Category Archives: Boatschooling

Checking out of Mexico for our longest passage yet…

Well, we are leaving for what is everybody aboard, but Christian’s longest passage yet. ~1,400 miles, which should take us about 10 days to 2 full weeks or maybe a little more! We were going to leave today, but then realized that today is Friday. What’s so special about Friday, you ask ? There is a huge list of sailor’s superstitions and one of the big ones is that it’s bad luck to leave port on a Friday. Since this is our longest passage we decided not to risk it, so we’re waiting for tomorrow to leave from Barra de Navidad.

We need to get to Costa Rica by Jan 15th, so rather than rushing down the coast of Mexico and potentially getting stuck waiting for the Tehuanapecs (extremely strong winds off of southern Mexico and Guatemala) to calm down enough to motor on through, we are going to sail basically straight down and around the strong winds and hopefully be able to cut over to Nicaragua. ~ 1,200 to ~1,400 miles.The orange shows areas of stronger winds.Above shows potential gusts of wind, which extremely important to take into account when weather routing.

There is a chance, and a good one too, that the Papa Gallos (another localized area of strong winds and gusts) will be blowing off of Nicaragua, which would force us to sail straight to Costa Rica. Making it more of a solid 1,400 miles passage. We would end up missing Nicaragua all together, but I’m sure we will find fun in Costa Rica to occupy our time with.

With our last post, we had just arrived into Barra de Navidad from Tenacatita. After a few days in Barra de Navidad we took a bus down to Manzanillo to check out of Mexico, but the process was a little more involved than that. It was not as bad as some people had warned us about though, but it did take a full day. I decided to write about to help other people out that end up wanting to do the same.

We first went to the port captain in Barra de Navidad. He said he could check us out and give us our Zarpe (basically a permission slip to leave one country and enter another), but we needed to go to the immigration office in Melaque first. So the next day, we all hopped on a bus to Melaque only to discover that the immigrations there is not able to “stamp” us out. They pointed us in the direction of Manzanillo to do that. Since that day was basically over, we waited for the next day to take a bus down to Manzanillo.

The bus ride to Manzanillo was painless. $61 pesos/adult each way and about an hour and a half long ride straight to the bus terminal in Manzanillo. From there we took a $50 pesos taxi to the immigrations office that google maps found for us. After only 15 minutes of wait time, the lady called upon us and we discovered that we were at the wrong immigrations office. She didn’t speak any English, but was very helpful and showed us on my phone via google maps where to go.

Since we were all the way on the other side of the port and close to the Banjercito (Mexican Military bank), we decided to go surrender our T.I.P (temporary import permit) card. The system for that is all electronic, so that was one thing we wanted to make sure we did correctly before leaving the Mexico. We’ve heard stories of people who forgot to cancel their TIP and either let it expire, left and came back or sold their boat, and when the boat returned to Mexico they were fined somewhere up to $700! The total time for canceling the T.I.P took about 2 hours. The lady at the Banjercito only spoke Spanish and didn’t know what to do, but was super nice. Things to prepare for canceling your T.I.P in Manzanillo: make photocopy of Passport (s) to hand in, photocopy of documentation and crew list of last port of check-in, and you will need to either have a copy of or fill out a new list of electronic/big ticket items (make and model) that are on your boat with their serial numbers. There is a photocopy place around the corner if you do everything last minute like we do. *bonus about Banjercito location: there is a great roadside tacos de barbacoa stand on the corner!

From the Banjercito, we easily grabbed another $50 peso taxi to take us all the way back to the correct immigration office. Describing where to go to the taxi driver was somewhat of a challenge, so we showed him the location on my phone’s google maps and stated it was just beyond the Nissan import car lot. He dropped us off near the entrance, we walked through the gate and stated we were leaving the country (estamos saliendo del país) and walked right into a quiet and clean facility. They were super nice there, loved our kids, and the whole process took about 45 minutes. They took copies of passports, visas and FFN receipts, boat documentation, and crewlist. They typed out their own form, handed us a new completed, printed and official stamped form and said to take that form to the port captain to obtain the Zarpe. So now, back to Barra de Navidad. The bus station happened to be only a few blocks away, so it was a quick walk there.

We arrived back to Barra around 5:30pm in time for dinner. We would have to obtain the Zarpe the next day. So the following day, Christian went alone to check out and obtain the Zarpe from the Port Captain. The Port Captain gave him a paper with a bank # and stated he needed to first take a bus to Melaque and make a direct deposit into the Port Captain account. Once that was done, he brought the receipt back to the Port Captain, handed him the forms from the Manzanillo Immigration office and we got our “official stamp” for our Zarpe!

Phew! That was quite the process, but nothing compared to some of the horror stories that we’ve heard some people going through.

Please feel free to comment or contact us with questions.

Our next blog post will likely be from Nicaragua shortly after Christmas.

It’s a good thing Santa has GPS, because we have no idea where we will be on Christmas.

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Back on the run, heading south of Mexico for fun!

Well, more like back on the slow sail (not a fast run). My 13 weeks for refilling the kitty turned into 19 and now we’re topped off. We’re hoping $20,000 will take us south from Mexico, into Central America and Westward. The idea is to cross the Pacific in March from Panama, spend our 3 month visa time in French Polynesia, make our way toward Fiji and then head down to New Zealand. Hopefully we’ll arrive in New Zealand November 2018 with just enough $ to find a place for S/V Shawnigan and our Family Afloat and to find myself a job in the NICU.

So now that you know “Plan A”, stay tuned as we make our way south from La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta). Ellamae and I returned to the boat and family on Friday. Saturday and Sunday we spent at the beach surfing and playing with friends. Today is a Boat-School day and Costco provisioning run. We hope to leave on Wednesday for Tenacatita, possibly stop in Barra de Navidad for Nina’s 15th Birthday, then Santiago. This will be our first time south of Barra (except for when Christian was a kid sailing with his father). We are looking forward to new anchorages and new towns to explore!

Moving on from San Carlos Oct. 15th

We just left San Carlos to make our way toward La Paz. We were going to go to Copper Canyon, but after doing the math, we realized we rather spend that $1,100 toward something else in the future. So, we took the favorable wind conditions to go have island time together as a family. We’re currently underway, left San Carlos at 1pm. So far, a downwind sail under jib alone going 6.5 kts on average.

We’ll be out of cell zone for a little while. Will post more pictures later.

The girls working on Ellamae’s “Big Life Journal”.

San Antonio, Mulege, Punta Chivato

Still catching up on posts from June, 2017, when we were still making our way north, in the Sea of Cortez.  

⛵️⛵️⛵️Now, three boats deep, Easy, Kenta Anae and Shawnigan left from La Ramada around lunch time and sailed the not quite 10 miles to San Antonio. We were excited to go check out this a huge obsidian vein there.  26.521937, -111.450718 .

The south end of the point was too exposed to the prevailing wind, so we went around to the north side and set anchor at San Antonio (proper) 26.533917, -111.477790. We all met ashore, soon after anchoring, to get a hike in before evening set. Another perfect geology lesson for boat-school life.  Getting to the road was an adventure. We bushwhacked our way until we finally found the road/trail. Not so fun with all of the prickly brush and cactus to avoid.  Before climbing the peak, we first hit up the obsidian vein. Black, grainy and shiny at the same time, the vein looked like a petrified waterfall and surrounding us, looked like petrified water droplets that had misted to the ground at our feet.Taj, Matero, Shandro, Nina and Ellamae.

After a few minutes of exploring the obsidian vein, we made the trek up the steep hill to the top point. Taj hiked the whole way! I think he wanted to impress the Kenta Anae boys, or maybe he was just distracted. The view was fantastic, as always in the Sea of Cortez. We took time to soak it all in.(I could resist groping this tree’s butt) 😬

The way back to the boat was more straightforward. We just followed the road that led to the beach, then walked the beach up to our dinghies.  As we sat, before heading back to the boat, S/V Dad’s Dream (from Isla Corondo) showed up and anchored out beyond us.

Not long after we got back to the boat and had dinner, the southerly swell started to wrap around and make its way into the anchorage. We had our flopper stopper out, as did Easy, but there was no comfort being found at this spot. We called Easy, Kenta Anae and Dad’s Dream and announced that we were pulling up anchor and heading up around the corner to San Nicolas, 26.868896, -111.848712. The stay there was just for an overnight before heading up and around to Bahia Conception. All four us us made the move to San Nicolas just after sunset, but before dark. The anchorage was much more comfortable than San Antonio and we were that much closer to our next stop, 26.870196, -111.846589 , about 30 miles away for another brief overnight sleep. The three of us sailed up together. Dad’s Dream stayed behind. The sail up and around was beautiful and uneventful. Kenta Anae kicked our butts (they are fast! There, I said it out loud, Merle!).

The next morning we motored an hour over to Mulege 26.906125, -111.954573 to go to shore and re-provision.  We anchored in about 15 feet of water on a “roadside” anchorage. Our time was limited, as we knew that the regular wind would be picking up around noon. We found a few tiendas (small grocery store) to stock up at, a park to play in, and an ice cream shop to treat the kids with. Ice Cream is ok at 10 in the morning when you’ve walked 2 miles to get to town, it’s hot, and the last time you had it was in La Paz, right?!

We made it back to the boats just before noon and sure enough, the wind was starting to pick up. We were able to sail off the hook and head due north toward Punta Chivato 27.066717, -111.962607 . Once anchored in front of the lovely Punta Chivato, I had time to swim and the kids, relax, before heading into shore to explore. As Kenta Anae was anchoring they saw a whale shark, but we were not able to see it. I was hoping when I was swimming that I would see it, but all I saw was barely my fingertips 2.5 feet in front of me. The visibility was terrible and the water was not that warm. Warmer than Isla Coronado and La Ramada, but still pretty chilly.

On shore, we all took a stroll down the main road toward and abandoned building we saw on the beach. We were intending to go explore “shell beach” (literally and beach completely covered in shells), but we got distracted by the vacant dilapidated building. We found out that it was once a hotel, but somehow lost ownership and has been destroyed by storms. The kids spent an hour just wandering around it, making up scary stories about it. FUN! I wish I took more pictures of it, and the ones that I did were lost when I tried to back them up to “the cloud”. So, I apologize for the lack of photos for this section.View from the building!

After exploring that area, we ran into a part-time resident that suggested a restaurant named Doña Julia’s. We weren’t expecting to eat out, but she told us that the price ends up being $2.50 a head. Not sure whether to believe her or not and if it was true, was that a good sign or not, but we thought we’d give it a go. It was a GREAT choice. Basically we ate in this families enclosed porch. Julia gave us two options for food, fresh fish of the day or enchiladas. We made our choices and she brought it all out, family style, along with refried beans and salad. We asked what the fish was and she said it was “strong fish” or “Toro”. Guessing that was not the Toro which is Tuna and some kind of Jack instead , which we normally don’t like, we were amazed at how well it tasted. And sure enough, it was $2.50 a person!

One more reason to LOVE Mexico!Plate full of enchiladas!

Next up: Isla San Marcos (one of our favorites! ) and Santa Rosalia. Stay tuned.

Los Mangles, La Ramada and San Juanico (June 7th-10th)

Moving fast: We didn’t stay long at Isla Coronado.  In part, because of the cold water and already spending time there last year, but also because I was on a time schedule to get to Santa Rosalia to put myself on a bus. On June 22nd I had to go the U.S to work a travel nursing assignment and to fly Ellamae to her biological father for the summer. We wanted to get to some areas we hadn’t seen yet before the two of us left the boat life. Sound confusing? It takes a bit of extra planning, but we always seem to make it work.

June 7th: We waiting for the wind to fill in around noon again and we sailed from Isla Coronado to Los Mangles 26.279549, -111.389591. Los Mangles seemed to be a hard name to remember so we nick named it “Muggles” after Harry Potter.  Another flat night on the hook.

The next morning we went to explore ashore. There was an abandoned hotel there that we roamed around, then we went for a hike along the road and arroyo up the hillside to get some exercise and a view.  Along the arroyo we found an abundance of “snails door” shells. It was hard to keep everyone from collecting huge amounts.

That same afternoon on the 8th, we pulled up anchor and set sail northbound. We had a lovely downwind sail to La Ramada, 26.381940, -111.430564 .

Originally we were going to anchor in San Juanico, the bay just to the south of the point, but it appeared to be too exposed to the more predominant southwesterly winds. La Ramada offers better protection from the prevailing winds, but only fits about 5 boats comfortably. There were 2  already anchored in the cove when we arrived, but plenty of room for Easy and Shawnigan. As per routine, we set the anchor and hopped in the water to dive on it to check that it grabbed. We have never found a time when it didn’t grab, thank you Mantus Anchors, but it’s a good habit to get into.

Unfortunately the water was still chilly and green with visibility of 8 feet again.  Once we got below 8 feet, it opened up a bit, but it also got colder. We pulled out our thicker 5/4 wetsuits and more weights to try our luck at spearfishing. We got skunked.

The next day we ventured to a local farm that we heard about from one of the other boats that was already anchored there. With directions like “take the right fork on the road and stay right, eventually you will see it just off the road”, we found it and we are glad we did! The farm had fresh organic goat cheese, beets, onions and eggs! The landscape of the farm itself was worth hiking to see.

If you are planning to go to the farm at La Ramada/San Juanico you can take a peek at the location here: 26.3691834,-111.4442969

Jose

On our way back from stocking up at the farm, we stopped by the “cruisers shrine” on the San Juanico side. S/v Trovita was there, anchored all pretty by herself.S/V Trovita tucked in a sweet spot protected from the wind and swell.

We ate fresh raw goat cheese and looked through most of the other Cruiser’s additions to the shrine. We forgot to bring markers or any memento to leave there this time around.

The next morning, Taj wanted to kayak to shore and fish. He saw a family out there fishing and made his way over to them. We quickly realized that it was Jose and his family. Taj came home a few hours later with 2 good sized trigger fish. He said that he caught them, but we’re pretty sure Jose gave them to him to give to us.

Later on that evening, S/V Trovita contacted us on the VHF radio stating that S/V Kenta Anae was looking for us. Sure enough, they showed up just before sunset! You may recall us mentioning Kenta Anae from previous posts. They are cruising friends who we met and spent a fair amount of time with in the la Cruz/Puerto Vallarta area. We were happy to see them and happy to have boat kids around!!Merle, Matero and Taj heading out fishing. S/V Easy (left) and S/B Kenta Anae (right) at La Ramada anchorage.

After Taj’s fishing trip with Merle, the three of us (Easy, Kenta Anae, and Shawnigan) departed for Punta San Antonio.

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