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Thread: Baja Bound Beetle

  1. #61
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Out On The Sea of Cortez

    It's been a super calm morning so far, brilliant sunrise into high wispy clouds, nothing in the anchorage as regards wind. The boat Isa had already departed for Mazatlan at some time during the night - they were gone at 4:30AM when I was up to check on the anchor. Georgia is perhaps 40 miles out in front, and I've been talking with sailing vessel Pincoya that is inbound to Espiritu Santo.

    In the calm I've been powering along at 1850 RPM holding around 6.5 knots, moving along nicely.

    We've been going through a batch of sea turtles, they are green sea turtles as far as i can tell, of healthy size in the four foot range front to back along the shell. You do have to watch out for them as they appear to be completely asleep, and don't even budge much when they go by a few feet from the boat. It isn't until the wake causes them to flip-flop in the water do they seem to poke up their head to see what's about.

    There have also been whales (humpbacks) breaching and doing tail slaps on the water, plus a pod of dolphin went by early on.

    Best news is that not 20 minutes after clearing the anchorage, William hooked a dorado, we boated this fish, and shortly afterwards baked fish came up from the galley. He's really good on the galley, and knows how to make all kinds of things. He's reading the Betty Crocker cookbook to try and find new things to do with the fish.

    The charging circuit is now working perfectly. I do not know if rerouting the wires away from the heat of the engine box helped, or swapping out the temperature sensor helped, or perhaps a bit of each. Either way, the SAR V3 is holding a perfect float voltage on the bank and letting the alternator kick out just enough power to keep the boat running. This is good, for already-charged batteries.

    Today Regardless should also be departing La Paz headed for Mazatlan. And Pincoya called on the VHF to let me know that he now had 7 knots of breeze from the NW. This is probably not enough breeze to want to slow down and sail in, but it will help to cool the boat off. Currently there is 162 miles to go to Mazatlan, and all is well on board.

    Los Muertos was a fun anchorage, the best visibility we've had so far with 33' in the water, and I found a pile of shark heads on the bottom right where we had dropped the anchor. So there are definitely hammerhead sharks around these parts, and some other kind of shark that looked a bit like a blue. At least these fish were completely used for food, as opposed to the practice of shark finning that I saw some of the fisherman doing in Turtle Bay.

    Upshot is we're off to chase Ben & Lucie and Charlie the dog on our way across the pond. Forecast is for 11-14 knots of breeze from the NW, which could yield some nice sailing. And Georgia now has sorted out their HF radio enough to broadcast and be heard. They are sending .3KHz off frequency and therefore Lucie sounds a lot like Donald Duck on the radio, and even so is clearly readable. I went off frequency to meet her, and she came back and told me that now I sounded like Donald Duck. Great that her radio is working!

    And now it's off into the morning, I'm going to give Georgia the noon-o'clock call on the VHF to see how things are progressing up their way.

    - rob

    February 17
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  2. #62
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Half Way To Mazatlan

    It has been a mellow day, and it's proving to be a quiet night though a little bobbly as the prevailing wind, light from behind at 9-10 knots, is running up a low chop that is rolling on from behind as well and which causes the boat to roll and lurch unexpectedly. The wind proved too light for the mainsail, and to quiet things down the main has been reefed to the third reef point to act as a motoring reef.

    Georgia and Beetle have been talking each three hours, next conversation is due to take place at midnight local time and we'll see where everybody is. Isa has been joining in on the conversations, they departed Muertos before we did and are currently motor sailing towards Isla Isabela. Georgia has a slip set up at El Cid, one of the marinas in Mazatlan, and Ben said he would ask the marina if they would have a slip for Beetle as well, perhaps for two days. It would be nice to wash the salt off the boat, and it would be convenient for walking around town to be at a dock. According to Ben the prices are apparently reasonable at 0.90 USD/foot.

    Moonrise was particularly fun tonight as the moon popped up dead ahead, a bright orange disk that gradually turned white as it rose up through the clouds.

    And one of the humpback whales put on an extended display of breaching in the late afternoon, he must have been at it for 30 minutes or more, diving down, leaping up and crashing down in a huge spray of white on the otherwise glue/green water. A few minutes later he (or she) would do it again. Lots of splashing!

    Now we're taking turns on board to run two hour watches, mostly to look for current deviations that move the boat off course, and keep an eyeball on the horizon to scan for other boats (none seen at all).

    Enjoy the night!

    - rob

    February 17
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  3. #63

  4. #64
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Heading South, Towards Isla Isabela

    It's Friday morning here in Mazatlan, the last couple of days have seen good stuff done as regards cleaning the boat, rinsing off salt, fresh water flushing the outboard, washing the dinghy, running tow loads of laundry (I seem to use a lot of socks), vacuuming the interior, sorting out tachometer power problem (a switch was not completely closed, allowing the tach power supply wire to turn off), getting some foods on board, and all is ready to depart El Cid and go looking down the coast towards Isla Isabela. Plan for the day is to check out with the harbormaster (who in turn is checking me out with the port captain), move over to the busy fuel dock and re-stock the tanks with diesel, and depart the harbor around noon-ish. It's about 96 miles to Isla Isabela, that's tough to make in a daylight hours run and instead I will hope to have a pleasant overnight run at slower speeds, timing to arrive at the islands with the morning sun.

    Yesterday I was at WalMart picking up some additional foods to replace what was consume on the run over from La Paz, and shortly after leaving the store I stopped at another store... and that's when VISA fraud prevention telephoned to see if I had charged $69 USD to my card. Answer was yes. Good thing I'm carrying the cell phone as I suspect the card would be turned off pretty darn quick if I wasn't able to respond and say the charges were correct. I warned them to expect charges in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo in the coming weeks, and the lady said she had noted that information on my account. What would have happened if my phone were not in my pocket at the time VISA telephoned?

    Overall it's been a useful stop at El Cid, it sort of feels like the halfway point through my relatively brief cruise in Mexico. The first 5 weeks were spent checking out the arid islands around La Paz, the next 5 weeks will see poking along through the more humid coast between Mazatlan and Banderas Bay. It's nice to start the second half of the trip with all the bits of Beetle working, and I'm looking forward to hitting the road again, as it were. This part of Mexico called the 'Mexican Riviera' and is far enough south to avoid the bulk of the northerly winds that funnel down the Sea of Cortez. There is also greater concern for pettty theft and therefore dinghies and equipment are more carefully locked up than I saw in La Paz.

    On the radio there is a local cruisers net in Mazatlan, also on VHF 22A, modeled after what is happening in La Paz. There are a lot fewer boats on the net here as compared to there, which can make the net go by really quickly, as in five minutes and we're done. Today Beetle and Georgia will check out of the net (one of the questions is: 'Arrivals and Departures. Who's coming and who's going?' - helps the net to get an idea of the Brownian motion boat movement). These are the folks that pointed me towards the local chandlery that had the SPST switch I wanted for the SAR V3 regulator, and I spoke with Liem - put the switch into the on/off wire coming in from the engine panel ignition switch if I want to defeat the SAR V3; do not put te switch into the Battery+ wire that powers the SAR V3. Armed with this knowledge I will experiment with the two wires and see how they impact RF noise I'm picking up on the SSB, and install the switch as needed. There's always something interesting to learn while poking about with boats.





    There are iguanas residing on the rock breakwater at El Cid. I suspect these animals are semi-captive, as there's no good way into the marina except through the hotel lobby and I do not see large iguanas sneaking through the lobby undetected. However, I did not see any kind of feeding station and these animals are not tame, they are just sleepy






    Here's a chuckwalla-type lizard, complete with loose skin around his middle. When disturbed he darted into a crevice between two of the rocks. What the chuckwallas do is the same thing, and then inflate themselves with air and that wedges them into the rock, plus their skin scales act as little hooks and make it difficult to pull them back out. This guy displayed that same behavior.




    Here's two more iguanas sunning themselves. People are walking by a couple of feet above their heads and they don't have a care in the world; perhaps they know that visitors from Kansas are not going to bother them.




    There was also an interesting heron on the docks. He's similar to the big herons in the bay area, except this one has a white front and black stripey feathers down his throat. He grabbed a perch from the marina water, and that's a tall fish from top to bottom. Most herons I see grab long skinny fish that will fit down his neck, but not this guy. Undeterred, he spent some time with his meal, got it turned around head first, and amazingly enough the skin around his throat got real wide and the fish slid right down.

    Have fun today! Time to get back out on the water.

    - rob





    February 21
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  5. #65
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Excellent Sail Southwards From Mazatlan

    Outside Mazatlan the conditions are super for a nice trip down the coast towards what is termed the Galapagos Islands of Mexico - isla iabela. Georgia is perhaps 2 hours behind Beetle, as they have abeam the first island that shelters the recreational marinas. I went by the island a while back.

    I am seeing breaching humpback whales to the east, closer to shore in shallower water (it's 240 feet deep where I am), and even had a small humpy, possibly a baby or young juvenile, breach not 200 feet from the boat. Very cool to watch, as I happened to be looking at exactly the right spot when he came out of the water.

    On the AIS I can see containership Overseas Skopelos headed into Mazatlan, presumably to the commercial port as if he tried to get into the recreational marina port he would wedge in the narrow channel.

    With the wind holding this well, I've changed course slightly to the east, now holding 162T and going too fast for a planned arrival at the islands in the morning. According to the forecast the wind should back to the WNW and drop significantly, and that may still happen. My thinking is to run deeper when the wind is stronger, if winds back off then I can reach up a bit and keep the apparent breeze going. Currently the direct-course distance to the islands is 78 miles, though I'm on more of a dog-leg course with the intention to come into the islands from the west rather than directly from the north. An interesting feature in the navigational question is to stay at least 20 miles away from the prison islands Isla San Juanito, Isla Maria Madre, Isla Maria, and Isla Maria Cleofas - they are a to the east of Isla Isabela, and apparently there are navy patrol boats around the islands and they shoo people away. My course should be about 30 miles off the islands, which ought to be outside their point of concern.

    And it's now 6pm local time, time to check in with Georgia on the SSB (4A is the channel, 4.146.0 USB) and we'll find out how well their radio is working. Might also raise Cinnabar, if they are following our radio schedule. Seas remain mellow, wind has shifted to the WNW at 11-12 knots, and the sun is about to set into the sea. I've been napping and reading, it has been nicely warm on deck, and I'm going to put on a light sweatshirt now that the sun is below the horizon. I'm about 62 miles out from the islands, and all is going well.

    And now it is 10:08pm, still motoring slowly through mild following seas. The radar picked up a couple of targets 6 miles out, and now I can see what look like two slow-moving fish boats with their lights on. It's pretty black out here as the moon has not come up yet, and the dark makes it really easy to play spot-the-light. The boats should now be within the four mile guard zone set up on the radar, and should pass by two miles to port.

    11:20pm, another target has appeared, another fish boat. These guys are going too fast to trawl, perhaps they are longliners?

    At midnight the moon rose and it is now really nice out on the water, visibility is picking up. Also went by three soda pop bottles tied together, not 10' off the beam, hopefully I don't run into more of those as they must be marking something on the bottom. Depth is 189'.

    Georgia is having trouble with their radio, I can hear Lucie calling but she cannot hear me. I suspect their radio volume is turned down and they don't know it. There's nothing particularly obvious about the radio's volume, especially in the dark.

    5AM and I'm early. I've put the camera batteries on the charger, and am going to put the motor in neutral and sleep for an hour or so, just let the boat drift around out here as there's zero wind and very light swell. Beetle is making 0.3 knots on course roughly 130 true, not bad.

    And now it is dawn and i'm 3 miles out from the island. A pair of humpback whales are off to starboard, and three boobies flew by on their way to sea - the early boobie gets the fish! I'm going to go around to the south side of the island and see what's available as regards anchorage. This place is mostly rocks on the bottom and the game is to find a sandy patch in between the rocks and set the hook there; it is also recommended to put an anchor float/trip line on the anchor for recovery should the anchor become wedged.

    8:40AM and the hook is down in 40' of water. The books are correct - when the depth hits 50' you can see through the water column and count the large rocks on the bottom. You can also see the huge boulder rising up towards your keel - quick, turn away! - and you're back in deeper water. You can also see when you are over sand, and that's what I'm anchored in, a big sandy patch. The anchor ball is on the crown to facilitate retrieval if the anchor gets stuck. Georgia is over watching whales and is going to trundle by shortly.

    A very nice evening and run down from Mazatlan.

    - rob

    February 22
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  6. #66
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    At Isla Isabela

    The island I am next to, Isla Isabela, is 17 miles off the coast of mainland Mexico and is a relatively small island that reminds me a lot of SE Farallon Island outside of San Francisco. All you'd need to do is swap out the sea gulls and cormorants for frigate birds and boobies, add a lot of green trees with big birdies roosting in them, and warm up the water 20 degrees (plus remove the white sharks and add colorful tropical reef fish).

    After arriving yesterday I spent quite a while sleeping, to make up for broken sleep during the 96 mile overnight run south from Mazatlan; I had intended to have a two hour nap and instead slept until 2pm. After waking up (again) I hopped into the 78 degree water with the snorkel and camera and snorkeled over to the the large rock called 'Isleo Mona' that the boats here are anchored behind; the rocks are covered white guano, even though most of the birds seem to be in the trees on shore. Lots of fish in the water, and the substantial visibility is nice as there doesn't seem to be the super fine sand I was finding at Espiritu Santo, but rather a heavy dense sand that doesn't stay in suspension for very long. Also put the dinghy and popped over to Georgia to say hello.

    The weather here has stayed calm for the night, there are four boats (3 + me) anchored here in the sand patch adjacent to the Mona rocks. Georgia and Beetle have put anchor balls on the anchors, the other two boats did not - hopefully everybody's anchor comes up ok. Forecast is for similar conditions today and Monday, and possibly increasing breeze Tuesday.

    Plans for today include going ashore to walk around. There is a series of perhaps a dozen similar green-roofed huts in a row along the beach in the south cove of the island, and paths across the island are maintained by the bird folks. Apparently there is a fair bit of bird conservation work going on here, much like PRBO has a group working on SE Farallon Island. Hopefully it will be fun to meet the folks on the island. There is also a crater lake of water (fresh, I think) on the island - that might be why all the birds like it here so much. Think of the giant bird bath they have.

    I'm anchored to the east side of the island, which is supposed to be a larger anchorage than in the south cove, and keeps the me not so close to shore. From the cruising guide I've read that Jacques Cousteau was here and filmed the birds, and that makes me want to go back and watch the National Geographic Cousteau films - those were super. In 2003 the island was named a World Heritage Site - I don't know much about such sites but I suspect this indicates this is a particularly unique ecosystem. Several friends have visited here over the years, in particular Lou Freeman on S/V Seabird was here and raved about seeing all the birds, and they are not afraid of people so you can watch them from quite close by.

    So, it's off to enjoy the water and birdies, make up some breakfast, get the dinghy in the water (it lives on the foredeck during the night), and if some humpback whales come close by it might be fun to go over and visit them. Yesterday there were two very close.

    - rob

    February 23
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  7. #67
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    super visit to Isla Isabela

    Ben & Lucie & I went for a walk around the island this afternoon, and we had a super time. Turns out there is an active fish camp in the green sheds in the south cove; as they do not have cars on the island they cannot pull the pangas up onto the pebble beach; instead, each shed has a large line with an eye splice in it anchored to something set deep in the beach, and when the panga comes into the inner cove the panga drops an anchor out a ways, the panga is run up onto the beach (the motors need to be raised before the boat hits the beach as it is too shallow on approach for the big outboards to be down), and the panga's painter is tied to the eye splice by the shed. This means the boats are actually in the water, held out by the anchor and held in by the painter. Works quite well as long as you are careful to not run over the other fellow's anchor line set out in the bay as you run in with your dinghy. One of the sheds was empty, so we used that shed's line to secure the dinghies.

    There are a zillion birds on the island, and they are completely carefree as regards people getting close to them. In many ways the problem becomes that you need to avoid them as they do have razor sharp beaks and will readily use them to defend themselves - it would not be good to be slashed about the ankles by a nesting boobie if you attempted to walk through the nest!

    The island has a surprising amount of dirt, especially after all the arid rock up north on the Baja side. The dirt is very fine, almost dust, with a lot of volcanic rock mixed in. The trees are uniformly about 12-15' tall, are easy to walk in between, with a crown of many small branches - some trees had leaves, a lot did not seem to have many leaves at all. There are tons of lizards all over the place, ranging from 4" long striped ones up to 2' long iguanas that didn't seem to mind you walking by as long as you weren't too close, in which case they would scramble away a couple of feet.

    We walked from the fish camp up to the crater lake (perhaps caldera is the better term, as this is believed to be an extinct volcano), and (later on) learned that the lake is brine, in fact more salty than the surrounding ocean. Apparently the mist and rain brings in a lot of salt which accumulates over time as the fresh water evaporates. There was nothing living in the lake that I could see, not even much in the way of algae.

    We walked up and over the crater's rim and out to the beach overlooking the boats at Monas. This is where the boobie colony is, and the birds are nesting directly on the dirt, some nests with two eggs, most with one, and a couple were being made up as we walked through. You had to be careful where you walked as the birds were definitely not going to get out of the way for you. The frigate birds were all up in the trees, and the boobies were on the ground. And whomever wrote that frigate birds cannot land and take off from the ground is completely incorrect; there were lots of them on the ground, walking around clumsily, laying out with wings spread (soaking up the sun for warmth?), and they had no difficulty taking off again. It's pretty interesting to come face to face with a 6' wingspan bird flapping down the path you're walking on, at just about head height, and you have to duck to avoid them.

    On the beach we were invited by the island biologist to join him at their outdoor kitchen, and that's where I learned a lot about what's I'd seen on the walk over. There were also iguanas surrounding their camp. I asked the fellow about why they had apple boxes strong from ropes between the trees, complete with upturned boxes to act as tops, and he said the problem was the iguanas like the fruit and veggies they bring in, so this was iguana-proofing. Not iguana-proof enough, as one was on top of a box trying to get in, and another was half way into a box by forcing his way between two slats. I now know how to discipline an iguana: you open up the box, lift out the contents down to the depth of the lizard, grab the lizard by the tail and lift, point him at the ground, and smack him on the rump while saying, "bad lizard!" and letting him go. Didn't seem to bother the lizard much, he moved a couple of feet and turned around to examine the suspended fruit box again.

    There used to be feral cats on the island, those have been eradicated, and the rat population was just removed via helicopter-dropped poison pellets. The fellow said they had some loss from gulls eating dead rats, and lost a few iguanas from eating the pellets. However, the boobies are doing great, and the iguana population had exploded now that the rats were gone.

    I will have to do some more reading about the place and the program, as they've been studying the boobies for 30-35 years. And I learned how to spot the better boobie: you examine the color of their feets. The darker the blue, the better. The color depends upon the animals health, amount of food intake, changes depending upon when the last mating occured, and changes as the birds get older. So you can tell a lot about looking at their feets. The fellow was wearing a pair of blue crocs shoes, I wondered if this was an attempt to blend in with the birds.

    And now it's back on board Beetle, the dinghy is stowed, and the plan is to head out tomorrow morning towards a bay sound of San Blas.

    Enjoy, and pay attention to those feets colors!

    - rob

    February 23
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  8. #68
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    At anchor in Matanchen Bay, just south of San Blas

    It's been a pretty quiet day on the water today, departed Isla Isabela at first light (7AM) for the run southeast towards San Blas. There was little wind to speak of, seas were flattish with a small swell rolling by under the boat - that helped to push Beetle along nicely. So I motored along in the flat water.

    The goal was to get to Matanchen Bay, which is 3 miles south of the entrance to San Blas. San Blas is the big town along this bit of the coast, has a harbor, a Pemex place to fill up with diesel, and at least one marina. However, the entrance is over a real bar that results from the outflow of water down the river (Rio Pozo, I think), and with an 8' draft I really didn't fancy running Beetle over a bar that often has less than 8' of water over it. If one were to search for videos online, it's likely you'll find some of other boats crossing that bar - at least that's my recollection from when I checked it out.

    Conveniently, there is a large open bay to the south of the river mouth, and that's where Georgia and Beetle were heading to, and where we are anchored now. There are lots of ceratopogonidae (biting midges, aka noseeums) in the area, so being anchored out away from shore is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I can report zero mosquitoes and zeros midges on board this evening. What is interesting is to notice the smoldering coconut husks burning at the restaurants lining the shore - the decidedly smelly smoke drifts out across the anchorage and it smells a bit like you're downwind of the neighbor's chimney in the middle of winter, which is odd as it's not at all winter-like here.

    The entire coastal area is surprisingly shallow and the water is filled with cloudy material brought down by the rivers flowing from the tall mountains inland. There was quite a bit of plant material floating about, too - most bits were small at a foot or two across, but I did go around one large chunk that might have been an entire tree top at 10' across. It was weird to be in 40' of water yet miles from shore in what is essentially open ocean. The big fish boats were out in force on that flat bank, 100 feet long or so, each pulling a large net spread out to each side; maybe they are in fact two separate nets, one each side, I'm not sure about that, and the net has a huge barn door on the outboard side that acts as a spreader; my guess is they are bottom trawling for shrimp. The fish boats that weren't actively trawling are anchored out on the shelf, nets up in the air, and covered with frigate birds acting for all the world like gigantic pigeons, festooning the rigging with birds.

    The anchorage itself is quiet, shallow (I'm anchored in less than 20' for the first time in a long time), and someone has a two-seater ultralight hang glider running around, which was interesting to see; it sounds like a large lawn mower from a distance and they were running it around the bay, miles from shore. In the anchorage I found EDGE network access, which is mostly too slow to do much computer work. Despite that, I was able to receive some text emails; I'm hoping to send this note out over the airwaves as well. There was 4G connectivity while directly in front of San Blas, but there were also larger swells so not the greatest place to stop for web surfing (no pun intended).

    Tonight there are 6 boats here in the anchorage, including Isa, the boat that discovered a cracked motor mount while crossing over from Los Muertos to Mazatlan; it's fun to see them here, I hope they were able to repair the motor mount during their stay in Mazatlan.

    It's now 9pm, I'm going to do a bit of interior boat clean up, read some, then turn in for the night. We shall see what tomorrow has on tap!

    - rob

    February 24
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  9. #69
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    on the road to Punta Mita

    It's Wednesday afternoon and Beetle is wobbling down the coast towards Punta Mita, the big bump on the end of the point 13 miles in front of the bow. There is a decent breeze blowing and sails are up, tooling along nicely at a speed just about as good as when motoring. The swell is running 3-4' from the west and that makes for a rolly ride as the swell lifts the starboard side, we roll to port, the swell passes under and we stand up straight, and then the swell exits to port and the boat rolls back to starboard. The boom is prevented off to stop the boom from swinging and banging from side to side.

    Matanchen Bay was kinda fun, though the town got low marks from Ben, Lucie, and Jeff from Isa. I took the dinghy up to explore the mouth of the river behind the town to find a large breaking bar there and elected to not to try and run it. Jeff took his dinghy the additional mile or two and went into the river that is the entrance to San Blas proper and noted dilapidated Fonatur marina docks (lots of bolts sticking out, one sailboat there) and the big sand bar in the center of the river was bigger than last time he weas there and nobody was anchored out. Lucie tried to find a TelCel representative to fix her banda ancha problem (she needed to add monies to her account, but her account was turned off as it had expired) and neither of the two TelCel reps she found could manage that. On the positive side, Ben noted that the taxi fares were low (30 pesos to town, 40 pesos back, which seemed odd to him) and the walk across the super-shallow bay with floating dinghy in tow was not difficult.

    For my part, I went ashore at the same palapa that Ben had tied their dinghy to (literally, you tied the painter to one of the posts holding up the palm leaf/frond ceiling), and the fellow sleeping in the hammock there surprised me when he woke up and said it would be ok to leave my dinghy there, then he went back to sleep.

    The beach is nice sand, there are tons and tons of palapas and plastic chairs all around the place, and nobody was there. It was weird - I suspect I am here way out of season. There's a note in one of the guide books that in the summer the place has large surfing waves, unsuitable for boats to anchor, and there are lots of people there and lots of surfing to be had. I imagine so, as the infrastructure is all the but nobody was using it.

    Ben scoped out the panga tour up the river, and that would be a full-day event, so I passed on the excursion; instead I am out here on the bright blue water in nice sun, tooling along to Punta MIta. Earlier today I came across one of the floats with a tall wand sporting a plastic trash bag as a flag, and then realized there was a series of plastic coke bottles tied running away from it. Upon close inspection I realized there is a thin polypropylene line strung between the coke bottles, and that would be a great thing to found the propeller on, so I turned hard right and started following the string back to the flag, hoping that the flag marked one end of the net. Turned out the floats continued on, and then a panga came zooming over with two fellows in it, it was their fish gear, and they pulled up to the line just in front of Beetle (I slowed down to find out what was up), they hung a weight on the polypropylene and lowered the net for me to go across. Sure beats hanging up in a net and having to dive over the side to cut it away, and I'm surprised the fisherman would set a long surface net across a well-traveled track. I wonder how often they catch boats and not fish?

    Also had another of those interesting small-world happenstances last night: I went over to Georgia to join Jeff & his girlfriend in the cockpit with Ben and Lucie. I mentioned that Kristen would be calling prior to going to her SF Ballet event tonight, and turns out Jeff is a backstage hand at those shows; he does the opera season, and when they are done the ballet company moves in and he works the shows for them. So he is intimately familiar with everything that you can't see from the front of the stage, and also had pointed on where the best acoustics are. (avoid being under any overhangs, you do not want orchestra level seats, some of the mid-level balcony boxes are a good compromise between distance from the performers and the sound, upper balcony in back has some of the best sound in the place). Jeff has his Brewer 35 in San Carlos during the summer and returns to San Francisco to work the SF Opera and Ballet seasons, and then quits for a couple of months so he can come down to Mexico and cruise the boat.

    And it's on towards the new anchorage to see what's happening in Banderas Bay.

    - rob

    February 26
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  10. #70
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    at Marina Vallarta, headed out tomorrow

    Kristen has arrived at the Puerto Vallarta airport, direct flight in from San Francisco which was not delayed despite the winter Low pushing into the NE Pacific and bringing with it high winds and rain. During the morning local cruiser's net (8:30AM PV time, VHF 22A) it was pointed out that the Low was causing 30' swell in southern california and that same wave train would begin to wrap around Cabo San Lucas and arrive in Banderas Bay Monday - so it was reminded for folks to double check their ground tackle as conditions are forecast to be boisterous as regards swell state shortly.

    Here in Marina Vallarta (at Puerto Vallarta) we are so far in from the bay that the water is even more quiet than in the back of Grand Marina; it's really still. The marina itself is falling apart, which is unfortunate; the wooden beams connecting the concrete dock components are mostly fractured, bolts protrude, corner triangles are rotted through, some of the dock boxes have water spigots that work (most do not), and some slips have power (most do not). I would not recommend Marina Vallarta to anyone... but there are not many alternatives if you want to get off the bay - the anchorages are Punta Mita at the head of the bay (fabulous) and La Cruz 6 miles east of Punta Mita and slightly around another point (haven't tried this anchorage out yet). Once you go east of La Cruz you're limited to open roadsteads or shifting into one of the two ports. The other port/harbor is Nuevo Vallarta, much newer, and has few slips therefore is difficult to get in to. The folks at the Marina Vallarta said they had recently bought the marina and are in the process of upgrading and rebuilding it. They have two docks under reconstruction, and this might be a really nice place in 2-4 years time - depending on how strong the commitment is from the owners.

    But, this place is close to reprovisioning shops, 0.5 miles from the airport, and well protected - a good hurricane hole. Other interesting thing is that the saltwater crocodiles are hanging out in the water... which makes the decision as to whether or not to dive the boat that much more interesting. Early evening Kristen and I watched a 10-12' crocodile slowly glide by, one seriously large lizard. Never had to consider crocodiles in the mix before!

    Plan is to put Beetle back on the road tomorrow and head over to La Cruz tomorrow afternoon. It may be roly, but we will be out on the water and that will be nice. Plus Georgia is there and Kristen hand-carried some bits & bobs for their boat and Lucie would like to hook up with us, pick up her gear, and go out for some foods tomorrow night up at La Cruz.

    As regards on-board excitement, the spring pin that is part of the Nicro Marine snatch block gave up the ghost, I had a spare pin/spring/ringding and swapped it in - the snatch block works again - and I've ordered up two additional spares for the spare bits bin, to be sent to my brother courtesy of Fisheries Supply in Seattle. I will pick up the spare pins when I swing through Seattle in May. Also swapped in a new 2 micron diesel fuel filter in the Racor filter manifold.

    In addition to the bits for Georgia, Kristen brought in some useful parts for Beetle: 3 additional anti-panga LL Bean lights, a stack of 50 DVD rewritable disks (I've been burning through some of them for image storage), and a replacement on/off battery switch that I will be wiring in.

    That's the up to the minute shock news from on board Beetle. And definitely remember to look under the bed at night to make sure a crocodile is not lurking there.

    - rob

    March 1, 2014
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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