Sea Sea Rider

21 January 2010 | Puerto Vallarta
20 January 2010
19 January 2010 | Puerto Vallarta

Tour Day

21 January 2010 | Puerto Vallarta
Hawaii Like
Wednesday January 20, 2010

More work to ready Bella Donna for the passage. The dingy is cleaned and looks re-markedly good after 6 years and all its been through. The divers come to replace the zincs, lead that protects the aluminum hull by becoming a sacrifice when a voltage leak causes metallic electrolysis. Over time the zincs are eaten away and need to be replaced. Divers also clean all the sea growth including barnacles from below the water line on the hulls. Bella Donna goes faster with less effort when she is clean. These diver dudes are very brave as the water is murky, you can't see more than a few feet. This would not be too bad but there is an occasional alligator in the water.

After lunch a rented car transports the crew to WalMart which is just across from the main port in downtown Puerto Vallarta. Two huge cruise ships are docked just steps from the shopping center. The shopping centers are very nice and modern. The super WalMart is the largest one that I have ever seen. We only buy food that does not need refrigeration because we are going to drive south down the coast to explore. Before we take off we visit Starbucks for a caffeine fix.

On the drive south we pass through old town with its cobble streets. One section just on the strand, closest to the Pacific Ocean, is called the Malecon. It very much reminds us of the Malecon in La Pas with its many statues of dolphins, sting rays and religious figures. One map we encountered shows the exact position of each statue relative to streets and businesses, this makes a walking tour easy by identifying where you are at all times relative to which statue you are near. This is a good thing because street signs are not always on the corners in Mexico.

Once out of town the road climbs to a cliff overlooking the bay offering a panoramic view of Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta, where Bella Donna is docked. There are many villas and small resorts where ever there is the occasional beach cradled below the cliff.

We turn around leaving a more extensive exploration for another day. We plan to go to the "Texas" BarBQ at the Paradise Village Resort pool tonight. We quickly unload groceries at the nearest gate to Bella Donna which is right in front of the Jungle Night Club where the sign says "Bikini Contest Tonight". Just our luck there is no dock cart in sight to cart our groceries to Bella Donna; we have to hand cary the hundreds of pounds down the dock. Oh well, didn't go to the gym today.

Minutes later we take off to insure we get the best food at the 6:30 to 10PM buffet. It isn't exactly a Texas BarBQ, but the ribs, tacos, shredded pork, quesadias, prime rib beef and salads make for a good meal. The mexican potato salad is great; it had a lot of vegetables including peppers in a light tangy mayonnaise sauce. Oh did I leave out it is all you can eat and free drinks, not bad eh. The multinational staff treats us to Texas country dancing, line dancing instruction and mechanical bull rides among other things. Don is the only one eager in our party to line up for a ride. Thank God the man at the controls takes it relatively easy on the senior member of our crew,

God Bless Bella Donna

Work Day

20 January 2010
Hawaii Like
Tuesday January 19, 2010

The best time of the day is the morning; the temperature is in high sixties, the sun is shining brightly and there is a gentle cool breeze. The marina is so well protected that Bella Donna sits very still on the dead calm surface. It reminds me of Atlantus Resort in the Bahamas, Birds are performing their morning songs although it sounds tropical, nothing like the birds in the Sierra; that is if you could hear the birds in the morning in the middle of winter.

About 10 AM the day opens up and breezes are much warmer. The thermal winds are building; the high temperature of the day reaches into the mid or high 70's. We have have a few jobs to complete before Bella Donna can depart to Costa Rica. Juan is polishing the stainless steel, John and Deborah are repairing one of our 2 satellite antennas; I brought new stepper motors and belts with me. We need 2 so that if one fails at sea we have a backup. In fact that is one of the many reasons people are more and more preferring catamarans to mono hulls; there is 2 of most critical things - engines, generators, fuel tanks, water systems with desalination capability,GPS, radios, hulls, etc. Of course, you really notice how much better a catamaran is when at anchor the swell and the wind are 90 degrees different; the catamaran does not roll as much. This means you do not have to secure all movable objects and hold on as you sit or move about the vessel.

We tuned in our VHF to the local net where all the American cruisers exchange information. They cover new arrivals and planned departures as well as local retail specials including night clubs, restaurants, marine shops and more. They organize a group of cruisers that want to depart for a South Pacific passage or the big puddle jump as it is called. The thing we are interested most in hearing about is the weather and sea condition forecast-ed for our departure. The storms hitting the west coast of the US will change the weather radically down here by the weekend. The winds are to build to 30 knots and the sea swell to 12 feet. Being sailors that much prefer better conditions we will wait until the disturbed weather passes. Once the bad weather enters the mid west the lows will draw a tropical flow, warmer and more humid.

We went to the gym and then to one of the many pools to have sun-downers in the hot tub and watch a picture perfect sunset over the Pacific.

God Bless Bella Donna

First Day

19 January 2010 | Puerto Vallarta
Hawaii Like
Monday January 18, 20010

Well off to meet Bella Donna in Puerto Vallarta. As usual I awake five minutes before my iphone alarm is set to go off at 3:30 AM, a habit I learned at the university in response to my traditional alarm clock with the two bells on top with the clanger in between. The human mind can do anything when pain is inflicted on a daily basis.

Days of packing for a 2 to 3 month sailing trip rapidly ends when the lid closes on the last bag. Things will be left behind that are needed, but isn't this always the case. You would think 3:30 AM leaves plenty of time to make a 6:10 AM but event roll downhill rather fast and suddenly you are folded into a seat in the back of a full airplane headed to Phoenix. Phoenix airport is packed. I guess all the snow birds are flocking to warmer climbs. Arriving at the end of one airport concourse and out departure is at the end of another concourse with barely enough time to make it. We walk straight on to the plane.

Puerto Vallarta is not far. Exiting the plane it is suddenly apparent you are over dressed. The weather is very close to Hawaii. Immigration and customs goes fast except when I press the entry button and get a red, not green, light. The agent questions about the large amount of drugs in my baggage. I have to admit all the prescriptions and vitamins do make an impressive pile; the agent goes over each package and make comments about how this can't be for one person. I think they wanted to charge for importing drugs, but finally they give the green light.

The trip from the airport to the Paradise Resort could have taken place in a city in the USA except for the names on the places passed. Many of the names were the same as those seen in La Pas or Cabo. Once in Paradise Resort where Bella Donna is docked the world is like a nice resort in the USA. In fact the many pools and restaurants look similar to the Waikaloa Resort on the Kona coast in Hawaii.

The air conditioning on Bella Donna is turned off and a lovely dinner in the cockpit is enjoyed by all with discussions of the voyage to come. We are going to make decisions tomorrow given the huge winter storm coming into the west coast of the US. This storm will only mean more wind and much larger swell for us.

God Bless Bella Donna
Vessel Name: Bella Donna
Vessel Make/Model: Yapluka 72 Catamaran
Hailing Port: World
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Bella Donna's Photos -

Port: World