Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trying To Chill In The Summertime Sea


5/11/12 – 5/23/12 Puerto Escondido to Bahia Concepcion: After leaving Escondido on 5/11/12, we’ve been moving slowly north, stopping at Isla Carmen, Puerto Ballandra and Caleta San Juanico before moving into Bahia Concepcion where we visited Playa Santispac, until the aggressive (man eating??!!) saltwater catfish drove us out. We are presently anchored in a little cove called Playa Coyote. Our days have settled into an easy routine of early morning boat moves (if we move at all), anchor,  a few chores, swim and explore in the afternoon, then back down below to read and siesta until it’s time to think about dinner.

There has been no internet or even Mexican cell service in these parts, so our only contact with anyone else has been on the morning Sunrisa Net, a ham radio net, where we can get the latest weather and other information from cruisers. Apparently the world is spinning quite nicely without us! The weather has been heating up markedly. We hit 100 degrees yesterday (not the first time), and the water temp has been in the mid 80’s.

Speaking of the Sunrisa Net, yesterday (5/22) was Terry’s first time serving as net controller. Yes, he was the Jefe Grande, and in spite of a little nervousness, he did a fine job. He had to open the net, ask for priority or emergency traffic, take check-ins from other cruisers, break for the daily weather report from Geary next door to us in Playa Burro, and basically keep track of all the transmissions and direct the flow. He’ll be doing it every Tuesday morning for the rest of the summer.  It’s hard to express how important these cruisers nets are. They are run by volunteers, mostly cruisers, and are often the only way to communicate with the outside world and get essential weather information, which is especially important now that we are in hurricane season. By Terry doing his part weekly, we feel like we are contributing in our small way to this effort.

Oh, and in other news – we have an air conditioner!!!! I remember the sage words of advice we were given when we were just starting out, in Ilwaco, WA waiting to meet up with Endeavor clear back last August. A cruiser returning from Mexico to the Pacific NW, told us to BE SURE and get an air conditioner if we planned to spend the summer in the Sea. So we bought a small window unit when we were in Puerto Vallarta, and Terry figured out a way to install it so it blows down into our salon from an overhead hatch. We’re still experimenting for the best schedule to run it on, but in this heat, it has made a big difference. We have to be conservative in using it because of the power it draws, but if it helps us sleep better during these hot nights, it will be well worth it. Sleep-deprived crew are not pleasant company!

Well, we want to dinghy into the little restaurant here with wifi that opens at 3 pm where I can post this blog. I guess I’ll have to wait to tell you about hitchhiking to Mulege, the funeral I found myself inadvertently attending, and the puppet show we’ll be seeing on Friday.

By the way, you can reach us by email at When we have no internet, this is our only way to get email. It comes to us over our SSB radio, and we can respond as well. Don’t send pics or any other graphics, text only. We love hearing from you!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hidden Harbor and the Streets of Loreto


05/08/12: Reluctantly, we weighed anchor in Los Candeleros (Ensenada Blanca) and headed north the seven or eight miles to Puerto Escondido (Hidden Harbor), also known as Puerto Loreto. We needed some fresh fruits and veggies pretty badly. After fueling up with diesel, we went on into the inner harbor and grabbed a mooring buoy.

This is a nearly land-locked harbor, considered an excellent refuge during a hurricane. I’d hide in Hidden Harbor in an instant to wait out a blow. The harbor itself consists of an anchorage called “The Waiting Room”, (the pic above on the right), another moorage called “The Ellipse” (center in the pic), and a large buoy anchorage called “The Inner Harbor” (upper left). This is a place where you get up close and personal to the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range. There is no town here, so the harbor and marina belong to the Municipality of Loreto, and according to Wikipedia, Puerto Escondido is the home of "Coco" Nogales, who is Mexico's only known big wave surfer. Hmmmm, this Hidden Harbor has no waves. I’d wonder if someone has confused this place with Mexico’s other Puerto Escondido, but then, who am I to argue with Wikipedia? I suppose we’ll never know for sure.

We went into the marina, had a look around and a drink, then dinghied back to Harmony so we could sit and stare at this for several hours:


5/9/12 – 5/10/12: I have long wanted to visit Loreto. I’ve heard so much about it, and it will also be the location of a retirement home to be built by our Anacortes friends Craig and Kelly. We took a cab for the 14 miles or so to Loreto and were enchanted by it’s cleanliness and charm. We took in the Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho, established by the Jesuits in 1740, and considered “head and mother of all the Spanish missions in Upper and Lower California" and is the beginning of El Camino Real. We did a lot of strolling around the quiet streets soaking up the ambiance….”As I walked down on the streets of Laredo…” oops, wrong town, sorry Johnny Cash.  Anyway, after a tasty and cheap lunch at CafĂ© Ole, Gina, Sydney and I did a little browsing in the shops (I got some earrings) and then on to El Pescador, a local supermarket. Their produce was pretty sad, so we found a little neighborhood tienda that was much better and happily stocked up.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Time & Passages


red boat

       Bob, from s/v Pearl out in his sailing dinghy in Barra lagoon.

2/5/12 – 2/11/12


The air is heavy in Barra lagoon, flags droop from backstays and shrouds. The moisture-laden clouds are low by, seeming at arms reach, the water surface smooth and quiet. Even the ubiquitous pelicans and frigates are off somewhere dozing full, after a morning of swooping and diving, catching and gorging .

It makes no sound as it skims lightly by, sailor slouched low, hat brim shading face. He’s without Salty, his canine dinghy-mate today, red sails a surprise in the muted palette of the day, whipping about, healing away.  A gay little passage-maker this one!

Others, having no cheerful little skiff, look on in envy, settling for cushioned cockpit, book in hand, cool beverage nearby, remembering.

* * * *


2/11/12 Santiago:  There are some passages that are more momentous than others. On this day, Terry turned 60. We drank and ate in his honor, rechristening him ”Indio”, after the stocking cap that came as a gift in an Indio beer box. We have no idea why they are giving stocking caps away in Mexico, except that, well, it’s Mexico! Happy Birthday dear dear Indio, and many more happy passages!

Terry bday

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Melaque, Barra and Cuastecomate

Beach Vendor

01/24/12 Melaque: Ah sweet Carrizal, we hate to leave you, but need provisions, propane, and gas for “Stinky”, our precious generator. We had passed right by Melaque the last time we went to Barra, so we decided to anchor this time and check it out. Behind the ubiquitous beach-front palapas, the town of Melaque is very nice with clean streets of concrete pavers, numerous shops and (yay) a bank. We found a market called The Hawaii Store and loaded up on beautiful produce, eggs, beer, liquor and……..Tillamook Cheese!!!! This store is amazing, crammed full of hard-to-find items. We dropped a few pesos there, let me tell you!
Melaque appears to be a very popular gringo winter destination, especially for Canadians. There’s an RV park just off the beach and lots of small decent-looking hotels crammed full. As a result, you don’t need to know a single word of Spanish to get what you want, which is a good thing or not, depending on your point of view.
Harmony’s bottom is thickly covered with sea critters who have attached and set up house. She needs a shave badly. We hired a local young man, who came alongside Harmony in his panga fully equipped with a compressor and long air tube. He dove on our boat for about an hour with his trusty scraper, and 400 pesos later (about $30), Harmony’s bottom was again slick and purty!

1/26/12 Barra de Navidad: We headed just down the bay to anchor once again in the lagoon in Barra for a few days. We had an adults night out with Rick and Gina on the town in Barra. After drinks at a couple of places, we settled in at La Oficina and had an excellent meal and lots of laughs.
Something not so good is happening to the local fish life here. We see hundreds of dead fish (6-8 inches) floating in the water in the lagoon and washed up on the beach. The pelicans and frigates will have nothing to do with the dead fish. No one seems to know why the die-off.
Life in the lagoon is crowded, with 20-25 boats at anchor. The bottom is slippery mud, so we have to have over 100’ feet of chain out. For two nights in a row a small Hunter sailboat with the owner absent has drug anchor, threatening to run into other boats. Other cruisers using their dinghies finally towed it to the back of the fleet where it can drag all it wants.
Terry and Rick just couldn’t resist. We are anchored in view of a world class golf course here, with 27 holes total- The Lagoon Course, The Mountain Course, and The Ocean Course. Sydney dinghied the guys over early one morning and they proceeded to play the full 27 holes. Terry was so excited he couldn’t settle down until the second nine. They had a ball, and came back weary, but happy. Thanks to Rick for a very nice early birthday present for Terry.

2/1/12 Cuastecomate: Often passed by, this small bay is a peaceful change from the much larger and crowded anchorage at Barra. We left Barra on 2/1/12, went offshore a bit to shower on our aft deck and make fresh water, then made our way the 5 miles here to what is often called Secret Anchorage. We took the dinghy in to investigate the place where we heard fantastic margaritas can be had (they were ok, not the best we’ve had), and took a short walk behind the beach-front palapas to see if there was a town. No town here, just a residential neighborhood. So we’ve been spending time reading and catching up on emails. Very quiet, very laid back, very nice. But the question looms…..where will we watch the Super Bowl? There’s not a sports bar in sight, so we might have to go back to Melaque or Barra, or……maybe not.

Happy Anniversary to us! As of today, we have been cruising for six months. It has gone by so fast, and yet when we remember pushing off from the dock in Anacortes and waving a teary goodbye to our friends Joe and Cindy on that sunny day in August, it seems like so long ago. We are happy, we are thankful, and looking forward to more of the cruising life!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Magic and Mantas and Earthquakes Oh My!

Our little fleet at anchor in lovely Carrizal

1/19/11 Ensenada de Carrizal:  Magic does happen, just ask Terry. After fussing and cussing our dinghy outboard lo these last few days, this morning Terry said a few incantations, pulled the start cord and the silly thing fired right up! This kind of stuff drives us both crazy, but we weren’t about to ask any questions. We pulled up anchor and headed to Carrizal leaving the red tide and the fickle outboard fairies of Las Hadas thankfully in our wake. We joined Endeavor and Pearl and Wade’s Aweigh in beautiful Carrizal just a few miles northwest of Las Hadas.

As we pulled into this little bay, I was struck by how much it looked like any one of dozens of coves you find everywhere in the San Juan Islands at home. High, rocky cliffs covered with vegetation border the cove, with a small rocky beach at the head. There are no towns, no palapas, nothing. The water is clear and invites you to jump in for a cooling dip or to go snorkeling. It even seemed less smoggy. We set the anchor, breathed a sigh of contentment and settled into the peace and quiet.
With no internet access, we spent our time reading, swimming and snorkeling. This is our new favorite place, the best spot in Mexico so far!

Early one morning while we were still in bed Terry heard some weird bumps and scraping noises against the hull. He got up to investigate and was astonished to find a 12 foot manta ray tangled up in a fishing net that was now also wrapped around our rudder, keel, anchor chain and prop. The poor ray was trying desperately to get away, but he couldn’t get his horns out the mess of net. What to do, what to do?! He shouted at me to get up, then went below so he could put his contact lenses in. Then he grabbed our boat hook and went back up on deck. By the time we both got up there the manta had managed to get free of the net on his own. Harmony was not quite so lucky. Very shortly a panga came by with a man and his three kids, looking for his fishing net. He borrowed one of our snorkel masks and proceeded to dive and cut the net away from all the various places it was wrapped around the boat. Free at last!

We were both were half reading, half dozing in the cockpit one afternoon and heard a low rumble, then felt a lot of vibration throughout the boat. It went on for several seconds, then stopped. We finally decided it was a small earthquake, and were proven correct when we learned that the Buelt family on Pearl had been in Santiago in a store when it happened. I guess it’s a common occurrence in these parts and no big deal. I just don’t want to be aboard and see the water rush out to sea beneath us leaving bare beach and boats high and dry as happened in the quake in Asia a few years ago!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Barra to Hadas, Where The Wee Fairies Live And Wreak Havoc

Las Hadas
1/13/12 Las Hadas: We needed to make fresh water (have I mentioned that our water maker rocks?) and  a change of scene and so ventured a few miles to Las Hadas ("The Fairies" in Spanish).

What comes to mind when I say Bo Derek, Dudley Moore, a beautiful beach, and Bolero? The movie “10” of course. The movie was partially filmed on the beach here. That was in 1979, and things have changed a bit since then. There are more resorts and restaurants, but the flavor is still like something you’d see in cliffside harbor in Greece, with stunning white architecture and steep windy streets leading from the beach up to the village.

We anchored outside the marina, and then dinghied in to pay for the privilege of tying our dinghies at the marina and using the resort pool (800 pesos per week). It’s a good thing we did, because an ugly, stinky red tide invaded the anchorage making swimming inadvisable.

The ornery little local fairies soon went to work and put the kibosh on our dinghy engine. All of a sudden it wouldn’t start. Terry determined it was the CDI unit or some such thing, and he spent hours making trips here and there and on the phone looking for parts. Meanwhile, we were again depending on Endeavor to dinghy us around. Thank goodness for good friends!

When we weren’t doing boat chores or chasing down outboard parts, we were ashore at the Las Hadas resort playing water volleyball in the pool and sipping cold beverages on the beach. All I need are some cornrows…..