January 27, 2008
Jacaranda Passage Notes #18: Puerto Vallarta! Warm At Last!
Our New Years resolution is to make more of an effort in more timely Passage Notes - sort of like promising yourself you will go to the gym or not eat that piece of chocolate cake well lets just say our intentions are good
We departed Marina Mazatlan a day earlier than Mo & Buzz on Encore so we could put a few hours on the engine under at sea conditions rather than just at the dock. We motored south past Mazatlans old harbor for a few short hours to anchor at Stone Island where we could get some movement to the boat and start getting our sea legs back. Both goals were successful since the engine ran great and there was just enough roll to the anchorage that helped us become acclimated to the motion. Being at anchor again sure felt great after 10 months of being dockside and shore bound!
We left Stone Island the next afternoon with a favorable weather report and with Mo & Buzz calling us on the VHF to say they would pass Stone Island in about 15 minutes! We both sailed south towards Isla Isabella (88 miles) in moderate NW breezes of about 15-18 knots and as the evening progressed the wind continued to lighten. Finally, about 15 miles from Isabella, we turned the engine on and anchored mid morning. Closing the island we had two baby humpback whales swim over to check us out. Isla Isabella still had tens of thousands of frigate birds soaring overhead - a sight we had enjoyed from previous stops there. The next day we went ashore with Encore and Janet from Tupo and had an excellent hike on the island. Overhead, within two arms length, the frigates perched in the branches of the tall bushes shading the trail. On the ground were nests of blue footed Boobies, many filled with chicks in their fluffy white plummage. The Boobies were totally unafraid of us and we had to gingerly step over many of the nests that were built right in the middle of the hiking path. Last time we were at Isabella and wrote about the blue footed boobies, a friend from work remarked that she also encounters many brown-nose boobies at work each day and wondered if they were related!
The following day we left at 3 a.m. for the 65 mile jaunt down to Banderas Bay, bound for Punta de Mita. We motored for the first 20 miles and then had a wonderful sail with the wind from behind right into Banderas Bay, where we could see the humpback whales jumping and tail slapping. Mo & Buzz had to sharply alter course to keep from hitting a rather large humpback whale that surfaced directly in front of them. They joked that if anyone saw a whale with green bottom paint on it, it was their whale!
We spent a few days anchored out at Punta de Mita, going ashore one day to see all the new buildings that have sprung up since we were here last year. Its really is a boom town/village with many new homes going for more than a million $US. The place is out of control with construction on every street corner.
We wanted to visit our friends in Puerto Vallarta so we moved to our old haunt - the pile moorings in Nuevo Vallarta. The few days we had were quickly filled with socializing, some boat projects and getting ready to head south. It was wonderful to connect with old friends we hadnt seen since we departed PV last March.
One evening Linda walked up the beach to a sea turtle conservation area. Each night they release between 200-400 endangered baby Oliver Ridley sea turtles. Every attendee is given 12-15 new hatchlings to set on the sand near the water and point in the right direction. When the female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs each year, the eggs are dug up the next day and placed in new nests created by the turtle researchers within a secure pen. Poachers and development (loss of beach habitat) join natural predators as the threats to these creatures. Each nest is placed side by side with others, marked with a stick and identified by date and number.
Moving the nests and then releasing the hatchlings in the evening just at dusk reduces the chances that these baby turtles will be snagged by birds and hopefully they get a head start to the deep sea. Even so, only very small numbers of these turtles will reach maturity and find their way back to this same beach to lay eggs. Hopefully these conservation efforts, Mexican law enacted a few years ago making it illegal to eat or disturb them, and the huge public educational campaign to save the turtles is working. Indeed, every year we seem to see more and more large sea turtles along the coast. (Remember the Pitt Helmet association from earlier passage notes).
Saturday morning we are headed south around Cabo Corrientes (Cape of Currents) to either the tiny anchorage in front of the village of Ipala or if that is full (the Ipala anchorage now only holds 2 boats due to extensive fish nets, etc) then we will travel the additional 48 miles down to the lovely bay of Chamela.
We are happy to report that the engine appears to be working just fine.