Dec 15, 2011


It's  been so long since I posted to this blog, I'm just going to do a quick over-view of the highlights since my last entry, the trip to Manzanillo..

From Manzanillo, we sailed back up to Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan and our home port, La paz. Overall, the trip north was pretty calm and uneventful.  We dropped Doug and Jan in Puerta Vallarta and between P.V. and Mazatlan, we got to rescue a sea turtle.  Poor guy was so tied up he could only swim in circles at the surface, prevented from diving by a  plastic, water-bottle buoy.
Incapacitated sea turtle, wound-up in the buoyed, polypropylene line Mexican fisherman use for long-line sets.  Once I cut the line free, he went straight down to a safer environment.

Sea Story stayed in La paz for the summer.  In April, Mary Lee flew back to Wisconsin, and I drove back a couple of weeks later. We did manage a trip up to coastal British Columbia for a couple of weeks with Doug and Jan on Snowhawke in late AugustIt was another fish-food orgy; salmon, ling cod, dungeness crab and prawns to excess.

The rest of the summer was a lot of biking, visiting old friends and relatives, gardening and a couple of weeks in Sacramento.

In late October, we drove back down to La paz, stopping in Denver and Sacramento along the way.  Denver was particularly nice, with great fall color and delightfully warm weather just in advance of their first big snowfall of the season (we got out of town just a day and half before it hit!). 

The drive down Baja is a daylight-only, 1000 mile haul that takes three days to do comfortably.  Other than a couple of difficult construction detours, the paved, 2-lane road is good, if a bit narrow by U.S. standards.  Biggest dangers are not bandits, but 18-wheelers that crowd the centerline, and free-range cattle that like coming up onto the pavement after dark.  The terrain is remarkably varied, although mostly desert and rugged mountains.  There are also several agricultural regions, some which feature miles and miles of plastic tented fields of vegetable crops.

Now that we're back on Sea Story at Marina Palmira, it's time to get re-acquainted with our neighbors, the other live-aboards who inhabit dock three, our particular block in the neighborhood.  Many of us are "commuter cruisers" who leave the boats down here and spend our summers in the U.S. and Canada.  Others are year-round residents who tough out the hot summers at the dock or up in the Sea of Cortez. Still others are semi-transients on their way to or from other sailing destinations.  It makes for a nice, eclectic mix of folks who have become some of our best friends over the past few years.

Right now, there's some friendly holiday, boat decorating competition.  Sea Story has a well-earned reputation in this category, so it's back up to the foredeck to hang another string of lights. 

Happy holidays everyone....

Mar 27, 2011


Sea Story Med-Moored at the Las Hadas Marina with part of the resort complex in the background.  This is a docking style common to the Mediterranean, but rarely used in the US or Mexico.  It requires a good anchor set and a competent crew.  Luckily we had both.

Friends Jan and Doug were interested in the coast south of Puerta Vallarta, so we sailed down to Manzanillo, a trip of about 140 miles along mainland Mexico's "gold coast."  Originally, we had only planned to sail down to Bahia Tenacatita, which is about 30 miles north of Manzanillo.  But our plans to do some snorkling there were frustrated when we found the renowned "aquarium" part of the bay was off-limits because of a property dispute - one of those things that still occasionally happen down here.

So, with our snorkling plans torpedoed, we headed down to Manzanillo, the farthest south we have been in Mexico so far.

Manzanillo is reportedly Mexico's busiest international port and its blessed with wide, beautiful beaches spread out along two exceptional bays, Manzanillo and Santiago.  The luxury resort of Las Hadas sits on a spectacular point between the two bays and is a favorite cruiser hang-out in Manzanillo. Its facilities include an elegant hotel, a wide, clean beach, a huge pool and a marina.  If  you anchor outside the mariana,  you can dinghy in and use the resort facilities for a nominal fee.  We elected to tie-up in the marina, which costs more but also makes all the facilities more easily accessible, especially when four people are aboard.  

Our two day stay in Manzanillo was short, but enjoyable.  The overnight trip back up to Puerta Vallarta included some rough hours around Cabo Corrientes, and that reminded us that seldom does something good come without a cost.  The final reward was the blissful six hours once we rounded the cape and found the smooth water of Bandaras Bay.  Sunny and calm never felt so good....

Good friends and adventurers extraordinaire, Alicia and Alfredo,  are off on another trip around the world on their sailboat On Verra.  This is Alicia's third circumnavigation.  At last word, they were in Gambier, French Polynesia after stopping off at Pitcairn Island and riding out the tsunami at sea.  Someday, someone is going to write a book about this pair....


Mar 23, 2011


The view of Marina Vallarta from Dana and Gale's condo, with Sea Story snugged in toward the end of the dock at center, left.  This is where we rode out the Tsunami with little noticable disturbance because of the protected configuration of the marina.
Sea Story is docked in Marina Vallarta again.  This time we're sharing her with our power-boat friends, Jan and Doug, while their boat, Snow Hawke, is sitting out the winter in Olympia, Washington.  We're also having a great visit with old friends, Dana and Gale, who's hospitality includes the spare room in their condo overlooking the marina.  Good conversation, good wine and some superb day sailing on Bandaras Bay, one of my very favorite places for dependable wind, whale sightings and the company of friendly dolphins.
On the way down from Mazatlan, I had a downright eerie experience.  Well after sunset, on very dark, moonless night, we rather suddenly encountered a large (40-45 feet across) patch  of  glowing phosphorescence that Sea Story sailed right through!  For the next 10 -15 minutes we passed near or through several more of these glowing patches, and I could actually see fish swimming in them as we crossed them.  One of the wierdest conditions I have come across, although I've seen lots of smaller, dinner plate size phosphoresence patches in the boat's wake before - never anything nearly the size of these.  Almost expected to see a space ship lurking there under the ocean surface...
The Japanese tsunami was the other big excitement once we got down here to PV.  We had about six hours warning before it hit, and the forecast height was less than a meter so it wasn't too frightening.  Here in the marina, we experienced several up and down cycles that just felt like a reved up tidal cycle with the floating docks rising and falling within a range of about 32 inches every 15 minutes.  Nothing very dramatic, but it did roil up the harbor bottom mud, and we had very brown water for several days afterward.
At the moment, we're looking for a weather window for the transit back up to La paz, via Mazatlan.  Before we leave, I'll try to do another post about out trip down to Manzanillo last week,and the latest report from
Alicia and Alfredo who are off on her THIRD  circumnavigation!

We have inflatable life-vests on Sea Story, and Gale wanted to know how they work, so here is her trial inflation in the pool at their condo. 

Feb 15, 2011

Overdue Update

Sea Story, with a fresh coat of bottom paint and swinging in the lift at the Baja Naval boatyard in Ensenada Mexico. Great yard with an interesting community just outside the gates.  We were here for a week in early January.

Sea Story is back in La paz after a long journey down the coast from San Francisco.  The trip was an eventful one.  It started in mid October, and featured California stops in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, Oceanside and San Diego. The Captain damaged some ribs on a blustery night passage around Pt. Conception, and Sea Story spent a couple of months at the Chula Vista Marina while my ribs healed and we worked on repairs to the auto pilot and GPS.  I also crewed on a power-boat delivery to La paz during that respite, so the boat actually got a longer break than I did...
After a quick trip back to Wisconsin for a lovely, snowy holiday celebration; we left on January 4th for a liesurely trip down Baja.  This time I wanted to stop at some of those little anchorages I've always bypassed before;  time to smell the roses and chart some waypoints for future trips.
After a week-long layover and haul out in Ensenada, we overnighted down to the San Carlos anchoage at the top of the Bahia Sebastian Vizcaino (big open bay that often throws bad wind and waves at you!). 
Then it was down to Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay), the fishing villages of Ascunscion and Abreojos and the old whaling station at Punta Belcher on Magdallena Bay.  Luckily, this was also a bonus year for whale and dolpin traffic, so there was plenty of company all the way down the Baja.
After the simplicity and remoteness of our outside Baja anchorages, an overnight on the hook at Cabo San Lucas was a bit of culture shock.  Jet skis, parasails, overamplified beach parties and a constant procession of glass-bottom tour boats were a reminder of how much nicer it is to be off-the-grid in Mexico.  As if we needed a reminder....
Marina Palmira was only a couple of days around the Cape and up to La paz from Cabo, so here we are now, just a couple of slips away from last year's berth and back with our winter neighbors.
Next week, we will be heading over to Puerta Vallarta and more adventure on the coast of mainland Mexico.  I'll try to do a better job of keeping you all posted...

This is the rugged,early morning coast of Baja, looking south as we sail out of Magdalena Bay and head down toward Cabo San Lucas, 120 miles, and full day of sailing away.  Lots of whales in this area, so we have to keep a sharp lookout to avoid sneaking up on one.