The terrestrial travels in southern México are complete. Tomorrow the pelagic travels resume. I am sitting in the shade near the water. A light breeze keeps me cool during this warmest part of the day. It is a tranquil Sunday afternoon. Frigate birds glide silently overhead, never flapping their wings. The water in the marina is calm, with just the hint of a ripple from the breeze. The palm trees sway ever so slightly. The jungle covered hills are dark green in the afternoon sun, the sky a light blue, the water a shade or two darker. In a few minutes I will walk to the beach, swim a mile or so straight out to sea, past the people playing in the surf, past the jet skis and parasail boats. Just a mile from shore it is a different world, quiet, calm, serene. I will float on my back out there for a few minutes, then swim back to the other world, refreshed. Tomorrow I will sail further out into the sea. Why? What is the reason, the purpose? I’m not going anywhere in particular. I’m not doing anything in particular. Or am I? Some of us swim, some of us sail, some of us play music, dance, farm, paint, cook, build, create, make, repair. Why? Because it’s what we do. It’s our part in the game, in the grand opera. Of course there are twists and turns in the plot; I’m not the same person I was yesterday, and I’ll be someone else tomorrow. What will I do then? In this moment I will swim.
Sunset at Punta Cometa
Just leaving Pueblo Magico de Mazunte. Have had a wonderful time. Beginning the trek north to Puerto Vallarta this morning.
I took the bus from México City to Oaxaca on 11 February 2019, a beautiful trip through forests, mountains, and deserts. Not far from México City there are views of the volcanoes Iztacchuatl and Popocatepetl.
Oaxaca is wonderful. Locals and visitors stroll the pedestrian only streets near the Zócalo in the evenings, watching street performers, looking at artisanal goods in street stalls, and eating in the cafes and restaurants. There is live music every night in the Zócalo near the cathedral.
Music and Dancing in the Zócalo
I flew into México City on Friday evening, 8 February 2019, and have had a wonderful weekend in the city.
My hotel was in the ‘Electrical Equipment’ neighborhood – many small shops specializing in a particular electrical category such as switches, cables, conduits, or high voltage transformers. I love cities that have specialty neighborhoods like this. I spent the weekend walking and only covered a fraction of the city – it is huge in terms of both population and geography. There is so much here to see – Mayan ruins, colonial architecture, beautiful parks, and so much more.
My favorite place was Triana Cafe Gourmet in the Mercado San Juan. The owner, Pablo, makes one of the best espressos I’ve ever had, rememberers you and introduces you to everyone at the counter after your first visit, and does a little dance every time he grinds coffee.
I’m leaving in the morning for Oaxaca, but look forward to returning to México City in the future.
I departed Marina El Cid in Mazatlán on the morning of Sunday 20 January 2019 headed towards Bahía Banderas. Sunday was a beautiful day of sailing with light winds, calm seas, and warm sunshine. That evening as the sun set in the west the full moon rose in the east, and a phenomenal show began. As I sailed along the full moon lit up the sea, reflecting off the calm waters. Then the earth began to eclipse the moon. At full eclipse the orange moon looked close enough to reach out and touch, and in the darkness the stars became bright and began to twinkle, flashing in the sky. Shooting stars blazed across the heavens. I listened to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald as I watched the show, then as the eclipse came to an end the wind died and I fell asleep.
And that was the last of the wind until early Tuesday morning. I drifted generally south, sometimes catching a whisper of a breeze. When the breeze picked up for a few hours Tuesday morning I was able to sail to the harbor entrance at San Blas, then I motored up the river when the wind died again and docked at Marina San Blas for 3 days.
After enjoying village life in San Blas and meeting an interesting group of sailors, I left on Friday 25 January for a short sail to Bahía Chacala, arriving there late in the afternoon. I anchored in the bay and not wanting to inflate my kayak I decided to swim to shore for dinner. Things look closer from a boat than they actually are. I know this, but I was still surprised at how far from shore I actually was. It was a long swim, and the swim back to the boat with a full stomach and darkness closing in was even longer. In the morning I still didn’t feel like inflating the kayak so I swam in again for breakfast.
Bahía Chacala is beautiful with volcanic cliffs covered in jungle dropping to the sea and palm tree lined beaches. Unfortunately the anchorage can get uncomfortable in certain conditions, and that started to happen Saturday night. So Sunday morning I hauled up the anchor and sailed to Bahía Banderas, arriving late in the afternoon at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful sail to finish my journey south. When the winds change I will be sailing north.
If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, Quaint little villages here and there… At the River, Groove Armada
I motored out of Marina Los Cabos on Saturday morning, 12 January 2019. The sky was blue, the weather warm with a hint of a breeze. Once clear of the marina breakwater I raised the sails, shut off the outboard, and sailed for Mazatlán.
I’d had a wonderful time in San Jose del Cabo. It has a relaxed coastal California atmosphere, beautiful weather, a charming old town with art galleries and great restaurants. But I was at the end of California and could not go north until the winds change in the spring.
The 180 nm passage to Mazatlán was expected to take about 45 hours – a nice, slow, and comfortable beam reach. I’d selected a weather window with moderate winds from the north as I didn’t want to be rolling around in in steep wind waves on the beam. At just 4000 pounds Barchetta Veloce can get a little uncomfortable in disturbed seas.
Barchetta Veloce is also a fast little boat. Saturday afternoon and night the conditions were fantastic, pure Zephyr whistling on a wine dark sea. We sped over the swells, all through the night till dawn sailing on, and by morning we were two thirds of the way to Mazatlán and had raced through the carefully selected weather window. The wind increased, the swells became breaking wind waves, and Barchetta Veloce raced on, unable to slow down now, even with just a scrap of sail raised. We surfed down the waves, accelerating to exhilarating speeds, then crashing into the wave ahead, sending water cascading over the little boat.
All morning and afternoon we surfed on, and at sunset we were at the breakwater to Marina El Cid. I started the outboard, furled the sails, and motored into the marina, the little boat covered in salt and squid. The little boat and I were both beaten up and bruised, but after a good cleaning and some rest we are ready to get back out there.
I sailed out of Bahia Santa Maria at 9am on Sunday 9 December 2018 and arrived at Marina Los Cabos before noon on Tuesday 11 December, exactly two months after leaving Alameda.
The final 3 days and 2 nights of my journey south were amongst the finest sailing days I’ve ever had – a warm gentle breeze wafting me along on a run or reach over smooth azure seas.
What a finish to a sensational voyage! For 2 months most of my power has come from the sun and wind. I’ve met the most interesting people from around the world. I’ve sailed the coast of California from San Francisco to its southern terminus at Cabo San Lucas. I’ve anchored in nearly deserted bays and docked at luxurious marinas. I’ve visited beautiful villages with the friendliest people you can imagine. I’ve sailed my little boat alone for hundreds of miles.
A few weeks ago another sailor was asking me what I had on my boat – a watermaker, refrigeration, radar, AIS, a liferaft – and I answered no to everything. They said well, you must have a dinghy to get to shore. I said no, but I have an inflatable kayak, and they said wow, you really are a minimalist. I replied no, if I was a minimalist I would swim to shore.
There is a theory of design that perfection is reached not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. In many ways this trip has proven that theory. With next to nothing I’ve had a wonderful time. Barchetta Veloce has nothing extraneous, but sails phenomenally well. I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I’m taking a break for about a month.