03/06/2012, The Aquarium
Our walk on the beach and dinner in La Manzanilla were outstanding. We went to a restaurant recommended in our cruising guide, and it did not disappoint. Debra's garlic fish and my shrimp and mushroom crepes were both delicious following margs and chips and the house-made, smoked salsa. It was then back to the boat for a night watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It was extremely hard to follow, and I am not sure that we would recommend it to others.
As predicted, the winds shifted to the north on Sunday, so we sailed across the bay to re-anchor at Tenecatita where we had stopped in the past. It ended up being a quiet day onboard which ended with grilled chicken kabobs and rice. The red tide had worked its way into the bay, so the water was less than desirable for swimming or paddle boarding. Other than that, it was a typical cruiser day in Mexico.
Monday was more activity filled. We both took the opportunity to paddle board as the waters decided to clear enough that it seemed decent. After lunch, we decided to swim to shore and back. Dinner was back onboard, and Debra put together an outstanding, non-protein dish of pasta putanesca made, of course, with gluten free pasta. We finished the evening in the cockpit reading from our Ipad and Kindle respectively.
Today began with my first effort at net controller for the Amigo Net on our SSB radio. When they announced on Monday that no one was willing to fill in for the regulars who had committed to a guided trip onshore that began before the net would start, I volunteered after no one else would step forward. Fortunately, the organizer of the net had a text to read from to handle the controller function, which he sent me via email. One of the most important parts of the daily net is the weather report. It used to be handled by a man out of southern California, Don Anderson, who has subsequently suspended his activities. The organizer of the net has taken over by reading from internet reports supplied to him from a computer generated source. He, too, was going on the land tour, so I also offered to do the weather report if he told me how he obtained the information. Interestingly enough, it is a free service which sends out a computer generated, daily report for all of the regions on the west coast of Mexico used by cruisers from San Diego south to the southernmost coast of Mexico. I was able to sign up for the emails so I was also able to provide the weather report which gives wind speeds and directions, as well as wave heights, directions and swell time intervals, all of which is essential for safe cruising. For example, the southern tip of Mexico is the Gulf of Tuanapec (sp?) which is notorious for gale force winds and high seas. Cruisers will anchor or go into marinas at either end of the gulf waiting for the proper weather window to make the crossing safely. The current forecast is for gale force winds over the next several days with only one day out of the next seven to have manageable winds and seas. Those cruisers waiting to make the crossing rely on this weather report as one source in making their decision to start the crossing. After completing the job as net controller which ended around 9AM, it was time for Debra and I to take the kayak on the same estuary tour that Tim and I had done when Nancy and he were guests aboard Murar's Dream. The weather was almost perfect with virtually no wind, clear skies and reasonable air temperatures. After completing the trip, it was time to stop for limonadas at the local beach palapa before returning to the boat and lifting anchor. We had received a VHF radio message that the man working on our outboard engine wanted to at least return the fuel tank and lifting harness which he had taken along with the engine which has yet to be repaired. He agreed to drive it to La Manzanilla (see lead photo), so we sailed across the bay, anchored off the beach, and rendezvoused with him onshore before heading off to lunch at one of the local, recommended restaurants. After lunch, it was back to the boat and raising of the anchor to sail back across the bay to the Aquarium, a third anchorage in this large bay. This is the place where the current land dispute is still in play, so it means that we can only anchor offshore as there is a local policeman/security guard sitting in his truck on the shore, and we do not wish to encounter him if we can avoid it. We are the only boat in the anchorage, so we decided to take a swim to cool off but not to shore, as the only person we might encounter is the armed guard. We dove in and swam laps around the boat sin ropa (we leave it to you to look this up in a Spanish-English dictionary if you so choose). We will cook dinner onboard, get a good night's sleep, and then head north in the morning to our next destination, so that's all for now.
Debra and Andy
03/04/2012, La Manzanilla
We had hoped to send out this blog earlier, but we ended up without internet access before sending it out, so this will be a long one:
Tuesday started as cleaning day. I took charge of the exterior, and Debra tackled the interior. By the end of the task, we heard about the Carnaval parade which was to be happening in the town, so it was time for showers and then off to Barra town. Upon arriving, we walked down the main street where we came across a nice restaurant right on the parade route, so it was time to sit down, order some margs and have a bit of guacamole while we waited for the parade to arrive. The parade began with the princess and her court riding on a car, and the remainder of the parade consisted of a series of motorized vehicles, some of them towing trailers containing lots of young people, some in costume, while the vehicles blasted assorted forms of Mexican music, much of which was of the disco type. The theme of the parade must have been pirates, as virtually all of the costumes, except for a few mermaids, were pirates. Some of the vehicles had candy which they tossed into the crowds along the way. I took the task of handing out what we caught in our area to children standing on the opposite side of the street. After the parade, we went for dinner at Besame Mucho (Kiss Me Alot) and had a delightful seafood dinner. It was then back by water taxi to the boat to end the evening with a movie onboard: Iron Lady with Meryl Streep. She definitely deserved the Oscar for her performance.
Wednesday, we began the day with a hike along the roads behind the marina, hoping to find a trail up the large hill overlooking the hotel and marina. We never found it, but we did get to a height about ½ way up, as the road meandered through what was to be a residential area which has yet to see any homes. The road made a big circle bringing us into the town of Colimilla which borders the lagoon just beyond the marina, where we hoped to catch some desayuno (breakfast), but the restaurants there did not serve desayuno. Upon returning to the marina, we were both quite hungry so it was off to Barra via water taxi where we found much needed nourishment. We returned to the marina, and Debra and I just hung out for the rest of the day. We returned to town for dinner where we dined on Molcajete, a Mexican dish consisting of a green chile broth filled with peppers and onions and a choice of protein in a hot rock bowl which kept the broth bubbling for quite awhile. One more water taxi ride took us back to Murar's Dream to bring a close to this day's activities.
Thursday began with time on the tennis court. We had arranged to play with Steve from Cheyenne, who had played tennis competitively in college but had not picked up a racket since then. We had hoped to find a fourth for doubles, but when we were unsuccessful, the teaching pro agreed to join us where he schooled us in the true art of playing doubles when he kept finding spots where we could not get to the well-placed ball. Nevertheless, we managed to split each of the two sets. We managed to each work up a decent sweat so it was time for Debra to catch a quick swim at the hotel pool and then showers before heading to Melaque by bus for our final provisioning for our upcoming, two week journey back to Puerto Vallarta which we will begin tomorrow after hopefully another chance at tennis before closing our account at the hotel. We were invited for dinner on Cheyenne, the people from Colorado Springs, which is anchored in the lagoon, so they picked us up on their dinghy. We had a very pleasant dinner in their cockpit while enjoying a nice bottle of pinot noir from Benziger Winery before returning to our boat at almost 11 PM-way past our ordinary bedtime.
Friday was our day to finally leave Barra but not without one more time on the tennis court where Debra again did a number on me: 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Maybe one of these days I will have the skills to overcome hers but not yet. After tennis, it was time for showers and closing our account at the hotel. We then started the engine to leave the slip to discover that we were once again without a bow thruster. However, this time, it has not proven to be a simple fix, as the switches were all on, but we had no power to the controller. I have done several tests, including swapping out the controller to make sure that it did not fail, and I have had no luck. Fortunately, the next two weeks will be at anchor, so the fix will probably wait until we are back in Puerto Vallarta. Despite the limits created by no bow thruster, Debra took the helm and successfully got us out of the slip, and we were on our way to our next location-Cuastecomate, a secluded cove only 5 miles outside of Barra. It was a good time to have Debra work on her sailing skills, as we had sufficient winds for sailing, and we used the time to make water. After a couple of hours, we entered the cove at Cuastecomate and anchored along with two other boats. This stop had some significance, as we had been told that one of the palapa restaurants in this cove had the best margaritas in Mexico. We found what we thought was the restaurant only to find that they were among the poorest we had experienced so far. Whether it was our personal tastes or the wrong place (the place may have been next door at a building which was now closed), we still were able to sit on the beach and watch as the sun slowly set but not before getting back to the boat for some great pictures (the lead photo for this blog). We hope that you are not growing tired of all the sunrise-sunset pictures that we post since each one seems to be truly special in its on way. We dined on filet and veggies and finished the evening watching the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Debra says that it is true to the book but much more difficult to follow the story line. Regardless, it was entertaining.
Saturday began with a pancake breakfast compliments of Debra and her gluten-free batter. After relocating the anchorage to be closer to the snorkeling reef, Debra first took the opportunity for some paddle boarding before the winds got too strong. After she returned, we donned our snorkeling gear and swam over to the reef. If there is one thing that has disappointed me in Mexico, it is the lack of clarity in the water, and this was no different. Visibility was less than 10 feet, but we were snorkeling in mostly lesser depths, so it was not a total failure. We have seen all these beautiful pictures of turquoise waters in the cruising guide, but they are not what we have been finding. We have been told that the recent rains which are highly unusual for this time of year are the culprits, but I just don't accept that, considering that it has now been weeks since it has rained at all. After spending the afternoon reading and relaxing, we had a late afternoon snack of boat-made salsa and tostada chips along with pina coladas. We waited for dinner until sunset or later since they temporarily satisfied our appetites. Did chicken kabobs on the grill for dinner and then tried some dominoes before calling it a night.
This morning was the time for our trip to Bahia de Tenacatita. We heard a weather report to expect southerly winds, which are the opposite of the normal winds this time of year, so it made an opportunity for some nice downwind sailing to the north. After making water to fill the tank, it was a nice broad reach into the bay. Normally, the nice place to anchor is at the north end due to the northerly winds and waves, but today opened a window to go to the south portion of the bay and anchor off of La Manzanilla, which we have done. We will head to shore on the dinghy later this afternoon for a long walk along the beach and dine at one of the beach palapas. If the winds swing back to the north tomorrow, which is was is predicted, we will head across the bay and re-anchor on the north end.
That's all for now.
Debra and Andy
02/27/2012, Barra de Navidad
Friday was Andy's youngest granddaughter's birthday, so what better way to start the day than with a Skype call to Colorado? All went well as she was in her dad's car on the way to a father-daughter breakfast. The weather was sunny and calm in Santiago Bay, so we began our activities with paddle boarding off Murar's Dream. We then headed for shore on the kayak for a walk along the beach towards the town of Santiago. After walking a few miles, we found a restaurant overlooking the beach and ordered a couple of limonadas as we enjoyed what seems to be the exception to the weather this year. Those who have been here in past years cannot remember the number of cloudy and overcast days that we have had this year. After returning to the boat and taking showers, we readied ourselves for dinner with fellow cruisers at Ramada El Rey, one of the palapa restaurants on the beach where we were anchored along with many other boats. We had arranged for dinner with our friends from TugTub, as this was probably the last chance to see them this year-They are heading south to Central America while we will be going north to the Sea of Cortez. Debra also met some new cruisers on Cheyenne while she was paddle boarding, so she invited them to join us. We had a very nice dinner of grilled, whole red snapper, and learned a lot about Cheyenne, named after the street they live on in Colorado Springs!
Saturday was the day for the Santiago flea market about which we had heard so much. We received a radio call from our neighbors, Glory Days, asking us to join them on a trip to the market, and we jumped at the chance. After walking along the beach to the bus stop, it was about a 10 minute ride to the market. The market was as impressive as advertised: clothes, kitchenware, glassware, food, DVD movies, and other assorted booths. Debra quickly found the fresh strawberries, and I found the carnitas stand. I also found the double twelve dominoes that I had been searching for so that we could have them for Mexican Train of more than 4 people. We also purchased four DVDs to add to our movie collection onboard. The four of us rendezvoused to go for lunch at a local taco restaurant on an open balcony in the town of Santiago. After lunch we hunted down a dive shop for Rod who had broken the heel on one of his swim fins. Unfortunately, they did not have his size13s, but I did find a replacement face mask for me since the one I had purchased in LA had cracked.
After returning to the boat, we set out for Carizal, an isolated cove only 5 miles from Santiago Bay. After going offshore to make water, we entered the cove where we joined two other boats at anchor. We were quickly invited aboard one of the catamarans where we joined them for some drinks and apps. We returned to Murar's Dream before dark and cooked the fresh red snapper filets we had purchased in Santiago at the central market across from the restaurant. It was then an early evening for bed.
We awoke on Sunday to overcast skies (no surprise). One of the boats had apparently left during the night, and the second boat left at mid-morning, giving us our first real test of pure solitude. It was my day to don my dive gear and use the air compressor for a thorough bottom cleaning. Debra decided to enjoy the lack of wind and take out the paddle board before I took on my task. Upon her return, I donned my gear and went overboard. The cleaning process was quite tiring. By using a scrubber sponge, I worked on removing the growth and the numerous, tiny barnacles which had decided to attach themselves to the hull. It was so tiring that I had to stop after only cleaning the starboard side, postponing the port side for later in the afternoon after recovering physically. The problem was getting leverage to scrub with nothing to hold onto except around the keel and rudder. After I got back on board, Debra decided to don her snorkeling gear and check out the shore near our anchorage. She did not take long, as the water was less than clear. We then decided to take the kayak and get a close-up look at the blow hole which was located just inside the entrance to the cove. Using numerous tries with the waterproof, point-and-shoot camera, Debra managed to get a good shot of the hole as water was spraying up, and the hole emitted its trademark sound as swells rolled in. After returning to the boat, I re-donned my dive gear and finished the hull cleaning on the port side. This time, the cleaning went much faster and easier when Debra suggested that I use the suction cup for lifting the floorboards inside the cabin to latch onto the hull which worked like a charm, cutting the cleaning time in about one-half with much less physical exertion. We then relaxed in the cockpit until dinnertime, when I prepared my sweet and sour chicken dish. We finished the evening playing cribbage which we had not played in quite awhile.
We awoke at dawn on Monday to start our trip back to Barra de Navidad. Debra took full charge as the captain and did an outstanding job getting us back to the port in good time. We topped off the fuel tank at the fuel dock before docking at the marina. The weather was quite warm and sunny with no wind for a change so it was off to the pool for an afternoon on chaise lounges in the shade of the palm trees. After our sojourn, I took the time to wash the exterior of the boat-something it badly needed after a week of travel. It was then time to head for Melaque by bus for dinner at one of the beachside restaurants. After dinner, we decided to walk back on the beach-the reverse from what we had done going to Melaque last week. As the sun set, it grew steadily darker so that we finally reached Barra under a sliver moon. We soon discovered a fiesta for Carnaval on the town square and sat for awhile waiting for some live performances on the stage while they blasted Mexican disco music from the loudspeakers. It reminded us of the music which serenaded us to bed while we were anchored in Las Hadas. We soon grew tired of the entertainment, so we have returned to the boat to end the evening.
We plan on spending the next few days here in Barra until we finally set out north back to Puerto Vallarta with numerous intermediary stops that we did not have time for on our journey south.
Debra and Andy
02/23/2012, Santiago Bay
On Tuesday, we left for Manzanillo in mildly overcast skies and no wind. We motored for about the first 3 hours and then tried to sail as the winds began to build. We set the gennaker for the downwind run and were sailing along comfortably when we heard that the anchorage at Las Hadas was quickly filling. We saw three other sailboats heading in that direction closer to shore, so we dropped the gennaker and motor sailed in under the main. We found a nice spot to anchor and were greeted by our friends from Wind Chime. They picked us up in their dinghy, and we all went ashore to the resort where we had dinner at the Marina Grill, a restaurant recommended by John Thacker who owns a home down here. We shared shrimp fajitas which were quite good and then returned to our boat for the evening. We quickly learned about the biggest drawback to this anchorage-There is a disco at one of the resorts bordering the anchorage which blasts Mexican disco until the wee hours of the morning. This made sleeping somewhat difficult and reminded us of the wedding in San Blas, though not as close and loud. Nevertheless, we managed to get a reasonably decent sleep for the night.
It ended up that we were anchored right next to Glory Days, the sailboat which was having VHF problems in Mazatlan and to whom we had provided a replacement radio which solved their problem. They saw us just after arriving here and stopped by on their dinghy to tell us about the adventure that they had arranged for Wednesday-a zip line trip. Debra and I had both wanted to try zip lining since we had last been in North Carolina with my mom and did not fulfill that desire, so we quickly snatched up the last two spots on the minibus which would be taking us to the zip line. We were picked up from our boat by another boat's dinghy and taken ashore to board the minibus. After about an hour's ride in part through the finer areas of Manzanillo (actually the container shipping yards where the many semis on the dirt roads created quite the dust cloud), we arrived at our destination-a nature reserve in the mountains outside of the city. We were immediately asked to sign waivers (for a moment, we really felt like we were in the U.S. again) and then were outfitted with harnesses and helmets before climbing to the top of the peak where the first of five runs was located. The first line was over 500 meters across a valley and proved quite the experience, and each of the remaining four lines was shorter and shorter until we arrived back at the beginning to turn in our equipment. Debra was fearless since she had experienced a zip line when visiting Marsha last year in Merida. I was surprised not to have felt any apprehension at all and readily took to the experience. It was then a minibus ride to a small town where we went to what appeared to be a private home where they cooked pizzas for us for lunch. The combinations were quite interesting, concluding with a refried bean and banana topping which they said was their specialty. Overall, the experience was a lot of fun, It was then a bus ride back to the resort but not before several stops along the way as the guide agreed to try and help me find a part for our water maker to bring it totally back to service. At each ferreteria (hardware store), they did not have the part but gave us another tienda to check out. We finally ended up at a place that had plastic pipe, and I noticed some fittings that, with some adaptation, would work. After 13 pesos ($1) for the fittings, some teflon tape, and a piece of plastic hose, I was ready to conquer my next major boat repair. We returned to the boat at mid-afternoon where I entered the rear lazarette and tackled the project. Eventually, the water maker is now fully functional. After sweating up a storm in the lazarette, it was time for a shower before joining our friends from Glory Days for dinner onshore. We took their dinghy ashore and dined at a restaurant overlooking the anchorage, where we were joined by two of the other zip liners from Sea Whisperer: Lionel ands Barbara from Sidney, British Columbia. Debra and I both dined on the garlic whole Red Snapper before returning to Murar's Dream for another night of disco music.
After arising this morning, it was time to head into town for some provisioning. We took the kayak ashore and then walked the mile or two to Soriana where we stocked up on the items and food that we will need to get us back to Barra, as we plan to head north in the next few days, weather permitting. After shopping, we had lunch at an outdoor seafood restaurant which was nothing to rave about. It was then a bus ride back to the entrance to Las Hadas, followed by a walk and kayak trip back to the boat to prepare for our next journey around the point of Las Hadas to neighboring Bahia de Santiago. The winds were nicely building so it allowed us to sail virtually the entire trip as we first went offshore to make water and fill our water tank. Debra was at the helm in 15-20 knot winds on a close reach, and she did a nice job in what were not idea conditions, as the seas built to 4-6 feet. I took over and tacked back to sail into Santiago Bay on a broad reach, cruising at speeds in the 8-9 knot range. After entering the shelter of the bay, we doused sails and motored the short distance to the anchorage. We then took the rest of the afternoon to just relax in the cockpit, enjoying limonadas. We are grilling al pastor (marinated pork) tonight for tacos and salad. We then plan on a movie and a good night's sleep without the annoying disco music at the Las Hadas anchorage. Tomorrow should be a good day for snorkeling and trying out another recommended restaurant, El Rey, on the beach.
That's all for this blog.
Debra and Andy
02/20/2012, Barra de Navidad
We are heading for Manzanillo tomorrow, so it is time to do a final blog from our first stay at Barra. We plan to return here after heading south for about a week and before we start north back to Puerto Vallarta.
Saturday started with a trip to the lavanderia to catch up on all of our dirty clothes and sheets. After dropping off the two bags of clothes and sheets, we learned of a tennis "clinic" at the hotel, so we decided to participate. The "instructor" was a local tennis player, and he ran us through assorted drills, but he gave virtually no instruction other than to say "good hit" on occasion. There were only three of us, including a young boy who was just learning the sport, so we did get a lot of time doing the various skills in between retrieving the basket of balls each time we completed one of the skills. After showering, it was off to Barra on the water taxi for a night of baby back ribs and live Brazilian music at one of the local hotels. We started with margs at the bar before dinner and then enjoyed an evening at the outdoor restaurant. The band was quite good, and it even inspired us to get out on the dance floor for a couple of numbers. We were joined by old cruiser friends, John and Nicki from Seychelles.
Sunday was dedicated to exploring Melaque, a town just north of Barra on the same bay. We walked the 2.5 miles along the beach and then went into the town itself for some lunch at "Roosters," a restaurant owned by some Canadians and recommended by a couple that we had met on the street and had been in town for a few weeks. Debra went for a Mexican breakfast dish, and I did a chicken burger for my lunch. After lunch, we walked around until we found "Hawaii," the recommended tienda (store) for fresh fruits and vegetables. We also found a local tortilleria and purchased some freshly made and still warm corn tortillas. We decided to check out the bus ride back to Barra, and it was, by far, the most interesting bus ride yet. Many of the streets were so full of potholes that the bus would barely go walking speed. It also took a circuitous route so that it almost took as long to get back on the bus as it did to walk the beach which was no speedy trip since the sand was quite soft the whole way. Nevertheless, it was very interesting and worthwhile to ride through the neighborhoods of the locals to see how they lived. In particular, we noticed the large number of casas where the front door was nothing more than a colorful sheet hanging from a line strung across the open doorway. I guess that security is not a particularly important feature for their homes. After returning to the boat, we hooked up with Neal and Randi from Wind Chime for dinner at Mexico Lindo, one of the recommended restaurants according to the guide book we use for this part of Mexico, as well as a fellow cruiser familiar with the town. It was very tasty, and we were not disappointed.
Today was our busiest yet in the way of exercise. We played tennis, first mixed doubles against the musicians at the hotel bar and then singles between the two of us. We successfully won the two sets of doubles, but my string of losses to Debra continues, in spite of the fact that my two-handed backhand continues to improve. I then had my first chance to body board in the waves off of Barra. I got in about five rides in 3-4 foot waves, so it was just right, while Debra found the local massage parlor and enjoyed an hour massage. We returned to the boat for a quiet afternoon studying Spanish and then went back to town for some very good pozole. We are now back at the boat and will be enjoying one of the movies we have downloaded onto our hard drive.
That about covers it all since the last blog. Look for our next blog when we are in Manzanillo starting tomorrow.
Debra and Andy
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