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Leg 2 - 2015, Update 1

April, 2015, 2115 hrs, 24.19 N, 112.42 W, Log: 182,553 miles
Baro: 1017.1, Cabin Temp: 75 F, Cockpit: 67 F, Sea Water: 70F
Broad-reaching at 5-6 kts under full main and poled-out genoa in 12-14 kt NW winds with clear skies and calm seas, plus zillions of stars!

ENJOYING GREAT SAILING IN MEXICAN WATERS!

Leg 2 crew joined us Thursday, April 9 and we set sail from San Diego's Shelter Island in time to get clear of the busy channel which we shared with two large cruise ships before sunset.

We had a very quiet passage, with only an hour of sailing and our plan to arrive at the entrance to Ensenada harbor just after sunrise worked perfectly. We had learned that customs & immigration closed for the weekend at 2:30 Friday afternoon and hoped to get cleared in and on our way before then.

We were able to easily find Baja Naval boatyard marina where we'd made reservations and a boatyard worker gave us a hand docking at 7:30. Last visit we moored nearby at ECV Marina, but after hearing rave reviews of the boat painting and refit work of Baja Naval, and after meeting their representatives at several boat shows I wanted to check out their facilities and work.


The marina and boatyard at Baja Naval
At 0800 when the yard opened and Alberto and I met Valeria, the woman who'd taken our reservations, and soon after we all set off for to CIS, the combined offices of port Captain, immigration, customs, fisheries and a government bank. We completed the tourist visa cards and paid a modest amount for tourist visas at the bank then waited a couple hours for immigration. Representatives from Coral Marina bypassed the line, clearing in their customers as we waited, but eventually we were done with immigration and port captain and I was then pleasantly surprised when Aduana (customs) told me that Mahina Tiare's nine-year old TIP (temporary import permit) still had one year left on it and would not need to be renewed.

With inbound clearance completed, we headed off in several directions. Crew got a restaurant recommendation from the marina then went off exploring. Unfortunately I'd miscalculated the chilly starting temperate of this leg so our crew have packed a little light for the conditions strictly following or the tropical sea bag list and weight limit. To ward off the evening chills crew headed to the market were Dave bought a poncho and Tina a woven blanket. Actually when crew met again they hardly recognized Dave in rather stylish poncho.

Amanda and I enjoyed checking out an artist and furniture gallery in a historic hotel followed by lunch at a sidewalk restaurant where at a long table next to us 14 distinguished men, who looked to be in their mid-to late 70's, were enjoying lunch. When they started passing old photos back and forth Amanda made a polite inquiry as to the nature of the handsome youths in the photographs. Turns out the gentlemen were local lifelong friends who had known each other since they were five and who'd graduated from high school together. As we visited, they told us that they've met for lunch monthly, with a different member of the group choosing the restaurant for many decades. They said their friendship was very important, and that they were thinking of meeting every two weeks as they'd lost four of their group in recent years.


The quaint main tourist street in Ensenada
By late afternoon most of the visitors from the two cruise ships moored near us were returning to their ships and we enjoyed visiting with the artists and shop owners. Ensenada may be a tourist town, but we found it a very friendly and welcoming place.

Back at Baja Naval, we talked with a couple of American boat owners, one of whom was nearing the end of a one-year refit by the boatyard. He related that the yard was famous for their impeccable LPU topside paint jobs and proudly showed us the mirror-like hull paint job of his Norseman 447.

It was windy, and rather than waste the breeze we set sail before dinner for San Benito Island, 310 miles and two days to the south.

Chilly but favorable winds had us arriving for lunch on Sunday, after which we launched the dinghy and headed ashore. We met the only two (out of 50 permanent residents) people currently in the small village at this barren and mountainous fishing outpost. The father and son who were remodeling their fishing shack related that the rest of the inhabitants had just left for a couple days as a fisheries (lobster and abalone) testing was underway. They said we were welcome to anchor where we had, and pointed the way to the trail for the new mountain-top lighthouse. Alberto with his very long legs set a blistering pace to the summit-top lighthouse which provided stunning views in all direction.


A hilltop view of Mahina Tiare at anchor off San Benito Island

Some of the hiking crew gather for a group photo; Dave, Cindy, Amanda, Glen, Tina and John

Glen, Dave, Cindy and Tina enjoying the hike

Back aboard after bracing swims in 65F water we set sail an hour before sunset and were pleasantly surprised when winds steadily built throughout the night, requiring us to reef as boat speeds nudged 9 kts. Occasionally winds have gone lighter, but with almost no motoring we've been covering close to 150 miles per day, either straight downwind wing and wing or else broad reaching. Freighter and occasionally cruise ship traffic has been nearly constant and if not in view visually we're usually tracking multiple AIS targets. Surprisingly there has only been one fishing boat and no fishing nets.

Our original goal and itinerary had us stopping for an afternoon swim and hike at Bahia Magdalena, a bay popular calving place for grey whales but when the navigator mentioned that it looked like a midnight tomorrow landfall, our crew elected to shape a course to Cabo San Lucas where we hope to stop, stretch and buy ice cream.

The mellow downwind conditions have been perfect for teaching and we've already covered many key topics including marine weather. This morning Amanda taught rig check and spares which I followed in afternoon with anchoring. This crew are extremely motivated and dedicated students and it's great that they all have plans of cruising on their own boats as it makes for some very interesting boat and gear discussions.


The "A" Team: Dave, Cindy, Tina, Alberto, Sara and Glen
Here's our Leg 2 crew:

Alberto, 46 from Buenos Aires
I own and race a 34' sloop with my father in Argentina, although I live and work as a radiologist and professor in the US. I am looking forward to learning more about cruising and living aboard. I have a Laser and J-22, and enjoy windsurfing, kiteboarding and wakeboarding with my three kids.

Tina, 52 from Seattle
Glen and I have owned and sailed a Pearson 26 in Seattle, plus we are members of Wind Works Sailing School and charter boats on Puget Sound through them. I am a patent attorney working in biotech industry and we plan to purchase a cruising boat and I'd like to explore the San Juan's and Inside Passage to Alaska.

Glen, 54 from Seattle
I've recently enjoyed making improvements on our sailboat, upgrading the reefing system and replacing the main and genoa. I grew up in a sailing family in Boston and now work in the commercial marine industry at Redden Marine and plan to eventually purchase a cruising boat and make the big left turn at Neah Bay.
(Glen and Tina are keen mountain climbers and guides with tons of great climbing stories!)

Sara, 44 from Fernie, B.C., Canada
My husband just completed Leg 1 and after I complete Leg 2 we will continue to search for our ideal cruising boat with the goal of taking off sailing for a few years with our 4 yr old daughter, Emily. This adventure has been a fabulous learning adventure so far.

Cindy, 53 from Vancouver and Roberts Creek, B.C.
Currently Dave and I have a Catalina 323 which we moor at Granville Island, Vancouver. We are considering going cruising for a few years after initially getting into sailing five years ago.

Dave, from Kelowna, Vancouver and Roberts Creek, B.C. (It's his birthday today!)
I'm a 56 year old lawyer with a chronic banjo and sailing problem. We are excited about the possibility of taking off on a cruising adventure soon.


Leg 2 - 2015, Update 2

April 18, 2015, 0715 hrs, 20.38 N, 105.46 W, Log: 183,037 miles
Baro: 1012.9, Cabin Temp: 81 F, Cockpit: 81 F, Sea Water: 81F
Broad-reaching at 8.1 kts under full main and genoa in 18-20 kt NNW winds with overcast skies

RACING TOWARD PARADISE (Marina)


Sailing wing & wing crew the off watch crew of Alberto and Tina take a quiet nap while Dave and Glen take the watch

Brownies and candles celebrate Poncho Dave's birthday

We'd hoped to reach Cabo in time to celebrate Dave's birthday but in the end our landfall at Cabo San Lucas was just after sunrise Thursday morning. MT was racing along and it became all action as we continued to tucked reefs in, Amanda was teaching sail design while we dodged sport fishing boats headed out to the fishing grounds.


Its smiles all round as we close in on Cabo
As we rounded the Cape and lined up on the marina entrance, we saw the same two cruise ships we have shared Ensenada with, that have been leap-frogging their way ahead of us down the coast. The cruise ship tenders were in full shuttle mode as we entered the channel plus there was a steady stream of sport fishing, dive and glass-bottom boats parading in and out. We looked for a gap in the line of boats and followed them in, surprised at how jam-packed the marina was with 60-80' sport fishing boats jockeying in and out of slips like dinghies.


The crazy scene at Cabo's marina's entrance
Quite a few slips were still damaged and submerged following the recent hurricane, and we couldn't see any sign of two of the three fuel docks mentioned in the cruising guide. We carefully sandwiched into the last spot on the main Pemex fuel dock but the minute we were secure a dock attendant pointed to a sign and explained that their new policy is to charge by boat length to tie up. Our charge would be US$133 even if you're purchasing fuel so we politely thanked him and decided we really didn't need fuel as our tanks were 9/10th full.


Wow, a quick touch down on the fuel dock is all we'll get to do in Cabo but Alberto, Dave, Tina and John aren't too disappointed on missing out on ice creams
Wow, a quick touch down on the fuel dock is all we'll get to do in Cabo but Alberto, Dave, Tina and John aren't too disappointed on missing out on ice creams

With that we very cautiously exited the marina with Dave, who was on bow watch remarking that it seemed like we were part of a circus as a nearby pirate ship fired its canons and a large yellow submarine slid by. Before long we set sail for PV, 300 miles to the south at a blistering pace. The wind eventually tapered off yesterday and we had to do our first bit of prolonged motoring, but by last night it filled in nicely and the sailing has been amazing.

As Dave went forward to run the preventer line for the boom he was mesmerized by dolphins zooming back and forth off MT's bow, leaving streamers of bioluminescence as did our substantial bow wake.


Crew busy learning 3-strand splicing
We now are well within Banderas Bay so the ocean swell is gone, but yet excellent sailing winds persist. Paradise Bay Marina has a slip waiting for us and as their office closes at 2pm today, our crew are keen and excited to keep boat speed up so that we can check in and get keys to this amazing resorts pools and showers.

Sara and family just visited here a couple months ago and she has given our crew a run down on where to catch the bus to town and all the cool things there are to do in Puerto Vallarta.

April 20, 2015, 0645 hrs, 19.12 N, 105.01 W, Log: 183,187 miles
Baro: 1002.9, Cabin Temp: 78 F, Cockpit: 78 F, Sea Water: 77F
Close-hauled at 4.7 kts in 5.2 kt N winds

What an amazing couple days we've had! Our landfall at Paradise Village Resort & Marina was flawless and once we had checked in with Gina Markie and sail hello to our old friend marina manager Dick Markie our crew headed toward laundry and showers while Amanda and I really enjoyed grocery shopping at the small supermarket in the resort, thankful that we didn't need to take the bus anywhere to restock our fruit and veggie supply. We found fresh pineapple, papaya, avocados and herbs, all at a fraction of California prices.


ParadiseVillage Resort and Marina
As quickly as we could, we stowed the goodies and headed to one of the three pools all available for marina customers to use without charge or ID. We found a quiet large pool complete with waterfall and enjoyed leisurely swimming and relaxing until just before the time our crew had chosen to meet to head into town.


The melecon of Puerto Vallarta
Originally there had been talk of catching several local busses to downtown Puerto Vallarta to explore and for dinner, but Dave found that for the modest price of US$2.30 each, we could have a minivan taxi drop us off, so that is what we did.

PV looked quite affluent and was as friendly in our past two visits, just a lot less crowded as Easter holidays had just ended. We enjoyed walking along the malecon (waterfront pedestrian walkway without cars) and watching kids playing in the river and shoreline. Offshore there were six sailboat racing back and forth across Banderas Bay and on the beach artists were creating elaborate sand sculptures.

Amanda managed to find La Chata the same upstairs restaurant on the melecon we'd visited on our previous trips. With sweeping sunset views of the bay and we enjoyed a very tasty dinner a visit from a mariachi band that serenaded us.


Our festive dinner scene at La Chata restaurant

The sunset view overlooking the malecon

Alberto draws on his Italian heritage to chat with an authentic gelato maker while we purchase our after dinner delights

This morning there was so much to do before our planned 10 am departure. At first light Amanda and I were up for yoga, a long run on the beach followed by laps in an amazing lap pool surrounded by a lush tropical garden. When I returned to MT she was empty as our crew were enjoying (no joke!) the Starbucks in the resort, so I had a chance to wash down MT thoroughly and pay our bill before our crew returned. Amanda had to drag herself away from the lap pool at the last minute before 10.

We made a fuel stop at Marina Vallarta, just four miles south of Paradise Marina and were amazed to learn we'd used only 55 gallons for the 1,000 miles from San Diego with a miserly fuel burn of just 0.88 gallons per hour. This also gave me the chance to test a theory regarding why our diesel engine had been sounding strange lately as the RPMs were frequently varying slightly. On the fuel pump in San Diego there was a sign saying, "Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel". Knowing that sulfur is an important lubricant in fuel injection pumps and knowing that California has much lower sulfur fuel standards than other place we've fueled and recalling Roland Olsson's excellent documentation of fuel problems he had last summer in the Med due to EU Bio-Fuel (10% ethanol and ultra-low sulfur), I followed Roland's advice (which came from Yanmar) and added 2 liters of 2-stroke outboard oil per 400 liters of fuel. Amazingly, this stopped the variability of engine RPMs almost immediately. Thank you, Roland Olsson!


Rather delightful late evening downwind sailing
We had to motorsail a little out of Banderas Bay that deeply indents the coastline, but before long we had a favorable wind, had rounded Cabo Corrientes and eased sheets south for Tentacatita, 130 miles south. From past experience we expected to have to motor this segment, but instead we've had perfectly amazing winds with surfing action while poled out wing and wing.

April 23, 2015, 0630 hrs, 16.52 N, 100.11 W, Log: 183,523 miles
Baro: 1002.9, Cabin Temp: 82 F, Cockpit: 78 F, Sea Water: 83F
Motorsailing at 6.7 kts in 7 kt NW winds

ACAPULCO'S LIGHTS ARE ON OUR BOW!

We had a nice stop in Tentacatita on Monday 20th where a large swell was rolling into the bay. Anchoring off the river bar entrance to the cruiser-famous crocodile river cruise, I was a little concerned about the size of the breakers, so our crew bailed out just outside the surf line, swam in, then helped catch the dinghy and lift/roll (love our new fold-down beaching wheels!) it over the sand bar. As it was a Saturday morning, there were 50 or so locals, most families with kids, frolicking in the surf and getting ready for picnics on this remote beach. We passed eight pangas (Mexican fiberglass fishing skiffs) stashed in the mangroves as we slowly motored up this winding natural wonder, surprising all types of herons and egrets, but not seeing any crocodiles.


Tina watches for breakers as Alberto guides us through the surf and rocks

Tina, Cindy, Dave and Sara chillin' on the mangrove river cruise

Glen show off his skills on the sailrite machine. He and Tina recently purchased one and after learning to sew on small projects he's ready to tackle a sail pack for their boat.

Cindy navigates us into Caleta de Campos using the excellent Pacific Mexico, a cruisers guidebook by Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer

With a white sand beach beckoning after lunch Alberto and Amanda swan ashore through the surf on to return to collect Glen and Cindy.

A pleasant 4 hour stop was had at Caleta Campos with crew swimming, reading and catching up on sleep. We left at 17:30 and surprisingly we again had great sailing conditions on the 240 mile passage south to Zihuatanejo with very little motorsailing required.

Zihuat (as known by cruisers) has long been a favorite stop on the Mexican cruising route, but as we were early in the season, the only other boat in the bay was a Nordhavn 52 on its way north from Panama.


Glen our fearless mountaineer gives a wave from the top of the mast

Mahina Tiare at anchor of Zihuat

Glen and Tina and their friendly lunchtime waiters

We set sail for Acapulco at 14:30 with the plan of arriving today around 1000 to allow time to hopefully find a berth and clear in with customs and harbormaster. Our first choice is Club de Yates where we've enjoyed two previous visits, but we've not heard back from our emails (normal) and Alberto's attempt to secure dock space by phone was thwarted by the absence of the dock master.

April 25, 2015, 1730 hrs, 16.50 N, 99.54 W, Log: 183,547 miles
Baro: 1002.9, Cabin Temp: 86 F, Cockpit: 88 F, Sea Water: 83F
Moored at Club de Yates de Acapulco

Thanks to Alberto's fine language skills we were able to secure a berth at the yacht club an hour before arrival, and in no time we were checked in and Mahina Tiare was securely in a prime location near the fuel dock. Our crew enjoyed a quiet and cool lunch at the club while Amanda and I swam in the amazing pool, complete with fountains and islands. We'd expected they'd choose an off-site place for dinner, but they were so happy after hours relaxing by the pool that they chose dinner also at the club, and it was a memorable time.


John and Alberto return to MT after checking in at the marina office
This very keen crew had dubbed themselves the A Team after we told them we've had very few crews that had such a great time bonding and enjoying each other's company in many years. Turns out all but Tina and Glen were on the same flights back home so they all shared a taxi to the airport, while Glen and Tina who were staying a night ashore stayed helped us getting fuel and wash down.

Some great news when tallying engine hours and fuel consumption was that we used the engine 40% less on this leg than on the identical leg in 2006. I think that the fact there is currently an El Nino cycle occurring across the Central and South Pacific may account for more consistent winds. Also, anytime there was any wind present this crew were keen to turn off the engine, set the pole or trim the sails - anything to be sailing!

We find ourselves in a very nice place - no repairs, only minor maintenance and time to catch our breath and enjoy the week before Leg 3 and our passage to Panama.


 

Leg 2 - 2015, Itinerary

itinerary


 

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