December 6, 2005

Lapaz to Isla Isabela to Puerto Vallarta & Lacruz...

(Thursday, Dec 1st) As November came to a close the winds died down, we prepared the boat for the passage to the mainland, said our goodbyes to our LaPaz cruising buddies and headed out for our 48 hour+ crossing to Isla Isbela. Our buddy Ross helped Ken set up the new “pity rod” he sold/gave us... we promised him that we would catch huge fish and meet up with him again along the way as we work our way South.

The crossing started out quite rocky and we thought we were in the wash cycle of a washing machine but by morning the seas began to calm down for us! Within a 30 mile radius of where traveling there were about 4 or 5 other boats all sailing in the same direction we were. There is something comforting about seeing the “bleeps” on the radar that tell you that you are not all alone on those dark nights in the ocean with no land in sight! On dark nights like these you really have to trust your equipment (GPS, charts, radar, etc.) as you see nothing but darkness as you make your way through the waves. Although we have “Otto” to help keep us on course (our autopilot, who has now taken over as our new best friend) we still have to have one of us on watch at all times. We take turns on watch throughout the night. We are generally busy making course adjustments, watching the radar, plotting our course, and watching for other “ships in the night.”

On Saturday (day three) “Two Can Play” one of the boats we were crossing with, decided to change course and head to Punta de Mita rather than head towards Isla Isabela, where the rest of the group was going. On their way they came across 3 men in a fishing ponga that had been drifting at sea with a broken engine for 6 days!! The fishermen were all waiving at them and they almost went around them, thinking that they were waiving them away from fishing nets or something! Long story short…they rescued three very thankful fishermen. They spoke nothing but Spanish but they knew they were grateful as they said they have never seen anyone down and sandwich and beer faster than these guys did! It was quite the drama listening in on all the activity on our VHF radio.

We arrived at Isla Isabela the afternoon of Dec. 3rd. Beautiful little island. It is a protected habitat for birds and is also a small fishing village. Norway has two people staying at the island doing research. It is home to both blue and yellow footed boobies and frigate birds. As we wandered around the small island we could relate it to scenes from Jurassic Park, as much of the island is jungle like with iguanas and literally thousands of frigate birds all around. If you’ve never seen them before, they are very prehistoric looking as they fly, and the males have a large red pouch that billows out the front of their chests. (See upcoming photos) There was also some great snorkeling around the spires on the east side of the island where we saw stingrays and lots of tropical looking fish. “Blew Moon” (Houston & Gayle) and “Po’OenaRoa” (Kathy & Jerry) came over for drinks/margaritas on our boat and they told us about another boat named Dreamweaver that they all knew. Apparently they have been down here for a long time and everyone knows (& luckily likes) them, so we are now known as “Dreamweaver- Big Bear” so we don’t get mixed up. The next day we snorkeled and swam to the beach just off of our anchorage (on the east side of the island). Walked the beach and saw lots of blue footed boobies who do a cool dance where they pick up one foot and then the other and just rock away. These birds are pretty rare and we felt like we got a little taste of the Galapagos which is one of the few places you see these birds. We tried our hand at fishing again and this time came up with a red snapper! We went to Po’oena Roa’s boat for a birthday dinner for Sue from “MaitaiRoa”, along with Jannie & Ray from “Audios” and “Blew Moon.” Learned how to make good fruit salsa (mangos/papayas/pineapple/vinegar/ oil/chilies/onions/cilantro & sugar) and dined on “sierra,” a wonderful white fish that Jerry caught.

One of the ways get a good nights sleep at anchor (i.e. on the hook) is to anchor in a spot where you feel secure no matter which direction the wind blows, which is not always entirely possible. We are still a little green at this anchoring thing and still learning the ropes... knowing when to be concerned and when not to be. Where we were anchored in Isla Isabela was closer to the rocks and island than Ken was comfortable with…. he spent the two nights at Isla Isabela sleeping on the deck, watching the beautiful stars, doing anchor watch and not getting much sleep. With that in mind and the fact that the winds were expected to start blowing tomorrow, we headed out for the 14 hour trip to LaCruz at about 8:30 p.m., after the birthday party. About 5 am, on Dottie’s watch, we had a weird “splash” running across our radar, right in front of us. It was about 4miles long and a few miles deep. It was dark and we tried to go around it and turn back hoping it would pass us by. It was moving so fast we knew we had to go right through it… which is exactly what we did. It ended up to be nothing but a small amount of rain and it disappeared off the radar within 10 minutes?? Still an adrenalin rush to say the least!

As Ken says “we cheated death again” and arrived in LaCruz (a small town about 7 miles, by sea, from Puerto Vallarta) the morning of 12-6-05. Anchored next to our Baja Ha-Ha buddy, “Maistra,” and Cat’n About pulled in later that afternoon. Went to “Maistra” for dinner and a good-bye to Marsha and Larry (part of the Trawler Trash group) who are leaving to go home to Washington tomorrow. Weather is overcast and very humid. There is a red tide in the bay and the water is a yucky red/brown color – which also means that we do not want to make water in the bay until the water clears up.

After three nights of not much sleep we were rocked to sleep by the gentle waves of the bay and didn’t wake up until 8 a.m.!“Southern Cross” (friends of Sue McPherson) stopped by this am, as did Susan and Dennis from “Two Can Play” who is also anchored close by. Went to town with Steve & Susan (“Last Resort”) to drop off laundry and tour the town. Had a nice peaceful afternoon and will settle in for a homemade dinner of red snapper and a quiet evening – just the two of us!

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