Thursday, March 10, 2016

Whale time.

Springtime in Mexico brings frequent whale sightings as the gentle giants start their migration toward Alaska and the cold, nutrient rich waters of the north for the summer.  Many of the Humpback and other whales calve here in and around Banderas Bay during the winter then start heading north around March, April and May.  During these months we are able to see far more whales than normal and we love it! 

Here are a few pics of a lone Humpback that we saw and cruised along side of during our trip back to Puerto Vallarta from Chacala just a couple days before Marne's sister and niece had to leave us to go back to the States.  It was indeed a nice parting gift.

SV Liahona
Bret and Marne

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Family on board.

March is an exciting month of guests for us on board the Liahona. My sister Stacey and niece Emma are here now and later this month we have the Broesders on board.

Stacey and Emma arrived on the 2nd flying into the PV airport. Bret had some things to take care of, so I hopped a bus to the airport with a friend from SV Enchantor who was also picking up visitors.

 Along with the lines resembling those for a Disneyland e-ticket ride, the airport hosts a Carls Jr. I ordered the enormous 1/2 lb steak burger, telling myself "Go big or go home". Although I am not usually one to photograph my food, I took a picture of this beauty thinking Bret's dad would approve of my meal choice and wanted to share.

Now and then I have less than genius moments. I was waiting at the arrival gate with all the taxi drivers holding signs displaying the names of their arriving passengers. I got super stoked reading one of the signs, even taking a picture so I would have proof. Thankfully my friend from Enchanter read the same sign, smiling he said, I believe you are thinking Halle Berry.

Boys ages 10-15 practicing juggling machetes

Stacey's first street tacos at The Red Chairs in La Cruz.

Mule train climbing the streets of Yelapa.

Fresh squeezed juice served in a bag.

We spent day 1 in Yelapa. The small mountainside town with its narrow cobblestone streets remind me of the enchanted forest near Portland Oregon. We hiked up to the waterfall seeing some interesting sites along the way. After some beach side refreshments and a little trinket shopping we pulled anchor and sailed across to Punta de Mita. Stacey and Emma got lucky and watched a couple dolphin playing in the swell from the bow of the boat.

The sun has set and as I finish this post I can hear the mariachi band playing from the beach..

Ciao for now,

Marne, Bret, Stacey and Emma

Happiness does not have a universal definition.

Eleno and Manuela

We woke up this morning to the sound of an outboard motor and a happy "buenos dias".  We scrambled up top to see if it was a fisherman possibly offering to sell some of his catch.  As we poked our heads out we were greeted by the husband and wife couple that we met yesterday.  When we pulled into Las Cuevas around 2pm there was a panga out on the point fishing and we assumed that the various nets around the small bay were theirs as well.  Emma and I took a little dinghy tour around the bay and we stopped by their panga and chatted with them for a bit.  They told us that they fish for 3-5 days at a time before going back home to Jaltemba for a few days and then return to the sea hoping to get a few fish to sell at the local market.  We learned that they are a husband and wife team named Eleno and Manuela and this is how they make their living to care for their family.
They stayed out on the point fishing with hand lines all day, then when night fell they came over by us and dropped their anchor made of rebar to get a little rest before they pulled their nets sometime in the middle of the night.  Marne had made brownies so we took a couple over to them and they graciously accepted with heartfelt smiles on their faces.  Their panga that serves as their home away from home was pretty humble.  An open top fiberglass panga, maybe 15' long.  On the front they had secured an old camper shell that looked like it served to cover the bed of someone's pickup a long time ago.  I can only imagine that it was thrown out as junk before they found it, picked it up and re-purposed it.  Dirty fish water sloshed around the bottom of the boat that they would empty out every so often with a cut off milk jug.

Last night before we tucked ourselves into bed we looked over to see flickering light coming from their panga.  They had lit a fire in the middle of their boat, most likely to cook a small fish or two for dinner and warm their hands.  I don't know what was under that fire to protect the boat from catching on fire but I was certain that they had it all figured out.  Poor, humble Mexicans are very resourceful people.

When their happy voices echoed outside the boat this morning we found them wrapped in burlap type ponchos with an outer protective layer made of black plastic trash bags.  We offered them a warm cup of coffee and they were quick to humbly accept.  As they pulled their panga close so we could pass them down their cups filled with warm goodness it made us ponder of our own fortunate circumstances.  At first I was sad to see their wet, bare feet in the cool dingy water, work warn hands and a very small milk crate with very few fish in it.  However, they had huge smiles on their faces and I supposed that they were truly happy, although their definition of happiness is differently defined than how most of us would put words to it.

Eleno and Manuela can teach us much.  After they had handed us back our coffee cups and motored off in their panga our hearts were warmed.  It felt good to add in a very small way to the gratitude and happiness in their life.  We too were grateful to have made their acquaintance and they most definitely added to our lives with an appreciation of our own fortuitous circumstances.  Thank you Eleno and Manuela.  May God bless you with a more fish in your nets and good health for you and your children.  We are grateful to have met you.

Folks like Eleno and Manuela make it easy to love this country and it's people!

A swell rolls over the reef near the entrance of Las Cuevas

SV Liahona
Bret, Marne, Stacey and Emma

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Women who sail.

Hello from the First Mate,

I am enjoying life aboard and south of the border very much. Living the dream does not come without a cost. The cost for me is the missing of my family, dear friends, and my poodle. Distance does make the heart grow fonder as they say, and I have found it shines a light on gratitude as well. Newly added to my gratitude list is the gift of reading. I have been devouring books. My mom and step dad Jim have always been avid readers, sometimes reading more than one book at a time. In the past my biggest reads were the long comics in the Sunday paper. What a decadent treat reading is. Who knew!

  I have been practicing my Spanish almost daily, about 15 minutes of book time each morning added to emersion and bit by bit its starting to stick. Brets being able to speak fluently is a major help, but he is not always with me on trips in town. If only I had taken spanish instead of 3 years of German in high school. I have traded das is gut for esta bien and Guten Nocht for Beinas Noches.

Women Who Sail seminar

 We are entering into our 6th month and I have already met so many women cruisers. I have become part of a network of women who truly love what they are doing. Some are part of a crew, many are first mate or Captain, and some amazing women are single handers. I recently attended a women who sail seminar. One of the speakers told of how her vessel was hit by a whale. The boat did end up sinking, but she was able to get the entire crew off. Another speaker has been a single hander for the 15 years since her husband passed away. During those 15 years, she has circumnavigated several times. As with my Spanish, we have been adding more to my sailing education. I no longer just pull in the main sheet, or drop the anchor when asked. In preparation for the South Pacific, and anything that can happen at sea, I have to be able to single hand the Liahona. That means I have to be able to sail her with or without the motor, I have to be able to transmit on Ham frequency, I have to be able to be the Captain if ever need be. Bret is not only amazing at sharing all he knows with me, I can tell he enjoys it. I hope it will help him to sleep more on long overnight crossings as well. The majority of my work life has been spent behind the wheel of a truck and my dad always said I had diesel in my veins. Now at the helm I am hoping to add a little salt air to the mix.

Urchin shrapnel 

The surf report for the south end of Matanchen Bay...NOT happening!

 I am looking forward to more surfing when the broken toe and sea urchin spines feel better, and if I can let go of more ego I will enjoy it even more. We were looking at magic seaweed surf report the other day checking swell and conditions in some spots we wanted to surf. One of the spots had a nice soft long rolling wave, and apparently was less " Sharky" than the neighboring break. At first glance we both thought it was a play on words and that the wave just had less of a bite. Turns out there is a break further up the coast that happens to be near a fish plant. Needless to say we will not be surfing near the fish plant, and my fear about black urchin spines is gone....

 I can here the anchor chain being raised, so I had better end this letter.

Hope everyone has a charlie charlie day,

SV Liahona
Marne and Bret