August 14, 2018
Location: Santa Rosalia, Mexico about midway up the Baja peninsula on the Sea of Cortez. A formerly French-run but still mining town with lots of nice restaurants, great street food carts, museums, a metal church built by the famous Eiffel, and access to nearby travel excursions to pass the time. We are here in the high heat and humidity of Summer, so we have opted for a slip at the marina in order to plug in the air conditioner. It was either that or risk mutiny (or maybe just severe dehydration) if we stayed at anchor any longer with no breeze. Afternoons with the "searing globe of fire" aiming it's rays below the edges of our sun shades were making the crew quite grumpy and the water was only minimally helpful for cooling off as it was close to the same temperature as the air.
As part of our exploration of the Sea of Cortez, we had read and heard from other cruisers that the nearby town of Mulege (pronounced Moo La Hay) was like an "oasis" with palm trees along the river, nice restaurants, beaches, and historical sites to visit. So we convinced our intrepid buddy boaters on SV...
jim and laura, mexico, mulege, nilaya, sailing, santa rosalia, sea of cortez
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Finally North Into The Sea
July 31, 2018
A single, tall, slender cactus stood guard at the edge of the sandy beach. It's two arms stretched upwards at least 12 feet as if imploring us to stop before running aground. As we dropped anchor, I surveyed the land around the edge of the cove and saw a couple of small ranch houses, a white church, and some machinery and block buildings that appeared more neglected than the other structures. The only creatures visible were a few buzzards that competed for the best perch atop the church and not a sole was in sight, which would not be unusual for the middle of a hot, sunny day in a country that invented the siesta out of necessity and survival.
We were on a short circumnavigation of Isla Carmen, a petite island in the lower section of the Sea of Cortez, or Bay of California. It is located near the historic town of Loreto and the boater's enclave of Puerto Escondito on the eastern side of the Baja peninsula. Weather had been mild with just occasional afternoon or evening winds, so we decided to check out a few of the many popular anchorages around the island before reprovisioning and moving...
bay of california, isla carmen, jim and laura, mexico, nilaya, sailing, sea of cortez
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New Stuff In The Sea
February 26, 2017
Finally the projects were done. Well, OK, a few major projects had been crossed off the ever growing list. (We've learned that we are never completely done with projects tackling the most important ones as soon as we get to a dock. The saying is, "It's a boat!") Anyway, on January 29th we threw off the dock lines at the beautiful Paradise Village Marina near Puerto Vallarta, our Mexican home since sailing into Paradise Village early last May, and immediately found ourselves in a boat traffic jam. So much for smooth exits. A few figure eights and a couple of circles at the marina entrance while a mega-yacht, a large sports fishing boat, and a tourist catamaran all did their loop-de-loos moving to various docks and we were soon motoring out of the channel, where we only had the ever present dredge barge, a kayak or two, and a few frisky launches to contend with. Whew!
For some reason, Jim and I both had some nervousness about our voyage north into the Sea of Cortez. I couldn't quite pin mine down to just one thing. New weather patterns, new sea conditions, new charts. Strike that, no new charts. Same old...
jim and laura, lapaz, mazatlan, mexico, nilaya, sailing, sea of cortez, shrimp, whales
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Crew On Board
June 11, 2016
Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Puesto del Sol Marina, Nicaragua - Jim has inched Nilaya close to the dock and I throw a line to a dockhand to secure to a forward cleat. Then, as I step off the boat onto the dock to tie Nilaya's stern mooring line to a cleat, I can almost hear the sizzle as the heat seers the skin on the bottoms of my feet. In my anxious haste, I neglected to put on my flip flops.
We are used to heat as it was usually 85 - 90 degrees F in Panama and Colombia, but this is a new feeling. It's dry. Like Arizona desert mid-summer day dry. Three days ago, my skin was pruning because of the saltwater splashing into the cockpit as we splashed and bashed in the 8-10 foot waves. Today it feels like it's pruning because all the moisture is being sucked out, like a piece of jerky - or maybe salted cod.
We barely get the lines tied and exchange greetings with Dockmaster, Durien, before Andy, our guest "crew" member runs off to the showers. Not that I blame him, but it will be some hours before Jim and I...
canal, crew, jim and laura, nilaya, pacific, panama, sailboat, sailing
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Across Tehuantepec Bay
May 1, 2016
As we cleared the breakwater at Puerto Madero, Mexico and got on course, the mainland of Mexico was on our starboard (right) side. The winds were light, about 5-6 knots over the starboard beam. All of the cruising guides said to keep close to shore and our planning route had us around the 100 foot depth line and where needed to miss shoals, out to within three miles at the max. But we weren't following our planning route. We were cutting straight across the notorious Tejuantepec Bay - heading straight into the "danger zone"!
As part of the decision to take the boat to Mexico, we started studying what it would take to get there. We gathered cruising guides written by other sailors and we searched the Internet for accounts of actual passages made in the areas where we would be sailing. Salty sailors stories and every cruising guide we read had cautions regarding certain areas of the Central American and Mexico's Pacific coast where high "gap" wind and dangerous seas could turn your passage into a real nightmare.
These sections, specifically the Papagayo Bay in northern Costa Rica and Tejuantepec Bay in southern Mexico, along with a...
chiapas, huatulco, ixtapa, jim and laura, mexico, nilaya, pacific, sailing, tehuantepec
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Transit Preparations by Laura
March 23, 2016
Our boat, Nilaya, is tied to a dock at Shelter Bay Marina, located on the north or Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. There is a breeze blowing and the boat moves back and forth pulling at the lines holding her to the dock. It reminds me of a race horse in the gate anxious to bolt out the door and run the course.
We've been moored here for almost a month preparing to go through the Canal to the Pacific. Not much has gone as expected. We did expect this visit would lighten our bank account. The marina has a reputation for high prices, so we weren't that shocked at the dock rates. Nor were we surprised to see the prices listed at the restaurant. I was a bit shocked at the rates for laundry and some of the other manual labor rates. Most of what we need to do we are doing ourselves so no problem. We also knew the total for clearing in to the country of Panama was going to approach $500, which is one of the highest in the whole Caribbean. We also knew we would have to pay a premium to have parts shipped...
canal transit, colon panama, cruising, jim and laura, liveaboard, marina, nilaya, panama canal, sailing, shelter bay
Posted at: 12:03 PM | 2 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink
January 29, 2016
So, can the Captain of a boat really perform a wedding ceremony? That was the question put to Jim by our young friend, Arelis. We have been "adopted" by her and her husband, Orvil, from our many visits to their island paradise of Providencia, Colombia. (Many of you have probably read the many blogs we've written or the numerous Facebook postings about our trips to this secluded sanctuary located just off the coast of Nicaragua in the southwest Caribbean.)
This question of a marriage ceremony came up as Arelis and Orvil had their 8th wedding anniversary coming up soon and Arelis wanted to do something special for the occasion and make it a surprise for Orvil as she had bought them new rings. After we checked some information in the Internet, that vast vat containing all the truths of the universe, we decided it didn't matter if a Captain's ceremony was legal or not since it was just a renewal of their vows and didn't need to be anything "official." So why not make it fun!?
Arelis got busy. The big day was only two days away! After considering the different locations available on quick notice; including our sailboat, a...
caribbean, isla providencia, jim and laura, marriage, nilaya, providencia, providencia island, sailing, santa catalina, wedding
Posted at: 04:28 PM | 2 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink
November 9, 2015
We've been living on the boat since Jan. 2008 and have spent six hurricane seasons in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Jim decided he needed a change. Maybe more correct, another adventure before "he's too old". Here we are in a Caribbean Paradise with few worries, great weather, and cheap beer. I'm wondering if he's not been smoking some wacky weed or something? The next thing I knew, we were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico checking out the marinas where we might dock the boat if we go through the canal to the Pacific and work our way up the west coast.
Now you've probably heard of Puerto Vallarta. It's one of Mexico's well developed tourist destinations with lots of touristy stuff to keep the many hundreds of visitors happy. We set our schedule to travel to three or four different marina locations from one end of the big city to the other and even northward out of town. The locals were very helpful and friendly everywhere we went. We rode on local busses, borrowed bicycles and sometimes hired taxis all with local help making sure we got going the right direction. In fact, while riding in a taxi one...
caribbean, hurricane, jim and laura, mexico, nilaya, patricia, sailing
Posted at: 03:27 PM | 2 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink
October 14, 2015
Well here it is October 2015. It's hard to believe but we have been out on the boat for over seven years. We have spent five hurricane seasons going on six in Bocas del Toro and two (2009 & 2011) in Guatemala in the Rio Dulce. Bocas is not bad but I'm, and possibly Laura as well are getting itchy feet and feel it's time to move on. I'm looking for a new place to sail and hang out in Hurricane season. Everyone we've spoken to who have spent time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico raves about how nice it is and how much fun they have had there. And that's not even talking about the GOOD food. That's the good part. The BAD part is Puerto Vallarata is NOT out of the hurricane belt. It is located in an area surrounded by mountains and the chance of it being hit by a really nasty hurricane is about one every 30 years or so where other parts of Mexico is about one in six. That's not bad odds but really not good either.
It's a big decision as we would have to go through the canal and travel about 2,000...
Posted at: 11:45 AM | 1 Comment | Add Comment | Permalink
July 15, 2015
Posted By Laura
In front of me the road was blocked by a small herd of Wildebeest. I was driving through the jungle during a heavy deluge of rainfall where the low vegetation along the side of the road formed a high enough dam that it was like driving down a shallow riverbed. Progress was slow not just because the rivulet of water but because the pavement was strewn with large potholes hiding under the waves of muck. Then I came upon the wildebeest.
Ok, maybe they weren't really Wildebeest but they weren't far from it with their wide bony rumps and swishing tails blocking my attempts to move around them. Honking was futile. They probably considered the vehicle just a strange shaped, sick-sounding cow urging them down the road. Water buffalo would have probably been easier to pass with their wild nature tending to flee from human contact. Finally, one extra large bull with a shoulder hump to rival any camel, turned to give me an annoyed look and nudged the beast to his right starting a domino-like movement of rumps edging to a wide spot on the side of the road. A small yellow taxi quickly darted around...
bocas del drago, bocas del toro, jim and laura, jungle sounds, panama
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