It looks like this is a good place to be for the Winter Solstice Holidays (aka Christmas/ Hanukah/Kwanza/etc.). All of the local restaurants are offering holiday meals and we are on a dock with a lot of "kid boats" (a boat that is home to a family with children). It's been fun to watch the kids race up and down the dock on scooters (the kind one pumps with one foot -- "razors" we think they're called now) and play hide-n-seek (that still appears to be the same game we remember!) and generally being kids.
Mazatlán to Ensenada de Matanchén: Our trip down, despite one significant moment of drama (that's called foreshadowing, in the literary trade), was very nice, even though we started it a little later than planned to let Molly get over a cold, and took a little longer than planned because she gave it to Bryce, and we slept in a few days to help him recuperate. If one has to have a cold while sailing, Matanchén Bay is a great place to recuperate -- it's quiet, and there's not much else to do but watch the fish swarm around the boat (we think in an attempt to hide in the shade to avoid Pelicans) and putter around in a dingy from one beachside palapa-style restaurant to another.
Our sail from Mazatlán was pleasant on the whole - though, as foreshadowed, it had one unfortunate moment of drama. We left around 8:45 in the morning on the 18th, and because the conditions were splendid we flew the spinnaker. At about 10:30-ish, about 10 miles off shore, we were approached by a panga (the little fishing motorboats), with two guys trying to warn us off a fishing net. They assumed we couldn't speak Spanish and began simply herding Abracadabra like a wayward calf with their panga -- pushing us way closer to the wind than one should sail using an asymmetrical spinnaker. All in the interest of keeping us from doing very awful things to Abracadabra's propeller or rudder or other underside bit, mind you -- not malicious at all. But unfortunate.
We realized we needed to take the spinnaker down, but by that time we realized the end of the net wasn't coming any time soon, the load on the sail was too great to furl it. So, we sailed on, hoping we would soon be able to turn down soon. Not soon enough. With a stomach-churningly horrible metal graunching noise, Bryce's one-design bowsprit snapped in half. The spinnaker remain attached well enough to keep it out of the water until we cleared the end of the net (the whole net must have been more than a mile long!) and Bryce went forward and hauled it in. The sad thing is that we are now without a bowsprit and can't fly the asymmetrical until that is remedied. Bryce is putting his engineer's hat on and trying to figure out what to do to remedy the design flaw that allowed it to snap. Using some extremely strong but extremely expensive metal for the bowsprit would do the trick -- but perhaps also do a trick on our cruising kitty. And we're not sure that such materials would be available here. So -- for the rest of our trip down we flew the genoa and we will take some time here in La Cruz to think about what's next for the spinnaker and necessary bowsprit.
The rest of our trip south was without drama. We sailed wing-on-wing for a bit, and mostly made good time. We didn't see another boat (or fishing net!) until we arrived at Matanchén. The bay had about four other boats in it, so we had plenty of room to anchor. The bay has a nice sandy bottom, so we set the hook and hung out.
Life in Matanchén Bay: Matachén and the closest big town of San Blas are notorious for breeding little bugs called "no-seeums" or, in Spanish, jejenes (pro: hayhaynees). They aren't quite "no-seeums" in that one can see them. But they're really tiny and very, very annoying when they swarm. They also bite, though fortunately, it seems that neither of us is susceptible to big welts when we are bitten.
We had very little jejene trouble while on the boat - we were either far enough from shore for them to care about us or the winds were blowing them off - we're not sure and don't really care since the result was good. Where we experienced them was on shore at the local beach-side restaurants. And the cure preferred by the local restauranteus was almost as bad as the disease! The restaurants burn coconut shells and create huge billows of smoke to keep the little buggers at bay. Yesterday we sent all of our Gulf of Matachén clothes to the local laundry to see if we can smell like something other than a fire!
We stayed in Matanchén longer than planned to allow Bryce to get over the cold Molly had given him (it's a really small living space . . . so it was a given that he would get it!), and did less while we were there than we had planned. We went int San Blas one day -- and perhaps because we weren't feeling well, came away with a less than positive impression of the poor little place.
That said, we did have a nice lunch there and visited the local art museum:
The longer stay also means we didn't see any of the other locations along this stretch of coast this time around. Next trip. Though we may also want to return to Matanchén which, even with jejeneys, is lovely. And there are lots of little shops selling really good banana bread! Yumm.
Matanchén to Banderas Bay: Our departure from Matanchén was on the evening of the 22nd. We had low winds, but once we gave up trying to keep a steady course, and sailed to the winds rather than to the course, the trip was really lovely; lots of stars and calm seas. Molly even saw the famous "phosphorescence" that sailors talk about on one of her night watches -- little sparkles of bright lights floating by the boat. And she gybed the boat all on her own for the first time. It wasn't pretty -- but no damage was done and the course got changed! Next time she'll go for some style points.
Coming into Banderas Bay (home of La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta) we did some whale watching. We saw a mother and calf aout 9 in the morning, and later saw a group of four. Bryce even saw a humpback in full breach ("oh, look!" and it was gone)! Of course we haven't managed to get any of this on film because by the time we hear the breath sound that allerts us to the presence of whales, turn, and focus . . . we get a picture something like this:
So - happy holiday to all of you. We'll post some information about La Cruz as we get to know the area. And if we come up with some great idea about how to fix the bow sprit . . . you'll be the first to know!