Archive for March, 2006

Drain, podling trailer!

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

I can’t tell you how proud I am to report that the words, “trailer of the podling being drained,” typed into Google, bring up as the THIRD OPTION.

(Whilst browsing our website statistics, we discovered that someone out there in the world found and linked to the blog using these search parameters. It also seems that there are many, many people out there who have also mistakingly spelled Virgin of Guadalupe as ‘Gudalupe.’ Ahem.)


Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Howdy everyone. We executed the night landing in Zihuatanejo around 1am, anchored at the edge of the pack, and promptly sacked out. Pretty much everyone is on the move lately and the typically popular anchorage has only twelve boats. Lots of space! We’ll take advantage and move the boat three or four times in our attempt to find the most advantageous internet position. (We’re on move number two and it’s coming in fairly well, thanks.) Currently we are getting buzzed by the parasailers; it’s a small bay.

Our little overnighter from Manzanillo turned into a two and a halfer due to some whacked wind (if there was wind) coming out of the direction we wanted to go coupled with opposing swell.

Yesterday, things got interesting when a juvenile brown booby landed on deck. We were maybe 15 miles offshore and perhaps 40 miles from Zihuatanejo. He (we actually don’t know if it was a male or female—the plumage on the young ones is uniformly brown) was predominantly unconcerned by us and after checking us out a bit, he settled in and started a preening binge that lasted a good five hours. Nearing dusk, some packs of boobies flew by and he regarded the first group with mild interest but did not join them. Following groups were totally ignored. (Suckers!) At dark, he situated himself on the forward ama edge, tail pointed overboard, tucked his head into his wing and went to sleep. It’s really impressive how birds can sleep standing on an unstable surface. The only point where he looked in danger of falling overboard was when he raised one leg to scratch his ear and the boat lurched suddenly; he ruffled his feathers and gave us the eye as we laughed at him. During the night a group of dolphins surrounded the boat and woke the booby. He kind of flipped out a bit and stamped around flapping his wings. When he settled down he relocated to a spot solidly on deck with no parts hanging over. He barely woke up for our arrival in Zihuatanejo and only squawked with irritation when I had to shoo him out of the way to get the anchor bridle situated. The next morning he was gone. Sigh, empty nest syndrome!

Brown Booby

Boob on deck.

In fishing news, we caught a sierra, which was promptly made into tacos; then a bit later we caught a very large fish. We were unable to identify it due to a conspicuous lack of any useful fish identifying books. It was heavy though and remained very still and made a croaking sound as we removed the hook (we let it go because we didn’t have any ice and didn’t know what it was). Then we caught another something something that was so large and feisty that it managed to strip out all the screws from the inside of the reel and get away just as we were getting it close enough to the boat that we might actually catch a glimpse. The reel is out of commission until Joshua can find some sort of diagram of the innards.


Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Veggie and Fruit Stall at the market in Manzanillo Mexico

We bypassed the anchorage at the Hotel Las Hadas (where ‘10’ starring Bo Derek was filmed) and headed directly for the port at the center of town. As we were came closer to the breakwater we were still scanning the visible harbor debris for the masts of other sailboats but discovered upon entering that we were it. We anchored at the edge of the panga/fishing boat mooring section, just inside the channel markers. Inside the breakwater is very still but there is a lot of large shipping and tug activity so we get wakes occasionally. Nobody has hassled us, nor has officialdom come out to talk to us so presumably we are in an okay spot. The only people who have talked to us are curious fisherman who want to know where we are from/where we are going; a navy boat just motored by (there is a base here) and we just overheard the comment, “Barco de vela! Tranquila!” So basically, people are pretty damned friendly.

We spent our time mostly stocking up on supplies: veggies, ice, beer, Nutella, and Coconugs. Nutella is something I am indifferent to the states but rises in status to a necessity the moment I set foot out of the country; Coconugs are similar to the candy bar Mounds, minus the corn syrup and another 30 odd ingredients. We tell ourselves that they are good “watch snacks” in an attempt to justify the fact that we are buying a box of candy bars. However, this is a lot of bullshit because we generally eat nearly the entire lot before we even get out to sea. (Nutella, by the way, is good for you; it says so right on the container. “Energia de las avellanas; los elementos nutritivos de la leche; rica en proteinas y sales minerales.”)

We spent a bit of time at the main mercado, buying vegetables, eating lunch in the upstairs food stall section, and just leaning over the railing on the second story and watching the alimentary action.

Veggie and Fruit Stall at the market in Manzanillo Mexico

Aerial view of the mayhem.

One of our favorite street snacks here is the tuba drink served into plastic cups out of quaint gourd jugs by very nice guys who, if asked, will not hesitate to describe in detail exactly how tuba is produced, start to finish, with a little history thrown in, while the bees swarm. (Bees really love tuba.) They congregate along Mexico street at intersections mostly and we have seen them mostly in the early day–i.e., they are not night venders. The tuba is served with a couple spoonfuls of peanuts in the top (if you wish) and has a tangy sweet bready and slightly fermented flavor. It reminded us of kvass (from Russia/Ukraine). We tried a couple of different tubas from different venders and they are actually different. Our favorite was less sweet and had a stronger flavor; the tuba guy said that it was ‘tuba natural’ (but they all say that if you ask), however, this time I think he was serious.

Other notable street food mentions go to El Bigotes Taco stand on M. Galindo near Mexico and the churro dude more on corner. He sells the churros by the piece and they are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside just like they should be.

Carneceria la Esmerelda, Meat and Lingerie

Meat, and lingerie.


Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

One interesting thing about the Mexican coast is how drastically it has changed geographically although we have not traveled that great a distance. Baja to the mainland was an obvious one: dry desert rocky to moist misty palm tree. From Mazatlan to Banderas Bay, everything appeared very lush; the shores were layered with turquoise breaking waves, long yellow beaches, coconut plantations and various lushery, and then green fuzzy hills and hazy mountains in the distance. Cabo Corrientes, a meteorological line of demarcation between the more temperate northern half and the tropical southern half, has appeared visually opposite. Once we passed Corrientes, the water temperature dropped five degrees and the land reverted to desert with cacti and bare scraggly trees. There were still palms but they mainly clustered around seaside villages or mega mansions. Evidently it is dry season right now but still I’m surprised to see so many bare trees. As we head south, it is slowly growing greener, and warmer.

Melaque is a small town with a long beach lined with hotels and gift shops selling garish playa wear, inner tubes with Spongebob on them for the kiddies, coconut candies, straw hats of varying degrees of hillbilly, and dyed seashells. The town is fairly boring during the day; excepting a brief bit of early morning food activity, it pretty much shuts down by noon until dark. That’s when the street food venders come out to feed upon the flesh of the, um, nevermind. Around the zocalo in the center of town are zillions of taco stands, also hot dog, corn-in-a-cup, torta/hamburguesa, and cake/flan sellers. The cake people have a wide selection of gooey cakes decorated with colored frosting and poofs of whipped cream dabbed with fruity accents. The cake lady hovered over her cakes waving a homemade fly-discourager—a stick with a hank of plastic tassels taped to the end.

The anchorage itself is very nice and sheltered, although rolly if you are a monohull, it has been officially reported. There is a fair bit of noise from the beach both in the daytime (kids screaming, jet skiis using the boats in the anchorage as an obstacle course) and night (pumping music). There is a disturbing song popular lately that is sort of a weird traditional-style takeoff on Karma-Chameleon (as in Boy George). Featuring a perky tuba bass line and festive trumpets, the lyrics are a sort of oompa-beat “Cama cama cama came-meleon. Yo soy, el cameleon.” I actually hate this song after having the misfortune of hearing it performed live (super extended version with audience participation “QUIEN SOY??” “EL CAMELEON!!” “OTRA VEZ!!!”); it stuck in my head for days and was very traumatic.

If you walk on the beach for 3-5 kilometers (depending upon where you start out), you end up in Barra/Barre/Barrio (we never got this straight; people seemed to call it different things), where there is a lagoon anchorage and fancy marina that includes access to a major chic hotel and a guy called the French Baker who makes daily rounds of both anchorage and marina to take orders for baked goods. Barre is the preferred hangout for cruisers, although the town is a bit contrived and sadly lacking in street food. The Barre night scene includes such novelties as a neon-lit “Blues Bar” filled with western tourists in sarong-inspired outfits drinking margaritas and wiggling their butts to something arguable not ‘blues’ (Steely Dan, say) blaring out all over the innocent street. I do give the place points for the French Baker (I mean, who wouldn’t); we went to the French Bakery coffee shop and partook of many tartlets, all of which were excellent. To think that such tartlets might be delivered right to your boat at anchor is, well, mind bending to say the least.

Tenacatita (Mar. 17-19)

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Tenacatita Mexico

We actually thought we’d head over for Careyes (between Chamela and Tenacatita) because Raines said that it was one of his favorite anchorages. I believe he waxed on with words like “This is what you dreamed of when you thought of cruising Mexico.” We approached the anchorage and were impressed by the profusion of major estate homes with schizophrenic architectural styles. Disney (castle towers and triangular flags) with a bit of old Persia and Greek columns, painted a deep teal, or perhaps a near-replica of the White House done in an intense coral and with a string of festive conical palapas down the cliff to the beach. As we rounded the corner, the Club Med came into view (we heard that they will kick you out of their cove if you try to anchor there) and the multi-level candy-striped hotel that consumes the main anchorage area. The beach was clear except of bright umbrellas and neat palapas with lounge chairs underneath. We got near enough to anchor and then turned around and pointed the boat in the direction of Tenacatita.

We heard later that the walk to town consisted of passing a dozen armed guard points (one for each of the estates?) and the town itself was a cobblestone and stucco centerpiece.

We pulled into Tenacatita about an hour before sunset and anchored in the north hook. Palapa restaurants lined the shore and loud music blared. The area is supposed to be very famous for its clear water and excellent snorkeling and is called “The Aquarium;” however, there seems to be some sort of red tide going on right now and visibility is maybe three feet. Oh well. We checked out the north (and deserted) beach and then moved the boat to the southern anchorage. There is a pretty nice little campground at the mouth of the estuary, a long beach, and a massive hotel at the other end. The campground was nearly empty when we arrived but the next night filled up completely. Loud traditional music, featuring the tuba, blared until 10pm, when the beach went dead quiet. We chatted with a Hungarian guy from Toronto who said he has been coming to this hotel for 15 years, “the name keeps changing but it’s always the same place.” The hotel is all-inclusive to the point that hotel fare, drinks, food, and airfare is all one price; they make you wear a little hospital-style bracelet thing.

We paddled into the estuary the next morning after talking to some fishermen (they said that there were no jejenes right now because of the wind); they were using a castnet to catch ‘lisas,’ or small mullet. The estuary goes in a few kilometers and we saw a bunch of marshy birds.

Fishermen throwing cast nets, Bahia Tenacatita Mexico

Kayaking the estuary, Bahia Tenacatita Mexico

Heron, Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico

White Egret, Bahia Tenacatita, Mexico

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell