The Gold Coast of Mexico and Sea of Cortez

La Paz, Baja California del Sur, Mexico

Way down here
You need a reason to move
Feel a fool
Runnin’ your state side game
Lose your load
Leave your mind behind, Baby James
Oh Mexico
It sounds so simple
I just got to go
The sun’s so hot
I forgot to go home
Guess I’ll have to go now

James Taylor

Jeez! Where has the time gone? It seems like we just got the taste out of our mouths from the 200+ envelopes we licked for the Holiday newsletter. Just thought we’d update you as to what we’ve been up to since the beginning of ‘97 in advance of our trip to “the World” (USA) in May.

Highlights of the Holidays-Argentina and Chile
We spent the week of Christmas and New Years drinking Pisco and Whiskey sours taking in the breathtaking views of Lake Nahuel Huapi and the Andes Mountain with Ingrid’s family. We also sampled many of the wines of Chile and Argentina, which are among the best we’ve had, and a 20 year old bottle of fine Cabernet can be had for under $20. We even ventured into the wilderness and camped at Lago Hess amongst neighboring cows and streams filled with trout. After a great stay in Bariloche we took the lake tour through the mountains from Argentina to Chile and spent a night at Petrohue, in a quaint hotel at the foot of the Osorno Volcano in the Chilean Andes. The illumination of a full moon on the snow capped volcano is a sight not easily forgotten. We even managed to motivate ourselves into taking a fifty mile bike trip along a picturesque route from Puerto Varas to Frutillar in southern Chile. In our book, that goes down as serious exercise.

Cruising the “Gold Coast” of Mexico

Here’s a brief itinerary of our travels since we returned from the Holidays in South America. We departed Puerto Vallarta in late January and made a fairly quick trip south to Zihuatanejo, stopping at the beautiful bays of Ipala, Chamela, Careyitos (Playa Blanca), Tenacatita (the set for the new McHale’s Navy movie), Navidad and Manzanillo (Las Hadas). After three weeks in Zihuatanejo, we scraped the barnacles off Moonshadow’s bottom and headed north again, spending more time in our favorite spots. After returning to what feels like our home port of Puerto Vallarta for a couple of weeks, we headed north again, stopping at Punta de Mita, Isla Isabela and Mazatlan. We then headed west across the Sea of Cortez to La Paz for Race Week and to leave Moonshadow for our trip to New Orleans Jazz Festival and San Francisco.

St. Patrick’s week at Barra de Navidad and the huge party at Phil’s Place (Los Pelicanos), the greatest cruiser hangout on the coast. Hanging out on “Super Bowl Sunday” at Club Med Playa Blanca in Careyitos. Killer windsurfing in Zihuat Bay. Valentines dinner, dancing and skinny dipping at a posh resort called Porto Mio in Zihuatanejo. Dropping into Casa Elvira in Zihuat for one (or more) of Carlos’ excellent scratch margaritas and listening to the mariachi band play, “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Keeping Zihuat awake with our all night dance party on Moonshadow. Catching a 7′ sailfish on the way into Las Hadas. Side trips to the ruins at Teotihuacan, the colonial “Silver City” of Taxco, and Cuernavaca, the “City of Eternal Spring”. Diving for lobster (yum-yum) while dodging huge moray eels in the caves at Isla Isabela and the one that “got away” from George and “hid” in his dive vest. Mountain biking in the jungle above Puerto Vallarta. Dinner at the “Quinta Laura” (a 15,000 sq. ft villa in P. V.) with our good friends and “buddy boaters” Ruth and Buddy. Golfing at Isla Navidad on a course that rivals Pebble Beach. Driving the dinghy full throttle through a narrow passage in the mangrove jungle at Tenacatita. The many, many cocktail parties on board the many, many yachts of the many, many cruising friends we’ve made in Mexico. Sitting in the Barba Negra bar, drinking margaritas and watching reruns of the Baja 1000 race, with John, a 15 time winner and fellow cruiser, narrating.

“Beating” up the coast from Zihua to P. V. in 20 knot winds and 10 foot seas. George being incapacitated in P. V. for 48 hours with food poisoning, and having his wallet swiped in a Mexico City subway. The key to the rental car breaking while camping at a remote lake in the Argentine Andes, and all the food and wine being locked in the trunk. Ingrid’s running shoes being swiped of the deck of the boat in Barra de Navidad and the replacement pair being swiped out of Miriam’s bag at the airport! Being endlessly harassed by the vendadores (street vendors) while eating out. Forty-plus knot winds one night while anchored in Caleta Partida.

Things We’ve Learned
The reason there are fewer crooks in Mexico is that the government doesn’t like the competition. The best wine with Mexican food is beer. There is an affliction contracted by people who spend too much time sailing in the tropical sun called “Cruiseheimer’s Disease”. Stainless steel isn’t. Waterproof things aren’t. Water makers usually don’t. Manana doesn’t mean tomorrow in Spanish, it means not now! IBM stands for Irreparable Bad Memory. Murphy was a sailor, because he sure spends a lot of time on boats. Cruising is defined as extensive repair and maintenance in exotic places. Don’t carry your wallet onto a Mexico City subway. There is no drinkable Mexican wine. The first class buses in Mexico are clean, fast, cheap, air-conditioned, luxurious with “in-flight” movies, toilets, stewardesses and sometimes even on time. The largest sail flown by many cruisers in Mexico is an awniker. The predominant negative weather phenomenon that cruisers experience in Mexico is the Rum Front.


We love sharing the cruising lifestyle with our friends and family, and we’ve had lots of visitors over the last few months. Special thanks to Sue Jordan and husband Dave from Sausalito who came down to watch MaiTai and Moonshadow while we were in South America. Kudos to Tom Harnett who got on in Manzanillo and cruised with us to Zihuatanejo. Tom showed up with parts we needed as well as 26 bottles of fine wine. Yum-yum! He then schlepped the boom vang back to Svendsen’s in Alameda for repair. Cheryl Cornelius popped in for a long weekend in Zihuat, carrying provisions. Lisa Edinger holds the record for visits with six so far this year-and muchas gracias for bringing parts, provisions, the boom vang and mail from “the World”. It was also great seeing Miriam Sittenfeld again in Barra de Navidad. Ingrid’s brother Paul visited us for a week and wins the “Best Trooper” award. After enduring a major sunburn, regular hangovers, and a case of Montezuma’s revenge he was stung by jellyfish and a stingray in Tenacatita. “Sting” e-mailed us to tell us what a great vacation he had. What constitutes a “bad” vacation Paul? Lastly, Karen & Jeff Brown from San Diego joined us in La Paz for “Race Week”, quickly rising (lowering themselves) to the occasion.

La Paz Race Week
Every year, hundreds of people break away from the boredom and drudgery of cruising to participate in week of fun, racing and festivities called “Race Week”. Although there’s not enough space (or brain cells) to recall all the fun and craziness, there is no doubt that the Moo Crew left an indelible mark on the La Paz Race Week. The setting was Caleta Partida, a beautiful moonscaped bay formed where Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida almost touch, about 25 miles from La Paz. Race Week attendees have dubbed it Partidaville. After a round of pre-parties in La Paz (at one Jeff won two bottles of rum, which set the tone for the week), the fleet raced to Partidaville. We ran out of wind 4 miles from the finish and had to motor in. After the second day, the weather became windy and was marked by repeated Rum fronts. There was a lot of creative cooking aboard Moonshadow, and we took first places in the hors d’oeuvre contest and chili cookoffs. Our results in the chili cookoff were helped by Jeff and George helping the judges “cleanse their pallets” with rum offered directly from the udders of their cow costumes! Winds were fresh for the second and third races, as well as for windsurfing on the clear aqua waters between the islands. While motor sailing back to La Paz we came upon a pod of eight sperm whales, sleeping on the surface of the bay, and were able to hang out within 50 feet of them for quite some time. The last few nights in La Paz were marked by numerous “Mooooo” greetings from other Race Week participants!

Couldn’t Be Further From the Truth
Overheard on the docks at Puerto Vallarta: Two women looking out at the boats and one says “I don’t think I could live on a boat-nothing to do”.

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