Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Lady of Melaque

One morning last week while at anchor off the village of Melaque, CJ and I were sitting in the cockpit sipping coffee, enjoying the quiet morning, when we noticed an interesting example of natural art.  

Across the bay from the village, in the rocky cliffs that protect the northern corner of the anchorage, we saw the image of a woman, who appears to be leaning back and gazing up at the sky.  Perhaps those are her hands, folded in prayer.  The sight was so striking, we were sure that this must be a well-known phenomenon and maybe even a famous natural monument, recorded in the folk lore of Melaque. I've done some searching online, but cannot find any mention of her.  It could be that she is only visible in very particular conditions, cause by.... the angle of the sun, the amount of green growth on the rocks.... 

Monday, January 15, 2018

SSpirit rests.... Paradise Village

Success!  The wonderful folks at Paradise Village Marina (Dick, Gina, and Anna) found room for us and even gave us, what we think, is a wonderful slip.  We're on the end of the first set of slips inside the entrance to the estuary.  We have the ocean breeze, lots of boats coming and going, fishermen tossing their nets to catch bait for the serious fishers on bigger boats, and a beautiful view.  We're also close to the pools, beach bars, and the Vallarta Yacht Club. Life is good. We'll be here for a few days before moving on.

Hope all is well with each of you.  Adios for now.  CJ

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cabo Corrientes...

Not bad for 60 hey!!
Good morning, good morning.  I’m writing you from sunny La Cruz/Puerto Vallarta, Banderas Bay.  We’re currently anchored waiting to hear if Paradise Village might have room for us today or tomorrow.  We are tired and we are elated... about to celebrate Kathy’s 60th and the completion of a round trip through Corrientes, with a wee sip of Champagne.

Thanks to all the great wisdom, advice and forecasts we collected and a bit of good luck, we picked exactly the right window.  We had choices...either stop at Chamela and Ipala, using up two nights and/but being able to travel during daylight hours... or make a long run from Chamala and go up and around Corrientes, in one shot. We know how weather windows can deteriorate quickly so we decided to seize the moment and make a run for it. We had such a good run, I feel compelled to tell you about it... hope you don’t mind.

Having worked out a course, staying one mile off the shore during daylight (because we’d be able to see the fishing boats and their nets), and then moving out to three miles after dark (because then we’d hopefully be outside the areas where they fish),    and then moving back in to 1-2 miles off the Cape (to avoid heavier seas and winds and to take advantage of a northbound current)... we then worked out the time. The total journey, from Chamela to PV, would take approx. 21 hours if we maintained an average speed of 5 knots.  And, upon advice from everyone, we wanted to be rounding the Cape between 2300 and 0100 hrs.  Lots of math, I know, but well worth the time.  We hoisted our anchor and slipped from Chamela at 1100 hrs., Saturday morning, and after quite an amazing journey, we arrived in Banderas Bay and dropped our anchor just outside La Cruz at 0800hrs.  Not bad hey.  Now let me tell you about the journey we shared with the day of Kathy’s 60th birthday.

Our 21 hours were spent with light winds, on the nose, and 2-4’ swells from the west.  The sky was a beautiful blue and the sea gave up wonderful memories to treasure. They included.... so many sea turtles swimming along, we stopped counting after twelve.  They were cute, before scurrying off with a mighty flap of their flippers, they’d poke their heads up and take a look at us. Then there were the whales.... yup, we saw several... but the best was the one that dove and breached, and then dove and breached again.... and then he did it again.  There were dolphins, not as many as we usually see, but they were there, and most enjoyable after dark when their runs at the hull in phosphorescent water, made us think of the poor sailors in WWII watching incoming torpedoes.  The most spectacular, was a coordinated run of five, all in line, away from the boat and leaving phosphorescent trails.  Must have been dinner that swam by, and off they went.  Oh, I forgot to mention the sleeping whale.  There we were, motoring along in a phosphorescent sea (which is very cool) when I heard a whoosh off the port side.  When I looked over I saw a much larger than normal field of phosphorescence... and then, just a little ways away, what looked like a submarine laying underwater and ‘catching his breath’. I do belief we startled a sleeping whale.  Thank goodness we didn’t hit him (or her).  But nothing like a sleeping submarine to catch your attention.

And, finally, there was the night sky... the best part of night passages.  The stars were amazing.  There were so many (the moon didn’t come up until morning) we had trouble picking out our favourites (Cassiopia, the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt.....) all stars we used to navigate on our run down the coast of North America in 2011.

OK, that’s enough information.  Know we are well, tired but safe, and in PV :-). Will write again once we know our next schedule.

Adios for now. CJ

Friday, January 12, 2018

Chamela in 6

Hi all, well... we estimated 6-7 hours to get to Chamela and made it in 6. And, as there's a tidbit of internet here, I'm taking advantage of it to let you know we are well. We had light winds on the nose (so no sailing) and largish rolling swells also on the nose. It was an up and down kind of a journey but we made good speed over the ground and surprised even ourselves... arriving at 1315, exactly 6 hours after we left Tenacatita. We also got to see five sea turtles and several dolphins along the way and the day was sunny and warm.

We arrived in Chamela, got the hook down and were about to nod off when we received an invitation to join the anchored group for appies on a Catamaran called Muskoka (Scott and Laurie) whom we d met some time ago. So, no rest for the wicked.

We will probably head for the Cape tomorrow and round it in the wee hours of the morning when the winds are lowest. Or not. Will let you know once we ve decided, done it, and arrived in PV. :-)

Until then... stay safe and have a great day.


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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Weather windows...

You've heard the phrase before; I've used it often when describing when and why we have to leave somewhere. It's about getting to where you hope to go, in the safest and most comfortable way. Yes, a gentle breeze from the quarter (just enough to move the boat quietly through the swells at somewhere around 6 knots)... would do nicely. Oh, and no fishing nets, trap lines, or hidden bits of hard rocky stuff would also be lovely. And, please, let there be safe and protected anchorages every so often along the route just in case the weather Gods change their minds and decide to play the Devil. Yes, wouldn't that be fantastic. But, I'm afraid if it was that easy the anchorages would be so full there'd be no room left.

OK, back to 'weather windows'. We have one... we think. They're cagey fellows, popping up on your screen and then morphing into something completely different before your eyes. The important weather for us now is the predictions of weather to be expected when going around Cape Corrientes. This will be a bit of a tough leg for us as northbound, up the coast, is usually more challenging than the southbound (downhill) leg. And so we wait and watch and compare forecasts (there are many). We interview friends with experience and folks who live for predicting weather. We chew our fingernails a bit, debate the pros and cons, voice our regrets Kathy may have to spend her 60th birthday battling oncoming seas at the Cape in the middle of the night. And then we cheer ourselves up with thoughts of a wonderful birthday dinner at the PV Yacht Club restaurant where we will tell tales of our sailing prowess and give thanks for having succeeded in besting Corrientes.

And, so my friends, this is a long winded way of telling you we think we have a window that will get us around Corrientes safely, if we leave early tomorrow morning. We'll slip at 0600 and either go for it (heading for the Cape and around it - about 24-29 hrs straight) or we'll decide to pull into Chamela, 30 NMs up the coast and wait to round the Cape on Saturday.

As always, I promise we will make the best and safest decisions... we always do. And, of course these plans, like all the others, are written in sand and subject to change at any time. We'll be in touch as and when we can and, as always, no news is good news.

We hope all is well with each of you and your days are getting brighter and longer.
Adios for now... CJ and K

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Shannon's Spirit in a little bit of paradise...

Melaque; a town for many. The beach is lined with wildly colourful palapa umbrellas and almost as many choices for meals. It has a large variety of shops that draw sailors and land travellers alike, and enough live entertainment (some of it very good) to create a cacophony of music that sometimes drifts and other times booms across the waters of the bay.

As you can see, SSpirit is enjoying it all. We even had a lovely visit on the foredeck watching the sun go down and listening to the music. We had a peaceful night, not too rolly and will leave this morning after breakfast and the morning net (every morning at 0800 or 0900, depending where you are, there is a morning radio net for the larger areas where cruisers gather... eg: Mazatlan, Banderas Bay, Barra de Navidad, etc. Under the guidance of a "net controller" we all check in, can ask questions about assistance required like where to buy groceries... and things like that. There are also local announcements and other information related to the needs or wants of the cruising fleet. It's a very useful tool and we're glad it's there. It's also a good way to stay in touch with cruising friends).

Our next destination is Cuastecomate, a small anchorage just around the next point; 3 NM away. It's supposed to be quite beautiful and a little quieter than Melaque. We shall see.

This photo was taken by our friends Marta and Murray from the beach in Melaque. They thought (correctly) we would like a memento of our visit here. Thanks very much M and M, SV Ponga.

Some of you may recall we never made it further south than Banderas Bay in previous seasons. We are very happy to have made it to our southern most goal of Barra de Navidad and now look forward to slowly making our way north. Our progress will depend upon the winds and seas which tend to slack off and then build up again. We will only travel during times of supposedly comfortable conditions so will stop and start accordingly.

We leave Melaque this morning and, for several days, will only have sketchy internet connectivity. So be well and know we are in good company. TTFN.... from paradise...CJ

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Time to move on....

Yup, it is... time to move on. Time to leave Barra and mosey all the way to Melaque... a lengthy 2 miles away :-). We're very much looking forward to being back on the hook and swimming in warm salt water. Did I tell you the water in Tenacatita is so salty I can literally stand up and stay up without moving my arms and legs? It's awesome.

Anyway, know we are well... and very ready to be heading back out to anchorages. Melaque tonight, Cuastecomate tomorrow night, and Tenacatita the day after that. Internet will be sketchy again but we'll write when we can.

Hope all is well with each of you.... CJ

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