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Pacific Coast of Mexico & Central America

1. San Diego to Turtle Bay ........ Jan 5th to 8th 2003 (Stopover 3 days)

450miles=3days & 3nights .... Depart Sun@6:00am / Arrive Wed@8:00am

At last, we've arrived at our first Mexican stop... Bahia de San Bartololme, also known as Turtle Bay. It was quite a run from San Diego... three days and three nights non-stop since last Sunday at 6 in the morning. But the worst began at midnight on the second night when a south wind (right on the nose), known as the "Pinapple Express", picked up to as high as 30 knots. This slowed us down to about two knots of headway with engine instead of the usual six or seven knots and the confused seas (southerly wind waves against northerly swells) bounced us all over the place... very hard to hold our course and therefore especially tiring. This went on all through the next day and until midnight the next night with no harbours or anchorages to give us protection from southerly winds anywhere down the coast. So needless to say, we were pretty exhausted when we arrived to anchor in Turtle Bay at eight this morning... but we're here, its sunny and its warm, anchored in this little bay with its tiny village surrounded by a ring of barren hills which offer great protection from all wind directions. We'll stay here for a few days to rest, do a bit of work on Meriah and to replace the engine water pump bearings which are failing and starting to leak sea water (thank goodness for the repair kit). While we slept for most of the day, Victoria played quietly on her own cutting out paper dolls (bless her) and she is now getting ready to enjoy the rest of the afternoon in a big tub full of seawater... her private pool... that we filled up in the cockpit where she can be without a lifejacket. The water here is 65(F)degrees... warm enough, I'm sure, with the outside temperature around 80(F)degrees in the shade.

We've had a chance to rest up a bit and today launched the dinghy and paddled ashore to the little village of Turtle Bay. Nick and I settled down at a cantina for a couple of "Corona" while Victoria went off to play with the local kids. Wasn't long before we heard Victoria wailing... she had picked a green chili that looked like one of her favorite beans and taken a good bite. Needless to say, her mouth was on fire and the cantina owner's wife took her in and gave her lots of water and sugar to ease the burning followed by a lollipop, which was the final cure. Victoria is now most definitely a wiser little girl... and the locals will never forget us.

2. Turtle Bay to Magdalena Bay ........ Jan 12th to 14th 2003 (Stopover 8 days)

290miles=2days & 2nights .... Depart Sun@9:00am / Arrive Tues@9:30am

Just arrived this morning at Magdalena Bay after a 48 hour run and have slept most of the day. This is a beautiful anchorage at a tiny, but busy, village more than two thirds down the Pacific Baha coast. People are friendly and we're working on our Spanish. Will stay here for the next week. We're definitely beginning to adjust to the changes in routine from more land based to more sea based. It has been a strange transition from all of our past experiences with a home port... at least for the time being our home port is where we are, since there is no place we are sailing back to in the near future. Victoria is having a wonderful time and easily mixing with both local children and adults... she's usually to be found somewhere on the beach making friends while we're sipping a Corona at some nearby waterfront cantina. Won't be long before she's speaking Spanish. We've also caught up with many of the other Canadian vessels sailing south for the winter from Vancouver Island. Lots of gray whales birthing here in the Bay!

3. Magdalena Bay to La Cruz ........ Jan 22nd to 25th 2003 (Stopover 2 days)

450miles=3days & 3nights .... Depart Wed@8:00am / Arrive Sat@10:00am

We say goodby to our friends in Magdalena Bay and head out the entrance with the promise of fair winds on our way to Puerto Vallarta. A good breeze at first, but it peters out after a couple of hours and we are motorsailing again. A good opportunity, though, to try out our new genoa arrangement (genoa sheet passing through a snatch block at the outer end of the pole which is supported by a topping lift... this allows us to roll up the genoa with pole attached even while the sail is fully extended). Four other vessels also heading south are within a few miles of us at least as far as Cabo San Lucas and we all have our share of visits from gray whales, sea turtles and dolphins. An uncomfortable night, though,with increasing winds of up to 20 knots out of the east along with wind waves building up against the northwesterly ocean swells to create a confused and uncomfortable sea state... lots of rolling around and not easy to sleep while off watch... except for Victoria, of course; she can sleep through anything.

The weather settles down in the morning and now we are motorsailing up to Cabo Falso to pass San Lucas about 10 miles offshore just after noon on the second day. We didn't put in here because Cabo has a reputation of having unpredictable clearance proceedures. So on we went, alternating between motorsailing and sailing with only light to moderate northeasterly winds. Its about 275miles across the Sea of Cortez to Banderas Bay, so we have to maintain an average speed of 6 knots in order to arrive during daylight hours... around noon. We want to give a wide berth to Islas Marias some 8 miles north of us, but not in its charted position off the mainland coast, as it is a prison colony. Not a very eventful crossing with generally clear weather, but we did narrowly miss getting tangled up in a one mile long floating line with fishhooks attached; it was kept on the surface with plastic pop bottles. Nicky noticed the line at a pop bottle just as we were about to pass over it..."HARD TO STARBOARD!".

Since we didn't want to try clearing in to Puerto Vallarta on a weekend, we anchored near La Cruz on the north side of Banderas Bay and visited this wonderful village with other sailing friends from Vancouver Island who were also anchored there. We had also heard on the radio net that Rik, a friend who had wintered with us last year at Brentwood Bay had gone up on the rocks near here a few days ago in a heavy surf... With a lot of help from the locals and other nearby yachts he did manage to get his boat off and into drydock at Puerto Vallarta, but he still needed a lot of help putting things back together. We therefore decided to spend a month at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta so I could be nearby to assist with the damaged vessel while Nicky and Victoria had a good time ashore. This would also be a great opportunity to do some more finishing work on Meriah and I could easily take the "gummyboat" (inflatable dinghy) the five miles to Puerto Vallarta.

4. La Cruz to Nuevo Vallarta (nr. Puerto Vallarta) ........ Jan 27th 2003 (Stopover 40 days)

5miles=1.5 hours .... Depart Mon@7:00am / Arrive Mon@8:30am

This morning we moved here to the marina at Paradise Village so I could be closer to Vallarta where Rik has his boat hauled out. I'm helping him put things back together while Nicky and Victoria have a good time at the resort here. ...Fuel pick-ups...Alligator story...Decompress story...Lalum... Victoria dancing at Yacht club...Connecting with sailing peopleWe're looking for T-shirts with Canadian flags on them and possibly a few small flag embroidery rectangles to sew onto our packsacks...we definitely need to identify ourselves as Canadian with George Bush doing his thing. A lot of Americans are expressing their fears.

5. Nuevo Vallarta to La Cruz ........ Mar 7th 2003 (Stop overnight)

5miles=1.5 hours .... Depart Fri@6:00pm / Arrive Fri@7:30pm

At anchor here for early departure south to Tenacatita. We were planning to meet up with friends who had left earlier from Paradise Village.

6. La Cruz to Tenacatita ........ Mar 8th to 9th 2003 (Stopover 1 day)

125miles=1 day and 1 night .... Depart Sat@10:00am / Arrive Sun@9:30am

We're out there with following winds of 15 to 20 knots and doing 6 to 7 knots with 75% of our genoa alone. A great sleigh ride down to Tenacatita, our next brief stop; should be arriving at daybreak. Had a very nice stay at Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta, but now we're all happy to be back at sea. We've plotted our course up as far as Key West from the Panama Canal and find that with ideal conditions it's only about 12 days. We'll give it the month of April, though, with a stop at Isla Mujeres before jumping directly to Key West. Right now we are in a rush to get down to the Panama Canal so we can be north of Florida before the hurricane season begins in June. Its beautiful days as we continue south but very long nights as Nicky and I alternate between two hour watches followed by two hours of rest between 8pm and 8am. Victoria is the only one to get a full night's sleep and she's having a great time.






7. Tenacatita to Bahia de Maruata ........ Mar 10th to 11th 2003 (Stopover 1 day)

8. Bahia de Maruata to Punta de Papanoa........ Mar 12th to 13th 2003 (Rest Stop)

9. Punta de Papanoa to Puerto Marques (nr. Alcapulco) ........ Mar 13th to 14th 2003 (Stopover 6 days)

Arrived here Friday morning quite tired and needing a good rest. Great spot we've found...a wonderful little anchorage off the small town of Puerto Marques just outside Acapulco. This is where all the local Acapulcans and Mexicans go for the weekend...a lively place indeed. The Americans all go to Acapulco, but few have found this place which is the real jewel. It is fun and we are enjoying it here... will probably leave on Tuesday for the run to Panama.

10. Puerto Marques ........ Mar 12th to 14th 2003 (Stopover 6 days)

Arrived here Friday morning quite tired and needing a good rest. Great spot we've found...a wonderful little anchorage off the small town of Puerto Marques just outside Acapulco. This is where all the local Acapulcans and Mexicans go for the weekend...a lively place indeed. The Americans all go to Acapulco, but few have found this place which is the real jewel. It is fun and we are enjoying it here... will probably leave on Tuesday for the run to Panama.















Just arrived at Puerto Madero this afternoon after two days and nights crossing an area which is known for storm force "Teuantapec" winds blowing across the narrow continental gap from the Gulf of Mexico. We had some good forecasting advice and made the crossing without any difficulty...except that a Frigate bird landed on the masthead light and broke it! We had to duct tape our zodiac navigation light onto Meriah's bows to get ourselves through the two nights; lots of flashlight batteries. The only way we could get rid of the Frigate (and others) was with the aerosol hand held fog horn...the whole bird would tremour from the blast aimed right at it...Victoria was thrilled with all the action and added her own voice to the effort. As soon as we arrived here we were boarded by the navy...checked papers and a drug dog sniffed us problem. This is the last Mexican port before Central America. The next leg is four days and four nights to Costa Rica, so we'll be resting, shopping and fueling up over the next few days. The wind also blows across Central America, so it could be a tough trip. The "run" to Panama is hardly "downhill"...lots of work getting there, but worth it for the adventure of passing through that impressive divide which separates the continents of North and South America.


We left Puerto Madero in a bit of a rush because the Port Captain died of a heart attack only hours after having given us our clearance papers. He had been very generous, having waived all the formalities... but there were no records of the personal arrangement with us. So the longer we stayed, the more chance that his staff and other authorities would get confused with the lack of information. At least we had our zarpe which is required to get into the next country.


At about 7pm on Saturday we were off Guatemala and received a series of weatherfaxes which made it clear that storm force winds were brewing. The wise thing to do was head back about 15 miles (4 hours) to Puerto Qetzal, next to the town of San Jose. It was a good decision because the wind did howl and we had to set a second anchor... about 40 knots in the shelter of the harbour! Yesterday we visited a mission ship run by volunteers of just about every nationality. They have stopped here for about a week to sell educational books (including those with a religious theme, of course). They were not pushy about their beliefs, however, which was nice. We were invited to stay for supper by a girl from Barbados and also met a very nice family... Dutch/Hungarian... with three children who had a wonderful time playing with Victoria. When it was time to return to Meriah the tide had gone out so far that I had to shimmy down the side of the concrete pier using the dinghy painter to get to where it floated far below! There were no ladders. The armed guard and a few locals helped find a place where Nicky and Victoria could get aboard. We are still waiting for the storm to blow out, but expect to leave Thursday night for our next stop in Nicaragua (Marina Puesta del Sol near Corinto) before continuing on to Costa Rica and Panama.


After a very pleasant stay at Puesta del Sol's isolated, but very comfortable marina (still under construction), we're presently (Tues Apr 8th) anchored in an unnamed bay near the south end of Nicaragua at 11 30.4N & 86 10.2W. Arrived here this morning at about 8am with NNE winds of 30 knots in our teeth, gusting to about 40, which began last night about 10pm. The wind has dropped now in the late afternoon with occasional gusts only. Meriah and another vessel being single-handed by a good, beer drinking Dutchman we met at Puesta del Sol, are considering making the 35 mile run for shelter behind Cabo Santa Elena, Costa Rica, this evening if the wind is still down. We have discovered from our weather advisor, Don from Summer Passage in San Diego, that this "no-name" anchorage is supposed to be the windiest place in all of Central America, with gale force winds across Lake Nicaragua funnelling out the coastal valleys. No wonder we are having problems! Don confirmed, however that these "Papagaos" winds tended to die down by 6pm and pick up again by 6am... so we'll make a run for it.


We have stopped in to rest overnight at Ballenas Bay only 25 miles from Puntarenas and will be leaving any moment (now 7am Friday 11th) for the 5 hour run to get us there. We've been really pushing it to get past the area of Papagayos Winds which get up to 65 knots offshore...motorsailing a lot so we could move faster and now have only just enough fuel to make it up to Puntarenas against the headwinds.


Well we're in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, now and just about to leave for Panama...will be heading out this afternoon after completing the necessary paperwork. So far this is my favourite place. The economy is on the move here, the people are friendly and helpful...there is just a great feeling about the area as far as first impressions are concerned. We had an introduction to some Americans who have a produce exporting business, so we were able to get a good feel as to what its like to live here. Its very appealing. We're staying at the Costa Rica Yacht Club here...a very pleasant place with pool, showers, cold beer and patio restaurant...a great combination. The Manager, Carlos, really understands the needs of visiting cruisers and was extremely helpful with all aspects of our visit.


Again on our way to the Panama Canal we stopped to rest at Bahia Honda. This isolated anchorage makes a reality out of dreams of a tropical paradise. We dropped the hook in behind Isla Honda in a beautiful bay with a tiny community that is only accessible by boat...and if the inhabitants do go to the mainland, it is still miles of trail on horseback to the nearest town. The whole bay is surrounded by lush green forested mountains and totally protected. It wasn't long before dugout canoes of villagers came out to sell us fresh fruits and children paddled out looking for handouts (too bad, they have been spoiled by the sad perception of the "rich American" reinforced by passing cruisers).


We've been really pushing it to beat the hurricane season that hits the Caribbean in June...have to be about as far north as New York by then. Lots of difficult weather as we make our way to the Panama Canal. It has been two days and two nights since Bahia Honda. Last night we were dodging a huge thunderstorm. We thought that we had made our way around it when it changed direction and nailed us... wind and torrential rain, but fortunately the lightning stayed up in the clouds. Now we're anchored in a little bay resting and waiting for the storms to settle down....we can hear Howler Monkeys arguing in the forest ashore...definitely the tropics. Only two more days to the Canal, so we are getting close!


This morning the Easter Bunny visited Meriah and Victoria was delighted to find a note from the Bunny which explained that it was thanks to the APRS Position on our web site that he could find her. It was wonderful watching Victoria finding hidden candy all over the boat, with squeals of delight as each new treasure was discovered!








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