Wednesday, March 29, 2017

San Jose del Cabo (to secret surf spot) to Mazatlan

Picking up anchor, and the trained eye will see 3 beautiful peeling waves off in the distance, proof that, yes, you can anchor where you surf

On our passage to Mazatlan, which was 187nm, we were stoked to have a third (human) crew member.  Our friend Chris joined us from San Diego.  He arrived at the same time as the first decent south swell, so almost immediately after he got off the plane we put a ballena (40oz) Pacifico in his hands and a surfboard under his arm and went to surf Zippers.  Pretty refreshing to jump off the plane and into 85 degree air and 72 degree water with head high surf.

The next day the plan was to get the boat ready for passage, but we took time to drive out to the east cape (yes we rented a car, this was the first surfable swell and I wasn't going to miss it!) and we went to check a popular spot called Shipwrecks

Shipwrecks at Sunrise
As we were surveying the surf, which it was ridable just wasn't looking that great, a new friend happened to drive by and invite us out to a local non-accessible spot except through a private gate.  We jumped on the opportunity, loaded our boards and gear and Tessa into his truck, and went and surfed some of the best waves either of us have had in quite some time.  It was a gorgeous 200-300 yard long manageable right, big open face, maybe a foot or two overhead with a fun take off.  Because one day wasn't enough, the next morning we woke up a couple hours earlier than expected and motored SeaGlub the distance over to the surf spot in the dark, anchored at sunrise and surfed again.  The place was amazing, the wave so much fun, we were super stoked to be invited to such an amazing place.  Out of respect to those who surf there regularly, I'll refer to the wave as Punta Espina, and if you want to know more about it, read the book Heap of Bones by Steve Sorensen.

And here's a cool sidenote, we surfed with Gerry Lopez.  AGerry Lopez is a legend among surfers, an ambassador of the sport, and it was cool to share waves with him.

Lopez on day 2 of a 5 day swell

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We hoisted anchor around 0930 and were under sail by 1000.  About 10 minutes after pulling anchor, we caught two beautiful bonito, we let them go but it was nice to know we were in such active waters.

Weather report called for increasing northerly winds from 25-30 knots.  We got that and more and, in fact, just after sunset, we saw gusts of 43 kts, not what you want to see just as the skies are getting dark.  We were triple reefed (about as minimum of sail area as we can have out).  This was another rough passage with the beam seas at 4-6' at 5-6 seconds, it made for a very rolly and wet ride, however we did make 148nm in 24 hours and a few hours after sunrise we were within site of Mazatlan. Monica will vouch for how very nice it was to have Chris on board.  These overnight passages haven't been fun for us as we've had some heavier weather, but having a third person to break up the watches made a huge difference.  Thanks CP!

Strong winds but making good speed over ground 

Crew at rest as we were able to use auto pilot on the morning approach after a long night's sail

Approaching the north marina of Mazatlan
We had originally planned on staying at El Cid Marina but our friends on Shamaya had arrived there several days before us and the surge in the marina was so bad they shredded a dock line and severed their power cord.  They found Isla Marina Grand Resort more amenable, especially at almost half the price (we're paying $23 / day, water and electric included).  Chris spent a few days with us after arriving and we enjoyed taking advantage of his two decades of knowledge around the city.

The way to get around Mazatlan, dog and price friendly!

Gotta get some late night partying in!

We will stay here for about 8-9 days and then start heading to Puerto Vallarta where, as of now, the planned stops are Isla Isabel, San Blas, Chacala, Jatelmba and then La Cruz Marina.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ensenada to Cabo pictures

Here's a whole bunch of pictures from our trip down the Baja coast from Ensenada to Cabo, with stops in San Quintin, Turtle Bay, Bahia Asuncion, Abreojos, Scorpion Bay and a fly-by of Bahia Santa Maria near Mag Bay (weather dictated that we not anchor and keep moving south)

Shoving off from Ensenada

Track from Ensenada to San Quintin

Beautiful San Quintin beach

Intersting wave shaped structure once used as a wind and sun shade for camping, now it's unfortunately being used for fire wood or other purposes

wild flowers spring to life in the desert

couple of bonitos 

fresh bonito tuna sushi

but fish alone wasn't enough for Monica, a couple of overnight sails and she was losing weight quickly!

After San Quintin we motorsailed to Punta Baja, had an extremely rolly day and night, and took off ASAP to Turtle Bay after seeing an unfriendly weather report and even more unfriendly surf report....

big weather system on the way pushed us out of northern Baja and down south to Turtle Bay

Track to Turtle Bay from Punta Baja

When the storm did arrive we moved to the south anchorage in Turtle Bay but we still had quite the night.  Sustained winds of 45kts for 6-7 hours and gusts up to 58.8 knots!  Our wonderful Mantus anchor held strong with 7:1 scope of all chain rode

the south anchorage where we hid out during the storm in Turtle Bay from the Tessa's view

We met up with Shamaya in Turtle Bay, and stayed with them all the way to Cabo

Shamaya and SeaGlub crew

Grocery shopping

Track from TB to Bahia Asuncion
 Asuncion was a great little town with restaurants and markets, we loved the people and the beach landings were pretty easy.

SeaGlub out there anhored

Our favorite restaurant in Asuncion

Again SeaGlub at anchor

Track from Asuncion to Abreojos
 I hadn't been to Abreojos in over 20 years, last time on a surf trip.  Other than the road being paved now to get out there, not much has changed.  We didn't find much to do, lobster season ended while we there and we were told there was always a big party where everyone showed up at the beach and ate lobster for free to celebrate the end of the season, but an official in the Fish and Game department had died that week so the party was canceled....

Beautiful skies at Abreojos

Panga and beach landing at Abreojos was a bit sketchy

Tessa always finding shade

Track from Abreojos to Scorpion Bay

wing on wind with the new whisker pole

Finally found some warmer weather in Scorpion Bay
 We enjoyed our time in Scorpion Bay, the weather finally started to warm up a bit.  Lots gringo money and homes as this is world renowned surf spot.  Dinghy landings were OK as we had very little south swell when we there but I could see them being difficult if the summer swells were around

From Scorpion Bay we were going to head to Mag Bay but as we arrived after an overnight sail, we found 30-35 knot winds in the anchorage.  We could've stayed but the weather wouldn't have been fun to hang out in, just too windy and cold.  So if you look closely at this track, we actually sailed into Bahia Santa Maria, took a look and then tacked back out to the ocean and did another overnight to head to Cabo.  Both Shamaya and Sweet Chariot followed course

Track to Cabo 

Ariival in Cabo with Shamaya and Sweet Chariot

48 hour sail was finally enough to get Tessa to use her pad.  We've never been more proud!

Once in Cabo, with warmer weather and water, I found time to install our hookah system.  It fit nicely under the forward bed next to the water maker

Hookah accessed through a vent which easily removes

After a week anchored in downtown Cabo we tied up to a slip in San Jose del Cabo, but the price was a bit steep at $1.25 / foot / day

Saturday, March 18, 2017

30 Days in Ensenada - video

It took quite a while to put this together, even longer to find wifi good enough to upload, but here it is, Episode 1....

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mexico Resident Cards - our how to.....

Updated 2/22/18, link here: Residence Renewal / Starting the Process

So start off with much thanks to Ramona on MistCutter who laid the ground work for all this.

* n.b. this was all done before the USA policies on deportation were instituted so we'll have to see how Mexico responds and if our process would've been significantly different next year

Normal visits to Mexico by USA citizens include a Tourist Visa good for a stay up to 180 days, if you've been to Mexico via plane you've seen it.  The form you fill out and give to customs at the Mexico check-in has a piece they tear off and give to you.  When you leave they take this back.  This is your tourist visa.  The problem for us was that this would require a trip out of the country every 180 days or less, which means 4 airplane tickets per year.  Ouch.

The 'Residente Temporal' or Temporary Resident card, allows you to stay in country indefinitely as long as you renew.  After 11 months but not more than 12 months you can renew for 1, 2 or 3 years (some choose the 3 year option because after 4 years you can apply for permanent residency)

From here I was going to write all about our experience but I found this website and it does a great job of explaining things (sorry the formatting changes in the blog).  Where applicable I have added my comments:

How To Apply For a Mexican Resident Card For The First Time

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in February 2014, and updated again in January of 2016.

The following article outlines the necessary steps that must be taken by foreigners who intend to live in Mexico (for non-lucrative purposes) to obtain a temporary or permanent resident card for the first time.

This process starts at a Mexican Consulate and finishes in Mexico by doing something called canje (exchange in English) at the Immigration Institute. Through the canje, foreigners who hold a Mexican VISA in their passports, granted by a Mexican consulate, apply at the Immigration Institute for a resident CARD of the same characteristics as the VISA given at the Consulate.
Here is the detailed process divided in two main steps:
Here's us inside the consulate.  Getting in here was a process, metal detectors and a check in line in downtown Los Angeles
Applying for the visa
Submit the following documents:
  • Online form, which is available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website as well as at any Mexican Consulate. This form must have the signature of the applicant. In case of minors, the person signing must be the parent or guardian.
  • Original and copy of passport or other valid identity and travel document.
  • One frontal picture (passport size, minimum: 3.2 cm x 2.6 and maximum: 3.9 cm x 3.1 cm) in color with white background. Applicant must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be behind the ears. Pictures should be taken in a specialized photography studio. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted.
  • Payment of the VISA fees: approximately 40 USD.
If the foreigner is applying for a TEMPORARY RESIDENCY:
  • Original and copy of statements as proof of investments or statements of bank accounts with a monthly average balance equivalent to approximately $21,500 USD for each of the past twelve months (considering a rate of exchange of 17 pesos).
  • Original and copy of bank statements with a monthly income or pension (free of liens) of approximately $1,300 USD for each of the past 12 months (considering a rate of exchange of 17 pesos).
  • If the foreigner is applying for PERMANENT RESIDENCY:
  • Original and copy of statements as proof of investments or statements of bank accounts with a monthly average balance of approximately $90,000 USD for each of the past twelve months (considering a rate of exchange of 17 pesos).
  • Original and copy of documents showing that the applicant has a pension (free of liens) of   approximately $2,200 USD for each of the past 12 months (considering a rate of exchange of 17 pesos).
It is worth mentioning that only pensioners can apply for the Permanent Resident VISA without having the Temporary Resident VISA first.
Interview (this is where you need the appointment at the consulate, also in the Consulate)
In an interview with an officer of the Mexican Consulate, the applicant will be asked to provide information such as personal data, purpose of the trip and any other relevant. During the interview, the officer will analyze the information and documents received and will authorize or deny the VISA.
Printing the visa in the applicant’s passport
The VISA will be issued within the following 10 working days and will be valid for 180 days and just for 1 entry to Mexico. Once the applicant is in Mexico, he/she has 30 days to start the canje application as follows:  (so for this we actually had entered Mexico within 10 days of our Interview Appointment mentioned above.  When we arrived in Mexico we filled out the normal tourist visa form but checked a different box in Section 9, we checked Other instead of Tourist) see bad quality picture below:  

When you do this, check the Other box, the cashier at immigration will ask why and you tell them you are applying for temporary residency.  Then in your passport they will affix a Visa via sticker to an entire page in you passport. In Ensenada there is a bank cashier right behind the fist immigration window, this is where we paid our $190 each (cash only)

 Canje application
Submit the following documents:  (this is a different building then the initial check in building for immigration.  This office is downtown Ensenada but not too far away.  It is on Calle Lopez Mateo which is the main street all the vendors are on across the street from the port, one street behind McDonalds then 7-10 blocks to the right, the building looks like this:
the immigration building on Calle Lopez Mateo, about 7-10 blocks down from McDonalds

Inside the Calle Lopez Mateo office

  • Online form, which is available at the Immigration Institute’s website This form must have the signature of the applicant. In case of minors, the person signing must be the parent or guardian. (very important to have this filled out exactly correctly, it is a unique submission on line that is then taken with you to the office to hand in, if it is incorrect in even the slightest way you will have to go find the internet and reapply, this part took os three days because we filled out sections wrong, particularly our address at the marina.  I'd say the best bet is to fill out the form the best you can and take it in and ask them where you screwed up and go fill it out a second time)
  • Letter requesting the canje of the VISA.  - this 'letter' is actually part of the online form above, here's the excerpt we used which worked:

  • Original and copy of the passport.
  • Applicant must bring 3 pictures as follow:
    Three color photos with white background, infant size (2.5 x 3 cm):
    • Two photos taken from the front.
    • One photo taken from the right profile.
    • Applicant must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be behind the ears.
    • Pictures should be taken in a specialized photography studio. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted.
  • FMM form, provided at the port of entry, marked as canje for 30 days.
  • Formato b├ísico (“basic form” in English), which will be given at the Immigration Institute, and filled out by the applicant.
  • Payment receipt of Immigration fees:
Follow the procedure
Once the applicant has submitted at the Immigration Institute all the documents mentioned above, he/she will receive a document with two numbers (one is called “NUT” and other is called pieza) and a password; these numbers will help the applicant to follow up on his/her procedure online at:
The applicant can follow the status of his/her application and when a note saying Registre los datos para la expedici├│n de su documento migratorio shows, that will mean that the canje has been approved.  (this took us two weeks of waiting, but then we got the email and the next day went and got our cards, so overall the process took 27 days, and we were in in Ensenada for 22 of them)
The time frame of this to happen is between 10 to 15 working days, starting from the day that the documents were submitted until the day of the approval. When you go to receive your card (back that Calle Lopez Mateo office) you will sign some documents and have his/her fingerprints taken.

What's Been Working and Not Working For Us So Far

We'll probably drop a post like this every once in a while, just some notes on what's working or not.

First, we're very satisfied that all the hard work we put into the boat in the last year in San Diego seems to be paying dividends, the engine, watermaker, generator, running rigging, whisker pole, larger solar panels, repaired dinghy leak, longer anchor chain, new exhaust hoses, and new wind instrument all seem to be working as they should.

Two things in particular we have used or gotten much more use out of than we expected are the boom preventer line and the wind generator.  The boom preventer has been a huge plus when sailing in the conditions we've experienced, heavy downwind sailing.  At night especially the easy-to-rig boom preventer has added levels of comfort so that we don't have to worry about the damage from a potential accidental gybe.

And despite being told by so many people we wouldn't use our generator until we got to the South Pacific and were in the trades, our Superwind has been keeping our batteries topped off even on the cloudy days where we get little solar help.  We're ecstatic to wake up in the morning after having the reefer and freezer run most of the night and only be down 5-10% on the batteries.

Scorpion Bay to Bahia Santa Maria (or Cabo!)

After several enjoyable days in probably our favorite anchorage so far, we were on the move to Bahia Santa Maria, the northern anchorage used by the Baja Haha every year, then we planned on moving inside Mag Bay the following day to do some mangrove dinghy trips and hopefully some whale watching, but then again nature has her ways....

Scorpion Bay was great.  Solid anchorage, well protected from everything except the south, and fortunately, or unfortunately for my desire to get out and surf a world famous break, we had very little south swell during our visit.  The town was a bit more upbeat then the last few we'd been to,after making our beach landing right inside 1st Point surf break, we found a few open restaurants, shops and little hotels.  This town has long been a desired but hard to get to surf spot, but that hasn't stopped several hundred expats from retiring here and making it there sometimes if not permanent home.  And we're not talking shacks, there are several very nice large gringo style houses all along the shore line above the cliffs out all the way out to 5th Point.

We enjoyed the beach, the ever so slightly warmer water (65 degrees at the end of February).  We did some beach combing, dinghy tow surfing, and I even paddled out at 2nd point for a longboard session, but my best wave was from a stand up on the bottom of the ocean floor and just jumped into the wave and stood up.  The following day I got few decent ankle slappers on the SUP at 1st Point.

We and Shamaya and Sweet Chariot had pinpointed Bahia Maria, 95 miles away as our next stopping point, and we left Sunday afternoon to do an overnight trip,  The sail was nice, good winds up to 30-35 but fairly calm seas.  We arrived at sunrise after making good time but as we approached the anchorage we realized this wasn't going to be a nice place to sit in these winds, so we sailed in and sailed right back out.  With the nice winds the decision was made, even if reluctantly, to overnight again and b-line to Cabo.

The sail to Cabo was long as it took another 36 hours to get there, but in the end it was the right decision.  Now we're anchored in the crazy zoo of Cabo San Lucas anchorage, right off of Tabasco Beach where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner / party.  The air was 80, water 75 and clean and clear.  We were finally wearing shorts and enjoying our introduction to the tropics!

The next few blog posts will have several pictures as we now have decent internet again.  Stay tuned....

285 nautical miles, 48 hours