Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Yaca fruit AKA Bread Fruit

It is huge!!! As I have read it can reach up to 45 Lbs in weight, the flavor is a mix of a papaya, banana and melon. Super rich in vitamins and minerals and it is advised to consume it with caution because the properties of this fruit are very close to the properties of Viagra. It has been renamed to “the Mexican Viagra” So far we have tried it in Juices and Ice cream, but I not enough of it to notice a difference… I am afraid this may not be blogging material.

San Blas de Nayarit

A very charming town, comparable to San Jose del Cabo, but much less developed. It used to be a place where the Spanish Navy set a base to build and supply the boats heading to the Northwest expeditions and also to support the Franciscans missions. It was a busy port in its days, but it failed due to the poor conditions of the harbor and the climate that provided a much better habitat for mosquitoes rather than Spaniards. Some of the interesting sites are; the fort that was used to protect the town, the ruins of a church by the plaza, that its bell was believed to inspire the poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Bells of San Blas”, the Central Market where we enjoyed the taste of the Yaca fruit and the “Jungle Tour” to see the Crocs, Turtles and birds.

Another threat to my mental sanity

The little privileges we seem to have these days were about to be taken away by an alternature’s failure. The batteries are not charging, they seemed to have gone down to critical levels and we are about to have no power at all, the fridge had to be shut down, the lights had to be off, the radio, the autopilot, the radar and the chart plotter. Ultimately, the engine would have fail to start so we had to take our chances when we anchored by turning it off.

We anchored in Matenchen Beach in San Blas around 4 in the afternoon. There is only one more boat anchored there. The girls and I got in the dinghy and row towards them to say hello, get a piece of their story and information about San Blas that would become useful to us. Matt stayed on the boat to work out the issues. He did it!! We are back into shape.

The sun is going down, the ocean looks like a pond and the metal colors of the sky shine over Endurance. I think I got my favorite picture shot right here.

Early morning we must enter the channel to get to the marina and anchorage to get to the town of San Blas. We are advised to call “Jama”, a man from the US who has lived here for many years and he has been helping sailors. He guided us through the entrance. It is not that easy. The waves break right there and there are sand bars where we could get stacked, then slammed and/or pushed to the rocks. We made it across with no problems and the priceless assistance of Jama. We were soon setting the anchor in the new place.

The dinghy dock is right at the Marina where for $60 (US$5) pesos a day you get internet access, showers, trash disposal, use of the swimming pool and Laundry for only $18 pesos (do it yourself type) more. It’s a very small marina, very clean and at an extremely reasonable price. We took advantage of all of the services.

We must reconsider next stop

The winds make a turn and by 2 in the morning our wind speedometer show 10 knots. It’s manageable now, Matt seems to have recovered the color on his face. I picked the fruits and vegetables that flew off the hammocks and run a fast checklist of all the new bruises on my hips. I then stepped out to the cockpit to relieve Matt of his watch for a while. Its all calm and uneventful not a light in the horizon. I am still pretty tired, but I manage to stay up until 6. Considering the night we’ve had and the conditions of the anchorage of Isabela Island (our desired destination) we decided to skip it and go straight to San Blas. We couldn’t put our bodies through another stressful night. I know Matt was heart broken. Isabela is supposed to be a great place for the kids to explore and he has very fond memories of it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our departure got delayed

The wind is picking up, the forecast calls for 10 to 15 knots of wind. Its very rough out there. I radio our friends from Tenacious to let them know we are staying an extra day and as we are discussing our plans Brad tells me we are dragging. For a second I thought he was joking, but then, someone else gets on the channel to confirm we were. Matt jumped out quickly to start the motor and I run to hoist 100 feet of anchor. I manage to do it in a record time. We were extremely close to the boat behind us. One minute later we would have rafted up with them in a very unfriendly way. I was feeling a little embarrassed by this, people would have thought of us as the draggers, but then I see Tenacious Grace dragging as well. They are so nice that it makes me think they just wanted to sympathize with us. Given the conditions of the anchorage, muddy bottom and over crowded. We decided to move to the other side of the bay and so did Tenacious.

It was a much better place, much cleaner water and much more room to proceed with unforgettable combat of water balloons in between us and Tenacious. We were the attackers in the dinghy, them, the defenders on board their boat. The battle lasted for about an hour and the casualties were minimal. We were forced to raise a white flag when Samantha got a good shot on the face.

In the afternoon, Lisa, Kat, her friends from Canada and I headed to the Golden Zone in a taxi with a super powerful stereo playing disco music. We sang, dance and enjoyed the long ride through Mazatlan. We ended the day at the Mega supermarket were I got food supplies. I overloaded my backpack and put my back through the test. Luckily, everyone gave me a hand and I only cracked one egg in the way. Not bad!

The next day was a beautiful day, we must leave around 4 in the afternoon so we can enjoy a day at the beach. Buggy boarding, Frisbee, and walks in the back road. It was a very relaxed afternoon. It is 4 o’clock, we must start the procedure for departure. The wind is picking up again, Matt thinks it will be ok once we are out, wrong!! We left with winds ranging from 25 to 30 knots. I noticed some nerviousness on Matt’s behavior. I believed going back was not an option. Despite the strong winds and the swell of maybe 10 feet we were going with it. After dark the swell didn’t matter so much, we couldn’t see it, just feel it. Occasionally, I would look over Matt’s head and I could see a wall of water. I remained calmed even after Matt says; prepare the ditch bag!. The girls were sleeping and they seemed comfortable I knew we would get over that and in the morning we would arrive in a beautiful beach.


It was a very uncomfortable passage for me, I felt sick most of the way and tired. I wanted out of the boat quickly. I still don’t know if it was dehydration, the pancakes I ate or just plain sea sickness. It was 2 nights and 2 full days in the sea. We spotted a couple of turtles and flying fish. Other than I don’t know, I kept my eyes closed for as long as I could.

We arrived in Mazatlan at 7 in the morning, Matt shut off the motor and he yelled “we have visitors!!” Brad and Lisa from Tenacious Grace came to welcome us. Its such a gift to see them again!. We shared a cup of coffee and got a complete report of everything we should expect from the city.

It has been a couple of days since we arrived and we are having a wonderful time. The highlights so far have been a hike to the light house with a friend, her dog “Apple” and the girls. We saw 4 iguanas!!. Later we walk through the old town, just me, the girls and Zach from Tenacious. Matt had to work on the boat and run some errands in town so we did our own thing. Went to the market to see the pigs heads, went to the Theater and opera house were the kids were able to be in stage with mom as their only audience. Zach played the piano, Samantha did some ballet and Trini did somersaults from one side to the other. We then visited a couple museums, stopped at a bakery for some bread and sweets and sat on the main square to feed the pigeons. (Plaza de la Revolucion). Despite the long, very long walk the kids loved it. My legs were tired so I cant even imaging the short legs of these kids.

We had guests for diner; Jeff and Nancy, a couple our age we met briefly in Turtle Bay, but only at this point we are getting to know one another. They are in their way to Costa Rica, so luckily for us, we will be running into each other often. Their boat name is Oblivion. The girl got treated with Jelly beans!! Thank you Oblivion, especially for those Popcorn and pear flavor ones…hehe

Internet has been an issue, I cant stand it!!!! Today is my turn of solitude to catch up with the blog and picture gallery. Matt took the girls to the beach and I headed to town in the public bus, with the computer that weights a ton.. (I should have gotten a “netbook”). I got off the bus, walked a few blocks through downtown, found a wonderful coffee shop with Wi Fi, sat down in a cozy corner, got ready to order an expresso, pulled out the computer and…..###@#$#@@... I forgot the cable!!!! I wanted to cry!. I packed my stuff, walked out and wondered why this happen? There must be a reason to it. Maybe I needed the exercise, maybe I was supposed to meet someone in my way back (which I did), maybe I should pick up my laundry, maybe someone was going to enter the coffee shop to rob the customers.. haha. I laugh at myself. I got on a bus to come back, got off by the laundry mat, pick up my 20 lbs of laundry, (a bag half my height) and there I met a boy who reminded me so much of my little brother, Gonzalo. I miss him dearly. I carried my bag and my computer towards the bus. I wished then I had a shopping cart and a cup for donations. Got on the right bus who dropped me right in front of the anchorage and waited for some compassionate soul to give me a ride back to my boat.
Then I met Lucy and her husband, they gave me a ride and offered me Tamales for Saturday, unfortunately, we won’t be here then.

Here I am, sitting in a wonderful spot, with zero noise, with a wonderful view updating this blog; my boat. Now I must figure out how to get back to land to post it online.

We will be departing tomorrow afternoon toward “Isla Isabela” and from there to Puerto Vallarta where we will meet Grandma Karen (Matt’s mom) and anyone who wishes to come visit us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The passage to Mazatlan begins

At 6:45 AM we made our first pot of coffee, hoisted anchor, put the dinghy on deck and were on our way by 7:10 AM. 230 nautical miles to go at an average of 5 knots should put us there in 46 hrs. The passage so far has gone well. We spotted one sea turtle a few whale spouts in the distance and an incredible amount of phosphorescent.

The girls really enjoyed our attention today. We played cards, did some schooling, made bread, and had a great time playing finger puppets supplied by our dear friends John and Ginny. After a comforting spaghetti diner, we told each other stories, and by 7:30 PM the girls and I were in bed reading the last few chapters of a book called Edward Tulane by Kate diCamillo that talks about the journey of a china rabbit. One of the chapters was so sad that I choked while reading and Samantha said to me “I even had one tear come out of my eye!”. We finished the book, turned off the lights and fell quickly asleep. Matt was on watch until midnight. Now I am up. Tethered and trying to write with the moonlight. Not enough light, but I seemed to manage.

As much as I love getting to ports and dislike the nauseous feeling I get at some of these passages, I must say that it is nice to have these moments of solitude to catch up with ourselves. Trini was feeling overwhelmed last night with the “busy good life” she was crying and said to me “ this is too much, I cant do it, going to the beach, exploring, playing, back to the beach, going to diner with friends, It is just too much!” I hugged her very tight and assured her that we would have two days of peace.

Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida

Monday. February 1st
We move to the next bay North and anchored next to a family with two small children; a 20 months old; Alex and a 4 years old; Sean and their parents Tim from Australia and Tracy from South Africa. They are heading towards the South Pacific. We will spend a couple of days with them and it is exciting for the girls and for me. I will be able to compare notes with other mom.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010
We had an extraordinary day, it was overcast all day, it rained in the afternoon, but zero wind. The ocean was a pond. The calmness of the day was suspicious, as if the winds were just saving the strength to hit us at night. There was a breeze at about 9 o’clock at night, Matt expressed his discomfort with it saying to me that wind at this time should have been dead. It is now almost midnight and I was awaked by the slamming of the bow onto the waves and the winds which from the inside seem a lot more ferocious what they really are. Matt is already up taking care of things. I tried to help him, but he asked me to go back to bed. It always makes me nervous when he is outside fighting the weather.

We started this morning with a ride to “Los Islotes” . It is a set of little islands on the NW side of Isla Partida where the seals go to have their babies. It was an exiting sight, the seals come up to you and swim around you. The girls were clapping and giggling because of the show they were putting for us. Matt jumped in, but didn’t last long, the playfulness of the seals was getting a little dangerous, they were nibbling at his feet and increasing in number. It was definitely time to retreat back to the dinghy. They are so fearless of human that they were jumping on top of our boat. Trinidad was not happy now! We come to the conclusion at this animals are being fed by other boats so they were expecting the same from us.

In the way back, we were flagged by the Park ranger who wanted us to see the blue whales swimming next to his boat; a mother and her calves. We were probably 50 feet away. This has been the closest so far. I wanted to get a little closer, but it was not safe.

This afternoon we had dinner with our friends from Gijima. We had a wonderful time and so did the girls. They share some beach toys with us and Tracy gave me some eggs because we are running super low.. Thank you Tracy!

Its 1:15, we are still rocking.. I am getting sea sick, I am going to sleep hoping that it doesn’t progress.
Another day in Ensenada Grande, the wind has not settle yet, we are debating weather to go to the south part of the island or spend another day hoping that it will calm down a little. Our friends from Gijima were staying and the kids were loving the beach and the company of Alex and Sean so we decided to stay. By the afternoon the seas seemed a little friendlier. I prepared some sushi using the supplies given to me by my friend Dyna in Tubac and took it to Gijima as a contribution to the nice diner prepared by Tracy. Again at night the wind picked up We had a difficult time getting in the dinghy to go back to Endurance, it was moving forcefully up and down. Matt was regretting the decision of staying the extra day. Luckily it was all fine after 11 and the morning could not have been better to start our journey towards Mazatlan.

Goodbye James

Its time to say goodbye to our friends, we are all heading to different directions. It was a sad moment, especially to see Pyxis depart with our dearest friend James. We spent several weeks together, shared many meals and walks through the tiny villages and bigger towns, we navigated side by side for several miles, we watched for each other, we felt he was one of us. I can only hope life will give us more opportunities to spend time together again.

Fishing Contest

The whole fleet anchored at El Cordonal was invited to participate in a fishing tournament, organized by Jordan (s/v Sea Turtle). It was quite a site to see all the dinghies depart with their fishing gear. It lasted maybe an hour and of our friends, James (Pyxis) got the prize for the most fish caught. Our prize was to eat his catch.

Isla Partida

Saturday. January 31st, 2010 we raised the anchor, fueled up at the marina and departed to the islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida. Spoted a couple of whales on the way, but other than that it was pretty uneventful motor sailing. We arrived a few hours later at El Cordonal, North of Isla Partida. Matt took the girls to the beach to get some energy burnt while I made diner.

The next morning we went for a hike up to a cave, I considered this activity challenging enough to do it by myself, but add two small children and my photo camera hanging on my neck made it almost a terrifying experience. I didn’t give up and neither did the girls, Matt guided us well. We made it! From the cave we spotted Pyxis arriving with James and Biff and a little later vessels Matilda, Dark Star, Sea Turtle and Keetya 1. The bay hosted 12 boats total that night.

The place is really beautiful, there are trails we followed, big tide changes we enjoyed putting our dinghy through, incredible reefs we didn’t snorkel, but kayaked and to top all that we had many friends to share the fun. Thank you Sam and Beth from Dark Star for your hospitality this day we enjoyed so much the evening.

Next morning we got invited to breakfast at Matilda’s, once again they hosted a meal and Catelin made the girls day. They were an incredible crew; Hayden, Catelin and Biff Matilda was probably the smallest boat we seen in our adventure, but the most warming. I am so glad I got to know all of you including Sharlene and Gary Peters (Hayden’s parents) who were visiting from Oregon. I hope we can keep in touch!

Our last night in La Paz

After being in town trying to catch up with my writing, I headed down to the marina where Matt and I agreed to meet. I used the radio at Club Cruceros to let him know I was at the dock. The sun was about to set, very promising photo opportunity. I see Matt on the other side of the dock taking to James from Pyxis and Matilda’s crew who were still under the Marina’s care. Now they are coming to my rescue. Its only Samantha and Matt, Trini must have stayed with James, she is my very social child. Sami is exited to show me her findings of snails (nudibrincks). We go back to get Trini at the dock and James is making hot chocolate. Perfect! Its cold and windy, the sunset its at its best and the girls are happy. It couldn’t get better.

There is a 70 plus feet boat at the dock called “Dragonera” a young man is in charge of it, his name is Renato from Rio de Janeiro. We met him earlier when we were at the dock, but did not get the tour of the boat until this night. He offered us the tour and a few cocktails. It gave me a taste of luxury sometimes I dream of. The girls were hanging out with Catelin at the dock.

The crew from Matilda prepared diner for all of us. It all turned out to be a fantastic night with even live music provided by the musicians on board Biff and Hayden with a ukulele and a guitar, plus the wonderful voices of all of us. The girls fell hard asleep on the dock under the stars.