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Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta

11/10/03  Mid Sea of Cortez enroute to Mazatlan from Cabo

Couldn’t find an internet place in Cabo with a good enough connection to get into my website, so here’s some more stuff.  We had a great sail down from BSM with the Ha Ha fleet, flying the chute and mizzen staysail for much of the first day and having fun passing slower boats.  This Arabella of ours can do 7+ knots when there’s a breeze to her liking.  We motorsailed through the night and next morning when the winds faded away and arrived in Cabo just after lunch, where we were fortunate to find a spot at the fuel dock and an actual slip at the marina.  This was a shock not only because the Ha Ha fleet was in, but also a huge sportfishing tournament was in progress.   We had expected to be stuck anchoring in the rolly outer harbor.

Anyway, this was a fortunate turn of events because one of our crew, John Higbie, had to fly out the next morning, and we reeeely wanted to clean the boat and ourselves and make use of the laundry facilities at the marina. 

I’ll spare you the sordid details of our three days at Cabo, but suffice it to say we didn’t have a boring time.  We did visit the new Costco there and drop a bundle on provisions, and tried to get some business done, but our party meter was straining on the “tilt” setting as well.

We (Mike Lancon, Barb and myself, plus Mike’s dog and ours) got out Monday morning just before lunch and had a nice cruise up the inside of the peninsula about 40 miles to Los Frailles, the furthest east spot on the southern end of Baha.   Though we arrived in this beautiful cove well after dark there was no problem seeing well enough to anchor in the bright moonlight.   Looking around at the 6 or 7 other boats around us, Barb and I decided we were now officially Cruising.  The distinction was because we had begun the day with no particular destination in mind, just a plan “to get the heck outta Cabo”, and here we were in a beautiful cove swinging on the hook in the moonlight, just kicking back and enjoying ourselves.   During the course of the evening we decided to just bomb across the Sea 166 miles to Mazatlan, since Barb and I haven’t been there, and Mike wants to check out the boatyard there, so that’s what we’re doing.  We left right after breakfast and had a fast beam reach for much of the day, but now are motorsailing with a light breeze about 6.5-7 knots.  There are two Ha ha boats nearby, Belladama, and Crème Brulet, both headed to El Sid resort north of Mazatlan proper.  We’re going to try to get a slip there too for a night or two, but there is another fishing tournament going on there so slips may be tight.  Stay tuned for more exciting updates from Mike and Barb’s Great Mexican Adventure.


OK, we're here in Mazatlan, and is it ever cool!  The El Cid marina had just one slip left, and for a mere $30 a night we get to lounge by the pool (there are two) and have friendly guys deliver great Margaritas to us.  Buddy the dog gets to hang out there at the pool too, and gets drinks of water brought to him.  The showers are great, and a nice gentleman named Mario is presently cleaning and waxing the entire boat for $5/hr.  It was too good to pass up.  A guy offered to sell us a kilo of fresh 4" shrimp for 100 pesos (less than $10), so I guess we'll have shrimp for dinner tonight.  Gee, life is rough.  We'll update more when we get to Puerto Vallarta in a few days, and hopefully get some more pictures online.



A Letter From Paradise

I'm writing this in the downstairs computer room of Vallarta Yacht Club, in Paradise Village Marina here in Nuevo Vallarta.  If you've never been here, Puerto Vallarta proper is located at the middle section of Banderas Bay, and there is this gringo enclave to the north that is known as Nuevo Vallarta.  It is like Disneyland Mexico, where all is clean and neat and all the locals speak some English.  Of course everything is more expensive, but there is an air conditioned mall fer cripes sake, and the security is excellent for el yate.

Anyway, we pulled out of our tiny slip in El Cid Marina at high tide Friday, about 1030 because the channel is so tight and shallow, and the current rips through the entrance about 4 knots when it's flooding or ebbing.  On the way out we looked at Marina Mazatlan, which I guess went bankrupt in mid-construction, so many slips have no power or water and there are no amenities.  It's cheap though!

We ran all night with the wind and seas on our tail, arriving at the miniscule (2 miles long) island called Isla Isabella right at dawn, about 83 miles downwind of Mazatlan.  This place is a bird sanctuary, and we have never seen so many birds as there were flying around that place.  Frigates, like huge swallows with forked tails, blue footed boobies galore, and several other species we need to look up in a book to identify.  We anchored in a tricky little spot behind a couple of pillar like rocks, had a good breakfast of bacon and huevos and it was time for a little snorkeling.  I hadn't snorkeled since I was a kid, but luckily bought the stuff right before we left, because this place was AMAZING.  The water was 82F, clear to probably 50 feet visibility, and there was a reef next to the rock we were anchored next to that must have had 30 different species of tropical fish casually swimming around it.  Everything from big multicolored parrotfish to long skinny transparent things we were calling needlefish, with puffers and tangs and angels of all varieties and schools of striped guys and little florescent blue guys and, and... well you get the picture.  Like being inside the coolest saltwater aquarium you've ever seen, and none of the fish were the least bit afraid of us. There was this one little guy about 2" long, bright yellow with vertical black stripes that accompanied Barbie back to the boat, swimming just ahead or under her the whole way.  When I went in after lunch to have another go, there he was, waiting, and led me all the way back to the reef, swimming right in front of my mask about 6" away most of the time,  like he was showing me the way.  I swam around the reef for almost an hour without seeing him, and when I began to return to the boat there he was again!  It was like having a little fish buddy, who almost acted like he wanted to come home with us.

So after a guilty walk ashore, due to the fact that dogs are not allowed on the island and they really wanted to go...  we left about 1500 bound for here.  We had timed it for an early morning arrival, but kind of goofed because we were rounding the northern point of the bay before dawn, and that is where all dangerous rocks are.  Oh, and the chart is about a mile and a half offset from reality in this area of the coast.  Luckily my new whiz-bang electronic chart plotter has radar overlay, so we could see the difference between where the land was supposed to be and where it actually was, and we made it through the narrow passage without mishap.

So here we are, in a great slip (E-4) close to the laundry and shops, totally enjoying ourselves.  The only problem is I can't seem to get the pictures off my digital camera into my computer.  The smart media card goes into a 3.5 inch floppy thing, that these computers can't read.  This new laptop doesn't have a floppy drive, so I have to find a new way to get the stuff transferred.  They make a unit that goes into a USB port for $19, but how to get it here into Mexico is another matter.

Update on that, there was an Office Depot in PV, they had the gadget we needed for $230 pesos, same price, it works, and a few more pics are up on More Trip Pics page

We are headed downtown today to check out the real city and do some shopping, looks like we may be here for a couple of weeks. 

Adios for now!

Mike, Barb, and Buddy in Paradise


Monday 12/1/03 -Preparing to Escape from Paradise

This place is like some kind of velvet-lined trap! We have met people who came here for a week and stayed two years, and many more who have similar stories. Heck, we even joined the local Vallarta Yacht Club, primarily for the advantageous drink, phone, and internet access deals offered to members, but also because they are great people and have lots of fun activities.

We had planned to leave yesterday, but stayed a few days longer because we wanted to get some work done to the boat by a local shipwright. Turns out the job isn’t feasible right now, so we’re off to Sam’s Club and the Walmart grocery section tomorrow to provision, and finally leave Wednesday morning on the tide. Did I mention we were down to 1.5’ under our keel when we came in here? I think that’s another way they get people to hang around here- if they draw too much water they have to wait for a full or new moon to leave!

The marina has really been filling up lately with new arrivals, several per day, and it’s starting to feel a little crowded and busy. All really nice people, mind you, but lots of them. Barb and I are looking forward to having a little quieter time anchoring out in all the great places between here and Zihua. The plan is still to get there by Christmas, for no particular reason except it was always the plan. We’ll start off by going back to the northern entrance of Banderas Bay and staying a night or two at anchor off Punta Mita, then heading south to Ipala, Chemela, and Tenacatita, before dropping in to see our friend Joe Engoglia at Barra de Navidad. These spots are all a day’s run apart, so we’ll get lots of anchoring practice and get comfortable with just the two of us running the boat. Barra is really supposed to be nice, and there is a good internet café there where you will see the next bunch of pics and receive the next update from us. We’ll hang out there for a bit and then continue south to Z-Town.

The "plan" is to get back here by March 2004, get the little bit of work done on the boat, then head north to La Paz and start cruising the Sea of Cortez. When it gets hot in July, we’ll head to San Carlos and leave the boat there on the hard for August and September while we do some "land cruising" in the Pacific Northwest, then come back and get going south again in October.

Until next update,

Mike and Barb