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

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