In an effort to preserve and tend to the needs of a live aboard sailboat, we made the acquaintance and developed a fast friendship of a man that does exceptional boat work in the Banderas Bay region. To our delight, upon returning to PV, there was our amigo and maintenance guy, Dublas. No sooner were we settled into our slip, Steve and Dublas were analyzing the next project to preserve Flyer.
Farewell dinner with friends Mike and Twila, recapped our travels, their love for Flyer and the confirmation that they’ll soon return for another adventure aboard. Twila has generously committed to investigating unorthodox remedies for Peggy’s seasickness ailment.
Our return to PV was timely, allowing us to attend Easter Sunday mass at the Catholic Our Lady of Guadeloupe Cathedral in the downtown district. Following the bilingual service, we enjoyed a Mexican brunch overlooking the church grounds, including the malecon/waterfront – followed by a peaceful day of relaxation and cleaning aboard Flyer.The malecon district offers a weekly sculpture walking tour. A few highlights of the tour include the elements of the Millennia sculpture and its extensive meaning. The extensive art history is well worth the two hours to learn more about Mexico, their artists and art itself. The slideshow features a recap of the magnificent bronze sculptures –most of which were generously donated via the artists and their craftsmen.
While learning about the extensive history of the beautiful sculptures, the tour happened upon the infamous Voladores de Papantla, or Flyers of Papantla, one of the Puerto Vallarta malecon’s biggest attractions. Five Voladores climb a 50-foot tall pole in traditional native attire. One plays the flute as he sits on top of the spinning pole, while the four others literally fall head over heels off the top of the pole, dangling by just one of their ankles from a rope. The Voladores gracefully spin and flutter around the pole until they reach the ground. It’s worth mentioning that this talented group only recaptures their expenses via tips.
This spectacle of bravery and talent is worth the few minutes of time their performance requires. This important religious ceremony dates back 1500 years ago. The ritualstarted in central Mexico in honor of the God of Sun, for the purpose of boosting that year’s harvest and improving fertility. The “flyers” represent fire, earth, water, and air. As they “fall” from the top of the pole, their arms are outstretched and their heads point towards the ground. The flutist on top of the pole begins the ritual by facing east, symbolic of the origin of the world. Each “flyer” spins thirteen times around the pole before reaching the ground. 13 spins x 4 flyers = 52, and 52 years, according to the Mayan calendar, encompasses one solar cycle and 52 weeks makes a year, which symbolizes the birth of a “new sun.” The beadwork on their costumes consumes over 90 days to complete.
Winding down our PV residency, we prepare to sail northbound into the Sea of Cortes.
Departing Mazatlan, our fellow dock neighbors bid us farewell, casting our lines for us as we set our sights on Isle Isabela.
Once underway we motor sailed the majority of the passage due to light wind. We were fortunate to have a bright full moon the entire night. Peggy lucked out catching a breaching whale off to the starboard side making an impressive splash. Our timely arrival to Isabela had us approaching the island well into morning. Tuned into the marine radio, two boaters (one referring to himself as a naturalist) were discussing their island discoveries. Triggering one of Peggy’s phobias… they reported seeing a 5 foot milk snake. Yuck!
While evaluating the anchorage options, we cruised into the south bay, narrowly avoiding the underwater pinnacles. We eventually dropped the hook on the East side of the island with a firm hold in sand and rock bottom.
The island is overpopulated with Frigate birds and Blue Footed Boobies, Brown Footed Boobies, iguana’s and lizards of all sorts. We set the dinghy in the water and ventured to the south bay entrance, which offers the only reasonable entry/exit to beach the dinghy and adjacent to the fishermen’s dwellings. We walked around to explore and photograph the Frigate birds, lizards and iguana. We didn’t trek far enough inland or uphill to locate the Boobies though… (Remember Peggy’s snake phobia?).
After two days on the hook, we set sail eastbound for LaCruz de Huanacaxtle. With a light breeze we sailed peacefully and eventually had to motor sail to maintain our speed to arrive timely at high tide Saturday morning.
Considering we are accustomed to being at anchor, leaving La Paz for the weekend was exciting. Being back ‘on the hook’ was long overdue. Destination: Islas Espiritu Santo and Partida (The Holy Island and the Parted Island).
A mere 27 n.m. north of La Paz, the islands allowed us to explore the surrounding area; disconnect from civilization and evaluate our preparedness to cross the Sea of Cortes to venture to the mainland. These islands offer pristine anchorages, spectacular geological landscapes and remote beaches. It goes without saying that the waters are an ideal translucent turquoise blue… perfect for swimming, diving and snorkeling.
Our first night out we anchored in the Ensenada de la Raza, a cove of Isla Espiritu. The shearing cliffs have been artistically sculpted by the wind and weather framed by the red layers of “tufa” volcanic ash. The beaches are trimmed with mangroves at its east head. We had flat calm seas, a peaceful overnight anchorage.
Friday we ventured northbound to Isla Partida. After exploring a few anchorages, we settled into the El Cardonal cove of Partida Island; taking up residency for 6 days. The winds funneled through the cove nightly. Our anchor settled into the sandy bottom holding 22 gross tons of Flyer securely. The sandy beaches are lined with saguaro cacti, mangroves, brush and unfortunately trash and debris – a reminder to visitors that we aren’t so removed from ‘civilization’ after all. Steve braved the cold waters to inspect the bottom of Flyer, do some bottom cleaning and evaluate our anchor hold.
We were visited by a few sea turtles. One of which floated around the cove for the better part of the day. Steve put the GoPro to work, capturing the sea turtle’s visit while swimming with it. The sea turtle didn’t seem to mind Steve’s presence as long as he stayed off to its side, not obstructing its path, giving the turtle plenty of personal space.
Wowie! We got to experience the corumuel winds while at anchor. Gusts accelerated upwards of 35 knots. The positive is that we were securely anchored. The negative was the lack of sleep while monitoring our holding and evaluating our position. Once we set sail to return to La Paz we had a good sail with the jib furled, the northerly winds pushing us at a steady 15 knots and three bottlenose dolphins greeting us back to the harbor. Unbeknownst to us we arrived back to the marina under ‘closed harbor’ conditions due to high winds. It was nice to be greeted by fellow mariners and friends at the dock.
February 4th – 9th is the annual Carnaval festival. This year’s theme: “Las Muses de Alegria” or “The Muses of Joy”. Following the Easter calendar, this year’s Carnaval falls at the early extreme of the spring season, just six days from the earliest possible date of Fat Tuesday, traditionally ending Carnaval with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. It is also 30 days ahead of the latest possible date for the end of Carnaval.
Stay tuned for an update after the festival for a report and photos. Until then… todo lo mejor para un año bisiesto emocionante – wishing you all the best for an exciting leap year.
Departing Port Townsend, WA with our trusty crew we headed down the
Washington/Oregon Coast on September 2. As we departed the fuel dock at Neah Bay, WA numerous humpback whales bid us farewell.
All and all the passage down the coast was good with only a few squalls of rain, fresh breeze and fair weather. As we sailed the northern California coastline we experienced confused seas – just par for such an adventure. Most of our passage south of Mendocino, CA offered northerly winds as we sailed wing and wing dead downwind.
Approaching the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA, we were greeted with a grey whale and bottle nose dolphins. We were fortunate to enter the San Francisco Bay in clear afternoon daylight with the sails up. Our trusty crew made this passage possible and was patiently supportive during Peggy’s many bouts of seasickness. We extend our gratitude to our crew for a great experience and exceptional teamwork.
Once we settled into the routine of San Francisco we were able to explore the region extensively using transportation modes including bicycle, ferry boat, Uber car, MUNI bus, trolley car and a lot of walking. We hiked up to Coit Tower to take in the spectacular views and are sad to report the wild parrot population is no longer existent. We spent a day exploring the California Academy of Sciences http://www.calacademy.org/ and highly recommend a visit to this exceptional aquarium/planetarium/natural history musuem. After making an attempt to bike up to the Golden Gate Park we resorted to having Uber shuttle us up. Once we arrived we unfolded our bikes and were off to explore the sights. Anchoring in Richardson Bay in Sausalito, CA was challenging and too shallow for Flyer. We took advantage of the moorage reciprocity and hospitality of the Sausalito Yacht Clubs mooring balls; which allowed us the opportunity to enjoy a day excursion hiking the trails of The Muir Woods National Monument http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm and take in the beauty of California’s forests and interior.
We were able to watch the trials of the Rolex race from the infamous St. Francis Yacht Club and the Golden Gate Yacht Club; both of which were exceptionally accommodating and hospitable. After almost three weeks in San Francisco and the surrounding area we set sail to Half Moon Bay, then onto Monterrey Bay, CA. As we traversed the coast we were greeted by a large pod of humpback whales off the shores of Moss Landing, CA. The whales were so close to the boat we could smell the stench of rotten fish. Aside from the smell, it was an incredible experience for both of us. We spent a few days exploring Monterey, CA local museums and of course the infamous Monterey Bay Aquarium http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/. A visit to Monterey Bay really deserves a day trip to the aquarium. The Monterey Bay local farmers market offered great entertainment, fresh food and an opportunity to discover the downtown area.
After an overnight passage from Monterey Bay to Morro Bay, CA we arrived into the Morro Bay harbor with the sunrise and Morro Rock greeting us. Another local festival offered us a unique perspective of this small town. We discovered the community is in the process of establishing a maritime museum that is home to one of only two Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles in the world. This artifact offered fascinating history and will undoubtedly be an anchor exhibit to this upcoming exceptional museum.
Continuing southbound our visit to Santa Cruz, Redondo Beach, Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands all offered a unique perspective and the communities history as well as the reciprocity of fellow yacht clubs. Everyone was exceptionally friendly, informative and hospitable. We are very grateful for the warm welcome and helpful information all the clubs and their members offered us.
We took a detour to Catalina Island, dropping the hook on the west side of the island in Cat Harbor. The desolation and peace was heavenly, the water was crystal clear. A long time member of the Isthmus Yacht Club gave us an exclusive tour of the yacht club . IYC has a fascinating history and was initially a military and U.S. Coast Guard barracks until the close of WWII. As we worked our way back to the mainland we sailed southern Catalina Island and moored in Avalon for a few days.
The Avalon Casino was the backdrop of our view in Avalon Harbor. The handpainted murals and Page Organ in the Casino’s movie theater are a reminder of the unique flare and history of the area. Although we never felt the ghostly presence of Marilyn Monroe, the island offered a lot of history about her as well as the wild escapades of several other celebrities. We forgot to mention our quest to find the BEST pizza… and we found it at Antonio’s Pizzeria and Cabaret in Avalon, Catalina Island, CA.
Arriving in Newport Harbor offered unique and varied anchorages allowing us to see several areas of the harbor, watch the kids in the community sailing programs, all while exploring the community via bicycle. Watching the surfers at the Wedge beach on the far end of Newport Beach was just as entertaining as tooling around the channels with the dinghy sightseeing. An afternoon trip to Sherman Library and Gardens http://www.slgardens.org/ showcased the regions foliage and fascinating garden design. Spending just over a a month in San Diego taking care of business, provisioning and spending time on the hook in the community anchorages, we ramped up to cross the Mexican border. Considering the length of our stay in San Diego, a few must visit destinations include Point Loma Seafood offering both an exceptional fish market and a great place to eat lunch or dinner. We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a potluck hosted by the friendly members of the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island. Dinner was delicious and the members were friendly and informative as they offered us advice regarding Mexico and our upcoming passage.
Crossing the border: We motor sailed to Ensenada, BCN, Mexico and saw a few whales about 3 miles outside of the Ensenada harbor. Unfortunately the winds didn’t pick up until we arrived in the Ensenada Harbor which made tying up to the dock more challenging than necessary. Ensenada is the gateway to Mexico and a necessary port for boaters to clear customs, acquire fishing licenses and numerous other permits making us and Flyer legal to travel throughout Mexico. Our stay at the Baja Naval Marina in Ensenada was very hospitable and accommodating. Once we wrapped up our customs paperwork in Ensenada, we had a 40 hour passage to Turtle Bay; offering two days of rest before continuing our passage southbound. A stop in Abrejos Bay was supposed to offer a restful night to break up the passage onto Magdalena Bay. Instead the rough anchorage motivated us to continue onto Mag Bay taking turns napping. The weather allowed us to anchor in Santa Maria Cove just outside the Mag Bay harbor. This was a convenience by not adding on additional time entering the harbor and checking in with the port captain. Our last two day passage from Mag Bay to San Jose del Cabo offered beautiful scenery, more whales, magnificent meteor showers, calm seas and light breezes. Our overnight passage from San Jose del Cabo to LaPaz, Mexico was exciting as Steve caught a beautiful 36″ yellowtail tuna. Steve had it on the hook, gaffed, on-board and cleaned within the hour. Now that we are in LaPaz, Mexico we are working on a few projects, cleaning up Flyer and formulating our upcoming passages, anchorages and site seeing destinations. We joined some friendly boaters for an evening out to enjoy dinner and a Christmas concert at the Instituto Sudcaliforniano de Cultura. The pianist composer created two original pieces and wrote them to incorporate the two violinists and cellists… in a word – spectacular.
That sums up our past four months. We’ll attempt to post updates more frequently as WiFi and time permits. Until then… ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo! (Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year) – Peggy & Steve