Archive for January, 2011

A Firey Fiesta! Muggs’ Feliz Cumpleanos

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Jan 28 2011

Here you are folks – Mexican Coffee:

01-25-11_2028Note the fire extinguisher.

01-25-11_2031And the sunglasses.


01-25-11_2035The flame is riding right along with the coffee!

01-25-11_2012Muggs was sure entertained!

Tuesday night, we went out for dinner and dessert.  The dessert part had to include coffee, of course, but I had no idea what I was in for when the friends I was with ordered Mexican coffee.  The flame comes from tequila, of course.  The drinkmaker has two silver pitchers between which he pours and mixes the flaming tequila and coffee.  The first step is to caramelize the sugar lining the rim of the glasses.  All the people in attendance were having a great time while taking the fire risk seriously, too.  These wigs are fiberglass, I’m pretty sure:

01-25-11_2027They were more like hard hats than wigs, at any rate. 

The coffee was delicious.  Better, actually, than Irish coffee.  I sensed less alcohol than I do with Irish coffee, and I guess I like tequila better than whiskey! 

Anyway, if by some chance, we are still here for the Superbowl, we will definitely go back to this place then.

Meanwhile, Larry is recovering from a bout with something unpleasant (fever, chills, and diarrhea) and I am fighting off back pain problems.  Next week, we should be out of here on our way south.  The heat exchanger is back in and only lacks some anti-freeze and a test drive.  When Larry is good and ready, we will take off.

Until then, here are a few random photos from the last few weeks that somehow got left out of the narrative:

12-27-10_1209Larry rolled a high game of 255 one day while he was substituting for his mom during December.  Not bad for an old fart with a 30-year-old bowling ball!

01-13-11_1345A jelly fish in the Old Harbor.  The actual dimension of this thing is probably 12” diameter, 5-6” deep.

01-28-11_1015[1]While I was walking to Isla Mazatlan this morning, this Coppel blimp showed up and flew around very low – I’m sure he was at less than 500’.  I thought for a few minutes that maybe they were in trouble, but apparently they weren’t.  (Coppel is a department store along the lines of Sears.)

OK, that’s all folks.  Next stop is Isla Isabela.

Please explain that “Horsing around” title, Muggs

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Jan 26 2011

OK, so I lost track of my thoughts and cut it off before I had actually finished.  This past weekend, our friend Pancho (from Los Mochis near Toopolobampo) came to Mazatlan for a visit.  But on the way, he stopped to visit his sister and brother-in-law.  We expected him to arrive around 12:00, so at 2:00 we got a call apologizing and asking if it would be OK if he got here around 6:00.  Fine with us.  We’re cruisers – schedules are for rearranging!

So around 3:30 he called again and said he would come pick us up in his sister’s car and take us to a horse show.  He was in a big hurry!  It turns out, though, we all forgot to confirm exactly where we were – Peregrine had moved from the Old Harbor to Marina Mazatlan during the intervening time since we arrived here with Pancho.  Long story short, he went to the Old Harbor!  Oy vey!  So he drove up our way and picked us up on the fly (we waited at the Pemex station outside the marina), and off we went at warp speed to the horse show!

This turned out to be an enlightening experience for me.  This show was an instructor’s exhibition of riders and horses in training.  The field looked just like a well-kept hunter-jumper field anywhere in the world, but it surprised me that the dust was so well-controlled.  The secret was Bermuda grass.  All of the acreage was planted with Bermuda grass which dies and recovers every year, with or without irrigation.  There was no sign of a sprinkler system, and I am sure that very few folks in Mexico can obtain enough water to irrigate water-thirsty lawns.  I didn’t talk to any of them about this, but I was very impressed.  The grass is extremely hardy and keeps at least some of its green during these cooler months.  I assume it is renewed during the summer rainy season.

Pancho introduced us to his sister, Rosa Maria,and her husband, Pepe, who both speak excellent English.  I took a lot of pictures, and here are the best:

Jan 2011 to 24th 010The green field

Jan 2011 to 24th 009Rosa, Pancho, and the Skipper

Jan 2011 to 24th 018Approaching a jump

Jan 2011 to 24th 019Starting a jump

Jan 2011 to 24th 045Jump!!

P1030738[1]Pancho got a better picture

Jan 2011 to 24th 027Geese!

Jan 2011 to 24th 031Weasel!  What!!  Yes, they keep rabbits (dozens – it looked like the county fair!) and a weasel.  They set the weasel free from its cage, and it had the run of the whole place including the kitchen – Yikes!  Fortunately, it moves very fast and doesn’t stay in one place very long.

Jan 2011 to 24th 033The weasel is nearly in the center of this picture on the low wall.  It kind of looks like a cat here.  I tried but could not get a picture of its very cute, pointy head.

After all this fun, Pancho took us to dinner at Pedro y Lola’s, a restaurant in the Plazuela Machado.  Saturday nights turn this very pretty but usually quiet plaza into a real happening place!  The restaurants all set tables out twenty to thirty feet beyond their building, live music is set up in at least two or three different places around the square, and the plaza just buzzes with activity and lots and lots of people.  Pedro and Lola were celebrity Mexican actors.  This restaurant had amazing food.  But the most amazing thing was what Larry ate – Oysters Rockefeller!  And he really liked it!  But then he ordered beef for his main course, so I guess he isn’t yet a 100% convert.  I had shrimp cooked in a delectable sauce made of orange and cointreau.  I hope your mouths are watering!  Pancho ate another platter of the oysters for his main course, too.  I guess that is why he loves this restaurant, and, yes, they are that good.

The next morning we had FOG!  On the boat next to us, I noticed lots of birds lined up along the life lines.  They are swallows, like those that return to Capistrano:

Jan 2011 to 24th 034

Pancho had to leave fairly early, so we said good-bye and spent the rest of the morning quietly reading on the boat.  In the afternoon, we went across to Isla Mazatlan which is located in the center of this circle-shaped bay.  There is a condo development there with a restaurant, horse-shoe pits, and a small private marina.  We are going to look into keeping our boat there during Carnaval because the prices are much cheaper.  The only problem will be whether they can accommodate us.  We are waiting for the call.

Yesterday, we welcomed Scott and Monica of Scott Free to Mazatlan.  They had just arrived from La Paz.  Monica noticed that a restaurant in the Gold Zone was advertising Tuesday night all-you-can-eat spaghetti for 20 pesos (less than $2).  So we all went to dinner for my birthday.  We had a blast, and I took pictures on my cellphone.  I need a chance to get them downloaded, and I will finish the story.

Until then, the Admiral is going to go check up on Larry who is resting after an uncomfortable night with chills and shivering.  Adios!

Horsing Around in Mazatlan

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Jan 26 2011

Last week, we came to Marina Mazatlan to get some work done on the boat’s engine.  We called the Port Captain for permission to pass through the narrow opening into the Old Harbor area, and then we tried to raise the anchor.  But it wouldn’t come up!!  Larry kept trying, but the clutch of the windlass was slipping, the boat was shuddering, and I yelled at him to stop.  We decided to get the hooka out (see last spring’s entries for more info on the hooka) so Larry could dive on the anchor.  Fortunately, this anchorage is not very deep – about 15-20 feet.  He put on the wetsuit, goggles, and fins, and solved the problem in about 30 seconds – after he pushed a jellyfish away with the chain!  The problem was the chain which had become wrapped around a small coral head.   This delayed our departure, so when we arrived at Marina Mazatlan the tide was very low.  Not a good plan, but we made it anyway.  Along the way, the weather was fine, so I took a couple of pics:

Jan 2011 to 24th 001

Jan 2011 to 24th 003  The Happy Skipper!

Last week, Larry finally got the engine’s heat exchanger removed.  Bob from Total Yacht Works came over to get the last few connections, and he took the heat exchanger away with him to fix it:

Jan 2011 to 24th 005

Jan 2011 to 24th 007

They are finishing reinstalling it right now.  I am going to post this and tell you about last night’s birthday celebration later.  Just as a tease, I will tell you that there was fire involved!

Still hanging out in Mazatlan

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Jan 20 2011

We have checked into Marina Mazatlan in order to work on some things – the diesel engine heat exchanger, the outboard motor starter, install a macerator for the aft head, etc., etc., etc.  Meanwhile, we found a dry cleaner right here at the marina, and they cleaned our king-size comforter for $8.50!!!!

Our friend, Pancho, sent along this picture that we took of him during the first part of our trip from Topolobampo:

P1030625[1]  Looking pretty relaxed!  Whoever heard of deck chairs on a sailboat!

Pancho will be visiting us this weekend.  He is driving down on his motorcycle.  Should be a fun weekend.  Meanwhile, Muggs is still nursing a lower back problem that refuses to just go away.  Larry is treating me like a princess now, if not quite a queen, but I suppose I don’t really deserve to be treated like a queen!@  Hahahaha!

Hasta la vista, mis amigos!

The Saga Continues…

Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Jan 16 2011

We never did anymore work on the table in Topo because the winds never really died until the day we left.  We actually delayed our departure by one day due to the winds.  We are now following the weather on which seems to have pretty comprehensive, on-demand info looking out 7 days.  Seems to be pretty accurate, too.  Thanks, Robert on Blue Dolphin, for this tip!

Pancho helped us take the boat to Mazatlan, and we had a great time.

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 014  As you can see, the weather was fine.  Seas are pretty flat here.  This is on our first day.  In fact, it was so calm that it was Pancho’s idea to get out a deck chair!  It stayed up on deck for a couple of hours before we started to roll a little from swells.  The one thing we didn’t see much of on this trip was wildlife.  Unless you call this guy wild!

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 013    Along the way, we did pass through a real fishing fleet.  We counted over twenty boats before they were all passed.  They were dragging lines behind them but not beside them.  We were sailing at this point.  We turned on the engine for a very short period while we passed a little close to one of the boats.  We didn’t want to be caught without ability to maneuver if necessary!

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 019

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 023  This was our second day.  These boats could have been from Mazatlan or Topo – hard to say.

All through the trip, we were focussed on timing our arrival for daylight.  As we started, our estimated ETA varied from one to four am, so on the second day we started zigging and zagging a little.  We arrived just outside the harbor entrance about a half hour before sunrise.  Perfect!

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 025

Pancho called the Capitania for us, and we went in behind the ferry with about four other boats that were waiting:


Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 026

We anchored in the Old Harbor, and Pancho left pretty quickly after that.  He needed to get to the bus station and home without any snafus.  Meanwhile, Gary from Sunshine Lady came over and ended up showing Pancho where the busstop was that he needed to get to the main bus station.  Here he is in the dinghy with Larry ready to leave:


Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 029


Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 031  And with me at the dinghy dock.  Larry and I returned to the boat where we slept most of the rest of the day.  They say that two day passages are the hardest – not enough time to get a rhythm for sleeping and resting.  I was sure tired!  Larry had slept a lot more than I had, and he was tired, too.  So, we rested!  No problemo – we’re retired!

Next day we went for a walk around the nearby portion of the malecon and saw the beautiful scenery off of Mazatlan’s waterfront – several islands and the lighthouse are nearby, plus a fisherman caught a ray that he had problems getting off the hook so he could throw it back:

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 035

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 033

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 037

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 041

And, of course, every day there is a gorgeous sunset:

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 042

The next day, we took the bus to the north end of town to check our the marinas and the marine shops in the area.  We have decided to deal with some problems that we have been putting off because Mazatlan is the best place on this side of the Sea of Cortez to try to get parts and skilled repairmen.  As we were walking along in Marina Mazatlan, we saw Tigger, a catamaran owned by Rick and Sheri (there are no last names in our world – only boat names).  I yelled, “Look, Honey, it’s Tigger!”, and out popped Sheri.  So we went down to their boat and chatted for a while.  It turned out they would be returning to our anchorage in a couple of days, so we agreed to meet up later. 

Meanwhile, we had contacted our friend (through Doug and Linda of Aquadesiac) Ernesto who lives here in Mazatlan with his beautiful wife, Linda.  Ernesto and Linda took us out to dinner on Wednesday night, and somehow we got Larry very, very borracho!!  (That’s Spanish for drunk!)  But we had a great dinner:

P1010018 Amazing food!  Larry had his first lobster, and declared immediately that he loved it!  We are making a fish-eater out of him!

P1010016  Linda is an air traffic controller in Mazatlan.  She actually works in one of the four area control rooms in Mexico.  No windows!  Just radar blips.  Her English is very, very good, and we all had a great time.  Larry is about halfway there here, and finishing the job here:

P1010019  The  tequila shots were the coup de’grace!  Tigger had arrived in our harbor and anchored nearby.  They heard us arrive back home that night, and they wondered what all the yelling was about!  It took a concerted effort to get Captain Morgan (that’s what Ernesto calls Larry) back in the boat safely!  It was only the stern coaching from the Admiral, I’m sure, that prevented him from slipping into the bay.

The next day with Tigger, we walked north together toward Old Town and they introduced us to Manuel who owns a small restaurant next to the laundromat.  Since then we have eaten there three times – great food, great price.  Here we all are yesterday when we went for the weekend special – paella:

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 048  Manuel is a sweetie who speaks almost no English – no matter.  Food makes its own communication!

We have had fog for the last two mornings.  This is the first we have experienced it in Mexico.  It stayed in until the afternoon yesterday, but it lifted by 9 or 10 today.  Made a pretty interesting picture late yesterday (around 2:00 pm):

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 055  This is the lighthouse hill which is directly next to our anchorage with a lot of transportation hubs nearby.  This morning (Sunday) I took this picture of Tigger before they pulled out:

Dec-Jan 2010 to 2011 056  That seawall which shows dimly in the background is only about 100 yards away.  Pretty thick fog!  Shades of Modesto….

When we returned to the boat after a short walk yesterday, Muggs had a spasm in her back.  Muggs is a wuss who is not used to these things, so today she is taking it easy and catching up on stuff like the blog!  I am feeling better already, though, so you may not hear from us again for a while.  Tomorrow we plan to visit Marina Mazatlan and arrange to stay there for about a week while we attend to the repairs (on the outboard, the holding tank plumbing, and the heat exchanger on the diesel).  It will be a lot easier to top off gas, water, and diesel, plus they have an actual pump-out service!!  So until next time, this is your intrepid reporter from Mexico, signing off!


Ports of Call | Posted by Admiral
Jan 05 2011


We have returned to Topolobampo, and we are safe and sound in a brand new marina called Marina Palmira Topolobampo.  It is related in some way to the similarly-named marina in La Paz, but I believe the actual owners are locals.  When we first arrived here in early November, we were helped into the harbor area by a friendly man named Pancho.  Pancho, you will remember, took us to the airport right before Thanksgiving, and he also picked us up the night we arrived back which was a few days after Christmas.  He was scheduled to go to Mexico City the next day to spend the New Year’s weekend with his daughter, so we arranged to get together for dinner the Monday after New Year’s. 

Meanwhile, we tracked down some local groceries which means no meat and very limited fruits and veggies.  But that was OK – the slip next to us was occupied by Paradocs, a catamaran with a couple of MD’s on board.  They were barbecuing steaks our first night and invited us over.  I made guacamole using my new stickblender (thanks, Santa Claus!), and it was a big hit.  The recipe came out of the manual for the stickblender, and it called for coriander and cumin.  I had the cumin, so I put some in.  It was yummy.  During dinner, the conversation was all about boat living and boat problems.  I guess it makes no difference out here if you are an MD or a theater technician or a construction detailer – the problems of life are the same for us all out here with varying amounts of joy and frustration and sometimes difficult decisions.  Eventually all that counts is that your boat floats, it motates, and you have achieved some acceptable level of comfort!  We all seem to prefer these problems to the stress of work life.

We spent some time getting acquainted with Topolobampo, but there isn’t much here.  We were genuinely lazy for a day or two, and we watched movies in the evenings.  We spent some time putting together plans to build our remodeled salon table from.  We are basing it on this great design we saw on the boat of our friends, Brian and Mary Cooley:

2010 fall summer 005 After we finished the drawings, we got started by removing the leaves which were connected by piano hinges.  We already like it better, but we need to get busy and thought this might be a good time since we have time and dock power.

We tried out the bus to Los Mochis (15 miles away), and walked around there a little.  Los Mochis is very similar to Guaymas and La Paz except it is landlocked.  Several banks, large grocery stores as well as street markets, Wal-Mart, Home Depot.  So, anyway, Monday we returned by bus to get money (we never try to get cash from ATM’s here on weekends), and later Pancho came to the marina to pick us up for dinner.  As we were driving to Los Mochis, he asked if we would stay the night at his house – he had a man who could take us shopping the next day to get whatever else we might need for our project.  And that way, he wouldn’t have to drive all the way back and return after dinner.  So we did this, and it was amazing.  First, the dinner.  He invited his girlfriend, Maria.  He ordered the same food for all of us, explaining that it was a local way of preparing beef and this was the only place he knew to get it.  The dish was called cabreria with an accent on the “i".  (I hope I remembered that correctly.  I may have the “b” in the wrong place – not sure.)  Anyway, this meat was more tasty and tender than anything either of us has ever eaten, hands down.  The rest of the meal was great, too.  There was a larger-than-plate-size flour tortilla baked or toasted crispy.  Then there were beans and cheese, and cheese alone, to dip pieces of the toasted tortilla into.  Plus a soup of simple vegetables that was delicious.  We asked the waiter to take our picture:

Pancho dinner in Topo  I also liked the carved wood chairs, but you can’t see them very well here.

Anyway, after dinner we all went back to Pancho’s home to have a small amount of tequila for our digestion.  I was taken by Maria in her car which was an H3 Hummer!  And she teaches kindergarten!  She was very excited about buying and owning this car, and she told me the whole story (unbidden) of how she was able to afford it.  Still, she paid more for it than Larry and I ever paid for a car.  Later, Pancho told us that she had won a substantial amount of money at the Caliente casino in Los Mochis.  Lucky girl!

Pancho’s home was very large and beautiful.  Every space was at least 30-40% larger than a similar space would be in the usual US home like most of us live(d) in.  I’m pretty sure that each bedroom had its own bathroom.  I know that the master bedroom had TWO bathrooms – his and hers on opposite sides of the bedroom.  The guest bedroom where we slept was approximately 15’ x 22’.   There was a full bath off of it plus a small study.  Each of these rooms was about 8’ x 22’ (the same length as the bedroom).  The beds were just like the beds in the motel in Hermosillo last summer – easily wide enough for three adults to sleep in.  And there was beautiful floor tile throughout the house. The furniture and decorations were all quite beautiful, too.  The coffee table was probably more than 48” diameter.  There were 4 large vases in the center and about 8 or 10 very large coffee table books spaced around like spokes.  One was the “Best of Life Magazine”.  Another was a Lonely Planet book with a large two-page spread on every single country in the world!  There were some books in Spanish, too.  I meant to take pictures there, but we never got around to it.  It was just beautiful, though, so you’ll have to take my word for it!

The next morning, Pancho made us coffee and Sergio took us in Pancho’s car to a tornillo store (a store that sells nothing but nuts, bolts, screws, and the like) to get some special screws we need for our salon table remodel.  Then we went to Home Depot where we bought a new vacuum cleaner and assorted other things that we will need to complete this project.  We made a final stop at Wal-Mart where we stocked up on things that needed stocking up and returned to Pancho’s for lunch.  Lunch was a vegetable soup similar to the soup at the restaurant the night before, but there were many more vegetables in it.  Very delicious.  We were also served flour tortilla quesadillas and pineapple juice.  He has a cook and housekeeper named Paloma.  Paloma came to work for his family when he was 18 years old (1970 – Pancho and I are very close to the same age), and she has remained with him since the death of his father.

As we were eating lunch, we talked about our plans to continue to Mazatlan.  Pancho asked if he could come along, so now we will have crew!  Things just get better and better.

We are waiting for the highest tide of the week which is on Friday morning.  No more Topolabumpo for us!  Meanwhile, we meant to get started on our project but there has been too much wind.  (We want to be good neighbors and not create flying sawdust when there is lots of wind)  There will probably continue to be brisk winds most of the day today and tomorrow, so we will just get the boat organized and food ready.  We cut some small support pieces today in the cockpit, but we will wait until we get to Puerto Vallarta area most likely to continue. 

Adios for now!  Hope you all have a great year!