Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 2015

Altata to Mazatlan

The marina we stayed at in Altata was at least 15 miles north of the breakwater entrance/exit, so it took about an hour just to leave Altata.  We knew it might be a rough exit as it is very shallow and breakers come over the rocks and beach, but it was quite a ride out.  We were happy to leave even though we had such a nice stay during the tropical storm.  We left around 10am and sailed overnight to Mazatlan.
We caught a Sierra Mackerel on the way from Altata to Mazatlan

Horatio with LOTS of Jejenes (no-see-ums) bug bits from Altata.

We arrived in Mazatlan in the very early morning hours, 4am, and had to wait for high tide before entering the breakwater entrance to the marinas.  We saw two boats leaving and figured it was the right time to enter.  We practically surfed in and skidded the bottom and kept going! Whew!
We chose to stay at Isla Mazatlan Marina, (it was the least expensive marina, but had nice facilities with free water and electricity) which is pretty much in the center of the main marinas in Nuevo Mazatlan, which is north of the Hotel Zone and the Old Town / Centro area.  It was nice to have a fresh fruit and vegetable truck show up in the marina parking lot every other day!  What a treat.  The area had lots of support for cruisers with a cruiser's guide to Mazatlan.  It was nice to have this guide when trying to understand how to take the bus(es) around Mazatlan, where to eat, get groceries, where the chandleries and boat services were, etc.

Entrance to Isla Mazatlan Marina (they were ready for Christmas)
Iguana that live at the marina

We stayed in Mazatlan for about 5 days and really enjoyed our time in there.  We went to the very large Municipal Market, where they sell everything from meat, fish, vegetables, shoes, candy, clothes, etc.  We also went to an Organic Farmer's market,  That was a nice treat to see arugula and quinoa.  We also attended the First Friday Art Walk.  The first Friday of every month local artists have open houses to showcase their work in their galleries around town.  Although it seemed like it was catered to the North Americans, as everyone spoke English and was from Canada or the US, it was a really nice way to visit several galleries in one evening.

Plaza during the day

Plaza at night lined with restaurants

Lovely houses beautifully painted

Gallery viewing during the First Friday Art Walk

Pulmonia (open air taxi). Some are converted VW Things!

Beautiful Sunset in Mazatlan
Organic Farmer's Market

We also spent time at the beach in Old Mazatlan and also further north of the marina at Playa Brujas. The kids loved boogie boarding and swimming.  It is such a nice way to get cool and relax!

Outdoor saltwater pool on the beach Playa Olas Altas

Kids splashing in the saltwater pool

Building sand castles on the Playa Olas Altas

Restaurant Mr. Lionsa at Playa Brujas, north of Mazatlan

Geoff watching the kids boogie boarding

Fun Fun Fun

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Felicidad!
Galerias Mazatlan 
Upscale mall with a Liverpool store (similar to Macy's)
H&M, movie theater, arcade, bowling alley/bar and restaurants

Kids playing in the arcade at the mall.

Isla Isabel

We had another overnight passage, leaving at 7:30pm and arrived in Isla Isabel around 5pm the next day.  Isla Isabel is considered the Galapagos of Mexico.  The main anchorage was packed. There were at least 6 boats in the small anchorage and there was some pretty big swell.  We decided to anchor outside of the cove and surprisingly it was not too bad.  It was rolly, but not as bad as we had noticed the boats rolling in the main anchorage.  The next day, we rowed ashore and met s/v Shawnigan.  They are from Sausalito, so, we are like, neighbors!  They have children and it was nice to meet other boat kids.  
The most unfortunate event at Isla Isabel, was that our camera froze up and we lost all of the beautiful photos we had taken at the "Galapagos like" site!  We are bummed that we couldn't share it, but if you look it up on the internet, you will see what we saw.  Thousands of iguanas, you literally have to watch where you are walking.  Thousands of frigates and blue and brown footed boobies. The amount of fish swimming around your boat and what you see when snorkeling.  It truly was a beautiful site.  The center of the island was a crater with the most serene lake.  Yes, there were mosquitos, but it was still a beautiful site.

San Blas - Matanchen Bay

Continuing southwestward toward Banderas Bay where La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta are, we made our way to Matanchen Bay, outside of San Blas.  We have read and heard that this is a Jejenes haven due to the town being surrounded by mangroves.  I was ready with homemade bug spray ( witch hazel, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil).  But it was raining once we arrived and that kept the mosquitos and jejenes at bay.  Horatio and Miriam were thrilled as they seem to really like us a lot!  We anchored out and were completely alone in a very large bay.  We were wondering if there might be something wrong with this place besides the jejenes.  But another two boats showed up the next day.  We rowed to town the next day, but on our way in, one of the dinghy oars broke completely in half  It was a slight struggle for Geoff to row us all in and back, but he did it.  He spent the next day repairing the broken oar!  The beach town in Matachen Bay was very nice and the people were all very friendly - a very common theme in Mexico.  
That evening, as Miriam was reading in bed, she heard a fishing panga close to our boat. She was thinking, maybe someone needs help, but it was midnight!   She went out to look and noticed several boat lights completely surrounding us.  She called for Geoff and he came up and said there were at least 50 boat lights on the bay.   It really freaked us out, but we noticed they were all fishing, some so close their fishing nets were practically under our boat!  They fished until 4 am!!  It was one of the worst night's sleep Miriam has had in a long time.

We caught a 25 lb Mahi Mahi on the way to San Blas.  It was huge!

Two terns hanging out on our life lines for about 2 hours.  
They were catching a ride to San Blas!

The lone boat in Matachen Bay

Nice scarf job on the broken oar!

This was during the day, but this is how close the fishing pangas were at midnight!
You can see the corner of our solar panel on our boat.  
Notice the pelicans hanging out waiting for a good catch!

After two days we made our way to the small beach town of Chacala.  We arrived late afternoon and met another kid boat, s/v Agamere.  There were also several other boats in the bay and it was nice to see several cruisers.   The town was very small, but very quaint.  Nice restaurants on the beach and some beautiful vacation homes surrounding the bay.  

Some of the restaurants on the beach in Chacala

Not a very good picture of Enough with Chacala in the background

Punta Mita

Now we were heading into Banderas Bay and the marina in La Cruz, where we were planning on meeting friends for Christmas.  The kids were soooo excited as the La Cruz marina is known as the "kids marina".  It is suppose to have a Kids Club and a Kids Net (where only the children talk on the radio to share information).  They could not wait to see other boat kids they already knew and have hung out with.  But, we decided to anchor out in Punta Mita for a night before heading the about 8 miles into La Cruz.  Punta Mita is on the far North side of Banderas Bay, with La Cruz toward the northeast and Nuevo Vallarta toward the east and Puerto Vallarta toward the southeast.    It gave us a little downtime to just do nothing on the boat!  Nice town with lots of big and beautiful hotels.  The Four Seasons and St. Regis are both in Punta Mita.

Next Stop, La Cruz....

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November 2015

Dia de los Muertos
We celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Guaymas.  We got to see 2 days worth of parades and celebration events.  Lots of painted faces and good food.  There was a very large table full of bread in the shape of a cross. It was the Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead).  Bread that was blessed and then to be shared during the picnic at the gravesite or alter of the deceased.

Happy Halloween
 ghost hanging off the bow pulpit of our neighbhors boat in Guaymas

Pan de Muerto

Noah and Horatio during Dia de los Muertos celebration

Parade animals

The kids did some dinghy sailing in the bay at Guaymas with the Sang Vind kids

Noah and Jayden sailing the El Toro at the Guaymas marina

We enjoyed James Bond Movie Night in Guaymas with Phil, Debra and Ethan from Coastal Drifter, Alex, Paolo, and Raquel from Pesto and Frans, Sylvia, Dylan and Jayden from Sang Vind.  The kids also had a great Minecraft party at Coastal Drifter's rental house in San Carlos.  The kids got to meet new kids and have some quality Minecraft battles.

S/V's Coaster Drifter, Sang Vind, Pesto, and Enough families 
enjoy 007's Spectre during movie night in Guaymas

Heading down to Puerto Vallarta
We decided it was time to leave Guaymas/San Carlos area and start the trek down toward Puerto Vallarta.  We have seen quite a bit of the Baja coast side and now want to see the mainland Mexico side of the Sea of Cortez.  We left San Carlos and not even 25 minutes out of the bay, we hit a squall. It was blowing at least 35-40 mph.   It was scary, but we were able to get the jib back in and reef the mainsail.  We caught up with another boat, Gitana, after we anchored that evening in Punta Lobos, about 65 miles south of San Carlos.  Gitana told us they lost their jib and broke their windlass.  We felt pretty lucky as we did not break anything.  

We sailed another 65 miles the next day and anchored in Bahia Santa Barbara, outside of Puerto Yavaros.  We really wanted to see that port, but were not there at the right tide time to make it in and did not want to spend another day there to get in.

We made our way to Topolobampo and anchored off  the entrance of the bay the first night as it was really windy about 22 mph and did not want to come into the harbor at night.  The next day, we made it to the marina and saw Gitana and another boat, a catamaran, Hooroo.   Hooroo mentioned they took the train to the Copper Canyon and we said that we had wanted to do that, also.  

We toured Topolobampo, a very small town, but has Ohuira Bay which has lots of coves, islands and river inlets.  There a quite a few river pangas to provide tours of the Bay.

Barranca de Cobre, Copper Canyon, is Mexico's Grand Canyon, but four times bigger!  It is beautiful and breathtaking.  The train ride up there is also quite an adventure.  You get to see a lot of very small towns in the State of Sinaloa to Chihuahua.   The railroad itself is 656 km long from Los Mochis (almost the Pacific coast) to Chihuahua, the central high plains.  It was a great adventure off the boat.

We stayed in the town of Posada Barranca and visited the Canyon and the Adventure Park that has a cable car and a few ziplines.

Restaurant in Topolobampo
Horatio ordered the Pargo (snapper) and it showed up whole!

Ladies making tortillas in Topo

Outdoor tortilla factory

Eating breakfast in the dining car of the Chepe (Chihuahua-Pacifico) train

We stayed in the town of Posada Barranca which had great views of the Canyon

Hiking the canyon with a view of the Mirador Hotel above

Noah in front of the Teleferico (cable car)

View from cable car

Miriam and Noah on the cable car

Miriam and Noah at the cable car stop

Local Tarahumara selling their wares at the cable car stop in the Canyon

Geoff and Horatio at completion of their 7 stop Tirolesa (zipline) tour of the canyon
7 ziplines and 2 bridges 

Noah lost a tooth while in Topolobampo and the Tooth Fairy left him a two dollar bill
Puerto Altata
We left Topolobampo and made our way to another small town called Puerto Altata.  It is about 40 minutes west of Culiacan, the capitol of Sinaloa. We were only planning on staying one night at anchor, but got news of Hurricane Sandra and decided to stay until the hurricane passed and then make our way to Mazatlan. They just finished building a marina here last year.  It was empty except for us!  There are two other boats in the marina, but belong to local Culiacan residents.  The marina here is brand new, so it is very clean and has nice amenities.  The restrooms are clean and the showers are very modern.  The laundry is free and the restaurant serves great food.  The only downside is that it is very close to the mangroves, so there are lots of Jejenes (no see-um) bugs.  They are tiny black bugs that bite and leave mosquito like marks.   Overall, this is a very nice surprise of a marina. 
With the storm, so far, we have only seen about 20 mph winds, thank goodness, but supposedly the remnants of the storm will not pass until tomorrow.  After that, we will plan on leaving for Mazatlan.

Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant in the marina

Geoff checking on another boat that had already seen a storm, 
during the now downgraded tropical storm

Geoff on the dock during the storm.  

View of the marina restaurant and lighthouse from our boat.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

September and October 2015

Back in Breckenridge, the kids wanted to learn how to shoot a rifle and a shotgun.  Geoff took the kids to a shooting range in Dillon.  He taught them about gun safety, aiming, and how to handle a rifle/gun.  The enjoyed it and were actually really good shots.

Geoff teaching Horatio

Geoff teaching Noah

Geoff aiming for the target

Noah celebrated his 9th birthday with a Donut Hole cake!  He didn't want a cake, but wanted donuts, so that is what he got.  We stacked about 30 donut holes on top of 6 regular donuts.  I think we all went into a sugar coma after that!

Noah's 9th birthday Donut Hole cake

Noah showing off his raccoon hat and Hex bugs

Noah gets braces for his birthday!  (Great party favors from his Aunt Catherine)

Phill, Griffinn, Noah and Horatio enjoying the party favors

We celebrated Oktoberfest with our friends Don and Kristi DesFosses and their son Christopher.
Main Street in Breckenridge had lots of beer, food, music and some activities that the kids could enjoy.
Horatio trying to hammer a nail with the sharp end of the hammer, while Noah and Christopher await their turns.

We couldn't believe that Fall was happening so quickly.  We felt we had just left the summer heat in Mexico and now the leaves are changing and the weather is starting to get cool.

One of the fishing ponds in Silverthorne

Hiking in Frisco - Horatio, Noah and Pippa

Crossing a log bridge

Made it to the lake after hiking past some beautiful Aspen changing colors

Nana and Papa took Horatio and Noah to Denver for a day of indoor skydiving.  What an adventure. They had a great time.
All geared up and ready to skydive

Not sure if it's clear, but two moose where next door to the house eating

Catherine celebrated her birthday with Pizza and Poker (All in)

We knew our time was coming to get back to the boat, since it was now snowing in Breckenridge!
We cannot believe we went from Summer, Fall and now Winter so quickly!  What a weather change.
We sure are glad that we didn't swelter in the summer heat and humidity in Guaymas and got to experience 3 season changes with our family!  It was beautiful.

Breck ski resort with snow

The kids starting a snowman on the deck

We made our way back to Guaymas and the weather is still warm, but not as hot and humid.  We are getting the boat back together and ready to sail.  While in Guaymas we have run into friends again, which is great.  The people you meet while sailing are really an amazing group of people. Everyone is so friendly and so helpful.  All of the people in Mexico are also the same way.  We will be staying in the Guaymas/San Carlos area for about a week or two and then making our way make into the Sea of Cortez and crossing over to the Baja side and visiting places we've been to and also places we missed on the way up.  We will eventually cross back over toward Mazatlan and head to Puerto Vallarta and hopefully make our way on the Pacific Puddle jump across to French Polynesia next Spring.
Horatio and Noah with the Sang Vind kids, Dylan and Jayden.  Getting ready for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos which is a two day celebration this weekend - Oct 31-Nov 2.