Archive for March, 2006

Chamela (Mar. 15-17)

Friday, March 17th, 2006

The main Chamela anchorage was okay–bumpy when the wind picks up and landing the dinghy in the surf is an exciting event. The fishermen would strip down to their underwear in preparation of landing the pangas; they float around just beyond the breakers until a swell runs by, then gun the motor and run the boat full tilt onto the beach popping the motor up at the last minute. They get wet when they jump out in the surf and wrestle the boat to higher ground as the waves break. Town is a wee strip of tiendas and such along a paved road with a concrete zocalo off to one side. We went ashore to get some produce and a block of ice. Then we headed out to the islands in the middle of the bay to anchor and observe the wildlife.

Brown Boobies, Chamela, Mexico

Once again, we used up all the camera batteries photographing the boobies. Damn those boobies are photogenic. So cute! This time there were only brown boobies, no blue-footers, and they were at a different stage in the nesting cycle. Babies were generally fully fledged but not mature so they would sit around begging for food from whatever bird (or Cheyenne) came near. I guess I wouldn’t be too picky either if my dinner consisted of regurgitated fish. Also, the mature boobies were pairing up and building nests and that was fun to watch. The male picks up some weeds or whatever stick happens to be about and tries to give it to the female, who looks all around but not at the male (so coy!); sometimes she takes the stick/weed/leaf and that seems to be a pretty big deal.

Nesting Boobies, Chamela, Mexico

Brown Booby, Chamela, Mexico

Back at the boat, we discovered that we had become a trimaran-shaped refuge for huge schools of little bluish fish. Berjillions of the guys milling around and not biting any of our lures for anything. Joshua spied a dorado cruising about amongst the blue hoards and then spent the next couple of hours trying to catch her (the males and females look different). We tried every one of our lures on the dorado with no obvious interest; then Joshua decided that we needed live bait. Since the little schooling blue fish do not go for lures and just dipping a netful of them was not possible (they were thick but quick and not that stupid), Joshua got out the fishing spear. The first fish did not make it to the deck alive, a prong had him right through the middle (we put him on a hook in the water just in case because you never know). The second and third fish got away. Then Joshua speared the boat. Monohulls must not have this problem. We’re not talking a glancing blow, oh oops haha I hit the boat honey; he stuck it so well that neither of us could actually pull it out. Three prongs all embedded deep. Of course it was all below the waterline and in a forward section of the boat where you can’t just observe the hull from the inside.

The little blue fish swarmed on Joshua as he got in the water and prepped the area for an emergency ‘Splash Zone’ repair (underwater epoxy miracle). Using a rope, he yanked the spear free and promptly jammed epoxy into the holes. We don’t seem to be taking on water so hopefully it’s all okay. We’ll have to tend to it next time we haul out. We never did catch that dorado. And that dead fish we chucked over the side to see what might happen? We pulled up an incredibly pissed off moray eel a couple of hours later; he bit through the line and took off with the hook (sorry!), which was just as well because I don’t know what we would do with a writhing biting eel on board.

Cabo Corrientes to Chamela (Mar. 12-14)

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

We feared being stuck in La Cruz forever once we started to listen to weather reports again; Don kept going on about this gnarly norther raging down the Sea of Cortez making big old nasty waves around the cape, not to mention 30-knot winds and yuck. “The wind? It will be HONKIN’” We spent the day moping around the boat but then decided to just go and hopefully time it right (winds are lighter at night and so the seas are the mildest early morning). (Cabo Corrientes is special because it is a high fat projecting corner of land that sticks out into the prevailing winds [NW] and has the effect of intensifying them, and it does something very curious with any currents that might be running around. “Washing machine” describes what it looked like when we went around. Luckily we were heading south and so our ride was comparatively smooth.)

We left at midnight and crept towards the cape in very light winds. We arrived at the point around 6am in around 20-knot winds and eight-foot seas. All was well since the wind was right behind us and we had enough to keep up a good pace. As we approached and rounded the cape, the seas became more confused and choppy. We’d be sitting in a nice smooth spot and then two randoms would come together out of nowhere and form a pointy mountain right next to us. It was pretty uncomfortable but the winds had increased a bit, making it faster for us and keeping the sails in better control (in choppy seas, the wind tends to get knocked out of the sails as the boat lurches). We ended up taking the main down entirely after rounding the cape (winds increasing more) and running on only the jib but then the winds slacked a bit and pretty much died. We had 14 or so miles to go to get to Punta Ipala (the first protected anchorage south of the cape) and the GPS declared our ETA at twelve hours, up a bit from a former two hours. Drat!

We flopped a bit before the wind came back, this time from the south (NOT the prevailing wind direction) and so we had to tack all the way to Ipala. It wasn’t bad at all and we managed to catch three bonitos en route (kept one). We got there around noon right as the south wind died. Anchored outside of all the fishing nets and oyster beds in the little cove and just got settled down when the wind came around again and started blasting from the northwest. We measured sustained 20-25 with gusts up to 35 by sticking out little wind meter up out of a hatch. We took off the next morning early at around 6am in light wind and headed south.

We had little to no wind all morning (motored) and large voluminous swells. We saw a pod of gray whales (8+), one of which surfaced and blew its blower not 50 feet from us. We also saw two sea turtles and a lot of jellyfish. At around noon again, the wind picked up and our ETA went from 14 hours to three. We also caught a dorado!! It was two feet long and green. Joshua was casually looking back at our lure and actually saw it strike. Reeling it in while underway at nine knots was interesting. I had to get all sails down in order to keep the fish on the line. As we got her (it was a she) closer, we thought that we were going to score a few other lures—she had bright blue things sticking out around her head area; however, we discovered that they were electric blue pectoral fins. Winds were again 25-30 and honkin’; we came skidding around the corner of Chamela bay in no time.

La Cruz (Mar. 9-12)

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

We were startled to come around the point toward La Cruz and see no less than 60 boats anchored. Ayy! And all we could see of this “sleepy, Real Mexican Town” was a shoreful of fancy condos and private mansions. Ayyyyy!! Always looking on the bright side, we anchored as close as we could to the freshly painted mustard and teal condos figuring they were good for the free wireless. Which they were. Email checked and website updated, we ventured ashore to check out the scene.

Let it be noted that good flour tortillas are a thing of the past at this point. All tortillarias make corn tortillas but not flour. You can still find them in tiendas but they are pre-packaged and of questionable age as well as taste, and none have fewer than ten ingredients. My street food pursuits therefore have shifted dramatically: tortas; no more tacos for me. Happily, La Cruz has a good torta stand located on the corner at the traffic circle (you can’t miss it since La Cruz is like four square blocks). We were about starving after spending a day in Puerto Vallarta and when we found the Torta Lady; she was in the process of filling an order of 30 some tortas and we ordered whatever it was she was making, which was “cubana,” shredded pork (pierna) with a sliced hot dog. Weird, but it was good. We went back the next night for just pierna and it was just as good. We also chatted with an ex-pat from Michigan who lived in PV, had a Mexican girlfriend, an irrational fear of the cold, and said “Ay Chihuahua!” a lot.

There is limited tienda veggie selection in town; however, there is a street mercado with a wider selection of veggies as well as cookwear/tools/underwear/shoes on Wednesdays and possibly Mondays. Also, naturally, Puerto Vallarta is a restocking haven with all the massive mega-chains like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. We stopped at the Mega on our way home from PV and were beside ourselves with glee to find actual Swiss cheese from Switzerland and actual Manchego from Spain!! Not Nestle brand which resembles Manchego only in that it is wedge shaped and or Swiss in that it is whitish in color. Makes you hate Nestle on a more personal level. Still we have seen no Parmesan in Mexico (stuff in cans doesn’t count as cheese). There was a big Spanish wine selection too but we were a little suspicious that the majority of the Crianzas were from 1999-2001; I seem to remember the Crianzas normally being 2 years old at most when we bought them in Spain. It would be like having a 2001 Beaujolais Nouveau. Um, bleargh.

In other news, Joshua caught a needlefish (a first!) and as he holding it around the middle, attempting to extricate it from the hook, it bent around and bit him right across the arm! Drew blood even. Luckily, this needlefish was only 18 inches or so long and the mouth was a skinny little thing filled with wee wee teeth. So basically no harm done that a little bactine couldn’t fix. We let him go.

Mantanchen Bay

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

Hammocks over the water, Mantanchen Bay, San Blas, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

We took the bus to Puerto Vallarta for the day to just see what it was all about. It’s about mayhem, pretty much. We were so impressed with the city that we came home with about ten photographs. **Note that “Time Share” is now called “Point System.”

Bronze Statue on the Malacon, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Along the PV malecon, there are a lot of cool bronze statues. Amongst the wistful mermaids and seahorse-boys is a cluster of five different alien-sea-creature-many-footed/tentacled-chair-things; they were totally awesome and this is one of them.

Metal Shop, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Metal shops RULE!


This obviously reminded me of that old Far Side cartoon.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell