S/V Crazy Love

Adios Mexico

Follow our progress here

Dave and I are in final preparations for departure to Hawaii. It looks like a weather window has opened for Tuesday of next week for us to get off the coast and into the trades. We are really, extremely excited!!

The new VHF with AIS.
Now we don't have to worry about AA batteries.  Now this will be powered by the boat's 12 volts which are in turn powered by the sun.

Dave installed the fans, the new VHF and wired in our GPS. We have armed and secured our new-to-us life raft. I have loaded the boat down with food with exception of fresh items such as carrots, cabbage, eggs, etc. The boat is fueled up. The waterline is sinking due to the added weight of our secured 50 gallons of potable water. Our final load of laundry is being cleaned as we write this post. The boat is ready. The crew is ready. We can't wait to go!

Not just one fan but two were installed. One for each of us.
Just a small part of provisions for the trip.

We have set up the inReach so you can track our progress. Our intention is to at least track our position daily and every so often leave a message on the map. (See the big red text at the top of this post for a link to the map). BUT just because we haven't checked in, doesn't mean we're lost... it could mean a number of things such as dead batteries, forgetfulness of the crew, error with the technology, etc, etc. Remember we have multiple ways to hail help if we need it. Please don't worry about us.

We plan to check out of Mexico on Monday. This will be our last blog post until Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii.

Adios Mexico. It was a great time and we hope to return soon.

Yelapa

The "town" part of Yelapa as seen from our mooring off the "beach"

We left the San Blas marina without incident by keeping the green bouys (next to the fuel dock) on our right. That kept us in the deep water - or at least deep enough for Crazy Love to pass. It was low tide so the area we'd run aground on was exposed.

After reaching the end of the breakwater, and passing the oft breaking waves, we set the full main, and unrolled the jib. It was 11am and there was already a moderate breeze. The destination in our GPS was the anchorage at Punta Mita - about 48 miles. We moved quickly until 6pm when the wind died. Before we left San Blas, we decided that we'd sail through the night even if we were just floating. At 1am the breeze picked up just enough to get the boat going again, but it was slow going all night. We got some nice sleep because the seas were flat calm. It was like sleeping on a waterbed - no rolling, just the gentle motion of the boat.

In the morning, we had 10 or 12 miles to go to Banderas Bay. By 11am, the sea breeze started blowing which doubled our boat speed to 4 knots. We arrived in the anchorage at lunch time and spent the rest of the afternoon preparing for a trip to San Diego that would happen after we returned to La Cruz. We stayed the night at Punta Mita for a little rest before the day sail to Yelapa the following day.

The next morning the sea breeze again started blowing after breakfast. We set the main and pulled up the anchor at the same time and safely sailed out of the anchorage. I like not having to use the diesel to exit an anchorage. Its so much quieter without. We broad reached (occasionally running) towards Yelapa at 4 knots. When we got closer, we noticed the water was a brownish color and there were thousands of jellyfish. We're not biologists, but we assumed it was the red tide. When we got to within 4 miles, the wind died so we ruined our zen for the day by turning on the engine. As soon as we got the sails down, a panga approached. The driver (panguero) offered us a mooring ball. We accepted and paid 400 pesos for our two nights.

We were told there are a few places to anchor in the little cove that is Yelapa, but that those spots are very close to shore due to a deep channel in the middle of the cove. Our mooring ball was less than 200 feet from shore, but the water was still more than 100 feet deep. That's much different than every other beach we've experienced in Banderas Bay. Most of them are only 30 or 50 feet deep within a few miles of shore.

After we tied up and paid, we pumped up Peeps. It was the last time we'll use him aboard Crazy Love. Our plan was to replace him and that's exactly what we did - we now have a smaller, lighter 2-person inflatable kayak.

This waterfall is about an hour hike from Yelapa.

We rowed ashore, successfully landed on the insanely steep beach in light surf, and had ourselves a few cold Pacificos at a palapa restaurant. Turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.

When the restaurant closed we walked over to the other side of town. I suppose I should stop to explain "town." There are two sides to Yelapa - the beach and town. The beach is the center of activity until 5pm and then everything moves to town. The restaurants, music, nightlife, and several hotels are in town. We grabbed a bite for dinner in a place with a view of the water (I can never get enough of that view) and then went back to the boat.

The trail crossed this river several times before taking us to the waterfall.

In the morning, we hiked to one of the two waterfalls outside of town. On the two hour hike we got to see where the locals live and plenty of roosters.

There are two roosters in this photo.  There were many more on the hike.
Another view of the waterfall.

After the hike we stayed on the beach for some lunch in one of the palapa restaurants on the beach.

Back on the boat mid-afternoon, it was already time to prepare for the trip back to La Cruz.

The 16 mile sail back to La Cruz was the best day sail ever. Crazy Love was broad reaching at 6 to 7 knots in 15 knots of breeze with gusts to 20.

Now we prepare for the crossing to Hawaii. Extremely excited is an understatement.

FAQ: Sailing Banderas Bay to Hawaii

When are you departing for Hawaii?

We have a little work to do on the boat in the next week or so. Then we load up with fuel, water, and food. After that we get our exit papers and wait for good weather. Once we get a good weather window, we make tracks. We're hoping to get underway by April 25.

How far is the sail from Banderas Bay to Hawaii?

About 2900 nautical miles.

What is the route?

Due west (270 on the compass) until we run into land.

How long will it take?

30 to 40 days is our estimate. Getting off the coast is the hardest part. Once we're 500 miles (or so) off the coast we'll find the trade winds which throughout history have been great sailing and could get us 120 to 140 miles a day.

How much fuel?

Our engine is a 1 cylinder, 9.9hp Yanmar inboard diesel. Our fuel tank holds 15 gallons and we carry an extra 5 gallon container in the cockpit locker. Burning all this fuel would get us less than 500 miles. With a trip this long, the engine is only marginally important - the sails and the windvane are doing all the work.

How do you keep the batteries charged?

We have two 50 watt solar panels that, under the tropical sun, make more power than we use on Crazy Love. We can run the engine and have the alternator charge the batteries, but we wouldn't be able to do that for long because we carry limited fuel. Fortunately we have a battery monitor which tells us when the batteries have been fully charged by the sun and when/if we need to run the engine for the alternator.

How much water?

45 to 50 gallons. 1 gal/day provisioned - half a gallon per person per day. Salt water for cleaning and cooking. Less strict as we find the trade winds and on a fast course to Hawaii. Our tank holds about 25 gallons and we'll stash the other 25 in bottles throughout lockers, the cockpit, and the cabin.

Do you have a watermaker?

No. We thought about buying a handpowered desalinator, but they're wicked expensive, complicated, and I don't know how to fix it after it breaks.

What will you eat?

Lots of good stuff. We provision fresh, dry, and canned foods that are stored throughout the boat in our "pantry", "cooler" (which we don't even provision with ice), and closet. Sausages, salami and other cured meats last for quite some time without refrigeration. Milk is often sold shelf stable here in Mexico and eggs are stored at room temperature. Vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes are quite hardy and we'll definitely stow a lot of apples. Dried beans, pasta, rice, dried mushrooms and veggies, and canned items make up the bulk.

What will you drink?

We like rum - Appleton Estate is yummy and inexpensive in Mexico. If we don't drink it straight, we mix it with some sort of fruit juice - like mango. At room temperature it is rather pleasant. Mexican beer just doesn't taste as good at room temperature. Before you judge, please see above under water. The rum will be used in dire emergencies only.

Do you have a refrigerator?

No. They're expensive, take lots of power, and I'm not ready to learn how to repair one.

What safety gear do you have on board?

Most important is a healthy, capable crew. We also have a life raft, EPIRB, Delorme inReach (2-way satellite messaging), and VHF with AIS to negotiate with passing ships. We also have all the required Coast Guard specified gear such as life jackets, flares, fog horn, etc.

What do you do all day to occupy yourself?

Keeping the boat moving occupies much of our time day and night, but there's plenty of time in between checking the course, trimming the sails, cooking meals, and scanning the horizon for other boats. For entertainment - books, books and more books, a few movies, and games (Settlers & Carcassone on the iPad).

Do you stop at night to sleep?

No. We will sail 24 hours a day for a month straight. When we're going fast we're going about six miles an hour. That means we can do 144 miles (6x24) in a day. A 2900 mile trip at that speed would be about 21 days. That's an outlandishly optimistic estimate. We may have a few 144 mile days, but early in the trip, before we find the trades we might only make 40 or 60 miles a day.

Long story short, if we stop at night, it takes longer to get there. The longer it takes to get there, the higher our risk of running out of water.

Is there someone always on watch?

Yes, we try. We used to trade off watch every two hours through the night. At some point during our journey we determined staring across the dark ocean in the middle of the night trying to stay awake for two hours straight wasn't any more risky than one of us scanning the horizon every 15-20 minutes and checking our course. We each have a wristwatch. At sunset we set a timer to go off every 40 minutes on the watches. The watches are offset by 20 minutes. If my watch goes off now, Dave's will go off in 20 minutes. That arrangement works well until about 3am when we both start ignoring the beeping wrist watches. In theory the boat will wake us up if it needs attention. And now we'll have knowledge of other large boats in the area and their course. At sunrise, I usually get up and sail for a few hours while Dave rests then I sleep later in the afternoon. This is all assuming the tiller pilot or the windvane is doing all the steering. Otherwise we are trading off who is at the helm (most likely every 2 hours).

How long in Hawaii?

If we make it, we're hoping to cruise Hawaii for 3-5 months. Then we'd like to get a slip on Oahu, an apartment on the same island, and a job working remotely. If we can find jobs in Hawaii, we'll work for a year, maybe two, and then continue west. I'm looking at the Republic of the Marshall Islands as the next stop.

What if something goes wrong?

We'll do what we can with the resources we have. Please don't worry about us. We hatched the plan and took the risk so we're prepared to face the consequences.

San Blas

We caught this skipjack tuna on the way from Isla Isabela to San Blas.

The 40 mile course from Isla Isabela to San Blas is just south of east. I never saw anything deeper than 125 feet on the depth sounder, so I thought there might be some good fishing. I threw the handline over the side and two hours later, in 80 feet of water, we caught a 25 inch skipjack tuna. We've heard other fishermen throw skipjacks back. We didn't. It was good eating.

Isn't my hat lovely!

The sailing was slow except for a nice breeze in the mid afternoon when we were able to do 5 knots. At sunset, we still had 12 miles to go, so we decided to go into the large anchorage south of San Blas called Matanchén. We arrived there at about 10pm.

In the morning we raised the sails, pulled up the anchor and blasted our way three miles up the coast to the entrance to the estuary leading to the marina. On our final turn before the marina I failed to notice the green cans floating next to the fuel dock. Green navigation bouys should be left to port, but we left them to starboard. From the fuel dock, the workers were waving at us like they were trying to get our business. We waved them off and then the boat stopped and we felt an unfamiliar bump. Hmm. We'd run aground. Turns out the nice guys on the fuel dock were trying to tell us that we were approaching a shoal and would soon run out of water.

The nice thing about having a small, slow boat with a full keel is that groundings aren't fatal. Neither the rudder or prop are exposed to danger because the boat sits very nicely on the full length keel. That keeps the rudder and prop off the ground and out of danger. A nice side effect of having the rudder and prop off the ground is that we can still use them. With Carolyn at the tiller and the engine in reverse I went to the shrouds and swung off the side of the boat to get it to heel a little. After three swings we were off the shoal and floating in 5 feet of water again.

Try that on a big boat! Hah.

It was only another 200 yards into the marina where we had help from two amused marina workers. My theory is that making fools of ourselves and keeping our cool earned us a bit of respect because everyone seemed to remember us for the three days we spent there.

After checking in and paying the bill (only 395 pesos for 3 nights!), our first order of business was a shower. All the snorkeling at Isla Isabela left us with some salty hair so a rinse off before lunch felt civilized. We had a great lunch in the town square about a mile walk from the marina.

The conventional wisdom in San Blas is that the bugs (jejenes and mosquitos) are unbearable around sunrise and sunset. That gave us the perfect time to try our mosquito netting donated to Crazy Love by our cruising friends Carter and Anita. It worked beautifully. We each had one bite during our whole visit - less than any other city we've visited in Mexico.

All three nights in San Blas we stopped at the San Blas Social Club. Its the gringo hangout in the town square. The bugs, or the threat of them, have scared away many. The gringos we did meet were very friendly and welcoming. We visited at the end of the season, meaning most have gone north to Canada or the States.

A jungle tour in San Blas is a must do.

On our first full day we took a jungle tour by panga. We saw mangroves, crocodiles, turtles, and lots of birds.

Rosie and I toured in the panga on the right.
Crocodile with his mouth open for some reason.
Same crocodile as before but zoomed out to show the mangroves.

On our second day, walking in the same direction as the jungle tour, we walked up a short hill to the long dilapidated church and fort. Interesting bits of history.

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in San Blas.
I imagine there used to be a roof here.

That night we stopped for a drink at the social club, had a hot dog from a street vendor and then some tacos from a little store down the street. It was a quiet final evening in San Blas spent people watching in the town square.

Maybe we got lucky with the bugs, but Carolyn and I really enjoyed our stay in San Blas. We would recommend the stop to any other cruisers and urge them to "Use the bug nets Luke!"

After leaving San Blas the plan is to head down to Punta Mita and then to Yelapa. Our time in Mexico is quickly coming to a close. Hurricane season is approaching and cruisers are making themselves scarse. We will do the same after a few more stops.

Isla Isabela

Las Monas rocks on the East side of Isla Isabela.
Good view of the blue feet of the blue-footed boobies on Isla Isabela.

We'd heard good things about the snorkeling and wildlife on Isla Isabela so Rosie and I decided to take a three week trip up to there before preparing for the passage to Hawaii. The trip north to the island was about 80 miles with two stops. The first stop was the trusty anchorage at Punta Mita. We tacked close hauled for 6 hours to cover the 8nm (as the crow flies) from La Cruz to Punta Mita. After one night there, we headed to our favorite stop Chacala for St Patrick's Day weekend. The crew of Lilo was there to greet us when we arrived at 10 pm Friday night. St. Patricks Day is a big deal in Mexico; there were more people (maybe double) on the beach than at any other time we've been there. There were tour buses on the narrow dirt and cobblestone Main Street and the camp ground was packed where previously there were only a handful of cars.

During our brief stay in Chacala we took a great hike to Las Cavas (The Caves). Las Cavas is supposed to be great snorkeling, but we never found it. Instead we ended up at another lovely little spot where we could dip our toes in the water.

Saw this bridge hiking from Chacala to Las Cavas
This is where we ended up rather than Las Cavas.  It was a beautiful spot!

Anyways...three lovely days in Chacala with multiple stops at Chac Mool and we headed 40 miles overnight to Isla Isabela. We had light west winds that allowed us to sail slowly for 24 hours, (with a great 2330 wind shift in our favor) tacking just a few times to get us there in the late morning. We joined Lilo in the east anchorage near Las Monas - we're not following them though it might appear so. We have since parted ways - they're going north to Oregon, we're going west.

This photo gives a pretty look at the obscenely clear water at Isla Isabela.

We'd been told the East anchorage on Isla Isabela is an 'anchor eater' so we tied to the anchor a trip line with a fender to float the line to the top. Fortunately the water in the anchorage is so clear we could see all the way to the bottom 25 feet below. It turned out the trip line wasn't long enough - causing the anchor to drag along the bottom rather than set in the sand - so I jumped in the water and added another line to extend it. Turns out I'm pretty good at the underwater bowline. While I was still in the water Rosie backed down on the anchor again and this time it set.

Baby blue-footed boobies on the beach at Isla Isabela.
Blue-footed boobie nest with egg sans nesting bird.  Hope we didn't scare away the bird responsible for that egg.

We stayed for 4 days. We snorkeled every day. We landed peeps on the beach to hike around the island and check out the blue footed boobies and their hatchlings. The boobies nest right on the beach so after landing the dink and pulling it 10 yards up the beach we saw a line of boobie nests, some still with eggs but many with little birds snuggling close to the adult tending to the nest. They didn't mind that we walked close to take photos and pass by to get to the hiking trail.

Iguana sunning itself.
Baby boobie on the beach on the East side of Isla Isabela.

There weren't many people on the island. There is a fishing village on the south end with maybe a dozen-20 people. Then there's a bird research station with 2 folks on the east side of the island near the anchorage. The only people we saw on our 2 hour hike were from a cruising boat in the south anchorage- they told us how much they liked San Blas. The hike was spectacular. Iguanas, frigate birds and blue footed boobies were everywhere. This place definitely lives up to its reputation as the Galapagos of Mexico.

Rosie caught this frigate bird flying overhead during our hike on Isla Isabela.

In addition to the folks we met on the hike, our friends Jodie and Darren had also recommended San Blas. With two positive reviews that's where we headed after Isla Isabela.