Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, Mexico

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Do you remember where Andy in the movie Shawshank Redemption wanted to go when he was released from prison? That is where we are now, Zihuatanejo or most often referred to as Zihua. A beautiful bay surrounded by the Sierra Madre.

When we arrived in the area we started out in a marina in Ixtapa, which is just one bay over. Ixtapa was built in the mid 70’s along the same lines as Cancun. Build condo’s and hotels and they will come. While Cancun is wild and crazy, Ixtapa is more laid back and attracts an older crowd. It had some good restaurants and we were able to celebrate Gary’s birthday at a nice Mediterranean place. But that was pretty much all Ixtapa had to offer. So after 4 days we motored over to Bahia Zihuatanejo and dropped the anchor off the beach.

Zihua was a sleepy fishing village until Ixtapa was developed. It is now a major tourist attraction though walking through the streets it doesn’t seem all that crowded. We have a dinghy ‘valet’ who for 10 pesos each way helps us land and launch our dinghy in the surf. Could really have used him in Tenacatita instead. The surf is much larger there and we have been tossed out of the dinghy twice!

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Bahia Zihuatanejo

Bahia Zihuatanejo

Bahia Zihuatanejo

Bahia Zihuatanejo

The Zocalo (town square) was really hopping with Mexican’s and gringos on Sunday and Saturday nights with concerts and food.

Cooking on the Zocalo

Cooking on the Zocalo

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Basketball game on the Zocalo

Basketball game on the Zocalo

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The chef is across the street where the BBQ is

The chef is across the street where the BBQ is

We are making our rounds of the local restaurants. Here is our chef from last night. He made us grilled shrimp, grilled tuna, along with grilled vegetables right on this barbecue. The meal also came with beans and french fries. All that with four beers and ice cream for 450 pesos or $24.00 US including the tip.

Our chef on the barbecue

Our chef on the BBQ

Great acoustic guitar player

Great acoustic guitar player

We did find one place serving craft beer and Mezcal is big here. It comes with oranges slices and three different types of sea salts. We ordered guacamole, and it came with a float of Mezcal!

We found 'Artisanal' beer along with a shot of mezcal

We found ‘Artisanal’ beer along with a shot of mezcal

Here are some other sights from around town.

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

A note to the town of Zihuatanejo. Clean up your bay!! More cruisers will come and spend money in town if your water is clean so we can swim off our boats and use our water makers. It will probably be a lot easier to fill up your hotels and condos as well.

Fair winds,
Cindy

Manzanillo, Mexico

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After we left Barra, we had a quick 4 hour sail down to Bahia Manzanillo where we anchored in front of the Las Hadas hotel. If you followed our blog last year, you might remember that we left Sereno in Barra and took a road trip to Manzanillo and stayed overnight at this hotel where the movie 10 with Bo Derek was filmed.

We had a great Italian dinner on shore and headed out the next morning on an overnight sail to Ixtapa. This part of the coast is very remote with small villages scattered here and there. All of these villages have fishermen whose idea of fishing is stretching long lines with coke bottles or small buoy’s tied on every 100 yards or so out in the ocean. The lines have hooks to catch the fish and a single line goes for miles. In most cases, the lines are watched by a panga (small boat with outboard). So upon seeing a panga, we slow the boat down while the panga races towards us. As we put her in neutral to stop the prop (no wind that day) we glide over the line. If it is shallow enough to snag the keel, we keep stretching the line out until it finally slides down over the keel and comes free behind the boat. With a wave to the fishermen, we are on our way again. We encountered eight lines and saw two or three others that were not in our way. This all happened ten to thirteen miles off shore. There is no way to see any of these in the dark and we are thinking the fishermen haul them in by dusk. I do hope that is the case. Getting in the water day or night with a pitching sea to cut a line off our prop would be very dangerous.

We also encountered a lot of tankers and cargo ships. Bahia Manzanillo contains a large port and on the way we passed Puerto Lazaro Cardenas, which is Mexico’s largest commercial port in the Pacific. Our AIS, which allows other vessels to see us on their chart plotter, was money well spent. The ships could easily see us both day and night and we saw several maintain a course a half mile off us and then cross behind our stern for deeper water.

We typically do not see other sailboats on our passages. This time as we were leaving Bahia Manzanillo, we met up with another boat going our way. It is nice to have a buddy boat that you can talk to on the radio. And we were going about the same speed so we arrived in Ixtapa at the same time.

Fair winds,
Cindy

Barra Navidad, Mexico

This is as far as we took the boat last year before turning around.  The hotel at this marina is by far one of the prettiest we have ever seen.  Built in to a hillside overlooking the marina and town it is just a perfect setting.  Rustic gardens, a meandering pool and the massive artwork and beautiful architecture is breathtaking.  And of course we had the french baker delivering pastries to our boat again.  Despite a lovely setting, the hotel is not very full.  They just don’t seem to draw in the people even though there is an airport close by and from what we hear a really nice golf course.  So Lou, you might check this place out!  If you want to see our pictures from last year, click here.

When we arrived in the Chamela and Barra area, we were very happy to see not much damage from Hurricane Patricia.  The strongest on record at a Category 5, we feared for the small towns and the landscape.  With the exception of some roofs, we see little damage.  This stretch of coast is not very populated.  Had it gone in closer to Puerto Vallarta it would be a different story.  There was one tanker that got caught in the hurricane.  We took this picture just as we were leaving Barra Navidad heading south.  They ended up against the cliffs, luckily no one was injured.  Apparently they haven’t developed a plan for getting it out of there.  You can’t see from this picture but there is a huge rock off the bow.

Hurricane Patricia

Looking forward to some new adventures as we head into the lower latitudes!

Happy Birthday to my Captain, best friend and love!  I wouldn’t be having these amazing experiences if it were not for you!

Fair winds,

Cindy

 

Bahia Careyes, Jalisco, Mexico

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We had every intention of stopping here for the night but after doing a float by, we decided it was just too small and cramped.  We did get some awesome pictures though.  Careyes is an exclusive lifestyle community and a luxury resort per their website.  While you can anchor and take your dinghy and kayak out, you can not go on shore.  Apparently the rich and famous vacation here and the grounds are patrolled.  So after we took our pictures, we moved on.

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Careyes2

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Fair winds,

Cindy

Bahia Chamela, Mexico

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With the last bit of daylight we dropped our anchor in this beautiful bay, which is totally surrounded by mountains. People really like the desert in the Sea of Cortez, but give me the lush green mountains any day.

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We were anchored off Punta Perula, which is a beach resort town with about 1,200 full time residents.

Beach

Fisherman

You can tell this is a fishing panga!

We spent an afternoon in the dinghy checking out the islands (or I should say rocks) scattered around the bay. A bit too rough to snorkel but pretty none the less.

Island

We didn’t have any good sunsets here but this one is from our last night in La Cruz.

Sunset La Cruz

Fair winds,
Cindy

La Cruz

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Today is our last day here as tomorrow we start heading further south.  Since it is Sunday, we find ourselves at the farmers market drooling over all the goodies.  I’m proud to say we resisted all those calories.  We are saving ourselves for great fajitas for dinner tonight at a little cafe up the street.  

Here are some pictures from today’s market. 

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Fair winds

Cindy

Happy New Year

After a 50 hour sail we pulled in to Marina La Cruz in Banderas Bay the morning of New Year’s Eve.  Our original plan was to do one overnight to Mazatlan but the sea state was so uncomfortable in that direction we fell off to the east and headed down here.  That smoothed things out a bit but it was still bumpy all the way until just a few miles before the marina.   After two nights with no sleep there was no partying for us on New Years Eve!

In our minds the only good thing about a night passage is the sky.  Many years ago when we were in high school and starting our junior year, the school we were attending closed and a new one was opened.  During the planning phase the parents in the school district were asked to vote on whether the school should have a swimming pool or planetarium.  Us kids had visions of becoming the next Mark Spitz and our parents…… hmmmm what the heck were they thinking?   Another Carl Sagan??   Yes, we had the only school in the entire state of New Jersey or maybe east of the Mississippi with a planetarium.  It probably was used by less than a quarter of the student body but of course now I wish I had taken the class.  The sky is mesmerizing at night. Shooting stars and bright planets. An orange moon rising on the horizon, which actually startled me because it was a half moon and I thought it was a ship appearing out of nowhere.  I pass the time trying to identify the stars I know and love having a moon to light the ocean.  When our nephew Mickey was born in the early 80’s we had a star named after him because that seemed like a cool thing to do at the time.  I wonder if it is still out there.  Yes, I should have taken that science class and a Spanish class as well :)

Thank you to all who have read our blog this past year.  In 2015 we had visitors from 49 countries.  Gary and I wish everyone good health and much laughter in 2016.

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Marina La Cruz is surrounded by beautiful mountains

Fair winds,

Cindy

Christmas 2015 in Cabo San Lucas

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We always have a great time when Austin and Nicki visit and well we were in Cabo so of course we were going to have a good time. From the two local breweries to the three must sees; Squid Row, Cabo Wabo and The Giggling Marlin a fun time was had by all.

Austin told the balloon lady to embarrass him!  At Squid Row

Austin told the balloon lady to embarrass him! At Squid Row

Austin and Nicki in the conga line at Squid Row

Austin and Nicki in the conga line at Squid Row

Nicki drinking shots while hanging by her feet at The Giggling Marlin.

Nicki drinking shots while hanging by her feet at The Giggling Marlin.

On Christmas day we took the boat out and Austin reeled in a 25 lb Wahoo. We decided to release him with it being Christmas and all but we later learned we passed up a tasty fish.

Austin reeled in a 25 lb Wahoo on Christmas Day.

Austin reeled in a 25 lb Wahoo on Christmas Day.

After the fish stopped biting, we anchored off the beach so we could have lunch and Austin and Nicki could swim off the back of the boat. It was a gorgeous day and we hung out there on the hook as long as we could. Austin said taking the boat out was the highlight of his trip.

Nothing beats jumping off the back of the boat at anchor.  Water was too cold for me!

Nothing beats jumping off the back of the boat at anchor. Water was too cold for me!

They said it was refreshing!

They said it was refreshing!

I’m sitting here writing this as their plane is about to take off :( But as they were boarding the bus we were already making plans for their next visit in another country. Did someone say Panama??

Here are some more pictures from their visit

This may be a first.  A glass of cabernet with a shot of tequila!

This may be a first. A glass of cabernet with a shot of tequila!

A Michelada.  Beer, clamato juice and spices.

A Michelada. Beer, clamato juice and spices.

Austin and Nicki Christmas Day 2015

Austin and Nicki Christmas Day 2015

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A sky high view of Sereno

A sky high view of Sereno

Fair winds,
Cindy

Sailing the Coast of Baja and an Anniversary for the Record Books

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When four weather sites we monitor all say we have a good weather window to get from point A to point B, we gotta go. The boat yard put Sereno back in the water after 4 days, we quickly shopped for some produce and we were on our way by noon. Unfortunately we ran smack into a rough sea state with 20 knot winds against us. How is it that not one site predicted this I ask?!! So on our 36th wedding anniversary instead of a romantic dinner out in Ensenada, I was tossing my cookies over the side of the boat. Gary wouldn’t let me take any of my shifts that night. Why I say, I can multitask! I recovered and the Captain got some rest. We did fair better than some. We left with two other boats and one had to turn back due to rudder problems. Then during the night a sailboat heading north contacted us to say they had turned around because of equipment failures and his wife had been seasick for 50 hours and he needed to get her to land.

Gary all bundled up leaving Ensenada

Gary all bundled up leaving Ensenada

We made it to Turtle Bay in a little under 50 hours and were really surprised to find that we had good internet out in the anchorage making it easy to get weather updates. We don’t look forward to going ashore here because the surf makes it difficult to not flip the dinghy. So after we had fuel delivered by panga, we relaxed making pizza on board enjoying a good bottle of wine.

We have perfected a way to make pizza on board using a combination of the propane stove and BBQ.  A crispy crust is a must!

We have perfected a way to make pizza on board using a combination of the propane stove and BBQ. A crispy crust is a must!

The coast of Baja is impacted by weather as far north as Alaska. When we left Ensenada, large swells were predicted to hit the California coast and those swells were eventually reaching the Baja coast.

Wave height prediction for our route.

Wave height prediction for our route.

Based on the predictions we decided it was time we got to our next stop at Bahia Santa Maria rather than run the risk of a delay in Turtle Bay of a week or more. Christmas was breathing down our neck. So we pulled up anchor at daylight and set off. We almost had a mutiny when we ran out of propane the next morning and there was no hot coffee. But after the seas calmed, we slowed the boat down so Gary, tethered to the boat, could go out on the stern swim step to change out the propane tank. With the exception of five hours over night it was a smooth sail and we anchored in Bahia Santa Maria after 37 hours sailing.

This doesn't need any words

This doesn’t need any words

Bahia Santa Maria is a 9 nm long bay that has a very tiny village with no electricity or running water. We were having coffee in the cockpit planning what to make for dinner (seriously we were!) when we saw a panga coming our way and knew our prayers were being answered. After trading two cerveza’s, two cokes and one of Gary’s tee shirts we now had lobster to go along with our steak for dinner. We scored and the fisherman was happy with his take.

Doesn't get any better than this right out of the ocean.

Doesn’t get any better than this right out of the ocean.

Surf and Turf with a delicious IPA Austin and Nicki gave us when we left San Diego.

Surf and Turf with a delicious IPA Austin and Nicki gave us when we left San Diego.

Eyeing those swell predictions we decided to not hang around longer than a day to rest up. And we were out of rum anyway. So we began the last and shortest leg at 29 hours to Cabo San Lucas. At 2:30 am on December 10th we sailed across the Tropic of Cancer and were now in the tropics. This was to be the calmest leg of our journey. The exact opposite of our trip up the coast last June. The feared Cabo Falso was a pond with no wind but I’ll take that.

When you see these, you know you have arrived in Cabo San Lucas.

When you see these, you know you have arrived in Cabo San Lucas.

By the time we tied up at our slip in Cabo San Lucas we were on the boat nine days fifty minutes straight. Our longest time yet by far. We are here way earlier than we planned, but now we can relax and let Austin, Nicki and Christmas arrive.

Now this is way better sailing attire!

Arriving in Cabo. Now this is way better sailing attire!

Sushi anyone?

Sushi anyone?

No luck :(

No luck :(

Ensenada

Ensenada

Cruiseport Village Marina, Ensenada.

Cruiseport Village Marina, Ensenada.

He looks rather calm for someone whose home is about to be hoisted out of the water on a sling.

He looks rather calm for someone whose home is about to be hoisted out of the water on a sling.

Fair winds
Cindy