Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chamela 12.24.08

We had another great cruise down the coast today. We are making short hops down to Barra de Navidad, still hoping to make it by Christmas. We left Ipala on Monday around 08:00 and cruised down the coast by 50 miles to Chamela. The seas were flat as can be and it was a beautiful motorsail. No wind at to speak of but we had the main & mizzen up for stability & the occasional push. A fun thing about being out sailing down the coast is you’re never alone. Of course we have our buddy boats but also we are contacted on the radio often by other boats that pick up our conversations and want to chat as well. Communication between the 3 boats is plentiful – we talk about what we’re seeing (miles & miles of beaches), sea conditions (what a current we’re bucking!), report any wildlife we see (whales!) and our position if we can’t visually see each other. But we’re often contacted by others who happen to hear our conversations and are looking for info on weather, our plans, etc. It’s a great community and I’ve always been amazed how boaters always wave to each other & help out whenever needed. Why is boating that way, I wonder?

We saw logs of life in the sea again – turtles, whales, fish, birds – you know, the usual.

We arrived in Chamela and there was a south swell running, making the anchorage entirely too rolly for us to stay so we cruised out by the islands and anchored there. We had another scare as our batteries were not entirely charged – stressing Michael out. We did have full water tanks (we make water while we’re underway using our watermaker to pull the clean water from the ocean, desalinate it, condition it and put it in our water tanks), and hot water for showers though! We tried to run the generator and it was doing it’s bogging down thing again so we shut everything down for the night – we’ll deal with it in the morning. The evening sunset was absolutely gorgeous and we jumped overboard to cool off & look for the ‘green flash’ while the sun was setting. The water was perfect – just enough cool to cool us down but just warm enough to let us stay in for a while. After a shower & dinner, we read some more and unwound for a bit and hit the sack. The evening was quite a bit rolly and it was the first evening on the hook, so we didn’t get much sleep.

We woke up & Michael tore apart the back cabin looking at the batteries. We had thought about it a lot the evening before and decided it must be a bad connection or something wrong with the batteries as the engine alternator is directly tied into the batteries and after a 7 hour motor, they were not topped off. He identified 2 battery terminals that could stand to be cleaned up and disconnected everything to clean it while Mike from Lady Hawke supervised. The water was so super clear we could see the anchor and chain from the bow of the boat – 16 ft down. The anchor was dug in well and we could even see the ripples in the sand below. Just beautiful…

Around noon, we all decided to go into the beach for some snorkeling & beach time. Joe & Deborah from Pacific Jade & Mike & Marylyn from Lady Hawke. The beach we were anchored off of was about 150 ft long, super fine white & black sand, pelicans & booby birds everywhere, & the most excellent turquoise blue water lapping into the sand that I’ve seen. It was paradise. Lady Hawke brought out a nice umbrella and the girls took off looking for shells & beach glass while the boys installed the umbrella. There were hermit crabs everywhere – from small ones the size of a pea to larger ones golf-ball size – and they were running all over the beach hiding their beautiful shells from us! The island is a preserve, although it didn’t say whether it was a bird refuge or what exactly. There was cactus growing all over the island, both the traditional cactus and some cactus that looked like an octopus – tentacles everwhere. And there were trees & shrubs were everywhere. It was a super sunshiny day, temps in the 80’s and the water just as warm. The snorkeling was off the charts – by far one of the most spectacular places I’ve seen in a long time. There were what seemed like millions of fish everywhere you turned. Lots of schools and lots of colors! My new favorite fish is the puffer fish and I spent quite a while just hanging with one of them. There were needlefish, star fishes, blue, orange, & yellow fishes, all surrounded by spectacular turquoise blue water. We even saw a very pissed off eel that we stayed away from and a snake that took off quickly when we saw him. The sun was shining and was shimmering down onto the rocks we were snorkeling around, it was splendid. Mike from Lady Hawke showed Michael & Joe what scallops looked like and made it their mission to find some for dinner. By the end of the snorkel they boys had rounded up 5 large scallops!

Back at the beach we all snacked on things we each brought – a fresh cut pineapple & roasted peanuts – chatted, & enjoyed the beach & sunshine. The boys began the chore of cleaning the scallops which turned into great entertainment as they are not easy to open and then when you do open them up, they have little critters that come crawling out that elicited a hearty ‘Gross!’ from everyone watching & by the time they had them cleaned & ready…it was time to get back to the boat before dark. Mike & Marylyn had caught a sierra while fishing and was going to make fish tacos for dinner and I had pressure cooked some pinto beans so we figured it was the perfect combination and went to their boat for dinner. We had forgotten to turn on a light before we left the boat and it was pitch black when we were going home! There was no moon out and the million stars out were of little help but we managed to make it back. The phosphorescence was incredible though – it is like seeing little lightning bugs everywhere in the water. When we were motoring back to our boat, we had a 10’ tail of phosphorescence that was following us! It was just a spectacular day.

With everything from yesterday, how could we possibly top it? Well, we had a Christmas eve that went to our top 3 of all time. We were up & about early, as result of another horridly rocky evening. I was sitting at the computer trying (and failing) to send e-mails while Michael was up on deck and the generator was running. All of a sudden, Michael comes running down the deck (which is right above my head) screaming ‘Rene!!’ I was flipped out and started running towards the generator kill switch (a reflex since we’ve been having issues with the @#$(& generator) when he finally says “there’s a seahorse out here – come quick!” And there it was…a real live seahorse! It was a burned red color and was hanging out at the bow of the boat, nibbling the algae that was stuck to the chainplate at the waterline. It was spectacular. I’ve never seen one in the wild, only in aquariums and had always hoped to. After telling the others about it, I realized how rare it is! Everyone I spoke to had never seen them….and they have been cruising for lots of years! I took photos but they don’t capture how cool it was…sorry.

Mike & Marylyn had to go into town for beer & ice so we tagged along. At the main anchorage in Chamela, we found another boat – A Capella with Ed & Cornelia on board and stopped to say hi. We beached our dinghies & took off to town. The town was small and had one paved road through it. There were a handful of tiendas & abbarotes and we checked each one out! Lots of goodies. The main square was beautiful and there were several nativity scenes set up all along the street. We provisioned with the necessities and headed back to the dinghy only to find Ed & Cornelia having a beer on the beach! We joined them for a quick one & before we knew it, it was time to be back on the boat to prepare for our big Christmas eve celebration.
The 6 of us met on the beach again around 3pm with presents & dinner. There were two large beach blankets on the sand with all of our goodies and we each brought a beach chair. Each of us cooked an arracherra, a cut of meat popular down here that has a nice flavor to it, and a side dish. Marylyn brought a cabbage salad with a yummy ginger sesame sauce, pineapple slices, & a cream cheese/raspberry chipotle appetizer with crackers. Michael made some potatoes that were covered with bacon & roasted and we also brought some chipotle cheese to share. Deborah made a coconut key lime pie for desert…yumm!! After dinner, we exchanged gifts. We made off with a incense set, an ornament & a beaded hair clip from Lady Hawke and a crank flashlight, a loofah soap, & chocolates from Pacific Jade. I gave Michael a set of ‘worry dolls’ that the Indians believe that you tell your worries to before you go to bed and they worry for you, and an earring. I had picked up a tank top when we were in San Blas that acted as my gift. It was perfect.

We cleaned up our site a little and then began gathering our racers. You see, yesterday as we were looking at all those cute little hermit crabs….we had a wild thought. Let’s setup a racetrack & have hermit crab races!! Sounds great. A racetrack was created in the sand, with a start line & finish lines….and a few little speed bumps for the sport of it! We all hunted for what we thought was a speedy hermit crab and placed them on the start line. How exactly do you determine a speedy hermit crab you ask? Good question! Everyone seemed to have their own set of requirements – mine was simply putting a bunch of them in my hand and which ever one opens up first must be a speedy one! Haha… So once we all had our crabs down…we waited for one or more to cross the finish line. Deborah’s crabs won both heats, with mine coming in second each time. Somehow Deborah & I were the best at picking the crabs since everyone else’s crabs didn’t even finish! Of course we were the ones encouraging ours the most, so that must be the secret. Deb had brought prizes for the winners and my crab (that I called ‘Red’, hers was named ‘Hermie’) and I were awarded a kazoo! Red didn’t want to play so I played for him…haha. And before you ask…no, we weren’t drunk – just enjoying. The video I have to share will have you rolling in your chair….and if not, you’re too darn serious!! We also played a game called ’20 questions’ which was a handheld computer game where as a group you choose select an object and then the computer asks you 20 questions and then tells you what you had selected! We figured we could surely stump it so our first word was ‘seahorse’. The darn game asked us 20 questions such as ‘is it heavier than a 1lb of butter?’, ‘Does it have a long tail?’, ‘’Does it have legs?’, etc and it came up with the correct answer!! How did it do that?? So we tried again, this time choosing a volcano. Yep, it got it correct. We stumped it with a ‘kazoo’, but it redeemed itself with a ‘dinosaur’. Stupid game… hahaha…

The sun was setting so we started a bonfire in the sand and sat around & just enjoyed each other’s company. We talked about everything & kept warm to the fire. We watched as all of the pelicans and booby birds nestled into their trees for the evening, the hermit crabs retreated under the logs & burrowed into the sand, & the phosphorescence in the water sparkled as the tide was gently lapping in. We finally extinguished the fire & headed back to the boat around 9:30. Temps were still in the 70’s and the water was nice & cool. We went back to the boat and had one more rocky night and decided to weigh anchor and head further down the road to Barra de Navidad. This anchorage was absolutely splendid – perfect in my eyes. If it had only been a calmer anchorage in the evening….Michael would agree! We will definitely return here.



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