Category Archives: Mexico

Almost Ready to Jump!

Hola Amigos y Amigas!

We are back in Bahia Zihuatanejo preparing to cross the Pacific Ocean!

We spent the last week anchored off Isla Ixtapa. My mother, Danielle, came to visit us and we all shared an amazing time. She was a huge help by checking our Hobie kayak and hauling it through customs as well, while Alyssa lugged three more bags of boat parts at the checkpoint

As Danielle recalls saying to the customs officer, “It’s my surf! You know, my surf.”

Alyssa was a few families behind in line with the security guard helping tow the heavy bags. The officer asks, “Are you here alone?”

Alyssa replies “Yes, just on vacation.”

“By yourself? Where are your bags?”

She responds by pointing to the security guard, “Yes, just me. Those are my bags.”

“All of those bags?! Are you sure you don’t need to declare anything?”

“No, nothing to declare. Just vacation:)”

“Fine. Push the button.”

Green light. “Whew!”

We cabbed it to the beach where we loaded up the dingy with the bags while Danielle and Alyssa paddled the new kayak to the boat. We started the evening in Playa la Ropa lounging in beach chairs and sharing fresh seafood while watching the sun set over Bahia Zihua and then sailed north to Isla Ixtapa for a few more days at the amazing Azul Ixtapa Grand resort.

After Danielle departed we decided to get down to work and complete the project list that we would like to check off before departing for French Polynesia.

So far we have:

1) Bleached/sanitized the fresh water system on board

2) Completed engine maintenance (oil, filters, trans fluid, impeller, clean fuel vent line, etc)

3) Cleaned the ridiculous amount of barnacles off the bottom (took us three days and four dive tanks!)

4) Learn how to receive weather fax and additional GRIB files

5) Defrost and clean the fridge/freezer

6) Stock aforementioned fridge/freezer with beer and provisions

7) Fill and top-off all propane, gasoline and diesel tanks

8) Buy 5 new diesel cans (25 liters each); clean, fill, stow in cockpit (now we have over 100 gallons of diesel on board)

9) Fixed leaking SCUBA dive tank

We plan to finish the final items over the next few days, including one night at the marina so we can inspect the standing rigging, halyards and wash Ellie before we depart.

It hasn’t been all work and no play though!  We have been anchored off Playa la Madera, where the main stage is!  It’s the International Guitar Festival here in Zihua and we are thoroughly enjoying the awesome talent that has graced the stage over the past few nights.  We have a front row seat from either the cockpit or the fore-deck, depending on the wind that evening.

After we check off the final items on the to-do list we will be eagerly waiting for a weather window with “bien viento” (good wind) to get us a couple days out of Zihua so we can catch the more consistent prevailing westerlies that will carry us towards French Polynesia and the Islas Marquesas.

We are planning to be at sea for at least a month before dropping anchor in the Marquesas.  We are of the mindset that the crossing will take as long as it takes, comfortably and as low-stress as possible.  I charted the rhumb line course at 2,970 nautical miles.  The actual course will be much longer.

We are planning a combination of tactics: if there’s wind, we sail; no wind, but large swell, and ample diesel, we motor; no wind, no swell, limited diesel, we drift and host a fiesta with Neptune.  This is our tentative plan, subject to change and the unknown.

We will make a final post before we depart.

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Prepping for the Crossing in the Legendary Zihua!

Coming down to the last few weeks in Mexico before we point the bow west without seeing land for upwards of a month!!

We are anchored in Bahia de Zihuatanejo off the beautiful Playa la Ropa.  Alyssa flew back to the states to visit family and pick up our new tandem inflatable Hobie Kayak we ordered for my birthday!  She is flying back on Sunday with a huge haul of boat parts that either we can’t get down here or that are much cheaper in the states.

I have been running around Zihua collecting the parts and supplies we will need during the passage through the south pacific.  Running errands down here takes great patience and low expectations for success.  For example, trying to get 15w40 diesel oil for our engine included the following:

I landed on the municipal beach and was greeted by a slow, but friendly local who smelled like he had been soaking in a sewer.  He informed me that he watches the dinghies for ‘propina’ (tips).  I decided to trust him (or more accurately, our insurance).  I asked him where I can buy oil for my diesel engine, he replied “Si Amigo, oil for diesel, no problema, but we have to take cab.”  I asked how much it would cost and he said 30 pesos so we got a cab.  I sat in the front and he was in the back and managed to smell the cab up even though all the windows were down.  I asked a few times en route “This is a boat store, Barco Tienda, Si?”  He replied “Si Amigo, boat parts store, almost there”  Well, we arrived the the Mexicana Commercial, the Mexican Equivalent of Wal-Mart and he escorted me to the aisle with Automotive oil (of course NO diesel oil here).  Mind you he is only wearing shorts, no shirt, no shoes (with sand up to his knees), long hair, dirty and smelling like a septic tank…..and I’m apparently with this guy.  haha

I told him this isn’t what I was looking for and said I’ll have to go to a boat store.  It also donned on me that now I have to get this guy back to the beach, which included another smelly cab ride and 30 pesos.  Once back I walked to the centro and caught a bus to the Ixtapa Marina.  For sure they will have a boat store at the 650-slip high-end marina right?  Well, after the long bus ride over the hill, I found the little barco tienda and also found that they don’t have oil.  The trip was not in vein because a woman in the marina office told me that there is a little store across from the bus station in Zihua that sells oil for diesel engines.  Excellente!  There was a chance I would find oil today!  

Another chicken bus ride later I found myself in downtown Zihua to catch another bus.  Well the bus took me right back to where I passed on the previous chicken bus but at least I was at the right place.  I found the store – more like a counter on the sidewalk and they had 15w40 oil!!  Score!  I wanted 16 liters but I only had cash for 14, so I hoofed it in the heat back to the same Mexicana Commercial I was at earlier in the day, hit the ATM and headed back to buy the oil.  One cab ride later found me back at the dinghy and my smelly ‘guide.’ who of course wanted a tip for all of his hugely beneficial guidance.  I gave him some pesos and headed back to the boat to give our trusty Perkins engine a much needed oil change.

I also changed the racor fuel filter, fixed the broken fishing rod holder and re-wired the faulty primary bilge pump float-switch.

Most of the critical projects are done.  We still need to go up the mast and inspect all the rigging and I want to flush, bleach and sanitize the water tanks and plumbing once more before we depart.

 

 

So other than making a final provisioning run, we are set for the crossing!  As of now it looks like we will depart the first or second week in March, weather-depending of course.  And then it’s Adios Mexico!

Happy Valentine’s Day From Isla Ixtapa!

Hola Amigos y Amigas!

We haven’t written since Barra so I wanted to make a quick post.  We are celebrating my birthday at the Azul Ixtapa Grand Hotel today.  We sitting in lounge chairs in front of the infinity pool at the hotel, watching Ellie swing at anchor in the lee of Isla Ixtapa.  Life doesn’t get much better than this moment my friends.

To back up a week, we were leaving Barra to sail non-stop to Zihua, but once we left the breakwater we crossed wakes with our friends on the catamaran Beach Access and decided to follow eachother 20 miles south and spend a few days in Carrizal Bay, which is just north of Manzanillo.  We spent two amazing days with them, kayaking around the coves, sharing stories over amazing food and raising a glass to incredible sunsets.  We parted ways on the 7th and pointed our bow south.

When we were anchored in Carrizal there was a huge school of fish under the boat.  Well, they managed to follow us for a surprisingly far way out to sea; about 40nm.  The first picture below is of the fish swimming in our wake.  They finally tired and either got eaten or returned to the shoreline.  But it was quite the sight to see these little fish following the ‘mother ship’ so far out to sea.

We spent two wonderful days on passage.  We had wind during the days and motor-sailed each night.  We read, relaxed, caught fish, cooked up some great meals and enjoyed our peace and serenity of once again being at sea.  After two days we made landfall at Isla Ixtapa and started to plan Alyssa’s birthday!

We kept looking over at the amazing hotel on shore across from the island and researched online to find the best deal.  We decided to splurge and spend Alyssa’s birthday at the Azul Ixtapa Grand Hotel, which has been nothing short of amazing.  We landed the dinghy at the hotel and checked in to an amazing room – Alyssa even literally jumped in the air after surveying the room!  (See pic below).

We were beside ourselves when we saw the spread at the lunch buffet.  I even had to bite my cheek to force the ear-to-ear grin to subside on my way back to the table with the huge variety of comida.  Alyssa had an amazing birthday that she says was the best she has ever had.  We lounged by the pool, went kayaking, enjoyed great food and wine, met a bunch of new friends and danced the night away at the beach-front disco.

We spent the next few days on the boat and at the island.  Made some progress on our dinghy chaps and chilled out.

We couldn’t stay away from the amazing hotel for long so we are back today to celebrate my 30th birthday.  We have reservations at the Oyster Bar this evening. The restaurant is right on the bay and the amazingly benign Mexican weather patterns will certainly gift us another incredible sunset.

Thank you so much to all our family and friends for sending us emails and comments wishing us both a happy birthday.  We miss you and love you all. 

Lastly, the 12th marked a great milestone: 6-months of cruising!  That’s right, we left the docks at Bair Island exactly 6 months ago.  So we have been celebrating all three milestones this week and in the most amazing setting possible.

Here are a few pictures of Carrizal, the passage and our time in Ixtapa thus far:

Cheers!

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Hasta Luego Barra!

Well, after a couple incredible weeks in Barra de Navidad, we have decided to point Ellie’s bow south once again.  We would probably stay longer but there is more exploring we would like to do further south before heading across the pacific ocean at the beginning of next month.  

We love it here and will miss it.  We know one thing for sure: we definitely have a new favorite spot on the Mexican coast.  There are many other cruisers who sailed in to Barra and never left; we completely understand why and will definitely be back some day.

We will put to sea in the next day or two on a 2 day passage bound for Ixtapa Island and Zihuatanejo.  We want to settle in before Alyssa’s birthday on the 10th.

We will make the 215 nm passage in one leg.  I guess there are drug smugglers that ply the coast between Manzanillo and Ixtapa so we’ll stay a good distance offshore (better fishing out there anyways)!

We made a bunch of great friends while in Barra and we are looking forward to staying in touch.  

Here are a couple pictures of where we have been anchored for the past couple weeks.  Ellie is in the back of the pack (left side of the first photo).

Hasta Luego Barra!

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Barra Sunset

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.  We enjoyed an amazing day yesterday that started with a beautiful sunrise and peaceful breakfast while swinging on the hook and then off to the pool for the day to escape the heat followed by showers at the resort, a dinghy ride to town for happy hour on the roofdeck of the only large hotel in town and then amazing pizza from a wood-fired oven while dining al fresco surrounded by the branches of a towering banyan tree!  

The sunset yesterday was absolutely incredible.  Here are some pics:

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Makin’ Water and the A**hole Panguero

Today was a very productive day.  We rose with the sun and prepared to take Ellie to sea.  After stowing everything and spending the better part of an hour rinsing all the nasty mud off the anchor chain, we headed for the fuel dock.  After fueling up and giving Ellie a good scrub down we pointed her bow offshore.  Once outside the breakwater we fired up our awesome watermaker (a Cruise RO high-capacity unit) and started filling our empty 115 gallon water tanks.  We can produce over 33 gallons of fresh water per hour so we only needed to be out for a few hours before returning to the brackish muddy water of the Barra lagoon.

We had a nice sail about 8 miles offshore before turning back for the breakwater.  We turned back early because some wind chop was kicking up and we didn’t want to get even ONE LITTLE DROP of saltwater on our freshly washed stainless and spotless topsides.  About halfway back we were getting ready to pickle the watermaker and were filling a 5-gallon bucket with membrane preservative and product water and then out of nowhere this fkn a**hole panguero came up on our stern at about 25 knots, took the port side mere inches from hitting us, and SPRAYED A HUGE WAKE OF SALT WATER ALL OVER OUR FRESHLY WASHED STAINLESS AND TOPSIDES!  We couldn’t believe it!  We both looked at eachother dumbstruck and couldn’t believe what the a-hole just did.  After a brief moment I went from dumbstruck to really pissed off and started screaming at his wake and blaring my air horn.  Of course he disappeared towards town probably still downing his cervezas and killing the last of his few brain cells.

If we were in the marina it wouldn’t be a big deal.  Boats are meant to get water on them right?  But we AREN’T in the marina and we take extra care to keep the highly corrosive salt water off our rigging and stainless when possible.  Not to mention how dangerous and careless the idiot was.  

I spent the last of our sail brainstorming ways to get back at the guy….but we figure that karma will catch up with him…and when you spend your life at sea, you need all the good karma you can get.

Anyways, that was our day.  We are anchored back in the lagoon in the same spot but with one huge difference…FULL WATER TANKS!  We figure we can stay another 8-9 days without needing water again.  

We still love it here and are having a great time.  So, how are you?  Is there ice on the docks at Bair Island yet??

Barra Sunrise – And Baked Goods Delivered via Panga?!

Hola!  Buenas Tardes!  

Just wanted to share a few pictures of the beautiful mornings we are enjoying in Barra, complete with the delivery of fresh baked goods from the local French baker!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.  We have been doing boat projects all day.  Now headed to the resort for showers and then on to the chili cook-off in the town square! 

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We Love Barra!!

We are in Barra de Navidad and may never leave.  A couple days ago we dropped anchor in the back lagoon and have been thoroughly enjoying our new surroundings.  

Let’s just recap yesterday.  We awoke to birds singing and Ellie was not rocking even the slightest (we are anchored in a completely protected lagoon).  We made some tea and sat in the cockpit in complete awe of the beauty of this place; towering lush green mountains with beautiful architecture tastefully clinging on the cliffs.  Then we heard on the radio that a French Baker was entering the anchorage and would be coming from boat-to-boat selling fresh baked pastries, croissants, quiche and baguettes so naturally we had to flag him down and investigate.  We bought an almond-crusted croissant and a jalapeno and chesse baguette (this IS Mexico you know).  They were both delicious and Alyssa made a delicious breakfast feast with our fresh baked goods.  

Then we launched the dinghy and cruised in to town and tied off at the Sands hotel.  After a failed attempt to check in with the Port Captain (the woman very nicely informed us we were too small of a boat to require official clearing-in procedures.  Fine with me!), we strolled along the malecon and had lunch at a stunning beach-front restaurant with tables set above the crashing surf.  We enjoyed our lunch while watching yachts come and go and surfers ride the break.  Oh, and it cost a grand total of about $9 US!

After an awesome lunch we found an internet cafe to take care of some business and skype with family.  We watched the sun set from another great restaurant while catching up with our friends.  We then cruised the dinghy back to Ellie where we enjoyed a great night’s sleep on flat, calm water and dreamt about how great tomorrow was surely going to be.

We love it here.  I think we’ll stay a while.

p.s. Phil (Alyssa’s Uncle) Thank you SO much for all the great music!  I loaded up Media Monkey and we now have over 51k songs!  This is going to greatly improve our lives out there at sea!  Your library included some of the artists I used to listen to but have not heard for a long time.  A huge thanks again!

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Bahia Tenacatita and the Jungle Adventure!

We sailed in to Bahia Tenacatita and spent 4 awesome nights anchored off the sleepy beach town of La Manzanilla.  It’s a gorgeous stretch of beach lined with laid back palapas and a great friendly town packed with Canadian ex-pats and retirees.  We spent our days lounging on the boat and beach, eating street tacos (and even street pizza!) from the town square and jamming out to live rock and blues at Palapa Joes.

One day we trolled across the bay (apprx. 3 nm) to do the jungle dinghy ride and it was quite the adventure.  We had to pull the dinghy across the sand bar during an ebbing tide and in the process I stepped on a freaking sting ray!  It was a weird feeling because I was pulling the dinghy and then I stepped on something leather-like and definitely NOT sand and then it SWAM out from under my foot!  I jumped in the dinghy much to the schegrin of the mermaid but then pulled myself together and soldiered on into the estuary.  

We motored all the way up the crocodile-infested river until the mangrove forest was touching both sides of the dinghy.  After some skilled manuvering and a few broken branches we made it to a huge beautiful lagoon and the end of the line.  Past the abandoned palapa, there was a fence blocking access to the beach.  Our friends (with apparently very poor judgement) decided to walk past the fence to go swimming in the ocean.  We stayed back and had lunch.  Good thing we did because they were escorted back by two armed security guards and almost got arrested!  We all made it out of the jungle safely and both dinghies were still inflated – a victory for sure!

The last night in Tenacatita Bay was spent anchored amongst 15 other cruising boats in the NW corner of the bay.  We spent the whole afternoon cleaning the bottom and boot stripe on the boat.  Oh, and I finally have a serious regret or more accurately a serious mistake I have made: NOT PUTTING BOTTOM PAINT ON THE BOOT STRIPE!!

Allow me to explain.  Unknown to me at haul out time, our boot stripe is apparently and old layer of hard bottom paint (ablative paint that repels bio fouling).  I didn’t know this when we were hauled out last summer and could have very easily put another fresh coat of paint on the boot stripe while we were on the hard.  So now I get to painfully pay for this oversight every month if not more frequently.  The warm nutrient-rich Mexican waters have created the perfect environment for a plethora of sea organisms to go crazy.  When we cleaned the boot stripe there was grass, snails, barnacles, crabs (not joking).  Oh, and the fact that we are grossly overloaded and sinking below the boot stripe doesn’t help either ;-)

So anyway, enough with my rant.  But I am going to jump at the first affordable opportunity that presents itself to haul out and put paint on the stripe!  And I’m going to raise the waterline by at least an inch!

But alas, as we like to joke, “first world problemas.”

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