Monthly Archives: May 2014

Paradise found (with attribution and apologies to John Milton)

“The world was all before them, where to choose [t]heir place of rest . . .” Paradise Lost.

As noted in our recent post, so much of the world remains before us and yet it is time for Elizabeth Jean and her crew to rest.  Happily, Paradise Village (yep–that’s really the name) has a well protected and very well run marina, ideally suited for our pause.  The back boat slips are a distance up the estuary, well sheltered from ocean wind and surges.  Our boat closure check list runs to 10 pages, organized by topic (sails, engine, docking, galley, dinghy/outboard).  The marina staff is first rate and provides helpful tips on securing our vessel, including references to mechanics and electricians who help us prepare her for four months of non-use.  Our cabin thermometer regularly registers 98 degrees.  Paradise Village hotel’s swimming pools and air conditioned lobby provides refuge from the days’ heat made hotter  by pressing boat chores.  In addition, our new friends the Depoes and Faches have given us access to their Paradise Village condo,which has come in handy in some surprising ways.

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The albatross spies the marina tucked behind the beach and resort complex.

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Elizabeth Jean‘s summer berth is up the estuary beyond the photograph’s lower right hand corner.

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Eulalie stands at the far end of our genoa jib (our smaller sail) which is spread on the lawn near the Depoe’s and Fache’s condominium.  We could have pulled this off without their hospitality . . .

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but it would not have been as pretty a picture

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“Give me the dinghy key I’m driving us home” (attribution: Eulalie Sullivan)

With the season (known in the tourist trade as the “off season””) upon us, local restaurants search for ways of stimulating business among the remaining populace.  Gecko Rojo’s (Red Gecko) gambit is 40 peso margaritas.  At about 3 dollars US, this is a screaming good deal, made better by the bar tender’s generosity in topping off our drinks with the shaker and blender’s remains.  Well, after the second round (which amounted to four hefty drinks) Eric’s meandering amble down La Cruz’s cobbled streets prompted Eulalie to exercise the captain’s prerogative to reclaim the dinghy’s  helm to make sure that we returned safely to our La Cruz anchorage.

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Last anchorage

With less than a month before our scheduled departure, we return to the La Cruz anchorage.  Twenty or so vessels share the anchorage, compared with the seventy counted at high season.  Eric works on canvas projects to shield equipment from summer sun.  Eulalie compiles a detailed down-rigging list with all the tasks we need to complete before we depart.  Porpoises glide among the anchored boats as if summoning us to play one more time before turning to the list.  In the afternoon, the days’ heat creates winds to twenty knots.  Sail kiters practice for an upcoming competition.

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La Cruz Anchorage: A Haiku

Hot May sun shimmers.

Thermals roil the anchorage,

Our last until fall.

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Should we stay or should we go? (attribution The Clash)

The question of how long to stay in any one location presents itself almost daily in our travels.  We first recognized the tension between staying and going caused by our movable home after our month living aboard in Ballard before heading out to the Pacific.  The more we experienced Ballard as its residents, the more we liked it.  “Gee, we could even get comfortable here,” we thought.  But no.  After a month, our departure date came and we went.  Since leaving Ballard, we have visited many wonderful places.  In some we may even have thought, “Gee, we could get comfortable here.”  Yet we hear the sirens’ song, weighed anchor and set our sails (or turned on our engine) and found the next great place.

Earlier this Spring we decided to slow down and spend a second season on Mexico’s gold coast.  A number of factors influenced our decision.  We could see hurricane season around the corner and knew we needed to be above the hurricane belt (northern part of the Sea of Cortez), below the belt (Costa Rica), or in a nice hurricane hole (safe harbor).  Going north to the sea, felt a bit like going backwards and Costa Rica seemed far away.  The hurricane hole option felt right and we happened to be near a great spot in Banderas Bay.  Cabo Corrientes, which we’ve discussed in earlier posts, juts out into the Pacific and deflects hurricanes.  Also, we were just getting comfortable with Mexico and looked forward to spending more time exploring areas that we enjoyed so well.  Finally, with three international airports (Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, and Zihuateneo) so near our cruising grounds we knew we would remain accessible to family and friends who traveled our way either coincidentally (as was the case this season) or by design (hint, hint).

So Elizabeth Jean will remain in the Banderas Bay area through next fall and in Mexico through early winter.  Her crew will spend the summer in cooler locales and will return to Mexico in October.

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To every season, turn (with attribution to the Good Book and the Byrds)

As Ecclesiastes tells us, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  In the tropics, mid-May is the time for hurricanes, rain, and intense heat.  Conditions which persist through October.  This time, therefore, finds folks preparing for the rainy season and finds Elizabeth Jean’s crew back in Yelapa at the Sky Temple to help Judith Roth close the temple for the rainy season (see March 13 and 26 posts for more on Yelapa and the Temple).  Seasonal signs abound.  The beach palapa’s have empty seats, flowers burst out of every corner, bananas and Cacique nests hang outside our window.  Creating a giant compost pile, painting, and packing fill our days.  Al fresco meals at Los Abuelos and Los Fillos fill our evenings and stomachs with sopes, tacos, and fresh salads.

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Yelapa secures Banderas Bay’s south west corner.  The above figure shows Yelapa’s geographical relationship to Puerto Vallarta, and other Bay locales.

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This albatross-eyes’ view shows the steep ridges that hem in Yelapa’s cove.  The terrain has kept modern roads and automobiles  out and rustic charm in.  Photo credit: Allan Schie

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With no cars, pack horses and mules predominate.  Here is our host Judith with her luggage from a quick trip to the States loaded for the trek to the Sky Temple.

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Cobbled pathways lead us back to the Sky Temple.

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From our perch high in the Sky Temple we see a pair of Cacique birds working on their nest.  You can glimpse one of the birds on the low branch to the nest’s right.

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Bananas ripen below our balcony.  The pole to the right supports the fruit’s weight.

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When ripe, the bananas hang from our balcony, ready for snacking.


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Spring flowers juxtaposed with colorful drying laundry brighten the streets.

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Blossoms are everywhere.


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Outrageous.

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Fallen petals grace cobblestone pathways.

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Sun light brightens our room.

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Eulalie works the low spots.

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Eric works the high spots.

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We lugged 30 bags of leaves to the compost pile.

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Church occupies the village’s center.

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Open doors welcome us in.

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We join the owners of the Eclipse restaurant to help prepare tamales for the church.

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Meat filling simmers.

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Dough spreads.

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Husks await filling.

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Husk strips will tie the tamale together.

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TAMALES!!!!!

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We depart the Sky Temple and Yelapa with heightened awareness of the season’s purpose, ready to prepare Elizabeth Jean for her first hurricane season in tropical waters.

 

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Fairy tales can come true (attribution: Frank Sinatra)

Las Hadas means “the fairies” and the Las Hadas anchorage, lived up to its name.  The anchorage is tucked in a bay behind a bombproof breakwater that ensures roll-free sleep.  A short dinghy ride from the anchorage stands the magnificent  hotel made famous by Bo Derek and Dudley Moore in “10” (ok it was famous if you were born in the 50’s).  Regular buses run from  the hotel  to Manzanillo, a city with a full range of services and supplies.

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Las Hadas in located in Manzanillo, comprised of Bahia de Santiago to port and Bahia de Manzanillo to starboard.  We anchored in Santiago on our trip down and Manzanillo on the way back.  The Las Hadas anchorage is tucked behind the small point separating the two bays.

Las Hadas Manzanillo

This albatross-eye view shows the breakwater in the mid ground, with the anchorage behind it in front of the beach.

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The anchorage view of the Las Hadas resort.

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Keep an eye out for fairies in Las Hadas.  This one appeared in front of the hotel.

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This fairy resembles cupid.

DUDLEY MOORE IN "10"

These two have been absent from Las Hadas for decades.

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The view from Elizabeth Jean’s cockpit at the Las Hadas anchorage.

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White buildings climbed the hill side at every turn.

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For a small fee we were allowed to use the hotel’s dinghy dock, pool and wifi.

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Ixtapa to Banderas Bay

After our visit to Ixtapa, we traveled the 350 miles north back to Banderas Bay.  Our first day out of Ixtapa we were surrounded by hundreds of porpoises, feeding, leaping and spinning.  Along the way we revisited Barra de Navidad and its french baker for Easter weekend and Tenacatita.  We also anchored several days at Las Hadas, a place we intentionally bypassed on our way down so that we could explore it on our northbound trip (see next post).  We also ducked into Chemala late one night for refuge after 20+ knot northwest winds frustrated our nocturnal efforts to sneak around Cabo Corrientes.  During our relaxed day in Chemala we were surprised by voices near Elizabeth Jean.  Three nice women from Guadalajara in a panga were admiring our boat and asked if they could come aboard for a  photograph.  We were happy to oblige.  We awoke early the next morning and rounded Corrientes in early afternoon with light winds.  The strong afternoon thermals coaxed us across Banderas Bay to the Punta de Mita anchorage, where we began our mainland cruising in late February.

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Vintage chart showing Cabo Corrientes and the Costalegre.  The cape juts out center left in the picture.

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