April 30, 2001. Isla Isabella, Mexico.
Good morning to all! (or good afternoon or good evening, whatever may apply.) We left La Cruz last Wednesday for an overnight trip to Isla Isabella. As usual we barely slept during our off-watch and ended up sleeping most of Thursday. We had anchored in the south anchorage, like last time, but concluded, after a couple of days of uncomfortable rolling, that it was the wrong choice this time around. We moved to the east anchorage which turned out much more mellow (except for the mexican music from the fishing boat anchored nearby). We changed our clocks back into Mountain Time since we crossed a time zone but it gives us a very early nightfall (7PM).
Clark has been busy with various maintenance projects from cleaning the hull to repairing the oarlock on the dinghy and splicing a broken line. I baked bread in the pressure cooker (used as a Dutch oven not as a pressure vessel) for the first time. It saves propane and reduces heat in the cabin. The bread was fine except that its crust was disappointing. It also makes one huge loaf instead of two smaller and more convenient loaves. I plan to bake bread in the oven in the future until it is really too hot to bear it.
We have also spent a lot of time reading since we both found good novels to immerse ourselves into. I finished my novel yesterday (Mars by Ben Bova) and started a more serious book about the economics/sociology/ philosophy of our modern world (“small is beautiful” by Shumacher). It is somewhat dated (1973) but has sparked interesting discussions between Clark and I about the ills of our society and what would make men happy. So we are not letting our brains go totally to mush. And no, we have not yet found the answer that would bring universal happiness but we will let you know as soon as we get an idea!
Tuesday April 24, 2001. La Cruz, Banderas Bay, Mexico.
We have been here about ten days and are planning to leave tomorrow for Isla Isabella (assuming the weather cooperates). We had considered leaving today but the port captain didn’t want to go to work today (his office was closed) so we have to stay till tomorrow so we can check out of the port legally. We gave up on replacing the fridge evaporator as the part will need to be imported from the US. Our next visitor may have to carry an extra bag!
So this last week we went to Sam’s Club to buy large quantities of flour, canned food and breakfast cereals, to “Gigante” to buy staples not available at Sam’s Club, to a couple specialty stores to find whole wheat flour, wheat germ, bran, good dark chocolate and jasmine tea, and to the weekly La Cruz market for the fresh fruits and vegetables. We have enough staples to last at least four months, assuming we can find fruits and vegetables on the way. The reason for this large provisioning effort is that food is more expensive in Baja where we are headed next, and also that I love to buy food… We also got various spare boat parts such as switches, light bulbs, and webbing. And we updated the website, which took more work than we thought after the first internet cafe computer corrupted our password and prevented further access to the site. A couple of internet cafes and a new password later, we did get the new photos on the site.
La Cruz is getting tiring. Everyday at about noon, the wind picks up and the boat pitches restlessly until 6 PM. During that time the motion of the boat reduces my ambitions to reading a book or listening to music. Any trip to shore to escape the motion is very wet because the waves splash within the dinghy and we get home well salted.
Our next stop is at Isla Isabella which we visited back in December. After that, we have not decided whether we will go to Mazatlan or head directly to the La Paz area. It depends on our mood and the weather.
Monday April 16th, 2001. La Cruz.
We left Bahia Tenacatita last Thursday, after having waited a couple of days for the swell to diminish. But the swell was still relatively large on Thursday when we motored to Bahia Chamela, especially for two sailors who had been snug in a protected cove for over a month! It was nothing compared to what we have encountered on the Washington and Oregon coasts, but it did make us somewhat uncomfortable and longing for a flat anchorage again. We anchored at Isla Passavera in Bahia Chamela.
Isla Passavera is a small rocky island home to many booby birds and a few vultures.
Someone had told us there were red-footed boobies on the island but a fairly thorough exploration on Friday did not reveal the red-footed boobies. They may have left since the nesting season is over, or they might have been misidentified
However, the tree-sized cactuses were impressive.
The next day we decided to continue our trip north and headed to Impala, the next convenient anchorage on the way to Puerto Vallarta. We arrived there the Saturday before Easter and were amazed to see how crowded the beach was with people celebrating the holiday. Unfortunately, Mexican celebrations usually involve very very loud music, with the tuba as base line, until early in the morning! That, combined with the rolly anchorage, resulted in a poor night sleep. But, bright and early the next morning, we did get up to motor and sail the last leg of the return trip to the Bay of Banderas (home to Puerto Vallarta). We are now anchored in La Cruz and are investigating a possible upgrade of the freezer. But since it looks like the part will need to be imported from the US, we will likely postpone this project for now. So this will be mostly a major re-provisioning stop before we continue our way into the sea of Cortez.
Tuesday April 10, 2001. Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico.
We spent 3 days sewing our new awning up, starting by cutting and assembling the big pieces in a corner of the french restaurant on their day off. We finished the work on the boat, which was cleaner than the unfinished wood floor of the restaurant and quieter without a generator running (it was solar powered sewing).
While we were sewing in the cockpit, the mexican navy showed up again, wanting to inspect the boat. We did tell them we had been inspected a week earlier but we had no paper to prove it. It was a different navy vessel and apparently they do not coordinate their work with others. The inspection was longer and more thorough but they still did not look in all the easy hiding places under drawers, floorboards, etc. (again, we are not complaining). This time, I did ask for a proof of inspection paper. Among other things, the form indicated the length of the inspection and the navy wrote 8 minutes. It lasted at least 30 minutes and then it took them 10 minutes to fill in the proof of inspection form!
After finishing the awning, I decided I had earned an ice cream so we took the 1/2 hour ride through the mangroves in the dinghy, then walked 1/2 hour to Rebalsito (the closest town with grocery stores) where we found ice cream. It tasted delicious! I also bought a mango and, back on the boat, made my first batch of homemade mango chutney which we both enjoy with indian curries or on grilled chicken or fish.
Monday, a former coworker and friend from Hart Crowser (Sophia Smith) came to visit along with her husband and a friend. She has a vacation place in Melaque and had just arrived from the US. She brought us recent newspapers and news magazines which was a real treat, along with couscous and cornmeal which I have not found in Mexico. It was fun to see her and get recent news from Seattle. We were a little worried that we would all get wet coming through the surf which was higher than normal that day, but we made it (in two voyages) with only a little spray on the way in, and some wet shorts on the way out.
We plan to leave tomorrow morning assuming the wind is not blowing too hard from the north, the direction of our travel. We will go back to Chamela first, then La Cruz in Banderas Bay.
April 1, 2001. Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico.
Even in this typically very quiet bay, the swell can sometimes come in and give us a few days of heavy rolling. For 4 days, we could not land on the beach because the waves were too high. Many boats have left for the Barra de Navidad lagoon, disgusted with the constant rocking. I was getting tired of hearing the waves crash on shore with thunderous sounds and was playing music to cover it up. Some boats have no refrigeration and very little storage room and they depend on water, ice and groceries from shore every 2 or 3 days. Several people damaged their dinghies trying to go to shore (from ripping the inflatable bottom to swamping the motor) and got very wet in the process. Things have finally calmed down today.
The Mexican Navy came in the bay 4 days ago and inspected all the boats, including Temptress. They wanted to see the boat documentation, our despacho (the paper which lists the crew, indicates where we are going and that we have legally cleared out of the last port), and visit the entire boat. They were polite and quick, but it seems like a waste of time: their inspection was too superficial to uncover any cache of weapons or drugs (not that we are complaining). Maybe they hope to make money out of fines when the paperwork is incorrect.
Our sun awning has finally given up. We had used it in the winter in Seattle to reduce water leakage inside Temptress and it had gone through several gales. The mexican sun has further damaged the material which was becoming paper thin. So we bought canvas from another boat who was carrying excess material and we hope to sew another one this week.
Clark made fresh bread and pizza to cheer me up a couple of days ago and it was absolutely delicious! He uses a lot of yeast, more for taste than for rising, and it gives the bread a nice nutty, yeasty smell which I love. I plan to stock on a lot of flour and yeast for our sojourn in the sea of Cortez where we are likely to be away from supermarket for extended periods of time.
The weather is warming up here and getting more humid. We are probably going to stay here another 10 days before sailing back north.
PS: I mentioned previously that I had seen pink flamingos in the lagoon here but other cruisers said pink flamingos do not live here. Upon closer inspection, the pink wading birds are roseate spoonbills, similar to the flamingos but with a white head and a funny spoon-shaped bill.