Thursday, November 28, 2013


Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz
We had heard that La Cruz was the affordable option in the Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) area, so I was pleasantly surprised to arrive and discover a clean, modern marina with wonderful amenities.  There is a beautiful, air conditioned clubhouse with fast internet, although it doesn’t
reach the boat.  The showers are elegant and there is a little swimming pool, which feels pretty good is this heavy heat.  The village is close and there is even a small marine store.  Most services seem to be readily available at reasonable prices.  There is even a nice beach within walking distance.  A person could get very used to this place.
Pool at Marina La Cruz

Dancing Horses
Our first day here, we did very little.  It was a rest day.  Tina and I walked up to town in search of vegetables.  It was a holiday commemorating Mexico’s revolution and the town was celebrating.  The high school band was playing in the park and there was a competition to see which of the local caballeros could make his horse dance the best.  It was pretty interesting.  Some of the horses had it down pat, but there was a young one that wasn’t at all convinced that dancing was a good idea.  The band played the same song over and over and the women sat under the trees in the shade and ignored the whole spectacle.  Later, there was more music on a stage in the park.

Tina had been corresponding with a skipper who was anchored here and planned to meet up with him later in the afternoon.  We were going to eat dinner with them, but got separated.  Scott and I ate dinner in a restaurant located in someone’s front yard.  I ordered tacos and Scott ordered a burrito.  When we ordered beer, the owner ran across the street to the liquor store to buy them for us.  She didn’t speak English and Scott doesn’t speak Spanish, but he earned her respect by dousing everything with hot sauce.  She then brought out the special local hot sauce.  The food was so good we ordered seconds.  The whole meal cost us less than $15.

After dinner, we met Tina and Tom (who turned out to be a nice guy with a Cal 35) at the Octopus’ Garden (Jardin de Pulpo) to watch a performance of Latin dance.  The dancers were good and the costumes ornate, but the best part was the bilingual video that accompanied the performance, which featured old, old film clips of dance from the 30s and 40s and some pretty interesting stuff from the Dominican Republic in the 1980s.  After the performance, the dancers danced with the customers, some of whom were pretty good dancers themselves.  Even I danced with the owner of Capricorn Cat, who had plopped himself at our table and turned out to be a friendly and entertaining companion.  It was a very pleasant social outing and just what I needed after a month on boats, punctuated only with massive Ha-Ha parties where it was too loud to talk to anyone much.

Thursday, it was time to get down to the work we hoped to accomplish in La Cruz.  Like most boat chores, it began with a quest for parts.  Scott and I walked up to the main road and took a “collective” (a minivan crammed with passengers) down to the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta to go to the Home Depot.  Home Depot in Mexico is much like Home Depot in the United States, although there was a slightly smaller selection and they seemed to be out of a lot of things, including the ¼” hose we needed to modify our water maker.  We spent a lot of time asking questions and studying the available materials before Scott came up with a plan he thought would work.  We fared better with finding shade materials.  I bought short sections of PVC pipe and fittings to connect them to build a collapsible frame.  Then I bought shade fabric and fittings to connect it so that I can build a tent for the cockpit that we can raise with the mizzen halyard and secure to the shrouds.

I usually avoid Walmart, but all the other big grocery stores were off my themselves and the Walmart was in a strip mall with other stores.  Since we were taking the bus, it was more practical to just make the one stop, so off to Walmart we went.  Anyone who complains that Mexicans are taking over the United States should come here and see what Americans are doing here in Mexico.  Everywhere we go there are Walmarts, Sam’s Clubs, Office Depot’s, Home Depot’s, Starbuck’s and gringos everywhere, refusing to speak Spanish and generally failing to assimilate.  Our crew member, Chuck, is still trying to operate in U.S. dollars.  I had to sell him some pesos so he could ride the bus.  We bought groceries at Walmart and I did appreciate the well refrigerated produce.  Having spent all my money, I went to the bank and then we grabbed another collective and crammed all our parcels into the back seat for a cramped ride back to La Cruz.  It was a schlep from the bus stop back to the boat and we were very relieved when we made it to the marina and commandeered a dock cart from the first dock we reached.

La Cruz Yacht Club
Thursday night was movie night at the La Cruz Yacht Club.  All the cruisers got together to watch “42.”  Someone sold cold Coronas and we all sat in the air conditioned lounge, which had been rearranged to facilitate movie watching, and enjoyed the film.  Simple things take on new significance here.  It was a nice community event.  Carlos came over to visit after the movie and we made blender drinks and talked for a while.  We stayed up WAY past cruiser midnight (9 PM.)  Poor Carlos still doesn’t know what he is going to do, since family health problems have caused the boat he came here to join to cut short their voyage and he still doesn’t have a passport, which makes it hard for him to continue with us or another boat.  He may have to go to Mexico City to resolve the problem.

Friday was the day we finally set out to obtain our temporary import permit.  There is an office of Banjercito, the bank to which issuing temporary import permits and visas have been outsourced, in Puerto Vallarta.  I looked it up on Google Maps and even looked at street view so that I would know where to get off the bus.  We took the bus and got off close to where Google had told me to go.  I located the building right away, but there was no Banjercito branch there.  It was very hot, but we walked a few blocks, looking for the address.  Eventually, we found a shopping mall that had a branch of every other bank in Mexico, but no Banjercito.  There was, however, a Starbuck’s, so we got a couple of Frappuccinos and enjoyed the air conditioning for a few minutes.  A security guard at the Canadian embassy told us that Banjercito was back the way we came.  We stopped at the port captain’s office for directions and eventually located the very large and obvious building that we had passed without seeing it because Google had shown it located about two blocks further south.  For anyone seeking Banjercito, it is a modern glass and steel building on the main bus route, just before the south end of Marina Vallarta, across the street from the Galleria Vallarta.  The address is 2701 Blvd. Francisco Medina, but knowing the address didn’t help us much, since addresses are seldom displayed and Google Maps was inaccurate.

 The girls at Banjercito spoke very little English, but they were very helpful.  We had to go out and make a copy of Scott’s passport, but they told us where to find an internet café to make the copy.  That was another four blocks walking in the sun.  Apparently, when I applied online, they had sent Scott an email, asking for a copy of his passport.  The email got stuck in his spam filter and so we never answered.  Eventually, they closed the application.  It still remains to be seen whether the first fee I paid will ever be refunded.  There was a great deal of confusion due to the fact that we had been in the country for several weeks and had actually been in the country for a couple of weeks before checking in, due to the fact that Ensenada customs didn’t want to process all the Ha-Ha boats, so we all checked in at Cabo after the rally was over.  It was a real test of my Spanish speaking abilities to explain everything satisfactorily.  The woman helping me told me that she was glad I spoke Spanish because her English was pretty limited.  She was very nice and we were relieved when she pulled out the sheet of official paper to finally print our permit.  I had to pay a second time, but at least we had managed to acquire the permit without having to make a second trip.

Since we were across the street, we went to the Walmart to look for a box fan, but didn’t manage to find one.  Then we took a bus to the Home Depot and looked there.  Still no luck.  At that point, it was rush hour on a Friday evening and the traffic was thick.  For some reason, we didn’t see a single collectivo on our way back.  We had to wait for a big bus and it cost us an extra 6 pesos, which was still cheap.  It was dark by the time we got back to La Cruz, so we stopped at the same restaurant we had visited earlier.  The proprietress was happy to see us again.  She liked Scott so much that she gave him a bottle of Huichol hot sauce.  Our waitress was a little girl about eleven years old who much have been her daughter.  She did a pretty good job, although we had to remind her to charge us for our beers.  She was happy when I told her the change was hers to keep.

Saturday, Scott received an email from our potential insurer, stating that we would need to have three experienced crew at all times in order to be insured.  This depressed him so much that he barely came out of his cabin for two days.  Nothing I suggested seemed to make any difference, so I left him alone and busied myself with sewing a shade structure for the boat.  First, I made a square PVC frame and hoisted it up on the mizzen halyard.  Then, I made a side curtain that reached down to the cockpit combing.  Just that one curtain made a tremendous difference in the temperature of the cockpit.  The covering over the top was trickier, because I had to work around the mizzen mast and six shrouds.  I cut a square piece  and then removed a triangle from the rear edge.  I suspended the remaining piece just inside the side shrouds and outside of the rear ones.  The triangle I had removed, I then hung behind the mast and inside the rear shrouds.  It works pretty well, although my boat neighbor teases me about my “aviary.”  We definitely have the most headroom under our shade structure of any sailboat in the marina.  I plan the make another curtain to hang on the back to keep out the late afternoon sun and a half height one to cover the windshield.  For now, I have it covered with beach towels.  I used one of the side curtains from the lifelines that we weren’t using to cover the side windows on the south side.  The boat stays much cooler now.

Keeping the boat cool is everything.  This boat acts like a greenhouse and our main refrigerator can’t keep up with the heat.  Our air conditioning, which worked fine in California, is completely useless here.  It is a heat pump system and the water here is just too warm to take the heat out of the air.  Fans help some, but the most important thing is keeping the hatches and all the cabin doors open so that the breeze can circulate.  It is a constant battle to keep the door to the V-berth open, since it must be closed in order to reach the ice maker.  The ice maker only works off 110 power, but it is a lifesaver here in the marina.  With just the two of us aboard, it actually makes ice faster than we can use it.
Sunrise in La Cruz

Life here is La Cruz is actually pretty pleasant.  I can see why people just stay here.  Every morning there is a radio net and the cruising community really works together to solve problems for each other.  People share land rides and deliver things to and from the states for each other.  Virtually everyone here is dealing with some kind of boat or administrative problem and people are quick to offer advice and share resources.  A woman I just met in the lounge this morning is going to lend me her sewing machine to complete my shade cover.

Sunday, I got bored hanging around the boat with Scott being uncommunicative, so I decided to walk over to the Sunday market.  Along the way, I met up with a fellow named Ron that we had seen in Cabo and we had a nice conversation and I learned of an alternate insurer that might be more accommodating.  Unfortunately, we got there just as the market was being packed up, but we walked into town and I boat some chicken, fresh refried beans (in a plastic bag) and butter from a butcher shop and beverages from a corner store.  Then actually carried tonic water at a reasonable price, which was a real treat.  I asked for a dozen eggs and they gave them to me in a plastic bag.  I do have an egg container in the boat, but I had to be careful transporting them.  I think I like marketing in town much better than going to big box stores, although the produce at the big stores is superior.  It is much more fun and educational to talk to the different merchants.

Buying meat, here in Mexico, is a challenge because the cuts of meat are different from what we get at home.  Chicken isn’t so difficult, once you figure out what things are called in Spanish and you can get really tasty, spicy wings at any grocery store.  Red meat is a different story.  There is nothing resembling a roast anywhere.  Skirt steak, which is very expensive at home, is readily available at a reasonable price.  Pork shoulder just doesn’t exist here.  Pork comes in chops, loins and legs.  Legs are like ham without the curing process.  They taste OK, but don’t shred like pork roast.  Where do all the pork shoulders go?  Sausage seems to be limited to hot dogs (an amazing variety) and chorizo.  The turkey chorizo is pretty good and not at all greasy.  We really miss Italian sausage, though.

I wanted to buy a chicken, yesterday.  I didn’t see any at the butcher’s, so I asked if he had chickens.  “Hay pollo?” (“Is there chicken?”
“Pollos enteros?” (“Whole chickens?”)
 “Sí.  Quantos quiere?”  (“Yes, how many do you want?”)
“Solamente uno.” (“Just one.”)
At this point, he pulled out a hunk of chicken with a couple of legs sticking out of it and said, “Lo siento.  Este es todo que tenemos.”  (“I’m sorry.  This is all that we have.”)  I took it.  It was late on a Sunday afternoon and it was enough to feed the two of us.

"Cricket", a Cal 43
I spent Monday scraping old varnish, epoxy, caulking, dirt and who knows what off the port side of Fool’s Castle’s fiberglass deck.  Between a scraper and a wire brush, I was able to get most of it off.  “Cricket”, the Cal 43 docked next to us, is immaculately maintained and looks new despite being over 40 years old.  She has been a real inspiration.  I always thought I wanted to cruise on a Cal 39, but this boat has given me a new desire.  Unfortunately, there were only 14 ever made.  She is quite beautiful.

Carlos left Monday evening to help sail “Freya” down to Barra de Navidad.  Theoretically, he is going to come back in a day or two, straighten out his passport issues, and continue on with us.  I am holding my breath until he comes back.  He’s been wonderful.

Tuesday morning, Bob and Nancy from “High Road”, whom I had met the day before in the yacht club, arrived with their wonderful sewing machine.  I spent the day making another shade curtain to block the late afternoon sun and covers for the front windows.  We now have a large and airy outdoor space sheltered from the sun.  While I had the machine, I restitched the binnacle cover and some of the hatch covers.  It is so much easier than doing the work by hand.  Scott spent the day working on the water maker.  Since the relay controlled by the salinity sensor has died, we need to test the water by taste.  Scott was afraid that disconnecting and reconnecting the hoses would result in a leak somewhere.  He has routed the water from the water maker to the sink where we can taste it and then switch a valve to fill the water tank.  The pre-filter was missing an “O” ring and was leaking, so he installed a new one.  If we ever get our pressure pump rebuilt, we should be able to make water.

The Mexican equivalent of the IRS came to visit on Tuesday.  There were two federal agents who spoke English and were quite pleasant.  They were accompanied, however, by two soldiers with automatic rifles.  I guess the soldiers were for their protection in case someone got testy with them.  They were checking boat serial numbers against temporary import permits.  I guess someone has been illegally selling boats in Mexico without paying the import taxes.  We were glad that we had our temporary import permit it order.  They called Guadalajara to verify its authenticity and they was a moment of confusion because it was new and still not in the system, but it all turned out OK.  Our neighbor was a little worried because his TIP dated back to 1996 when they were issued for 20 years instead of the current 10, but they didn't give him any trouble.  The poor male agent had the task of taking photographs of the VIN numbers.  He had to hang over the water from our swim ladder with one hand while taking a picture with the other and then he had to crawl inside the neighbor's lazarette.  I wouldn't be that pleasant if I had to spend my day contorting myself like that.

Doing one’s own laundry seems to be frowned upon here in La Cruz.  There are several laundries, but no laundromats as were know them.  I hate sending out my laundry because it usually comes back ruined, but the woman who picks up laundry from the marina office and delivers it to your boat the next day did a nice job.  She even got the oil stains out of Scott’s Baja Ha-Ha sun shirt.  The service only cost me 35 pesos (<$3) more than doing it myself cost in Mazatlán and she folded everything very nicely and brought it to our boat.  I could get spoiled.

Frigate Bird Perch

Female Frigate Bird
We started seeing Frigate birds at Bahia Santa Maria.  They are very large birds, with a 6-7’ wingspan, but they only weight about 3 pounds.  The males are black and the females have white breasts.  One or two followed us most of the way across the Gulf of California, playing in the updrafts coming off our sails.  I missed them when they left.  The La Cruz Marina has installed numerous large perches that look like giant fly swatters in order to keep the birds from roosting on the boats.  This mostly works, although there seem to be more birds than perches and they keep chasing each other off.  We have also seen a lot of shearwaters while sailing and grackles while lounging around the pool.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


For anyone who might be interested, here is a tour of our boat, Fool’s Castle.  She is a Nauticat 43’ deck salon motorsailer ketch built by Siltala Yachts in Finland.  Ketches have two masts, the taller of which is in the front and supports the mainsail.  Ours is cutter rigged, which means that it has both a jib and a staysail forward of the main.  We also carry a spinnaker or “kite” or “chute” as they are sometimes called.  The rear mast carries a smaller sail called the mizzen. 

Due to the height of the pilot house, there is not room for a dodger or bimini under the boom, which leaves that outside steering station exposed to the sun.  While Fool’s Castle is not a center cockpit boat, there is still an aft deck behind the cockpit where we stow our liferaft, boarding stairs, extra propane canister and dinghy motor.  The dinghy hangs on davits from the stern.  Fool’s Castle has a lot of freeboard (meaning the hull is tall above the waterline.)  This makes her a dry ride, but also makes her interesting to steer in reverse, since the wind affects her more than lower boats. 

The bow features a bowsprit with rollers for two anchors and a chain locker where we store 400’ of chain and a couple of hundred feet of line for the lunch hook.  There are also two shelves in there to support propane cannisters.  We have an electric windlass to help us raise the 100 lb. anchor.

Forward Head
Below decks and forward, there is a V-berth that sleeps two comfortably or three if they don’t have any luggage.  There is a head adjacent to the V-berth. 

Aft of that is the galley on the port side and a dinette on the starboard side.  The galley has a propane stove with an oven and three burners and an undercounter refrigerator.  The dinette features a stand up refrigerator and a freezer stowed under the forward settee.  There is a water maker under the aft settee.


Main Salon
Inside Steering & Nav Station

The engine is under the floor of the main salon.                                                                                                                                                                                             To accommodate the engine, the main salon is two steps up from the galley.  The main salon has another table and U-shaped settee on the port side and a steering station and cabinetry on the starboard side.  Behind the interior wheel is a navigation station. We have both VHF and SSB radios, radar and a GPS chart plotter.

Aft and down two steps are a Pullman cabin with two bunks and a larger head with a separate shower.  Behind that, is the master cabin.
Pullman Cabin

Master Cabin
Aft Head

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Tina Abrams
Our new crew member, Tina, arrived around 9:00 Sunday morning and we were away from the dock by 11:30.  Just in case Scott has to go home for some reason, I am learning to dock Fool’s Castle.  She is a bear to dock because she has such a high stern castle that the stern blows off, rather than the bow as in the case of most boats.  Combine that with her strong right prop kick and backing up becomes an adventure.  I had successfully put her into the slip in Mazatlán, but now I was charged with backing her out and getting the bow faced outward before I ran out of space.  Everything went well as I backed her out of the slip, but when I went to shift into forward, the gear shift lever stuck.  Scott had to run below and put her into gear from the other steering station.  I managed not to hit anything, but we definitely stirred up some mud at the edge of the seawall.

Islands Off Mazatlán

I had been asleep when we came into Marina Mazatlán, so enjoyed seeing the luxurious Marina El Cid on the way out.  We saw several Ha-Ha boats tied up in there.  There are numerous small islands and rocks off the coast of Mazatlán.  It was very scenic as we sailed out of the marina district and turned south towards the commercial port.  Tina is from Hawaii, but came to Mexico to have some major dental surgery and go sailing in the Sea of Cortez.  She is catching a ride to La Cruz with us to meet the skipper who will take her back north.  She has been living in an apartment near Olas Altas and enjoyed seeing the other side of the islands that she has been seeing from land.

Carlos and Scott
Once we got past all the islands, we turned south to chart a course between Isla Isabela and the Tres Marias.  The Tres Marias are prison islands and we could not approach closer than 20 miles.  We did not want to go inside Isla Isabela because the area in not well charted and is shallow and full of crab pots.  Tina was really enjoying sailing the boat, so I got a little break from driving on the first half of my watch.  We saw a whale breach in the distance.  We sailed south all day and night, passing Isla Isabela late in my 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM watch.  We saw many shrimp boats lit up like Christmas trees.  Lined up across the horizon, they looked like targets in a 1980s video game.  It would have been nice to stop at Isla Isabela, but we would have had to negotiate a small, strange anchorage in the dark and continuing on to San Blas allowed us to arrive in daylight and then have a reasonable distance to travel on to Puerto Vallarta, allowing us to arrive there during daylight, also.

The Castle in San Blas
Morning saw us off Piedra Blanca del Mar, which looked like a giant iceberg.  I spent the time before my watch fitting all the hatches with screens and working on repairing the hatch covers.  Without a sewing machine, restitching all the shock cord channels on the hatch covers will be my new hobby for a while.  We came into San Blas on my watch.  After rounding Piedra Blanca de Tierra, the port captain sent a panga out to guide us over the bar.  We continued up the estuary to the San Blas Marina.  The marina is very nice and quite inexpensive.  We got a slip for about $18 for the night, including port clearance, power and water.  The showers and restrooms are gorgeous and the whole facility was designed to be lovely, but the marina raised the rent a couple of years ago and now the pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant, shops and bar are deserted.  Chuck did some research and determined that this is an inexpensive place to haul out or leave your boat long term.  It’s far enough up the estuary to be a decent hurricane hole.  You don’t want to swim here, though.  Chuck saw a crocodile swimming in the marina.  The only downside to this place is the mosquitos at night.

Plaza in San Blas
After we moored, we took a walk into town to buy lettuce and tortillas for dinner.  I found an ATM and we managed to buy replacement dividers for navigation for a whopping 32 pesos at the local papeleria.  San Blas is small, but has a nice church square and basic shops.  There are a few inexpensive looking backpacker hotels and numerous small restaurants that look inexpensive.  It would be a great place to hang out on a shoestring.

Mosquito Net
Empty Marina Buildings
I wanted to BBQ in the cockpit, so I strung up the mosquito net that I had brought along for the purpose of creating a bug free outdoor space.  It worked pretty well for mosquitos, but didn’t keep out all the no-see—ems.  Still, we managed to cook steak fajitas without getting eaten and had a cool(er) place to hang out.  I tried to go up to the deck where the wi-fi works, but couldn’t stay long because of the bugs.  Unfortunately, the wi-fi doesn’t reach the docks here.

San Blas Boatyard and Town
Tuesday morning, we wanted to leave while the tide was high because we had touched bottom coming into our slip and knew it would be somewhat tricky getting out because our prop would cause the stern to go in the direction opposite the exit.  Before we could leave, however, we wanted to fix the transmission linkage that had caused the boat to stick in reverse when we were leaving Mazatlán.  Scott and Carlos determined that the shifter cable was sticking and Carlos set off to try to find a replacement in San Blas.  Everyone kept telling him that he needed to find “the guy in the blue Blazer”, but when Carlos finally tracked down the vehicle, he had taken some tourists out fishing for the day.  Carlos then looked carefully at the cable and realized that the end was bent just enough to bind on its metal sleeve.  The guys who were helping him look for blue Blazer man helped him locate a vise and tools and the whole repair ended up costing us 45 pesos and an iced tea for Carlos.  Meanwhile, Tina went for a walk and met a local woman who wanted to practice her English.  They hung out for a while and Tina came back with five frozen fish that the woman gave to her.
Me in the Engine Room

Leaving San Blas
We finally pulled out of San Blas at about maximum ebb, but we had enough water to spin the boat around without touching bottom.  We motored out of the estuary and then raised sails and headed for Punta de Mita.  We sailed all afternoon on a nice reach, but were unable to round the point before dark.  Both Chuck and Carlos had been around the point before and they convinced Scott to go between Punta de Mita and the Tres Marietas.  I made chicken breast strips cooked in wine and lime juice with baked kabocha squash (Even Carlos ate some!) and then poked my head up just in time to see the lights of Sayulita.  I slept most of the way into La Cruz, but I hear we got a little closer to land than we had planned and found some pretty shallow water.

Carlos Got Very Comfortable with Us

Carlos had called ahead and arranged a nice slip for us, so we had a place to land when we arrived and the security guys met us to take lines and give us keys and internet codes.  There are a number of other Ha-Ha boats here, including the flagship, Profligate.  This is a very nice marina and, while it is pricier than San Blas, has very nice amenities.  There is an air conditioned clubhouse with nice restrooms and showers and even a small pool.  The landscaping is lush and tropical and it feels like a good place to spend some time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Leaving Cabo
By the time we bought fuel and finally pulled out of Cabo, it was nearly 4:00.  There was no way we were going to make it anywhere before dark, but Chuck was familiar with Puerto Los Cabos, so we decided to make for there and leave for Mazatlán in the morning.  There was very little wind, so we motor sailed up the coast.  The scenery was gorgeous, especially as the sun began to set.  I made spaghetti squash with sauce and dinner was ready just as we pulled into the marina in Puerto Los Cabos.  We ate a pleasant dinner in the cockpit where it was cool and turned in early.

Puerto Los Cabos Marina
I woke up early on Wednesday because Chuck had a bad earache and was moving about.  I got up around 5:00, but was unable to get into the restrooms until 6:00.  The restrooms In the Puerto Los Cabos Marina are gorgeous (all cherry wood and travertine), but our $48 slip fee did not include either power or a key to the restrooms.  We had intended to leave early, but Chuck was worried about his ear and wanted to see a doctor or something before we left.

We waited for Chuck and, eventually, I decided to walk into town to look for navigation dividers (ours went home with Ingemar) and printer ink cartridges.  I didn’t get very far, however, before I ran into Chuck coming back.  No sooner did we gather all the crew together than the marina called and told us we had to show them our temporary import permit and insurance policy.  This threw us for a loop because we could not find the receipt for our payment for the TIP (the actual permit did not arrive before we left and hasn’t caught up with us yet) and, due to a misunderstanding about Mexican geography, we did not have valid insurance.
Carlos and I went up to the office to try to talk our way out of the situation and it went pretty well.  They never asked for the TIP and didn’t look closely at the insurance to see that we were outside of the covered area.  Having finally convinced Scott that we needed Mexican liability insurance right away, we stayed while he dealt with his insurance agent to get that handled and I shot off some emails regarding the TIP.

Leaving Puerto Los Cabos
Once again, we didn’t get out of the marina until late afternoon.  We weren’t going to make it to Los Frailes in time to anchor before dark, so we decided to head straight for Mazatlán.  The weather was incredibly nice when we left.  There was a nice breeze blowing and the seas were flat.  Scott and I were alternating four hour watches and Chuck and Carlos had staggered four hour watches.  It was very warm and humid.  I sailed all night in shorts and a T-shirt.  The weather report had showed a light breeze from the north, but we had a strong breeze that shifted towards the south.  There was a thunderstorm that we watched in the distance all night, but we never got close to it.  We could see frequent flashes of lightning down there.
Carlos Roque

By Thursday, the seas got larger and were arriving from an uncomfortable direction.   Both of our crew were seasick.  This was Carlos’ first overnight sail and first time out of sight of land.  He was sick and started to doubt whether or not the sailing life was for him, although he rebounded once the seas flattened out.  We spent a good part of the day gybing downwind and didn’t make much progress until the wind shifted back around to the north.

Chuck Masters
We had another very pleasant evening sailing under a full moon.  Carlos saw some sea turtles just before I came on watch and we saw dolphins.  We arrived at Marina Mazatlán just after 2:00 AM and tied up to a side tie for the night.

Scott on the Bus in Mazatlan
Here in Mazatlán, we need to connect to the internet using Ethernet cables in the cruisers’ lounge.  Unfortunately, we did not have them, so we took a bus into town to go the Office Depot and the grocery store.  We found the cables and cartridges for our printer, stocked up on perishables and took the bus back.  While the bus stop going into town was close to the marina, it was quite a hike back.  We ended up hailing a “pulmonia”, a golf cart acting as a taxi, to drive us back to the marina.

We are able to clear in and out of the marina here at the office, but needed to connect to the internet to obtain a copy of our new Mexican liability insurance, which had been emailed to Scott.  Unfortunately, bad weather is approaching and we will need to stay here for at least another day to avoid thunder storms.  We did not have time to deal with our temporary import permit problem here in Mazatlán before the weekend.  We will have to do it in Puerto Vallarta.  Hopefully, we will get all of our paperwork completed before we are ready to clear out of Mexico. 

Condos in Marina Mazatlan
Apparently, the Mazatlán marina district has fallen on hard times.  It was more popular before the opening of Nuevo Vallarta.  Nice condominiums line the marina, but they are not occupied by wealthy Americans.  There are many empty slips and most of the store fronts lining the marina are empty.  They are still charging us $52 a night to stay here, however.  We would have liked to anchor out, but none of the anchorages are good with wind from the south, which is what we are expecting.

It was great to have a spare day to wash some clothes and do some sight seeing.  Scott wanted to stay and work on the boat, so Chuck and I took the bus to the old center of Mazatlán and visited the market, the cathedral, where a wedding was taking place, and the principal square.  We ate some ice cream near the market and then walked to the Plaza Machado, which has been restored as a cultural center, and then down to Playa Olas Altas, which is the small crescent beach where tourism in Mazatlán first began.  It's a pretty little beach and we had a tasty seafood lunch in a cafe overlooking the waves.  I felt a little like I was living in a Hemingway book in that 1950s tourist spot.  Today, tourism is centered north of the old town.  We passed all the modern hotels and the cruise ship pier on our bus ride back to the marina.

Butchers in the Market
Scott signed on another crew member while we were gone.  Her name is Tina and she will be coming to join us in the morning and accompanying us as far as Puerto Vallarta.
Plaza Principal

Playa Olas Altas

Friday, November 15, 2013


Large Yacht Taking Up the Whole Fuel Dock
We arrived in Cabo San Lucas late in the afternoon on Thursday and were packed into a raft-up with nine or ten other Ha-Ha boats in front of the Baja Cantina.  We were tired, but didn’t get a lot of sleep that first night because the music was loud.

Friday was a work day for Scott and me.  Joel left as soon an Ingemar had cleared him through immigration.  Michelle, Ingemar and Deborah went to the Ha-Ha beach party, but Scott and I stayed to work on the boat.  Scott took the shaft coupler to the yard for them to true and then we made the rounds of all the marine and hardware stores in Cabo.  I bought new hose for the water maker and we bought a new deck brush and pop rivet gun.

The mechanic from the yard came to visit us Saturday, but was unable to complete the work on our boat before they closed at noon.  I replaced all the hoses on the water maker, but we determined that the relay which switches the water flow from the tank to overboard, depending on the saline content, was not working.  Michelle left us early on Saturday.  I will really miss having another woman on board and, of course, I will miss having my friend, Michelle, aboard even more.  I know the trip was hard for her, but she did well and I hope she got something positive out of the experience.

We acquired two new crew members.  Chuck Masters came down on the catarmaran, Skabenga, and has some time to kill until Thanksgiving.  He is retired and lives on his 55’ ketch in San Diego.  We also recruited Carlos Roque, a young Mexican fellow who grew up in the US and attached himself to another boat during the Ha-Ha last year and is catching a ride with us to Puerto Vallarta to rejoin them.

I Always Suspected Burritos Were Californian
I desperately needed to do some grocery shopping, so Saturday afternoon I took a local bus out to the Chedraui store on the outskirts of town.  The bus ride cost me 2.5 pesos (less than a quarter), took about 20 minutes, and was quite an adventure.  There is major road construction through the center of Cabo, so the bus had to detour through semi-paved residential neighborhoods where the driver played chicken with other busses while dodging around cars slowly trying to dodge the pot holes.  I counted myself lucky to survive the ride.

Chedraui is a nice store.  I was familiar with it from Playa del Carmen.  I got as many groceries as I could possibly think of carrying back to the boat.  AAA batteries are tough to come by around here, but I did find some pillowcases that we needed and eventually found a few “pilas” (batteries) in the television department, of all places.  I hailed a cab for the ride back and had a nice conversation in Spanish with the driver, who helped me carry the groceries to the boat.

View from up the Mast
Saturday evening was the awards ceremony for the Ha-Ha.  Everyone got something.  The spirit of the Ha-Ha award went to the Swedish Ariel IV for having made the Northwest Passage in order to get to the starting line.

Sunday, Scott attempted to get the air conditioner working.  We flushed all the dirt out of the systems and got the heat pump operating, but still failed to get cool air.  We will need to work on that further.  I climbed the mast and replaced the (new) steaming light bulb.  One of the pins that hold the bulb in place had sheared off and the bulb was just rattling around in the housing.  Ingemar and Deborah had us over for margaritas at their penthouse suite in the beehivelike Wyndham Hotel.  It was nice to enjoy the view and relax for a couple of hours.  Ingemar and Deborah were leaving the next morning.

Monday morning, I decided I needed to get away from the boat and see a little of the town.  I got up early and went to Cabo Coffee, where I had a latte and enjoyed the fast internet.  Then I went for a walk in search of the Port Captain’s office.  It was kind of a case of, “you can’t get there from here,” but I did see a lot of old Cabo and eventually located the Port Captain’s office, which is just up Matamoros from the Giggling Marlin several blocks, in case you ever need to find it.  Between the local maps having only major street names and the streets having few signs, navigating in Cabo can be special.

Boat Yard in Cabo
The mechanic came back and spent half the day heaving the engine into proper alignment with a crow bar and reinstalling our shaft coupler.  Our alignment problem is now deemed fixed, so we are ready to go.  I installed drink holders and did a few other chores until 4:00 when Carlos arrived to take us shopping.  It took us an hour to track down Scott and then we headed out to Soriana (another big discount grocery chain) where we loaded up on meat and produce and lots of powdered Gatorade for Scott and I cleaned them out of AAA batteries.  Then we dropped by the house that Carlos shares with his girlfriend, Alejandra, to unload some groceries for her and pick up 5 gallon water jugs.  We took the jugs to the local water store, where they refilled them and we bought a couple of jugs for future use.  We schlepped the water back to the boat, poured it into the tanks, and went back for another load.

The water here on the dock is desalinated, but not treated for bacteria.  It is probably fine, but Scott didn’t want to take a chance of something growing in his tanks.  Here in the marina, water costs $10 for a 5 gallon bottle and 40 pesos for a refill.  Out by Carlos’ house, we refilled for 8 pesos.  Later refills we got in town, close by, for 12 pesos ($1.)

When we got to the second water stop, the guys were leaving to make a delivery to a hotel, so we stopped at a local tacqueria and grabbed some food to go while we were waiting.  Alejandra and I had a nice conversation in Spanish while the guys chatted in English.  She grew quite animated once she realized I could communicate with her.  She is afraid of sailing and not too thrilled about being left alone in Cabo, which is not her home town, but she is being brave about it.

It was after 9:00 PM by the time we got the water back to the boat, so we decided to skip a trip to Walmart.  Carlos left us for the night and I fried up some spicy chicken wings that I had bought at Chedraui.  Chuck, Scott and I sat in the cockpit, eating chicken wings, and drinking cold beers.  Coolers full of beer keep materializing around here.  We can hardly keep up.

Tuesday morning, Carlos (a very resourceful young man) arranged for the delivery of enough water to fill our tanks.  I spent the morning stowing loose items and cleaning up the boat.  Scott and Carlos headed off the port captain’s office to check us out and change crew lists.  It took us a long time to clear out because we were somehow not completely cleared us in, although Ingemar had been to the Port Captain and gotten our crew lists stamped.  We then spent more time buying fuel and did not depart Cabo until nearly 4:00 pm.