A Busy Start to the New Year

After our time in Chacala it was on to the Banderas Bay area. First stop was La Cruz. We were here last year and like the cruiser’s scene vibe here very much.  There is a good anchorage, a nice marina, service facilities and funky bars and restaurants, many offering live music at night and the always popular Sunday farmers market. As well the marina offers sailing seminars, cruiser’s swap meet, and a movie night at the amphitheatre.  It is like summer camp for cruisers.

La Cruz is right next to Bucerias, another popular tourist destination. It’s a short cab ride away and has a popular flea market that is fun to walk around.

 Our daughter, son in law and 10-month-old grandson flew into Puerto Vallarta and met us in La Cruz to stay with us for ten days. We spent four days in La Cruz visiting the sites. Their favourite spot was Tacos on the Street, the best tacos around.

Captain in training
If the ocean is too scary try a smaller pool

After La Cruz we sailed over to Nuevo Vallarta and the Paradise Village Resort and Marina.  Hanging by the pool can become addictive if you are not careful. We did manage to get them out to the Puerto Vallarta Malecon and had a fun evening with the restaurants, shops and street vendors to check out. We also got to check out a baby turtle release on the beach.

Loving Paradise
12 hour old baby turtles about to be released
And they’re off
Fun on the beach

We then had two couples, friends from back home, come down and stay at the resort. It was awesome to see these folks and a great excuse to go back down to the Malecon again. They also convinced us we needed to join them in an off-road excursion on side by side ATV’s (Polaris RZR 1000’s for those that know these machines). So, we went booking through the mountains and along the highway to Sayulita for a half day adventure and obligatory tequila tasting. Its ok, the tequila is after we are done off roading.

Group dinner

“Blessing of the fishing fleet” was happening in Bucerias this week. This is a weeklong event that culminates with a parade of decorated pangas and a big party in the town square. Try and picture the town square (about a city block square) with 6 bands (varying in size from 5 to 15 guys) all playing different songs at the same time. Add to that street vendors with all kinds of foods and beverages, dancing horses, 1000’s of people and a firework display. It was a little crazy and a lot of fun.

Panga parade
Decorated at the dock
Dancing horses

Barb’s sister and our brother in law came down to surprise us as well. They received an invite to stay with friends at their condo in Nuevo Vallarta and it was dumping snow in Vancouver at the time, so they jumped at the chance for some sun and the opportunity to drop in and surprise us. We had a great dinner with them and hung out with their friends one evening.

All of that in the first 3 weeks of the new year. They have all headed back home now and its time for us to get headed to Zihuatanjo for SailFest which starts Feb 3. More on that next time.

Back in Vancouver for Christmas

We had a great time with our inland trip to Copper Canyon and now its time to get boating again. At least for a little while. We left Topolobampo and did a 128 nautical miles overnight sail along with Salish Dragon to Altata. Altata is located at the head of a 15-mile-long, shallow, inlet which requires a bar crossing. This does not mean you have to walk to the other side of the room to order your drink, but rather, you must time your entry into the channel with the tides so that the water flowing out is not pushing up against a tide rising and trying to get in. This results in steep and dangerous waves we would prefer to avoid.

Obligitory name sign

We anchored right off the public launching ramp and dock, it was a convenient spot to say the least. It is a cute town that is trying to attract more tourists but just hasn’t got there yet. Ton’s of restaurants and a nice Malecon but hardly anyone there. We spoke with Charlie at his restaurant, very good by the way, he is trying to get the word out to more cruisers to come to his town to check it out. Apparently, they don’t see very many of us up that way.

Altata is know for their unique shrimp fishing fleet. They use small boats, usually equipped with sails and set up throughout the bay. They basically let the wind drift them sideways through the bay dragging nets from poles extended off the bow and stern of the boat. Both, interesting to see and navigate through as there can be several hundred out at a time

Sail powered shrimp boat

After a couple of days, it was time for the 120 nautical mile overnighter to Mazatlan.  On December 15 we arrived in Mazatlan at the El Cid Resort and enjoyed 5 days of hanging around the pool, shopping trips to Sam’s Club, Walmart, Galleria Mall and exploring old town Mazatlan.  It was fun catching up with cruising friends we had not seen since last season and meeting some new ones.

December 20th, we flew back to Vancouver to spend Christmas with the family. We were only back for 10 days so we packed a ton of visiting in each day. It was a whirlwind trip but fun all the same.

Lights at Lafarge Lake

December 30 saw us flying back to Mazatlan. I have decided airlines are crazy. We could fly from Mazatlan to Vancouver direct but in order to get from Vancouver to Mazatlan at a reasonable price we had to fly from Vancouver to Seattle to LA then to Mazatlan. Starting with a 6am flight which meant being at the airport at 4am. Not what I call a fun day, but all luggage was accounted for so not too bad.

We rang in the New Year at the resort. They had a big party with a live band, dancing and full plated dinner so a group of a dozen of us cruisers booked tickets and had a fun night.  We managed to stay up past midnight to ring in the New Year and enjoy the fireworks.

Dancing show at New Years eve party

A couple of days later a group of us took a local tour to the quaint little town of El Quelite. It included stops along the way to a tequila factory, rooster farm (bred as fighting birds ☹) and a leather factory. We had lunch in a cool open restaurant with trees growing all through it, live roosters and dogs  walking about. Its fun to see something a little different that the usual tourist destinations.

Blue Agave plants before they are tequila
Cooking tortillas
Rooster in the restaurant but not on the menu
El Quelite church

Now we are on the move again. Currently we are anchored in Chacala. It’s a beach town stop on our way to Banderas Bay.  We almost had to skip coming into Chacala. Just at daybreak, 30 miles out from the bay, we encountered long line fishing lines. There were miles and miles of floats that were spaced out every 100 metres or so, difficult to see in the swell. The floats are connected to nets that are weighted down and the floats are also connected by a line between each one. I think we spent about three hours zig zagging trying to find an end. Twice we came across a panga with fishermen who actually cut the line and pulled in their nets so we could pass through.  We thanked them with a cold cerveza. Many boats get caught up in these types of nets and I’m sure its only a matter of time before we do too. They are impossible to see at night. All you can do is wait for daylight and get in the water with a knife to cut the net away.  Quite often the fishermen are nearby and will come and help get you free because they want minimal damage done to their nets as well.

Helpful fishermen
Chacala from the boat
Lava rocks at the far end of the beach
Stray Cat at anchor
Chacala street

We’ve got Megan, Martin and Lukas coming for a 10-day visit arriving on the weekend. We will split our time between La Cruz and Paradise Village.  Should be fun.

Stay tuned.