Monday, March 30, 2015

Ipala to La Cruz

We had a lovely motor-sail to Ipala from Tenacatita today.  On our way, we spotted another sailboat heading there and we had fun pushing each other.

When we arrived, we met Evan and Monique on Margarita and we invited them to join us for dinner in town. A fishing boat was flagged down and our adventure began.  We had a lovely dinner at Restaurante Liz Adrian.

At first light the next morning, we both set off for Banderas Bay.  Margarita headed to Yelapa and we were off to La Cruz.

Once the wind picked up we were ready to sail.  However, our main halyard had a different idea.  As Mike was raising her, the clip of the halyard opened and came off the main sail and was swinging at the spreader height like a devient child.  The only way to sail would be to go up and retrieve her.  So, Mike grabbed a harness and climbed up the mast!

As we passed the opening to Yelapa, a humpback said hello!

We made it back in time to enjoy a dinner at Frascati with Kathryn and Robin on Agave Azul before they departed to Mazatlan.  

Another adventurous day!

First Mate Kate

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tenacatita Bay

We were so happy to be back in Tenacatita Bay.  We missed stopping here on the way down to Zihuatanejo, but it was a must on our return north.  We have fond memories of coming here in '09 when we bought Pangaea.

One of the sweetest parts of being back here was seeing our friends Kathy and Jim on Solar Flair again.  We didn't miss a beat!

There was a huge swell in the bay, and I'm talking 8-9 feet huge.  Mike gave surfing a go again, and had encouraging cheers from me.  It was fun!  We took the dinghy into shore later that afternoon for bocci and Mexican train and had a perfect landing thanks to all our practice in Santiago.  The return to the boat trip was a lot more harrowing.  

Jim and Kathy were heading out from the beach in their dinghy as we walked along the shore.  We had offered our assistance but they turned us down. We watched as they went out, got knocked sideways and swamped their dinghy.  We went back to assist them and got them safely past the dangerous swell.  

Another dinghy went out after turning us down for assistance and ended up getting flipped over by a wave.  We went in and helped them get out safely, but it took two tries.

Then we were left to get out on our own. We had time and experience on our side after helping our fellow cruisers out.  We made a plan and executed it well, although we had to get over two large waves after we passed the breakwater, which included me jumping up and slamming down on the bow of the dinghy so we wouldn't flip.  Phew!  A few bruises later we were safely back on the boat.

We spent the evening dining on delicious homemade potato soup and fresh bread and playing music with Christie and Neil on Liahona.  We had an absolute blast!

Music makes everything better!!

First Mate Kate

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heading back to Barra de Navidad

Zihuatanejo-Bahia de Santiago

Engine hours: 315.1

Buddy Boats:  Agave Azul and Pangaea

Zero Dark Thirty

So, anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person.  I attempt to function before 8, but it is not my best time of day.  Even my trainers know to schedule me after 7.  So, when we are up and going before 6:30, it is a special day.

Today is a special day.  It is St. Patrick's Day, the day my cousin Peter died...19 years ago.  I think he would approve of this life choice of mine; he would applaud my new and more importantly unconventional job title of Sea Gypsy.  Here's to you, Pete!  Thank you for being my best reminder that life is short and precious and to get out there and do something wild. Something that would shock Nana.  Ha!

The seas were a bit daunting as we pulled out of the anchorage.  They were big and rolley and confused.  For a moment I questioned my astronaut qualities; I was feeling a bit woozy.  In one wave crash, we almost wiped out our new Mexican glasses.  (A mere scare...glasses were ok). And then another sad realization...that conditions were too rough for coffee.  

My internal dialogue began almost immediately talking myself into waiting another day to leave.  It would still be ok if we stopped in Ixtapa and waited for a calmer day in Isla Grande. But, by the time we got to Isla Grande the seas had calmed and Agave Azul was right behind us. 

Before we knew it we were checking in with our morning net with Robin and Kathryn on Agave Azul.  They had no idea we started out in a crazy way and there was no need to tell them.  They were enjoying dolphins playing off their bow and between a tanker and our boat.   Soon we had our own dolphin show.  

A few hours later we were visited by two young Mexican fishermen looking for "galletas" (cookies) or some "regalis" (present).  We had to laugh as we are probably the only boat out there without some cookies on board.  We ended up giving them bottled water. The whole exchange took us by surprise, really.

The day was pretty easy going; we had a combination of motor sailing and sailing.  As the sun went down the wind was consistent but right at our nose so we went into the evening set to motor sail.

We had an interesting encounter with a tanker this afternoon.  Our AIS showed a tanker on a parallel but opposite course.  As we approached one another the ginormous, 500 foot tanker seemed to point close to colliding with our tiny sailboat.  We sped up, full steam ahead to avoid the massive bow.  It seemed to turn back towards us.  Mike finally hailed the captain to find out if they saw us, and it turned out that it was just drifting toward us as they waited to move into port.  After the heavy accented man on the radio acknowledged us the tanker turned on their engines and turned away, missing a collision (by a mile).

love my night watch time, but tonight was absolutely magical.  We had very little traffic, so I could spend my time taking in the beauty around us.  The skies were lit up with starlight only; we didn't have an appearance by the moon.  There was a meteorite show that allowed for a few wishes. But the true magic appeared as illuminated fairy dust; the bioluminescence was fantastic!  In our wake, a light storm of sparkles, as if we were powered by fire.  As the waves crashed into our hull, a spray of light spread across the water.  I saw episodic streaks of light from a jumping fish and little underwater lightning-like bursts lighting up underwater activity.  I felt like I was 5 again.  I spent 3 hours just taking it all in!  What a regalo!

Muchas Gracias!!


The second day of a passage can be tricky.  Especially when it comes to my patience.  I am often focused on the proverbial return to the barn, much to Mike's chagrin, and can miss out on great sailing opportunities.

On my morning watch I had several dolphins swimming at the bow.  There were so many it was hard to tell numbers, but at least 15 on each side.  I had a little acrobatic who seemed to enjoy my squeals as he twisted sideways out of the water.  The wind was blowing and the bow of the boat was slapping onto oncoming waves, but did that stop me from going out and saying hello?  Of course not.  After the large group swam onward, I still had 4-5 swimming at the bow.  So, I went back to the cockpit, grabbed the camera and shot a little video.  This never gets old.   

We had a lot of wind all day long and much of it in the 12-15 knot range.  The challenge was the wind direction was also our destination direction, so to sail directly there was not an option.  Mike did a good job sailing as close to the wind as possible, and most of the day we were able to sail with more speed than motoring.  

The last few hours are the longest for some reason.  Maybe because the navigation software teases you all day with your projected arrival time and then you get 15 knots on the nose with 5-6 foot seas in short chop.  Basically a progress halter.  I can taste the margaritas and fish tacos at Oasis, but they will have to wait one more day.

The surf is definitely up and our SUPs are crashing into each wave as we "bash" to the anchorage.  We are praying that the boards make it into the anchorage with us. The wind is strong and on our nose and we are only making a few knots of progress.  Every time I check the E.T.A. on INavx it says 4 hours from now.  We were originally going to get in at 6:30.  Now it looks more like 10:30.  Time for a nap.

Well, I managed to sleep an hour despite the bow crashing into the waves and the crazy swell.  Even our navigation lights were buried under water! When we arrived in the bay there were huge tankers all around us.  

We finally arrived at 10 pm with a wonderful greeting by Rob on Shindig and Robin on Agave Azul in Shindinghy.  They cheered as we approached the anchorage and promised us margaritas. That was awesome.  We had an impromptu gathering on Shindig with the 6 of us.  Despite our exhaustion, seeing our friends was the most beautiful site we had all day!  Thank you, so, so much!


First Mate Kate


We had a quiet day at Bahia de Santiago today.  Shindig headed to Barra, and I was going to have Agave Azul and Taj over for cocktails but I totally bonked.  My tank was empty.  I apologized and rescheduled for tomorrow.


First Mate Kate


Happy Birthday, Ona and John!! 

I finally got my energy back.  Mike and I went out for a paddle and saw three really big Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish.  One looked strange like it had a filter on it.  I was really careful not to fall in from that point on and actually surprised that I didn't freak out and fall in when I saw them.  I believe the record clearly shows that I despise jellyfish.  I respect the hardy, enduring aspect of them, but they terrify me, in general.

While paddling, Mike and I examined the wave/surf situation.  We thought "maybe" we could do a surf landing and head to Oasis almost on a direct shot from the boat.  However, on closer scrutiny, I decided that was a really bad idea.  So, we went back to the boat and took the dinghy off the deck and prepared her for a surf landing.

We have had good experiences landing and some less than desirable landings.  This one was good for the "What Not to Do" chapter.  Let's just say that somehow Mike got run over by the dinghy as a wave broke over us.

We walked down to Oasis for our much needed tacos de pescado (fish tacos) y tacos de cameron (shrimp tacos).  We ran into Peter and Janet on Taj and joined them.  Those are best tacos between PV and Zihuatenejo!! Thank you, Diego, for the fresh and healthy eats!!

We went to Taj for cocktails this evening.  It was delightful getting to know Janet and Peter.  A great evening.

First Mate Kate


It is Saturday already, and before heading to Barra, I wanted to go back to the market and find the artist who made my necklace and get a few more of his pieces for gifts.  Mike and I took the dinghy in (with a picture-perfect landing, I might add) and walked down the beach to the bus stop.  We were able to bus right to the market.  It was just getting started and many merchants were still setting up their goods.  I found the artist and had a successful purchase.  Mike found a putty knife for scraping barnacles off the bottom of the boat for 10 pesos.  We stopped at HSBC to get more pesos out and the ATM ate my card.  :-(

We returned to the boat and pulled up the anchor and had a sporty sail with the wind at our nose, once again.  We started out motor sailing but were not making much progress, so we decided to turn off the motor and tacked back and forth around the wind and our rhumb line.

We took a look into the marina as we motored by to see if there were any spots open.  We found a clear shot into dock C, so we circled around the lagoon while I put out the dock lines and fenders.  Chris and Heather on Legacy were nice enough to come grab out dock 
lines.  Back, at last!  We love Barra.  Rob saw us come in and invited us to get dessert tacos (al Pastor).  He and Nancy are leaving to head north tomorrow, so it was a special treat to spend their last night together.

After a tummy full of tacos we had to finish the evening with Thrifty ice cream cones.  Mike's cappuccino crunch landed on the streets of Barra, so Nancy marched back to Thrifty with Mike and asked for a new one.  Request granted.  Phew!  We all enjoyed our cones.  After a short water taxi ride home we all said goodnight and goodbye for now.


First Mate Kate

Sunday, March 15, 2015

GuitarFest and Zihuatanejo

We really enjoyed the gala aspect of the GuitarFest.  The galas are typically held in smaller venues, restaurants mainly, and offer a close-up and more personal experience of the performers.  We also had an opportunity to chat with the musicians and get a cd or two signed.

Our last galas featured The Croweaters and Hogan & Moss followed by Diego Garcia and Adrian Raso Duet.

If you ever decide to check our GuitarFest, I encourage you to sign up for all of the galas.

For our last evening in Zihuatanejo, we made a reservation with Agave Azul at the highly rated Tentaciones overlooking the bay and our boats.  

It was a lovely evening.  They had a set five-course menu of seafood and savory pairings.  

While we were enjoying our first bottle of wine, a nice, crisp Chardonnay (the vineyard escapes me) the manager approached our table and said "Champagne?" to which we were all surprised and simultaneously responded "No, gracias" pointing to our bottle of white wine.  However, the manager seemed insistant, again repeating "Champagne?".  Then, in a flash of EspaƱol clarity I realized he was saying Sean Penn.  He thought Mike looked like Sean Penn.  Ah!  Si!  Sean Penn, pero, no Sean Penn.  Solomente Miguel.  From that moment on, Mike will be known as Sean Miguel. 

I guess that makes me Charlize Theron.  Woo Hoo!

In disguise,

First Mate Kate

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Enjoying GuitarFest and Z-town

It has already been a fun week with great music, culture, food/drink and friendships.  I feel really blessed.  The cruising lifestyle is very freeing and I am feeling much more grounded and centered than I was when we were in the Sea of Cortez last year.

We have attended concerts on a beach venue in the evenings, blending the music on stage with the sounds of the sea.

We had an intimate gala experience on Tuesday in a gorgeous outside patio setting and a lovely dinner at Coconuts.  Here is a couple snippets of video.

Last night a large gathering took place on Trinity Rose (thank you, Linda and Mike!) where we enjoyed amazing food and drink and made our own music.  We had a fiddle (Nancy on Shindig picked up and just started playing the fiddle. Something she had never done before!  Amazing talent there!), Bob on Nirvana on mandoline, Keith from Story Seeker and Deborah from Heavy Metal on guitar and I was on lead vocals.  We were accompanied by an egg shaker, tambourine, and a lot of tapping of feet and singing along.  Very fun! And we sounded really good!

(Photos courtesy of Trinity Rose)

Thursday is Pozole day in Zihuatanejo . It's like a hominy with chicken and spices.  The soup is served with condiments for you to embellish and create as you desire.  We chose Any's for our Pozole stop.  Delicioso!

We discovered this mural on a side wall of a building on our way to Any's.  Cool, eh?

First Mate Kate

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Zihuatanejo-A First Glimpse

We are really enjoying Z-town.  Ever since I saw the movie The Shawshank Redemption (one of my favorite movies) I have had it in my head to get to Zihuatanejo some day.  We made it!

This is a really cool place! The beaches are beautiful and there are three main beaches:  Playa Los Gatos, Playa La Ropa and Playa Madeira.

We arrived on Friday mid-afternoon, but really didn't see much of the town. We basically took our dinghy in, checked in with the Capatania de Puerto, grabbed some lunch and downloaded email. 

While we were eating, Robin and Kathryn (Agave Azul) came by with Robin's daughter Carrie and told us of his birthday catch.  He caught what they estimate was a 100- pound yellow-fin tuna on their trip to Zihuatanejo!  So, they invited us to their boat, along with Shindig and Trinity Rose for a Skipjack Net feast of sashimi!!!  It was truly melt-in-your-mouth delicious and beautifully prepared and presented.  Another lovely evening!  Thank you, Robin, for sharing!!

We spent all day today exploring, all while the lavandaria did our laundry.

First of all, I was immediately impressed by all the bronze statues scattered along the path of the shore and centro.  Many statues are of prominent Mexican women.

There was also a little "reptile garden".

One of our tasks for the day was to buy tickets for Guitar Fest and go online and reserve the gala concerts. So, we did a little reconnaissance trip to figure out where everything was.

On the way to the ticket office we saw a neat restaurant called La Terracita.  I decided that would be our lunch site.
They also happened to have great wifi. Bueno! It turned out to be a fabulous place, ranked #4 of all the restaurants in Zihuatanejo!

The food was amazingly delicious and the presentation was beautiful.  I also had cafe Mexicana for the first time and loved the cinnamon and orange flavors. 

I took pictures of our meals because they were so lovely.


After a very inspiring lunch we decided to explore the town.  On the way, we discovered a little market with live music. Again, so colorful!

The path along the playa was perfect, allowing an easy stroll with beachfront views.

I was touched by the fact that the path was peppered with hand-painted signs reminding us of the importance of keeping the beach clean and taking care of our planet

We enjoyed many little surprises along our journey today:

It turns out we had 10 kilos of laundry.  Mike was nice enough to haul it back to our dinghy.

The ticket office opened at 3,so we headed back down the playa.  We bought passes to get into all of the events.

GuitarFest really begins tomorrow, but there were two concerts as previews scheduled, one last night in Zihuatanejo and one tonight in Ixtapa at Las Brisas Hotel.  

We decided to go tonight with Kathryn and Robin on Agave Azul along with Robin's daughter Carrie.  We had a blast! Beginning with a cab ride that really was made for four; I sat on Mike's lap with my head outside the window.  I see now why dogs like this. It was cooler and much better views and a natural hair drier. :-)

The musicians tonight were from Mexico/London and Australia. The first performer played and sang and the second was a duo that did instrumental only.  One of the guys played ukulele on a couple of songs and really inspired me.

We had a more comfortable ride home and decided we were still hungry, so we headed to The Katrina Bar for some food. When we got there, all of the musicians for GuitarFest were there at a big table with the same idea!

A full day, and a great launch to GuitarFest.

Buenos Noches,

First Mate Kate