Thursday, December 19, 2002

Log 06 - San Diego to Puerto/Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

This blog covers December 1, 2001 - December 20, 2002 where we travel 1000 miles south after we depart San Diego. We encounter our first Mexican villages and are truly welcomed by the locals. Bad weather forces us to cross to Banderas Bay faster than planned but we really want to be there for Christmas and a travel break anyway.  All good.  

The next leg of our journey was to tackle the rugged 700 nautical mile (nm) Pacific coast of the Mexican Baha Peninsula, then cross the Sea of Cortez, an additional 300 nm,  to Puerto/Nuevo Vallarta in order to meet up with friends for Christmas.

Welcome to Mexico

12:37pm Monday, December 2, 2002 - Goodbye USA, Hello Mexico

The day after leaving San Diego and with s/v (sailing vessel) Atalanta a mile off on our starboard side, we ceremoniously raise our Mexican flag.  Whenever you visit a foreign country, it is international courtesy to fly the hosting nation's flag on your starboard side.  The flag should be approximately 1/2" long for every foot of boat length.

Raising the Mexican flag

12:15pm December 4, 2002 - Islas San Benitos - Our first Mexican Landfall

The first leg of our Mexican journey was a 3-night offshore leg from San Diego to Islas San Benitos, a group of three islands with a small fishing village on the west island.  Once anchored, we approach the village in our dinghy and are very nervous.  Our Spanish, except for ordering beer, is next to non-existent.  But the fishermen smile and welcome us to their island with friendly gestures.  Está bien - it's okay.

Arriving at Isla San Benitos village

We are deep into culture shock as we gingerly beach the dinghy.  Two pretty little girls come down.  Hola, we greet them.  The fish boy shows us his catch with a big grin.  We turn left and walk up into the dusty streets.  More villagers greet us as we walk by.  Elephantas? one woman queries as she gestures us to walk in a certain direction. Si, we reply and alter our course from one unknown to another (what, are there elephants on this island?).  Soon we find what she is talking about ... elephant seals!  Every year they come to the island group and breed.  They have just started to arrive.

Fish boy

After we visit the elephant seals, we stroll around the small village then up to a cross high on a hill overlooking the harbor.  Most of the villagers on this island are from nearby Cedros Island (distant background in the photo) and come for the fishing season.  The houses are mostly shacks, but the village does have a generator so many shacks have a T.V. and satellite dish.

Typical housing and harbor view.

Colorful Panga (fishing boat) - Islas San Benito

This is a typical Mexican fishing boat, called a panga.  They are made of fiberglass, are deep hence very stable, and they have flat bottoms so that they can be beached easily.  A motor in the range of 50hp or more will plane the craft at a good clip.  Fishermen use these vessels for attending nets, lobster traps, and for diving operations.

Colorful Panga

7:37pm Friday, December 6, 2002 - Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay)

Still tandem with s/v Atalanta, we make the short overnight passage from Islas San Benito to Turtle Bay, the best all-weather harbor on the Pacific Baha.  We feel very welcome in their village.  The spot in this photo was magical - a little cantina right on the beach serving ice cold cervezas. In no time, the kids have made friends and play soccer with the local kids and we are deep into relaxation with the locals.

Cervazas on the beach at Turtle Bay

Saturday, December 7, 2002 - Turtle Bay - View of the Village

Today is a walking-tour of Turtle Bay's sizable village with the crew of s/v Atalanta. The village soon reveals to our surprise a market, restaurants, fuel, grocers, cafes, bakeries, meat shops, tortillas and fresh-baked breads, banks, public telephones, ice, beer ... most anything you would need and extremely friendly people everywhere.  Michael jokes, as he finds his favorite cereal sitting on a grocer's shelf, "Mexico's gonna' be all right after all!"

Michael, Vienna, Rhiannon, Ginny, Joel, Gerrit & Sheila with village of Turtle Bay in background.

11:45am Sunday, December 8, 2002 - Visitor kids from the Village

Local kids Ricardo and Eric, with their mom's permission, visit with us on Tioga for a hour or so Sunday morning.  Once onboard, their eyes are wide open as we show them about.  Conversation is sparse as they know as much English as we do Spanish, so we suggest the card game "Uno."  It is great fun as well as great Spanish practice with numbers and colors. A great memory!

Ricardo & Eric with Tioga crew

4:30pm Sunday, December 8, 2002 - Late afternoon on the beach

You can get a good appreciation of the landscape of the Baha from this photo.  While it appears quite barren, it actually is!  But it is unique in it's own way and the ocean is a magnificent blue teaming with marine life.  We have a great afternoon on this secluded beach.  But before we go, it's time to dispose of our garbage...

Sand castles on the Mexican Baha.

In a number of rural areas, garbage is a problem, and it often ends up on the streets if you're not careful.  Instead of handing over our garbage to villagers to handle for a few pesos, we implement the following strategy.  Food waste goes overboard, as do cans and glass.  Light plastics and papers/wrappers are saved until we can burn them (this photo) and heavy plastics are cut up and saved for proper disposal.   Salt water and immense underwater pressure will decompose the food scrapes and cans that go overboard in no time and the glass makes safe underwater habitats for various sea creatures.

Garbage burning day.

Friday, December 13, 2002 - Rafting with s/v Atalanta in Bahia Santa Maria

A number of days have passed and we have worked our way further down the coast.  We are trying to avoid large ocean swells that a massive storm system in the Pacific northwest is creating.  As reported by weather fax and on the SSB radio by boats to the north of us, ocean swell is reaching 20' in inshore and 40' in offshore waters and will reach well into Mexico.  We are already finding it impossible to go to shore - the breaking surf will easily upset our dinghy.  Even the local fisherman are struggling with the surf line.

Atalanta and Tioga rafted together.

The really large swells are expected in our present location within 48 hours.  And while Bahia Santa Maria and nearby Bahia Magadalena are supposed to be great places to visit, we can't and won't be able to make it ashore.  Further, if the storm's effects are given time to catch and strand us, we will jeopardize our ability to make it to Puerto Vallarta (PV) by Christmas.  So we spend an enjoyable and last evening rafted with our friends on s/v Atalanta.  The next morning we will start the last 470 nm (4-day) offshore passage to PV, which will take us around the southern tip of the Baha (Cabo San Lucas) and across the Sea of Cortez.  S/v Atalanta will round Cabo, but then head north enroute to La Paz  and the Sea of Cortez.  The buddy-boat experience is has been so much more than we ever expected.  We will miss the crew of s/v Atalanta.

Gerrit, Rhiannon, Joel & Vienna say their "see ya laters".

9:10am Monday, December 16, 2002 - Flyingfish on deck, 50 miles southeast of Cabo San Lucas

We'd read about it, but this was a first for us.  This "ribbon halfbeak" flyingfish had his last flight sometime during the night and landed on our deck (with a big "drat!" I'm sure).  These fishes scull violently with their tails, taxiing to attain flight speed.  They then spread their pectoral fins, soar high for a few seconds, then splash back to the sea... except in our case.  These fish can actually seriously injure people with their spiked bill.  Reportedly, they also taste good for breakfast.

The last flight of a flyingfish...

7:23am Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - Mahi Mahi

Sheila had just gone off watch and Chris on, when one of the fishing lines we troll stretched out it's shock chord.  Chris started to pull it in and to our delight we had hooked a sizable Mahi Mahi (a.k.a. Dolphinfish and Dorado).  It took a fair amount of time and effort to tire the fish out before bringing it on board.  It is gorgeous when caught, with iridescent shades of purplish-bluish gold, sea green and emerald.  It's also a great tasting fish.

Welcome hook for a Mahi Mahi.

12:51pm Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - Sushi for lunch

Chris spent a couple of hours cleaning and packaging the 4' Mahi Mahi.  Then it was sushi time.  It doesn't get fresher than this!  With only a day left in our passage to PV and beautiful skies and warm temperatures, we were really enjoying this passage.  The only thing missing was a bit more wind.

Mahi mahi's the guest of honor at our fresh sushi lunch!

Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - Banderas Bay Arrival

Finally we arrive in Banderas Bay, home to Puerto and Nuevo Vallarta.  The large ocean swell finally catches up to us and we have to wait a day in the La Cruz anchorage before we can get into the Paradise Village Marina, where the massive surf is breaking on the breakwater entrance.  It's far too dangerous to attempt coming in. On Thursday, we get the call from the marina manager to come quickly while the swell is down, and we dash in and tie up.  And hey, there's the kids from s/v Evolution!  Voyage complete and Paradise Village looks great (in fact we highly recommend it)!

Sombrero Joel

Coming up in Log 7 we spend some special time with friends over the Christmas season and really enjoy the break from sailing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Log 05 B - SeaWorld Mini-Tour

This log covers November 12-13th, 2002.  We are able to anchor Tioga within a dinghy ride distance of SeaWorld!  What a family favorite place it turns out to be for today's homeschool field trip. 

Shamu the Whale adventure.

Shamu takes flight.

Shamu soaks the crowd 

Shamu and side kick

Flying dolphin..can you see him.

Shark tank

Gerrit and Joel vs shark jaw

Now those are bright pink flamingos

Penguin show

Dog cute.

Dolphin tank

Gerrit gets close to the dolphin

Joel pets the dolphin

Ta Ds...end of show.

Fantastic two days spent in this adventure park. Homeschooling at it's best :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Log 05 A - Disneyland, California Mini-Tour

The great Walt Disney and Mickey.
This log covers October 22-25, 2002 where we do a quick look at Disneyland. 

We made it to Disneyland, Anaheim, California.  Let the fun begin!!  

Cool hats!

Lots of fun stage stuff everywhere. 
Faster, faster. 

Funny duck. 

We finally find Mickey.

California Park by night.

The Princess Fairy leads the evening parade.

Fun in our hotel pool as a break from the park.

Really fun ride...did it a few times.  

Special Halloween Exhibit...spooky. 

A rare sight...almost no people.  

Treasure Island.

Can they remove the sword??

Neil Diamond tribute band.  Really Good!

And that's a wrap for our excellent adventure in Disneyland.  Back to Tioga after a short inland get-away!

Monday, December 2, 2002

Log 05 - Newport Beach & Disneyland, San Diego & Sea World

This blog covers October 17, 2002 - November 30th, 2002 where we finally make it to southern California for Disneyland, Sea world, Halloween and American Thanksgiving.  We also take a big step and head into Mexico!

Welcome to Newport Beach

It had been nearly a month of moving and many rolly anchorages since leaving San Francisco, and we were ready to stay put for a while.  Newport Beach, we had heard, was very cruiser friendly, comfortable, and affordable to stay.  Being a harbor well-protected from the Pacific ocean swell, we could finally look forward to comfortable nights on a mooring ball.

Sign at the foot of the huge municipal pier.

Thursday October 17, 2002 - Welcome to Newport Beach

When we arrived in Newport Harbor, we went straight to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.  It had reciprocal privileges with our club back home and offered us a couple of free nights moorage in addition to the use of their facilities while in the area.

Newport Harbor Yacht Club

Saturday October 19, 2002 - Free loaner car!

Shortly after arriving, we reconnected with our cruising friends Al and Monica and their kids from s/v Evolution.  We all went to for supper at BJ's Pizza, where we were also joined by Al's cousin Ken and wife Keri, who live in the L.A. area.  Ken & Keri graciously offered us the use of one of their cars, an ex-police interceptor, while we were in the area and to get us a deal on a hotel room for Disneyland through Keri's employer, Sheraton Hotels.  WOW - what hospitality!   Here Chris has some fun in another one of Ken's toys :-)

Chris in a Porsche

Newport's 6-mile beach is located on the Balboa Peninsula, whose other shore forms part of the 3 mile long Newport Harbor, were TIOGA was moored. As you might imagine, the beach and peninsula hop in the summer time and getting your car off, we had heard, might take you hours at the end of the day on a hot summer weekend.

View of Newport Beach from the municipal pier

Joel and Gerrit have a blast being reunited with the kids from s/v Evolution.

Beach day after school.

Monday, October 21, 2002 - Mission San Juan Capistrano

We took a day-trip south from Newport Beach to the San Juan Capistrano Mission, where the swallows return mid-March each year like clockwork.  Founded by Fr. Junipero Sera in 1776, it is the site of California's oldest building, a church.

Entrance to San Juan Capistrano Mission

Interior courtyard at the mission. Inside the Mission are beautiful courtyards and gardens.  Displays depict the  history of this mission and the 20+ other Franciscan  missions dotting the California coast.  Other notable missions include Mission Santa Barbara, founded 1786 and completed in 1820, which is one of the best preserved.

October 22 through 25, 2002 - Disneyland  MINI-TOUR See Log 5A

It's hard to save money getting into Disneyland.  Most of their marketing efforts are aimed at getting you to spend more time in the park where you'll buy their merchandise and eat in their restaurants and kiosks.  As such, we purchased the promo-of-the-day, a 5-day pass for the price of a 3-day pass, and spent 4 days visiting both Disneyland and the adjacent California Adventure Park.
See Log 5A - Disneyland Mini-tour!

Sheila, Goofy, Joel, Gerrit & Chris in Disneyland

Wednesday, October 30, 2002 - Hollywood

We decided to drive to L.A. for a day to see parts of the big city.  At one point along the way, there was 14 lanes of traffic - a lot for us prairie folk!  We drove through UCLA, Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood.  Here in the picture is Rodeo Drive, where if you have to ask the price, you shouldn't be shopping.

Rodeo Drive

5:48pm October 31, 2002 - Ready for Halloween

We spent the days leading up to Halloween making decorations, carving pumpkins and searching out final costume requirements.  The boys knew exactly what they wanted to dress as and boy did they look scary!

Final Halloween preparations.

6:30pm October 31, 2002 - TRICK OR TREAT!!!!!!!

After a day of "Is it time to trick or treat yet?" we hopped in our dinghy to go to Lido Island, one of  three opulent islands within Newport Beach harbor.  It was beautifully decorated with all sorts of spooky decorations.  We mixed in with the many other families out and about, some traveling via scooters, golf carts and bicycles.  The boys eagerly reaped their rewards, and this being our first Halloween with Gerrit on an insulin pump, they were able to indulge in their rewards also!   Oh! Another unique part for us snowsuits!!

Lido Island haunted house!

Friday, November 1, 2002 - Dinner at The Cannery

We were treated to a great dinner at one of Newport's finest seafood restaurants by Serge C. of Animas Corporation and his daughter Mayan.  We had to laugh as valet parking was in full swing when we arrived in our x-police interceptor.  Fancy cars arrived, people flowed in and out in their dinner clothes.  Yikes, after a long day of errands in greater L.A., we still hadn't even changed yet.  So when we declined the valet's offer to park our car until after we had changed, we got some very strange looks!

Sheila, Joel, Mayan, Gerrit, Serge, Chris at The Cannery

Sunday, November 10, 2002 - departing Newport Beach

After over three weeks in Newport Beach, it was time to move on to San Diego, our final US port-of-call.  Here, a beautiful schooner passes by.  We had a great time in Newport Beach and superb hospitality.

A schooner sails about Newport Harbor

November 12-13, 2002 - SeaWorld     See Log 5B for a MINI-TOUR

SeaWorld was an overnight sail from Newport Beach.  We anchored nearby at Mariner's Basin at Mission Beach in a beautiful park-like setting.  Seaworld was a short dinghy ride away.  The price for a two-day pass was only a few dollars more than a single-day pass, and we were glad we got it - a great place to visit in our opinion.  Log 5B is a MINI-TOUR of pictures from the  park!

Seaworld entrance banner

Friday, November 29, 2002 - Day after a great Thanksgiving feed.

We had the pleasure of spending the U.S. Thanksgiving with Michael & Ginny and their two kids of the sailing vessel Atalanta, along with Michael's parents and family at his parent's house in a 'burb' of San Diego.

Pam, Sheila, Roger, Ginny & Michael

5:05pm Sunday, December 1, 2002 - Time to tackle the Mexican Baha's Pacific coast

A sailboat heads into San Diego harbor as we depart, at last bound for MEXICO!  We had spent about 2 1/2 weeks in San Diego, getting provisions and supplies as well as completing boat projects before heading south into a country foreign to us and in which the viability of provisioning and obtaining supplies and spares was a big unknown.  Traveling with s/v Atalanta, we begin our second offshore passage, this one expected to take us 4 days and south  to Islas San Benito, a small Mexican island group.

Join us in Log 6 where we set our first foot in Mexico via sailboat.