|Or maybe it's the golden sunsets...|
We are in want of nothing and wish we could send each of you some sun in your face, wind in your sails, and sand between your toes. We have spent the last three weeks out of cell-phone range (but by no means alone) exploring the coast south of the Bay of Banderas. This is known as Costalegre or “happy coast”. We’ve also heard it called the “Gold Coast” and there are some uber-villas and resorts dotting the shore that have earned it that name.
|One of the Parties sailing by us in the anchorage off La Cruz|
After a couple of overnight passages to get to this stretch, there are easy day hops and big calm bays with quiet beaches and resort towns, which are enjoyed by many middle-class Mexicans. We appreciated the quietness of the towns, muy tranquilo after the 24-hr parties along the Bay of Banderas.
|Beaches full of families -- the fiesta season!|
Before leaving La Cruz, we did a little Christmas giving. The marina there decorates a Christmas tree and organizes a way for cruisers to become “angels” by picking a child’s name from the tree and buying and wrapping gifts for them. The kids live at an orphanage in Bucerias, the next town over. Some are orphans and others are living there temporarily while their families are in crisis. We took a day and went to the Mega (like Fred Meyer) and picked out toys for 5-year-old Carlos and 7-year-old Ariana. Fun to pick things out and have something to wrap.
Also, before leaving La Cruz, we got that exhaust pipe replaced. All in working order, we watched the weather for favorable wind. But it would not be boat travel without one more unexpected repair. 200 yards out, the old transmission cable gave way again (same one that we had welded and re-installed in Ensenada two months before). It was a good place to have it happen, we just sailed back to our familiar spot in the anchorage at La Cruz and after some research with the boatyard there we took an efficient hour bus ride into Puerto Vallarta, went to the large chandlery called Zaragosa, where they had it in stock. (A pleasant surprise after the unavailability in Ensenada) We came back and had it installed within two days. Lanham had learned from the earlier episode and rather than fight another infuriating battle to run the cable up through the steering column, he cut an opening and fabricated a stainless cover to allow reasonable access. We are even ready with a spare transmission or throttle cable should it try to foil us again.
While we are talking mechanicals, I’ll throw in another picture, lest anyone think that a well-maintained boat is the whole answer. At another stop, Lanham did his usual pre-flight check as we were getting ready to weigh anchor and noticed that the large (as in 4” by 3/8”) bolt that usually holds the alternator in place was just kind of hanging limply. Turns out it was snapped off at the threads (yes, a little vibration underway). This lead to a later than planned departure and another successful dig into the hardware store in the bilge. We had a bolt, it just needed to have more threads cut and be trimmed to length. A few hours later we had it replaced, and I had learned more than I imagined about making things (like bolts). I only shutter when I think about not having discovered the broken bolt… or when I think about what other pieces of metal in the engine compartment might be under stress and waiting for the opportune time to give it up!
So we finally got south to Cabo Corrientes – the Mexican Horn, and just to make it exciting, we caught a large fish as we rounded the point. This fish took the lure and went straight to the bottom, fought like crazy for 20 minutes, then gave up and was relatively easy to net. We estimated it at 30 pounds – but we didn’t know the variety. We did our usual bleeding and cutting it up (on the swim step while underway, which is an interesting feat in itself). It was very tough to fillet – full of thick strong bone, more muscle than meat, and very red (think fish flavored liver – it’s an acquired taste).
We opted out of making sushi or ceviche, but put fillets in the fridge. At our next anchorage, a neighboring boat recognized it as a “Jack Crevalle” or a “toro” here in Mexico. They warned us that it wasn’t their favorite. We grilled most of it, found it rich in a “ahh, I don’t think I can eat any more” kind of way. We made good use of the leftovers in fish tacos, stir-fry, and best of all disguised as ground beef in a hearty spaghetti sauce. We don’t want to be finicky eaters, but we think if we catch another we will release him to swim again.
Our first stop along the happy coast was Ipala – really just considered a roadside anchorage for boats to stage their rounding of the point. But we went into the palapa restaurant in kayaks and gave a couple of little kids some Frisbees and watched them play soccer on the beach. Here are a few photos of the beach side of the town.
|Scuba Jazz dog|
|and the shop where we had our tanks filled over breakfast|
|Main street in Chamela|
|Lanham dressing for dinner after our wet ride ashore|
We were ready for such a novel locale for a Christmas celebration. We joined another couple – he Danish, she Canadian – who had stories from a life-time of sailing adventures, and ended up back at Erik and Nancy’s beautiful boat for Spanish coffee. A memorable evening out!
|The impromptu "jazz" group after Christmas Eve dinner|
On Christmas day we had an extra memorable beach landing in the dinghy – flipping, having the boat run up the beach, Melinda dumped beneath the propeller, and Lanham killing it before it killed anybody! No one badly hurt, just some bruises, a lost pair of glasses and a large shot of adrenaline! We took a looong beach walk on Christmas day, including time to contemplate and strategize our successful return in the dinghy!
|Snorkeling to Isla Pasavera -- Chamela Bay|