Our hasty departure from Costa Baja ( basically “goodbye kids, safe travels, now untie the lines and let’s go!”) was initiated by a small weather window appearing a few days earlier than expected. Though normally not impetuous by nature, we have learned to be flexible with our schedule when nature provides us with an opportunity for a calm passage. We had originally intended to wander down the east cape and stay in Muertos and San Jose del Cabo before we crossed, but the window, as well as a dearth of slips at the marina in SJDC , prompted us to just go for it. Last year’s event-filled passage was uppermost in my mind as we headed straight for Puerto Vallarta, but the sea gods smiled on us and were mostly benevolent!
The first day and night were wonderfully calm, and if I didn’t already have some fish in the freezer I would have considered throwing in a line. We were also alone out there – we saw two other boats the whole time we were underway (until we got to La Cruz of course).
The second sunset was beautiful- and memorable. We were out of sight of Cabo – no land to be seen around us. The sky was breathtaking and I wondered if this would be my chance to see the elusive green flash. Like UFO’s and Santa Claus, it’s hard to really believe in something until you see it for yourself. I trained the camera on the horizon as the sun sank lower, a gorgeous molten orb … it slid down past the horizon and for some weird reason (non believer here) I stopped snapping photos. Two or three seconds after the sun was totally below the horizon a brilliant flash of green shot up out of the sea. It’s true! It exists! And I didn’t get a picture of it.
Perfect conditions for a memorable sunset…
I guess the best photos you ever take are the ones you take with your eyes and your memory….
That night the wind picked up a bit but nothing too bad- rocky and noisy downstairs while trying to sleep but I knew that when the sun rose we would be close to Banderas Bay. I did my favourite watch – 0200 to 0600 and stayed up to watch the sunrise. We were greeted by numerous pangas and fishing boats with an apparent death wish trying to cross our path, and a single whale who gave us a rather perfunctory but still very appreciated welcome.
We were a day or two early for our marina assignment so planned to anchor out with the forty plus sailboats, something I was looking forward to because I figured we would be surrounded by whales every day! (Not the case unfortunately but worth a try)
However, after one night (somehow managed to drag the anchor and had to move in the middle of the night) the very helpful marina manager found us a spot and we headed for the docks- power, running water, numerous restaurants, protection from the waves…. unfortunately there may be protection from the waves but the swell in this marina is truly epic! Between that and the endless parade of charter boats, morning, noon and evening, playing party music and sporting enthusiastic partiers – we have a front row seat – it’s not a relaxing place at all. But it’s fun! And the sunsets are wonderful.
The amount of growth in little La Cruz is amazing. Where there were two tall white towers, there are four dominating the hill with another on the way and more beside. Behind the beach nearer the marina there is a large condo being built…and along the water where our friends live, behind the other beach – double the condos all side by side. Patios that had views and sunshine all day now hover in shadow for half the day or more, and beautiful marina views are replaced by featureless white walls as far as you can see from the window. Sad but…progress comes to La Cruz and perhaps with it benefits for the locals .. I hope.
The marina shows the same growth as in La Paz – there is an marked increase in the number of charter boats. The usual party cats come and go constantly, but there are also yachts and boats of all sizes and makes coming to the dock and picking up paying passengers. The huge parking lot is packed with cars, and buses drop off and pick up excited clients from PV and the towns further north.
But it’s still a great place to get 10,000 steps in, lots of smiling faces to greet or stop to chat with – and of course restaurants and street tacos and CHURROS on the street! Heavenly!
Rediscovering our old favourite restaurants and finding new favourites is a great way to spend time – and as usual there is always music, pouring out of restaurants along with the smell of good food being made. It’s hard to justify cooking on the boat when we can find places that are probably cheaper and definitely better than what I can make – and you’re helping struggling locals make a living too! Not that there isn’t fancier fare, and once in a while we give ourselves a treat at one of the “higher end” eateries. And the Sunday market is still the best place to meet people, sample different foods, and enjoy beautiful craftworks by the locals.
Northern Ranger was scheduled to be hauled out and we were lucky enough to have our friends Fiona and Dave nearby with an empty spare bedroom.
Having friends who are part of the local scene is a huge benefit, and we enjoy tagging along for the ride. We also managed to find a day before the haul-out when we could take them out cruising the bay, although what promised to be a calm trip turned into a bit of a windy one. And the whales were very noticeable by their absence. But we found a quiet corner to anchor in and had a quick swim before heading back to the dock, where we ate mahi tacos and had some cold beverages to round off an almost perfect (darn whales) day.
Our arrival in La Cruz coincided with some of the biggest surf of the season, so for three or four afternoons we took our chairs and umbrellas down to the beach to watch the surfers, who seemed to come out of nowhere, cars and trucks lining the street down to the beach and numerous bodies, young and old, male and female, earnestly paddling out to meet their wave. Of course we became experts within a day or two at critiquing each rider, which is pretty hilarious because not one of us has ever attempted to ride a wave. And the last time I used my stand up paddle board I ingloriously ended up in the water, hat, sunglasses, and all. So no surfing in my future!
Hauling the boat out is always a stressful event – everyone has stories of someone they know who had the unthinkable happen – so watching your investment/home hanging over the water and then over land with nothing but four straps keeping it up there….unnerving. But the crew knew what to do and the whole team was on hand to help with lines and placement and the final propping up on land.
The jobs that needed doing were mostly maintenance – those ones that you can put off for a while but can’t put off forever. Lawrence had ordered the parts he knew we needed previously and we brought them down in the truck – making it easier (ordering parts in Mexico is always a bit of a hit or miss thing… we are still waiting for parts for the malfunctioning toilet.) The boatyard itself doesn’t do any work – so we were tasked with finding the right persons for the job. Luckily that wasn’t too hard, as the people we had used last year to work on the stabilizers were available to do the work we needed. And when it comes to the Mexican technicians – they know what they are doing and google translate is definitely helpful.
There is a lot of “stuff” onboard a Nordhavn – things I have begun to take for granted are backed up by numerous systems hidden deep within the engine room and other compartments..out of sight, out of mind, until it breaks down. Water makers, stabilizers, air conditioners, not to mention the main engine and the wing engine and the generator and all their components and needs; electrical system, navigation electronics, exhaust systems, and of course those toilets and all they entail. Bottom paint…stainless steel..varnished teak…through-hulls…batteries. Sigh…the batteries. Ours are on their last legs but that is not a cheap replacement…marinas, when we can get into them, are our friends. Otherwise anchoring out (which is my preference) means the generator gets a workout twice a day. Thank God for generators! Or thank Northern Lights, more like.
Lawrence spent most days at the boat while it was suspended in the air (not my favourite place to be)…doing the jobs he could do while the guys worked on the bigger issues. I decided I needed to be useful , so suggested I could repaint the chain markings, one of the small jobs that is easier to do when you aren’t in the water because you need to run out as much chain as you want to re-paint. Red, blue, yellow and white paint ready to go, I got to work. Of course I didn’t want to mess up the boat yard so I put lengths of wood under the parts I was painting, and made sure the spray that didn’t hit the board or the chain wasn’t wafting over to someone’s boat. It was all good, so I got to work.
Of course it didn’t take long before I was bored with just painting the chain, and started moving the boards around to see if I could create mini works of art.
I think they turned out pretty well! Maybe I should have taken them to the Sunday market to see if I could sell them… but I figured the wood was probably needed for someone else’s project…also to brighten up the boatyard!
The next day the boat was splashed. I held my breath, climbed aboard over the bow when it was time, and with very little fanfare (except I still have trouble throwing the stern lines up to the guys and gals on land so they can hold us steady while we make sure everything is A-OK) we left the lift and headed out to sea. After a quick run around to check systems, we went back into our slip. Home again home again! The clean up took the rest of the day, of course; boatyards are filthy… but it was nice to be back on board.
Now we are down to (almost) the last job, a small length of exhaust that needs rebuilding, which means they took the offending bit out and now we are stuck at the dock unable to head out until our guys are able to build us a new piece and install it. My fingers are crossed it gets done early this week, while Lawrence, usually the optimist, is not expecting to see it for a while. Which would be unfortunate because as we are missing a length of our exhaust system it means we can’t go anywhere until the job is done…and tomorrow is the blessing of the fleet which would have been fun to take part in.
On the other hand, the longer we stay here, the better our chances are of actually getting the parts for the head delivered.
Now there’s a job we aren’t looking forward to!