See morw in news update just posted here.
See morw in news update just posted here.
Saturday 25th March 2017
Another lovely, warm, mainly relaxed, day.
Being anchored off the beach with no dinghy means there's no way of getting ashore unless I blow up the inflatable double kayak friend Geoff lent me in San Diego - which I'm feeling too lazy to do - maybe tomorrow!!
There are four boats anchored close by but, surprisingly, not one has come by to say 'Hallo'. Very unusual - maybe they're new to cruising?
The sky has been mainly clear blue overhead, although some cumulus cloud built up for a short time over the backdrop of mountains.
Lovely white tropic birds, with bright red bill and long white tail streamers, have been diving for fish, as have graceful white terns, all day - one came very close this afternoon, diving on the large shoal of silver fish under and around 'Nereida'. Large black, fork-tailed frigate birds regularly harass the smaller birds in the hope that they will drop their catch and give the predators an easy meal.
Being Saturday, the beach has been busy and the boats anchored out here have been regularly used as 'marks' for the fast-driven skiboats to round to and from the beach. The long sandy beach is lined with small houses and 'palapas' (outdoor restaurants shaded by a roof of palm fronds on a flimsy, open-sided framework). The land behind rises to high rugged mountains and is mainly jungle-covered or barren.
The view out to sea is of the wide entrance with rocky hillsides and occasional large vessels heading in or out of the major port of Manzanillo well off in the distance.
It's a well-protected bay so very little swell has reached here. Happily, with the sun getting very hot by midday, a refreshing land-breeze comes up and stays up until just before sunset.
I decided to finish the job I'd started yesterday - so I'm feeling very satisfied with the end-result - a lovely clean inside to the white hard top with no rust or dirt marks anywhere! Tomorrow, I'll get to the generator, to remove the seawater pump so I can check that *!!**#^ impellor..yet again...!
With good sun and wind power, and solar lighting used when it's dark, only the fridge and HF radio are using much battery power, so the lack of generator is not of major importance just now.
Just had an omelette - many of the eggs are still good, despite over a fortnight in December when they weren't turned daily - amazing!
The sun is sinking over the distant hill - nearly 7pm. (Photo being posted separately)
Everything calms down by evening - all to be heard then is the sound of the waves breaking gently on the sandy shore not far away.. and overhead, so many bright stars in a clear sky. Think I'll stay here a few more days!
Crossed the main Bay around noon to reach Ensenada Carrizal -a lovely protected small bay with rocky sides and small beach at its far end. Excellent snorkelling and sea caves to explore. Unfortunately too deep for my ground tackle, so on to Bahia de Santiago, with its long sandy beach, to anchor in 6m. Several large dolphins came close, with distinctive blotched backs and light undersides.
While underway here, I was pleased to have managed some overdue cleaning of rusting screw heads under the hard top - looks so much better when it's all clean again.
Went to get out my swimsuit from the basin I'd left it in after hull cleaning off Isla Grande. ... Yuck...! Full of tiny creatures....
Peaceful sunset and evening, after lots of noisy Mexican beach fun reaching out to the boat.
Cargo vessel 'Atlantic Rainbow' overtook us well off the coast heading NW towards the sunset, just as we are.
A few hours with the genoa giving a boost to our speed but otherwise solid motoring since leaving the anchorage at Isla Grande at oh-so-dark 5 a.m.. A tiny crescent moon as we left but plenty of stars to enjoy. Clear sky all day.
I was pleased to get some useful boatwork done this afternoon since the trip would have been totally boring otherwise.
Expecting to make Manzanillo early afternoon tomorrow - hoping the present good-sized swell will not make the anchorage in Santiago Bay too rolly.
Time for food - buen provecho!
Isla Grande Tues/Wed 21/22 March 2017
What a lovely time I've had here!
After a short passage around from Zihuatanejo yesterday, it was still busy with day-trippers enjoying the sandy protected beach but, well before sunset, they all disappeared in the many 'taxi' pangas (sturdy open boats) that had brought them across from Ixtapa. Some were no doubt celebrating the National Holiday in honour of national hero Juarez's birthday.
I anchored in 5m/16ft, fairly close in, which gave protection from swell. Nearby was 'Arcane' and Ken on 'Gitane' was not much further off. Ken had kindly given me a lift over to the town 'muelle' earlier, so I could check out with the friendly Capitania, but his outboard engine failed on our return so we used a local panga to get us both back on board our boats, ready to leave.
A fresh fish meal, with cerveza, on an almost deserted beach as the sun got low, was very welcome and the view over the small bay to mountains beyond the distant coastline was fabulous.
Late this morning, Ken came over to help try to sort out the genset cooling seawater problem, but after spending quite a time making sure the inlet was clear of sea creatures and growth the problem was still there on powering up the generator. Even poking a long flexible wire up into the opening made no difference. The filter housing was full of water so all should have worked fine - but it still overheated with very little, if any, water coming out. Maybe I need to check the impellor again...?
Avoiding that hassle, I decided to snorkel and clean the hull instead - the several fishes under the boat increased in number rapidly as they enjoyed the food I released for them. A Margarita onshore was a welcome reward for my lengthy efforts, with Jean and Jacinthe coming by to provide my transport to shore.
Today, more friends arrived - Tim and Donna and company on board 'NorthWest Passage'. The only downside for them was that they had planned to stay the night while their four friends took a panga back to Ixtapa - but the swell there was so bad that the pangas weren't operating - it was too dangerous at the landing jetty - so they all had to leave together, later in the day, to go back to Zihuatanejo the way they had come.
In our little protected bay, we only saw a very slight increase in the swell - nothing much at all - but we had been wondering why there were no day-trippers being brought over. The bonus was having the place completely to ourselves all day long.
An amazing and unexpected sight was seeing a small, young armadillo wandering around on the beach. Clearly thirsty, it headed for the sea and began to drink the seawater - but a local restaurant owner (one of the few there today) gave it some fresh water. Wow, but it was thirsty! Its tiny pink tongue worked overtime... A curlew was another visitor - we (and they) were clearly benefitting from so few people around.
Tomorrow, I'm up very early to make for Manzanillo, as is 'Arcane'. It's a one-and-a-half-day passage so we need to leave early to make landfall in daylight. There's a 'weather window' of sorts - in this case, meaning a slight wind from abaft the beam for just two days, rather than the usual prevailing 10kt headwind - so it will probably be a motoring passage, with a small chance of using the sails to help our speed occasionally.
Great evening of music last night at El Canto de la Sirena with Jose Luis Cobo & guest musicians.
Underway north now - left Zihua for Isla Grande in company with 'Gitane' - need to clean the genset inlet and check the prop, shaft & hull while in clean water.
Zihuatanejo Bay, Mexico Monday 13th March 2017
Genset overheated the other night so I'm needing to check the seawater pump impellor - but pump has to be removed to access the cover plate and see inside Big struggle, working in awkward position. Drive belt came off fairly easily to give movement of the unit so now final step is to remove pump from inlet and outlet water pipes - one off, one more to go. But, I have to say, the thought of relaxing with music over a glass of wine in company is far more attractive!
Once impellor is dealt with (replacing is a strong possibility) and all is back together again, next step will be to check whether seawater strainer needs priming to ensure no air lock in the system preventing water flow - tomorrow’s jobs. But for now, sunset beckons - with a Dark n Stormy and some suitable music…
Lovely to spend time with 'Fantasia' friends Karen & Stuart at the Guitar Fest on Wed... Dinghy to shore.. Children's afternoon Concert - great to meet up with Juanito & family there . Relaxed over lovely Margaritas with nachos and guacamole before walking up steep hill to evening 'gala' concert followed later by beach concert. On to 'La Sirena' to enjoy Jose Luis's playing. (Very late to bed!) Has been ten years since last chatted with Jose Luis and Juanito here!
This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using GMN's XGate software. Please be kind and keep your replies short.
Rest of photos....
Views at anchor... Relaxing with Stuart & Karen at the 'Galeano' after the Children's Concert ...evening 'gala' concert and meal... beach concert... Jose Luis at 'La Sirena. Lots of varied, good music!</>
Safe arrival at l:20 a.m. in Zihuatanejo, to anchor by moonlight, in calm conditions:
17* 38' N 101* 33' W
A lot of motoring, with some sailing on Sunday, in strong conditions overnight, and some motor-sailing for a short spell this afternoon. Very little seen, either of shipping or the coast, being well offshore most of the time to avoid small fishing boats and extensive shallows in places.
Looking forward to re-visiting this small town and to the Guitar Fest - this will be my third time.
Now for a good sleep...!
Monday 6th March 2017
Nearing sunset, 25ml SSE of Manzanillo. Cooked a meal while still light- some eggs are still OK - amazing!
Swell has died down a bit - not quite so mixed in direction nor so close together nor as big as earlier so being thrown around less ... but still noticeable - from SE now, not NW.
Making 125T at 5.0 kt; wind very light ~ 3 kt from SE. Has been quite cloudy most of the day - 90% now.
Barometer: 1009 and steady for last 6 hrs Air: 31.0C Sea: 27.0C
Overmight - still motoring but sea surface very smooth now, with so little wind - 3-5 kt only.
Got VHF call from 'Miguel Hidalgo' - tanker headed to Topolobampo at S end of Sea of Cortez - "Port-to-port" he said - so that was how we agreed to pass each other safely - just half a mile apart in the moonless darkness but perfectly safe - his lights were very clear and reflected in the sea surface.
Spent a short time on HF radio around 5am, making contact with stations mainly on or near East coast but also Prince Edward Island, Phoenix, Missouri, a well as Indonesia and another in Australia - both of whom I've spoken to several times before.
100 miles from Zihuataneho -ETA overnight Tues/Wed ~2-3am if this speed is kept up - awkard timing...
Amazingly, some eggs are still perfectly fine. ... after 4 1/2 months with simply turning frequently. ..! Had onion and potato omelette tonight.
Passed Manzanillo this afternoon. Seas are down a lot but so is the wind so having to motor. Conditions are much pleasanter - nothing like as rough as it was this morning.
Monday 6th March 2017
On passage SE to Zihuatanejo from La Cruz. Lovely sail in Banderas Bay for a few hours before wind died - later to come back with a vengeance - NW wind built to 23 kt over yesterday evening - reefed down and still made good speed until wind abated and veered later in the night. Having to motor now against light wind from ahead. Bumpy ride in lumpy seas - 2m NW swell with SE wind waves on top... Uncomfortable!
Made 132 ml in 24 hr to this morning. Another 203 ml to go - ETA sometime before dawn Wed morning.
Midday - passing Manzanillo - busy port.
Anchoring off Punta de Mita, as planned, in the pitch dark of a moonless night, was neither feasible nor safe… so came on to La Cruz marina, with lines and fenders ready for tying up on either side. Cruiser friends here helped me negotiate the confusing entrance channel lights and tie up - thanks to Debra and Al, who came out in their dinghy, and several others who gave helpful comments! Sleep….!!
Soon after dawn, the sky cleared totally but the wind stayed ultra light at just 2-3 kt from NE.... so we've continued to motor solidly.
I decided to pass close by Isla Isabela to remind myself of the general layout and main anchorage in the S of the island. It's a bird reserve and a great place to chill out and enjoy snorkelling and walking. Boobies and frigate birds nest here and there are lots of iguanas. The high cliffs and dramatic stacks close offshore are white with guano.
I expect to make Punta de Mita soon after sunset to anchor there overnight before heading to La Cruz de Juanacaxtle tomorrow morning.
Old Mazatlan Harbour approach with distinctive high Hill to N of entrance not long after leaving.
Was having a good sail until just before 6pm , often well over 6kt in a good wind but then the wind began to die and our speed dropped a good knot... Land cooling down now...so lessening the enhanced onshore breeze. Forecast is for lighter winds over next day or so so I expect to have to do some motoring before this passage is finished.
Making good speed under full canvas....., Passing Mazatlan old Harbour under sail, making for Pta de Mita. Lovely day. Saw some rays jumping - the same small dark Mobelo rays I've seen in the Sea of Cortez just North of here. Saw to a few problems while in Mazatlan and saw some friends - a good stop.
Monday 20 February 2017
Had an absolutely wonderful sail over from San Jose de Cabo! With full genoa and two reefs in the main, we made 6-7 knots of speed in a good N wind despite the 2m swell on the beam that was constantly rolling us about. Not long before dawn, the wind had finally veered from the unexpected Southerly that had appeared on Sunday morning in San Jose whose harbour entrance had finally been left behind in the early afternoon bright sunshine.
My main worry was the timing of our entry over the entrance bar at Mazatlan, Having been there before, I knew how nasty it could be in the wrong conditions but I was relieved to find that there would be a prolonged stand of high water around the time of our expected arrival. That meant we were more likely to be able to enter safely, given the swell which was not likely to die down in the good wind we were enjoying, although the water was shallow for quite some way off the harbour entrance, which would help.
With our excellent speed over the day, I reckoned we'd just get there around sunset but it would be touch and go. Daylight would be helpful to see the narrow shallow winding entry channel clearly, as well as for negotiating the bar just before. My back-up plan was to anchor a short distance off in a popular anchorage between the shore and an island close by.
Of course, we were making such excellent speed under sail as we closed the coast that I had to plan ahead carefully - the sun had already just set so daylight was beginning to fade. I hoped to remember where a possible berth was that I'd been told was free - was it a port or starboard tie? I seemed to remember port. but wasn't completely sure.
Put out fenders and lines to port in the rough seas and hope for the best - worse case scenario would be to back off and change them all over. (Otherwise, put out fenders and lines on both sides - time-consuming - so that was a no-no!) I seemed to remember there was a problem with a lot of shallows around the marina area, so preferred to ready the boat for docking in advance of my arrival.
Ease the genoa sheets and furl in the full genoa - flapping madly - heart in mouth - would it furl in OK in view of previous problems? Easy, easy. No problema! It came in smoothly - big relief!!
Head upwind, with mainsail halyard prepared so it was free to run through the clutch. Drop it. Run forward to finish the job and secure the halyard and headboard.
Twilight. Head to the winking red and green lights at the harbour entrance - at speed, heart in mouth again - heart rate definitely well up! (Remember it's 'red right returning' here) I reckoned it was better to head to and over the bar fast, to maintain steerage in the beam-on seas, than to go slowly - I could always quickly ease off the engine revs the moment we were safely over.
We were swung about a lot as we got close. Light was almost gone.. Stay in the middle, keeping a constant eye on water depth, and don't get taken too far off to starboard where it shallows fast (I spotted a small winking white light warning of the edge of those shallows - I'd forgotten that was there). Stay in the middle.. We were over!
Follow the winding channel. eye on depth all the time. dark now. Head up and around to La Isla Mazatlan marina - watch out for several unlit tall piles looming up out of the darkness to starboard. I'm trying to remember where I'm supposed to be headed. Going very slowly now, to be safe.. On approaching the docks, I began to call out for help - to find the right berth and to get in safely in the darkness. There were lights inside some of the boats so, hopefully, people were on board. Suddenly, I saw people moving - and calling back to me - great! Approached the dock - port tie! - people there to help with lines. Thank you! My friends Gillian and Al, from my visit here two years earlier, had told people to expect me - so they were listening out - thanks again! Roberto, of 'Destiny' informed me we'd met at Svenson's in Alameda . ten years ago! Marie and Guy, of 'Notre Reve' invited me over for a celebratory drink when I was ready. I happily accepted and later spent a few hours relaxing with them before crashing out in my bunk to make up for lost sleep.
Plans while here are to climb the mast today (Tuesday) to investigate the problem at the mast head and also see what is catching on the genoa top furler to make it misbehave as it has been recently. and deal with a few other problems, if possible - plans put on hold while I relax over a very late, leisurely breakfast, before checking in with Marissa in the marina office.
This morning, the sun is shining brightly, a small flock of the many waders in this area are flying overhead, it's getting very warm - welcome to Mazatlan!
North wind up nicely now, so sailing at well over 6kt after beautiful clear night full of stars - Southern Cross and Milky Way clear to view.
Good-sized swell so we're rolling about rather a lot.
Hope to make Mazatlan soon after sunset today - with some daylight still, if I'm lucky.
Time for breakfast now after quick radio contact made earlier with two ham friends - one in California, the other in New Mexico.