Nancy and Sam welcome you aboard Windfall, our 1977 Maple Leaf sailboat. Windfall is a center cockpit design, 42' length, 13.5' wide, and 40,000 lbs of cruising fun!

On August 7th, 2010 we set sail on our "No Itinerary" world cruise and enjoying the "Cruising Life" very much! It's a wonderful adventure!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bahia Tenacatita

Ahoy from Tenacatita!
We really enjoyed our time here. We had a beautiful spot to drop anchor. Tenacatita is a small bay with a beautiful white sandy beach, and a small stream that winds it’s way through mangroves and to a large lagoon.

We had a very nice surprise as the anchor was set, two large dolphins rushed over and began scratching themselves on our anchor chain! I began to play with them pulling our chain up and down to “scratch” them as they rubbed against the chain. The dolphins LOVED this! Nancy suggested I jump in the water and swim with the dolphins, now I must say dolphins have a grin that “looks” like they’re smiling…but these could be some sort of “rogue Mexican dolphins” that lure unsuspecting sailors into the water to play and……..Hey, Nancy! Quit pushing me into the water!

We motored over to the boat anchored behind us and we met four new friends who live nearby. Tom and Louise sailed here for the weekend, and picked up their friends for the day and enjoy Tenacatita (it must say something good if the locals come here for the weekend). There’s a great palapa right beside the stream to enjoy a cold beer and really great food. We were invited to join them. Soon we were lowering the dinghy wheels (used for beach landings) and making a nice beach landing when….SPLASH! A surf wave came behind our dinghy and got three of us wet…Nancy and Louise were soaked, but in true cruiser style Louise said, “This is not the first time I’ve got wet doing beach landings!”

Tom and Louise advised of some changes we should know about before going upstream. Apparently, the famous Tenacatita palapas serving tasty fish rolls were no longer there. As of August, a very wealthy person claimed to “own” the property (and some government officials including police) used over 200 armed police to “remove” the people from the property, giving them literally 5 minutes to leave. The property is now patrolled by armed guards who will not allow you to beach your dinghy or step onto the land. We enjoyed our time spent with Tom and Louise who offered advice about living in Mexico and sailing to far off destinations - And Louise, if you’re reading this, again sorry about that beach landing!

The next morning we raised our 15 horse power Honda motor and crossed the shallow sandbar at the stream’s entrance, timing our crossing for high tide, and finally made our way across the sandbar and began our adventure.
Stealthily (at full throttle) we motored up the jungle stream. Birds, red crabs, and fish hid securely among the twisted mangrove roots held firmly deep in the water. We felt like we were exploring the Amazon as we slowly dinghied “Blondie” up the 3 mile mangrove stream. We entered the lagoon to find two dinghies from boats in the anchorage. We motored over and introduced ourselves to some great Aussie cruisers only to find one boat was Buena Vista, who at our last anchorage of Isla Isabelita, gave us instructions of where to anchor.

The beach is picture perfect with coconut and palm trees swaying with the warm light breeze and thatched palm leaf ,huts where we would have dined right on the beach. Just picture tiki-torches along the sandy beach, hammocks tied to coconut trees slowly swaying in the gentle warm breeze, the wonderful smells of tropic food being prepared, and an icy fruity rum drink in hand…..but this was not meant to be. We could see armed guards at the beach holding M-16 rifles and watching our every move….ok, time to for us to vamanos, amigos! What a true shame.
We did meet a local panga (boat) in the stream, loaded with tourists from the nearby resort, who said they just seen three “baby” alligators. I asked Nancy how much it would cost for her to swim the stream back to the boat….I got “the look” that said forget it, you don’t have enough money!

We decided to prepare boat for sea-ready and set our course for Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. Everything was ready set except….our big diesel motor wouldn’t start! What the %^%$$%^&8! After doing some trouble-shooting I found we either have some bad connections at the starter (possible) or the starter solenoid switch is going out (possible)…but with a little luck, prayer, and a big hammer our motor fired up and we’re on our way. We’re expecting 0-8 knots of wind and very calm seas for this leg of the trip.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

We enjoyed our couple nights spent Isla Isabelita, and now arrived at Puerto Vallarta and Bahia de Bandaras (Bay of flags) around 10 am and dropped anchor near Marina La Cruz. Nancy and I took a bus to Puerto Vallarta and enjoyed an afternoon walking around the city. If you’re into condo’s on the beach this is the place for you, but for Nancy and myself we were not really impressed with Puerto Vallarta. The bay’s water was not clear as we have become used to in Mexico, nor was the water nearly as warm (70°). But the white sandy beaches and colorful condos are very nice that line the waterfront. Many condo’s and time share buildings are unfinished as the American Dollar has become less spent here in recent times. We were offered up to 2000 pesos to sit in on a “90 minute” time share sales pitch….uhh, No gracias, Amigo! Aboard Windfall we have “beach front property” everywhere we go!

We were actually were leaving Puerto Vallarta Monday, the bay itself is 30 miles long, and as we reached 20 miles away a V-belt broke on our main engine. Luckily we carry spares, but noticed the seawater pump was dripping a little seawater into the bilge (not a good thing). Ok…back we go, so we turned around to get parts for repairs…which may take a couple days or have Denielle bring extras when we meet with her at Christmas.

As we were heading back we spotted a LOT of whales…some were only 75 yards from Windfall! Nancy spotted a fin only 2 feet from the side of Windfall! Gulp! We stopped to admire the beauty and size of the many huge Gray Whales in the bay. Nancy filmed one Gray Whale as it put on a spectacular water show that seemed just for us. Holding a camera steady on a sailboat in the open water is not an easy task with whales splashing and making waves around you! Ok…that may be stretching it a bit…but makes a good story!

We had the laundry done for us at the marina, it costs about $9.00 US for 3 loads washed, dried, and folded, and since we’re at anchor and not in the marina we’ll have to dinghy back to get the laundry when ready. (In La Paz they picked up and delivered to your boat slip for free).

The parts are on order and before long we’ll be on our way. Our next course is set for Bahia de Tenacatita about 120 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. It’s noted that in 1997 a McHale’s Navy movie was filmed here. We can also dinghy up a stream and through mangrove jungles into a large lagoon… it won’t be long before we’re in “alligator country” so we’ll have to be on the look-out…which means I just have to run faster than Nancy! A note to our Life Insurance Company - This should not conflict with our Insurance Policy - Article 2, Section 7, Paragraph 99 "Alligator wrestling is strictly prohibited...."

As a note about the foods we’ve enjoyed along our trip… We’ve found the best (and cheapest) foods are where the locals eat and the little beachside “palapas” and street stands who serve absolutely wonder foods for very reasonable prices. We have not gotten sick from “the water” and you’ll see bottled water is used for cooking, washing dishes, and ice. The ports and marinas have potable water available (metered for a fee). We make fresh water while we motor and/or sail and have used our faithful Katadyn Watermaker (7.5 gallons/hour) to keep our (2) 100 gallon watertanks full. We find hot showers are a wonderful thing after a long passage, and before going to bed at “cruisers midnight”…which is about 9 o’clock!

We are looking forward to our next destination of Bahia de Tenacatita… But till our parts come in, it looks like we’re here for a couple days, so now we have time to relax, and enjoy the warm Puerto Vallarta sunshine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Isla Isabelita

Hello from Isla Isabelita!
We left Mazatlan at 4:30pm and arrived this morning at 7:00 am. One of the small anchorages was full with 3 sailboats firmly anchored. We were drifting and deciding what to do when one boat called us on the VHF…”Windfall…Windfall… this is Sequoia”. They gave directions of where the best spot is to drop the anchor and that they are leaving for another port.

It’s 8am and the water is a comfortable 74°, and it’s already 74° outside….NICE!!! We dropped anchor in 25 feet of crystal clear water I can see the anchor chain go to the sandy bottom and leading to the anchor. Nancy made a great breakfast burrito (eggs, bacon and potatoes). While she made breakfast I check in with the morning Ham radio net(s) to gave our location and receive weather forecasts. I also use the Ham Radio to send/receive emails, weather faxes, and various weather reports from Ham nets, NOAA, and the US Coast Guard. We don’t take chances when it comes to weather, plus Nancy doesn’t like rough sea conditions…and if the “Admiral” isn’t happy…nobody is happy!

Both National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau featured Isla Isabelita in television specials as a “Wonderland of unspoiled nature.” The island is uninhabited except for the island Bird Sanctuary and park ranger’s residence. We’ll go exploring and snorkeling after a short nap! The Island has a TON of birds including Frigates and Blue-footed boobies.

On our way back from exploring we noticed some of the same people who went on the Pacifico Brewery tour with us. We stopped just to say “hello” and ended up staying for dinner…with 12 aboard! Oh, and did I mention they had several live lobsters they traded with some local fishermen? Well…let me just say that fresh lobster on a charcoal grill is FANTASTIC! We donated fresh carrots, broccoli, and rum...Not that they needed anything more than the fresh veggies! One French crewmember made bacon wrapped dates, skewed with a toothpick, and grilled….Yummy! Plus, there were a couple guys snorkeling with spearguns…they brought red snapper and “pargo” - which I’m not familiar with, but tasted delicious! (Well…it didn’t look poisonous!)

Onward to Puerto Vallarta for our next stop…..

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mazatlan Mexico

Ola! from Mazatlan, Mexico!

We left La Paz at 10 am on a beautiful warm sunny morning. Butch and Susan helped untie our dock lines and gave us a fresh baked loaf of bread to enjoy on the trip. Nancy and Susan hugged good-bye. With salty tears in Nancy and Susan’s eyes, we pulled slowly from the slip, gave our last farewells, and waved good-bye to our friends.

So we could arrive at Mazatlan during the early daylight hours, we slowly motored the last 11 hours of the 45 total hours. Our trip should have taken about 39 hours, but we don’t like to arrive to an unfamiliar harbor in the dark. We dropped anchor and were surprised to find we anchored right in front of Ron and Heather, our Canadian “Baja Ha Ha” friends whom we met at Cabo san Lucas. They came right over and gave us the “scoop” of things in town, bus schedules, the Pulmonias (more on these later), and places we just had to see.

After a quick VHF radio check-in with a the Mazatlan Puerto Capitan, long awaited showers, and a nice long nap, Nancy and I tied our dinghy “Blondie” to the dinghy dock to begin our “Mazatlan Adventure”. We were offered a ride to the old town Mazatlan from a local sports fisherman, he owns a charter sports fishing boat and also lives in Washington. He dropped us off in front of a beach front hotel right on the “malecon” (boardwalk), where the famous once stayed…John Wayne, Robert Mitchem, Kirk Douglas, etc…

The sun was setting into the blue Pacific water as we walked along the beautiful “malecon.” I marveled at how we shared the same sunset scene as the “The Duke” had at this very place. The picture perfect beach looks like a movie setting that would have made another “great” Elvis beach movie….ok, so I like the old Elvis movies! Sheesh! But I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Bill Bixby taunting Elvis to a surfing challenge.

We walked the red brick streets and went inside a most beautiful church built in the late 1800’s. We went inside and watched a wedding in progress and admired the truly beautiful craftsmanship of the church. Later, we sipped wine at a very romantic outdoor café at Plaza Machada as a street musician played a saxophone right by our table. It seemed we were in an old European town with its outdoor cafés, brick streets, and beautiful old buildings and intricate ironworks. We ate at a local café and later treated ourselves to delicious carrot cake and creamy coffee.

Our trip back was in a Pulmonia, a vehicle that can only be described as a cross between a Volkswagen and a golf cart called...Pulmonia means “Phenomena” named to the breezy open-air vehicle and which could cause…well… phenomena! Ha Our driver started at 70 peso… we offered 20 and we settled on 50 peso (less than $5)for the ride back. Here’s a bit of advice if you ever ride in a Pulmonia….HOLD ON!! Ha Maybe for the full 70 pesos he would have USED those stop signs!….”What stop signs?”

Monday we toured the Pacifico Brewery with our friends Ron & Heather and several other cruisers who, like us, were there for the free beer! We were amazed all the hops they use for brewing are imported from Yakima, Washington, and that they bottle over 165,000 cases of beer each day…just for Mexico! Their various other breweries make 11 different brands of beers (including Corona) for Mexico, and for exporting.

Our next Port-of-Call is - about 85 miles south and 25 miles offshore. This should be interesting to find as the island is a “few miles off its charted position,” it’s good thing our “Charlie’s Charts” cruising book gives the actual GPS coordinates! Both National Geographic and Jacque Cousteau featured Isla Isabelita in television specials as a “Wonderland of unspoiled nature.” The island is uninhabited except for a island Bird Sanctuary and park ranger’s residence.

After visiting Isla Isabelita, we’ll set a course for Puerto Vallarta. Nancy and I are already discussing whether to go through the Panama Canal and cruise South America and the Caribbean, or to continue down to Peru and Ecuador then to the South Pacific Islands….We may have to flip a peso to decide. But, till then, we still have the rest of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama to explore…which will take a very long time...and we’re in no hurry.

Well, let’s hoist the anchor and set our course for Isla Isabelita, it looks like another Windfall Adventure is on its way!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

La Paz

Welcome aboard Amigos!
We are currently at Marina Palmira in sunny …let me say that again…SUNNY La Paz, Mexico. It’s time to give Windfall a good scrubbing and remove all the salt crust forming on everything. It’s amazing just how much salt accumulates everything during a passage.
We checked by radio with the “La Paz Puerto Capitana.” It was very easy… name of boat, what marina or anchorage, and how many people aboard…it took less than 3 minutes. The marina copies your boat documentation, passports, etc… it was very easy with the helpful and friendly marina staff. Free shuttle to town 3 times daily, walk, or a taxi is $5 each way (town is about 2 miles from this marina).
Yesterday Nancy and I hired a taxi to shop for much needed groceries and marine parts. Our driver was Jesus…no not “Jesus” – his name is pronounced “Hay-zuse” who spoke little English, but we easily managed to get everywhere needed. We stopped at Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Walmart for groceries. I must say the stores here are VERY clean, the meats, fish, and produce look wonderful – we even bought apples from Washington State that look better here than in the Portland stores! We bought fresh baked bread for an evening candlelight dinner served in the cockpit; it was so good with fresh roasted garlic butter it melted in our mouths…Yum!
Nancy hired a friendly lady to do laundry; she comes to the boat each morning. If we did the laundry, the marina washer/driers cost $1.50 US dollars each and would have cost us $15 total. The woman charged $18 dollars for all 5 loads washed, dried, and folded neatly - including pick up and delivery to the boat….all in about 3 hours!
Thanksgiving is in a couple days, Ben (our crew) will be returning back to Portland and to that good old Oregon weather. I give Ben the Portland weather reports every chance I can!
We have plans of spending Thanksgiving shared with friends here in the marina….and of course with “too much food” as always. We’ll be looking in Mom’s recipe book for something special to serve…sounds like another trip to Walmart! Ha
Sunday Nov 28th – Thanksgiving was great. Ben caught a plane for Portland (emailed to say it is COLD!). Sad to see Ben leave, but he may show up later in our adventure. Currently, we are spending a few more days here in La Paz, a couple days of high winds (30 knots +) are expected and make choppy seas. So we decided it best to spend a few more days enjoying La Paz. We talked with a local who said it has not rained in TWO YEARS in La Paz! (The average rainfall is 1 inch!)
Nancy and I have been riding our folding bicycles, touring the town of La Paz, and enjoying cold beer at a local cantina we favor. Nancy shopped a couple fabric stores and was amazed with the great prices…the most expensive fabric was only $11 per Meter, and most in the $2.50 range. She is looking for Sunbrella fabric to make a new sail cover for our main sail….I’m glad they didn’t have it so I didn’t have to pack that heavy load on my bike! Whew! That was a close one! Ha
December 1st – Our Anniversary! Tomorrow we begin our trip for Mazatlan, we decided to forego the 120 mile trip (further north) to Loreto, it would take too much time as we are to meet Denielle and Jeff her new (soon to be) husband in Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa on December 23rd (I had to look those up how to spell!). These cities are about 20 miles north of Acapulco…which is also on our list.
Butch and Susan’s son, Joe, is flying back home to Portland today. We’ve had a great time with Joe, it’s sad to see him leaving. Tonight, Nancy and I are enjoying a nice candle light dinner aboard Windfall. Later we’ll have cocktails with several friends aboard and enjoy our last evening in La Paz before leaving tomorrow morning. Our plan is to stop 40 miles south at Muertos (again), spend the night, and then set our course for Mazatlan – about a 27 hour sail. “Navigator Nancy” figures we have over 880 miles…correction…830 miles to sail, so it looks like we’re back to the “cruising mode” here aboard Windfall.
We’ve enjoyed the wonderful hospitality and friendly people of La Paz.

Adios for now!