Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Finally, we will share our trials and joys at being back in Mazatlan. We had a textbook perfect first 12 hours on our crossing from Bonanza towards Mazatlan. The winds were a constant blow off our beam, monitor was working well and life was good. We expected a bit of increase in the winds but nothing too exciting. We reefed down before dark as a routine safety measure and prepared for our night watches. All went well until around midnight when the winds really started cranking at around 25 – 28. The seas became 6-8 ft with a 6 second interval. In short, it was nasty. We felt like we were in a Maytag washer. The heavy rain cells that were forming looked like huge globs of fat on the radar. We ended up fully reefed with the stay sail helping to balance the boat. The foresail was furled.  That strategy worked beautifully as Talos settled down and maintained 6 kts with monitor on the helm. We realized during the crossing that our house battery bank was not maintaining a charge, dropping down to 9 volts. OUCH! The end result was that we arrived in Mazatlan at first light and immediately started planning on how to replace the batteries without having to modify our battery bank vault. Paul determined the age of the AGMs to be 9 years so we certainly got full service from them. In hind site we should have replaced them last year……

The marina at El Cid welcomed us like old friends. We had lots of visitors to the boat once we docked. It seemed that most cruisers had returned within the last week or so. Mazatlan is booming with new construction including some new restaurants which are now some of our favorites. The cruise ships are coming back into port. There is a new elegant fashion mall north of town which has a mega cinema and a “Liverpool” dept store. It reminds me of Nordstroms. We walked over for our morning exercise and a coffee only to find the facility was still closed but due to open in an hour or so. The perimeter was heavily guarded with men and assault rifles. I used to find this a bit unnerving, but now it seems so normal…just life in Mazatlan…….Anyway, the Starbucks was posting their hours as 10AM open. Since it was 10:30 I was a bit confused and asked the young man with the machine gun standing close by if he could confirm the hours for me. He confirmed that they should be open. I suggested that maybe he could use his weapon to nudge the lock. He laughed and laughed and said “no, there would be BIG TROUBLE” if he were to do this. Oh well…I think Starbucks has changed their gun policy.

We have discovered some new galleries and a new bakery/butcher/organic market type food court in old town. It holds lots of promise for future development. We were able to get some nice looking steaks for the BBQ for our trip to Bandaras Bay.

So, back to the battery problem. Paul finally found some batteries in Phoenix AZ. We decided it was smart to replace the starter battery as well. Paul rented a car from AVIS and made plans to drive north. Once word was out that he had wheels and heading north the cruisers started coming forth with wish list items and pesos. It is hard to buy boat stuff here, so any one going north presents the cruising community with an opportunity for stocking up. He will be home tomorrow and has stated that he will be glad to get back on the boat. I don’t think he is a Ford Focus kind of guy.

During Paul’s absence I was busy socializing. I was able to go to a small village outside of town called Callita for breakfast with a group of friends. One couple has a motorcycle and side car that they rode. The village was all dressed up with colorful homes and lots of greenery. There is a world famous breeder of game cocks in the village. We walked to the ranchito to take a look at the roosters. There were big dogs camped out within the pasture keeping the coyotes away. On another day, I was able to go with one of the ladies to the “Golden Zone” on a shopping trip. Without the boys we had lots of fun going in all the jewelry stores and shopping around the galleries.

Paul called mid trip with word from the road….he had a blowout on the rental car tire and was delayed until he could get a tire the next day. Thankfully it happened on the US highway where they have shoulders.

Ok…Paul returned safely, the batteries are installed and life is fully charged. The head security guy for the marina helped him get the batteries from the car into the boat. He took our bead batteries and the questionable starter battery and was happy for the option. He is using the deep cycle AGM starter in his car.

Our friends Mark and Emma have joined us here in Mazatlan for a sail along the coast south to Bandaras Bay. We are scheduled to leave today at 2pm. The plan will be to arrive at Isla Isabelle at first light. If conditions are calm we will spend the day at the island. From there we progress to Chacala and then finally into Bandaras Bay. Stay tuned!

Janet enjoying a dip in the El Cid swimming pool.
Paul found a place near the bar.
We made several trips into the center of town to visit some
of our favorite places.  This is the shrimp ladies who
line both sides of the street selling freshly caught shrimp.
We also stopped by the old Mercado Pino.
An of course any trip to Mazatlan must include a stop
by Plazuela Machado.
Janet perfected her salsa making technique. These are
jalapeno peppers and tomatoes roasting on the BBQ.
While Paul was off to the US to get batteries, Janet went
to a small village near Mazatlan for breakfast with
some of the other cruisers.
The cock ranch.
Our friends Mark and Emma enjoying a juice at the street
side juice stand near the old Mercado.
Another visit to the old Mercado.
We stopped by the Angela Peralta Theatre.
Janet and Emma enjoying the view from the malacon.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Playa Bonanza, Isla Espiritu Santa

After a short motor sail around the south end of the island and through the San Lorenzo Channel we arrived at Playa Bonanza.  The wind was flat and there was virtually no swell coming into the bay.  We had found the paradise we were looking for.

Playa Bonanza has a crescent shaped white sand beach that wraps around the bay for a good 2 or 3 miles.  Including us and sv Enchante there were a total of only 3 boats on our end of the bay and we could see two power boats way over on the other side of the bay.

Once anchor down and set, we made plans with Al and Lindy for a hike on the island.  The plan was to follow the arroyo across the island back to Bahia San Gabrielle.  We set out with high expectations but managed to get only about 3/4 of the way there before we all said enough.  It was hot and we had forgotten our water on the boat.  It was a beautiful walk though with some amazing views of the island landscape.

Al and Paul took off in the dinghy to check out the snorkeling off the reef on the far side of the bay.  Unfortunately, Paul's mask was leaking so much he wasn't able to enjoy himself.  They had a great run in the dinghy though and a good swim off the reef.

Our second night there we had dinner aboard sv Enchante and traded some videos.  It was good to get to know each other better.

On our third day, sv Enchante pulled anchor and headed up and around the island to some of the anchorages we had been to last year.  We had been keeping a close eye on the weather and it looked as if a good three or four day window for making our crossing of the sea had opened up.  After that, the long range forecast was for a big honking norther to kick up.  Not wanting to get caught up in that and concerned that the norther might keep us pinned down for awhile we decided to pull anchor as well and at noon did just that and were under way for a 42 hour crossing of the sea to Mazatlan.

sv Enchante as she sails off in search of yet
undiscovered destinations.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Isla Espiritu Santa

After leaving La Paz we headed directly out to Isla Espiritu Santa, one of Mexico's national parks and only about 12 miles from the city.  Our first stop was Bahia San Gabrielle, a wonderful bay with white sand beaches on the south west side of the island.

We were a bit rusty on our anchoring technique, but got the hook down and set on our first attempt.  The waters of the bay shallow rapidly so we found a spot well off shore but with only about 6 feet under our keel.  All looked good for a planned couple of nights stay.

Shortly after our arrival a call came in over the radio from our friends Al and Lindy on sv Enchante who were anchored across the bay.  We made plans for a happy hour rendezvous later that afternoon. We spent the rest of the day just hanging out and relaxing.

It was very peaceful with very little wind and calm flat waters when we went to sleep later that night.  That all changed at about 2 AM when the wind kicked up and the swell came funneling into the bay.  It made for a very uncomfortable and largely sleepless night.  The following morning we woke up to more of the same and discovered that at least one of the boats in the anchorage had pulled up and left in the middle of the night apparently not able to deal with the conditions.

By about 10 AM we were anchor up as well and headed around the island to Playa Bonanza where we hoped we would find more settled conditions.  sv Enchante led the way.  So much for a planned couple of days just hanging out and relaxing.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Return to Mexico

Well here we are again with much time having slipped by with no blog posts.  But rather than dwell on that, let's get caught up on things.

We left Seattle on Halloween via Alaska Airlines direct to Cabo del San Jose.  The furry crew was medicated with happy pills and our friend Emma was kind enough to drive us to the airport in the wee hours of the morning.  The flight was uneventful, however it took a good hour and a half to get our rental car which forced us to make the drive to La Paz after dark, a very dangerous proposition.  That said, we arrived at Casa Buena safe and sound where we crashed from the long and tiring day of travel.  Tia and Louie slept the entire way, including the three hour drive to the hotel in La Paz.

The first order of business the next day was to check on Talos IV.  She had been on the hard at Marina Palmar since June and we were anxious to make sure that she was in good condition.  Our worries were for not, as we found her in the same condition as when we left, but covered in dirt and dust from the hot dry summer.  We made arrangements for the bottom job to be completed and set a date about a week out for the re-splash.

That done, we started almost immediately on the installation of our new water maker and new solar panels.  The work was not easy as the water maker literally needed to be shoe horned into a very small compartment in the bilge just aft of the mast.  Milton at Casa Buena was kind enough to let us use his shop to manufacture various mounting components which would have otherwise been challenging to do.  In the end, the water maker and solar panels are both operational and working as we planned.

Meanwhile, the yard was moving fast on completing the bottom job and were on target to get us back in the water several days ahead of schedule.  Once re-splashed, we headed for Marina Palmira, which would be our home for the next several weeks.  There was still much work to do getting the boat ready to go.

A good boat wash was on the top of the list as was getting the sails back up so that we could re-claim space down below.  With that done, we began the process of laying down four coats of varnish on the bright work.  In the weeks that followed, we touched nearly every piece of teak on the exterior of the boat.  Talos IV is beautiful again.

After what was longer than we had hoped, we left La Paz for Isla Espiritu to hang for awhile before making our crossing of the sea.

Talos IV was tucked back into the corner of the yard
where she spent her summer.
She was covered in dirt.
Talos IV with her new bottom paint was ready
to re-splash.
For comparison, this is what the bottom looked
like before the paint job.
The new solar panels.
While in La Paz we of course found time
to enjoy ourselves.  This was just a part
of a parade we happened upon.  I think
they were celebrating Revolution Day.
There were some unusual entries, including this group
of chefs from the local restaurants.
And then Thanksgiving dinner with 165 of our friends.
Janet seemed pretty happy about things.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Spring in the Sea of Cortez

It seems that much time has passed since our last post.  In fact, it's been about 4 months or so.  Not to worry the world is in fact round and not flat as some intrepid explorers speculated and we did not fall off the face of the earth.  Much has happened in that time gap however, all good, but probably too much to go into in any detail at this juncture.  Rather, I think the best way to approach this and to bring us up to date is mostly with a few highlight photos and some brief commentary.

First, let me recap our general sail plan as it unfolded after we left Puerto Escondido way back in mid April.  After pulling out of the harbor, we headed over to Honeymoon Cove, just a few miles due east on the small island of Danzante.  We then worked our way north to Isla Coronados, one of our favorites.  After a short stay, which included a climb to the top of the volcano, we headed further north to San Juanico, where we enjoyed several warm nights and a full moon with large bonfires on the beach with fellow cruisers.  This was our turn around point and the beginning of a slow run south back to La Paz.  We mostly stopped at a few anchorages that we missed on our way north, but also enjoyed a few of the highlights discovered on our way north, including Aqua Verde, Isla San Francisco and San Evaristo.

Once back in La Paz, Paul flew back to Seattle to pick up our car and so much stuff for the boat that there really isn't enough room to lay it all out here.  The most significant items were two additional solar panels and a water maker plus all the hardware, wires, etc to get it all hooked up when we return in the fall.  The rest of the stuff was simply things we needed that you couldn't find in Mexico.  He then drove back to La Paz, making the dash in about three days.

After Paul's return back to La Paz we had about two weeks of hard work ahead of us to get the boat ready to leave for the summer.  We pulled all of the sails, halyards and anything else on deck in preparation for leaving Talos IV for the five month summer huricane season.  Once prepped, we motor over to the Palmar Yard and were hauled out.  It took us another day or so to get her ready and then we headed for Seattle with the furry crew not so sure what to make of all this activity and the new mode of transportation.

The drive north was a bit more relaxed, stopping in San Diego to visit cruising friends Don and Valerie from sv Distraction, who were kind enough to put us up for the night and Barbara and David from sv Zoe.  We also stopped at both parents homes and stayed in a few hotels along the way.  A rather pleasant drive and the cats seemed to make the transition without too much fuss.

Once back in Seattle we settled into the Seattle scene making daily urban hikes and discovering the many changes that took place around town in our absence.  We've also made a few treks into the Cascade Mountains and discovered some wonderful hiking trails.  All and all, the summer has been quite relaxing and enjoyable.

The plan now is to return to La Paz via Alaska Airlines on October 31.  We will spend some time installing all the goodies Paul brought down and the yard will do a bottom job on Talos IV so that we can start the cruising season with a fresh paint job.  We will re-splash on or around November 16 and then spend another couple of weeks at Marina Palmira getting sails and halyards reinstalled, as well as laying down several coats of varnish on the bright work and I'm sure numerous other pre-departure projects.

Talos IV anchored in Honeymoon Cove.
Janet enjoying the view from atop the hill at
Honeymoon Cove.
Enjoying an afternoon beach party on Isla Coronados with
friends from sv Distraction and sv Zoe.
Talos IV sailing north in light winds.
Bonfire on the beach at San Juanico.

Louie enjoying the sunset from atop the asymmetrical
at the anchorage in San Telmo.
Dolphins playing off the bow of Talos IV as
we approached San Telmo.
Talos IV anchored in the bay at Ballandra with
El Hongo in the foreground.
Paul enjoying a stroll on the beach at
Janet on the bluff overlooking the anchorage
at Isla San Francisco.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Puerto Escondido and the BIG Blow

We are currently tied to a mooring ball in the inner harbor of Puerto Escondido. Weather reports over the last several days were predicting a strong "Norther" to kick in around mid-day on Wednesday, so we headed for Escondido, a so called "Hurricane Hole", to hide out.

As I write this blog entry winds are blowing at a steady 25 knots or so with gusts into the mid 30's. The highest we've seen is 38 knots. It's a strange feeling as the wind howls through the rigging, making the boat shudder under its force as it swings from side to side pulling against the lines. We put two rounds in the line as it passes through the chain on the under side of the ball to reduce chafe. As added precaution we rigged a second line through the loop on the top of the ball. Our only hope is that the line doesn't chafe through and set us afloat. There is another boat tied directly down wind from us that would likely be a target. We have our anchor watch set and go forward every 15 minutes or so to check it, but my guess is that if it goes, there will be no warning. That being the case, we've made ready to fire up the motor in the hopes of minimizing any fall out. Hopefully it won't come to that.

When we checked in at the harbor masters office we were told that the buoy we were tied to was "Buena", but several of the other boaters that arrived at the same time as us were told that their mooring balls were "Mal". Of the 100 or so mooring balls here, only about a third are considered good enough to use and the others, for what ever reason, are considered un-safe. You would think that they would mark the bad ones or something. I guess we lucked out, or so we thought. Apparently most of the balls have a sentinel line with a float with a heavy line attached to secure your boat. Our ball, #101, did not, which is why we took the extra precautions described above. We both agree that next time we are going to drop an anchor, relying on our own ground tackle rather than an unknown mooring ball.

We wanted to go into Loreto for the day, but have decided that it is too risky to leave the boat under these conditions. Besides, we've observed some other boaters in their dinghies and it doesn't look like a pleasant experience. It looks like a wet and wild ride to say the least. So, here we sit working on misc. boat projects and relaxing. Loreto will have to wait until this thing blows it's self out. The weather guy on the morning net says it looks like one more day.

That said, how do we spend the days tied to a mooring ball within a "hurricane hole". The following photo essay will tell the truth, or my version of it. Warning…this is not pretty.

The Sierra de la Giganta range made for a beautiful
back drop off the back of the boat.
Paul making repairs to a small water leak under the galley
Janet filled her time polishing up the port windows.
Look at that shine.
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Los Gatos and Aqua Verde

We pulled anchor mid morning at San Evaristo and headed north to Los Gatos. This stop was more about the furry crew than anything else. We figured with a name like Los Gatos, Tia and Louie would be thrilled to make a stop and check out the action. Sadly there were no cats and we couldn't figure out why they called it Los Gatos. The kitties were totally bummed.

The 18 mile run north was made mostly under sail with a 12 knot wind on our beam the entire way. There was another boat flying his spinnaker, tempting us to get ours out, but since we were already making a good 6.5 knots, we decided to just go with main and jib. The sailing the past few days has been wonderful.

After arriving and setting our anchor, Manuel, a local fisherman, motored over in his panga to hit us up for some gasoline. We agreed to give him a gallon of our precious fuel in trade for a Langosta the following morning. While we thought that there was a good chance that ole Manuel was a scam artist with a practiced line of getting free fuel from yatistas, we figured that he probably needed it more than us and who knows, we just might be eating fresh lobster for dinner tomorrow night.

The following day we put the dinghy in the water and made for the beach for a hike and exploration. Los Gatos is known for its red rock. It reminded us of Sedona. We had a lot of fun walking around and exploring. We took pictures of everything (you'll have to wait for wifi to see em).

Manana came and went and Manuel failed to show, but by mid afternoon we saw Manuel's panga making its way around the point. We met him on the beach with high hopes, only to be told that the langosta catch was poor and that it would be tomorrow before he could make good on his end of the trade. We told him we were pulling anchor at 9 AM and heading north, so he agreed to be here by 8 AM with a lobster. Alas, the following morning Manuel was no where to be seen, so off we went to our next stop, Agua Verde.

Agua Verde is true to its name. As we headed around the point into the bay we encountered emerald green waters and three lovely coves for anchoring. This is a small roadstead community which consists of a two small tiendas, a closed palapa restaurant and lots of goats which some local farmers use for making cheese. We opted for the southern anchorage as most of the swell and winds would be blocked by the land mass. Paul got the kayak out and did some exploration while I stayed on the boat and slept. Our neighbor came by in her kayak later that afternoon and filled us in on the situation in Puerto Escondido. With a forecasted "Norther" approaching, we decided it would be best to depart early morning and try to make our next stop before noon. Further exploration of Aqua Verde will have to wait until we make our trek south in a few weeks.

We departed with a minimal wind of about 9 kts and hoisted the sails expecting a pretty easy morning under sail. Tia was on deck napping, Louis was hanging out in the salon. No sooner was everything trimmed when the wind just started to crank up. It was pushing 22 kts off the beam. We thought that the "Norther" was kicking in a bit early. Tia leapt downstairs and onto the ditch bag, Louie grabbed a spot up against the salon seat cushion and Paul and I reefed down and sailed along comfortably doing 7kts for about an hour. Somewhere a switch was again thrown as all wind stopped. We were dead in the water with flat seas. This happened very suddenly. It turned out that the wind we had was not a "Norther" but the effects of winds tumbling down the face of the Sierra de la Giganta. We fired up the motor, shook out the reef and motored sailed the rest of the way into our hurricane hole.

There were all kinds of cool red rock at Los Gatos.
More red rock.
An arm shot with Talos IV in the background.
Janet amongst the many varied colored rocks on
shore at Los Gatos.
We sailed in close to get a look at this sea cave
just off from Ensenada la Ballena enroute to
Agua Verde.
Paul passed a bunch of goats taking a nap on a walk
 into town at Agua Verde.
The local school house.
The church.
Typical Agua Verde home.  Note the satellite dish and
around back there were solar panels, which most of
the homes had.  Very progressive here in Agua Verde.
Maria's tienda was closed so I had to walk up town to
the other grocery store.
This grocery store was opened, but they did'nt have
what I was looking for.
Pyramid Rock was just off from the boat.
We sailed past Rocca Solitaria on our early morning
departure out of Agua Verde.

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Escape from La Paz

Finally! The weather window opened and we made an early morning departure from La Paz. We had provisioned heavily to see us thru for a couple of weeks in the Sea of Cortez. The morning conditions allowed us to start sailing right away with 15 - 18 kts of wind off our stern quarter. We headed past Isla Espiritu Santo with a planned afternoon arrival at San Evaristo. The winds were favorable most of the way and we made the small bay around 4PM. Distance covered was 51 nm. The anchorage was full of sailboats and one power vessel. We got the thumbs up from a San Juan Islands vessel when we chose to anchor close by. It appeared there were several northwest vessels here tonight.

The wind swell rocked us most of the night. The addition of strong Coromuel winds around bedtime added to the ambiance. We had our anchor alarm set and were confident with the ground tackle. This morning the report from furry crew and Paul indicated that we all slept very well. Most of the boats had departed the anchorage by 10AM this morning.

Mid morning we put dinghy into the water and went to shore. The community consists of maybe 25 small homes, grocery store and small family run restaurant. The store had just received its weekly supplies. I think a lot of the residents were there visiting and getting weekly groceries. There was a side of beef hanging in sections from the porch rafters. You grab the machete and carve what meat you need or want and put it into your box or bag. It then gets weighed and that is how you purchase your meat. There were lots of boxes of really nice looking produce and vegetables plus all the typical small tienda offerings. We refilled our 20 liter water jug from the purification supply. Now we have drinking water to last 3 weeks (we carry a total 60 liters onboard in addition to our 85 gallons of general use water in tanks. San Evaristo is a fishing village hugging the water with a massive amount of granite called the Sierra de la Giganta towering behind it. Pictures cannot adequately show how dramatic this setting is. We walked the beach and saw lots of tuna and other fish being off loaded from the pangas. There was a palapa that had some really cool whale vertebra hung from the rafters. This is probably one of the nicer fishing villages we have visited. This afternoon we are hanging out on the boat. Paul is measuring for the water maker water lines and electrical supplies. Tomorrow we will head further north.

We took a stroll on the beach the following moring after our
arrival at San Evaristo.
One of the local fisherman had a few whale vertibrae
on display at his fishing shack.
Louie always likes to hang out on the bow and keep an
eye on things.
Tia prefers the comfort of the cockpit.
Janet working hard while we were underway to San Evaristo.
Talos IV at anchor in San Evaristo with the
Sierra la Giganta range in the background.

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