Mazatlan, San Blas and onto La Cruz, near Puerto Vallarta

I am so sorry it has been so long since we have posted but the days are getting hotter and more humid and with that, well, it just gets harder and harder to do anything, especially in the middle of the day. You just want to lie naked in the boat with all the fans on and go to sleep. Not that I am complaining; life is still grand. It is just a good excuse to not have posted for a while!

That is not to say we haven’t been doing anything. Since we last made a blog post, we have travelled down the coast 200+ miles, visited San Blas and Chacala and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle where we are in a marina now, as well as taken day trips to Bucerias and Sayilita. Tomorrow we sail off to Yelapa through the weekend and then on to another marina in Nuevo Vallarta called Paradise! I thought it best we get something posted before we are off to this next adventure.

Rick wrote part of this post underway … see below. Otherwise, most of our adventures can be annotated via pictures, so there are a lot of pictures in this post. Two things unpictured were a bee sting I got on my upper thigh while underway, and the other was the sea creature that clogged our salt water intake for our engine. The bee sting was really gross, and I didn’t want to torture you with its picture, as it swelled all up in the size of a pancake with a hard red core the size of an apple. What are bees doing in the middle of the sea, anyway? They were a couple of miles out to sea from Chacala, but there were no bees in Chacala. And they were really aggressive, almost swarming, and landing on us without letting go. I haphazardly brushed one off my thigh and wham! I got stung with one of those piercing, spreading-pain-far-from-the-sting sensations, uh-oh-this-is-gonna-be-bad type stings, as the dead bee fell to the cockpit floor. Rick knows where my epi-pen is in case it comes to that but all I had was a bad localized reaction.

And well, as to the sea creature, here is what happened, as Rick described it in Facebook:

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And here is what I said in my Facebook post:

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So, that was exciting! Our first real crisis and it went really well. I just love working with Rick to solve problems. Somehow we just click as a team: I feel better having his input and I think he feels the same about my input. He thinks really fast on his feet and I am good at processing the information and coming up with logical approaches given a few seconds to sort it out in my head. Most importantly, we stayed calm and handled it.

I still don’t know what the sea creature was. Looking it up afterwards on line, it kinda sounded like a sea urchin but had no visible spines, and what the heck was a sea urchin doing floating in the water? It was about 2.5 inches in diameter, kinda puffy looking, grey-brown in color with regularly spaced black dots all over it. Anyway, I will keep my eyes open on seashores to try and find another one that looks like it.

Here is is Rick’s account of our trip through to San Blas:

We absolutely loved Mazatlan but it was time to move on. We actually moved a bit late as the southerlies started and it looked dicey as to whether or not we would be able to sail or if we would be facing headwinds. We spent a couple days in our passage prep, which we seem to be honing in pretty well. We were carrying more than enough fuel to motor all the way if necessary.

We left Mazatlan, El Cid Marina/Resort early afternoon with just 8 miles to travel to an anchorage in old Mazatlan, Stone Island. We arrived in plenty of time to anchor and get comfortable before dark. In the anchorage we found a water-volleyball friend from El Cid, Kim on “Remember Me.” We did not want to launch the dinghy so we did not plan to go ashore. Kim came by on the way to walking his dog ashore and we had a nice visit at sundown with Cindy and I on the front deck with a nice bottle of Chilean wine and Kim along side in his dinghy as the sun sank into the horizon. We had met a rather odd sailing family (in a reality tv sort of way) just before we left El Cid, who said the light from the lighthouse at Stone Island was bothersome but as high as the lighthouse is, there was no problem.

We were going to watch a movie we bought at a store in Mazatlan (50 Shades of Grey) and we discovered it was a total pirate video taken on a hand cam at a theater. It was unwatchable so we gave up and went to bed early.

We were up at 5 a.m. and underway about 7 a.m. I caught a bonita on the trolling line, which became fish tacos later that day.

Rick's Bonita - a fine-tasting, white meat fish

Rick’s Bonita – a fine-tasting, white meat fish

Another fish that Rick caught. We were really excited because it had yellow fins so we thought for sure it was a yellow-fin tuna, but indeed once we cut it open we realized it was another kind of fish with dark red meat that was no good for sashimi.  It is called a Crevalle Jack. We cooked it and ate it but we will probably throw the next one we catch back in. They put up a good fight, though, so they are fun to catch but we feel better eating what we catch if we can't let it go alive.

Another fish that Rick caught. We were really excited because it had yellow fins so we thought for sure it was a yellow-fin tuna, but indeed once we cut it open we realized it was another kind of fish with dark red meat that was no good for sashimi. It is called a Crevalle Jack. We cooked it and ate it but we will probably throw the next one we catch back in. They put up a good fight, though, so they are fun to catch but we feel better eating what we catch if we can’t let it go alive.


As we got close to San Blas, we had to dodge long lines, which are commercial fishing lines set out on floats across large stretches of water. They can be miles long. We were able to avoid any issues with them and we got through a bit of a tricky bar entrance and arrived at San Blas Marina. This is a Fonatur (government run marina) and it was the first time we stayed in one of them. The Mexican government goes all out on these marinas. San Blas only has 20 slips but it has a huge concrete boatyard with a travel lift, a swimming pool and two hot tubs. There were a bunch of buildings designed to be shops but they were all vacant. This is where it gets a bit odd. There are nice shower/restroom facilities but very low water pressure and no hot water. The swimming pools are empty as are the hot tubs. We were told by another cruiser there that this is typical, in fact that you are lucky if there is running water at all in Fonatur’s. In any event it was fine. We were only staying for two days, just long enough to explore the cute very mexican town and to take a jungle tour to see the birds and crocodiles that inhabit the area.

We really enjoyed the town of San Blas. It had lots of activity, not many foreigners and just a great feel. We found a restaurant called La Isla where I had possibly the best dinner since this trip started in September. It was a traditional dish that had shrimp, octopus and fish with vegetables and cheese blended in. It was fabulous! Cindy had a Shrimp Diablo dish that she liked very much as well. The waiter/ manager was happily engaged in conversation with Cindy and he told of how he was born and raised in and around San Blas and how he liked it better when life was simpler: no paved roads and people got around on bicycles rather than cars. It is an interesting perspective, changes experienced in his life in San Blas compared to changes we have seen living in the US. The common theme is the desire to return to a simpler way of life.

Downtown San Blas after the rain.  We got into the marina just in time to avoid a big storm at sea.

Downtown San Blas after the rain. We got into the marina just in time to avoid a big storm at sea.

The streets of San Blas

The streets of San Blas

Tucked inside our boat cabin during the rainstorm in San Blas.  We were grateful to be safe in a Marina and enjoyed the break from all the Mexicsn sunshine!

Tucked inside our boat cabin during the rainstorm in San Blas. We were grateful to be safe in a Marina and enjoyed the break from all the Mexicsn sunshine!

Another very interesting place we came across was an American-owned hotel and bar called the “San Blas Social Club.” We had read about it in Lonely Planet, which said the head bartender was a former actor and matador. We stopped in after doing some provisioning and met the owner “Antonio” who was quite the character. He was Jewish from New York Who grew up in the Bronx with dual American/Mexican citizenship. He was an artist and ran a couple of art galleries in New York before deciding to take advantage of his dual citizenship status and open a business in Mexico. We asked him where the name of his business came from and he explained that in “Little Italy” near where he lived in New York, people were able to get around the issue of needing a liquor license by creating establishments known as social clubs that served “members only”. Though he did not employ the same principle in Mexico, he named his establishment in honor of the places he knew and frequented in New York. We had a great time having a few drinks with Antonio and another customer before we headed back to the boat. (BTW, the famous bartender died last year so we were unable to meet him!)

The San Blas Social Club

The San Blas Social Club

Another customer and the proprietor at the San Blas Social Club

Another customer and the proprietor at the San Blas Social Club

Goofing around with face cards at San Blas Social Club

Goofing around with face cards at San Blas Social Club

Oh, Baby!

Oh, Baby!

The next day we planned to get an early start to go on the canal jungle tour: a “must do” when in San Blas. We set out in a cab owned by a cousin of the marina security guard. (Haha) He was great and took us the several miles to the bay of Ensenada de Matenchén, where we set out on the jungle tour of La Tovara. It was just Cindy and I in a boat that would easily hold 20 people. Victor our guide was perfect! He piloted the panga through the canals with precision and was very observent of the wildlife. He would maneuver and stop so that we could see the many species of birds, turtles and crocodiles along the way. At the end of the canals is a crocodile preserve. Though they have many crocs in captivity, it serves a very useful purpose as they breed them and release the baby crocs to the wild, aiding the long term survival of this endangerd species. This is also where a natural spring supplies the water source for the entire city of San Blas. We visited the preserve and continued on our way to the next stop, which was a section of the canal that had a wire fence protecting a good sized lagoon. Here there was a restaurant of sorts right on the water and steps leading into the lagoon like it was a pool. There was also a platform 6 or 8 feet off the water with a rope swing. They asked if we wanted to swim and we politely declined. Though the crocs in the canals have plenty to eat, I didn’t want to tempt them with foreign cuisine. Sure there was a fence across the canal here but the curious croc has only to get out of the water and walk around the fence! We spent an hour here and had a nice lunch before we got back in Victor’s boat and headed back.

Heading into the mangrove crocodile-infested jungle

Heading into the mangrove crocodile-infested jungle

Did the jungle know how much I like purple?

Did the jungle know how much I like purple?

One of the gorgeous rare birds we saw on the jungle tour - this one is called an Anhinga

One of the gorgeous rare birds we saw on the jungle tour – this one is called an Anhinga

Yes, that is a 15-foot croc that hissed at us and swung his big jaws around at us as he dove into the water towards our panga when we disturbed him with our motor.

Yes, that is a 15-foot croc that hissed at us and swung his big jaws around at us as he dove into the water towards our panga when we disturbed him with our motor.

The crocs became more prevalent as we left the mangroves and headed further inland where the water was less salty

The crocs became more prevalent as we left the mangroves and headed further inLand where the water was less salty

We had a late breakfast at a jungle restaurant next to a crocodile hatchery.

We had a late breakfast at a jungle restaurant next to a crocodile hatchery.

This croc is sleeping with his mouth open to keep him cool.  The biggest crocs we saw were at the croc preserve inside cages.

This croc is sleeping with his mouth open to keep him cool. The biggest crocs we saw were at the croc preserve inside cages.

We saw lots and lots of wild turtles all up and down the river

We saw lots and lots of wild turtles all up and down the river

Before we called our driver for a cab ride back to town we did some exploring at Playa Matenchėn. There we found a beautiful beachfront with families playing in the surf and several palapa restaurants lining the shore with hammocks set up for their customers. We picked out a couple of hammocks and hung out for a while with a couple of cold drinks.

Rick enjoying lying in a hammock on a beach near San Blas.  There are supposed to be irritating no see um bugs in San Blas that leave an itchy bite behind but we didn't find them any more annoying than the occasional mosquito.

Rick enjoying lying in a hammock on a beach near San Blas. There are supposed to be irritating no see um bugs in San Blas that leave an itchy bite behind but we didn’t find them any more annoying than the occasional mosquito.

There were a few other boats at the San Blas marina so we invited some of the crews to Cool Chamge, including the crew of Patricia Bell, a huge wooden schooner that he built himself.

Some neighboring boats joined us on Cool Change for a sundowner

Some neighboring boats joined us on Cool Change for a sundowner

Moving on to an anchorage in Chacala

Moving on to an anchorage in Chacala

Cindy on the path from the dinghy landing to Chacala beach

Cindy on the path from the dinghy landing to Chacala beach

The main road behind the beach in Chacala

The main road behind the beach in Chacala

Finally, I get to see a blue-footed Boobie! Do,you,see him?

Finally, I get to see a blue-footed Boobie! Do you see him?

Sunrise in Chacala.  We really loved this anchorage, even though it was the place we left only to return due to the engine water intake being clogged by a sea creature!

Sunrise in Chacala. We really loved this anchorage, even though it was the place we left only to return due to the engine water intake being clogged by a sea creature!

Arrival in La Curz de Huanacaxtle marina

Arrival in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle marina

Cool Change in her slip at La Cruz.  A very nice marina, good showers, air-conditioned cruiser room, solid cement docks, great security, and right next to an adorable little Meixan village of La Cruz

Cool Change in her slip at La Cruz. A very nice marina, good showers, air-conditioned cruiser room, solid cement docks, great security, and right next to an adorable little Mexican village of La Cruz

One of our favorite things about La Cruz is the music.  They have several intimate venues for all kinds of different music that play every night. This group was called "Traveling Band." He is from Germany and plays the guitar and sings, while she does percussion and sings. They make an incredible amount of music for just two people, and her drum solos are to die for.

One of our favorite things about La Cruz is the music. They have several intimate venues for all kinds of different music that play every night. This group was called “Traveling Band.” He is from Germany and plays the guitar and sings, while she does percussion and sings. They make an incredible amount of music for just two people, and her drum solos are to die for.

Visiting with our friends from Sausalito on their boat, Rob and Nancy from Shindig

Visiting with our friends from Sausalito on their boat, Rob and Nancy from Shindig

Tequila tasting on Shindig

Tequila tasting on Shindig

The crews of Shindig, Cool Change and Agave Azul riding a carnival ride set up for the activities of Semana Santa in the village of La Cruz.  Well, we are not really riding because we were told it was for kinds only but they let us take a picture anyway!

The crews of Shindig, Cool Change and Agave Azul riding a carnival ride set up for the activities of Semana Santa in the village of La Cruz. Well, we are not really riding because we were told it was for kinds only but they let us take a picture anyway!

A dog boarding a bus at the bus stop in Sayulita, a small tourist town a bus ride from Puerto Vallarta that has a gorgeous beach and a salsa club with live salsa  on Monday nights.

A dog boarding a bus at the bus stop in Sayulita, a small tourist town a bus ride from Puerto Vallarta that has a gorgeous beach and a salsa club with live salsa on Monday nights.

Rick on the beach in Sayulita

Rick on the beach in Sayulita

All the Mexican families starting their Easter Week holiday in Sayulita

All the Mexican families starting their Easter Week holiday in Sayulita

The major reason we came to Sayulita - salsa dancing.  We have also resumed taking salsa lessons that we found in La Cruz, and hope to continue them in Nuevo Vallarta.

The major reason we came to Sayulita – salsa dancing. We have also resumed taking salsa lessons that we found in La Cruz, and hope to continue them in Nuevo Vallarta.

This is our salsa dancing class venue in La Cruz.  They also have silk acrobatic classes here, which we think might interest our daughter Sarsh if we have our family reunion here in La Cruz next December. One of Sarah's pastimes is this incredibly challenging sport of silks.

This is our salsa dancing class venue in La Cruz. They also have silk acrobatic classes here, which we think might interest our daughter Sarsh if we have our family reunion here in La Cruz next December. One of Sarah’s pastimes is this incredibly challenging sport of silks.

Well, that is a quick photo journal of some of the places we have visited since Mazatlan. Like all of the other places we have been, we adore La Cruz, feel like we have barely scratched the surface here, and are having a hard time pulling ourselves away. But we are consoled in the knowledge that our next marina is only 7 miles away and so we can visit here by bus or boat any time we want. We may also return here if the tourist resort that is our next marina turns out to be too much against our grain. However, Rick assures me that we will love Paradise because, who wouldn’t love a marina/resort that has a crocodile slide? 🙂

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