<![CDATA[DOVKA.COM - Ship Blog]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2024 17:51:04 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Unintended Consequences]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2024 21:25:12 GMThttp://dovka.com/ship-blog/unintended-consequences
Part of the beauty of cruising is the flexibility that comes with carrying your home with you. When you like a place, you can stay put. When you feel like moving on, you move on.

But it’s not always that simple. Sometimes you get stuck - and that’s not always a bad thing.

In late February, we sailed into to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a small town with a good anchorage and a large marina just north of Puerto Vallarta on Banderas Bay. We planned to spend a couple weeks there.

The day we arrived in La Cruz, someone jokingly told me he called it La Stuck. I laughed that off. But sure enough, our intended two week visit ballooned into a six week stay.

Mainly, that was because we decided to take advantage of the talented labor in the marina and get the caulking on our teak decks redone. It was a long overdue job.
But La Cruz is also a Mexican Mecca for cruisers with an active community of sailors headed in all directions from that one port. This meant not only services for boat work, but lots of information being shared, activities such as outdoor movie nights, weekly markets, and many friends new and old for both the adults and the kids. In short, a great place to spend some time - especially for the kids who could (once school was done) run down the dock to play with friends, swim in the pool, or take the pesos from their allowance up to the store to buy chips and soda.

Six weeks passed quickly and it was time for us to head north. So we were soon saying goodbyes, getting our final ice cream and agua fresca from our favorite sweet shop, getting propane and fuel filled, paying marina bills, and hosting one last sleep over for the kids’ friends… then another last sleepover.

La Cruz ended up being the perfect place to spend six weeks, even though we never intended to.
<![CDATA[Flat Iguana Song - (Inspired by Real Life Events)]]>Mon, 01 Apr 2024 05:59:23 GMThttp://dovka.com/ship-blog/flat-iguana-song-inspired-by-real-life-events
<![CDATA[The Galapagos of Mexico]]>Tue, 20 Feb 2024 05:00:00 GMThttp://dovka.com/ship-blog/the-galapagos-of-mexico
In February, my cousin Mitch joined us to sail south from Cabo towards Puerto Vallarta. The passage was highlighted by a brief but memorable stop at a tiny, astonishing island called Isla Isabela.

Called the Galapagos of Mexico, Isla Isabela is a nesting ground for blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. Ashore, trails wind past a dormant volcanic crater lake and under and around thousands of nesting birds with eggs and chicks. Iguanas follow visitors looking for dropped crumbs. It feels like a land straight out of Jurassic Park.

We arrived in the morning and dropped anchor in the southern bay of the island, a notoriously rocky spot with poor holding. Because of this, I dove on the anchor in 25 feet of water to ensure it was well dug into the sandy spot we’d found. There were four other boats in the cove, one with kids. So our girls were soon in the water swimming with Canadian children.

After drying off and eating lunch, we decided to head ashore to hike to the other side of the island. An easy dinghy landing led us to a path up the hillside. We’d only taken a few steps when we saw enormous, fluffy frigate bird chicks sitting in the low scrub trees, above, below and all around us. The adult males sat near them with huge, red pouches extended to attract mates. Others soared above our heads, drifting higher and higher in lazy circles on the afternoon thermals - with the longest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, frigates can perform aeronautical acrobatics that would put any barn stormer to shame.

A little further on, we spotted blue footed boobies. It wasn’t hard to find them, as they’d made nests smack dab in the middle of the trail and they hooted at us as we approached, warning us away from their nests and protected eggs. As their name suggest, these are funny looking birds with bright blue feet. Some sat alone, some danced in pairs in a mating ritual that includes pointing their beaks skyward and whistling.

As we reached the other side of the island and stopped for a snack, brown iguanas came out of the underbrush and began converging on us, clearly interested in any food we might have to offer. We shooed them away, but missed a sneaky one who managed to hop onto Alexandra’s lap while she was enjoying a granola bar, giving her quite a fright.

But that excitement paled in comparison to what happened next.

As we readied to retrace our steps back across the island, we spotted a panga - a local fishing boat - zooming towards us. Not only were they clearly in a hurry, but they were waving orange life jackets and yelling at us. As they got closer they motioned for us to come with them and yelled that our boat had gotten loose and was drifting out to sea.

I was frightened and confused, but the two locals in the panga, a father and son, seemed sincere. So, as the father expertly positioned the panga alongside the jagged lava shoreline, with swell pulsing in and out, we scrambled into the boat and zoomed toward the horizon.

“There, out there! That’s your boat!,” he said in Spanish. I looked but it was too far away to identify. I found it curious that the headsail was out, because it would have had to have blown free to unfurl itself.

As we zoomed along, the anchorage where we’d left Dovka came into view. I pointed and said to the captain, “That’s my boat is anchored right there!”

A huge wave of relief washed over me, but I was still confused as to what had happened. Our dinghy was still on the beach so the panga driver, apologizing profusely, took us back to the beach and dropped us off.

Once ashore, the couple off the kid boat approached us and told us they’d been looking for us to tell us our boat was dragging. They mentioned that they’d notified the local fishermen. Apparently, something had been lost in translation and they had assumed our boat was drifting out to sea and kindly had come to alert us.

We returned to Dovka, and while she may have dragged slightly, I didn’t bother taking additional bearings to find out. We simply upped the anchor and moved to the eastern, more secure anchorage.

Glad to be safely aboard, we decided to stick close and spent the next day snorkeling amidst the fish schooling in large groups around the two rock pinnacles shadowing the anchorage.

In another day, were soon on our way southeast, enjoying a lovely sail southeast towards Puerto Vallarta from where Mitch would fly home after a memorable week aboard Dovka.
<![CDATA[Buddy Boats]]>Sat, 20 Jan 2024 05:26:38 GMThttp://dovka.com/ship-blog/buddy-boatsPicture
A large joy of cruising is the people you meet along the way. How cruisers meet other cruisers has changed over the years. People do meet old school by rowing over to other boats at an anchorage or crossing paths at dinghy dock or at the local laundromat (as we did with a couple in Ensenada). But nowadays sailors just as often meet online first and then connect IRL. 

When we sailed into Morro Bay, an Instagram follower reached out to me offering local knowledge and a ride around town if we needed it. We took him up on the offer and discovered we not only had mutual sailing friends here in California, but a direct connection to a guy my dad knew in Australia in the ‘60s! (That’s a whole other fascinating and intriguing story - listen to the ABC documentary on Vern Todd and the Drug Grannies for more). 

Not only have we met people along with way, but thanks to WhatsApp and Facebook groups we’ve already connected with multiple families plying the same waters. Some of them headed south earlier, some are in our wake, and some are on the same schedule as we. 

When we met up with Adam and Daniela - a couple cruising their Swan 46 Easy Day with two boys aged four and eight - we’d already been corresponding for weeks via WhatsApp. We knew our paths and timeline were similar and we decided to start heading south together. 

Having a buddy boat for passages requires adjusting plans and sails to keep a similar course and speed. But it provides comfort of company, the security of knowing someone else is close by. 

For example, Easy Day, a faster boat, shortened sail during multiple passages to keep in our company. And halfway through our four-day passage from Ensenada down the outside coast of Baja California to Magdalena Bay, when Easy Day’s autopilot stopped working, we were close at hand to provide moral support as Adam and Daniela hand-steered in difficult conditions for 15 hours to a detour destination of Bahia Tortuga. (They resolved the issue with some help from a local machine shop and you can view that whole story here).

A buddy boat with kids provides all of our children opportunities to play legos or board games together. Or better yet, as they did today, spend hours on the beach together splashing in the waves and exploring tide pools. 

Having a front row seat to amazing beauty nature has to offer, the excitement of exploring foreign ports, trying all kinds of new food, and being self sufficient all contribute to the joy of cruising. But in the end it’s the people you meet and share the journey with along the way that make it so special.