Jungle River Tour

December 11 – We decided we would go into town to take the jungle river tour.  This was a real treat and an amazing adventure!  We paid a panga 800 pesos at the park entrance to take us up the estuary through the mangroves, jungle and up to the crocodile zoo (keikari).  Fortunate for us, it wasn’t as hot of a day, even a little overcast but we still had the foresight to wear pants (except the stubborn Kyra who wore shorts) to ward off the biting bugs.  It worked pretty good (they still managed to attack my exposed feet)!  The flora and fauna were absolutely incredible.  Of course, the crocodiles, turtles and iguanas were a highlight, but I enjoyed the birds, flowers growing in trees and along the riverbank, the varied trees and their canopy cover, as well as the smells.  In the mangroves, closer to the sea, the water was very brackish, salty and stinky smelling, but as we snaked up the river the water actually became clear, I could smell the sweet, floral smell of a white flower, the dampness in the trees because it had rained in the jungle the night before and the crocodile pee at the zoo which was quite strong.

Just at the entrance to the zoo, there’s a natural spring that feeds the river.  It was gated off and supposedly they allow you to swim in it (for more money, naturally) but we opted not to since our first view was of a giant, orange iguana who was perched in a branch high above the pool fell into the water and swam through the pool to the other side.

The zoo had huge, lazy crocodiles in cages and a separate room with babies.  The babies were inside a house with 3 concrete pool-pens with about 3-4 inches of water.  They were pig-piled together, and so numerous, I didn’t know how they managed.  Stinky too!

At the end of the tour, we walked back through the tiny town with all the vendors hawking “pan de platano” – banana bread.  We stopped at one roadside bakery and bought banana bread and other baked treats to take back to the boat with us.  We returned to the beach to see our dinghy still there (thank goodness, since we paid a dude 20 pesos to keep an eye on it).  We ate lunch at the palapa and then walked along the beach past the dozens of palapas.  Most were not open or serving food.  Apparently they’re more busy in the summer months when the waves are higher and the town fills with surfers.  Fine with us!  We liked it sleepy and quiet.  The waves were calm for safe dinghy landings, especially since we had no wheels for our dinghy yet.

Anchor and Bug Bites

December 10 – Kyra woke with a hankering for muffins.  She set to baking strawberry muffins.  They were delicious, but the problem was the oven warms up the boat so much.  The sun was already high in the sky “cooking” us and she was running the oven making us even hotter.  I overheated and got a headache, so I laid down.  While I was resting Dave gave the salty deck a quick lick-n-promise wash down.  He found a unique screw on the deck and couldn’t immediately place its use or origin but knew it was for something.  He began to investigate only to discover it was the screw that holds in the pin for the anchor to attach to the chain.  Holy cow!

Our anchor may be off the chain.  He immediately jumped in the water to dive on the anchor.  The water was so murky he couldn’t see but 1-2 feet in front of him, plus with the swells, he was being pushed about and having a hard time following the chain down, even though it was in shallow water.  He tried to tie a small fender to the chain to mark it but got himself wound up in the rope under the surface, just barely getting free to come up for air.  I didn’t even know all this was going on, though he claims the girls knew he was in the water and watching him. (I feel a new protocol coming on.)

He quickly donned scuba gear and plopped back in to find the anchor.  The good news was he found the anchor and it was attached to the chain with the pin still in, luckily and thank heavens!  The bad news was without its screw to hold the pin in, it could easily fall right out, and he feared hauling it up, the giggling of the chain through the windlass the pin might fall out and we’d lose the anchor in the muddy bottom.  We were so fortunate it didn’t fall out during the two anchorings the night before.  Not to mention, with the mucky, muddy, silty bottom, there would’ve been no way to find the anchor had it detached from the chain.

He decided to put locktight on the screw, go back down and attach it to the pin to hold the pin in place, all underwater.   We all rejoiced when he explained the situation and I let out a sigh of relief.  I cannot believe how fortunate we were. The screw must’ve worked itself loose on the ride down as it bobbed up and down with the crashing waves.  We are thankful for:  the screw being on deck and found, the pin still in place, not losing the anchor during the bumpy ride down in deep water, not losing the anchor in shallow mucky water, not losing the pin, and being able to put it all back together underwater.

With all this commotion and because the boat seemed extra hot, we had it open all day.  We failed to realize that we needed to close her up at dusk to avoid being inundated with bugs.  The biting mosquito-like bugs descended upon us and gobbled us up. They were so small we couldn’t see them, but we could feel their aftermath.  Little tiny bites all over our legs, ankles and feet.  You know who got it the worst – yep, Camille!  Her legs looked like she had chicken pox.  We all were scratching fiends.

Rebel Departure

December 9 – Today was a serious test.  We woke early (2:45 am) to exit the El Cid Marina in Mazatlán shallow, narrow channel at high tide. The wind was light, and not much current flowing through the channel, unlike other times as we witnessed while there when tides changed: currents zoomed in and out so fast some boats could hardly maneuver through it. We witnessed the aftermath of a boat coming in that evening around 4 pm that had got caught by a surging wave, pushed into the rocks, broke open their port side window and was thrashed on the rocks before being able to navigate off (fortunate for them) and into the marina. Yikes!

Little did we know, the marina’s put up flags (green, yellow or red).  If the red flag is flying then boats aren’t supposed to depart because weather or conditions could be unfavorable or downright bad.  Had we known about this rule and flag, we wouldn’t have left.  We were the talk of the marina, apparently, for not heeding the red flag.  Rebels, unbeknownst to us.

Inching out slowly, in the quiet dark, we glided past the hulking, rusty dredging machine permanently stationed there. I was trying to follow my track line from the way in because it was good:   no hitting the shallow bottom or rocks, but as I came up to the point, the swells seemed bigger in the dark and I could hear waves crashing on the nearby shore with breakwater rocks on both sides.  I started to get kicked around so steering my incoming track became a little bit trickier. Missed my line and got a little closer to the jetty than I wanted but miraculously was unscathed. Phew!  This really wasn’t the scariest part.

Adrenaline running high, I kicked up the throttle and powered hard away from shore and shallows. All good! Until 15 minutes later as we weaved our way around little fishing panga boats.  One came zooming straight at us and then proceeded to block our way yelling at us and waving arms violently. Over the din of the waves, motor noise and water I couldn’t hear or understand a thing. Admittedly I was a wee bit afraid: were they bandits, were they warning us of danger, were they just trying to mess with us? Unclear, until Dave spotted the small buoys holding a vertical net in the water that was running the entire length of the opening. He told me to head off and follow the panga, now paralleling the fish net. I did as instructed, but found myself heading straight for the nearby island. How long was this net anyway? Finally, they signaled I could turn out. Relieved I turned and once again powered it up and zoomed away from the rocks with breakers.   This was the scary part because I fear nets I cannot see at night.

The winds were light so we motored for several hours. We put up the mainsail for stability and a little extra push. Dave went to get some zzz’s while I kept watch as the sun began to rise in the sky. Pretty morning. Everything uneventful. My nerves relaxed until at 8:30am all of a sudden the engine seemed to power slower without me adjusting the throttle. I woke Dave but he couldn’t find anything strange, just less wind therefore slower speed. He took over and I went to nap.

I woke to a jerking boat. The swells were getting bigger and closer together thus making it a bit rough. Still little wind so we motored onward to maintain speed to Isla Isabela. We were shooting for 5pm but with no wind and choppy waves our progress was slower than anticipated. The swells came from the SW and kept us hobby horsing all day, much to the chagrin of the passengers. Took on lots of water over the bow, cleaning the deck thoroughly.

On my watch I sat quietly staring ahead, eyeing the anchor bobbing up and down on the bow as the waves crashed over it every time the nose went down a wave. I was a little concerned about the anchor and asked Dave if it was secured well to the chain or had a back up tie-down. He assured me it was secure and no need to worry. I still had an uneasy feeling. Inside I became obsessed with watching it because this is our new, expensive Ultra anchor that my sister and mom played a role in acquiring for us.

Around 3pm Kyra came screaming up deck to tell us her whole bedroom (side cabin) was soaked through and through. What??? Dave went to investigate. Sure enough, her hatch window had not been latched tight. We asked her and she told us it was closed. We didn’t double check it. With all the waves crashing over us, the sea poured in dumping gallons of salty water all over her bed. Everything was soaked and water was dripping all down into her cabin. Dave undid everything and set the cushions up to dry, bagged the linens. I calmed her down and said, “The good news is you’ve got a bed to sleep in with Camille in the v-berth cabin”. This was where they originally were sleeping and all her stuff is in there anyway because our crew was using the port side cabin.

Actual arrival at Isla Isabela was 6pm. Not too dark, but just enough to make it difficult to see the shore, breaking waves and rocks. The one thing we could see was NO other boats anchored, only fishing boats coming and going from the fishing launch area. We passed a giant fishing boat coming into the south anchorage. Was a little concerned going past it for fear big nets were out. Luckily they only had scoop-sized nets on each side of the boat that they were plying to scoop fish or shrimp out of the water with, no big net being dragged out the back. Phew!
With no boats anchored, my fear of fishing boats and their nets, lack of visibility, known rocky bottom that likes to “eat” anchors, and large SW swells rolling into the bay we turned tail and headed for Matanchen Bay on the mainland. As soon as we headed east the swells stopped coming on the bow. Ah! A light wind enabled us to sail but still motored so we could make it to the bay and get some rest. Little naps during the day are ok, but not the same as a full night’s rest.

Pulling into Matanchen Bay at night was easy since it’s so wide open and big with no rocks smack in the middle to maneuver around. We could see 3 anchor lights further in. Watching our depth and preferring a little distance from the other boats since it was dark, we anchored further out in 17 feet of water. The only problem was just after Dave dropped the anchor he looked up and saw a floating buoy (that may hold a trap). Grrr! At midnight, I was tired and just wanted to be done, but to be safe he opted to pull up the anchor and redo it. He pulled up the buoy to make sure it wasn’t wrapped around our anchor chain, then tossed away the scrappy thing holding a palm frond on the end as I drove away from it. With distance from it, we dropped anchor again, this time it was good. Camille was awake helping, making it easier to get things done, tidied up and into bed quickly; even so it was 2am by the time Dave and I hit the hay. We both slept very good! I didn’t emerge until 9:50 the next morning. He woke with a headache around 7:20 am and listened to the nets.

Tour in Mazatlan

 

December 8 – We hired a fabulous tour guide that gave us a very thorough tour of Mazatlan in his Pulmonia car (an open-air, canopy top) all over town, down the Malecon, to old downtown, hilltops with views, the flower market and even took us to an upholstery store where we scored our vinyl mesh fabric to make much needed sun shades for the windows and cockpit enclosure.

 

If you ever go to Mazatlan, I highly recommend you call Humberto and go for a tour 669-122-4102. It was $80 USD total for 4 people and so worth it! His English is very good, he loves baseball and will take you all around town, even other places as requested and stop to let you out (to buy chilled coconuts freshly macheted open).

Arriving Mazatlan at El Cid Marina

December 3 – Arriving in Mazatlán in the morning, we easily navigated in through the narrow channel with a giant dredging machine sitting off to one side making it even more narrow. It was a hulk of rusty metal with floats holding large, black plastic pipes up and down the channel. We’d never seen such a thing before. I steered carefully past it, but couldn’t really give it a wide berth because the channel was so narrow.

We hailed the marina, finally after several tries. They told us to come in to the fuel dock, land and then they’d assign us a slip. Grr! What choice did we have?! We went in, discovered the fuel dock was full of boats, so we eased close to the end of the fuel dock just enough to talk to a dock hand who was able to give us a slip assignment, all the while blocking the darting water taxi who was getting more and more aggravated with us in his way.

I headed to our slip, got in and realized our depth was reading 8.9 feet. Huh? And this was close to high tide. Tide was going out today and would be a -3.0. After much discussion with the marina, checking the depth the old-fashioned way (sticking the boat hook in the water), we opted to move to the end of the dock, an end tie where the depth was still only 10.5 feet, but better and hopefully would keep us floating. Nerve wracking at best!

By the time we were set to move, the tide was already quite low and the channel entrance, at the end of the dock had a swift moving current flowing out with the tide. I backed down the aisle, out into the channel and began getting pushed with the current; out. Yikes! Steering in reverse is hard enough without a current of 4+ knots. I was kicked around a bit, but managed to jam it in full throttle reverse and make headway in the current, then tap it in forward to ease over to our slip. It was really tricky because there was a catamaran at the end too that I had to maneuver around. With lots of help on the dock, and a slight breeze pushing me towards the dock, we made it in.

I think if we had waited any longer we would’ve been in trouble. So, for any other boaters reading this post: Make sure you time it right going in/out of the channel in Mazatlán to El Cid or Fonatur marinas. It’s surgy at the opening and the currents really zoom in and out of there, normally. Also, the depth was quite low on our entrance, so for departure we decided we’d go at or near high tide and slack.

Finally, once we were calm and at ease knowing we wouldn’t be sitting on the bottom, we hit the swimming pool where Kyra fell in love. She’s already a swimming fiend but couldn’t get enough of it here. She was giddy with excitement to guide me through the pool caves. I have to admit it was pretty cool – literally! Out of the sun, inside the “mountain” winding our way around. They had a slide and a high, deck to jump from. Here I got schooled in Mexican happy-hour 2 for 1. It means when you order a drink, you get two of the same drinks immediately for the price of 1. No ordering one for Dave and one for myself. We each got two. Wow! Good thing they were fruity, blended, cold and delightful!

The Lovely Los Meurtos

December 2 – Back in Los Meurtos – our favorite bay with clear water! Arrived just at sunset.  Saw some wacky rays flopping out of the water as we entered the bay.  We heard the sound, but didn’t know what it was at first.  They really slap the water as they flop out.

Had breakfast at the little restaurant on the East side of the bay with Waponi Woo and Three Quarter Time boat friends we met in La Paz.

Kyra and I snorkeled at the rocks, thanks to Waponi Woo lending us their dinghy anchor. It was pretty good snorkeling, but not as good as the coral head outcropping right off the beach, so we headed there after a bit and saw many fish happily buzzing about in the coral.

The evening was spent dining and planning the rally across to Mazatlán at the Trene Restaurant with the cool bar, upstairs trains, arcade games, pool and water slide. We met two other catamaran boats: Muskoka and Mai Tai who were also heading across. They decided to depart around 2 am, we opted for 4 am and to catch up to them since they were going 6 knots. We caught up to them by afternoon. Not much wind for sailing across, a little so we motor sailed to Mazatlán.

When we left Meurtos I was on watch to see the most amazing sunrise and red moon setting at the same time. I tried to capture it via photo and video but neither does it justice. The beauty was unbelievable.

La Paz

November 19, 2017 – Ah the joy of taking a shower on land – that doesn’t move – now if only when I close my eyes to wash my hair I didn’t feel like I’m swaying and lose my balance. In La Paz and loving it!

November 23, 2017 – Woke up on Thanksgiving day excited since we have tickets to the Thanksgiving dinner at La Costa restaurant. They’ll be serving turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Yeah, because I wasn’t going to cook all that chez moi!  No siree bob!  But the girls really wanted a traditional turkey dinner. We just made side dishes to bring: Curried cauliflower, steamed green beans and mashed potatoes was our contribution. The kids all sat together at a table (kids from Waponi Woo and The Answer) while the parental units sat at another table. It was a bit crazy with quite a few people. By the time we got there we couldn’t get a table all together. They called up tables by the playing card which was placed at your table. The kids were amazingly gracious given their table was called dead last – darn Queen of Hearts. They had some adults at the other end of their table who didn’t wait for their card to be called. Instead they dove straight to the front of the line and served themselves while the kids waited almost 2 hours.  Food was good and enjoyed being there!

Later we went over to the catamaran “Tribe” withYogi and her 3 boys (Kai, Koa and Kikko) to hang out. We met them right away after we arrived in La Paz and the kids hit it off immediately.  Also, the gang from the boat “Secret Water” (Annie & Chris with their 3 boys named Josiah, Eli and Finn) were there too. We came after they ate just to socialize.  It was Secret Water’s last night in La Paz. I enjoyed getting to know Annie.  She’s such a sweetie with a big heart.  Their pup, Opal is pretty darn cute.  She’s part beagle, part basset hound so they refer to her as a bagel.

We Facetime’d with family back home and saw all the gang at Mom’s house for Thanksgiving. Was so good to talk to them. It helped reduce the sadness of not being there. Virtual hugs and kisses were sent over the fiber lines.

We enjoyed our time in La Paz, the people, the food and shopping but after nearly 2 weeks, it was time to move on.

November 30, 2017 – Let the preparation begin! The team all pitched in to get ready for departure from La Paz, as well as Dave busting a nut to get the woodwork in reasonable shape before leaving since our cheap and not so trusty Mexican workers left us hanging (didn’t finish the job they claimed would be done today). Anila’s starboard side looks beautiful while the port side looks like a scrappy dog. Oh well, the workers were on Mexican time and busy on other boats.

The girls and I busied ourselves with vacuuming, cleaning, doing dishes, stowing, assisting Dave with woodwork, raising dinghy, filling water tanks, organizing our food provisions, cleaning toilets/sinks and the ever pleasant gray water holding tank clean out. Camille asked why I didn’t feel like throwing up from the wretched odor emanating from it.  I told her, “I’m just breathing through my mouth.” She winced and grimaced with each sponge rinse.  Kyra scoured off the lid which was equally as gross. Was a productive preparation day!  Felt good so we headed out to Rustico pizza with Sassafrass (Jake, Burgandy, Violet) and kids from The Answer (Makenna and Shay). The atmosphere was amazing and the food very delicious. We topped it off with gelato from the Guilieta y Romeo gelato place.

December 1 – Left La Paz with sadness to say good-bye to friends but looking forward to exploring more towns.

Despite going to bed late after finishing stowing stuff up on deck, I woke early and couldn’t sleep so I trotted off for a much needed shower in the marina. Figured I should enjoy the full, wide, big shower before we head off. We met so many wonderful people while in La Paz: from Debbie that cut our hair to kid boats and dogs – it was a fantastic 2 weeks in La Paz. A bit hard to say good-bye but really looking forward to new adventures, islands, beaches and ports.

Some day we will have to return to go further up into the Sea of Cortez and visit the islands.

Got gas at Costa Baja – super easy and convenient location to gas up. Diesel was 18.75 pesos a liter (17.15 per liter plus 1.60 per liter dock surcharge). Seems if you stay the night at the marina you get a discount of 0.40 per liter). I suggested filling our jugs to save money while we had the rental car to fill our fuel tanks, but that didn’t go over well with Dave. Filling four 5 gallon jugs at a time, lugging them down the dock, pouring them into the tanks and repeating 10 times was not Dave’s idea of fun. We opted to pay the surcharge and pull up at the fuel dock. Well worth it and good decision!

I really wish Dave wouldn’t make a command decision to cut a corner as we swung around into the Sea of Cortez, thinking it’s high enough tide and deep enough. He claimed to be “watching” the depth and would adjust course as needed. However, at 9 feet, seeing the bottom, rocks and all the tropical fish up close was not my idea of fun (when we draft 7’9″).  I really don’t want to save time and hit the bottom. It sure got shallow really fast. Ugh!

 

Cabo Craziness

November 9 – My house rocks and rolls. Normally the boat is my cradle that gently rocks me to sleep, but not here in the anchorage outside Cabo. With all the boat traffic in the bay and giant cruise ships anchored so close it seems you could reach out and touch them,  the boat is pitching and rolling all around.  Ugh!  We scurry to shore to handle paperwork, find lunch and figure out the lay of the land.  Tonight was the Squid Roe disco party for the Baja-Haha.  Camille hung out with her new friend Pari, dancing while Kyra scowled and wasn’t amused one bit by this nightlife action.  They let kids in until 10pm so the girls were able to come with us.  This was a first for them both.  Eyes wide and surprised by it all, wow!

 

November 10 – Today was the Baja-Haha beach party.  Kids swam and got stung by a cute little blue jelly fish.  Camille had fun hanging with Violet and Pari.  Kyra was annoyed because she had no friends her age.  I felt bad for her.  The kissing contest on the beach was funny!  Later that night we found a fantastic restaurant that made several meals tableside.  I highly recommend this place: Los Barriles.

 

 

 

November 11 – Last night in Cabo was the Baja-Haha rewards ceremony.  We got 2nd place something.  Not sure it means much.  More importantly Dave and Kevin got drinks from Senor Frogs with crazy glasses.

      

November 12 – I’m tired tonight after 3 days in bustling Cabo San Lucas. Trying to stay awake to write.  We departed Cabo, said good byes and thank you to Kevin and set sail up into the Sea of Cortez which was so beautiful and serene until the wind shifted coming straight on the bow, along with waves that we beat through for hours.  We had to motor the other half of the way to Los Frailes so we would arrive to anchor with a little bit of light left. Anila was thoroughly washed clean today by all the water washing over her as we beat into the waves. Too bad it’s salty water, after a nice wash down in Cabo, right before departing. Ah, boat life’s problems!

 

Am I Really Here? Santa Maria Bay

November 6 – Waking to gentle rocking of the boat, on anchor, with a lovely breeze blowing is so blissful! Slept solidly for 7 hours. Ahhhh! Really needed it, since the night before was way too lumpy while on our passage from Bahia de Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria. The waves were jerking us about, making the boat lurch and leap, the sail luffing on and off, not to mention watch schedules.

I am pinching myself right now. Am I really here? Are we really making this happen? Are we really on an extended trip with the whole family? Maybe we’re just on vacation? Nope! There are chores to be done, school and learning to do and boat projects to keep things in order.  The list is long.  The joke is maybe we’ll be ready for this trip (complete the supposed pre-departure projects) by the time we’re ready to return to Seattle area.

Hiking

Beach Party Hanging

Beach Combing and Swimming

In Bahia Santa Maria, we enjoyed some hiking, the party, a celestial navigation with the sextant workshop, and of course beach time.

Leg 2 of HaHa – Tortuga to Bahia Santa Maria

November 4 – we’re like toddlers figuring out how to work our new toy – the pole. It’s awkward for us but we believe going to be ever valuable.

November 5 – My watch: 3-6am. The sun rose but struggled to throw its rays down fully upon us since clouds were stretching the eastern horizon in long, dark strands. Made for a beautiful, bright orange sunrise – postcard perfect. Sails were full and were going at a decent clip – 6-7 knots. Everyone else was asleep except the dolphins who came to swim in our bow wake. I walked forward to watch them play and leap about. Such amazing creatures with grace and speed.
Today was the best sailing yet! We’re getting better at using our spinnaker pole. We deployed it with the spinnaker going downwind and promptly made 3+ knots more headway. Just the mainsail up was not bad (~5.5 knots) but adding spinnaker was even better. We cruised easily and more smoothly at 8-9 knots almost all day and arrived earlier than expected into Bahia Santa Maria around 8:45pm instead of the estimated midnight or 1am. The winds were 10-15 knots all day. We passed a lot of boats and maintained a desired heading of 121 degrees since our destination was 130 degrees. I don’t know why we didn’t get a pole like this sooner!