Sunday, 10 February 2013

A Typical Day At Sea

We have spent the last month touring around the Costalegre (Spanish for “The Happy Coast”) and we have found it to be well named.  The weather has been perfect, the beaches long and golden, and the water warm and inviting.  We were joined by Teresa and Mark for 10 days and had a great time exploring the towns of Barra de Navidad, La Manzanilla, and Manzanillo; snorkelling in Tenacatita and Carrazal; and perfecting our 4-man beach landings in the dinghy.  Unfortunately, Teresa and Kathy picked up a tourista bug a couple of days before the end of their visit and that put a damper on things.  A lesson learned:  There is no point extensively researching the best and safest restaurant to eat at if you stop at a dilapidated and sketchy looking roadside palapa for 2-for-1 margaritas on your way there!

Today we travelled from Chamela to Punta Ipala, a 6 hour journey that leaves us only a day south of Puerto VallartaIt was a pretty typical day at sea and went something like this….

The alarm goes off at 7:30 am and each of us ignores it. It’s plugged in at the navigation table, up in the salon, which requires someone to actually get out of bed to shut it off.  We both pretend to be asleep and hope that the other will go deal with it.  Tony caves first and reluctantly gets out of bed.

30 minutes later the tea and coffee is made, port holes and hatches are closed, and all loose items are stowed.  Our dutiful captain reviewed the guidebooks and entered our course into the chart plotter last night, so we are all set to go.  We are weighing anchor by 8 am, which is way too early for us, but there are a dozen boats here at Chamela, and we know that at least a couple of them are heading to the same anchorage as us today.  We want to make sure that we get there early enough to insure a spot for Vakasa.

The wind is light and, as seems to happen so often, right “on the nose”.  This means that it’s coming right at us and there’s not enough angle between the wind and the sails to use them effectively.  So both motors are on.  We usually cruise with just one motor at a time, which increases our range and decreases costs, but using two motors today will get us to our destination in 6 hours instead of 8, so we decide to let the wallet take a hit.  There’s some reasonably big swell which makes it a little uncomfortable in the galley, so breakfast is a couple granola bars.  It’s way too early to think of food anyways! 

We do one-hour shifts at the helm.  Tony actually puts on a sweater during his first shift…..yikes……that’s too scary for words!  While Tony’s managing the helm I get out our Spanish book and start doing a little studying.  The language is just starting to click for me and it’s so exciting to actually be able to have some small conversations with the locals.  I annoy Tony by asking him lots of questions in Spanish that he doesn’t know the answer to.

After a couple hours we realize that we are in a real zone of sea life.  There are sea turtles everywhere and we start counting our sightings.  30 in a little over an hour!  We stop to take pictures of several of them.  Most swim away, but a couple sit right beside the boat and just look at us!  We see several whales breaching in the distance and one big whale blows then surfaces and dives just 75 meters or so from Vakasa.  We then see a bunch of fins coming our way and soon we’re surrounded by hundreds of dolphins.  Although they’re headed in the opposite direction, they can’t resist swimming in Vakasa’s bow wake, so lots turn and swim with us for a few minutes each.  At one point we have as many as a dozen at the bow.  We hang over the front of the trampoline and watch for over 30 minutes.

Tony sees fish jumping ahead and rushes to put out the fishing line.  We haven’t had much success with this activity but he sticks with it valiantly, and promises me that there will be fish tacos on the menu tonight.  We spend an hour or so swerving this way and that, following the fish, but no luck.  In fact we end up losing a lure.  Good thing I took out the beef!

By now the sun is out and it’s getting really hot.  Tony’s sweater is off and I can recognize him again because he’s shirtless.  We slow Vakasa down and take turns jumping into the ocean and being pulled behind her.  So refreshing.  When I get out I feel a cold, wet nose bump against my shin.  Rizzo… goes it?  She’s been sulking in the salon as it’s a little too lumpy for her today.  But obviously something needs attention, so we stop the boat and take her forward to do her business and have a little play time on the trampoline.  Good girl! 

We’ve been watching the wind clock around a little to port as the land starts to heat up and the sea breeze kicks in.  We still don’t have enough wind to put up the main, but Tony unfurls the jib.  He plays with it constantly, with much more patience than I would ever have, and manages to get a half a knot more speed.  Doesn’t sound like much, but over a 4—5 hour period it does make a difference.

We are the first to arrive at the anchorage so we have our choice of spots.  Good thing because it’s not a huge area and there are a bunch of pangas and a large fish boat taking up room.  We drop the pick, set the anchor watch, and clean up the mess that accumulates during a long journey.  Now it’s time for cervezas in the cockpit while we await the other boats and the entertainment of watching them anchor.  As we wait, a local man comes out in his panga to tell us that his 6 year old son has just started school.  He is hoping that we might have some school supplies that we can give him.  We spend some time practicing our Spanish with Fernando and then give him a pack and frisbee that we have been keeping for an occasion like this.  He’s very happy and we feel pretty good.

Tonight we will play a game of Scrabble (a grudge match, actually, as our last game ended in a tie), watch a movie while we eat our beef (not fish) tacos, and then hit the sack early.  Tomorrow we are up again at “the crack of dawn” in order to round Cabo Corrientes, a local promontory with accelerated wind patterns.  The excitement just never ends!

The marina at Barra de Navidad.....nice place!

The Laguna anchorage just past the marina in didn't run aground on our way in....who told you that!!??

Mark on Rizzo walking duty at the Grand Bay Hotel/Barra Marina

Lifes' a drag for the Vaggs

Teresa and Mark with cervazas at the Italian restaurant in La Manzanilla

More crocs in La Manzanilla

Dinghy trip up the river in Tenacatita

Tres Amigos at the river mouth

Sleeping off the litre sized margaritas from the night before (three I believe!)

Las Hadas resort in Manzanillo...very Meditarranean

Las Hadas anchorage and Vakasa

Vakasa's crew does some pool aerobics

Really beautiful anchorage in Manzanillo

Guests are gone, time to get to work cleaning the hulls

An easy way to get into shore

Laundry day

She's actually starting to enjoy a little swim on a hot day

Way too early to be up

Geez.....a sweater?  At least he's not wearing shoes and socks!

Mexican Navy boat...these guys boarded Vakasa at 8 am the day before looking for our documents.  We got a laugh from them when our captain greeted them in his sleeping apparel.....underwear only!

This guy didn't seem to care about us at all....we almost ran him down!

One of more than 30 we spotted in just over an hour

Incredible display of dolphins in our bow just can't do it justice

Rounding Cabo Corrientes....could be BC on a winter day!

We got off lucky with only 10 kts of wind and a bit of a bumpy sea

We are back in the Puerto Vallarta area and Kathy will be flying home in a couple days to help her brother move to his new apartment and do some visiting.  She’ll be home for a month and Tony will join her for the last week.  Rizzo will stay in Mexico and hold the fort!  Ugh…..not looking forward to wearing shoes and socks!