Logbook: January through March, 2005
During this time, we slowed our pace of travel considerably from the last two months of 2004. We covered just over 700 miles in these first three months of 2005, as we settled into our cruising lifestyle. We visited:
Zihuatanejo (Dec. 21, 2004 to Feb. 15, 2005):
We arrived in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, just prior to Christmas, and stayed eight weeks, until the middle of February.
In early January, Rich's son Erik came to visit for a week. In addition to showing him around the town and the local beaches, we sailed up to Isla Grande off the coast of Ixtapa (about 10 miles away) and anchored for a couple of nights. We snorkeled, scuba dived and fished (unfortunately, no bites), and before we knew it, the week was up. When Erik left Zihua to go home, it was sunny and 90 degrees. When he got off the plane in Kansas (in his shorts and t-shirt), it was 9 degrees. Brrr!!!
After Erik's visit, we went to "work" for a few weeks. We volunteered to help put together SailFest, an annual event organized by cruisers to raise money for local Indian Schools. For photos and more details on our participation, click here - SailFest/Slip Away. SailFest also has its own website - www.zihuasailfest.com.
Santiago Bay, Manzanillo (Feb. 17-24):
We had a very calm motor passage from Zihuatanejo to Santiago Bay (193 nm, 34 hours). Santiago Bay is about 10 miles north of Manzanillo, Mexico's busiest commercial shipping port. Along the way, we caught and released a six-foot sailfish, since according to other cruisers and our fishing book, they're not good eating. We traveled solo, but when we arrived in Santiago Bay, we noticed a catamaran already anchored in the bay - Dolche Vita - Captain Mai and her crew of four, whom we met in Zihua. Shortly after we anchored, a power boat showed up - our friends Dave and Debbie on Megabyte. We had all left Zihua at different times but our paths were crossing again, which is a common occurrence in cruising.
The next morning, as we were relaxing on Slip Away, we got a call on the radio from Megabyte who had gone for a walk on the beach. They ran into the folks from Dolche Vita who had been in Santiago for a few days and made friends with a local guy, Victor. Victor volunteered to take all of us to Playa del Oro, a beach reachable only via dirt roads. Victor piled nine of us in his pickup truck. He also brought his 3 year old daughter, Christina, who was very excited to spend the day with her new "amigos." It was a rough ride, but well worth the bumps in the road. Playa del Oro was absolutely beautiful - a golden sand beach (Oro is Spanish for gold), with crystal clear water. We packed a picnic lunch, played in the surf and enjoyed walking from end to end of this gorgeous beach. It was a great day!
The next day, the crews from Megabyte and Slip Away took a bus into downtown Manzanillo, which was about 10 miles away. We walked around the town, ate lunch at a local lunch counter (called a "fonda") and did a little shopping. We found Manzanillo to be very clean, and the people extremely friendly. The locals loved having us dine with them at the fonda, and on the crowded bus back to Santiago, a Mexican gentleman insisted that Jan take his seat.
Manzanillo was one of our favorite spots and we look forward to getting back there next year.
Tenacatita Bay (Feb. 24 to March 2):
It was a short hop from Santiago to Tenacatita Bay (36 nm, 6 hours). We had stopped at Tenacatita in December on our way south and enjoyed it a lot, so we were looking forward to returning here. Tenacatita is a beautiful anchorage. It's very popular with cruisers and can be quite the social scene. There were about 35 boats anchored in this bay, and we ran into la number of previous acquaintances and met some new friends. The water temperature in the Bay was cool, so we didn't do much swimming, but we enjoyed some good hikes and walks.
Chamela Bay (March 2-9):
It was another short hop from Tenacatita to Chamela Bay (32 nm, 5 1/2 hours).
Although we heard lots of good things about Chamela, we were not planning to stay long because we promised our friends Bob & Kay (on Kay II) that we would get back to Puerto Vallarta to watch their kitty, Sophie, while they visited family in Arizona. We had been dawdling along the way, so we needed to "get a wiggle on" (one of Kay's favorite sayings). Weather was a concern because there were some unusually strong north winds blowing down the coast and especially at Cabo Corrientes, which is a cape we needed to round to get back to P.V. We left Chamela headed for P.V. in the evening on March 3, but we turned back after a few hours because the winds and seas were too strong for us to make much forward progress. The next day, we e-mailed Bob & Kay and suggested that Jan could come up via bus to get Sophie. Puerto Vallarta was only about 90 miles away, and there was regular bus service between Chamela and P.V., so given the weather, this seemed like the better option. Bob and Kay, however, insisted that Bob would bring Sophie to us via the bus. The "kitty exchange" was a bit of an adventure, but we managed to pull it off without a hitch. Here's a link to the e-mail we wrote to our families giving them the details of "Sophie's Great Adventure."
Once we had Sophie on board, we could hang out and wait for a better weather window for heading north. Chamela Bay is about 4 miles long, and we were anchored at the north end. The beach had a few palapa restaurants, and it was a short walk into the small town with a couple of tiendas and restaurants and, of course, the requisite church. There were also a couple of small islands in the middle of the bay. Although the water was chilly (about 70 degrees F), we put on our wetsuits and had a great day snorkeling by the islands and hiking on one of them.
Chamela was another of our favorite anchorages, one we'll definitely revisit.
La Cruz, Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) (March 10-24):
After a week in Chamela, the weather drastically improved, and we had a calm passage up to Banderas Bay (99 nm, 17 hours).
Puerto Vallarta is the home of our good friends, Allen and Kathy, who were our neighbors in Ensenada for six months. Prior to our arrival in P.V., Kathy invited Jan to make a trip back to the States with her. Allen is a pilot for America West Airlines, and he was able to get her a good fare to Phoenix. Jan and Kathy (and baby Morgan) stayed with Allen's sister in Phoenix and had a couple days of quality "girlfriend" time, shopping. hiking and hanging out. Rich and Sophie enjoyed a couple of days on their own anchored out on Slip Away back in La Cruz.
Two weeks flew by in La Cruz. Bob and Kay (Kay II) returned from their family visit, and we were so happy to spend time with them again (although we were sad to give Sophie back to her parents). Kathy and Allen brought their boat (Love Song) to the anchorage for a few days with us, too. We also spent a day touring "Old Town" Puerto Vallarta. P.V. was quite busy because it was Easter Week ("Semana Santa"), which is one of their biggest weeks for tourists.
La Cruz was also a place for saying good-bye. Our friends on Momo (Bernie & Michelle, with kids Lola and Jana) were sailing off to Hawaii. Our friends on Gunner II (Phil & Laura) were sailing off to the South Pacific. Although they were quite busy preparing for their long voyages, we found time to enjoy a few tacos together. Both Momo and Gunner II reached their destinations safely and had good passages.
Isla Isabela (March 25-28):
From La Cruz, we headed to Isla Isabela (82 nm 14 1/2 hours). Isla Isabella is a two-square mile island, which lies off the mainland coast of Mexico between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. It has been a National Ecological Preserve / Bird Sanctuary for 20 years. From offshore, we saw hundreds of birds flying over the island - terns, gulls, frigates and boobies (pretty blue- and yellow-footed ones, as well as the stupid brown ones that dive on our fishing lures). We spent a day hiking on the island and saw numerous nests, some with eggs and some with babies. It was amazing how close we could get to the nests. We spent Easter Sunday scuba diving, and saw some beautiful fish and a HUGE green moray eel. The water was very clear, but it was a cool 72 degrees, so we didn't stay in too long.
Caleta Lobos (La Paz) (March 30-31):
From Isla Isabela, we crossed the Sea of Cortez to the Baja Peninsula. It was a long, but uneventful passage (293 nm, 56 hours) with lots of motoring because we had very little wind.
As we approached La Paz, we needed to pass through the San Lorenzo Channel, between Isla Espiritu Santo and the Baja Peninsula. The channel is fairly narrow and shallow, but it's not a problem to transit safely as long as you're paying attention. As we passed through the channel, the rugged desert terrain set against the turquoise waters was quite striking.
Shortly after passing through the channel, we reached our anchorage, Caleta Lobos, which has a white sand beach and beautiful turquoise water. The next day, we took a hike and enjoyed the view.