Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in Guadalajara, the capitol and largest city in the Mexican state of Jalisco. This city is really large with a population of over 1.4 million plus visitors. Multiple bus companies run luxury busses between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara every hour almost round the clock. Check out the schedule.

Vallarta Plus Bus Schedule

Vallarta Plus Bus Schedule

On the surface it doesn’t seem too strange until you realize it is a four hour bus ride. It was a lovely ride through the mountains until we got to the sections where there are continuous ’S’ turns that last for 10-15 minutes. Some civil engineer must have spent many a year after that chuckling at all the people he made sick driving that road.

Some beautiful scenery on the bus ride

Some beautiful scenery on the bus ride

Guadalajara is broken into Zona’s and we picked Zona Minerva (also referred to as Zona Rosa) to stay in based on Fodors description as the pulse of the city with trendy restaurants, galleries, mansions and tree lined boulevards. We think it had all that but it was just as busy as the rest of the city. Rereading the description, the word quiet is missing LOL. We loved the place we stayed at, Villa Ganz. This is a boutique hotel in a historic 1930’s mansion with only 10 rooms, a lush garden, great breakfast and an honor bar in the evenings.

This is the entrance to Hotel Villa Ganz

Entrance to Hotel Villa Ganz

The grand staircase at Villa Ganz

The grand staircase at Villa Ganz

The outdoor garden at Villa Ganz

The outdoor garden at Villa Ganz

The outdoor patio in the evening.  There was a warm fire burning.

The outdoor patio in the evening. There was a warm fire burning.

The Christmas lights at Villa Ganz

The Christmas lights at Villa Ganz

So you might ask what is the draw to Guadalajara? One word, shopping. Apparently this is an international destination for shopping. I’m sure part of the draw is the history and the architecture. We spent one afternoon walking through Zona Centro where the historic Guadalajara Cathedral and other historic buildings are located.

A selfie at the Guadalajara Cathedral

A selfie at the Guadalajara Cathedral

Tlaquepaque8

Fountain

We did do our share of shopping. We walked into one 4 store building that sold only jewelry. Too overwhelming for me. We really enjoyed looking at the artist work in Tlaquepaque. We wondered though who would actually buy the large pieces of furniture and artwork we saw.

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

Bar and chairs made entirely of wood.  This was one of the smaller pieces.  Some dinning room tables were the width of our boat.

Bar and chairs made entirely of wood. This was one of the smaller pieces. Some dinning room tables were the width of our boat.

The streets of Tlaquepaque

The streets of Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque

We enjoyed great food and drinks even though things may have gotten mixed up in the translation a bit. Gary ordered a Martini one night and got a Manhattan instead. When he did get a martini he thought it was the best martini he ever had. Paco, chilled the glass with ice, vermouth and club soda. He shook the copious amount of gin and then poured it into the emptied glass but not before smelling the glass to see if the proper amount of vermouth was left in the glass. Mucho Bueno!! We also were in craft beer heaven since none is sold where we are now.

A local bar

A local bar

And the fruit was unbelievable. Vendors sold containers of cut fruit on the street throughout the city. More healthy than the Starbucks or McDonalds which we have on every corner in the states.

A fresh fruit plate for breakfast

A fresh fruit plate for breakfast

We had 48 hours and we did our best to see the highlights. With a city this size we probably missed the best parts. The elevation there is around 5,100 feet. Even with the temperatures hovering in the 70’s, people were dressed in long pants, coats and even some scarves. Clearly they were all yearning for a change of wardrobe from the summer heat.

24 Hours in Sayulita

We are back at La Cruz and ready for some exploring. Surfer town, beach town both describe Sayulita, Mexico. We threw some clothes in a backpack, hopped in a taxi and set off to have some fun hoping to find a hotel with a vacancy so we could enjoy as much food and nightlife as possible. We were dropped off right at the town plaza in the middle of all the vendors and crafts people. A totally different atmosphere than quiet La Cruz. We had read about a funky hotel on the internet and lucky for us they had a vacancy. We dropped off our backpack and climbed the rock stairs to the roof deck where a complimentary bottle of tequila and some shot glasses were waiting. The USA does wine and the caribbean does rum but here in Mexico, complimentary tequila. We managed to make a very small dent in the bottle while taking in the view then headed out to explore.

Our room at Petit Hotel d'Hafa

Our room at Petit Hotel d’Hafa

Roof top deck

Roof top deck

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With no breakfast the first order of business was street tacos and a few Cerveza’s. The fish, chicken and beef were cooked on a wood grill to perfection. We had at least 8 condiments delivered to our table. The grilled onions with chopped up habinero peppers was not for the faint of heart LOL. All fed we were ready for beach time and a siesta!

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Many dinner places to choose from but first on the list was a tequila tasting for happy hour. I think we split 4 or 5 shots all for less than $15.00 US. Never could have done that many on my own and still make it to dinner.

Tequila Bar with 350 different tequila's

Tequila Bar with 350 different tequila’s

We chose a dinner place that turned out to be just ok which served the worse Margarita we have ever tasted. Seriously, straight lime juice. Next time we will stick to street food like we had for lunch. Walking around later we could see those were the places that were packed. The shops were opened late so we got to see some different Christmas decorations. Really the first stores we’ve been in since leaving San Diego. A cup of Joe in the morning and we were back in a taxi heading to our home. Definitely on our list of places to take Austin while he is here for Christmas.

Sayulita

Sayulita

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Third Times a Charm

With the Baha Ha Ha over it was time for Greg to leave.  Since Gary, Richard and I were continuing on to Puerto Vallarta, we decided to drop Greg off at the fuel dock so we could get diesel and be on our way.  “then as suddenly as he’d come into our lives… he was gone…” (for you Captain Ron fans).  Or so we thought.

We were halfway out of the bay when Gary came up in the cockpit to ask Richard if his cell phone was charging on the nav desk.  Yup, Greg forgot his cell phone!  I knew he really wanted to come with us :)  We did a quick u-turn and made some contacts on the radio.   Greg caught his ‘life line’ as we did a ‘float by’.  We had a few laughs at his expense since the phone was in his hands looking for a signal any time land was in sight!

Greg

Greg

So back through the busy marina and out into the bay for our second attempt at leaving.  There was a cruise ship anchored in the middle of the bay and just as we were passing it the engine started to sputter.  Since we had just taken on fuel, Gary decided the fuel filter needed changing.  So up with the sails and off with the engine while he quickly changed the filter.  We fired the engine back up, pointed ourselves in the right direction then the engine dies completely. Back to the engine Gary goes to troubleshoot the problem while Richard and I slowly sail Sereno II back and forth across the bay while watching the San Francisco 49r game on the big screen TV on the top of the cruise ship.

Under 600 hours and clean as a whistle.  What could be wrong with Betty Lou?

Under 600 hours and clean as a whistle. What could be wrong with Betty Lou?

It turned out that crap in the fuel tank clogged up the fuel intake.  Gary gave the engine a blow job and cleared the blockage.  We started her back up and for the third time that day we headed out to sea only this time we made it.  Our destination was Marina Puerto Los Cabos in San Jose three hours away to wait out some weather.  Though in the back of our minds we knew we had crap in the fuel tank………

As the Captain, Gary got the honors.

As the Captain, Gary got the honors.

We arrived safe and sound and three days later the weather cleared so we were on our way.  As we were clearing the breakwater, the engine died.  With rocks on either side of us, no wind to sail with and a dingy that could not pull the boat with an outgoing tide, we dropped anchor.  Gary gave the engine another blow job and we motored to a nearby boat yard just barely making it to the dock.  They were not happy with us taking up dock space but were willing to remove the diesel from our tank so we could clean the tank ourselves.  But once the diesel was removed, they wanted us gone off their dock.  With no wind this presented a challenge, but no problemo.  We carry extra diesel on the deck in jerry cans.  Gary rigged the fuel lines so the engine was fed from a jerry can.  The couple who helped push us off the dock were shaking their heads sure we were not going to make it over to the marina.  The engine ran perfectly and once at the marina we cleaned the inside of the fuel tank using a Shop Vac.  The next day we refueled and after a sea trial determined the problem was fixed.   We were finally on our way.  It isn’t always Mai Tai’s and beach time here LOL.

After 48 hours we arrived in the Bay of Banderas in time for breakfast.  Our first stop was Marina Riviera Nayarit or better known as La Cruz Marina.  The marina is located in a small fishing village north of Puerto Vallarta.  While listening to music in a bar one night I ran into Lynn Morse who I worked with for many years.  What a small world.  And without all those delays, we probably would not have been at the same bar on the same night.

How in the world did I end up in La Cruz the same time as Lynn and at the same bar?

‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine’ (Casablanca)

Our next stop was Paradise Village Marina just outside of Puerto Vallarta.  A beach with drink service, three pools, a spa and small shopping mall.  What more could you ask for?  It was also time to say goodbye to Richard.  It was an awesome trip. Gary and I agree, Richard and Greg were the perfect crew members!

Good food, a large Margarita made for a very happy sailor!  Richard in La Cruz

Good food, a large Margarita made for a very happy sailor! Richard in La Cruz

Let the cruising begin!

Let the cruising begin!

Baha Ha Ha – Cabo San Lucas

We were warned ahead of time that going through immigration and the port captain would take hours with the volume of boats in the fleet. And because of the delay, we arrived on a Friday and both offices were not open on the weekends. So we quickly set anchor, lowered the dinghy and the four of us sped off to the dingy dock to catch a cab to immigration. Hurry up, hurry up, then wait three hours while they process your papers. Then catch a cab to the port captain, stand in line to submit papers, walk two blocks down and four blocks over to the bank to pay your port fees, walk quickly back to the port captains office because he is closing in 40 minutes, submit receipt for port fees, and wait while they complete your papers. Over four hours later we are checked in and worried that Sereno II had dragged anchor since we literally left her 15 minutes after setting anchor. So while our crew set out for lunch, Gary and I hiked back to the boat to make sure she was still where we left her. She was and now it was Corona time!

The following is Gary’s tale of the Baha Ha Ha after rally party.

The party at Squid Roe started at 8:00 pm the day we arrived in Cabo. After night watches and the crazy day with Immigration I was ready to tell the crew to go without me, but pull up my boot straps I did. We jumped in the dinghy and off we went into the dark inviting Cabo night.

Squid Roe Restaurant and Night Club is a funky 3 story unfinished ramshackle kind of place. The kind of place you could get lost or found in. As we walked in, who knew we were entering Hells playground. Beers were flying around the room like drones in Pakistan along with rum drinks and tequila jello shooters. Yes college kids were putting tequila in my jello and I loved it. I was drinking it down like some south of the border demented Witches brew. The throbbing ear piercing beat from the DJ’s  70’s, 80’s, and 90’s baby boomer sound track sent Yachties into a hot sweat lathered frenzy driving the conga line into the streets of Cabo and back into the loins of ‘Squid Roe’.
We were born again. The same age as we left but some how just a little bit younger I suspect. We had survived the Baja peninsula, a threatening hurricane and even the Mexican Immigration office. We were unbridled and bound for a good time. And if there is one thing that Yachties know how to do it is…  have a good time.

I was so happy for strapping on those boots.

The crew at Squid Roe

The crew at Squid Roe with our party hats on

The fleet at Squid Roe

The fleet at Squid Roe

Squid Roe party

Squid Roe party

The crew of Sereno II.  Thank you Richard and Greg!

The crew of Sereno II. Thank you Richard and Greg!

Sereno II at anchor

Sereno II at anchor

Baha Ha Ha – The Third and Final Leg

November 6th we pulled up anchor at 4:15 am determined that we would make Cabo San Lucas during daylight the next day. We picked our way through a bay full of boats, darn those who don’t have their anchor lights on. It was a beautiful day but no wind. Richard caught a yellowfin tuna early in the morning so fresh tuna sashimi for lunch :) Mid afternoon we all had a bit of a scare as a boat in the fleet came over with a Mayday that one of their crew was having a seizure. There were two doctors, a nurse, and EMT among the fleet so a doctor was able to help the captain. I must say the captain of that boat handled himself very calmly in a very scary situation. It really brings home how isolated you are on the ocean and is the number one reason many cruisers do the Baha Ha Ha. When you are sailing 700+ miles along a desolate shoreline, it is nice having 135 other boats with you. I’m happy to say that the crew member got to a doctor when they docked in Cabo and was reported to be doing fine.

After a brilliant sunset and the rise of a full moon, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer at the stroke of midnight on November 7th. We were now officially in the tropics. But with our weather getting warmer each day, we didn’t need no stinking chart to tell us that. I was no longer wearing a sweatshirt during my night watches! I came on watch at 4:00 am that morning excited to see Cabo San Lucas and watch the sunrise. Adding to the excitement was a cruise ship passing less than 1 nm off our starboard side. A bit close but I got a good view of how large it is. Anchor down at 8:45 am during daylight. After nearly 11 days we arrived. Let the celebration begin!

Richard's catch.  A yellowfin tuna.  Sashimi for lunch!

Richard’s catch. A yellowfin tuna. Sashimi for lunch!

You know you reached Cabo when you see the arches

You know you reached Cabo when you see the arches

Celebrating our arrival in Cabo San Lucas

Celebrating our arrival in Cabo San Lucas

Baha Ha Ha – Leg Two and Bahia Santa Maria

Finally on November 3rd we raised anchor and cleared the starting line for leg two at 10:35. Not the early start we hoped for but we needed to wait for the weather forecast to make sure Hurricane Vance was not a threat. And we had WIND. At 12:10 the sails were up and the motor off doing speed over ground of 7.1 knots. Later in the day Greg was able to deploy our beautiful spinnaker. We hit a top speed of 9.7 knots under full main and spinnaker. It was a great ride and in 8 hours we covered 72 miles. I know for you speed boat and racing fans that is sloooow but in a cruising sailboat, we were happy.

The forecast for that night was building wind and seas. For that reason Gary decided we would have two people on watch for 3 hour shifts. With four on board each person was doing 2 hour watches. The spinnaker was lowered when the winds hit 18 knots. At 1:00 am the jib was in with a second reef in the main. Winds were at 17 knots gusting to 22, which is a normal day for San Francisco Bay. It was wild but nice to actually be sailing! At checkin the next morning the fleet reported shredded spinnakers, torn main sails, a bent mast and a broken spinnaker pole. So happy our crew made the right decisions at the right times to avoid any damage to Sereno II.

By the end of this leg we were able to sail a total of 15 hours. We dropped anchor at midnight on November 5th. Yes another night anchor in an unfamiliar harbor but all went well.

Bahia Santa Maria is just a bay with no town. However, the Grand Poobah arranged for a band and food stand to travel 15 hours from the nearest town for our beach party. Their travel has to be timed with low tide otherwise the road is washed out. And if that wasn’t difficult enough, arrangements had to be changed due to the two day weather delay we had. I was impressed.
Now on to Leg Three and Cabo San Lucas!

A selfie at Bahia Santa Maria.  Greg had just finished climbing a mountain.  Richard, Gary and I, NOT lol

A selfie at Bahia Santa Maria. Greg had just finished climbing a mountain. Richard, Gary and I, NOT lol

Relaxing with Richard on my favorite seat on the boat.

Relaxing with Richard on my favorite seat on the boat.

Baha Ha Ha – Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay is about half way down the Baha Peninsula and is a normal stop for cruisers. Here you can get diesel and maybe find a few provisions in one of the small markets. This is a small village so the 3 or 4 restaurants offer few items but they do seem to have a lot of beer on hand.

Getting diesel from a panga. Who dressed him?

Getting diesel from a panga. Who dressed him?

Restaurant in Turtle Bay.  They were out of half their menu which was all the fish dishes.

Restaurant in Turtle Bay. They were out of half their menu which was all the fish dishes.

The waterfront in town is booming the two days that 135+ boats from the Baha are anchored in the bay. We woke up to pangas crossing every which way in the bay delivering diesel, water, hauling trash and providing taxi service from boats to shore and back. The sponsors of the rally arrange a baseball game with the locals who are so into baseball they had astro turf installed on their field last year. The field really stands out among the dirt roads. As a way to get to know the other cruisers, we had a potluck beach party and the local kids go trick-or-treating through the crowd.

The official departure time of the second leg was set for 8:00 am the next morning. We decided to head out at 7:00 am so we could get to our next stop at Bahia Santa Maria 240 nm away before nightfall the next day. That was the plan anyway. We raised anchor at 6:45 am really proud of ourselves for beating our planned time by 15 minutes. Right as we were exiting the bay the Grand Poobah came over the VHF to announce that we were in fact not leaving Turtle Bay due to a cautionary weather report on Hurricane Vance along with a high pressure system that was in the area. Well, additional practicing on anchoring can’t hurt. The weather delay lasted 2 days, which was not necessarily a good thing for a remote village short on supplies. We spent our time exploring the bay in the dingy and letting Greg talk us into hiking to the top of a mountain where the view was awesome but put us at risk of losing a crew member on the slippery trail!

Turtle Bay taken from shore.

Turtle Bay taken from shore.

Love our car (dingy)!  And we don't need a license to drive it LOL.

Love our car (dingy)! And we don’t need a license to drive it LOL.

These guys were trying to paddle to one of the boats to get some fish.  Greg gave them a lift.

These guys were trying to paddle to one of the boats to get some fish. Greg gave them a lift.

Baha Ha Ha – Leg One

After months of preparing the boat for Mexico, we finally came down to the last few days. Austin and crew member Richard both arrived on Friday, October 24th. We had a great time that evening celebrating Austin’s 22nd birthday first at Bali Hai for their great Mai Tai’s, then on to Stone Brewery for their great beer, and wrapping up the evening at Queenstown Bistro for a great dinner. On Sunday we said goodbye to Austin as he set off with our car back to school in Arizona. Our fourth crew member Greg arrived that night so now we were ready.

The Baha Ha Ha Rally is quite an event for the San Diego bay as 135 plus boats prepare to depart at the same time. On starting day, October 27th, we formed a parade as we passed the Harbor Patrol Fire Boats to the starting line. I never did see the actual starting line but start we did at around 11:00 am. The sails were up just for show as there was no wind. But we were excited just the same.

The crew of Sereno II.  Cindy, Gary, Greg and Richard

The crew of Sereno II. Cindy, Gary, Greg and Richard

Harbor Police Fire Boats gave us a great send off

A view of a boat in the fleet and the Harbor Police Fire Boats giving us a great send off

Parade of boats while CNN filmed overhead

Parade of boats while CNN filmed overhead

We had pirates in the fleet

We had pirates in the fleet

Gary and I as we leave San Diego

Gary and I as we leave San Diego

At 12:30 pm we crossed into Mexico and celebrated with Tequila shots. On this leg of the trip Richard caught an albacore tuna and a Mahi Mahi. We enjoyed some great sashimi on board.

Richard with his catch referred to as Mahi Mahi or Dorado

Richard the mighty fisherman with his catch referred to as Mahi Mahi or Dorado

He was still moving and right after the picture was taken I was out of there LOL

He was still moving and right after the picture was taken I was out of there LOL

Directly from the sea

Sashimi directly from the sea

I started my first ever night watch at the stroke of midnight on my birthday. It was an uneventful two hours as the seas were very calm with no wind. Motoring along I scanned the horizon every 15 minutes for other lights and checked the AIS for other vessels. Lucky the moon was almost full so it wasn’t totally dark. During the day my focus was on the water looking for sea life, boats and just the beauty of the ocean. At night my focus was on the stars. Just beautiful. Gary managed to bake me a birthday cake and we had one of my favorite meals at sunset, a fish pot using the Mahi Mahi Richard caught that day. Can’t get any fresher than that! Later that night at 11:00 pm after 60 hours at sea we dropped anchor in Turtle Bay. Coming in to an unfamiliar anchorage in the dark is not ideal. The lights from the small town and the anchor lights from the other boats is very deceiving. When I got up the next morning, the bay looked nothing like I pictured the night before :).

If I had to describe this leg I would say uneventful and a good calm introduction to off shore cruising. There was no wind for the duration of this leg so we motor sailed (sails up motor on) the entire time as did most of the fleet. We saw whales breaching, had dolphins playing around the bow of the boat and Greg saw a sea turtle. The seas started out choppy, which took me out of action for a time :(. But by the second day the seas calmed down and we had a pleasant passage down to Turtle Bay, though some wind would have been nice. We were all looking forward to walking on land, showers and meeting the rest of the fleet at Turtle Bay…………

Greg cleaning fish blood out of the dingy.  Dirty job but someone had to do it

Greg cleaning fish blood out of the dingy. Dirty job but someone had to do it

My birthday cake.  You can't tell from the picture but it is slanted to match the heel of the boat LOL

My birthday cake. You can’t tell from the picture but it is slanted to match the heel of the boat LOL

One of many beautiful sunsets

One of many beautiful sunsets

We Made Agua!

We fired up the water maker today. Left the dock and started the commission sequence at 1:00. At 1:45 we were putting new water in the tank. No leaks, no issues all thanks to Gary! Produced 20 gallons in 35 minutes which is 25 minutes less than advertised. We are very pleased. Celebrated with Cerviche, Corona’s and Tequila at our favorite local Mexican restaurant!

Hola
Cindy

Cabo or Bust

Back in the 70’s when we had the oil crisis with cars stretched for miles at gas stations and you had to choose between heating your home and feeding your kids, there was all this talk of solar energy. The plan was for every home to have an array of solar panels on their roofs and the USA would no longer be dependent on rich oil nations. Out of college I worked for Exxon Corporation in their Solar Thermal Systems division. I really believed this was our future energy source. But heck, my favorite cartoon was the Jetsons and as a kid I believed when I grew up I would be jetting through space to get to work, Ha! Fast forward 40 some years and I can finally say that Gary and I are off the grid. We installed solar panels capable of generating 500 watts of energy which is enough to power a small refrigerator, small freezer, lights, and our instruments plus phones, IPAD and laptop. It feels good!
solar 10-13-2014
Solar2 10-13-2014

Today marks our 2 week countdown until we leave for Mexico. The last month has been hectic getting projects finished. We have the water maker installed and this Wednesday we will go out in the bay and start her up. Keeping our fingers crossed that all the connections are tight and we have no leaks! Our list of things to get done is getting smaller. There are so many details for a trip like this going down 800 miles on the third longest peninsula in the world which is very desolate. We need to estimate the amount of extra diesel to carry because frankly you can never depend on the wind. Adding to the list is the fact that we are not returning to California or the USA right away. Getting our life in order making sure finances as well as Austin are taken care of and we continue to have reliable communication has taken some planning. We are both so ready to cut the dock lines and just relax! I won’t even go into all the paperwork and bureaucracy involved to allow us to enter Mexico :(

We have assembled a fine crew of accomplished sailors for the trip. Our friend Richard from San Francisco Bay just recently returned from a sailing trip in Croatia. Greg who is a dock neighbor here in Chula Vista, spent many years in South Africa and has sailed on Lake Erie and currently participates in races off the coast of San Diego. He helped us launch the spinnaker for the first time yesterday. Our menu is planned which is important since a well fed crew is a happy crew :). We get our Mexico fishing licenses tomorrow so we can catch a few dinners. This week the captain (aka Gary) will be working on our crew shifts as well as our sailing course. For the last month Gary and I have been taking a navigation course through the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. So hopefully this will help us to arrive in Cabo San Lucas as planned rather than the Galapagos Islands (just kidding Barb)! As we add more things, Sereno II is looking more and more like a cruising boat as you will see from the pictures below.

Over dinner yesterday I happen to glance at my phone and noticed for the first time the date, October 12th. Gary and I went on our first date 40 years ago to a dance at Lenape Valley Regional High School. Who knew 40 years later almost to the day we would be starting on our cruising adventure! How life just keeps evolving.

Hola
Cindy
Dingy 10-13-2014 Our new dingy hanging off the stern davits

Will we have enough diesel

Will we have enough diesel


Baha pic Cabo or bust