Saturday, March 6, 2010

Isla Isabela and La Cruz

We sailed about 90 miles from Mazatlan south to Isla Isabela, which is a pretty deserted offshore national preserve. You could not have fit another nesting booby or frigate bird on the island.

Here is Baloo anchored by a rock formation called Las Moñas.

Frigate birds

There is some research happening on the island. Note the band on the blue-footed booby’s leg.

Brown booby.

A nesting booby.

There were tons of whales at Isla Isabela. I probably missed 50 good pictures of huge breaches and tail slaps. It’s really hard to take pictures of whales.

We then made another overnight passage from Isla Isabella down to Banderas Bay (where Puerto Vallarta is). Right now we’re in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (20° 44’N, 105° 22’W) Yeah, we’re at 20° North Latitude. That’s a long way from 48° North, where we started out!

The cruising guide says La Cruz is a sleepy fishing village where a marina might be built in the future. A lot has changed since that publication. We have been staying at (swanky) Marina Riviera Nayarit. The place is crazy right now with a huge international regatta and a boat show. The President of Mexico visited today. There are also small boat races going on, like Lasers and these Opti’s.

Cruising with a two year old has been really tough. Basically it doesn’t work for us: Nat needs some space and independence; the boat is tiny and full of things not to touch. People seem to have better success cruising with school-aged kids. They all commute around the docks by scooter. There is a big pack of them here. They do home-schooling stuff in the morning, then scoot around and see their friends.

Now we’re not quite sure what to do. Sailing with Nat was pretty rough (think: puke in the bed). Also, just being in the boat has been pretty rough. But then, getting out of the boat is pretty rough (think: sunscreen battle). We hear that things are great south of here, but are leery of how we’re going to get back upwind.

So, we will probably explore Banderas Bay a bit, and then look for a weather window to try to cross over to La Paz, on the Baja. We will show Nat where we got married at Cabo Pulmo. From there we will work north and eventually cross back to San Carlos.
For now, the plan is to truck Baloo from San Carlos back to Maine, and let go of the dream of cruising with a toddler. Although it looks like paradise, we find it’s just too much work, and too stressful.

Nat playing with a dog named Trufo at Yaya’s café in La Cruz.

Hey! I’m in the shower here!

Mexico is weird. Sometimes you’re just walking along, and see a tiger. This one was down in Nuevo Vallarta.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time to Leave Mazatlan

First, an update on the TSUNAMI: We're fine.

Chile experienced an 8.8 earthquake, and there were tsunami warnings for most of the Pacific. There were a lot of excited people here, and on the radio nets, but the surge we felt in Mazatlan(right at the predicted time) was pretty unimpressive.

So... we have been in Mazatlan for 15 days, and we're planning on leaving tomorrow. It's been great, but it's a big city, and it's time to move on. We hope to do a one-night overnight passage, then spend a night at Isla Isabella (21° 50'N, 105° 53'W). The island is a National Park / Bird Sanctuary with nesting frigate bird nests. Then another overnight to Banderas Bay.

Here's Old Mazatlan.

We had some successes in Mazatlan. Here's Nat admiring the poopie he made in the potty.

Here he is pumping the poopie away.



Building the Bimini

On the list to do for a while has been to build a bimini frame over Baloo's cockpit to mount solar panels on, and to maybe provide a bit more shade.

We have had one 85 watt panel mounted on a cockpit rail for a while, where it is always in the way. It snags the spinnaker lines, stern anchor line, fishing lines, and everything else that comes close to it.

I brought another 85 watt panel down a year ago, and it has remained unmounted - generally beating up the boat, impossible to find a good place to store it, not producing power and always in the way.

So we took advantage of a good deal in Mazatlan to have two pieces of stainless steel tube bent to build the bimini with. All the other mounting hardware we had with us.

Here I am trying to get it all square. This is difficult on a boat, as you can't put a level on anything. Turns out, on Baloo, the helm is centered in the boat, but the backstay isn't. At all.

Oh yeah! Drilling a lot of holes in hard stainless with a cordless drill and dull bits. Now there's some fun in the sun.

Here are the panels, mounted. Hopefully they won't get too shaded by the radar dome, backstay, and crew-overboard pole.

So it's kind of a strange design I came up with. The forward hoop of the bimini is a regular hoop; but the aft one is missing a leg, and instead mounts to the radar tower. This is so that we can still swing the lifting crane (attached to the outboard engine in this photo) inboard.

Here it is completed. Adding these two 85 watt panels to the four 30 watt ones that you can see on the dodger really turns Baloo into a serious power plant. We can pretty much support our electricity needs indefinitely - with no fuel.

Work Days in Mazatlan

We spent a week in Mazatlan hanging out with Kris, Tami and Henry.

Then we spent another week hanging out some more, and catching up on a few boat projects on the "To Do Soon" list.

Here's a classic: broken window from boat baking in the desert in San Carlos. Actually, it was just a leaky crack before I busted it out with a hammer.

Acrylic deadlight + no room to expand in frame + wicked hot = cracked.

Look how it pulled off the gelcoat when it came out. Bummer.

Here it is replaced with a piece I brought from the States. Unfortunately, this piece of plastic is a little lighter tint than the others on Baloo. See how you can see the frame it sits in? On the other windows, you can't see through to the frame at all.

So the final result is that it doesn't leak, but looks pretty crappy. It's hard to get the parts right from 3,000 miles away. Hopefully it will darken with time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mazatlan Mercado

Today we went downtown to the market.

Actually, the place was super-clean and nice.

Mazatlan Plaza

Today we went downtown to the Plaza Principal and saw the big Cathedral.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baloo is now in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

From Seattle, Baloo went out the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Wanna Puke-a), then made San Francisco in a single off-shore push. We spent quite a bit of time in Newport Beach, CA (visiting Andy) then made a last stop in the USA, at San Diego.

We cleared customs in Ensenada, Mexico, then made two nice stops on the outside of the Baja Peninsula. Since we rounded Cabo San Lucas, into the Sea of Cortez, it's been slow and easy going. We spent a lot of time around La Paz, and got married in Cabo Pulmo.

Baloo is now awaiting our return in San Carlos, on the mainland Mexican Pacific Coast.

2010. We are now back on Baloo. The red line shows our progress from San Carlos down to Mazatlan. We will now keep going south.


Tami, Henry, Nat and Cindi.

Henry on the beach.


In my dreams of tropical cruising, I never envisioned a car seat bolted into the cockpit.

It actually seems to work great, though. Nat is familiar with it and actually, Cindi and Nick's butts fit fine in it too. It's really quite comfortable.