Monday, February 25, 2013

Life in La Cruz… a pleasing time zone

Time… what a concept.  So often there’s ‘no time to do anything’ or it’s ‘time to go’ or ‘time to get up’ or… you know… it’s all ‘about time’. Here, in this pleasing time zone called La Cruz, complete clumps of days (all 24 hours of each of them) seem to blend into one big blurr and when finally you surface to see what it is you’re supposed to be doing today… you actually have to check a wrist watch and find your calendar to figure out which day it is and ‘then’ what you’re to be doing.  Doesn’t sound like a couple of Capricorns does it?  Well, seems once we decided to stop trying to ‘get somewhere’ (many assured us we had plenty of ‘time’ to make it to Barra and back even)… once we decided that what we really wanted to do was to just chill right here, in this very pleasing place, our sense of time just kind of dribbled away.  And so,here we are, spending each day not too differently than the one before, enjoying not setting alarm clocks, and just taking our own sweet time – about almost everything

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PHOTOS: La Cruz Marina Malecon, La Cruz Marina docks, Naps in paradise??

Now some of you, I suspect, are a tad interested in what it is we ‘do’ each day (the interesting stuff anyway)… and others of you may just follow us here in your own boats… and be wondering about a few more specific things….  so, today’s post is a little bit about both….  hope you enjoy it.

Our days begin quite simply,much like anyone else. We wake when we’re ready and make a trip to the marina washroom and showers.  In La Cruz, if you’re interested, there’s a yoga class every morning from 0800 – 0900 in the cruisers lounge (same building).  The rest of us, not so flexible folks, just return to our boats, make the coffee, check our emails, walk our dogs, make the days milk (yes, we’ve found that NIDO powdered milk tastes better than all the others and doesn’t require complicated cooling to keep. We just make up what we need for the day and stick it in the cooler).

VHF Channel 22 is the channel that the cruisers use at each anchorage or marina  as a hailing channel.  It’s like our ‘telephone’.  We call each other on 22, then switch to another for chatting.  As well, each morning there’s a Cruisers Net which is kind of like ‘reading the newspaper’. The morning net in La Cruz starts at 0830 hrs. with a ‘cruisers check in’ and then leads us through a series of information pieces… like medical or other emergencies, weather, tides, new arrivals, boats leaving, assistance or services required, rides or crew requests, and (my personal favourite) ‘treasures of the bilge’… like a swap meet only by radio, and finally news and announcements about all that’s happening around town – the yoga, Spanish and other classes, seminars and presentations aimed at the puddle jumpers (boats heading off to the South Pacific but open to all of us), the many bands that are playing and where they play (almost every restaurant has live music several nights of the week…. this is really a very musical town) and any special events (like today there’s a full moon paddle followed by a bonfire….Kathy’s going to go in it and Sophie and I will cheer her on….). Anyway, it’s a great way (and about the only way) to stay in touch so most everyone spends that hour ‘at home’ and listening to the radio.  We try to have coffee and breakfast at the same time… today, I’m working on this Blog as I listen.. so it all works out.  Here’s an example of why we listen.  I’ve just heard the weather forecast and am very glad we’re not planning on going anywhere…  there’s strong Northerlies building and high winds expected.

Once the net is over, the main part of the day begins… sometimes with a list of chores, sometimes on a planned adventure, and still other times with no plans at all. And so it goes.. one day blends into the next which mixes with the one after that.  Even the Ships Log is suffering from lack of specific attention.  The good news is… there is no bad news. We’re enjoying each and every day.  Our loose plan includes moving to Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta on Wednesday.. just to see how the other half are living.  It will also give us a chance to visit some old friends in the Old Town.  But that’s still a loose plan… and only ‘time’ will tell. :-)  

And now, a few specifics for those who follow…

La Cruz Marina (or more correctly Marina Riviera Nayarit) is quite beautiful.  Manicured lawns and gardens surround the main building which houses the marina office, the washrooms and showers, the cruisers lounge and a very nice open-air rooftop restaurant. There are over 300 slips set out in an easy to understand dock plan… and they usually have room for boats coming in.  A word of warning:  Don’t do as we did and abandon your safety habit of preparing both sides of the boat with fenders and lines when approaching. The folks you speak with on the radio… the ones who assure you you’re coming to a port or starboard tie dock….  don’t always get it right.  Be prepared for either and then there’ll be no nasty surprises. One other disappointment is the lack of potable water at the dock.. or anywhere other than the big blue bottles you can purchase.  Disappointing that a marina of this size and stature hasn’t installed a water purification system yet.  Perhaps in ‘time’ :-) Staff at the marina are very friendly and helpful.  Most speak fair English.. except for some reason the staff in the tienda (store).  The two women there appear to have no interest in helping you with language and as you struggle to explain yourself… they just speak Spanish faster at you… no help at all and a very frustrating experience.  As well the supplies in the store are not particularly cruiser friendly or maintained…  but no fear, real tiendas are a short walk away and stocked with all you could possibly need.  While there is a woman who picks up laundry from the cruisers lounge and delivers it back the same day, we prefer a little place called Yanets (second road to the right after walking out of the marina entrance). She’s good, cheap and open till 8 PM vs. the other who wants to deliver to your boat at about dinner time (requiring you to be there to pay her). We’re very comfortable here.. the docks are good and the neighbours (many boats we already knew, and others we’ve met) are great.  And, as I’ve mentioned there’s no end of things to do.. if you want to.  for instance:

The restaurants:  I know, I know… always with the stomach.  But hey!  How can you not.. the price of beer is still 1/5th of that at home.. and the meals.. well they too are delicious and cheap.  Some of our favourite places include: Restaurant El Coleguita (affectionately known as Cafe 109… which should now be Cafe 119) where every entre costs only 119 pesos, includes soup and dessert, and is initiated with a few shots of free Tequila and concluded with a Baileys ‘on the house’ (a good place for a small group meal… lots of fun); Cocina Economica (a quiet door on a quiet street, with but a few tables) family run, simple fare, well prepared; Glorietta’s, another quiet front, just uphill from the tour place, which is one block up from Ya Ya’s…  great chef = great food…we had the coconut shrimp with mango sauce… very yummy; Ya Ya’s – a cruisers hangout with a free book exchange, good breakfasts… and lunch and dinner too; Philo’s – another cruisers hangout with good marguerita’s and live music every evening; Frascoti’s – the local Italian restaurant (managed by a Swiss fellow), great food and very nice ambiance; Masala’s – rated #1 in La Cruz, great food, service, ambiance and entertainment; Street Tacos – country/traditional, someone’s house and front yard turned in to a thriving taco business…  great food, prices and beer.  That’s just a sampling of the many good restaurants in La Cruz.. these are the ones we’ve experienced and would recommend to anyone.  Days and hours of business vary.. and often change… so check before you hike… and enjoy

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PHOTOS: Bucerias lunch with friends Linda & Bev , Now that’s a Snapper! , Still more for the fish market…

The activities:  Wow,… where to start.  Music – almost every night… at many of the restaurants…  great bands playing everything from Rock ‘N Roll to Jazz; Trip to Bucerias:  for a whole 16p you can take a Collectivo (that’s a small air-conditioned van with bench seats that runs from community to community.  They’ll stop when you wave at them and charge you what they feel is right… and it’s usually a very fair price.) from La Cruz to Bucerias.. 20 minutes up the road. In Bucerias you’ll find more good restaurants, a Saturday market,  and Javier Vicente (a master weaver of Oaxacan rugs) and his shop (Arte Oaxaca) with displays of various sizes and vibrant colours of beautiful rugs for all uses. La Cruz Sunday morning Farmers Market – a fabulous collection of local vendors selling everything from home made honeys, curries, baked goods, clothing, jewellery, high quality souveniers and food of all kinds – combined with the ever-present fish market and entertainers that transform the malecon into a wondrous event not to be missed. Tours of the adventurous types…  a local woman named Alice leads cruisers on numerous adventures including hikes up to waterfalls and volcanoes, and road trips inland to several different villages each with their own special history and unique sites, and Enrique, the fellow who runs the local ‘tours’ store, sells tours of a huge variety.  We took advantage of his Canopy River Zip Line tour and enjoyed a day zipping through the mountains and down a river on the longest zip line in Mexico – complete with a mule ride at the end, a nice restaurant with cold beer, and a great Tequila tasting room.. mmm, the chocolate/coffee tequila was fantastic and a small bottle may have found it’s way into Shannon’s larder to be saved for a cold day…or at least manana.

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PHOTOS: Fishing pangas at the market,  Farmers Market veggies… ,  … all need to be soaked first… 

Marine Hardware and services… always of interest. You can often find what you’re looking for just by asking for it on the morning net.  Failing that, there is a small marine hardware store just down the malecon from the marina.  The larger store is called Zaragoza Marine and is in Puerto Vallarta (a bus ride away).  It is expensive but does have quite a bit of stock. Bottom line… it’s still better to carry what you can with you.  There are other services available throughout the bay… and there will always be someone who knows who you need to speak to.. just ask.  We’ve been pleased with a service called PV Marine Group and Jack Tinsley. Fuel: Marina La Cruz has a fuel dock; Paradise Village does not; Nuevo Vallarta marina is supposed to have.  There is a magazine called VALLARTA nautica, published every year, and containing tons of specific information regarding each of the ports in Banderas Bay as well as their services and service providers. You can pick it up at the marina offices.



PHOTOS: Shannon’s new Oaxacan rug,  Senorita Sophie at the beach… very cool

Well… I think that’s probably enough information for even the most curious of you…. have to rest up to cheer on Kathy (and I think Sophie now wants to go with her) this afternoon as they join in the Full Moon Paddle fest…  a splashing event where paddlers will paddle around the marina, picking up balloons with surprises attached….  followed by a Full Moon Bonfire, music, and (wait for it…..) beer….  :-)  later.  

Best wishes to all of you from all of us… hope all is well at your end of the planet….  bye bye for now..   CJ  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

La Cruz… my new favourite place!

Hi there…  When last we ‘spoke’, we had just arrived at Chacala… the bay of our dreams and our big time goal. The bay itself was as beautiful as we remembered and we felt very proud, sailing in under our own ‘steam’ from the water side this time.  We even managed to set a stern anchor for the first time, and we enjoyed our celebratory champagne. The next day, Sunday, we awoke to fairly rolly seas, but not so lumpy that we couldn’t get off the boat, into the dinghy and head to shore…to the beach.  ‘twas about the time we landed in the little sandy cove by the panga line, we noticed how many families were also enjoying the beach and the Tuba bands and the other wandering minstrels.  Aaaaah, it’s SUNDAY….  the weekend…. the day(s) when many local families come from near and far to enjoy the body-surfing and sunbathing at Chacala.  It was definitely busier than we remembered.  We did however enjoy a trek through the small town and a cold cervesa or two at a beachfront Palapa, visiting with cruising friends. The afternoon wore on and we finally decided we’d best be getting back to the boat before the waves got even bigger.  The wind was picking up and so were they.  And, over a cervesa or two, cruiser talk had meandered around to the weather and the forecast that said how the winds and seas were going to get worse the next day…  Hmmmm, seems we may not be able to realize that dream of a week lazing around Chacala at anchor… (this time).

Back to the boat we went and after some significant acrobatics (including CJ almost getting flipped out of the dinghy) we got the outboard back onto the stern rail bracket, and the dinghy up onto the davits and lashed tight.   Dear Shannon was rolling sufficiently that we didn’t even go swimming, afraid we wouldn’t be able to grab the boarding ladder without getting beaned by the stern coming down… so we enjoyed the view, hanging on until the swells calmed down for the evening (which they did) and we slept. 

Up early the next morning, we managed to retrieve our stern anchor without launching the dinghy and then we weighed anchor completely, heading out of the bay ahead of the pack…  the rest fell in behind and off we all ‘motored’ towards Punta Mita, La Cruz and PV. As we travelled south the wind filled in and the seas built.  Up went the main to stabilize the boat and ease the rolling…(the seas were on the beam of course).  Then, as the wind increased…one reef, then two reefs went into the main.. and the genoa was furled to about 50%.  With both sails reefed we managed to keep Shannon’s speed down to about hull speed and enjoyed a vigorous and raucous sail down the coast… When we rounded the point at Punta Mita and headed into Banderas Bay the seas came from behind and, with the wind up near 20, we had a great sail towards La Cruz.  Whales were everywhere.. breaching and spy-hopping… huge splashes. Some came quite close to the boat while others just gave us a show in the distance.  We arrived at the marina mid-afternoon and, after another gong-show getting in to our slip (the marina had double-confirmed our slip was a port-side tie.. so we stupidly set up on the port side only.. ignoring our house rule of always setting up lines and fenders on both sides….).  Of course, as we approached it all went sideways. The narrow slip we were to fit into was a starboard tie..not port.  The wind was pushing us from behind, and….. you guessed it….. the shift cable refused to give me reverse.  I’ll save you the full details of the embarrassing manoeuvring, but suffice to say with the help from several folks on the dock, and  no doubt some very good luck… we made it into our slip without hitting anyone or crashing into the dock. 

Jack (expert #5)  is working on the shift cable as I write.  He seems like a very nice guy and is attacking the problem from the other end of the cable (the hard to get at end… the one the other experts didn’t even acknowledge) so I have high hopes he will succeed. Time will tell.

In the mean time, we’re loving La Cruz. The marina is new and big and several of our friends are here.  There’s free yoga every morning and happy hours with a game called Mexican Train (Kathy likes Mexican Train…. and I like happy hours).  As well, there are nice restaurants here and in the town, which is a small to mid-sized Mexican town, not far from Bucerias and Puerta Vallarta.  We plan to stay here at least two weeks and then move all the way across the bay (about 2 miles) to Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta.  Guess we’ve decided it’s time for us to relax and just enjoy some of the good life.  

Tomorrow is February 14th. All of us here on Shannon… want to wish all of you… a very happy Valentine’s Day.  We hope you’ll be spending it with your loved ones and looking forward to a bright future filled with good fun, love and laughter.

Photos that follow, from L to R:

First Row: View of the anchorage at La Cruz; our new home-made bimini; Keeping Kathy cool;

Second Row: The pinnacle rocks, east side of Isla Isabel;  beach at Chacala; grounds at Marina La Cruz

Third Row: Docks at Marina La Cruz… Shannon’s in there somewhere :-)

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Wish you were here…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to twitch my nose and transport each of you here… to Shannon… even for just a short time. There’s so much to see and experience.  A lot of it is hard to explain, hard to find words to describe, hard to share what your heart feels.  There’s often times that aren’t much fun, like the constant attention to things that break and/or just stop working. The wear and tear on equipment and materials, and the damage wrought by excessive humidity, is confounding. It’s not like anything we’re used to in BC. And, the frustration of failed attempts to correct something, even when you know what the problem is… but it just won’t fix, can be very disappointing. Take our engine’s shift cable for instance.  This thin piece of wire, covered with a shiny black sheath was replaced just before we left. It’s new, yet its refusal to shift fully into forward before one fix or reverse after the next, continues. It has played coy with no less than four experts so far (feigning the correct response, then returning to it's devilish ways as soon as we move on). And, I’ll not speak of the e-meter or the auto pilot lest they be listening and given nefarious ideas (they appear to be working at the moment). But they (those that have gone before us, who may be smarter than us, or at least more patient than us…) they say this working on your boat in paradise is just part of the journey and so we continue - believing we’re doing the right things in the right places and for the right reasons.

So, enough about the repairs… and onward with the adventure. Now, if you’ve taken the time to sneak a peak at some of the other blogs I’ve referred you to over the past many months, you’ve read some really good stuff and viewed some beautiful photography. Those blogs are extraordinary and the folks who create within their ‘pages’ are great… cruisers and adventures like us.  All are talented writers, some are artists with a camera and together their stories reflect the complete life of cruising.  We haven’t continued on into the South Pacific like some, and we haven’t sold our home and moved aboard, leaving BC for unknown horizons. Our journey is ‘ours’. We love BC and have every intention of living there in to old age. We’re just taking a few years now to explore and satisfy some urges of our souls… the urge to challenge ourselves (the trip down the coast), the urge to sail in blue water out of sight of land (pretty much most of what we’re doing), the urge to meet new people in a different country and learn about their lives, their culture and their language - six months at a time – specifically those six months when it’s cold and wet at home. And, so here we are.  This season is the first of possibly two we will spend exploring the mainland portion of Mexico (from Mazatlan south).  Stories of this exploration follow. Wish you were here.

We’re not connected to internet right now so I’m going to record some of our ‘day to day’ happenings as they occur and then post them when I can… so, here goes.

Thursday, Feb. 7

After weeks of waiting and prepping and then reuniting the ships crew, Shannon is finally ready to go. We slipped quietly (or as quietly as a diesel engine can sound) away from our slip and headed out the channel at 0630 hrs. That was slack tide and neither of us had any wishes to tangle with the currents and eddies that occur when the tide is running in the channel.  We did, however, have to contend with dozens of small and large fishing boats (of the recreational variety) all trying to leave at the same time.  We wended our way through their paths and carefully negotiated the shallow and S shaped exit/entrance and had just breathed a sigh of relief when the largest of all of the fishing vessels decided to blast by us at warp speed.  Man did he push a lot of water…  We managed to turn in to it just in time, but not before I was forced to give him the official “gee, thanks for that” wave. Anyway, the day was beautiful and seas fairly calm (just large, rolling seas – many seconds apart) and so we began the process of reintroducing the new auto pilot part to the rest of its brothers and sisters.  That took about an hour of driving in circles (that’s what you have to do in order to line up the whatchamacallits with the whoozimejiggers  so that the auto pilot will be able to steer the boat without babysitting). Anyway, the auto pilot finally told us he was ready to take over and off we went, heading south towards Isla Isabel and on constant watch for fish nets. We’ve been warned about these fish nets by many… and the stories of their ability to foul your rudder and your prop abound.  In fact, many cruisers now choose to not even try to visit Isla Isabel because of them. We had made that decision too… given the nets and the instability of the weather (they also say that you should only anchor at Isla Isabel in perfectly calm weather… the anchorages aren’t great for shelter or holding). But, like all good cruisers, we’d changed our minds and decided to give Isabel a try.  So off we headed on Thursday morning, the start of a 19 hour journey. Had you been with us, you would have enjoyed one of our best sailing days.  It was marvelous! By mid afternoon we were rolling along under a double reefed main and a 1/3 furled genoa… at 5 knots.  The sky was blue, the sun was hot and there were just a few whispy clouds on the horizon. We carried on into the night under sail only and by midnight we were trying to slow down.  We’d done far too well during the day and realized we were going to get to our ‘daybreak’ waypoint way too soon… like 4 hours too soon.  We didn’t want to approach Isla Isabel until we had daylight (in order to avoid those dastardly nets) and so we slowed right down and sailed from midnight on under just the double-reefed main… doing about 2-3 knots.  We still got there too early, so we spent from 0400 until 0630 hrs. sailing back and forth and ‘hoving to’ approximately 10 nms north of Isabel. That was fine, rather peaceful really… and the prudent thing to do (for us).

Friday, February 8th

Once we could see where we were going, we continued on our way.  Guess how many fish nets and traps we saw?  NONE. Oh well, better safe than sorry. By the time we were approaching the islands (Isla Isabel has a few rocky bits off her north shore) the seas had been building and even though the winds were light, the choppy seas were sweeping down the east side of the island.  We approached our intended anchorage (east side) and saw that there was no anchorage at all…  the pinnacles (large rocks standing out of the water) were not creating any calm water and we would not have been comfortable or safe anchored in their lee.  We continued on to the south anchorage and saw two boats already anchored there.  The lack of space and the forecast for seas to swing to SW (which they may or may not) gave us cause to decide to move on and try again another time; and so we did… move on that is.

The winds were too light to guarantee us our necessary speed (we now had another 8 hours to go until the next possible anchorage) and so me motored, heading south towards Metanchen Bay.  There were a few nets along this route and some fishing boats working the area.  We were vigilant. At one point I spied a pole with a black flag on it and, while we were searching the seas for a corresponding float, a panga with two young fellas pulled up to it and started hauling in their net.  As we passed, one held up a large fish and called over. Kathy engaged him in conversation the gist of which was that he wanted to sell us the fish.  We slowed down and motored back,only to learn he wanted $20 (that would be US) for it.  We sped up and steered away with a thank you and a good by… at which point the price plummeted to 100 pesos.  Well, that was much better (more like $8) and so we returned. Kathy (brilliant girl that she is) then further negotiated the filleting of the fish (for an additional 20p – about $1.75).  Bottom line, for 120p and two packages of cookies, we have fresh fish…enough for two meals. We waved goodbye to Jimmy (with the diamond earrings) and his buddy… and carried on our way.  I’d been fishing religiously for hours without a bite…  I humbly  put away my rod while Kathy packaged the filets for the freezer :-)

Whilst under way, we had tried to call any vessels in Chacala on the VHF with no luck.  Another boat, the SV Gemini with Les and Diane on board, did return our call tho’ and we had a nice chat.  They were anchored in Metanchen Bay (our destination) and assured us there was room as they were they only boat in there and it was huge.  So we continued on and arrived at approximately 1630 hrs. and anchored well (well, except for the shift cable which didn’t seem to like reverse this time).  No time was lost in donning swim suits and jumping in to the 82 degree water… aaaaaah, after a long hot day it felt wonderful!  You’d have liked it too. The bay really is beautiful.  It’s huge with a long sandy beach and some rough looking palapas on shore. We were delighted with the view and the peaceful seas and settled in for a quiet evening.

Saturday, Feb. 9th

We awoke to a beautiful, calm, sunny day and decided to spend another day in this little bit of paradise.  We’d just finished setting up the shade cloths and putting together and launching the flopper stopper when, at 1030 hrs., Gemini (having weighed anchor when we weren’t watching) motored by.  Les was very tactful but his message was clear.  Given the recent history of thefts and a boarding in the Bay, they weren’t comfortable anchored here as the only boat. Now, we can be pretty thick at some times, but it didn’t take too long for these two gals to figure out two boats minus one, leaves one. Hmmmmm.   It was 1108 hrs. precisely when Shannon’s anchor broke the surface on its way to the anchor roller. 40 minutes.. not bad, considering all the ‘stuff’ we had to retrieve and unset and pack away… a new record for us I think.  It was, after all, a beautiful day and a great day for a downwind sail to Chacala :-)

Chacala lay 22 nms south of us and it really was a beautiful day and a great sail. Heck, we even shook the reef out of the main. We did motor a bit too in order to charge up the house batteries.  We’d used them a lot, with all instruments including radar on while we sailed through the night on Thursday/Friday.  Gemini was ahead of us and radioed back to report whales everywhere.. and indeed they were.  They were breaching and tail wacking and doing all kinds of fun things.  Our cameras were busy, although it’s probably like taking photos of eagles in trees….

We arrived at Chacala and by 1630hrs. we had both hooks down.  Yup, our first time using a stern anchor (which is necessary here to keep the boat heading into the swells). Even facing the seas as they come into the bay, the boats move up and down and roll from side to side.  I’m sure we’ll get used to it, but it is not called a ‘rolly anchorage’ for no reason.  They say the anchorage can hold 7 boats.  Gemini was number 5, we were 6 and #7 came in just behind us. 

A short story…   Four or five years ago, when we had been vacationing at Rincon de Guayabitos, we ran in to friends Dorothy and Steen. They invited us to join them on a road trip north to a nice beach they knew of… and we accepted.  We drove for about 45 minutes as I recall, parked the van, walked through some older palapas and out on to the beach.  The scene took our breath away. The white sand beach, backed with palm trees, curved away from us, semi-circling the bay. And three cruising sailboats, not much larger than Shannon, lay at anchor just off shore.  This was the year we’d really been struggling with the decision of whether or not to sail south. That day, that moment we stepped onto the beach at Chacala, we looked at each other and agreed…  yes, we’re going to do it. We’re going to sail back to this piece of paradise on our own boat.  The decision was made.  Thank you Dorothy and Steen. 

Chacala is just as beautiful as we remembered, and now we’re one of those cruising sailboats anchored in the bay.  Tomorrow we will go ashore and explore.  For now, it’s bathing suit time again…  and time for the champagne we’ve been carrying for quite a while, waiting for this day to happen. There’s still no internet, so this ‘log’ will continue until I can send it…  thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


It's time.  Our bags are packed (sort of) and we're ready to go (mostly) and so....  we're going to: go that is. Tomorrow morning, at 0630 hrs., the good ship Shannon will slip her lines and head quietly away from the dock (we hope).  The tide will be slack and the morning winds usually aren't - windy that is.  It should be a nice, smooth leaving. It's funny how little time it takes to become a tiny, wee bit apprehensive...  but experience tells us that once we're away and heading out to sea... everything equalizes.

Tomorrow we will point our collective noses south and head towards a small, rocky island called Isla Isabel. There are two Isla Isabels; one in the Galapagos and one in the Sea of Cortez.  There may be more, but these are the two we are aware of.  Ironically, the Isla Isabel in the Sea is called the Galapagos of the Sea of Cortez.  It's famous for its colony of blue-footed Boobies and other such critters.  There is a fish camp and a research base on the island and not much more... other than birds and iguanas and snakes and things...  The anchorage is a little tricky but they say the sights to be seen whilst hiking the trails make it quite worth while. We won't be able to stop there unless the weather is fairly calm.  Given the changing winds and seas, the best we can do is head towards the island and decide when we are much closer whether or not the conditions will allow us to stop.  If they do, great.  We'll spend the afternoon hiking the trails and taking photographs.  If they don't; oh well, we'll try again another time and, instead, head to Ensenada de Matanchen... a shallowish bay just outside San Blas. Oh yes, I mustn't forget to mention the fish nets.  Horrible tales abound about the traumas of catching one's keel, or rudder, or even worse... the prop... in one of the miles long floating long-line fishing nets....  It is a problem... and enough of a fear to keep one somewhat on edge.  We shall gauge our speed so as to be at least 5 miles off Isla Isabel at daylight.  It takes good light to espy the tiny coke bottles and other such floats the local fishermen use to buoy their nets.  It will be a constant worry as we sail, but there's no way to avoid the territory.  We'll let you know how it goes.

We'll likely be out of internet range for a while so I thought I'd drop a note to tell you our 'loose' itinerary.
We'll leave Mazatlan and head towards Isabel.  We should arrive off Isla Isabel on Friday morning and if we decide to go in, that will be for Friday afternoon and overnight.  We will probably leave on Saturday morning and continue on our way to either Matanchen bay or another beautiful anchorage called Chacala.  Now notice I'm using words like 'should' and 'probably'? That's because we are cruising and, as cruisers, we're allowed to change our minds and stay longer, or leave sooner, or turn right (starboard) or left (port) whenever we want.... so no worries eh...

Chacala... paradise... cruisers delight...  This little bay is the reason we are here.... truly.  Several years ago when Kathy and I were visiting Rincon de Guayabitos we joined friends for a little road trip.  We drove for a little while, then exited the van and found our way along a short dirt road, through a row of palapas, and onto a beach that took our breath away.  Clean, white sand, sparkling blue water, and three cruising sailboats not much bigger than Shannon at anchor.  That was the day we decided and committed to sailing down the coast...  and, here we are.

Our ultimate goal for this little jaunt is to spend several days in Chacala, visiting the village and enjoying the bay.  We plan to then continue south to La Cruz for at least two weeks of relaxing.  La Cruz is supposed to be a very cruiser friendly and very dog friendly place... a great combination for us.  We may or may not venture further to PV. Time will tell.

So, dear friends, that's it for now.  We'll write when we can.  Remember you can always check our location by clicking on "Where is Shannon Now?" on the front page of the Blog.  And don't forget to then scroll down and read a couple of sentences about our location.  We do that by SSB every chance we can.

We here, on board the good ship, hope all is well with all of you.  Talk to you soon... or at least from another venue.  Adios amigas y amigos.  CJ

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ship’s Company… present and accounted for.

At last…

I haven’t written for a while…  haven’t had to deal with losing two dads in 41 days before… didn’t realize how the effects would affect (or is it the other way ‘round?  hard to tell I was an English major)… anyway, it took a while before I even wanted to think about writing… but, like it or not, IIIII’m back!

And… so is Kathy.  The “Ship’s Company” is present and accounted for.  CJ, Kathy and the gorgeous, vivacious, one and only (can’t believe she had to be ‘groomed’ twice in one month to get it right) Princess Sophie… are all together again… Oh.. and, of course, the good ship Shannon features in here prominently too.

So folks, here we are in sunny, winds are slowing down a bit, Mazatlan and, while you may think we should rush out right away and catch up on all that cruising time… we’ve decided that, as we ARE cruisers, we can change our mind as often as we want…blame it on the high tide wiping out all those plans.. written in the sand :-)  We’ve decided to stay here in Mazatlan for a few more days.  We’re both pretty tired (physically and emotionally) and so we’re going be tourists for a few days.. and lay by the pool(s) (oh yes, I meant to tell you, we came back to El Cid Resort & Marina… Kathy really never had a chance to experience it before and it is a little greener and cleaner than the others down the estuary).  I should tell you tho’, I really like Marina Mazatlan.  They’re more of a marina, whereas El Cid is more of a resort.  Both are great.. and/but I’m sorry to say the washrooms, showers and internet connections at Marina Maz. leave an awful lot to be desired. We’re back at El Cid and lovin’ it.

Can you believe it?  We went to Karaoke last night. Noooo, neither of us grabbed the mic and broke in to tune (even tho’ it was suggested that my rendition of “Little Peter Rabbit” might have been appropriate… I resisted the urge, and watched instead); and here’s what happened.  First of all there was a group of folks there, entertainers from a Cruise Ship.. they had a lot of fun… we had fantastic entertainment.. including the couple who wrote and sing “The Red Necked Yacht Club”… a favourite amongst the cruisers.  And then, a young Mexican woman (early 20’s, late teens I’d say) walked up from the back of the room and belted out a few songs better, I think, than the original entertainers ever did. She was amazing and I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a job on a Cruise Ship by the end of the evening…  And then, if that wasn’t enough.. well who knew the great voices of our fellow cruisers.. really quite amazing to me.  That was the best concert (cleverly disguised as Karaoke) I’ve ever been to.  Oh did I mention?  It was also all the pizza and beer you can eat and drink for 120pesos each…  :-)

Life here continues… with domestic and vessel maintenance and preparations.  It’s funny, the work on the boat never seems to end.  You fix one thing, turn around, and there’s something else hanging by one hinge, or falling away at one corner.. or just plain broken.  And so it goes… But, hey, we’re in Mexico…  what a great place to be workin’ on the boat….

We are fine; and we are glad to be here.  We miss our families and our friends… especially right now after such great losses.  And, our hearts go out to more than a few of our friends who have also lost members of their families recently.  It’s a tough time.. one we all have to go through eventually, but it’s life. And so, I figure the best thing to do is to keep livin’ it… and to make every day count… and to enjoy and to nurture the friendships we make along the way…  They’ll support us (and we’ll support them) kinda forever… however long that is.

And so dear friends.. with that I will leave you… chores and the hot tub are calling.. and besides, we’re off to do the Art Walk tonight.. it’s an opportunity to view the works of many artists here in Mazatlan. They open their shops and their homes (some beautiful, old homes with wine bars) on the first Friday of every month.  It’s also a great way to see some of the old town on foot.  So off we shall go.. in search of culture, art, and wine….

From all of us, to all of you……. have a great day and a wonderful life…..  Carolyn

A few photos for you….  Shannon all waxed and cleaned, Miss Sophie after Clip #2 (phew!), a girl and her beach, fender protection… very cool, teak and winches cleaned and spiffed….

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