Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We made it, we are across TDTP (The Dreaded TehaunePec). It threw a punch at us but it wasn't roundhouse knockout punch, just a jab to the jaw. We had 24 hours of uncomfortable sailing, getting bashed about with a triple reef in the main and the staysail, thank heavens for the hanked on staysail. Sometimes even that was too much for the boat and we had to wrestle the wheel to get back on track. After 24 hours of that it settled down and we had some great sailing. This was our longest passage ever at 5 days and we did pretty well in the rest department. At night we would do one 4 hour shift and one 3 hour shift, and then 2 hours during the day when it was really hot. The 0100 t0 0500 shift was the killer, I think after 0200 I was looking at my watch every 15 minutes, makes for a long night. I think I identified the Southern Cross so it was great to see it (I think).

We are in Barillas Marina in El Salvador. They have an excellent system for checking in, all the officials came to our boat, 2 police men, one custom's officer and an immigration guy plus best of all a lovely English speaking senorita!! We were through and checked in, only $20.00 lighter in a half an hour, record time.

Barillas is a gated spot, almost like an all inclusive resort. There is a pool and a bar, the office arranges for internet and you can charge all you want. The resort has a bus into town 2 times a week, from there you can go to San Salvador, etc. We have decided to press on to Costa Rico. There is only so much time and there are great spots to stop in Costa Rico. I think we may leave from there to go to the Galapagos. Apparently the angle and winds are better that way. We are going to bypass Panama, but I guess we will see it on the way back, from east to west if Barry gets his work fix every once in awhile.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We are in Hualtulco, MX. It is the jumping off point for cruisers for Central America. We have been here for 2 days and we are leaving this afternoon for El Salvador. We are going to skip Guatemala all together, because it is expensive to get into the country and the one marina that there is, is supposedly very expensive. There apparently are not any nice anchorages there either so we decided to give it a miss, beside we do not have it`s flag.
It is about 500 miles to El Salvador and we have to cross the last big sailing hurdle on this coast, the DREADED TUHAUNAPEC, ( I am not sure of the spelling). Anyway the Gulf of Tuhaunapec, is a very dangerous stretch of water. It is dangerous because all of the weather from the Gulf of Mexico, on the Atlantic side of Mexico comes funnelling through this narrow opening. The mountains stop and there is a low land crossing that the wind just finds and comes humming through. You really have to keep an eye on the weather in Texas to figure out whether or not you are going to be safe crossing this body of water.
Fortunately there is a fellow who is the dockmaster at the marina where we are staying who is a master of the T-Pec. He has crossed it over 200 times and he has numerous weather web sites that he will call up and look at. He won`t let boats leave unless he thinks there is a good safe weather window. Apparently we are looking forward to 15-25 knots of wind on the beam and very little wave action. You cross the T-Pec hugging the shore, one foot on the beach as it were, so that the wind, if there is some, does not have any room to make big waves. Good stratedgy. We are leaving about supper time so that we will cross the worst part during the day tomorrow and then it will be smooth sailing after that.
Haultulco is a lovely spot, it is a planned tourist community so there is not much of the natural Mexican charm here, but there are great grassy boulevards with coconuts palms everywhere for shade. The hotels are not garish and the beaches look lovely and pristine. We did anchor one night out in the bay and it was very rolly and after the wind switched at three in the morning we did not get much sleep. We went our for our last dinner in Mexico last night and had a lovely time with Bruce and Marion from Galivant. Apparently Central American cooking is quite bland and boring compared to Mexican cuisine. We shall see.
The next blog you will be getting will be from El Salvador and we will be well on our way in the next stage of our adventure. There are only about five weeks left until we are to leave for the Galapagos and we have several countries to explore before then. Keep in touch, we love hearing from all of you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

We are in Port Escondido almost 150 miles south of Acapulco. We did not stop in Acapulco this time, we sailed 48 hours to get here. It is apparently a good surfing stop, but not a great anchorage. The town has some lovely Spanish, or Mediterranean architecture and is very clean and pretty. We are going to head further south to Haultuco tomorrow and then wait for a weather window to cross the dreaded Gulf of Tehaunapek ( not spelled properly).
We are working on trying to get our Ham radio up and running again, we have talked to the fellow that installed it and have some more tricks to try to see if we can´t get it going. Wish us luck.
At the moment we are travelling with the couple from New Mexico that we went to Patzcuaro with. They have their son with them so it is nice to get a young person´s views on what we are doing. I must go more later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We are back in Zihua making arrangements to leave tomorrow. We will be starting on our Central American leg of our adventure. Zihua has so much to offer, it would be very easy to just stay here, there is so much to do and so many great people here. I can see why people come back year after year.

We had a lot of fun in Patzcuaro. We saw some great indegenous dancing, some non tourist authentic Mexican musicians just making music, had a great if excruciating slow transit on gravel roads around a lake, got to know a set of cruisers better, experienced the Mexican mountains. It was on my list of things to do so it was fun.

The real deal. We saw this family on the back of beyond, they even had a goat tied to the back of the wagon.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

We met some friends from last year at Rick´s on Friday night and they said that they were taking an inland trip on Sat. morning. That sounded like such a good idea I jumped on it and asked if they would mind if we joined them, so off we went.
We are in Patzcuaro up in the mountains about 7,000 feet, about 200 miles inland, I think. We took one bus that was a 3 and a half hour trip to Uruapan and then another 30 minute trip here. We are staying in the main square in a lovely old building that is very clean and has wonderful furniture in the lobby. I froze up one computer trying to load my pictures so won´t bother again. It is a colonial town with a very different feel from the coast. We saw some traditional dancing last night and then went for dinner.
At dinner there was some live music and our friends have their 22 year old son with them. He is a muscian so he started chatting with the folks and it resulted in an invitation to a house party. After many fits and trys we found the place, the cabby had to ask several people before he found it. It was lots of fun with dancing and live music, bongos, keyboard and guitar. One girl there was very good at the Salsa. What an adventure. We are headed out shortly to explore the lake where the area is based around. Apparently in the 1500 century the bishop in the area made each village around the lake into an centre where one craft was practised and perfected in each place. One village is know for it´s copper work, one for pottery, one for weaving, etc. It should be fun to see what we can discover today. I think we will head back to Zihua tomorrow.
Just thought I would let you know what we are up to. Trish and Jen have both posted great family pics from Christmas, thank you guys, it means a lot to me.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Well, I finally did it.

15 years ago I took Scuba lessons, passed the course and took my open water dives and then said to Barry okay it's your turn. I was thinking we could take holidays in warm water and we could go diving together. Barry instead chose to take sailing lessons, three boats later and 15 years have passed and I finally took a dive, in fact I have now taken 4. Wow! What a blast. Today we saw a sea horse, an octopus (which I spotted), 3 moray eels and hundreds of fish. It was awesome. Barry didn't want to try because he was worried about his sinuses so I finally figured out, if I was going to do I had to do it by myself, so away I went. I am so glad. I am actually spending my bonus from Coldwell Banker on this perk so thanks guys. I have 2 more days of diving left so life it good.
Mungo showed up here yesterday and two other boats from last year are here so it is great to see old friends. We are once again really enjoying Zihua. If you have a chance it is a great holiday destination.

Some poor bugger was 60 miles out and his chain plate gave way. This is what happened to his mast. What a shame.

Barry was out getting his diesel fix yesterday and he came across this pile of tangerines and pineapple. The tangerines are really tasty.

When we got up the other day this sight greated us. It looked pretty horrific from the boat. There were two distinct flaming structures, so I imagine that two Mexican families lost their homes. Hopefully no one lost their lives.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Well we made to Zihua. We stopped off in two anchorages, Maruata and Caleta De Campos. We went ashore in Caleta and toured the town. It was our first dinghy landing in surf, for this season so it was a bit scary. We put everything in waterproof bags, but I guess we learned a few lessons last year and we managed to time the waves perfectly and landed very dry. The town was interesting and we even managed to find a Lange shortcut back down to the beach, scrambling down and very narrow, windy, treacherous trail. We actually sailed quite a bit on the trip down, there wasn´t much wind but we would coast along at 3 to 3 and a half knots. It was great to be on our own time schedule not having to hurry to get somewhere, just sailed when we wanted to and who cared how fast we were going.
It is great to be back in Zihua. We went to the doctor we saw last year and renewed our prescriptions and it felt great to know the ropes, where the doctor was, which pharmacy would be able to fill our needs for a year and where the bank was so we could pay to the prescriptions. We had a lovely time at Rick´s Bar on Saturday night with live music and dancing.
We are planning on staying here about a week and then heading further south. We managed to buy a cruisers guide for Panama today, for a very decent price from another cruiser. I have a line on some flags so things are looking good. We are going to attempt to repair our ham radio antenna this afternoon. It would be great if we could get that figured out. I want to stop by a dive shop later and try and do some diving while we are here. Barry is worried about the effect of the depth on his ears so is not interested. I took my dive training in 1993 and 15 years later I would like to see what is out there under the sea.

Me and my neice Karen and my grand neice Chantal on New Years Eve

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

We hope everyone had a Happy New Year. Barry and I danced in the New Year out under the stars with the sound of the surf crashing on the beach. It was a lovely time and all the better because we could share it with Bruce, Marg., Karen, Monty and Chantal. We have spent the last week lazing about on the beach, using the unlimited water and shower facilities in Bruce and Marg s room, and chowing down at the all you can eat buffet almost everynight. I can understand now how people put on weight on cruises and all inclusive resorts. It has been a lovely holiday from being on the boat.
The Br. Lange family is headed home today and we are headed further south. We would probably take the day to rest up from the festivities last night but a great wind is predicted tonight and they don{t come along that often here, so off we go. We will take 4 or 5 days to get to Ziahua and then renew our acquaintances there. I am looking forward to doing that. We spent 6 weeks there last year and really enjoyed ourselves.
I am on a really old computer at Las Hadas resort so I am not going to attempt to put any pictures on. Hope all is well with everyone and don{t forget to keep in touch.