Saturday, February 21, 2015

Good To Go

     Honestly, over nighters are not on my list of favorite things to do.  They are just something I am willing to do because, well, because I am a cruiser on the ocean in a sailboat, and that is just what we do.  We make overnight passages, depriving ourselves of sleep, showers, and clean clothes in order to reach the next new, exciting, and usually beautiful anchorage or for most people, a dream vacation sight. 

     This overnighter would start in the anchorage of Manzanillo.  The provisioning, cleaning, and other preparations (like making pizza crust for our traditional "underway meal") were done the day before.  So, at daybreak on Monday, February 16, 2015, we would pull up anchor and head south for Zihuatanejo.  We were awake at 05:00, had coffee, yogurt, fruit and cereal, then sat around for a half an hour or so for a bit of daylight.  The sun peaked it's head over the hill at around 07:00.  We fired up the engine, pulled the anchor up, and were underway with our mainsail up at 07:15.  We were fishing for dinner by 07:40.  We had one pole with a cedar plug lure and two hand lines with colorful squid like lures trailing behind us.  Shortly after dropping the lines in the water we caught a tuna….too small to be sacrificed for a meal….threw it back, six more, about the same size, were hooked, reeled in, and released.  
One Tuna on the Line

One Tuna Released 

Marshall….this one is for you


     We had pizza for lunch and dinner. 

     At four o'clock we started shifts.  Scott took the 4-8 shift, then went below for a rest.  I was on from 8-11.  I  always enjoy the night shift even when I am complaining about sleep deprivation.  The shifts from 8 o'clock at night until 8 o'clock in the morning are the most peaceful and awe-inspiring shifts.  This night was more so than any of the others I have experienced thus far. 

     It was a moon-less night and the sky was so thickly veiled with clouds that not even the light from the brightest star could penetrate mother natures evening cloak.  Black was the sky and black was the ocean there was a fine line of contrast defining the separation of air and water.  The boat was gliding along at 6 knots with her sails filled with a gentle wind (10-15 knts) from the south-west.  Life was quiet and peaceful on Velvet Sky.  Surrounded by darkness the sounds of the night were enchanting.  I could hear an occasional leap of a fish or some sea creature that had found the bravery to jump out into a world unknown.  Then, a surprising spout that I recognized, that of passing porpoises playing in the wake.  Thanks to the new crew member (CPT) I was able to stand at the life lines and witness the greatest light show I may ever see.  Because the night was so dark, the phosphorescent plankton was like a moving milky way of stars in the ocean.  The dolphins were trailed by white streaks of bubbling light streaming through the blackest of the black sea.  Bucket and I call the phosphoresces "pixie dust."  This was a magical show.  The streaks of tiny glittering stars trailed about 20 or 30 feet behind each dolphin as they performed their breath taking ballet. 
Suddenly i became a fan of the overnight passage.  I had experienced a piece of heaven on earth.  

     We dropped anchor in the bay at Isla Grande at 12:39 in the afternoon on Tuesday, February 18th.  We had dinner of homemade tacos with rice and pintos and went to bed at 18:00.  Wednesday was a fun filled day of snorkeling and swimming and another early night to bed.  

     We left Isla Grande on Thursady and tied up to the dock at Marina Ixtapa and spent the day laboring.  We washed the boat, changed the oil, had haircuts on the dock, took care of business with the boat insurance company,  filled the fresh water tank and water bottles, and had TWO yes TWO showers and pulled out of the marina by 13:00 on Friday the 20th.


Approaching Zihuatanejo


     Now we are here in Zihuatanejo waiting for the favorable weather window in which we will continue south to El Salvador.  We will make three stops in Mexico before we get to the Mexico-Guatamala border where we will check out of South America and into Central America.  Three loooong hops, that means overnighters……I am good to go, as is the good ship, Captain, and Bucket crew.  Not far behind will be our traveling buddies, Seahorse V and crew. 

Oceans of Love to All!


      

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nice Perspective

Doesn't get much better than this

Blessings on Velvet Sky

We are Sailors!


     We left the dock, space G6, of Barre Navidad on Friday, February 6th at 11:55 and had a course set for Santiago Bay, an anchorage that was about 25 nautical miles south.  Scott had just purchased about $3,000 pesos worth of fishing gear that included hand lines and colorful lures guaranteed we would be having Dorado for dinner tonight.  I guessed that he had enough lures to change every 15 minutes if needed.  I am sad to report that we had rice with the fish that night.

       Since the fish weren't biting and we have the new and really cool CPT on board to help steer, we had ample opportunity to practice new and improve our sailing skills. We had between 4 and 5 knots of wind directly a stern and Captain had read about this "wing-in-wing" technique.  So, we rigged the whisker pole and luck or skill or combination of both we were sailing like we knew what we were doing.  All those days of motoring and the use of hundreds of gallons of diesel are now just distant memories.  At one point for just a couple of seconds our SOG exceeded the wind by 2 tenths of a knot.
Cheers!



Today.....We Conquered Our World

Wind Speed = 4.5 knots
Speed Over Ground= 4.1

Approaching Las Hadas in Manzanillo

Midnight Margaritas and an Evening Swim Makes a Great Party at the Velvet Sky
(Midnight amongst cruisers begins at 8:00 pm or whenever we are ready to call an end to the day.)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday


     We tied up to the dock in the Marina at Barre Navidad around noon on Saturday.  We have been on the hook for 10 days.  The three of us are looking forward to a couple of days on land.

     Today we are sitting by the pool having a frosty drink and in about an hour will be watching the Super Bowl on a big screen while eating fish tacos and drinking an icy Pacifico.  The Super Bowl will be spoken in spanish, .... EXCELLENTE!  GO SEAHAWKS!




The temp inside the boat at happy hour 01/31/2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Continuing South





     As it turns out, time seems to go by pretty fast even when life is moving "Mexico Style," at a slow and steady pace.  

     We had a course set for LaCruz and passed right by landing Velvet Sky on the dock at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta.  Seahorse V had been to tied to dock A in space 11 for about two weeks prior to our arrival.  They knew we were coming and had a space held for us.  We remained side tied to dock "A" for a day and moved to slip "B43" which became our residence for the next 17 days.  We got our gate keys and identification cards which allowed us access to the resort lobby, hospitality suite, restaurants, nightly entertainment, and most appreciated hot tub/swimming pool area.  It was like we were on a Carnival Cruise vacation.  

     Sunday evenings we were entertained with a stage show and family games, free drinks and appetizers.  Paradise Village called it their "Welcoming Party."  It was a lovely treat and fun for everyone!  Tuesday and Thursday  afternoons was a colorful performance by the local parrots and their trainer, again, fun and laughter all around.




     The pool area was tied to the ocean beach, I must say, it doesn't get much better than that, as far as swimming goes.  We could take a nice surfing dip in the ocean, rinse off the sand and salt and dive into the cool fresh water pool, get out relax on the lawn chairs, have a frosty beverage, and repeat.  Nice. eh? Yes, yes it was.  Every day was pretty much the same routine with just a few variations.  

     Scott and Bucket took a morning walk on the beach and found three baby turtles that they escorted to the ocean. We took a bus to LaCruz for a day and a "Puddle Jump" seminar.  We had dinner there at a place called Enriques, and to date was the best mexican meal we have had.  We took a bus to Walmart and Costco to do a bit of our Gringo shopping and provisioning.  We started a boaters potluck at the BBQ pit, thursdays, bring your family's dinner and a little something to share with others.   We developed a deeper friendship with the family on Seahorse V.  We had kid sleepovers almost nightly.  Bucket and Billy have developed a "brotherly" kind of friendship. And Grace, well, she thinks I am cool and I KNOW she is cool so we do girl things, like paint our toe nails and discuss hairdos.  Tina is her mother.  I adore Tina and think she is a terrific parent and a good friend.  Steve is the dad, husband and captain of Seahorse V.  He is too is an outstanding human.  We are blessed to know them, and super happy to be buddy boating with them.

     Overall Nuevo Vallarta, was a very relaxing, and carefree existence for us.  We were in no hurry to leave, however, the season will be changing soon and hurricane warnings we want to avoid, so south we will continue to cruise.  

     Our agenda and line of travel looks something like this:

 Nuevo Vallarta to Yelapa
Yelapa to Chamela
Chamela to Paraiso
Paraiso to Tenacatita
Tenacatita to Barra de Navidad

(Will attach photos later...when we have better internet)


Love to All

     

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Todays Destination....Nuevo Vallarta


     We Left Mazatlan on Saturday, December 27th at 15:00 after filling the fuel tank.  Since we had successfully installed a CPT autopilot on Christmas day, this short 18 hour tour had promise of a  whole new type of underway adventure for us.


     The Autopilot worked just as it should for the first nine hours or so.  I had the 2-5 am shift.  The CPT quit doing it's job.  My guess was that the belt was loose and we would figure it out in the day light.  I am old hat at hand steering under motor…..so, no biggie.   Scott came up for the 5-8 shift and found me a little disappointed that our new crew member had dropped the ball.  He confirmed the belt was loose, did some adjustments, and took over for his shift with the CPT fully operational  (lucky him).

     We had a course set for a stop at Isla Isabela.  It is home to hundreds, including frigate birds, blue and yellow footed boobies, turns and gulls.  There are literally huge flocks of birds constantly circling this island.  We pulled in to the south anchorage around 09:00 on the 28th.  We get ready to drop anchor and all we see is a rocky and foul bottom ocean floor.  Scott spies a bit of a sandy spot and we drop the hook only to find that the actor drug far enough to get caught in the boulder area.  We made 3 attempts to anchor.  The third time the anchor got lodged and a fellow boater used his dinghy to pull it out backward.  Our anchor was saved from the anchor graveyard at Isabela.  We opted to skip the island and continue southbound to San Blas and Mantanchen Bay.  Around 8 hours later (17:30)  we dropped anchor in 13 feet depth with sand bottom, had dinner of hamburgers and fresh oranges, killed mosquitos and no see-ums,  sealed the door from further invasion of the pests and nestled in for the evening.  I am sure the three of us were sound asleep by 7:30 (definitely NOT uncommon).

     Up with the sun, fresh perked coffee, breakfast of potatoes, eggs,sausage, and o.j., then in the dinghy and off to shore we go!  We landed Fresh on the beach in front of a palapa that called themselves, "Calamar," Edjardo is the manager of this palapa and is quite pleased to watch our dinghy for the day and serve us lunch upon our return (for a few pesos, of course).  And so we begin our walk through town on the dusty streets of San Blas Mexico.  We encounter several palapas selling banana bread (pan de plantano) and  cold coconut water (frio coco aqua).  We partake and thoroughly enjoy both.  We meander our way to the sight of the pangas that depart for a 2 hour "lagoon jungle trip."  We are guaranteed to see crocodiles, turtles, a variety of plants and birds, jaguar, wild boar and coati.  150 pesos each (the 4 year old is free) and we are on a panga going down the river spotting croc, turtles, plants, and birds.  Part of the tour included a drop off at a small zoo where we saw the other animals.  It was a pleasant day trip and we were back at palapa Calamar by 16:00.  Just in time for a delightful lunch that included coconut shrimp, lobster, ceviche, fresh limeade, and cold cerveza.  We made it back to the boat in time to close ourselves and lock out the biting bugs that come out at sun set.  I braved the bugs to capture a photo of a post card perfect sunset.

     We stayed another day here in San Blas in order to explore the historical town.  This is where the Spaniards built the vessels used for exploring the west coast of North America.

     On New Years Eve (day) at 09:00 we pulled up anchor and set course for Chacala.  This was an easy 5 hour tour.  A beautiful and peaceful little anchorage with a nice beach where palapas lined the shore front.  Minutes after dropping the hook both of the boys were in the water.  Bucket making laps around the boat while Scott scraped barnacles and coral worms from the bottom (this indicates that we will be hauling out soon for new bottom paint). There were fire works, all amateur, but a lot of them starting at dusk going on through midnight and shortly after.  Again, we were in bed and asleep by 20:00 (8 pm).  We could hear the grand fire work show at midnight and the music of celebration well past 02:00.  We went onto shore the next day around 14:00, had an appetizer and was back at the boat by 17:00.  We are party animals!

     Today we got underway at 07:00 and will arrive in Nuevo Vallarta around 15:00.  I anticipate being in Paradise Village Marina for at least 10 days.  We may get the boat hauled out here.


   

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas in the Mexico

Happy December 27th!

     We are departing Mazatlan today at approximately 15:00.  We like it here.  The weather is perfect, the people are pleasant, the atmosphere overall, very friendly.

     Although we celebrated Christmas in the traditional fashion, i.e.; friends, tree, lights, gifts, sweets, and Christmas dinner (not traditional....bbq chicken, pasta, and local oranges), it didn't feel traditional.



Walkie-Talkies.....Spend a year teaching them how to use them, the next five years asking them to be quiet....


Whoo-Hoo! A Bow and Arrows!
Boat toy? No, Christmas wish.


     We did not have the 2-4-7 Christmas music, the snow or cold temperatures, the television commercials force feeding us toys, clothes, jewelry, tools....you know..."stuff."  We have experienced 80 degree temperature, sunscreen, swimming pools, and margaritas under an umbrella. No hustle and bustle and feeling like we were running out of time. No stress of the "count down." Life is good.

     We did think of the joy we have being around family and friends.  We thought about gift giving and the good feeling we get when giving brings a smile to a loved one, and the wishes for blessings of the season and the new year we offer in the cards we send.  Those things were longed for.

     We were woke up by an excited Bucket, who just knew Santa would visit the Velvet Sky. Santa visits boats too, you know.  As we walked through town we saw elves pretending to be Santa, Christmas trees, and people shopping for gifts for there loved ones.  "Feliz Navidad,"was the common greeting.  The Harbor Master had a party for the boaters where he gifted us a meal, drinks, and gifts.  Christmas was in the air.  Christmas as a Live-Aboard, in the tropics.....yep, we will do it again.

Merry Christmas-Feliz Navidad!
Blessings of Love, Health, Happiness, and Laughter in 2015!

     

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mazatlan (Day One)

Buenas Dias!

Ahoy!
     It was a decent 47 hour hop from La Paz to Mazatlan.  We got in about 10 hours of sailing.  We were entertained by Manta Rays emerging randomly from the depths of the ocean.  They would leap out about 6 feet from the surface and go back down.  Quite a sight and sort of hard to believe that our eyes were not deceiving us or playing tricks.  The three of us were witnesses to the crazy event and have the sight in our memories rather than in photo form.   We will be better prepared with a camera next time we are out.  Also, we were graced by a full moon, clear skies, and calm seas.  Yes, a decent trip, indeed.

Unbrella.....rain or shine


     Friday, December 5th, 08:00,we tied up in slip C4 at El Cid Marina.  We called our family at the resort five miles away and made arrangements to meet with them after showers and breakfast. Normally we would have taken the day to rest and regroup, however, this was their last day in Mazatlan and we were excited to see them here.  So, as Wendy suggested, we hailed a pulmonia and had one of the most enjoyable taxi rides we might ever experience.



   


     It was a 5 mile, 60 peso ride to the beautiful resort of Pueblo Bonita.  I have to say that Wendy and Kelly made a pretty good choice of time share property.

     Shortly after arrival Kelly took Bucket to the pool, they were just going to "look at it."  Bucket doesn't get near water and just "look at it."  He was in the pool in seconds with all clothes still on.  Okay, so that prompted the adults to go to the room (which was four flights of stairs) and get on their suits so that they could enjoy the pool as well.  Long story short, Bucket slipped on the steps and (as he says) BOOM!  He received his right of passage chin injury that will lead to a permanent scar for a story later in his life.  We held the gash together the best that we could with the bandages we had.  Bucket swam for the rest of the day, much less affected by the accident than his parents.  He made a new friend, and played with "U.K"(Uncle Kelly) and Aunt Thelma in the pool for another 6 hours.
We had a lovely day with our family.  Wendy is a beautiful, gracious, and generous hostess.  We had a delightful dinner, said our "See you soon's," and caught a pulmonia back to Velvet Sky.


A gift shark from "U.K."


A New Friend.  Meet Una.


A fine photo.  Una becomes one of the family :)

   

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Heading to the Main Land

     We have been waiting for our charts to arrive.  They are not expected to be here until the end of this week or the beginning of next week.  We learned today that "Lopez Marine" will send them to Mazatlan for us.  So, we are leaving La Paz tomorrow morning.  We will be underway for just under 48 hours and should arrive in Mazatlan on the 5th of December.  

   

While in La Paz....



We used local bus system for transportation

We walked to get from place to place

We found innovative ways to fill the water tank

As easy as syphoning 150 gallons of desalinated water

Only 30 more to go....

We had a very satisfying Thanksgiving dinner with about 200 other cruisers


Very satisfying

We are forever Thankful for the gifts that life presents to us every single day.  This is a grand adventure!