Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Home away from home

It´s a wildly exciting feeling to have the opportunity to both leave Cabo San Lucas (the $6 dollar beers left a slightly bitter taste in our mouths) and to sail 275 miles across the Sea of Cortez to meet up with some great friends from home in a sleepy little town in Mexico. Well, maybe sleepy´s not the appropriate adjective here. Sleep has never really been a big part of the gameplan in Jackson. I guess it should go without saying that the first R in R&R can´t be counted on when half of Jackson has been transplanted to Sayulita. Oh well, work hard (haha), play harder, right?
Our last view of Cabo, the famous rock arch, was a more than welcome sight when we finally shoved off.

Another strangely exciting feeling (emphasis on strange) is to be attacked by water balloon pirates in the middle of the ocean! Having not seen another boat for nearly a day and a half - almost 150 miles from the nearest shore - we were suddenly under enemy fire from fellow Haha-ers J-World. And we thought we were friends! Fortunately the dousing was a welcome relief from the heat, and their attempts to steal our women and our beer were futile - we had no women and our three beers were bordering on bathwater temperature. HA! That´ll teach you pirates to mess with the Gypsy Kings!

Hey hey! Remember these crazy kids? Matt and Katy from the Baja Haha were actually the first to greet us upon arrival in Sayulita. Cruising from Cabo on the Poobah´s luxury catamaran, they arrived a day or so ahead of us and were relaxing on the porch of their beachside bungalow when they saw Gypsy poking along into the bay. Must say it was a pleasant surprise to be greeted on the VHF by a familiar voice after a long sail to uncharted territory.

Ahhh, dry land. Time among good friends from home. Sayulita´s famous Tacos el Pastor. Can´t get much better than that, right? Oh wait, is that a bottle of tequila in your right hand, Eddie? What, this bottle? Tequila? In Mexico? Noooo. Well maybe, for better or for worse.

Deckhand Chad and a couple of our gracious hostesses, Amy and Katrina. Apparently our arrival in Sayulita was a much anticipated event, and as per usual we timed it perfectly. We got into to town on what was the last night in Mexico for several of the lovely Jackson ladies, so naturally had to celebrate both their departure and our arrival. And celebrate we did. Remember that bottle of tequila? Yeah, neither do we.

Don´t be scurred, Amy. Margaritas are your friends. See, Noni´s got the idea.

There´s no better way to burn off the fog of last night than catching a few breakfast waves before the rest of the beach bums wake up and paddle out. Seen here, real live surfer dudes and dudette.

Take that, wave!

Hey Eddie, which way to some killer waves? Oh, the waves are that way.

Amy. Shredding.

You get really hungry after surfing for two hours before breakfast. Really hungry. MMM, Sally.

Pangas line the beach in Sayulita.

The Sisters Jimmerson. Stay classy girls.

Speaking of classy, Sayulita didn´t know what it was getting itself into when it invited the Gypsy crew ashore.

The unfortunate thing about having a sailboat is that people are constantly trying to bum rides from you to really crummy places like surf breaks, deserted islands, and golden sand beaches. Seriously a bummer. Our last day in Sayulita we decided that maybe it wouldn´t hurt to let in and bring these hooligans along to a surf spot just up the coast. Boy were we wrong! Worst day ever - you can just see the agony and disgust in our faces.

Amy and Chad struggling through another day aboard Gypsy in sunny Sayulita.

Well eventually we had to leave Sayulita and move south along the coast to Zihuatanejo. Fortunately for us we got there on Thursday and Thursdays are Pozole Days! If you´ve never tried this speciality of the state of Guerrero, it is highly recomended. A spicy stew made with chicken or pork, onions, jalepenos, hominy, and all the additional fixings you could want to make it to your liking, it is an absolutely delicious dish well deserving of it´s own weekly holiday.

These lovely ladies serve up some of the cheapest, tastiest, and heartiest servings of pozole in all of Zihua. No reservations needed, but get there early if you want to be fed because their pozole goes fast!

Right next to Zihuatanejo is a the resort town of Ixtapa, which was created by the Mexican tourism board because they thought that Mexico was in need of another Cancun style resort town on the Pacific coast. First of all, Mexico, I think one Cancun in the world is enough Cancun for everyone. And second of all if you really have to build another one at least do it right. Not one wet t-shirt contest was witnessed in our stay in Ixtapa. I, for one, am very disappointed. The one saving grace for Ixtapa is that their marina is infested with giant crocodiles. Not good for swimming, but like wet t-shirt constests, fun to look at.

Mexicans take their tequila seriously and so do we. Our tequila somellier, Brisa, helped us select the best tequila available with some very prudent advice: the best tequila is the one that tastes best to you. Just like wine, you can get a good sense for flavor with the nose. I´m picking up an essence of salt and lime here. Mmm, delicious.

With high spirits after spending a few days in what seems to be the consensus favorite town in Mexico so far, we leave Zihuatanejo for Acapulco and then the last leg of our Mexican cruising with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua still to come. But don´t worry, we´ll keep you in the loop. Salud!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Life Aquatic

We celebrated Halloween, albeit a few days early, with the kick-off party for the Baja Ha-ha. There's nothing like a six hundred person parking lot party, complete with free beer and Mexican food. The Superkids were disguised in the stealthiest of costumes, as Team Zissou from the inspirational film The Life Aquatic.

This is Kathy and her cat Carpet Sample. We learned a valuable lesson from Kathy on this day: When hitchiking, don't accept rides from crazy ladies who are driving in the opposite direction of your preferred destination. We were on the verge of just walking back to the boat after having no luck hitching a ride when Kathy stopped to pick us up, so we gladly accepted the ride. We realized things were amiss when she, a) started speeding up every time we approached a stop sign; b) told us first that we couldn't get out of the car and then that we could get out and walk only when we were at least 5 miles farther away from the boat than where we started, and; c) that she had to stop at the store to get tampons but we could wait in the car!

Finally we decided to go to her house to meet her cats and drink some tequilla - apparently she hadn't met her pre-happy hour quota yet. There weren't any parking spaces on the street but fortunately no one had taken the spot on her front yard. PHEW!
When it was all said and done we had a pretty hilarious story and a few free shots of tequila in us, but it definitely wasn't what we bargained for when we stuck our thumbs out to head back to the boat from the Halloween party.

Got a bit of a late start to the Ha-ha, but when we did finally shove off the wind was blowing, the sun was shining and the boats with spinnakers that had taken off on time (just a couple of hours earlier) were a mere 400 miles ahead of us. Seen here, el Capitan, Justin, and Chad pulling out of San Diego.

Our second day out was one for the record books: three ahi, one wahoo, a yellowtail, and one three foot shark. The shark looked tasty, but to his eyes so did our hands. Pretty sure he would have been munching on some human hand sashimi for lunch if we hadn't cut that line. Oh well, five fish in a day ain't bad.

This fish actually caught Chad. Up on deck we spotted some fish jumping off the port beam, and within seconds of having a line out we hooked a 40 pound yellow-fin tuna. I think the speed with which the whole event took place was a bit of a shock to all parties involved, fish and fisher alike - notice the similar facial expressions.

We love fish, but Justin loooooooves fish.

It can get a little gory sometimes when you reel one in. Case in point, fish numero uno. No one on board had ever hooked a tuna before, let alone attempt to kill and fillet one. So our first catch was a little ugly. We'll spare you the details, but the highlight of the horror show was probably when our fish coughed up its still-beating heard onto the deck. Yikes!

It may not have been the most humane kill, but we lacked in fish killing know-how, we more than made up for in fish eating skills. That fish made for some tasty sashimi. We're really good at eating fish.

The weird thing about sailing into Mexico like we did is that for the first three days we were in the country we really didn't see any changes in culture, language, or surroundings - it's still just three white kids and a boat. But when we finally did set foot on Mexican soil in the little town of Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay) about halfway down the Baja, we were greeted by smiling faces, friendly and helpful people, and a much needed cold cervesa. As glad as we were to be on dry land after four days and three nights of sailing, there is no doubt that the locals looked forward to our arrival just as much. Our last night in town they put on a party in their brand new town plaza, built thanks in a large part, I'm sure, to the huge influx of cash that the Ha-ha fleet brings to this little town every year. On display were colorful shrines in celebration of Dia de los Muertos, delicious street food, and some scary costumes.

Did I say scary? I think I meant scary cute.

Picture, picture. This local was taking pictures of the tourists.

Our homie Eric, doing the roof top boogie at Bahia Santa Maria. James Dumm, if you’re reading this, and I hope you are- this is your long lost twin brother that happens to be twenty years older than you. Eric, you’re the quite possibly the coolest dude to ever don the utili-kilt, keep spreading the love, brother!

November 4th, 2008- Election day in Bahia Santa Maria, Baja Sur, Mexico. Wow- needless to say, we felt pretty far removed from the rest of America. It’s amazing what traveling 550 miles (not to mention the conga line) can do to your state of mind. In spite of the beach party, everyone still had the significance of the day in the back of their mind. Even though our votes may not have meant much to the incredibly republican state of Wyoming, it paid off on our adventure in Latin America. We spotted a beautiful girl handing out “I Voted” stickers and immediately jumped on the opportunity. As luck would have it, that encounter led to us meeting some of the best people in the entire Baja Haha. I think this is the appropriate time to shout out to the entire crew of Reverence, Jason, Colleen and Anita, thanks for everything, you are amazing- we’ll never forget you three- hope we cross paths in the future ‘cause our time together was not nearly enough.

Speaking of unforgettable - another shoutout is in order for these two scaliwags, and the rest of the Lunasea crew for that matter. Katy, Matt, Dave, Dave, and Johnson, Don Johnson (yes it's his real name) here's to ya, you ridiculous pirates! We can't say enough about how great everyone we met on the Ha-ha was. Genuinely good people who take an interest in other people and are willing to drop everything to lend a hand. We couldn't have kicked off this voyage in a better way with a better group of people. Take care Ha-haers!

Our fleet anchored in Bahia Santa Maria. Gypsy is the little white one in the middle. See her?

The hills encircling Bahia Santa Maria seemed to be calling to us the day we arrived, so we decided to put down the Modelos for a bit and take some advice offered in the Ha-ha literature from our fearless leader, the Grand Poobah:
"While the climate in Mexico is great for drinking, it's even better for the healthy outdoor life and getting yourself into better shape than you've been in years. We all know the formula: Walk a couple of miles a day, swim a mile a day, eat well and drink in moderation. And we all know the results: less weight, lower blood pressure, greater endurance, wilder sex, and better general health."
We just needed a little dryland training before ski season, but hey, it couldn't hurt to lower my blood pressure a bit because I have been strressssed.

Not Gypsy. We don't believe in indulging in luxuries like flying spinnakers or sailing fast.

Whachoo want, wave? Doesn't look like much here, but we hit some pretty heavy seas on the second leg. 25 knot winds and 10 foot swell. The worst of it didn't come until after the sun dipped below the horizon, but we could capture our badassness on camera under the cover of darkness.

Dolphins love Gypsy, and Gypsy loves dolphins. There's something soothing about a pod of dolphins swimming off your bow. And there were lots of them. One early morning we were surrounded by at least 200 of them. I'm being serial. It was awesome.

Here's one "getting some air." At one point we had a brief but insightful conversation about the phenomenon of jumping dolphins. It went something like this:
Chad: "I wonder why dolphins do that"
Eddie: "I think it's so they can get some air"
Chad: "Cool, dolphins like to send it, too!"

Yet another beauteous sunset from aboard Gypsy. There seems to be a trend developing here. Next stop: Mainland Mexico.
Hasta luego!