02/18/2012, Barra de Navidad
We are now in Barra de Navidad. We decided to go into the marina rather than anchoring in the lagoon, but it is by far the priciest marina we have ever stayed in, including our home port of Esprit. Nevertheless, the amenities seem to be worth it, especially tennis courts (although they will be interesting as they are sand over artificial carpet, so we assume that they will play more like clay than anything else). The resort to which the marina is attached is beautiful. It is built into the side of a hill overlooking the marina, so the lobby is on the 6th floor where the driveway is, and the view out over the marina is spectacular. Now to bring you up to date since much has happened since our last blog.
Tim and Nancy arrived as scheduled on Saturday. Debra and I spent the morning making last minute preparations for their stay. It was our first day of any significant rain since La Paz, and it drizzled for most of the day. We met Tim and Nancy at the yacht club restaurant for drinks and snacks, and we then walked around the marina in the light rain, ending up with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants adjacent to the marina. Our original plan was to leave on our sailing trip that evening but we decided to put off our departure for 24 hours due to the poor weather conditions, as sailing at night in the rain with unsettled winds and seas is not a very pleasant way to travel. It was great to see them and have new guests onboard.
Sunday was a trip to Sayulita as Tim and Nancy had heard about all the Boulderites who went there, and they wanted to see what it was all about. After showing them the town, we walked the beach to the north where the truly nice casas (homes) were located. Debra and Nancy were quick to find a beautiful set of bungaloes along the beach which they thought would be a great place to stay on a land trip to the town at some future time. We then walked back and stopped along the way to lunch at a beach restaurant before catching a taxi back to La Cruz, since we had decided to start our overnight sailing trip south early that evening. We departed on time at 7PM and motored out of the bay. The winds picked up nicely as we rounded Cabo Corrientes at the south end of the bay and were able to sail for several hours before the winds decided to call it a night, so we motored until we reached our first stop, Bahia de Chamela. It was then time for our first true adventure-landing the dinghy in surf. I blew it, as I came in too close to shore to wait for the right opening, and we were caught by a large wave which proceeded to dump us into the drink and flip the dinghy. Unfortunately, the engine was still running, so it took in water and became unusable until I have it rebuilt or find a new one. I am seriously thinking about a new engine as this one seems to have been cursed. As you will recall, this was the same engine which was on the dinghy when it flipped at anchor off of Sausalito last fall. Besides the engine, Nancy unfortunately has just swapped out her inexpensive sunglasses for her really good ones, and they are now somewhere deep-sixed at the bottom of the bay. Other than that, no one was hurt, and we did recover other assorted personal items like hats, flip flops, and most importantly Mexican paper currency as they had decided to float long enough to retrieve them. While Tim and I contemplated the dinghy/motor's condition, Debra and Nancy took a long walk along the beach. Because I had concluded that the engine was toasted, Tim and I paddled the dinghy back to Murar's Dream about a 1/4 mile off the beach and then returned by sea kayak to shuttle everyone back to the boat. Before returning to the boat, we were able to accomplish what we had hoped to accomplish originally-Margaritas and a Pina Colada at the palapa restaurant on the beach-some of the best we have tasted in country. After drinks, to minimize the impact of returning everyone to the boat via kayak, I swam back to the boat-some great exercise for a change. That night, I prepared my Thai chicken curry, and we were joined by our new-made friends from TugTub (You may remember the hot tub evening in Chacala from an earlier blog).
Monday was another sailing day as we headed for Tenacatita-a place with a very interesting, recent history. Quite a few Gringos had purchased land along the beach and had built their dream vacation homes. A very rich Mexican recently claimed that all these people were squatters on HIS property, and he went to court to have them removed. He was successful in having the authorities assist him in removing the "squatters," and he managed to burn down several of the buildings. The current status is that there is an armed guard at the entrance to the only road which accesses these properties, and virtually no one is allowed to come in. However, boaters are allowed to anchor in the bay and come ashore where there is a palapa restaurant. We launched the paddle board for the first time in quite awhile. Debra and I took turns and then Tim decided to try his skills on it. He quickly adapted and paddled around the area, only falling once when he lost his concentration-something that is very common. Since the dinghy was not useable, it meant going to shore via kayak and paddle board. We decided to try the local fare at the palapa restaurant which was, at best, marginal. After returning to the boat, it was time for Mexican Train, a game which Tim and Nancy had never experienced. After quickly learning the rules, they performed quite well but learned how easy it is to be humbled by this game. Debra, of course, came out the winner.
Tuesday was a day for activities at Tenacatita. Tim and I decided to explore the estuary by kayak. The estuary was very similar to what Debra and I had experienced in San Blas--mangrove-lined water where one would see assorted wildlife. We heard that there were crocodiles, but we never saw one. It was all bird sightings. We went as far as the mangroves would let us as the estuary slowly closed in on both sides, and eventually there was a mangrove branch across the water which prevented us from going any further. It was then back to the palapa for two beers, using the last 30 pesos we had on us. Debra and Nancy remained on the boat and enjoyed themselves free of any male influence. The afternoon then involved my first effort at kayak surfing since the waves were quite manageable at only a foot or two. Tim was quite experienced in the sport since he used to rep sea kayaks. Tim took the rear, and I was up front so my job was just paddling to get us to catch the waves and then try to balance and not get tossed out as the waves crashed around us. I quickly learned the ins and outs, only getting tossed out once. We caught a few good rides before returning to the boat. Debra and Tim went paddle boarding after we returned from kayak surfing. We all then decided to take a stroll on the beach, and Debra decided to test her swimming skills by swimming to shore. Tim and Nancy kayaked to shore, and I accompanied Debra by riding alongside on the paddle board, just in case she ran into any difficulty. Being the true champion that she is and the assistance of some swim fins for extra propulsion, she easily reached shore without assistance. After walking the beach, we all returned to the boat. This time, the ladies took the kayak, Tim took the paddle board, and I swam back. It was then time for dinner, and we grilled filet mignons with potatoes and asparagus which we consumed in the cockpit under ideal temperature and calm winds. Nancy wanted another chance to better her previous performance at Mexican Train, so it was then time to go down to the salon and partake in another round of dominoes. She redeemed herself while Debra managed to have the poorest score, a change from her last three straight wins. I was this night's winner.
Wednesday was time to head further south but not before some more kayak surfing and paddle boarding. This time it was Debra and I who tried our best at surfing. Unfortunately, we were dumped several times, and Debra said that I needed more instruction from Tim. We returned to the boat so that Tim and I returned to the shore where we resumed my training. It went reasonably well, and I will have to try it again with Debra if we go to shore again at a remote location before we restore engine power to the dinghy. The ladies stayed onboard where Nancy decided to try her luck at paddle boarding. She quickly learned the technique and did quite well, never finding the water with her body. After making lunch, we secured the boat and headed south to our next port-Barra de Navidad. The overcast which we had been experiencing over the last few days continued, and there was a lack of wind, so it was time to motor our way along. At one point, as another boat passed to our starboard going northbound, a large whale came out of the water about 100 feet in front of that boat, doing a complete 360! After this thrilling observation, the winds began to build so it was time to set sail about 4 miles from the entrance to the lagoon. We headed out to sea on a broad reach as we were making water and needed to stay out of the dirty lagoon before that task was finished. After jibing back towards our destination, we once again experienced a breaching whale. It did three leaps and would slap its fin on the surface in between these spectacular leaps. The wildlife observations did not stop there, as we then observed a huge pod of dolphins seriously fishing off our starboard at less than 1/4 mile. Not only were they surfacing, many were jumping vertically and then splashing back into the water-something we had never seen before. All-in-all, it was a great way to show Tim and Nancy what it can uniquely be like cruising in Mexico. We then entered the lagoon and found our berth at the marina. After everyone had a badly needed shower, we were off by water taxi to the town of Barra and dinner at Sambuca, an outstanding restaurant both in cuisine and ambiance. You sit on the second floor overlooking a huge banyon tree filled with lanterns. Although they had run out of the lobster thermidor which we all wanted, there were still very nice dishes to pick from. It was clear from the sauces and presentation that the chef had professional culinary training somewhere outside of Mexico. It was then time to confirm Tim and Nancy's reservation on the bus back to Puerto Vallarta. The "terminal" (basically a storefront) was manned by a women who spoke no English at all. She was able to find the reservations (which she showed was on the earlier bus, not the one we had booked) but could not confirm that we had paid for the boletos (tickets) in PV. Finally, after a telephone call, it was left that they would issue the tickets without further payment if Tim and Nancy presented identification.
Friday began with a visit by the French baker who goes around boat-to-boat selling his assorted French breads and pastries. We could not resist and purchased and consumed part of a baguette and four croissants. He promised to return tomorrow, but we are hoping that he overlooks us on his daily rounds as the daily consumption of such delights is not particularly good for our bathing suit physiques. We decided that with a 4.5 hour bus ride facing Tim and Nancy, we should have brunch on the outdoor deck of the resort hotel looking out over the town, lagoon and marina before they departed. After brunch, Tim and Nancy finished packing, and it was off on the water taxi to the bus terminal to find out what was going to happen. Fortunately, all went smoothly, and they were off to PV without incident, but first it was a trip to a local cantina for final drinks before they boarded the bus. Debra and I then walked to the port captain's office to check in followed by a walk along the malecon to watch the waves as winds had built to over 20 knots. It definitely made us glad that we had arrived in port the prior day under much more favorable wind conditions. We then returned to the boat to organize and clean. Debra worked diligently on the interior while I gave Murar's Dream a thorough exterior washing from bow to stern. We then caught a water taxi back to Barra for cena (dinner). We ate at a seafood restaurant that we chose because of the locals sitting at the tables rather than one of the restaurants occupied by Gringos. The food may not be as high a quality as what a Gringo would expect, but it really helps us to feel like part of the community rather than touristas. We are now back on the boat and ready to turn in for the night, as the strong winds continue to blow.
This is it for this lengthy blog, as it covers so many fun-filled days. Look for later blogs as we explore the area around Manzanillo.
Debra and Andy
02/11/2012, La Cruz
We are in the midst of final preparations for the arrival of Tim and Nancy and our trip south to Manzanillo. Debra has been avidly studying the books to learn more about the "Mexican Riviera" between here and Manzanillo, and it sounds truly beautiful. Monday was spent dealing with assorted boat issues, and we ended the evening with dinner at Eva's Brickhouse along the marina malecon. The owners are quite interesting: Eva is Peruvian and married to a classic Brooklynite. We were the only ones dining in the restaurant at that time, so it was not long before Eva first stopped by to introduce herself, and then the dinner was concluded with a visit by her husband who was quite the flamboyant, New Yorker. You could tell that his evenings consisted of sitting at the bar and consuming significant amounts of spirits. He was quite entertaining as he told tales of coming to Banderas Bay and his ownership of his own sailboat which he had sold long ago and now was yearning to replace it.
Tuesday was a day for final preparations for Rick to return to MdR. That afternoon, we all got on the bus to Vallarta, and Debra and I departed at the bus depot to buy return tickets for Tim and Nancy, as we will continue to explore the Mexican Riviera after their departure. It is important to make early reservations for these buses as they tend to fill up quickly. My limited Spanish came in quite handy as I was able to carry on a reasonable conversation with the girl behind the counter, and we secured first class tickets from Barra Navidad to PV without much trouble. Interestingly enough, we received no actual tickets or a receipt for their purchase-The girl simply stated that the tickets would be there in Barra when we got there. This is one circumstance where trust is very important, but we both feel comfortable in Mexico dealing at this level, as the people definitely seem to keep their word. Rick stayed on the bus and continued to the airport, and we have confirmed that he made it safely back to MdR without incident. We had Jeff and Melody from Double Diamond over for a sunset meal of rotisserie chicken (available at numerous street stands throughout the area) and salad in the cockpit and enjoyed a nice bottle of red wine which they brought over. After a long day, it was not hard when we decided to turn in for the night.
Wednesday proved quite busy, as my first project was to go back to Vallarta to purchase additional pre-filters for the watermaker, as it seems that the filters get dirty a lot quicker than we had ever imagined, and we anticipate six more months in Mexico before returning to California. This involved several bus rides, as I first went to Home Depot, and when they did not have the filters, I went all the way to Marina Vallarta to the water filtration store from which I had previously acquired some filters. Another task was to recover our spare key to get into the boat. We had left Debra's key with the marina office in Paradise Village when we had returned to Colorado so that they could get access in case of an emergency (e.g. an unexpected leak) which fortunately never occurred. We had forgotten that we had left the key with them so when Debra remembered, I took on the task of going back to Paradise Village, which meant two extra bus trips. We had planned on attending a rigging seminar at the La Cruz marina, which started at 3PM. The extra bus rides put me way behind schedule, so Debra saved me a seat, and I was only about 30 minutes late. The seminar was extremely enlightening as the local rigger and North Sails representative talked all about the problems one can experience and how to take preventive measures to avoid them. We will be incorporating many of his suggestions, especially when we undertake our "Puddle Jump" across the Pacific, which should start in a little over a year if all goes as planned. I say "should" because we have quickly learned as cruisers that schedules are not something over which we have control. It is the weather which truly dictates what you can and should be doing at any given time. We ended the day with our bi-weekly game of Mexican Train dominoes which Debra managed to win.
Thursday ended up being a trip back to Sayulita-a place that we truly enjoy. The town is under major reconstruction, as the governor of Nayarit visited a short time ago, noticed the condition of the streets and public square, and immediately funded major construction projects. A lot of the work involves concrete, so the noise level around the square was almost unbearable with all the construction activity and concrete trucks, but we were able to enjoy our time there as we visited the beach and discovered a great juice bar where we enjoyed a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice mixed with carrot juice and ginger. The oranges were so sweet and juicy that we learned where to purchase them from a local vendor, and we immediately stocked up on oranges for our trip south. Upon returning to the boat, it was dinner onboard, something that has become somewhat of a novelty with all the local restaurants and nightly activities. We grilled a couple of beef tenderloins and poblano peppers which we consumed in the cockpit under a moonlit sky. I then headed over to the weekly, outdoor movie which was "The Help." Debra had already seen is, so she just hung out on the boat for the evening.
Friday was our busiest day yet. Yesterday, we were going to go fuel the boat for the trip south and discovered that the bow thruster had stopped working. After numerous tests with assistance from the technical support people at the manufacturer, together with Debra's help, I was unsuccessful in diagnosing and correcting the problem. I don't know if and when we will fix it before returning to the U.S., as there are no retail outlets or distributors for this product in Mexico. However, all was not lost in boat repairs, as we had been experiencing a weak signal out of and into our VHF radio. As I have previously reported, one thing that you can count on is a lot of help from fellow cruisers. This time, we hooked up with a long time cruiser who helped me to diagnose and fix the problem. It involved another trip up the mast in a boatson's chair to install a new antenna and check the connection between the antenna wire and the antenna. Debra has the task of hoisting and lowering me, and fortunately for me, for which she has become quite proficient as she efficiently performed her duties without dropping me the 50 feet to the deck. After completing the task, it was quite rewarding when we were able to confirm that this cured our problem, and we are again broadcasting and receiving at maximum range for a VHF radio. After completing my work on the boat, it was time to head for lunch and then take a bus to the Mega store to complete provisioning for the trip south. We returned to the marina just in time for the Friday dominoes game which Debra again managed to win. It was then back to the boat where I completed the installation of our high water alarm, a device to let us know that we are taking on water below the floor which the bilge pump cannot handle. It is probably something that should have been installed long ago, but we have learned that boating is a full-time job, and it is often difficult to keep on top of all the things that one wants to and should do to their boats.
Now for some humor:
After taking the bed out of the fore cabin and doing every imaginable test to diagnose the bow thruster problem, Debra diagnosed it for me. We had moved some of my shoes in the fore cabin to make room for Nancy and Tim. Unbeknownst to me, there is a battery switch out of view on the side of the bed stand where we had placed the shoes. In the process of moving the shoes to the aft cabin, Debra discovered the battery switch and told me about it. After looking at it, it was clear that we had accidently thrown the switch to the "off" position! I turned it back on, and tested the bow thruster-It works!!!!!!!!
We are now awaiting the arrival of Tim and Nancy from the airport as their plane will be landing in about two hours. I have provided them with detailed information regarding both the buses and taxis, so we will see how well I conveyed them. The weather has been really poor the last few days with intermittent rain and potential thunderstorms, so we have decided to postpone our departure south for 24 hours and will spend tonight in port before leaving tomorrow evening.
Look for our next blog sometime later next week when we reach Barra Navidad.
Debra and Andy
02/05/2012, La Cruz
Tuesday the 31st was our first chance to take advantage of the tennis courts at Paradise Village. It was "tournament" morning where the tennis pro paired us up with different partners, rotating through various combinations. Debra and I never got to be partnered, but it was fun meeting new people. Rick Ruskin was scheduled to arrive late that afternoon. Following tennis in the morning, we returned to PV where Debra and I did some last minute shopping to provision, and she then returned to the boat while I took care of some boat issues before riding the bus and awaiting the arrival of Rick at the PV airport. His plane was slightly early, and it was great to see him as he exited the international arrival doors. We connected and crossed over the pedestrian walkway, quickly catching the bus to Paradise Village. Upon arrival, it was only fitting that we partake in some Margaritas, so it was off to the yacht club. After our afternoon interlude, it was back to the boat where I prepared some chicken arrabiata. We dined in the cockpit in the cool evening air and brought each other up to speed.
Wednesday was the day that Rick and I tried to connect to the internet through my new wireless router. After struggling alot, we finally decided that the only hope was a trip to the TelCel office back in PV. However, before heading to town, Debra and I finally had a chance to launch the sea kayak, as we paddled our way back into the estuary where the Paradise Village Marina begins. We went back into the mangroves where we encountered several iguanas in the trees overhanging the water. After returning to the boat and grabbing some lunch onboard, we hopped on the bus for our first stop at the TelCel office. After checking with them, they suggested some possible solutions which we would then try the next day. We then headed for the old town where we spent the afternoon walking around. We went down to the beach where we stopped for a refreshment break. We then explored the rest of the beach before heading back to restaurant row. Our first stop was at a Mexican restaurant we had discovered previously. We all shared a Mexican platter of various treats. It was then time for a walk where Debra obtained proper pillow inserts for the pillow covers we had previously purchased. We then returned to our favorite fish taco restaurant, El Bacalao, to finish off the evening with garlic shrimp. It was then back to the boat, first on one of those public buses on plastic seats as we bumped our way along the cobbled streets, followed by a nice bus back to Paradise Village to complete the long day.
Thursday was our day to leave Paradise Village and return to La Cruz. Before leaving, however, Debra and I managed to squeeze in some tennis with our boat neighbors. First it was mixed doubles followed by men against women. Debra and I held our own in the mixed doubles against players definitely better than we are. The men vs. women match proved more interesting as the women first took a 5-0 lead, but the men were able to come back and tie the set at 5-5. Nevertheless, the women were not to be outdone, closing out the men at 7-5. After showering, I checked us out with the Captania de Puerto (Port Captain), as Debra and Rick prepared the boat for departure. I then checked us out of Paradise Village, and we had a nice sail over to La Cruz, only having to motor the final ½ mile or so. After securing our berth, it was off to the marina restaurant for happy hour and some Margaritas. We also treated ourselves to guacamole and some shrimp quesadillas, so dinner became a non-event. It was back to the boat for a good night's sleep.
Friday was our day to do some exploring of the town of La Cruz. We grabbed some rotisserie chicken and potatoes which we brought back to the boat for a very pleasant lunch in the cockpit. Debra then decided to take a rest, as Rick and I explored the docks in the marina. Rick's knowledge of sailboats is very impressive as he would point out the various makes and models including those boats without any identification. After exploring the docks, it was time for Debra and I to join the Friday afternoon Mexican Train dominoes competition where I managed to come in last place. Debra fared better but still did not win the five person competition. After dominoes competition, we went off to Osso's along the harbor for dinner. I know that reporting on our culinary adventures sometimes gets old, but this was truly a special evening, as Debra ordered the special of the house Red Snapper. It came as a whole fish, fileted and grilled over a wood fire and was definitely the best pescado (fish) we have had here in Mexico. We returned to the boat where dessert was mixed berry pie baked by a local in La Cruz. It was truly a treat to end the evening.
Saturday was our trip back to Yelapa since Rick had never been there despite having been in Banderas Bay for an extended period last year. We motored across due to a lack of wind. Upon arriving, we hooked up with a ponga and moored offshore. Debra was feeling slightly under the weather so she stayed onboard and rested while Rick and I explored the town. I took him up to the waterfall and then along the valley trail to overlook the harbor where Murar's Dream was nicely moored. We finished the shore excursion with shrimp quesadillas and limonadas before returning to the boat. We let loose from the mooring ball and enjoyed a nice sail back to La Cruz in 10-16 knot winds. Saturday night, we hooked up with our Double Diamond friends and made our first trip to Tacos on the Street for a nice Mexican dinner.
Today was the weekly street fair, and it was as packed as we had ever experienced. It was wall-to-wall people crammed along the sidewalk with various dealers on both sides. Debra was able to find her almond butter and two kinds of hummus. We then hopped on a bus along with Rick and our Double Diamond friends for a trip to Bucerias, about 5 miles away. After exploring the town, we walked down to the beach to watch the finals of a paddle board competition and then began the trek back to the marina by foot along the beach. We stopped along the way for some refreshment, as it began to warm up significantly under the Mexican sun. Upon returning to the marina, I undertook one more task-changing the oil in the high pressure pump for the water maker-before taking a needed shower. We are all now back aboard Murar's Dream while we wait for the sunset and dinner onboard using the fresh shrimp that we bought yesterday in Yelapa.
Rick leaves on Tuesday afternoon, so our plans are relatively wide-open over the next two days. We will then take the next few days to ready the boat for Tim and Nancy for our trip south to Manzanillo. We plan on leaving at sunset on Saturday afternoon so that we will arrive at our first stop, Chamela, sometime midday on Sunday.
01/30/2012, Paradise Village
We have returned to Murar's Dream and are back onboard in Puerto Vallarta after an uneventful flight from Denver. Since we now will be in Mexico for at least another 5 months, that meant some serious re-stocking and additional equipment for the boat. Last night we unpacked the 5 suitcase/box/duffels which weighed in at close to 200 lbs., but we were able to keep all within the 50 lb. limit, one suitcase hitting 50.0 exactly. Mexican customs also proved to go smoothly after showing them our TIP (a permit which allows boaters to bring in parts for their boats without having to deal with import duty, etc.). With all this luggage, it meant a taxi ride back to Paradise Village, as loading all these bags on the local bus was simply out of the question.
With all the additional provisions, yesterday was committed to re-organizing all of the various storage areas on the boat to accommodate them. Fortunately, with a little bit of luck, we were able to comfortably retain a sense of home. The new or upgraded equipment, however, has proven to be difficult. I installed a high water bilge alarm. Everything went well until I tested the warning horn, which was producing nothing more than a faint hum. I have emailed the manufacturer for advice. I also purchased a device to save wear-and-tear on the impeller for the cooling water to the engine. It does not fit properly, so I am now waiting for a response from that manufacturer as to how to address that problem. The next problem was my fix for one of the burners on our stove. I purchased a replacement part only to discover that it was not identical to the one in our stove. The thermocouple on our current burner had ceased to work so that the burner would not stay lit (the device senses whether the burner is lit and turns off the gas if there is no flame-a nice feature to prevent dying in a propane explosion onboard). Unfortunately, the replacement part came with a different type of thermocouple which would not work in our stove, something I only discovered after totally disassembling the stove top to access the problem burner. However, all was not lost. Apparently, by taking everything apart, the old thermocouple decided that it would start working again, so we now have the use of all three burners. The replacement part will now become a spare for any other portion of the burner which might fail, as it was only the thermocouple which was different. The greatest success in making repairs was with the water maker. I successfully changed the pre-filter which was now totally black and producing a noxious odor upon starting the water making process (having started out totally white). I then proceeded to flush the osmosis membrane, so we are now ready to begin making water once we leave Banderas Bay and continue our journey south with a final destination of Manzanillo. I also upgraded some of our lights in the salon with brighter LED bulbs which now provide for better lighting in the galley and the navigation station. I still have more projects to do, and I should be able to get them done before the arrival of Rick Ruskin from Marina del Rey, who is coming to visit for a week while we finish our stay in Banderas Bay. We will then be joined by our friends, Tim and Nancy, who have decided to be our crew for a portion of our trip south to Manzanillo. They will fly into Puerto Vallarta and sail with us towards Manzanillo before returning to Puerto Vallarta by bus for their flight back to Colorado.
Today was more fruitful. Debra took on the task of washing the deck and cockpit of the boat, doing an outstanding job-better than any paid cleaning we have had done in the past. The boat is almost spotless (a few stains that do not seem to want to get out). I spent the morning "bonding" all of the thruhulls and the propeller shaft (you connect wires inside the hull to each of the devices and then attach the wires to the battery ground to minimize erosion of the zincs). I am also working with the manufacturers via email regarding the problems I experienced yesterday, and we are making good progress. We have a metals person coming later this afternoon to cut and drill the incorrect size of the jib furling replacement straps. We are also heading out for the Costco to begin provisioning for our next trip south.
It is great to be back onboard our "home," even though Debra and I both enjoyed our visits to the U.S. (Debra spent a few days in Chandler, Arizona, to visit family, and I spent a few days in Miami, Florida, spending time with my best friend, Bob). It is taking a bit of time to adjust to the smaller living quarters (Going from a king-size bed to slightly larger than a full-size being the biggest adjustment), but there is definitely something about being on the water which creates such a good vibe. We also have run into several of our HaHa compatriots and are again sharing stories and ideas for future travel.
Obviously, there was nothing worth photographing, so there is no photo accompanying this blog.
Debra and Andy
P.S. We are trying to include our latitude and longitude so that you can bring up the Sailblogs map to see our locations and trips.
01/07/2012, Paradise Village
We have been able to slip in a few, final activities while we prepare the boat for our return to Colorado as it will remain safely in Paradise Village. On Monday, I finally was able to get Debra to Sayulita since she missed the first trip with Marsha. It was a delightful bus ride, as we got on at an early enough stop to have seats this time. Upon arriving in Sayulita, we found a taco stand on the street and had lunch before exploring the town. We ended up sitting on the beach watching the surfers, as the waves were quite good and in the 4-5 foot range when the good sets came in. There were a few outstanding surfers who would do sharp cutbacks and turns to stay in the curl much like you would see in a typical surfing competition. We returned to Paradise Village in late afternoon and finished a long day with dinner at an Asian restaurant here in Nuevo Vallarta, about 2 miles from the marina. It was quite tasty as we sat outside dining under a canopy while we enjoyed the pleasant temperature and clear skies before returning to Murar's Dream to end an eventful day.
Tuesday was a relatively uneventful day. Debra was feeling a bit achy with what might have been a minor relapse from her prior cold, so she just spent the day onboard. I took the opportunity for an additional bike ride-this time to the Wal-Mart about 5 miles away from the marina. That evening, we dined onboard to some of my Thai curry which we both usually enjoy. However, this time we were forced to use a can of coconut milk we had purchased in La Paz, a rare commodity in Mexico we have learned. It was quite thin and lacked the ususal amount of coconut cream which really makes the dish tasty. This meant adding another item to bring back from Colorado-the really good Thai coconut milk which I get from the Asian Seafood Market in Boulder. I ended the evening by watching the Sugar Bowl from the yacht club in the marina but missed the fourth quarter and overtime, as Michigan, my alma mater, defeated Virginia Tech, while Debra called it an early night.
Wednesday began with a boating trip to Los Arcos, a few, small, rocky islands on the northern shore of Banderas Bay about 8 nm from the marina. It was strictly motoring there, as there was no wind. Upon arriving, we were amongst a mob of tourist boats, all there for the tourists to try their skills at snorkeling amongst the sea caves carved out of the steep-sided islands by wave action over the years. We managed to find our own place to anchor between the two largest islands. Debra and I waited for most of the tourists to re-board their boats and then donned our snorkeling gear for our own snorkeling adventure. Although the water was not particularly clear, we were able to see an assortment of fish including several large schools swimming amongst the rocks which lie along the islands. When we returned to the boat, I decided to take the opportunity to do a hull cleaning because it had not been done since leaving the marina in La Cruz. I discovered a significant amount of algae growing at waterline and, much to my disappointment, several small barnacles had attached themselves to the bottom of the hull despite the fact that we are painted with copper paint, a barnacle retardant. I was nevertheless able to, with numerous dives in my snorkeling gear, pop them off and get a reasonably clean bottom using a scrub sponge and my diving gloves which have a coarse material on their palms. We then lifted anchor and were able to sail part of the way back to the marina, finishing the last half motor sailing at better than 5 knots. After docking at the marina and showering, it was our evening for fine dining. We took the bus down to Centro where we dined on the rooftop of the boutique hotel we had earlier discovered with Marsha and which sat atop one of the hills overlooking the bay. We were able to enjoy an outstanding sunset while we had cocktails before enjoying some outstanding food. Dinner was top-notch, especially the desserts (creme brulee and fried bananas), as we sat outside and watched the buildings around the area around light up as it grew dark. The restaurant also featured a live, mariachi band (5 violinists, two guitarists, one bass player, and two trumpets) which was very professional and of high quality. We managed to pick up one of their CDs which we are now enjoying on the boat. It was then back to the marina on the long bus ride, ending the evening relatively late for us-about 10PM.
Thursday was the start of serious preparations for our departure. My first task was to get the dinghy ready for its exposure to the sun by putting on its cover and re-mounting it on its clips in the transom. My major task was to replace the inhaul line which returns the mainsail to its place inside the mast. This was a fairly complex procedure as I had to first drop the mainsail out of the mast before disassembling the mechanism which contained the line around a spooling device. I then had to replace the old line with a new one and re-raise the mainsail in its furling track, which was a two man job. Debra took on the responsibility of raising the halyard (lifting line) while I fed the leading edge of the sail into its slot inside the mast in the furling mechanism. We were able to accomplish this only after jury-rigging a block (pulley) to allow Debra to use one of the main winches to complete the task (which she hand-cranked to make sure that the sail was properly feeding into the furling slot) since the sail is quite heavy (about 60 pounds) and there is a lot of friction as the front edge of the sail finds its way into the 50+ feet of track. When all was said and done, we both felt a sense of true accomplishment, and Debra paid the price of her efforts with a sore neck and headache later in the day. Debra also spent a good portion of the day organizing the interior of the boat to close it down when we leave. I defrosted the refrigerator freezer and moved most of the frozen items out of the separate, freezer unit, as we will shut that unit down while we are gone. I then tested out the air conditioning system to run on its dehumidify mode since the boat will be closed up tightly when we are gone, and mold can be a real problem. I also cleaned and re-oiled portions of the teak deck and will finish the other areas before we leave. We completed the day with our last dinner onboard before leaving on Saturday, as we planned on dinner in Centro for our final night in port.
Friday was our day of final preparations for our departure since we will have to leave for the airport no later than 11AM on Saturday. I worked on additional oiling of the teak decks. Debra did some last minute cleaning, and I was off to Sayulita to pick up a custom, opal and silver ring for Debra which we had ordered from a custom jeweler we had found on Monday. It was then off to Centro to dine on some Asian food at a highly recommended restaurant in the Romantic Zone. We were joined by our recent friends from Double Diamond, a Lagoon catamaran, whom we had met during the HaHa and had encountered at assorted locations after leaving Cabo. They had just returned from a journey to their home base in the Pacific Northwest while their boat remained here in Banderas Bay.
It is now off to bed for a good night's sleep before final packing and the ride to the airport tomorrow morning, which our neighbors most graciously offered to provide for us in their van. This will be our final blog on Sailblogs until we return to Murar's Dream in Paradise Village at a date yet to be determined, which will be a nice break for all of us, both bloggers and blogees. So you will just have to wait until you get the next email advising you of the next blog posting.
Debra and Andy
01/01/2012, Paradise Village
Happy New Year to all of you blogees. We have been in Paradise Village for five days. Not much exciting has gone on here, but we have spent a fair amount of time learning about Puerto Vallarta. The first full day was a trip to Centro (the old town) where we explored the shops, restaurants and beaches. We were taken there by taxi since he offered us a great fare and started our journey at the flea market along the river where we were constantly "hawked" to come into the stands because they had the best prices. Nothing really caught our eyes, so it was like walking through a mine field. After escaping this tourist trap, it was off to find the main plaza and cathedral where Marsha thought she could find her friend from Merida, Erica who had moved here. After an unsuccessful search, Marsha was able to reach Erica on the phone, and she directed us to a group of markets (vegetable, bakery, wine shop) where she worked. We lunched there and then went off to the beach where we searched the romantic zone and old town which we really enjoyed. One stop was a boutique hotel where Marsha's friend's son was working. Part of the hotel was Richard Burton's home, and the facility was beautiful with all of the interior gardens and open areas. On the roof overlooking the harbor (the hotel was at the top of a hill) was a restaurant which Debra and I intend to visit sometime next week. Ultimately, we ended up at Playa los Muertos, the northerlymost beach where Debra and Marsha sipped margs and watched the sunset while I napped in a beach chair. It was then off to dinner at a place which featured chicken mole, something Debra had been looking forward to. We then walked back through the old town to the bus stop for the bus back to Paradise Village, about a 2 mile walk. We caught the bus back to our marina where we quickly retired after a long day of activities which probably included at least 5 miles of walking through the city streets.
The following day, Marsha and Debra decided to lounge on the beach at Paradise Village while I took care of chores on the boat, which included a trip to the equivalent of West Marine in Puerto Vallarta called Zaragoza Marine. I was able to pick up a few necessities and additions and upon my return gave the exterior of the boat a thorough washdown while Debra and Marsha went back to the Centro to meet up with Erica for a girls' night out. I ended up cooking on the boat and hanging out in the marina before Debra and Marsha finally returned at about 10PM.
Friday was my trip to the local Costco while Debra and Marsha spent more time at the beach. Much to my surprise and excitement, Costco had fresh, stone crab claws, so I bought them for a surprise New Year's Eve dinner for Debra. We ended up grilling onboard after a round of Mexican Train dominoes.
New Year's Eve day was the time for Marsha to pack and depart Murar's Dream in order to return to Merida. Debra and I decided to go back to Centro to check out the street market that takes place every Saturday. The market ended up to be quite small with several of the dealers we had been seeing at the earlier street markets in Sayulita and La Cruz. We were, however, able to find a few new items: Argentinian chimichurri sauce (which we will use with our remaining arachera steak), almond butter, organic coffee beans, and some Mexican chocolate bars. We then went to lunch at a fish taco place which Debra and Marsha had discovered the day before with Erica. We decided to walk part of the way back, and Debra and I came across a store with beautiful, hand embroidered pillow covers which we bought and are now part of the interior decor on Murar's Dream. Upon returning to the boat, we set sail in the Bay in the late afternoon with a plan to anchor at sunset just off the beach to watch all the fireworks coming from the assorted towns along the shore. After anchoring and settling in, we dined in the cockpit under a moonlit sky on stone crabs and yellow rice and then sat in the cockpit awaiting the fireworks which started promptly at midnight. After returning to the dock, it was off to sleep in the early morning hours of the new year.
New Year's Day became the day to deal with the laundry which had been building up since we left Mazatlan weeks ago with an interim tie over in La Cruz. Debra took charge doing numerous loads in the lavanderia (laundramat) in Paradise Village while I broke out the bicycle for my first ride since arriving in Paradise Village. To my pleasure, the roads here are suitable for road bikes, so I took advantage with about a 15 mile ride around the area. We ended the day with dinner onboard (the arachera steak with chimichurri) followed by one of the movies which were downloaded by one of the cruisers in Mazatlan onto our new, external hard drive (the old one with numerous rock concerts and assorted movies having been stolen as part of the break in in MdR last year).
We are now working towards our committed return to Colorado on the 7th, so it should be a busy week. Look for another hopefully before we leave Mexico for our first respite since leaving MdR last October 20th, but if not, once we are firmly back on US soil.
Debra and Andy