely beach with golden sand which was strangely forming dunes or waves perpendicularly to the beach.  The swell was strong since the beach is facing the ocean and the waves were breaking in huge rolls of foam and leaping up the beach where the water drained down through the sand faster than it drained back towards the ocean. With palm trees behind the beach and rocks offshore, the view was spectacular and I felt like sitting down and just admiring it like I would a painting in a museum. But eventually we got back through the mangroves to our anchorage. We like it here and are likely to stay several weeks until the heat pushes us back north. We may pay a brief visit to the next bay south, which is just 10 miles away, if we want a change of scenery.

Chamela Bay

March 6, 2001, Chamela Bay N 19 34 W 105 07

Last Wednesday my parents left for Florida after a 3 week stay on the boat in Paradise Village Marina. We had initially planed to leave on Wednesday night but got the slip for one more day to make repacking the boat for cruising mode (from apartment mode with 2 guests) easier. That night our refrigerator compressor failed. I had a new compressor on board and took the opportunity to change out most of the components. As I was in a harbor with a refrigeration tech. available I had him braise it in. (I don’t carry and oxygen torch on board so I would have had to use a weaker silver solder). This called for 2 more days in the marina to put the new system together and charge it. During this time we realized that the allergies we were suffering with weren’t allergies but another cold. (We had just had one last month). I guess this is a problem with hanging out at a tourist center: germs from all over. Finally on Saturday we were off. We paid our bill and motored up to La Cruz.

In La Cruz we went to bed early (not hard with a head cold) and took off before 7am for our first leg south. We had to motor most of the way across the bay but then sailed the rest of the way to to our stop for the night at Punta Impala. Not much to say about the trip so far as we were both a bit under the weather (colds not seasick) so again we just went to bed early. The cove was pretty but rolly so we decided not to spend any time there.

We got up the next morning before 5am for the next leg to Bahia De Chamela. On this leg we saw mostly south winds but we were still able to sail about half way. One usually gets NW winds in this region so this was a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully we will get the same conditions on our way back up next month. We pulled into Chamela dropped the hook and went to sleep again. By this time my cold is waning but Birgitta’s has reached the worst stage (she has a low grade fever). We decided to spend the day here just hanging on the hook and resting before the final leg to Tenacatita where we plan to spend much of the next month of so. Bahia De Chamela offers better protection from the swell and is quite roomy. Hopefully we will have more lively things to talk about in the next e-mail, but right now it’s just sailing and sleeping.