Friday, February 27, 2015


We arrived at Bahia de Puerto Marquez just after sunrise

Finisterra departed from Marina Ixtapa at 0815 on Sunday, January 25th, bound for Acapulco. The wind was very light and we motored all morning, helped along by a half knot current. By early afternoon a light breeze came up out of the northwest and we were able to sail on starboard jibe until late afternoon. This put us about 20 miles offshore so we jibed to port and began angling in toward the land in hopes of picking up a land breeze after sunset. By midnight we were a couple of miles off the beach in the vicinity of Punta Apusabalcos. There the sea breeze died and the land breeze failed to show up, so we motored the last few miles to Acapulco. Rather than heading straight for the city, we anchored in beautiful Bahia de Puerto Marquez, which is a good sized bay near the entrance to Bahia de Acapulco.

Bahias de Acapulco and Puerto Marquez
Puerto Marquez is undergoing something of a transformation. The area was hit by torrential rains and floods in 2013, suffering a direct hit from tropical storm Manuel in September and a near miss from Hurricane Manuel a month later. The waterfront was devastated, with many buildings damaged or destroyed. When we arrived, some of waterfront restaurants were open, but the place was clearly still suffering.

On another note, there is a new marina under construction here. You can see it in the lower right corner of the bay in the photo above. We explored it in the dinghy and it looks like it will accommodate around 100 boats. That should be great news for the locals as well as the cruising community. The marinas in Acapulco proper are not very cruiser-friendly.

We were sitting in a little waterfront cafe when we met this charter captain preparing his boat to take some customers out for a sail on the bay. He wanted to know if we had any blocks we could give him. Unfortunately Finisterra's blocks are a little too big for his yacht.

With no West Marine store nearby he had to use the materials on hand to rig his yacht.

I had to admire his workmanship

With his customers outfitted in regulation safety gear, the skipper set off on a three hour tour of the bay. Fortunately the weather stayed calm and the tiny ship made back to port safe and sound.

After a couple of days in Puerto Marquez we headed into Acapulco and took a berth at Marina Acapulco. It's not much of a marina and most boats are med-tied there, but we were able to secure a side tie for a couple of days. It was the most expensive marina we've been in this year, with the least amount of amenities. It did have a beautiful rooftop pool but we were told it was for members only so we always waited until afternoon to use it.

This is from the US State Department:

Travel to Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo only by air or cruise ship, exercise caution, and remain in tourist areas.  Travel in and out of Acapulco by air and cruise ship is permitted for U.S. government personnel.  U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling within Guerrero state by land, including via the 95D toll road (“cuota”) to/from Mexico City and Acapulco, as well as highway 200 between Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than two blocks inland...

We have been hearing and reading these warnings for the last five years. While in La Cruz a couple of months ago we talked about visiting Acapulco with some of our Mexican acquaintances who said we were loco to be visiting the city. But when we arrived, the place appeared to be peaceful.  We walked a couple of miles to the Port Captain's office and later shopped at the local supermercado and saw no signs of violence. One evening we walked a mile or two to the famous La Quebrada cliffs to see the divers. We watched from the Las Perlas restaurant which gave us a perfect view of them. It was quite a spectacle to see them diving from a height of 115'. It was late when we finally left the restaurant so we grabbed a cab back to the marina. I knocked on the massive steel gate and a man opened a small opening in the gate and checked to make sure we weren't bandidos before letting us in. Everywhere we went the town looked under-used. There were a few people on the miles of beautiful beaches along hotel row, but they all appeared to be Mexicans. In fact, there was an eerie absence of gringos everywhere we went in town. We even stopped at a McDonald's, certain that we'd see a few gringos enjoying a Big Mac & fries, but nope, not a one to be seen.

La Quebrada

The divers. 115 feet above the water. They offer a prayer at the illuminated shrine before each dive.
He did a beautiful forward flip in a pike position.

The next day I was chatting with a local who was working on a large yacht in the marina. The conversation eventually turned to the lack of tourists in this beautiful city. He said that the hotel occupancy rate is only about 20% these days all because people are scared of narco-violence. "So, is it dangerous here or not?", I asked. "No, it's good here." , he replied. "See those hills over there, behind the city? That's where the killing is going on, not down here in town." He went on to say that the narcos are busy killing each other and don't have any interest in boaters.

The vibe we got from wandering around the city was not the relaxed and open feeling we always get around Puerto Vallarta. However, I do think it's probably pretty safe in Acapulco as long as you take the usual precautions...and stay out of the hills behind the city.

It was in Acapulco that we had to make a decision whether to continue on to El Salvador or spend another season in Mexico. After weighing to pros and cons, we decided in favor of Mexico. So a couple of days later Finisterra departed from Acapulco and headed northwest toward Zihuatanejo.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cruising the Costa Alegre

Finisterra departed from La Cruz on Thursday, January 8th, bound for beautiful Barra de Navidad. Our course took us in a southwesterly direction from La Cruz toward Cabo Corrientes, or Cape of Currents. After rounding the cape, we turned southeast along what is known as the Costa Alegre, or Happy Coast, so named because of the many beautiful coves and beaches along this coast all the way to Manzanillo.

After we left La Cruz the wind filled in nicely, about 12 knots out of the northwest. I hoisted the mainsail with a single reef and unrolled the jib. I put the reef in the main with the expectation that we'd find plenty of wind around the Cape, as it often blows pretty hard there. We rounded the Cape around sunset with about 18 knots of wind on the beam, a bit lighter than expected, so it was a very pleasant sail. As night fell we bore off on a southeasterly course and the wind dropped to about 5 knots, still out of the northwest, so we started the engine and motored with the jib furled and main sheeted in tight. It's about 130 miles from La Cruz to Barra and we averaged about 6.5 knots over that distance and arrived early the next morning. We took a berth in the marina at the Grand Bay hotel and spent the next few days relaxing and exploring.

Grand Bay Hotel in Barra de Navidad

The marina is across a shallow channel from the town of Barra. To get there we took the dinghy and landed at a concrete sea wall adjacent to the old Sands Hotel.  To keep the wall from damaging the dinghy we put out a stern anchor.

It's not yet the tourist season in Barra so the town was pretty quiet, and this policeman was relaxing on a very pleasant morning. Notice his hat at lower right. 

Even in La Cruz, the marina was guarded by sub-machine gun toting policia. They are always friendly once they get to know you.

We had lunch at a waterfront restaurant. While their parents enjoyed lunch, local kids had a blast jumping off the railing.
We left Barra on January 13th and motored in no wind a few miles to Bahia Santiago and anchored in the northwest corner of the bay. The water temperature hovered around 83 degrees so it could have been very pleasant swimming, but it was too murky to see much. We spent a day walking along the beach and then took Finisterra around Punta Santiago and anchored off the Las Hadas resort for the next five days. It's a nice anchorage and we had a lot of fun hanging out with friends from S/V Unleashed. Unfortunately the cost to land a dinghy in the marina is now 200 Pesos per day (about $14 USD). There were half a dozen other boats in the anchorage and everyone grumbled about the cost of landing here. We have noticed a lot of price increases in everything, including food, fuel, slip rents, etc. everywhere we've been in Mexico compared to last year. While it is still possible to live more cheaply here than the US, things are changing quickly.

The beach in Bahia Santiago

Finisterra departed Las Hadas the morning of January 19th. This part of the Mexican coast, from Bahia Banderas all the way to Huatulco is known for its light air and for the next 185 miles we motored over a flat sea and no more than three or four knots of wind, with the exception of a few occasional puffs out of the northeast. The water temperature rose to 84 degrees and humidity hovered in the 80% range. With these conditions the air is always a bit hazy. We spent a good part of the day dodging long lines but eventually got far enough out to sea to avoid them. Of course that put is out in the shipping lane, where there is a lot of traffic. Fortunately we are able to spot ships with our AIS system and we had no trouble avoiding them.
Finding Internet access is always an interesting, or frustrating, experience in Mexico. At the Paradise restaurant overlooking the anchorage we found a well stocked bar, free wifi, and a big screen TV where we watched Seattle's improbable win over the Packers.
Finisterra anchored off Las Hadas

We anchored on the northeast side of Isla Grande, Ixtapa around 1700 on January 20th and immediately jumped overboard for a refreshing swim. While at anchor there we scrubbed Finisterra's bottom, which had developed a fair amount of growth since it was last cleaned in La Cruz. The next day we came into Marina Ixtapa, where we'll stay a few days before heading south to Acapulco.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Five Weeks in La Cruz

We've been enjoying our stay in La Cruz for the last five weeks, spending most of this time hanging out with friends and getting Finisterra reprovisioned and ready to head further south.  The boat is ready to go and the weather looks good for a Thursday afternoon departure so around noon we'll slip out of the marina and set a course for Cabo Corrientes. After rounding the cape Finisterra will head for Tenacatita where we'll spend a day or two before moving on to Barra de Navidad.

Scenes from La Cruz:

Philo's Bar used to be the local hangout for the cruising crowd but as more and more people from colder climes, especially Canadians, call La Cruz home in the winter, the music has evolved to accommodate their taste.  The place is open during the daytime, but is usually pretty empty until around six in the evening, so there plenty of room for Philo to park his motorcycle.
Philo's is basically a big palapa with a thatched roof. This is the view looking straight up from "our" table. 
Cruisers still inscribe boat names on the wall at Philo's
On another note, the cruising community is always in a state of flux with boats arriving and departing every day. Some stay on the hook in the anchorage, others stay in the marina, some spent a few days or weeks in both places.  Finisterra stayed in the marina because I had several projects I wanted to finish. A new arrival, the Swan 60, "Thor" also elected to stay in the marina.

Brand new Swan 60. There is a 2011 Swan 60 listed on Yachtworld for $3.1 million. My guess is that this one came off the showroom floor for something more than that.

Designed by German Frers, the 60 is a good example of Nautor's evolution from heavier to lighter boats, with perhaps some Italian influence since the firm was acquired by Leonardo Ferragamo in 1998. Drawing courtesy of Swan Yachts.

Over the last couple of weeks while I was busy varnishing the caprails on Finisterra, Thor was a few slips away with a crew of four or five guys getting her ready to sail. It was always interesting to wander over around sunset and have a look at their daily progress.

This boat has only four winches. All sail controls, including the vang and cunningham are managed by pushbutton.

Carbon fiber standing rigging. Each shroud is made up of multiple thin pultruded carbon/epoxy rods encased in a synthetic jacket such as Spectra fiber. Shroud terminations are usually machined titanium fittings. Here they are connected to under-deck chainplates.

I love it when excellent design crosses paths with superb craftsmanship.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Three Weeks in The Vortex

Finisterra arrived in La Cruz on November 30th and we immediately entered a whirlwind of socializing with lots of friends, old and new. Some had recently arrived from the US and Canada while others spent the year more or less full time in Mexico, but everyone was pretty much in a partying mood and we enthusiastically went with the flow. Two days after we arrived here I was surprised to find that Caramba, a boat I had designed way back in 1977 was a few slips down from Finisterra. The owners, Terry and Jo Reish had sailed down from California last year and spent the summer in the Sea of Cortez. It is really nice to know they are enjoying the boat.

During her stay in the Sea of Cortez, Caramba acquired a full sunshade as well as an air conditioner.

While in the slip at the Marina Riviera Nayarit, I went aloft and scrubbed all the grime leftover from our stay in Los Angeles off of the mast, spreaders and rigging. After that, Finisterra's hull and deck were polished and waxed, the engine serviced and bottom cleaned. We also got out the sandpaper and varnish and are in the midst of adding three more coats of varnish to the teak cap rails.

Off Cabo San Lucas the autopilot linear drive started making strange noises. I think it was trying to tell me that it's getting ready to die. It lasted until we arrived in La Cruz, and is still working now, but the grinding sound it was making is still there. I ordered a replacement drive from Defender Industries in the US, which assured me that they ship to "Yachts in Transit" in Mexico all the time. A "Yacht in Transit" is a foreign yacht that is traveling through Mexican waters with a Temporary Import Permit.  Unfortunately the package got stuck in customs at Guadalajara. The paperwork from Defender was incorrect and incomplete and the Mexican authorities wouldn't release it. So it was eventually returned to Defender and I ordered the drive through a local distributor in Puerto Vallarta. It was a hassle getting the situation sorted out but eventually Defender did reimburse me for the parts I didn't receive from them. The lesson here is that it's important to have your parts shipped from the US through a customs broker and not to rely on American suppliers that say they ship to yachts in transit in Mexico.

This will be our second Christmas season in La Cruz and the town really gets into the Christmas spirit. Last night we were walking up to a restaurant in town when we came upon a large group of locals who were watching a reenactment of the night Joseph and Mary showed up in Bethlehem looking for a place to stay. The kids did a beautiful job but I didn't have a camera with me so you'll have to take my word for it.

Finisterra dressed for Christmas

A few days ago we drove through Puerto Vallarta toward Mismaloya and stopped at the zoo. It was a nice zoo as zoos go, but some of the animals, particularly the big cats, looked fairly miserable in their rather cramped quarters. I'm coming close to making the decision to boycott zoos in the future.

We plan to sit tight here in the La Cruz Vortex another couple of weeks, until some parts I ordered from the States arrive. There are few places in the world I'd rather be stuck in. Until then, Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Arcona 410 Review

Arcona is a name we seldom see in the USA, which is unfortunate because this Swedish company builds a line of nice looking and fast boats that I think could do well in this country. All of their current products were designed by Stefan Qviberg, another name that is pretty much unknown in the USA but I must say his firm's work is impressive. The 410 is the latest collaboration between Qviberg and Arcona.
Simplicity and balance are main elements of the Arcona 410 design

As I studied the drawings and photos of the 410, the theme that came to mind was simplicity and balance efficiently combined. In the profile view above, notice the delicately sprung sheer and balanced bow and stern profiles. The cabin trunk is low and blends perfectly with the subtly sprung sheerline. Simple designs are often the most difficult to execute well.
The 410 is fitted with a tall fractional rig with non-overlapping headsails. Notice the oversize spinnaker pole.
This boat will be a serious competitor on the race course.

The Arcona 410 is intended as a racer/cruiser and I would place it on the racier end of that spectrum. With a displacement of 17,200 pounds on a 36.75' waterline, it has a displacement/length ratio of 155 and a sail area/displacement ratio of 22.0. These numbers are indicative of a light and fairly powerful sailing yacht. By comparison, my Beneteau 423 has a D/L of 152 and a SA/D of 16.0. While the two boats have similar D/L ratios, the Arcona has roughly 33% more power in the rig. It's going to be a lot quicker in light air, and have higher speed potential in a breeze. The Arcona will be a the more interesting boat to sail. 

Wide side decks, non overlapping jibs and an Admirals Cup style mainsheet system show the 410's emphasis on performance.
I like the distribution of volume in the plan view below. The overall beam is 11.48 feet and the bow is relatively fine. Notice that the stern is not as wide as you find on some other recently designed cruiser/racers. There has been a faddish trend toward extremely wide sterns on this type of boat in recent years, and while that hullform has obvious advantages when a boat is in planing mode, I think a more balanced hullform offers better handling characteristics in a seaway.

The decks of the 410 are wide and uncluttered, perfect for racing. The cockpit is a good compromise for both racing and cruising, with big seats and plenty of space for working the boat or lounging. The open transom and twin helms are convenient for boarding from the dinghy and enable the helmsman to sit well outboard.

Notice that there is no provision for anchor storage on the bow. This is great for racing but you'll want to order your 410 with a bow roller and windlass if you plan to anchor. I like the recess for the dodger that is molded into the cabin top. The way we cruise, there is never a time when we want the dodger put away, but if you race as much as you cruise, a fold-away dodger makes a lot of sense.
Notice the recesses for sheet and halyard tails, and the mainsheet traveler mounted on the sole. Another nice feature is the block and tackle backstay adjuster, which is lighter and faster than a hydraulic unit would be. This boat has teak toe rails that are smaller than I would like for cruising.
Near perfect accommodations plan.

Arcona offers the 410 in two and three cabin layouts, and I could live with either, but the two cabin version would be ideal for a cruising couple. The aft stateroom incorporates a huge berth, a large hanging/stowage locker and plenty of shelf space.  

The small deadlight in the hull will provide a surprising amount of light in the aft stateroom. 

The aft head is just large enough to incorporate a shower. The three cabin version of the 410 offers a single head, located aft, while the two cabin includes an additional small head in the forecabin. In the main salon you find a large galley to port, with lots of counter space. Notice that the lockers above the stove are raised a few inches above the counter. This cuts into locker space a bit but creates more counter space.

Scandinavian styling: simple lines and high quality woodwork.
The arrangement of the galley wouldn't be very convenient to work in when the boat is under sail. This is probably a reasonable compromise if you don't do a lot of cooking at sea. Once in the slip or on the anchor, I think the cook would like this wide open arrangement. the nav station, opposite the galley would be a nice place to work anytime. The chart table is an ample size and there is plenty of storage space.

 The main salon includes a large dropleaf table and plenty of seating space, but the settee to starboard doesn't look quite long enough to be a good sea berth. We have the same basic arrangement aboard Finisterra and I added a lee board in the quarterberth to convert it to a usable sea berth when we're underway.

The forward cabin includes the aforementioned head, a large v-berth and smallish hanging locker. The accommodations plan shows that the berth has been pushed aft a bit to allow for storage room aft of the anchor locker but I don't see an access hatch in the photo below. Aside from that, the forward cabin looks bright and airy.

V-berth in the 3 cabin version of the 410

The styling of the interior of the Arcona 410 fits nicely with the overall theme of clean, simple lines. While some might appreciate fancier design elements in the accommodations, I think this approach will wear well over time. The corners and edges are softer than we see in the latest designs from competitors like Beneteau and Hanse, yet it is a thoroughly modern looking interior. I like it a lot.

Overall I give this boat high marks for design and it should be a worthy competitor in the marketplace as well as on the race course. Add a few amenities such as lazy jacks and an anchor windlass and you'll have a fine cruising yacht. I encourage you to visit the Arcona web site, which is where I found the information on this boat:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Passage to La Cruz

Finisterra departed Puerto Los Cabos at 1130 on Friday, November 28th after five pleasant days in the marina. Conditions were expected to be mostly light air for the entire passage to La Cruz, which would be a nice change from the more boisterous conditions we experienced on the Pacific side of Baja. Our water tanks were nearly empty so as soon as we cleared the harbor mouth I started the watermaker and over the next 18 hours we added 125 gallons to the tanks.

Throughout that day and night the wind remained constant at 15-18 knots out of the north and we made good progress under sail. With light air in the forecast we were thinking of passing to the north of the Islas Tres Marias and stopping at Isla Isabella before turning south to Bahia de Banderas but the seas were still fairly rough, left over from the strong northerly blow of the previous few days, making it uncomfortable to sail toward that island. I was just as happy to leave the Marias to port and sail the more direct route.

Early the next morning the wind backed around to northwest and lightened to about 6 knots, which gave us a speed of about 3.5 knots toward our destination. I fired up the diesel and we motorsailed the rest of the way to La Cruz. I had been watching another sailing vessel on AIS that left San Jose an hour ahead of us. It was a nearly new 50 footer with a code Zero headsail up, which gave it good speed in light air, and it stayed about three miles ahead of us for the entire passage.

As we approached Bahia de Banderas I noticed that the other boat was headed directly for the Islas Tres Marietas instead of the safe channel between those islands and Punta de Mita. By the time we were within about ten miles of the Islas it was pretty clear that their intention was to thread their way through them. As it was a dark and moonless night, and knowing that the folks aboard that boat had never been in these waters before, I called them on the VHF and offered to give them some waypoints in the channel between the Marietas and Pta. de Mita. The skipper thanked me and altered course about 20 degrees and made the entrance to the bay safe and sound. The Tres Marietas are beautiful but there are lots of rocks and shoals around them, and it's not a place to be on a moonless night if you're not armed with very good local knowledge. Even then, it's better to visit them during the daytime.

Finisterra entered Bahia de Banderas just after 0300 local time. With no wind at all, we motored slowly toward La Cruz, timing our arrival for first light on Sunday, November 30th,  Nevertheless, was still pitch dark when we got there so we loitered just outside the anchorage until the first streaks of dawn appeared over the mountains to the east, then entered the harbor and took a berth on Gangway 10.

It was great to arrive back at our favorite harbor in all of Mexico.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bumpy ride to Cabo

We stayed in Ensenada only three days. Just long enough to check into the country and get Mexican phones, and enjoy our first Mexican fish tacos and Pacifico's since last June. The check-in process has gotten easier since the last time Finisterra entered the country. A couple of months ago the story was that we needed to list virtually everything of value on the boat on our TIP (Temporary Import Permit) so I created a detailed list of all that stuff and was ready to present it at the Port Captain's office, but they said the rules had been recently changed (again) and all that paperwork was no longer necessary. We breezed through the process in less than an hour.

Finisterra departed Ensenada at 10:00am on Sunday, November 16th. Just after clearing the harbor entrance we ran into a sea of kelp, so the first order of business was to back the boat down and clear it off the keel and rudder. The wind was blowing about 18 knots out of the WNW so we unrolled the jib and put a single reef in the main and set a southwesterly course for Punta Banda. Once clear of the point, we bore off to a broad reach and headed south toward our next destination of Turtle Bay, about 280 miles down the coast.

By 1800 hrs the wind had veered to NE and began to build. Finisterra is happiest on a broad reach and she ate up the miles quickly. The next day the wind continued to blow out of the northeast so we took the easterly route to Turtle Bay, leaving Cedros Island to starboard. We passed quickly down the east side of the Island in strong winds and big seas. It blew a little harder when we passed through the channel between Punta Eugenia and Isla Natividad, but once past Eugenia, the land blocked the waves but not the wind and we had a really exciting and fun 12 mile beam reach in 25-30 knots of wind and flat water. As we turned into Turtle Bay the wind died down and we came to anchor half a mile off the rickety old pier.

Within half an hour Enrique, the fuel guy, showed up in his panga and asked if we needed fuel. We topped up the tank, which didn't need much, and shared a few stories with him. He is a colorful character and is pretty much the only game in town if you need diesel fuel.  His prices are high and his fuel metering system is, for lack of a more descriptive word, elastic. So I wasn't surprised to hear him arguing with the skipper a nearby boat. But I think five bucks a gallon for good, clean fuel delivered to your boat is reasonable considering that the other options are to tie up to the rickety pier and pay approximately the same, or lug your jerry jugs up to the gas station in town.

We spent a night in Turtle, then headed south toward Bahia Santa Maria, about 220 miles further down the coast. The wind was still blowing fairly hard out of the northeast and we made good time broad reaching straight toward BSM.

We had planned to anchor for a day in the northwest corner of the bay, but as we rounded Punta Hughes we were able to download a fresh weather forecast. It called for medium winds today and light to very light air all the way to Cabo. So instead of anchoring, we headed right back out to sea in about 12 knots of breeze out of the Northwest. We sailed on starboard jibe for about 25 miles then jibed to port, back toward the land, taking a zigzag course to Cabo. By sundown the wind had built to 20-25 knots out of the northwest, bringing with it 6-8 foot quartering seas. It stayed that way for the next hundred miles.

About 50 miles out of Cabo San Lucas the wind moderated to a pleasant 15 knots and it was nice sailing for a few hours. By sunset the wind had lightened more and we were down to about 4 knots of speed so I started the diesel to give us a push until the wind returned. Thirty minutes later I noticed smoke coming out of the engine compartment. I quickly shut off the engine and discovered that the alternator had seized up. Luckily it wasn't wiring that was burning, it was the belt, which was lying dead inside its housing. We settled down for a long, light air sail toward the cape, finally arriving five miles off of Cabo Falso around midnight where the wind disappeared altogether.

Finiterra sat there until the following morning when the wind picked up out of the northeast. It was about 35 miles dead upwind to our destination of the marina at Puerto Los Cabos, and by mid-afternoon the wind died again. With a flat sea and no wind in sight, we hoisted the dinghy overboard and tied it to the stern. Its little 6 horsepower outboard pushed the 20,000 pound Finisterra along at nearly four knots and by 1630 we were at the harbor entrance. Half an our later we were relaxing in the cockpit with a sundowner.

Fortunately I had thought to bring along a spare alternator. It wasn't a perfect fit, but with a little effort we got the dead one out and the new one installed. A few hours after we tied up to the dock, the wind got serious and blew 25-30 knots out of the north for the next three days. We were happy to be nice and snug in Puerto Los Cabos where we've met new friends and reconnected with old ones.The recent hurricane, named Odile, that devastated Cabo San Lucas left its mark on San Jose as well. The Hotel Gonzo, located on the beach next to the harbor entrance was hit hard. Its plate glass windows, rooftop bar and swimming pool that we loved are all, well, gonzo, and the place is closed. Fortunately Fidel, our favorite bartender there survived the storm and is happily employed at the Container restaurant, which is located here in the marina.

In addition to knocking out the beachfront hotels around the harbor, Odile pounded the harbor, breaking up docks, damaging and sinking boats and blowing roofs off of the buildings around here. The marina restrooms are actually prefab buildings set on solid concrete and stone foundations. The men's survived intact but the women's was blown apart, leaving only the foundation and a couple of shower stalls intact.

When we were here last June I wrote a rather scathing report about the dolphin show they put on here. We were curious to know how they had survived the storm in their pens near the harbor mouth. The pens looked empty the first time we checked, but the next day we noticed some big trucks parked nearby so we wandered over for a look. They turned out to be the dolphin delivery trucks, returning the animals from Puerto Vallarta, where they had been taken for safekeeping before the storm hit. We watched as they offloaded them from the trucks one by one in canvas slings. With ten guys carrying each dolphin, they walked them down to the water's edge and carefully rolled them into the water.
They had been coated with a white salve that one of the trainers told us was to protect their skin while they were in the trucks so at first they looked mottled and unhealthy to me. After swimming around for a few minutes the stuff came off and they looked normal again, and certainly seemed to be happy to be out of the trucks and back in their pens. All I can say is that the exhibit operators seem to be treating their prisoners well.

Just launched, this dolphin is still smeared with white salve.
They dolphins put on a little impromptu performance for us.