Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta

Our overnight sail from Mazatlan to Isla Isabela was eventful in that we had so many dolphins visiting as we went along and a most incredible sunset and sunrise again.  It seems such a shame that we forget to take the time to appreciate a sunrise or sunset when we are on land.  The dolphins that visited during my watch at night kept me entertained for over an hour and were long streaks of phosphorescence trying to get to the bow of the boat.  As we neared Isabela around 9 am a large number of whales greeted us.  Always nice to see them frolicking in the water but I really do not want them to get toooo close.  The water temps kept getting warmer as we motored south and increased from 22 to 25, finally some nicer swimming perhaps.  

Male frigate bird
The anchorage was on the east side of the island, it is not very protected and quite rolly – we even wondered if we should stop.  An  all rock bottom (as this is a volcanic island)  made setting the anchor a bit of fun –  one never knows whether it will set properly or get caught up in a formation then not come up when you are ready to leave.

We managed to get the dinghy blown up and engine put on and then went ashore on the south side of the island - which didn’t have the surf breaking on shore.  It is never too much fun riding the surf in a little 10 foot boat.  The island is nicknamed the “Galapagos of Mexico” due to the number of nesting birds and iguanas.  It is isolated in the Pacific and has no natural predators, so we walked among nesting frigate birds and blue, brown and yellow footed boobies.  We saw many iguanas resting in the sunshine.  Some time ago black ship rats were introduced to the island and as I walked through the tall grass my imagination got the better of me several times – but never did see any ratsJ.  We hiked around to see the water filled caldera known as Lago Crater.  Then back to the boat for an early dinner and sleep to catch up on last night’s missed hours.
Blue footed boobie

We awoke early to quiet seas and for our trip to Chacala.  We had decided to give San Blas a miss after it had been reported that several dinghies had gone missing in the anchorage the night before and there is a big problem with the no seeums (jejenes) because of the large number of mangroves (I still have bites bothering me from El Fuerte over a month ago).   So it is off to Chacala and we are motoring as we have no wind.  At around 11:00 I spotted a black flag in the water and I quickly took the engine out of gear or so I thought ( in my panic I had inadvertently pushed it into  reverse without knowing it) and before we could do anything we were caught up in a fisherman’s long line and then I backed over our fishing line.  We were well and truly messed!!!!!  Leif got out his diving gear and attempted to free us but with the swell and still moving along with the current it was not safe.  He was able to dive under the boat to see the damage but was not able to free us.  We cut all the lines and luckily we had enough wind so we changed course to go to San Blas as it was closer.  Our buddy boaters stood by in case we needed help and I began preparing screens for all the windows so we would not get eaten by the no seeums when we arrived.  It was a slow sail but we arrived just before sunset sailing right into the beautiful Ensenada de Matanchen Bay all lined with palm trees. We are glad to be there and happy that we have not missed it.  We had dinner and discussed how we were going to go about fixing things in the morning.
Sunset at Matachen Bay

Leif had bought a Hookah before we left Canada (an underwater breathing apparatus) to be used for just this kind of problem.  So he geared up again in the morning and with his trusty knife in hand was able to cut all the lines free but then we spotted oil on the surface of the water and we now realize we have damaged the oil seal on the prop shaft.  This means we can run the engine but not put it in gear without losing oil and damaging our transmission.  So our only means of travel is by sailing and the forecast for the next few days is light winds- normally I would be happy with this prediction.  Feeling helpless - nothing we can do -we go ashore and have lunch at one of the palapa restaurants and seafood is on the menu – absolutely delicious shrimp in garlic.  

Jacques Cousteau is that you?
The ugly string

We walk down a dirt road into town to get a panga to take us on the La Tovara (Jungle Tour) up the Rio Tovara.  This trip is definitely a highlight when visiting San Blas.  We saw many birds, turtles, iguanas, wild crocodiles and then went to visit the crocodile farm.  The river first is saltwater and then turns into a fresh water spring where you can swim in the crystal clear water.  On the way back to the boat all of the locals are selling banana bread (large banana plantations here) so we have breakfast for tomorrow.
Make a nice pair of boots

Well we awake to one of the calmest days we have ever had.  Leif has been on the phone with the people in Seattle getting the parts ordered we will need to fix the propeller.  So after waiting for the wind to pick up our, friends on Realtime (Bob and Karyn) tie a rope to us and we are under tow to Chacala.  We had many whales around us today and later in the day arrive around 6 in the most beautiful warm tropical anchorages ever - clear crystal blue water lapping on a white sandy beach surrounded by lush vegetation and coconut palms – what more could a girl ask for!!!

Chacala Bay
This is why we sailed all this way to Mexico!  We quickly put together dinner with the folks on Realtime when Dan from Sophia drops off shrimp ceviche from the restaurant ashore.  We sleep well with anticipation of going ashore, strolling on the beach and enjoying a few cold cervezas under the palapas.

Get the message?

We plan to spend the next 2 days at Chacala.  The first order of business in the morning is to check in - the harbourmaster is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet – so welcoming, sympathetic to our dilemmaa and he knows that Mexico has a problem with the long line fishing but he says that they lack the manpower to enforce things to change, especially when the fisherman are going out 15 to 20 miles and after all is their country and their livelihood.  We swim, walk, hike, eat, drink, enjoy the live banda entertainment and eat and drink some more.  Maybe one more margarita will help us forget our problem.
Fancy gate
Someone said we should check out the volcano "just over the hill".  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  We set off along the beach, through a fancy resort and trek up a gravel road, through a fancy gatehouse and then up the hill.  We eventually found the culdera, long extinct, and begin our walk soen the other side.  There was a discussion as to what way to go, Bob and Karyn took the high road, the rest of us took the low road.  It was a hell of a long walk down to the ocean, AND back.  We did discover that this area was being developed and there was a large number of lots for sale.  Only a handful of lots were sold, hence the reason there was only about half km of paved road. 

Next day is the same calm weather so under tow again and we are now headed to Banderas Bay (not Puerto Vallarta but to La Cruz) one of the first places we can anchor and haul out, which is about 43 miles south.  We arrive just at sunset and know we are going to be okay thanks to some very awesome friends.  We are invited to a bonfire on the beach to celebrate the full moon and meet up with many of the other cruiser friends we have made.  Of course have to share our story of the last few days as well – while enjoying a beer and hot dog. We are looking forward to meeting up with my brother Doug and Jan who arrived on Saturday and then next Saturday(Jan. 14) when our son Christian arrives.  We hope that the parts will arrive shortly so we can fix this baby. We will be here for about 3 weeks if all goes well.

Life is good!

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