Monday, April 30, 2012

Departing Mexico for El Salvador

Last day in Mexico today! Spent the morning with the port capitan and immigration clearing all the paper work. Waiting for customs and immigration to come search the boat later this afternoon.

We have a four day sail ahead of us to El Salvador and should be transiting along the coast of Guatemala after three days. Weather forecast looks good so we should have a good ride.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ocean Wildlife

April 17th

I took these pictures all in one day on the journey between Zihuatanejo and Isla Grande. An amazing experience. We saw more wildlife in one day than we could have dreamed of.

Our second Dolphin fish/Mahi Mahi/Dorado

She changed color as she died. 

We almost caught something big but it got away and left us with a bent hook. This cedar plug was brand new when it went in the water.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Le Cruz

It did turn out to be a late one at Ana Banana's! It's a famous cruisers hang out and full of character. A number of the old sea dogs still live on at Ana's after their passing with their ashes hung from the roof in Canadian Whiskey sacks!

Previous Patrons live on at Ana's
We had a great night listening to the band and ended up immortalizing ourselves on their wall along with the Silver Lining crew. We choose the highest free spot available which required some gymnastics to achieve, but it's amazing what you can do after a few Margarita's!

Navigating back to the boat in the dinghy was a different story. The anchorage was full of boats and trying to find our boats anchor light amongst all the others is a tough task after a night out.  It has galvanized me into creating a remote control for the boats anchor light that will make it strobe so we can home in on it!

Nuevo Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta)
We have been out on anchor for about 2 months without staying in a marina and we decided to treat ourselves to a bit of luxury and stay at a marina for a couple of nights. Our friends Octavia and Petter had recommended that we stay at Paradise Village Marina and as per all of their recommendations we were not disappointed. It was a great facility and one that if we had more time we all agreed we could happily spend a month relaxing at. The only negative about this place was the cost of having our laundry done. At the mall that is part of the marina complex, it was $15 per load. We could have bought new clothes for the amount of money we spent.

We did have to be a bit more careful though as we are now in Crocodile territory!

There was much to explore in this area so we rented some wheels to get us around. We took the bikes for a tour around the coast which was great and enabled us to see a lot of non coastal Mexico.

Our ride

Cruising down the coast

Stopping for lunch along the coast

A change of plans and a slight detour
If you have been tracking our progress on the 'Where are we now page' of our blog you may have noticed that we are now in Acapulco. Puerto Vallarta is the main jump off point for cruisers heading across the Pacific and was the place we were planning to cross the pacific from. Our friends on Silver Lining were heading to the Caribbean and had been explaining to us the route and the great places to visit. When we went to Jamaica for Serena's 30th birthday while sitting at a restaurant overlooking the bay we had both said how amazing it would be to have our boat anchored in front of us and be cruising around the Caribbean. With the help of some subtle selling by Elan and Ashley on Silver Lining we decided to extend our trip and make a detour around the Caribbean before heading across the Pacific!

I'd rather be lucky than good
Our next stop was Barra de Navidad which required us to go around the 'Dreaded Cabo Corrientas' which is known as the Cape Horn of Mexico. We've rounded a couple of these now and after talking to a number of cruisers and locals worked out the best time to go. We had a good forecast, but as we were leaving the harbor we had waves breaking across the entrance and 20 knot winds outside. We pushed on and things settled after a few hours giving us an uneventful, even calm rounding of the cape. We pushed on down the coast.

We were lucky enough to then catch not one, but two Dorado! They are amazing eating and a welcome change to Bonito! They have an amazing color which changes once knocked out.

Barra de Navidad
We arrived at Barra in the afternoon and headed into a great lagoon which was at the end of the channel. It was full of boats and shallow so we had to explore for a while before finding a place to set the anchor. I'm glad our boat is the shallow keel version as the depth was 6 feet in most places and we finally anchored in 7 feet of water at low tide. We quickly called the local water taxi to pick us and the Silver Lining crew and headed into shore for an explore and dinner.

We were lucky enough to have a live singer come to perform while we ate dinner who had a great sound and we spoke with him for quite a while as we were the only audience that night. We ended up buying 4 of his albums before heading off for another bar and calling the water taxi past midnight.

Isla Grande
It must be said that we have been good at heading off on time the next morning regardless of the number of Margarita's consumed the night before and we hauled anchor at 8am as planned towards Isla Grande. We were sailing through the night when at around 2:30am after rounding the point, we encountered a traffic jam. We had 4 large cargo ships converge on our position, two from behind and two from ahead, which gave us hardly any maneuverability between them. I'm really glad i had recently hooked up our AIS ship tracking unit to the chart plotter as it provided all four ships exact position, speed and bearing. They were closing at 20 knots, but we were able to plot a path between all four, but with only a mile on each side of us! I'm really happy with the Raymarine E7 Chartplotter, Digital Radar and electronics we bought and it has really made navigating at night and in fog so much easier.

After a long trip overnight i got woken to look at a boat that kept altering course towards us as we veered away. As i got up top they we hailing us and Serena passed the radio to me. It turned out to be the Navy asking us to stop the engines and prepare to be boarded for inspection.

About ten troops pulled up and after circling the boat 3 times came alongside and came aboard. They all had machine guns and were wearing balaclavas. One guy stood on the bow, one in the cockpit guarding the crew and 5 guys came inside with me to complete the paperwork. After opening all the doors and cabinets in the boat they filled out some docs and we were free to go.

We then passed 1,000's of Jelly fish who surrounded our boat. I'd hate to think how many there were, but we were driving through them for at least 15 minutes or more.

We arrived at Isla Grande a couple of hours later and anchored in a small cove for the night.

We left Isla Grande early and headed to our next stop which was Zihuatanejo. This is one of the places where sailors get lost for a few years on their way south. It has a nice little bay that is quite picturesque and a great town to explore.

Silver Lining about to anchor at Zihuatanejo

We even came across the Neuvo Zealande Cafe (New Zealand Cafe in Spanish) which was closed and after speaking to the locals found out it hadn't been open for a couple of years :-( Really wanted to sample some cuisine from back home!

We came back in the next day and upon return to the beach found that Silver Linings dinghy was deflated and looked like it had been slashed! One of the tube's was completely split along the length of it. Luckily we had our dinghy still on our boat with Katie and Lewis who had stayed behind. 15 minutes later they pulled up with our puncture repair kit and we got to work on the patch. We managed to seal it up and tow it back to the boat behind us.

Towing the patched dinghy back to Silver Lining

Monday, April 9, 2012

Classic rock night at Ana banana in la Cruz

Arrived this afternoon in Le Cruz and turned up at the local cruiser bar in Le Cruz and joined a table of cruisers to swap war stories. We had our local expert Zeehag (who's famous on the cruisers forum) who met us at the fuel dock and showed us around.

The band is amazing and playing some great tunes. Think it will be a late one!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Arrived in Chicala after an over night sail from Mazatlan.

Sitting on the beach having lunch and just purchased some donkey milk soap! Had a good night sail last night with calm seas which is nice.

Chacala is a great stop and had a great bay to anchor in and rest.
Parking to ensure the dinghy was still there when we got back

Welcome to Chacala

Clearing the shallow rocks with paddle power

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sea of Cortez March update

March 27th
After a wonderful days sail from Balandra we are anchored here inside a volcano (Bahia Partida) on Isla Espiritu Santos. We caught yet another bonito along the way and decided to make sushi. I've been dying to try the meat raw so we figured that this was a good  time to do it as it would be so fresh. Lee carved off the best parts of the fish for sashimi and we had an amazing lunch.

Home made tuna rolls topped with spicy lime mayo made with the fish that we caught 

Lee Rolling
Me filleting my first fish

Afterwards we saw turtles swimming and we were approached by a man on a panga. He wanted to know if we had any spare AA batteries, so we gave him some. He told us that he would bring us some fish maƱana (tomorrow). I wonder what he'll bring, I hope it isn't bonito. It is so beautiful here that we have decided to stay for two nights so that we can snorkel tomorrow.


8pm - We just caught a Tiger Rockfish but we let him go as we're expecting a fish delivery from our fisherman friend. It was another amazing night for Pacific wildlife. The boat was surrounded and they put on quite a show.

March 28th
The solar panels have a new power producing high. 730 watts at 60 amps which is 25% higher than the rated topside capacity and close to the theoretical maximum which is 30% energy from the underside of the panel in addition to the top side capacity. We are averaging 200-250 amps per day with a peak of 280 amps on 20th March and is supplying all the energy we need.

March 29th
Yesterday was another amazing day. We started with a full English breakfast cooked by Katie and Lewis then we took a dinghy ride through the channel between Partida and Espiritu Santos. The water between the islands is very shallow so it took us a while to navigate through, but it was well worth the effort. The water is crystal clear so we were able to watch Manta Rays and other fish swimming beneath us. When we made it across to the other side we took the dinghy into some beautiful caves.

View from inside one of the caves

Later we took a ride out to a snorkeling area and Lee tied the dinghy between some rocks in the middle of the sea! We jumped into the water and swam around the reef where we saw many different types of fish, starfish and coral. We were all swimming when Lee got out and stood up on a rock to prepare his speargun. He looked across at Ashley, Elan and I and shouted that there was a fin in the water right behind us. Ashley and Elan laughed because they thought that Lee was joking but knowing that Lee wouldn't joke about something like that I quickly scrambled up onto a rock which is really hard to do in flippers. Whatever it was, it quickly disappeared, but we kept a keen lookout after that.

Lee's with his new toy

We were all freezing cold when we got out of the water so we headed back to the beach where it was nice and hot and took some ice cold drinks to the beach. We saw hundreds of fiddler crabs at the beach and the water was an amazing milky turquoise color. 

March 30th
We left Partida at about 9am this morning and we have had the most amazing experience swimming with wild sea lions on Los Islotes. Some of the sea lions were huge, about 8ft long and apparently about 800lbs. There were also lots of baby sea lions that came very close to us. They were so curious that  that they almost touched our snorkeling masks while trying to take a good look! They also nibble at your fins which is quite scary at first. It was actually an overwhelming experience and too difficult to describe. 

When we climbed back into the dinghy, a baby sealion jumped aboard and sat next to me! I thought this was really cute until Lee tried to stroke it and it snarled at us. When we realized that he wanted to stay for a while we got a bit worried that he might bite us and his mum and dad started circling our dinghy so we started the engine and shoed him away. We then continued the day trip up to Isla San Fransisco with its beautiful crescent shaped bay. Once securely anchored we took a sunset hike up the rocky hillside with the silver lining crew.

Anchored at San Francisco Bay (The Mexican one is less busy than the US one!) 

Solent ancfhored in Caleta Partida

Fishing village in Caleta Partida
Me and my Sis in Amortajada Bay

The lads enjoy a beer after navigating the Mangrove Lagoon

Le Paz hotel!

Solent anchored at Balandra Bay

The famous mushroom rock!
Blue whale in front of Solent (Silver Lining in front)

Blue footed Boobie

View from top of San Francisco bay

Collecting salt from salt pond

We came across four large salt ponds as big as swimming pools and each with salt half a foot deep.  We had run out of salt on the boat so it was quite a useful find. We carved some salt for our salt grinder, but we probably have about 5 years worth now!

Rob, we got your email, thanks! In answer to your question, yes we ate the fish and it was great.