Cruising  ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  May and June, 2009

Desert Island Paradise



Never say never….never. We said “Good bye to all of our wonderful Baja friends” when we left the Baja peninsula about two years ago. We said we were finally going to head south – south of Mexico, and all the way to the Panama Canal. Yep, finally. We said we may never come back…..  O well! Here we are, once again, and happy that we are here, back on the Baja side of Mexico!! There are many places to explore, by boat and on land, in Mexico, and we hope to see more of them – especially the inland treasures. After our great experiences traveling by vehicle and plane last summer, visiting inland Mexico and Costa Rica, we have determined that we can get to the places we want to go, and not necessarily with The Cat’s Meow. TCM is still our home, we will continue to cruise on her and enjoy Mexico – but we may not leave Mexico on our boat for a long-term cruise. However, as said above…… Never say never!!


                                                                                                Puerto Escondido, our “home” in Mexico


When we returned to Puerto Escondido, which is near Loreto on the Baja peninsula, it truly felt to both of us that we had returned home. It felt GOOD. Loreto Fest had just gotten underway, so it was easy to get right into the thick of things. Loreto Fest is a time and a place for many boaters in Mexico to get together and have fun, while accruing money that goes directly to the local community – mostly to further the education and to provide other services to the children in the area. Dario, of the sailing vessel Ballena, was there and busy helping with lots of Fest stuff. He and Martin teamed-up again for horseshoes…..but, alas, they did not fare well early on and did not get to play many games. Many of our “long-time” boater friends were at the Fest, and it was so much fun for us to greet and meet them – lots and lots of hugs were passed around! (By the by, this all was happening during the “big scare” about the “swine flu” – people were encouraged to take extra care health-wise, but at least to that point in time, there had been NO reports of any swine flu on the Baja peninsula.) The venue for the Loreto Fest was much improved over the past years; it was held near the Singlar buildings with plenty of shade, lights at night, a cleaner (cement) area, access to real bathrooms, and the dinghy dock had been extended. Vessels in the harbor were given a discount on the Singlar mooring balls during the Fest, and of course the Waiting Room (the ante room just before entering the harbor itself) was full. The crowd for the Fest was “just right”; not too big and not too small. There was a lot of participation in all of the activities, the music was great - with a 50’s theme for Saturday night, and the organization of the entire affair was really excellent. This year, the chili cook-off was well-represented by lots of different types of chili, one night’s dinner was a very sumptuous taco bar, and of course there was the traditional spaghetti dinner and the Sunday pancake breakfast! Truly, we think the food was the best this year over any of the many other years we have attended.






                                                           The Loreto Fest, at Pto. Escondido, where you meet lots of friends, eat great food, and attend some good seminars.



Dario introduced us to John and Sharon, of Lucky Lady II, who are still members of the yacht club we used to belong to in San Pedro, CA – the Hurricane Gulch Yacht Club!! This is their second season in the Baja, and they are lovin’ it, too. It was fun meeting someone from our old “stomping grounds” and who knows some of you, from the San Pedro connection!


Martin and Robin with Sharon and John of Lucky Lady II


Once the Fest was over and all was cleaned-up and stored away until next year, many of the attending boats headed out to the near-by islands, and then north or south. The Cat’s Meow relaxed for a few more days, waiting for the crowd to thin, before heading out as well. Part of the time, we shared anchorages with Ballena, Lucky Lady II, and Brandywine, with Kenny and Nancy aboard. What fun!! Getting together with friends, aboard all of our different boats, eating fresh chocolate (choh-koh-lah-tay) clam appetizers fixed a myriad of different ways, dinners under the stars, good cheap wine and beer, and great conversation… and those are only the evening activities! We also did some kayaking with other friends, snorkeling, diving, and gathering the goodies from the sea! Wow….what a life, but somebody has to do it!!! 



                                                  YUM! Trigger fish for dinner!                                                  Look closely to see the turtle off of TCM’s bow in the anchorage          



                                                                                              Kayaking to and on another desert island (photo by Sharon of LL II)


One day, while anchored in Honeymoon cove on the very small island of Danzante, Sharon (Lucky Lady II) and Robin were kayaking, when a huge pod of dolphins came into the cove! Now, this was exciting, and fun, and a little intimidating, all at the same time. Those dolphins are not small, and they were moving very fast! Robin and Sharon were surrounded by leaping, splashing, twirling dolphins for at least 30 minutes. Of course, trying to get the photos of the dolphins jumping and swimming all around them was really difficult, but Sharon did try. Just another exhilarating day in the desert island paradise of the Baja…



                                   Whoa! Kayaking with dolphins is…well…exciting!                                                                                                  Kayaking without dolphins is tranquil

                                                                                                                                          (photos by Sharon of Lucky Lady II)


Loreto, once the capital of Baja California Sur, remains a quaint Mexican village. It has grown, and more “gringos” live here at least part-time, but Loreto is still a purrrty quiet place. We always run into other boaters and/or palapa-dwellers when we are doing some provisioning in the village, and we enjoy having some of the local fare, both delicious and almost free!



                                                                                                               Breakfast at Café Ole’ with other boating friends, in Loreto


One fine day, we celebrated Dario’s birthday, along with Lucky Lady II folks, and enjoyed wandering the quiet streets afterward. 



Dario looks lovingly at his Tres Leches b’day cake                                                                          A Loreto local 


                                                               More Loreto locals…or is that Loreto locos?


Every year, on May 24th, we celebrate the saving of The Cat’s Meow. Five years ago, after four days of hard work and lots of effort by many people in the cruising community, our home was floated and remained floating – a sight neither of us will ever forget! As usual, Robin mentioned this anniversary during the morning VHF radio net and asked everyone to join us in our celebration, and we thanked all of the people who were involved, once more.


                               Ken & Nancy (Brandywine) aboard TCM, celebrating our “fifth year floating” (Toes, too J)



One afternoon, while TCM was anchored at the very small island called Danzante, a large cruise ship came to the anchorage! We had seen this vessel anchored off of Loreto the day prior, but it was a strange sight indeed to see this big ship nosing into the very tiny anchorage area called Honeymoon Cove! The ship off-loaded a whole bunch of people, using very upscale dinghies; some of them kayaked around, or enjoyed the small white beach. They were not intrusive, and only spent the afternoon in the neighborhood. Robin “google’d” the ship, The World. Hmmmmm….very interesting……this is a privately owned cruise ship, owned by the people who live aboard and travel the globe!!! Wow. Now, that is a different lifestyle.


                                                The World, a very large boat, anchored off of Honeymoon cove 


This spring brought truly wonderful weather and water to the Baja. We do not think we have ever seen the water so flat and calm, and so clear, for so long, before. We were able to dive and snorkel in areas of some of the coves where we were unable, always before, to dive due to swells and cloudy water. This season was spectacular!! Here is an example of what we could see, with a little help with a dive light, in that clear water:



                   Angelfish under a shelf                                                                Look closely….see those two lobsters??



Ken, Martin’s brother who lives in San Jose, CA, came to spend a week aboard TCM with us in early June. We headed for one of our all-time favorite anchorages, San Juanico. This large bay is known for a myriad of reefs and small rocky islets, great for lots of snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and gathering of edible goodies. It is also known for being a very rocky, rolly place at times. This season, we only found it to be flat and calm – very unusual. Martin & Ken were wet every day, diving and bringing home the bacon….er, the seafood.



                                     Martin & Ken, the Hardy boys, after an afternoon dive                                                  Ken showing off his afternoon dinner dive bounty




                                                            San Juanico beauty                                                                                                                    Moonset over San Juanico


While we were still on the mainland side of Mexico, a few months earlier, we heard from Royce and Pam of Rdreamz that they were heading back to the Sea of Cortez, all the way from Panama!! Rdreamz was one of the vessels with us on that dark and windy night in 2004 when our boat was stuck on the big rock. It was also the boat where we stayed, along with Toes & Squeak, while so many people worked to save TCM. Royce and Pam are right up there as some of our favorite boating people!! So, when we knew they were headed for the Sea, we were anxious to meet up with them again! Finally, we found them at Pto. Escondido, and it was a really good feeling to throw our arms around them and trade hugs!!! We spent a few evenings together, and some time at San Juanico diving, too.


                                                            Treating Royce & Pam to a lobster dinner aboard TCM


We knew it was time to ready ourselves for getting back to our RV, which was in La Cruz, near Pto. Vallarta. This season had been so much fun, seeing so many of our boating friends and spending time in the clear, calm water, that it was difficult to get serious about leaving The Cat’s Meow behind, and beginning the next adventure. Our friends Doug and Kathy, aboard the beautiful 68’ DeFever Spirit Quest, agreed to carry both of us plus Squeak & Toes, and a bunch of stuff we needed to transport, to the RV. WOW! This answered our prayers – to find a way to get all of us and bags of items, including food, to La Cruz. We did not want to put the cats on the ferry, although we did consider doing that when Jaye & Irwin (Winsome) offered to let us do that with their van….but this worked out so well. We spent two more days at anchor, got in a little more snorkeling with Henry and JJ of Rapscullion, and then we had to move TCM into the harbor at Pto. Escondido. Both of us worked for three days, non-stop, to prepare the boat, organize for our upcoming Stateside trip in the RV, and to leave the boat on our mooring for two months. Of course, the weather was quite warm and humid. We were trying to use up as much food as we could and/or to give it away, stowing everything inside and outside for any possible weather… was not fun, but we got it done. Sunday, June 21, Spirit Quest anchored near The Cat’s Meow, we transferred everything and everyone for the trip, and we were off…… sorta’…..


Spirit Quest had a rendezvous with friends on an even larger boat, Ambar III, to receive mail, so we anchored at Isla San Jose to meet them. The folks aboard Ambar are spear-heading Sea Watch, a system of information, education, and apprehension to squelch the illegal fishing/taking of fish from the Sea of Cortez. We were fortunate to meet Mike and Sherry aboard their beautiful boat, as well as some of the local people who are working with them to get Sea Watch off the ground. Check out their website, for more information. This is a labor of love. Interestingly, some of the men who are now apprehending the poachers, working to stop the illegal hunting and killing of the sea life, those same men came from that very background. They, too, see that the Sea of Cortez is being raped, and they want to turn things around. Bravo to all of these people!



                                                         Doug & Kathy of Spirit Quest, in their dinghy                                                      Ambar III with an apprehension panga at its side


We were all ready to get on with our trip south, but the first hurricane of the season decided to form and to lollygag around along the coast of Mexico. Andre just could not make up his mind to move one way or the other, so we had to sit at anchor and wait. And wait. Finally, Thursday the 25th, we were ready to up-anchor and to take off for Banderas Bay. Our trip took about 60 hours. The first day was fairly rough, with the snotty seas from that hurricane, but then the ocean settled down. Toes & Squeak stayed in the stateroom, nice and cozy, the entire trip. We all ate well, as Kathy baked a turkey underway!! Yum, those turkey sandwiches were gooood, to say nothing of the deserts she prepared. Finally, we were docked at the new Marina Riviera Nayarit, in La Cruz. After a nice dinner and a few cocktails, we were all ready for a long night’s sleep. We transferred all of us and all of our stuff off of SQ and into our waiting RV. Spirit Quest went on down the road to Paradise Village Marina.


That brings us up to the time we began our RV-repair/packing/traveling saga, heading up into the contiguous 48 states for our summer adventure. Ya’ gotta come back and follow us on that trip – we promise it won’t be boring!!!! So, we will see ya’ next time, for more of our Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style…….