Pacific Ocean Crossing – 2,956 nm from the Galapagos to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia 4/25 – 5/13/17

It’s been 6 months since Allora’s first ocean crossing. I am writing this from French Polynesia, eking out the time and wifi to finally share this treasury of experience. Gathering our 3 kids, Haley, Madison and Wyatt, as crew (we call them, ‘GREM’, to be explained later) was ideal and a bit of a miracle at this point in their busy and widespread lives.  I have to say,  I love that it felt imperative to each of them to make the voyage – what adventurous souls! Haley had already crossed the Indian Ocean with SeaMester; I think she knew something of the quiet and solitude we’d be experiencing.

We’re family, yes, but in this experience, we formed an alliance, a team. I was reminded of leaving Montana to live in Ravenna, Italia; we were drop shipped into a new culture – it was palpable, the intense newness of it all – but after that year, our family had shared something indefinably rich. Here, out on the illimitable sea, we truly relied on each other once again to ‘navigate the waters.’ Though I think each of us came away with an impression that also felt wholly personal, as I look back at those sweet days, I see a point in time in which we were able to slip into an eddy in our lives, to come together and share this magic – we were uncertain and proud, bored and content, tired and euphoric, collectively.

I hope to always recall the slow but sure rhythm of these 18 sweet days. My mosaic work often feels like this – bit by bit, piece by piece and one day, something’s manifested. In this case, we, with the wind, landed in paradise, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas.

Stats:

Distance: 2,956nm

Avg. speed from Isla Isabela, Galapagos to Fatu Hiva, Marquesas: 6.895

Avg. 24 hr distance: 165nm

 

 

 

Landfall Galapagos! Isla San Cristobal, 959nm from Panama City, April 8-15th, 2017

We arrived in the Archipelago de Colon on 4/15/17 and have spent 10 awe filled days.  Photos and stories to come as soon as we:

A. Stop playing long enough to make a post.

B. Find internet that supports a post.

C. Cross the Pacific and try to find both A and B in the Marquesas.

MORE SOON!

UPDATE: 10/12/17     As it turns out, finding wifi in fabulous French Polynesian requires a determination that none of us could muster when given the option to explore these magical islands instead. SO, here we are in the Society Islands, 6 months later, finally trying to face the daunting task of updating the blog (in the land of 3G).

Adios Panama! Allora’s Galapagos bound … 4/8/17 – ?

We had talked about the Pacific crossing since our beginnings in San Francisco, 6/2015. It was always the benchmark by which we made our progress south and yet it seemed abstract and we really weren’t sure what to expect.  As we prepped Allora to take on the vastness of the Pacific, we were sufficiently distracted by the daunting ‘to do’ lists, so apprehension didn’t even gain footing. We went aloft to check the rigging and reviewed our spares lists and miscellaneous extras to be sure we could improvise for a system failure. There’s a large swath of the Pacific that is too far away for effective rescue, so we had to be confident in our ability to be self sufficient. Our Evernote app was working full time syncing between our devices as we tried to keep track of the contents of the boat AND the countless suggestions and articles we’d read from other passage makers. We used multiple sources (Windy Ty, gribs, etc.) to check the weather routing, looking at winds, waves, currents and the ITCZ for a favorable route. This first leg to the Galapagos Islands is often referred to as a real chore, so we looked for the most favorable sailing route.  Lines checked, deck swabbed, provisions stowed, rust busted (for the most part), sails readied, job wheel created, port captain clearance papers secured, emergency procedures reviewed, SSB programmed to receive the optional daily net report, last minute wifi (‘wait, what about the blog?! There’s no time for a blog post! Haha, I’d never imagine that it would be 6 months till I would fulfill this task!)… Amidst days of this stupor, we finally obtained our one year visas from the French Embassy in Panama and at that point, we really had no more excuses to stay.  I might have kept provisioning forever, but thankfully, Captain Marcus confirmed the weather reports and declared our departure date: 4/8/17. The hectic phase of passage prep in Panama City, finally comes to an end, hatches battened and Allora is ready to cast off lines for the Galapagos (900 nautical miles away) with the whole Stevens crew aboard. Farewell Central America; hello, Pacific Ocean!

Route options using different wind diagrams.
WAY more fun shopping in the public market than the 5 days spent at the supermarkets!
Provisioning with Maddi in the Mercado. This guy insisted on GIVING us a small bunch of tomatoes. When I went to pick out a bunch more, so as to give him some business, he just added them all to our bag and further insisted that we pay nothing. His family just smiled and shook their heads!
Haley topping off one of our diesel tanks – we carry 190 gallons in 4 tanks – thanks, Phil/Outbound (Thanks, Hale)
Wyatt looking like he grew up on a sailboat. ©HRS
Rust busting! ©HRS
Captain Fantastic. ©HRS
The tides affect the ramps so sometimes it’s more challenging delivering groceries from the shore to Allora
Communicating through the hatch to someone above decks – such craziness in these last days ©HRS
Ah, yes, the mayhem! ©HRS
Getting excited! ©HRS
People say they see the resemblance. ©HRS
The early morning crew getting a bit of quiet time before the crunch of the day begins
Maddi and Wyatt made final rig checks aloft
Long Stay Visa Applications for French Polynesia!

 


When we see Panama City again and go through the canal from the east to the west, we will have crossed our path and circumnavigated. 
One ocean at a time …
The first of many concerts at sea
First squall line
First rainshower
Allora is the ’55th’ Outbound ever made
Contemplation
Skipper for the Day
Finally some rest!
Forward berth. Maddi sharing the space with our veggies.
The music was a mainstay
And into the night, with red lights to protect our night vision
Sibling Symbiosis (quick, take a pic!)
Maddi writes ‘Infinite Blue’ along this journey

 

Red Footed Booby, so many miles away from anything

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus’ fudge maintains its level on the gimbaled stove
Lots of daytime napping (and sleeping, in general) possible with 5 crew members
Scary business, launching the drone from a moving boat (and trying to retrieve it)
Drone team
I’ve never seen him so nervous!
This is the …
‘we’re going to live in BC at the same time hug!’
Lots of laughter heard on the wind
The right wardrobe for the Assym.
Fine ‘Grem,’ our 3

Haley’s Panama visit 3/2017, Las Perlas Archipelago

Haley came to stay and play about a month before her sibs joined us for the passage. Poor girl, she arrived right before her 25th birthday and her folks were so consumed with the logistics of securing our long stay visas for French Polynesia, that it won’t go down as the very best celebration. We took the opportunity to break away from the vortex of ‘to do’ lists, and turned toward the Las Perlas Islands, to the south of Panama City, a day’s sail away. 
Got traffic?!
Sea Cloud going East through the Canal
New Panama
Old Panama
They looked like Disney employees!
The Casco Viejo area of Panama has become super gentrified
Nice to see these environmentally (more) friendly cars
The Las Brisas anchorage was full of working barges
25 candles for Haley March 9th
Birthday fudge!

 

Bright Lights, Big City
We have pretty excellent cruising guides for this area; not so everywhere
The Las Perlas Archipelago is a real playground within 50nm of Panama City
Lots of reading aboard Allora

 

 

Look who’s here?!
Secret Beach, Punta Matadero (near Isla Espiritu Santo), Las Perlas
This photographer’s playground.
Our beloved Oru Kakaks

 

black sand art

Punta Matadero (near Isla Espiritu Santo), Las Perlas
We got silly on this black sand sweet spot.
Kayaking in Punta Matadero (south), Las Perlas
Last light giddiness
Our zany photographer!

Drone director, Haley

I can’t be the only one that loves stuff like this, right?!
The crabs make this pattern in the wet sand with each new tide
Sunset in Las Perlas

 

Doin’ her thing …
Another uke player in the fam.


Western Panama Play

We’ve been having so much fun exploring in Panama that we haven’t taken the time to embellish these images with words – sorry, but if you look at these pics, you’ll get it!  At present moment, we are ‘on the hook’ at Ensenada Benao (famous surf spot) in Panama, awaiting a weather window to round Punta Mala (aptly named, in my mind at this point) into the Gulf of Panama. On the 7th of March, we have an appointment at the French Embassy to obtain a long stay visa for French Polynesia, and Haley’s coming in from NY. Feeling pretty lucky to get to celebrate her 25th birthday together on the 9th! Pretty soon, all 3 of our crew members will be gathering to prep Allora first for the passage to the Galapagos and then beyond to the Marquesas.

An evening ritual; we sit up on deck to take in the sunset.
Ensenada del Veradero, Isla Parida, Panama – It took a series of these gorgeous islands for us to get over the sadness of our mamas being gone.

Mackerela (Sierra)
First Roosterfish!
Fishing boats with a piraty edge!
We think a gazillion of these were making the most haunting sound in the jungle at night – like a cicada on steroids!
On some of these islands in western Panama we’d even see/hear monkeys!

Isla Montuosa. Allora’s anchored offshore.

Ha, no, he’s not casting for dolphin, but they do often accompany the fish!

Isla Jicaron, northern anchorage, Coiba National Park

These kayak excursions are pure bliss.

Isla Jicaron, northern anchorage

 

 

Let’s see what’s ON this beach?!
Spot the Male Ringed Kingfisher? Isla Jicaron, Panama

This made the most incredible massage/tickler!
Wilson?!
Fishing patrol.
Male Great Tailed Grackle
Lush greens of the jungle.

Capuchin monkey company
Spot the Capuchin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pargo (red snapper) for dinner.

This scarlet bird was mesmerizing!

Isla Jicarita, Panama
These fishermen pulled up and dropped anchor for a few hours next to us. They laughed a bunch – great energy.

 

Isla Jicaron, as seen from our anchorage on Isla Jicarita

First storm since Puerto Vallarta, over Granita de Oro, Panama

OUTRAGEOUS snorkeling around this little islet!

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Enroute Granita de Oro to Isla Santa Catalina. Sweet Assymetrical Spinnaker day on the water.

 

Geoff (Pajaro Loco) and Jose, surfer extraordinaire. I got a wild ride to town with Captain Ron, I mean Geoff.
A sweet home was set back in the trees here, with kids and horses and puppies and howler monkeys – lots of great acoustics in this sweet location.
Our anchor alarm app on the iPhone! Yeah, our boat was rockin!’

 

Ensenada Naranjo, Azuero Peninsula

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamas from the Mainland!

The Mamas have landed.

We stayed at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos for just one night and then left at first light for the long day sail to Bahia Drake, Osa Peninsula.

Mom found a perch on the way from Quepos to Drake Bay.

We dinghied up the Estuary for a mile until we hit some mini rapids. I swam back (crocodiles? no se!)

We walked back toward the village of Bahia Drake from the estuary.

Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Fishermen hand-lining for ??

Our late afternoon swim.
Underway! Another 60nm+ day sail from Drake Bay to Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Comfy perch.
Two humpbacks came pretty close to Allora, surfaced a couple times and then sounded. Brief but sweet visit.

First evening in Puerto Jimenez.
Muy elegante.
A three toed sloth.
Capuchin monkey (we saw Squirrel monkeys, Howler Monkeys, and Spider Monkeys as well)

Scopin’ it out.

 

SUP
Yep, I made ’em do it again.

Our guide, Rudolpho.
Lotta love there.
Over achiever?

Full Moon as seen through Rudolpho’s field scope. ©CAB (Mom)
These two beauties gravitated toward each other.
We each bought each other birthday presents!
Elizabeth found the NECKLACES!
We had to enlist these 4 to help us haul Namo, our dinghy, down to the distant shoreline after the tide went out.
A lone Bottlenose dolphin came alongside Allora while these two were on the foredeck.
Such a great laugh.
Kayaking in Rincon – the northwest corner of Bahia Dulce, Osa Peninsula.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how it works in Central America: I went over in our kayak to ask these folks where the closest market might be. Within seconds, they were offering to take me via motorcycle or car, my choice. I let them know I had to return to the boat first to get my shopping bags and money and they patiently waited for the hour or so it took me to make it back. Jorge took me (the car was my pick, as I wanted to get too much stuff for a pista) and waited while I shopped. He loaded all the groceries and whisked me back to Bahia Rincon. Since I still had to get the goodies to the boat, they loaded this panga and paddled all the way over and proceeded to help offload them. Crazy generosity. Beautiful world.
Mod new snorkeling masks. Mom’s first time EVER!
Namo (our dinghy) gets us to and fro with relative ease. The 9.9 horsepower engine moves 4 ppl. much slower than 2, but we get there.

Mom slept on the foredeck for some moonlight and fresh AIR!
These afternoon swims are a ritual!

Trudy, the maestra of the garden Casa Orquideas. She and her husband started the farm 42 years ago.

Lipstick Palm.

Graham and his wife, Jill have been friends with the owners and coming to help annually (from England) for many years.

Foredeck cruisin’

 

Fish Hook Marina, Golfito.
Bésame Mucho.
They both pitched in and helped clean up from a salt water ingress in the foreword sink. Gracias team MAMAS!
How could Mom resist this BLUE margarita on Valentine’s day?!

 

Homemade fishing lures! Dorado beware!
This was actually one of the chair options at the Golfito airport!
Goodbyes are so hard.
We’ll get them out to visit soon!
You can tell we’re not REALLY smiling.

And they’re off …

 

Sailing southeast – El Salvador to Costa Rica

Our hearts ache without our GREM!! BUT, (and this is a pea sized consolation) – there is quite a bit more space aboard s/v Allora! Haley was going back to March in the DC rally and Maddi was off to India, so we had to release them!! Having been more leisurely with our movements from Mexico to El Salvador, we now realized that our time is getting somewhat crunched, so our pace has to pick up in this next zone, which is regrettable. Weather really dictates many of our  ‘should we stay or should we go’ movement decisions and it can be capricious. We’ll get a flavor of Central America; enough to know we could happily come back – on a slower pace.

After saying goodbye to Haley and Madison and this particularly thorough provisioning stop at the market in San Salvador, Marcus said, ‘we could have kept the girls here and just cannibalized them!’ (haha, this way I can tell if they are reading our blog!).
The “Marte” – Art Museum in San Sal. Retrospective on El Salvadorian artists; interesting!
It’s a messy job to switch the paddle wheel (sensor for measuring our boat speed) which is essentially a hole in the boat which gushes water when we replace the wheel with a temporary plug.
Scraping the paddle wheel to rid it of barnacles, which render it unusable as a gauge.
We flew our tattered American flag upside down and half mast – and although we saw no one all day, it felt good to make a statement about this particular Inauguration Day, 2017.
Gulf of Fonseca, El Sal/Honduras/Nicaragua. We hoisted our brand new, ride side up, American flag on the 21st – in solidarity with the Million Women’s March, 2017!
Gulf of Fonseca, where El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua come together (this is an El Sal hill!).
El Tigre Island, Honduras, in the morning light, before slipping away toward Nicaragua.
Marcus’ first Sierra on the ‘ugly stick’ (trolling rig). He did catch and release one on a fly on Isla Tiburon. It’s one of our new favorites for eating!

Dolphins continue to join us almost every day we sail, but whales have been missed in these waters.
Customs Officer, Puerto Capitania and Immigration officers came to us!
The other two officials were much more interested in Marcus’ fishing gear!
The flag of Nicaragua!

Inside the estuary adj. to Puesta del Sol marina.
Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua.
Puesta Del Sol, Nicaragua

We took a taxi to the nearby town of Chinandenga to get some cash from an ATM to pay our check in fees. It was low light (late afternoon to sunset) and the driver was quite heavy on the pedal, so we whizzed by idyllic pastoral scenes of a Sunday in a Nicaraguan village. Nicaragua was basically a beautiful blur, as you can see in this smattering of shots from the bumpy cab window:

Loved this! LOTS of folks pulled their rockers out in front of their homes to take in the evening.

Costa Rica!!

Bahia Santa Elena hikes, but the guidebook is OLD, so the jungle has consumed the trails and almost us!
Dubbed, ‘Worst hike EVER!!’
Not sure what these blossoms are, but they highlighted the verdant hills in Bahia Santa Elena.
Turkey vulture’s plea for some compassion?
I saw (and smelled) two dead sea turtles on a kayak excursion, hence the healthy turkey vulture population.
Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica. This anchorage, with zero development, is a gem. It’s almost landlocked, so a Papagayo howling wind can be wreaking havoc on the seas outside and this place sees no more than some chop and wind gusts. REALLY sweet!
One of our iPhone anchor alarms. This is the course our boat ran around the anchor all night!
We swab the decks (!) every morning there’s dew, to give Allora a nice fresh water rinse.

Bahia Samara, Costa Rica (near Punta Guiones). Big surf area. In this tucked away corner, we had numerous reefs and shoals to deal with to get into a good anchoring position. Here, you can see that our charts are sometimes incorrect, because they have us going over a bunch of rocks when, thankfully, we weren’t. We use other sources, our visual clues (water riffles and breaks over reefs) and radar to piece it all together. It’s tough when the depths are only a few feet more than our keel.
Bahia Ballena. Noodling around.
Puntarenas is a REAL place. Working boats ply this estuary. We are tied up to a pontoon dock (itself floating and secured by two anchors) with never more than 2.5′ of water underneath us. This morning, if our instruments are correct, Allora was touching the soft mud bottom by 3″. Unnerving. But we are here to check in to Costa Rica and these formalities with the Puerto del Capitaniá, Imigracion and Adouana are proving to be the toughest yet.
Our yellow quarantine flag flies as we await the ability to fly our Costa Rican colors.
The Customs and Immigration folks came to the boat, but only after we waited for 36 hours or so for them to show up. The yellow, quarantine flag means we aren’t officially cleared into the country yet, and as such, we have to stay aboard Allora.
Really?! All THAT for two papers?!
Quarantine and Costa Rica flags. Yellow abajo, CR encima!
Our view from the floating pontoon at Costa Rica Yacht Club (fancy words for that experience).
The pilot boat leads us out of the extremely shallow and shoaling estuary at high tide, around 6:30 pm. Southeast headings and a favorable 1.5 knots of current move us away from the Nicoya Peninsula toward Quepos.
Early morning chill accumulates from hours on night watch.
Since our destination was only 55nm away (in a straight line), we had the unusual focus of trying not to move too quickly – to avoid arriving at night. The winds cooperated and we sailed sweetly and slowly along, splitting the night into just two 4.5 hr. shifts between us. Lovely sail. Sunrise and a cup of Central American bourbon coffee (just the name of the bean, no actual bourbon!); perfect setting to clean our dusty fans underway.
Our needs come in bike sized packages! Provisioning for southern Costa Rica with the Mamas.
Marina Pez Vela, Quepos, Costa Rica. This newish marina caters mainly to sport fisherman and is charging the highest rate we’ve seen on this journey! It costs us $180. a night for a slip here. SO … we scooted away for a couple nights (2/4 & 2/5/17) anchoring off Manuel Antonio National Park. By 4pm when the park closes, we have this lush backdrop all to ourselves.

Capuchin Monkey mama and baby

 

That’s a sloth in the center of the pic!!
Marcus was relieved that wasn’t the spot we chose to land our dinghy – although our effort wasn’t uber smooth and I walked around in salty clothes all day!

 

Parasailers at sunset, with the anchorage at Manuel Antonio Park all to ourselves!

Drone On! Shoot 1 – El Salvador – Dream House

An irresistible location on the Pacific side of the estuary at Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador. The sun sets too quickly!!

 

 

El Salvador adventures!! 1/ 2017

To the village for our cooking class.
Jairo gave us a ‘lesson’ on how to make Papusas!!!
Yeah, they weren’t round.

Quite edible, though the other couple folks there said they’d prefer those that Jairo made!
Not a bad form of transportation, huh?!
Relaxed and content.

An excursion to a coffee Finca (plantation) around 5 hours from Bahia Jaltepeque, in a general NW direction. First, a stop at the beach surf village of Playa El Zonte for a traditional breakfast and a beach walk (the Auntie of the driver we’d hired ran the place. His cousin was the local surf hero).

©MPS
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©HRS

With a camera by her side.
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Maddi sized passages through these wave worn rocks.
Our desayuno shack.

On the drive up to the coffee plantation we passed this mound of color and I first thought it might be recycled glass. I asked Enrique if we could remember the exact spot and stop on our way back. On the sign it says, ‘Protect our environment.’  The material is shredded plastic. Although they are recycling, this endeavor sits alongside a busy road with countless trucks flying by to disperse untold amounts of the stuff into these beautiful agricultural hills. Well, one bag less, as I bought some for a mosaic (which will hopefully address the scourge of said plastics).

The town of Sonsonate.

The coffee finca Portezuelo.
©HRS

 

 

 

 

Leaving Mexico for Central America, with Haley and Madison as GREM!

 

Our well worn Mexican flag comes down after a year.

On one of our first passages, I was typing labels for our personal flotation devices (PFD’s) without my glasses, so I asked Maddi if what I’d typed said,  ‘CREW?’ Guess it didn’t! That laughing went on awhile, but the term has stuck and now whenever anyone comes to help out aboard Allora, we call them our ‘GREM!’

Music to my ears.

Just a mile from Rio Suchiate on the Mexico/Guatemala border. Allora’s been in Mexico for 13 months, which is at least double the time we thought we’d stay. Spanish is still embarrasingly slight, but you’d want us on your charade team. I am sure I’ve said, ‘Lo Siento’ (I’m sorry) far too often, with ‘mucho gusto’ coming in a close second. This part of the world makes me want to be a young backpacker again!

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Land of Volcanoes – El Salvador has 788 we’re told! (Lovin’ that new tat on Haley!)
We saw up to 37 knots, beating into the wind, but Allora dug in and got the job done.  It was a tough couple of days!

Like many sailors we were so focused on crossing the Gulf of Tehuantapec, we didn’t think a lot about the Papagayos until we left Chiapas. We heard they were frustrating and unpredictable, and they didn’t disappoint. Our first brush with them came farther north than their usual haunts as we sailed passed Guatemala. The wind jumped from nothing to the twenties in a matter of minutes. We’d been lulled by the forecasts and the calm weather into sailing further offshore than the recommended strategy and so we headed back in before the wind waves got too rough. The breeze was on our beam, but we we were going to have to turn into it to continue on toward El Salvador. On the other hand we could run off, 20 miles in the wrong direction, and find a spot for the night in Guatemala’s one marina, Puerto Quetzal, then wait for a better forecast for the next day. We gave it a little test, but no one really liked the idea of slamming into what was now 27 knots (plus) for who knew how long into the night. We decided even if the wind didn’t die down, it’d be more pleasant in the daytime. We had heard negative things about Puerto Quetzal – like they weren’t welcoming, or there was a coal plant nearby that dropped soot on your boat. They might have mentioned before complaining about the mood of the place that the docks are complete SHIT, totally unstable and completely inadequate for any boat over 30 or 35 feet. They didn’t have ‘surge,’ they had full on rolling waves that would have made an anchorage unpleasant. We had every fender out and zig zagged a 300 foot line across to another dock to try to hold Allora off and still she was slamming into the slip and the mast was rocking back and forth through a ridiculous arc while Diana tried to negotiate a deal where we could spend the night, but not have to “check in” to Guatemala. Though the port captain said we were okay, the marina people were not cooperating. I couldn’t imagine getting a wink of sleep at that slip, so we decided to forget it. We untied our lines and backed out of the slip fast to keep from hitting a piling as the wind gusted and waves surged. We’d back tracked two hours for nothing. And I still had a dorado to filet (it would have been easier at the dock). Diana took the first shift, but I was up with her by midnight. The winds were 37 knots and you couldn’t peek out from under the dodger without getting drenched. Allora slammed into the seas to get in close to the beach. Everyone later assured us that these were unusual winds, that the Papagayo’s never came that far north. So special treat for us. The bar crossing into Bahia del Sol was mercifully uneventful even though it was still blowing over twenty. We were very happy to get our welcome drink and tie up and that cozy Marina.

I was standing out looking at the volcano in the distance at sunrise …
When this happened!
Guess it’s time for a wardrobe change!
Early morning watch.

©HRS
The river bar crossing into Bahia Jaltepeque, Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. Some days this gets wild, but ours was particularly uneventful, with flat conditions. Bill, from the Annual El Salvador Rally and a panga pilot led us through the shoals and into the estuary.
A ‘welcome’ drink was handed to us as we arrived in Bahia del Sol. We’d had a tough passage and the warm welcome was extra sweet.
Rigging the El Salvadoran flag for Haley to hoist.
Always eager to climb the mast! We had some SSB antenna repairs to make.

(See the Drone blog post with more mast/Bahia Del Sol pics!)

We took Namo 4 miles west up the Jaltepeque Estuary to this little market village of Herradura.
Everyone has either a wooden canoe or a panga.

Nap time:

So good for us to have both girls.
Selfie by the sea

A short walk across this spit of land and we are back on the Pacific side; a different perspective than looking at this from the sea as we came in. LOVE THAT!

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!!!
Lifeguard station in the tropics. (Lifeguard nieces, what say you?!)
Basura is a sad, but true part of many beaches.
Thought of my sis and her love of animals as I watched these two dogs frolic like there was no mañana!
Might make some necklaces?!
Sticks and stones …
Kind of serene and kind of creepy all at once?
Now I want to get a tat!
Soooooo strong!

A glimpse of the island of Cordoncillo in Bahia Jaltepeque:

Most of the 280 ppl. on Cordoncillo Island don’t own property. They are squatters, but have no protection from floods or lightning strikes. Half of them are under 18 yrs. old.
Hammocks are ubiquitous.
The typical El Sal country kitchen.
Diana Carolina and her cousin, Stephania Tatiana. Fullest smiles EVER!
Almonds drying!
The mooring field at Bahia del Sol.
We scooted Namo over to have our first Papusa, the national food of El Salvador, at this waterfront palapa restaurant. We LOVE THEM!!! Quesadilla’s in El Sal are an amazing sweet cheese pound cake, whereas the papusa is like a smooshed quesadilla (by our definition) with a cheese and bean or cheese, bean and pork filling. They serve it with a pickled cabbage, called Curtido, on top. Delicious!
Happy papa.
Love the wave in Haley’s tropical hair!

This young guy delivered water to Allora when we were on a mooring buoy.

We took a short dinghy ride over to the nearby village on stilts, called “Tesajera” for lunch. There were about 15 different options, but Bill and Jean (cruisers who came to Bahia del Sol and never left – they now run the El Salvador Rally) had their favorite to share. Other options were McDorado and the one they called ‘Hooters,’ spelled Juurers.

 

The girls took a walk as these lovely women prepared our fish.

Bill, Di and Maddi take a mid-high tide swim after our fried fish lunch.

Some classical guitar with Bill.

 

Haley’s taking up the ukulele, too!!

©HRS

 

Road trip, Guatemala! (Antigua and Quetzaltenango/Xela, in the Alto Plano)

We’d heard that the only marina in Guatemala (only an hour from Antigua) wasn’t a really hospitable place for yachts, so we opted to hire a car/driver from Tapachula (Puerto Chiapas) to take us the 7 hours or so to get to Antigua, Guatemala. Turned out to be a good idea and we were able to see the landscape of Oaxaca in Mexico and the western side of Guatemala. The border crossing was fine, but the woman officer helping us was in a pretty grouchy mood until a gecko landed on my head – my shrieking made her laugh and she then warmed. Bienvenidos!

These ‘chicken buses’ are called, ‘Cabineta’ in Espanol.

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Colorful Antigua
©MPS
Bouganvilla pic to wow my mama.
Such a fan of urban decay!

Mime artist draws a big crowd.
©HRS
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Maddi and I went nuts over this – corn on the cob with cream, cilantro, chili and limon – WOW!

Learning about all these new FOODS!
©HRS
Fresh fruit with mandarina, roasted/ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and chili. Our new favorite.

Volcan Acatenango and Volcan Fuego expedition – SEE blog post!!!

©HRS

New Year’s Eve in Antigua:

The Central Plaza of Antigua.

Ten New Colors

“The lakes and rivers that no one had discovered in these virgin jungles of America, ripple dunia waters, which will no longer be so when the are seen. Dunia… Dunia…. Dunia

— Otto-Raul Gonzalez  (painted on the wall in original Spanish and English translation at a tiny little bar, Cactus Tacos in Antigua, Guatemala)

We were drawn in by the live music, eight people, sax, drums and guitars, two back up singers, jammed in the corner. Actually I was drawn from a block away by the look of the outside, totally surprised Diana and the girls (who know me better) by insisting we cut across to check it out. It didn’t look like you could fit another person in and we chickened out, but then were drawn back and crowded in around a small table. The elbow to elbow band were all friends, jamming for New Year’s Eve. A woman Diana’s age came over, the owner of Cactus tacos, excited to see if we liked the music and to tell us that the young woman mesmerizing us with a solo was singing in public for the first time. The bartender wore a T-shirt: Trump es un Pendejo. Yep.

A mural of the Mexican revolutionary, Zapata on the wall behind the band, lyrics in Spanish and English.

I kept re-reading the quote on the wall. Dunia, dunia, dunia… It haunted me. I had no idea what the word was, but it seemed like the perfect word for an indescribable idea. Something that is gone if it is witnessed. I didn’t know the poet who wrote it was describing a color. One of ten new colors.

Maddi did a little Internet search that night, Otto-Raul Gonzalez was once minister of land reform in Guatemala, way back in the 50’s or 60’s, when Guatemala’s government was overthrown by the CIA. He was exiled to Mexico where he continued to write.

Where else might you find one of his books, more about “Dunia,” than some bookstore in Antigua, and the most famous/infamous one, attached to the No Se Cafe (where you get a free bear with each purchase). A warren of rooms trying (maybe a little too hard, maybe) to capture that speakeasy feeling. A Mezcal bar with a two shot minimum. Illegal Mezcal. Another tiny bar with live music, a woman with a beautiful Alto voice accompanied by a fiddler. Dim, dim, dim.

The guy in the bookstore, who works there primarily for free drinks, was surprised to hear us ask about Otto-Raul’s poetry. He’d heard of a translation of Diez Colores Nuevos, and he even thought he might have a copy and searched the little bookstore, but eventually decided that he must have loaned it out. He gave us a note for two free beers for a couple of other titles we purchased from the eclectic mix.

He could only think of one person who might have a copy and it was the woman who owns Cactus Tacos, Otto’s daughter!

She was delighted to see us again, and even more so, to learn we came looking for her father’s book. She told us a little bit about him, about growing up in Mexico City, his sense of humor and about his emotional ties to his exiled country. He asked for his ashes to be scattered on Lake Atitlan, but was careful to tell his children raised in Mexico that he meant the small lake of his childhood, not the big lake that draws tourists from around the world. She got a little teary-eyed remembering him, and I think our interest really meant a lot. She signed and gave us one of her last copies, along with a round of tequila shots, pictures and exchanges of Facebook info. Our trip to Guatemala was brief, but left us with a bit of poetry that will resonate for a long time.

Here’s Dunia from Diez Colores Nuevos:

Dunia are the smiles which lovers

exchange like fools

Dunia is the flower which never looks at itself

and dunia, too, is the first smile

of a new born child.

Dunia is the color of all the immaterial,

the color of absence

the color of goodbyes

and the color of music and poetry

when they go for broke.

The skin of a colt or calf

three days old is an intense dunia

the same as an embryonic pearl

the stars that can’t be seen from Earth,

closed petals of flowers

and the eyes of babies sleeping

in their mother’s womb.

What has never been touched is dunia

like the atmosphere of mirages

and the feathers of birds

we hear singing, but can’t see

The lakes and river that no one has discovered

in these virgin jungles of America

ripple dunia waters

which will no longer be so when they are seen.

Dunia… Dunia… Dunia…

Laura Amalia and her phenomenal crew at Cactus Tacos. SUCH a great vibe there! Serendipitous meeting.

Live band called, “Gravity.” Zapata mural.
Ten New Colors.
Cafe No Se
(Cafe I don’t know).

 

©HRS
Cool bookstore by day …
Mezcal bar by night!

This effigy paid homage to the first bartender of the mezcal bar.
And this is of Saint Maximon – patron Saint of sinners!

Mercedes sings a mixture of English and Spanish songs with a husky, rich voice and on this night, she was accompanied by a friend and fiddle player.
The view of Volcans Fuego and Acatenango from our hotel. This is an actual eruption, but you can’t see the lava flow during the day.

Spanish baroque architectural details everywhere.

Chocolate class!
It was a hands on, informative and yummy couple of hours!
©HRS
We learned how to grind the Foresterio cocoa bean in this molinijo (mortar and pestle) to yield ‘cacao liquor’ – with which we made the most delectable hot cocoa! The Spanish converted what they found from the Mayans and added anise, cardamom, black pepper, canola, milk, cacao liquor and sugar. TRY IT!!!
Chocolate contains theobromine. We learned it takes 80 grams of it to induce a heart attack!

Our masterpieces – they actually were quite heavenly. “Matiosh!” (means, ‘cheers’ in some Mayan language, as per Orlando).
Our teacher, Orlando, knew his stuff and kept us laughing the whole time.

We took a shuttle for around 4 hours to the Central Highlands’ Alto Plano town of Quetzaltenango. Never did see a quetzal bird, but did manage to spend some of the local currency, called quetzales.

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©HRS
Fuentes Georginas hot springs, about 40 minutes outside the town. There was a hummingbird nest just above our heads in this pic! The water is naturally spring fed and at this time, it was BARELY hot enough for the chill at this elevation in the morning.

Beet harvest
The terraced farms in the countryside of the mountains in western Guatemala.
©MPS

Volcanoes are everywhere – honestly, you lose track of their names!
We asked our driver if we could get out and take a walk. I think he thought we were crazy.
©HRS
©HRS
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Volcan Fuego!

©MPS
©HRS
Ponder that. ©MPS

Blue sky belied the howling wind, which caught my breath as soon as I stepped out of the van that had brought us to the volcano. Already lulled into tropical complacency after a couple weeks in the heat of coastal waters, the chill bite in the air nudged a small knot of apprehension. Buck up. I told myself. You’re used to the cold. I bounced on my toes to warm up and tried to remember that I’d be warm as soon as we started moving. Shouldering our packs with calculating a glance up the slopes, we started climbing.

From the outset, Volcán Acatenango rose at an unrelenting angle, the trail eroded by the footsteps of curious visitors, laden porters, and then washed away annually in the torrents of the rainy season. As we began to trudge ever upwards through the cornfields, a scruffy pack of local dogs followed close on our heels, willing to make the trek in hopes of acquiring our leftovers along the way. Their unusually healthy appearance suggested that it was probably worth the hike, more often than not. Some say the first ten minutes are the hardest. Our guide, Lando, opined that it was the first hour that felt interminable, and I’m inclined to agree. Passing by relieved hikers on their way down, we asked “how was it?” to each group in turn. “Coldest night of our lives,” they responded, a little shell-shocked. Gulp.

As we climbed steadily, the landscape changed. A patchwork of farmland gave way to the chaotic tangles of the cloud forest – dripping, lush, sounds muffled yet conspicuously loud with life. We passed a tree that had seen a millennium and a half pass by, seen the volcanoes erupt and ecosystems adapt to accommodate the changes, yet stood unscathed. At ten thousand feet we stopped to enjoy a cup of strong coffee, prepared by locals who carry the supplies up here each day to make a business out of delivering energy to weary hikers. A short but brutal push up the six hundred vertical feet of “record hill” brought us suddenly out of the cloud forest and into the sub-alpine zone, offering a breathtaking view of the Guatemalan highlands dotted with volcanoes.

A stunning traverse along Acatenango’s flank brought us to “Vista Camp,” our base for the night. As we turned the corner the summit of Volcán Fuego came into view, intermittently shrouded by racing clouds. The wind still howled, though hugging the slope offered meager protection. A couple of determined dogs who had followed us from the base waited patiently to be rewarded for their efforts. After a couple of hours rest to set up camp, catch our breath and stave off the first signs of altitude discomfort, we set off to climb the knife ridge of Volcán Fuego, hoping for a closer look at the periodic puffs of smoke and crossing our fingers for an eruption, despite the volcano’s recent inactivity. The hike to the ridge promised to be grueling: 1,300 vertical feet down to the saddle between the two peaks and then up another nearly 1,400 feet up the slopes of Fuego all in under half a mile. Then we’d have to do it all over again to get back to camp, in the dark.

Forty-five long minutes later, we stepped sweaty and panting onto the knife ridge. The tousled hummocks and stunted trees of the sub-alpine zone gave way suddenly to a quasi-lunar scene. Barren and windswept, Fuego’s ashen slopes plummeted thousands of feet into the valley below. Towering cumuli with scintillating edges rose above and around us, enveloping the sunset below. Wisps of fog chased us along the ridge, gone as soon as they came, opaque for the briefest moments before the mountain appeared again. Quiet for the time being, Volcán Fuego still struck an imposing figure above us from the ridge. From close up we could see the paths the lava had traveled, the fresh scars on the banks of the mountain. And all around the panorama of the Guatemalan highlands. It was breathtaking. We wandered and spun around and dropped our jaws in awe, and smiled and huddled (extra hugs for the birthday guy!) and tried to document the indescribable.

Finally, our chill got the better of us and we started the long haul back to camp. On the trail leading to base camp on Acatenango, a passerby with a penchant for cliché had graffitied No sabes que tan fuerte eres hasta que ser fuerte es la unica opción. You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only option. How painfully right he was. From the saddle Haley and Mom battled the viselike grip of altitude sickness with iron determination, struggling up every inch of the relentless mountain. With each push skyward, the relief of a moment’s rest. Another climb, encouraging words from Dad and I (the cheerleading squad) and a bouquet of flowers for each from our thoughtful guide. Behind us, shrouded in fog, Fuego’s cone remained silent and dark. Out of the blue, Haley (in the midst of an impressive second wind) shouted. “Fuego! It’s Fuego!!” I looked up from the trail, excitement bubbling. Above a ledge, less than 50 feet ahead, an orange glow flickered in the darkness. I scrambled for a better look. Hesitant to spoil the excitement, Lando informed us that what we were staring at was a campfire, not a caldera: good news in a guise of disappointment, we were almost at camp. A final push and we cleared the ledge. Applause rang out through the campsites. For a confused moment we thought somehow they were cheering for Mom and Haley’s herculean effort, then we turned. This time there was no doubt what we were seeing. For the first time in over a week, a fountain of lava spewed from the volcano with a thunderous roar as lava bombs the size of cars rocketed into the night sky, briefly free of cloud cover.

Simultaneously, Mom’s altitude sickness overcame her and she emitted her own Strombolian eruption. We laughed in disbelief at the synchronicity of this unfathomable day, and across the valley far below, the lava flowed again. Happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Dad! Happy birthday to you. Chocolate cake, a sip of rum, (courtesy of Lando) and molten lava aren’t a bad way to celebrate, huh? Still considering a sunrise hike of Acatenango (depending on the condition of the group) we turned in early for a restless night.

An unmistakable rumble infiltrated my dream as my conscious mind slowly caught up. My eyes flew open with a start and I scrambled towards the door of the tent, frantically struggling with the zipper. “Fuego’s going off again!!” We crowded around the tent flap, eyes wide in disbelief, and watched the mountain rain fire. Lava chunks tumbled down the mountain. Even through the fog we were awed at the enormity of the phenomenon before us, the rivers of lava flowing down Fuego’s bare slopes, the impossible height of the towering effusion, lighting up the clouds. The night continued sleeplessly, with increasingly frequent interruptions. Each time we tumbled haplessly out of the tent to watch the eruption with wide eyes. Sometimes it was a flare beyond the clouds, diffuse and ethereal. And sometimes the sky was so clear that the ocean was discernable, miles away, where the lights suddenly stopped. Then we could watch each lava bomb roll and crack and ricochet down the mountain, till the echoes finally faded into the night.

Dad and I decided against climbing Acatenango in the morning in favor of staying in camp to watch for more eruptions with Haley and Mom, still suffering the effects of the altitude. Morning dawned cold and clear, and the sunrise over Agua lit our first daylight eruption, astonishing in its enormity. There was no lava visible through the tower of ash, but the sunlight cast a reddish glow on the explosion. Only a few minutes later the magic light was gone, the sky acquiring its bluebird hue as we packed up camp for the descent and those of us who were able ate breakfast. No coffee, for the fuel had been used up trying to make a fire (unsuccessfully) with our pile of thoroughly damp wood. We guzzled water (no reason to bring that back down with us) and got ready to start our descent, pausing periodically to marvel at the latest eruption.

One last Strombolian from Fuego: catastrophic, earth-shattering, wondrous. The very air seemed to quiver in the aftermath, the ghost of the last eruption suspended against the blue sky and the last dust settling on Fuego’s flanks. We turned to join the crowds of spectators on the trail, starting the long way down. From start to finish it was a knee killer: badly eroded, often slippery, unrelentingly steep. I jogged, the heavy pack jostling with each heavy footfall. We rewinded through the ecosystems in double speed. In a blink we were slipping through the mud of the cloud forest, and then the fields of corn rose to either side. Several times we stepped off the path to let the next group of climbers pass, relieved to be on the way down. They looked daunted and sweaty. I tried to be encouraging: “It’s worth it,” I told them with a smile.

Oh, and it really was.

Maddi Stevens

Driving to the trailhead.
The route.

 

©MPS
The pod of the Canac tree.
Called a ‘monkey paw.’

 

©HRS
He’s been talking about molten lava wistfully since I’ve known him!!
©MPS

 

 

Scrambling.
Tree of knowledge?
That’s what happy looks like, in case you couldn’t tell.
I think I must have been subconsciously leaving a space there for Wyatt. Sure missed him up there.
©MPS
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Volcano love.
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A birthday in the Guatemalan clouds.
Buddies in sickness (but we’ll always stretch our arms for the photo!). Too much elevation gain from sea level with no acclimatization – OOPS! ©MPS
Lando gave us each a bouquet of wildflowers. It helped … a little.
©MPS
Volcan Fuego erupts under the starry sky for the 7th or 8th time this evening. Can’t take your eyes off molten lava! As our friend, Leesa Poole aptly put it, “Standing on the precipice of life, time, unfathomable force…inexplicable stillness. ©MPS
Sunrise over Volcan Agua and Antigua. ©MPS

Daytime eruptions lack the glow of the molten lava, but we saw giant rocks spewing from the caldera and then these mushroom clouds which trailed with the wind for miles. ©MPS

 

©MPS

So torn – I wanted to stay up there and watch each and every SHOW, but I knew I’d ditch my nausea by going down.
Back at OX Expeditions, Antigua.

 

Huatulco and the Gulf of Tehuantapec (to Chiapas, Mx) with Haley and Madison!

We mainly see Spotted Dolphin, Common Bottlenose and Spinners.

Bad day to be a Bonito. Marcus snagged him first and then a marlin closed in.
Fresh dorado ceviche! So thankful this captain loves to fish!
The catamaran, ‘Sweetie’, also on the way in to the Bays of Huatulco.
Show off!
The whole town of La Crucecita came out to celebrate we don’t know WHAT (!), but the parade was lively with extravagant costumes and big brass sounds that made me think of Toby Dylan Hocking!
Always love the dragons!

Grabbed this gem of a GREM!

Marcus had the boat all ready to push away from the dock as we arrived from the airport, so Maddi spent her first night aboard Allora at an anchorage in Rescalillo, Huatulco.

Spotted dolphin buddies.
Bubble stream.

Art always helps. My Uncle Tommy died on my Mom’s 80th birthday.
Too far away to attend the memorial in Philly, we had our own celebration for my beloved UT.

Creative morning.
Creative mourning.
Treasures on the beach for my treasure of an Uncle.
Lots of bits add up to lots of love.
To the Moon and back …
Avoiding footprints!
Music and water and laughter and love –
Love you, UT.

From our anchorage in Rescailillo, Huatulco, Mx, Marcus mans the drone (and edits this vid), Maddi plays the ukelele (first introduced to the instrument by U.T. in September – sings the song, ‘Hummingbird”) and Di gets scribbly in the sand. For the Tramontana’s –

TUNA sushi!!
Marcus went out fishing with a local guy to learn some tricks. Guess he paid attention!
Can never decide what to make of a Dorado, though I can easily choose what to make WITH it.

Maddi works with her dive instructor, David to get her certification.
Yay! 4 out of the 5 of us are PADI certified. Wyatt’s next!

Look who else we snagged?! The crew member with the most miles (though at almost 8,000, we’re closing in on her 10,000!). So good to have the girls both aboard!

So excited to lure Haley away from the freezing temps in the big apple!

So many caption possibilities here!

SO fun to be able to dive together!!!
Found this consignment store – and got goofy – the gal who owned it was off eating lunch, so we had the whole place to ourselves.
To be fair to Maddi, we DID say, ‘Make a Silly Face!’

I first noticed the Gulf of Tehuantapec long before we even had Allora, when I was just learning about Grib files (wind forecasting models) back in Montana. If you look at the wind patterns along the west coast of North and Central America, you can’t miss this funnel of gale strength wind pouring across the narrow patch of Mexico at its southern end, between the mountains in Guatemala and the southern reach of Oaxaca’s Sierra Madre. The weather reports we listened to on our Ham radio in the Sea of Cortez always included a Tpec forecast and it seemed like it was always blowing 50 knots down there. Sailors call them Tehuantapeckers and they usually last for days and days with brief breaks which inspire mad sprints to get across before the gale starts up again. On our way south we got lots of advice on how to deal with this fierce section of coastline. Everyone warned us not to underestimate the Tehuantapec. “Don’t be tempted to cut straight across, keep one foot on shore… stay in 30 feet of water. You should be able to see people walking on the beach.” This last bit of salty advice didn’t prove useful. Not surprisingly, there was definitely NO ONE  “walking on the beach” when we passed this desolate stretch of coast even at sunset with wind in the mid 20’s.

We chose to leave on Christmas Day, in what was described by the locals as more of a lull than a “weather window.” We made great time in the back current along shore approaching the apex of the gulf, following a trail of turtles that dotted the way like trail markers. The Tehuantapec did not disappoint and we hit the worst winds (of course) right at dark. After a little reefing madness (that a little reefer madness might have helped), we settled in for a gusty ride, resisting the temptation to add more sail when it seemed to fall off before slamming us again. It never broke thirty knots, but with each gust we would be reminded  that we had been hearing for a year how it could hit 60 without warning, By 3:00am the winds were gone completely and all we had to do was weave our way through a maze of shrimp boats, wishing the gulf could offer us a better choice than 40 knots or less than four. -MS

The playlists are always stellar when the girls are onboard! ©HRS
Yowza, she’s almost 25!
©MPS
Practice, practice, practice and all is ROLLING. ©HRS
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Allora loves to MOVE!
©HRS
Thanks, Haley, for this one! ©HRS
Just to see if anyone’s paying attention!
©HRS
©HRS

Gonna fatten those girls up with some enchiladas!
Happy at the helm.
Puerto Chiapas, Mx

We left ALLORA in the calm and safe marina at Puerto Chiapas (used to be called, “Puerto Madero”) and went on an inland excursion to Guatemala. When we returned, a week later, we’d heard that the Mexican government had raised gasoline prices too much and the people were rioting and looting to show their disapproval. A few people were even killed in the mayhem which reached Mexico City. To us, that meant that the big provisioning that I’d planned to do in Mexico wouldn’t happen. The Wal Mart, which is (sadly) the mecca for provisioning, was pitted – nothing left in it. The Oxxo’s, which are convenient stores (like  7-eleven) were particularly hit hard (they are gov’t. run) and the local shop was all boarded up. One of the more savvy cruiser’s at the marina anticipated this and bought everything she could find in the little marina ‘tienda.’ We waited till the last minute and Maddi and I did a modified version of the gluttonous stockpiling I’d imagined in the sleepy, small village of Puerto Madero.

As if being just a chick isn’t cute enough?
Yes, they painted their Chahuahua.

 

Adios, Puerto Vallarta! Yelapa, Chamela, San Jose, CA, Tenacatita, Caleta de Campos, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco – Pacific Mexico!

It was almost surreal to pull away from our “B” dock spot at the marina. We were ready, though, and there was much of Pacific Mexico to explore. We waited patiently for a weather window to round the haven of Cabo Corrientes and savored the chance to sail again.

Yelapa is a sleepy village in Jalisco, Mexico, with no real accessible roads, so folks arrive via boats.  The village lies in the southernmost cove of the world’s seventh largest bay, Bahia de Banderas (Bay of the Flags). They are known for their cream pies – the women ply the beach with the whole pie balancing on their heads! Raicilla, the local moonshine, is made here and there are a handful of expats that make this ‘back in time’ village their home. We anchored out for just one night, but took a sunset walk through the village and slept happily on a mooring, getting once again familiar with the sounds of the popping shrimp, lapping waves and clanking in the rigging. It’s always a good idea to roll some (for a night or two) before setting out on a passage, to acclimatize.

We made this river crossing trying to find a trail to a waterfall. Ha, never found it!

Neat little village of Chamela. I left Marcus here on Allora to go to San Francisco for my cousin Brian’s memorial. Took a surf landing with crocodiles, and a 4 hour gnarly drive, but I made it back up to PV for my flight.

Brian’s memorial was all about his generosity of heart. He inspired just about everyone he met – and it seemed that almost all of them showed up to process his sudden absence. A true void. My heart is broken.

Go. Change the world.

Lea and Max. Couple extraordinaire. It’s always good to be in their company.
My brother, Joe, and Rena. It was so good to see them.
My Uncle Joe and Aunt Gerry, and my lovely mama. So sorry they all have to know that particular kind of loss.
Some of the less sleepy among the group stayed up till the wee hours (relegated to one of the hotel rooms) – celebrating our beloved Brian with some meaningful laughter and love.
Seattle, WA. Rhodes Scholar Interviewees!!!  Thank you, Doug and Shelly for hosting Madison! (Proud from afar).

We spent a lovely Thanksgiving in Bahia Tenacatita with Bill and Jean on their Sundeer, “Pelican Express.” There were 8 of us and we enjoyed a Turkey with stuffing and my first ever (spicy) Bloody Mary! A great day – we even played the Metaphor game!

Pumpkin pie – my favorite!
Mangrove lined estuary. We took Namo down here for a few miles, on our own.
We think this little guy was a Cayman because it was so small??
I provisioned in a nearby village (took a taxi there) and this shot was taken on the return ride.
Marcus is actually a FIERCE competitor at Baci Ball!!!
Wild rock on the beach at Tenacatita.
Marcus gets out fishing whenever he possibly can! I always have to remind him that we have a FREEZER full already!!! But some cruisers talk about how they never catch fish, so quietly, I feel really lucky!
We saw these black flags coming up to us from a distance and all we could think of was PIRATES! Turns out, they’re just the fishing flags which mark the long lines which we have to leave to windward.

My Birthday (yowza, 53!!!) – Ensenada Carrizal in the morning …

First drone flight in Mexico!
Good morning birthday first tentative drone flight.
This number seems preposterous!

… and Manzanillo at night!

Anchored near Las Hadas Resort in Manzanillo for my birthday evening.

Not much light left, but you can see the almost Greece like architecture.
They sang a great Mexican song and presented a delicious flan for my b’day!(Thanks for the online research on restaurants, sis.)

Jueves (Thursday) Posole night in Zihua.
Excellent fish market each early am. There was a woman serving the fishermen breakfast, as she had been for 30 years … and her mother and grandmother did the same job before her.

Scarily good hamburguesas served up here!
A local woman taught a yoga class just off the beach and I walked the malecon most mornings, so my Garmin watch stats were up in Zihua!
Patrick serenaded us on his bagpipes for this sunset. Everyone in the anchorage applauded and hoped he’d make it a routine, but later he explained that he was only trying to impress a girl he’d met and brought on the boat!

This multipurpose ‘field’ is right in the middle of the town plaza, so everything from impromptu soccer and basketball games to dance to rehearsals happen here.

The core of the paper mache Christmas decorations – I liked them as balloons!
Plenty of Poinsettias to go around!
Zihuatanejo decorated for the holiday.
Even the Mexican fish like their colors!
Gotta love Elote!
Yeah, that pool WAS all that we’d been hearing about! Worth a quick pit stop into Acapulco.

The La Quebrada Divers of Acapulco!

The divers leap from cliffs 136 feet above the crashing Pacific, landing in an 11 feet deep inlet.  “Timing is the key. Three seconds it takes to arrive at the sea. Only five seconds of high waves tide – a two second span for any error.”

We had to wait our turn behind a line of locals who wanted to get their pic on these ponies. There were a few of these booths set up for Christmas in Acapulco. As my childhood friend, Jeff said, ‘Glad to see we weren’t perpetuating any stereotypes.’

We had to wait our turn behind a line of locals who wanted to get their pic on these ponies. There were a few of these booths set up for Christmas in Acapulco.