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Pacifico's Return Voyage to Mexico
Credit where credit is due
Dave
01/30/2014

Credit where credit is due.
Before we came to Mexico in 2010 we re-powered Pacifico with a new, Beta 25 HP diesel engine to replace the Universal M25XP that was original equipment on this boat. We had issues with the new Beta the entire time we were in Mexico and were resolved to fix it when we got back. The engine preformed well, but ran hotter than it should and could not be run to its potential RPM. We always thought the culprit was the new, three blade prop I'd installed before leaving. I had it re-pitched once, but thought it to be still over pitched.

After returning home in 2011 I contacted Phil Jones, "The Marine Man" from whom I had purchased this engine and he helped me, or rather I helped him install it. With Phil's assistance and dealing with the factory warranty representatives in England we ran multiples of tests, made several modifications to the raw water cooling system and replaced the "tube stack" or heat exchanger with a factory provided part. I pulled the boat and changed the intake system, and re-pitched the prop four more times. I know that Phil put in well over 70 hours of his time on my behalf, and I know this because I was there too and more, all to no avail. In the end I made a warranty claim for a defective engine with Beta, directly to the CEO. He approved the replacement, it was shipped and in 2013 Phil and I made the swap, no charge.

The new engine has also performed well and no overheating issues, so we know it was a latent defect in the original engine, which was shipped back to England for inspection. Why do I bring this up? There are quite a few qualified diesel mechanics in Oceanside through whom I could have purchased and installed the new engine in 2010. I chose "Marine Man" because in addition to being an all around trained diesel mechanic he is also the San Diego area Beta dealer and representative. I thought that if there should ever have been a serious problem I'd rather be dealing with the factory's guy than not. That has turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made on this boat.

This is not an advertisement for Phil or Beta, but credit is due here. Phil put in an exorbitant number of hours, mostly non-reimbursed by the factory to resolve these issues and he never charged me a dime. He walked the fine line of being a company man, yet representing me, his customer. I paid for additional, non-warranty parts or conversions to the vessel itself. That was enough I can assure you, but in the end, I got a brand new engine, replacing one which by then had over 1,300 hours on it. I felt that to be a fair exchange. On Beta's behalf, I understand why they put us through the paces on the warranty. I learned a lot from these issues and that while it is their engine, they don't oversee the actual installation in the myriad of hulls these engines will be installed into. Once they were satisfied it wasn't external, they did the right thing. And because Beta is not a part of a larger conglomerate I was able to appeal the CEO directly. I would have never been able to do that with the other popular brands out there.

So, tip one to Phil, San Diego's Marine Man, thanks a lot Phil!

cruising
Name that fish
Dave, broken clouds, warm
01/30/2014, Barra de Navidad


I have seen a particular fish here in the marina at Barra that I have not seen before at any of the reefs or bays we have visited. Initially there were three of them, all swimming in unison and with the long blue florescent trailers they display it was quite a site. They are a small fish, probably only three inches long with a thin unremarkable body, but the long thin electric like trailers it was beautiful to watch. They always attracted on lookers to watch them work an area, feeding close to the surface and eating whatever it is they eat, then move to the next slip area. After a few weeks I noticed that there was only one of them, the other two never showed up again. Victims of the birds perhaps or taken to someone's salt water aquarium?

You will have to look past the cloud reflections in the water and while this was the better of the photos that I took it cut off the body just a bit. The trailers were about two to three feet long. Does anyone know what this species is called?

cruising
Provisioning
Dave
01/30/2014, Barra de Navidad

People ask what do we do with ourselves all day with no house to clean, cars to maintain or job to go to? Like life anywhere and especially on a boat there are always things that need fixing, cleaning, or replacing. We have meals to prepare and for that of course one has to go shopping. At home we have a nice refrigerator with a freezer. On Pacifico we have a small 12V refrigerated locker, about the size of a 32 quart ice chest, a portable 12V 45 quart freezer unit, and a beverage locker that is not refrigerated. We keep that locker cold by using "blue ice" blocks and have enough for a daily rotation, ½ of them go into the ice locker and the other ½ back into the freezer for tomorrow's exchange. It's not the most efficient use of the freezer, but it works, we have cold beverages and it allows all of the refrigerated locker to be utilized for food. The blue ice takes up about 1/3 of the freezer leaving adequate storage space for frozen food and perhaps more importantly, for ice!

When we are in the larger cities, or like La Cruz which is close to Puerto Vallarta, we have access to a variety of large and plentiful supermarkets, Mega, Commercial and Soriana as well as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Costco. They are a ½ hour bus ride away and we take our cloth bags with us for carrying our groceries back to the boat, way more durable than plastic and they have shoulder straps. We only go into these large stores for a major shopping event when we are getting ready to leave the dock and be out for a while. Sometimes we'll share a taxi back with another boat and really stock up. Cruising in Mexico is not like going to Antarctica. People eat every day and there and every little community has their Abarrotes; little neighborhood markets. These stores stock limited supplies, but enough for the daily things everyone needs frequently and some stock fresh produce. The quality of the produce varies and are better the closer to delivery date because they are not kept in a refrigerated, sprinkled display. The 'fruitas y verduras' maybe kept in crates on the floor, boxes on tables, open shelves or displayed outside in similar fashion. It's best not to buy too much, shelf life is not more than a few days. We shop more often and buy less. This is a photo of the larger grocery store here in Barra taken at night and you can see the local "Churro" vender cart there in front. Churros are best when fresh and hot right out of the fryer. These things are cooked by dipping in hot oil on a stainless rod. The rod is pulled and the void filled with either chocolate or caramel filling, then rolled in a sugar and cinnamon mix. Delicioso!

cruising
What else do we do off the boat?
Dave, clear, sunny, warm
01/15/2014, Barra de Navidad

OK, so when we are not taking laundry in for service, carrying empty bags to Abarrotes and full ones back or sightseeing someplace, what do you do when you're tired of the boat's confinement? Well, it's still football season and for those of us that enjoy such diversion we take the water taxi, or our dinghy to town and go to La Casa de me Abuela, or my grandmother's house. Great little place here on the beach road or Malicon in Barra that has four televisions and satellite reception. Every weekend, Monday night and Thursday night that there is a game you'll find a pretty dedicated group of fans jamming up this little place for the entire day and into the evening. I'll give them a plug, the food here is simple fare but wonderful. They have one of those 'wheel' barbques on the side street out the back door and serve great hamburgers, ribs and anything they put their arracharra beef into is fabulous, burritos, tacos, baguette sandwiches and more. Of course they serve a variety of soft drinks, beer and wine and margaritas. So, this is the crew here for the NFL playoff games. There was a contingent of Charger's fans here for the Chargers v Broncos game today and OK, so when we are not taking laundry in for service, carrying empty bags to Abarrotes and full ones back or sightseeing someplace, what do you do when you're tired of the boat's confinement? Well, it's still football season and for those of us that enjoy such diversion we take the water taxi, or our dinghy to town and go to La Casa de me Abuela, or my grandmother's house. Great little place here on the beach road or Malicon in Barra that has four televisions and satellite reception. Every weekend, Monday night and Thursday night that there is a game you'll find a pretty dedicated group of fans jamming up this little place for the entire day and into the evening. I'll give them a plug, the food here is simple fare but wonderful. They have a 'wheel' barbque on the side street out the back door and serve great hamburgers, ribs and anything they put their arracharra beef into is fabulous, burritos, tacos, baguette sandwiches and more. Of couse they serve a variety of soft drinks, beer and wine and margaritas. So, this is the crew here for the NFL playoff games. There was a contingent of Charger's fans here for the Broncos game, last night it was the Seahawks turn to rumble. A good time was had by all, I have heard that there were a few side bets between 'friends'.

cruising
How do we keep or clothes clean?
Dave, clear, sunny, warm
01/15/2014, Barra de Navidad

OK, so how do we keep our clothes, towels, sheets and etc. clean? Do we wash them in a bucket and hang them on the life lines to dry? That depends. When you are out at remote anchorages, yes, or just wash what you really need and save the big stuff for the periodic returns to marinas and anchorages in close proximity to real communities, not remote villages. When you are in close to town there are these things called "lavanderias" or laundries; they are great! I pack up all the sheets, towels and etc and take them to town. These wonderful places wash, dry, fold and wrap in plastic about 6-8 kilos of dirty stuff for about 75 pesos, or $6.00 US. Can't be beat. They have never lost or damaged anything to my knowledge and it is always ready when they say it will be. Sometimes it goes in by 10 AM and out by 2 PM. After a busy weekend don't expect that, but certainly next day service. And they will iron it too if you want that done.
This is the lady whose laundry service I have been using. Her shop is a little farther for me than a couple of them, but she has been very dependable. I'll just go with what I know works.

cruising
Sail to Tenacatita
Dave, clear, sunny, warm
01/06/2014, Bahia Tenacatita

We have had an unusual weather season here in Mexico this year. The trip down as previously noted was unusual and it has been unusually hot and humid. We have now just finished a solid week of heavy overcast and daily rain. Rain is very unusual here this time of year. They get most of their rain in the summer months, the monsoon season, and while it can rain this time of year I'm told it is usually a short weather event. The last trip down, 2010-11 we didn't have any rain for six months and very few cloudy days. With this rain system we had no cold weather, no wind or heavy seas. It just rained, a lot, and we were tired of it.

On Thursday, January 2, 2014 after the rains quit we ended our extended stay in the Barra's Grand Bay Marina; Marisa and I unplugged, untied and got away from that dock! As said before, they do have a way of growing tentacles. We were not even sure of our destination, but it had to be close. Marisa only has a few days left and is scheduled to fly out of the Manzanillo Airport on Sunday.

We motored out and decided to go north to Bahia Tenacatita, about 14 nm north of Barra. We had decent wind and opted to sail the entire distance once out of the Barra channel so it took a little longer than just motoring. We had to throw in quite a few tacks to work up wind around the point, but we needed the exercise.

Tenacatita is a great anchorage, well sheltered and calm. There is a very long and beautiful crescent shaped sandy beach. There is a pretty regular cruising group that attends this place in season and we anchored among 18 other boats. There is not much on the beach here, just a small palapa restaurant and palapa seating area with an associated camp ground. With all the recent rains most of the campers had departed so it was pretty much just the boaters here. As a foot note to the restaurant facility and this beach area we are told that this site along with one of the islands in the Barra Lagoon were used in the filming of the movie "McHale's' Navy", which I have never seen and understand was pretty bad, but it would be interesting to see it just to see how these locations were utilized in the film.

Friday afternoon there was a round of bocce ball on the beach with about ten of us participating. The "officially, unofficial mayor of Tenacatita, Robert of "Harmony" ran the tournament and later that afternoon held a pot luck "raft up" with I think all boats attending. I've done beach party pot lucks before, but never a dinghy pot luck. It sounds just like it is, you bring a dish to share, your own utensils and everyone motors or rows over to the spot and ties around one dinghy that's anchored in a big circle. The "mayor" presided over the event and a good time was had by all.

This picture is Pacifico's dinghy, Clara on the beach at Tenacatita behind the inner point with her beach landing wheels, that's how we get to shore in 'the water car', it's too heavy to drag up onto the sand. We'll stick around here for a couple of days then head back to Barra so we can get Marisa to the airport this Sunday.

cruising
Bus trip to Colima
Dave, warm, cloudy and rain
01/06/2014, Colima, Colima, Mexico

Back to almost real time. Marisa and I took a bus trip to Colima the day after Christmas, 12/26/2013. This was not on your regular, run of the mill local bus, but on one of the first class bus transportation companies that are available in Mexico. We departed from the small bus terminal here in Barra. In small towns each bus line appears to have its own terminal and from what I've seen they are usually situated close together and usually near the local buses, bus stop, which acts as a feeder for the longer distance bus service. We took the "ETN" Bus Company's direct service and only had two short stops, one in Cihuatlan and the other at Manzanillo before arriving in Colima, about three hours in duration. The bus we were on was equipped with three seats across, a single seat, the isle and then two seats together. All the seats were large and comfortable with full arm and leg rests. When boarding you are checked in to your pre-assigned seat, given a choice of cold beverage and a sandwich. Large luggage is tagged and stored in the bus' luggage compartment for you. Each bus was air-conditioned and had flat screen monitors playing a feature movie that you could listen to with provided head phones. All in all it was a very pleasant way to travel and about $240 (pesos) one way or $20 US. There is a curtained bulk head and closing door separating the driver's area from the passenger seating. Pretty cushy.

The bus was clean, the drivers were attired in uniforms and very professional. Our buses, both coming and going were full. This photo was taken at the Central de Autobuses in Colima. This terminal, like the one in Manzanillo, are very large and not unlike a airport. Each company has its own service counter and their buses come in and park at assigned gates. There are vender suites where you can purchase food, beverages and travel accessories. All quite organized. No chicken coups on these babies!

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Marisa's arrival at Manzanillo Airport
Dave, clear, sunny, warm
01/06/2014, Barra de Navidad

On Sunday, December 22, 2013 Marisa flew from LAX to Manzanillo Airport, the closest air service to Barra de Navidad. The taxi from Barra to the airport is $350 (pesos), but the airport taxi back to Barra is $550, because of their Federal taxi service taxes at all airports here in Mexico. That's $900 round trip! Leave it to cruiser's to find a better way. It is only $10 by local bus from Barra to Cihuatlan, which you have to pass through to the airport anyway and $130 by taxi from Cihuatlan to the airport. The return is even better, at $250 back to Cihuatlan and $20 for both of us by bus back to Barra that's a $490 (peso) savings round trip and it only takes 15-20 minutes longer.
Once back in Barra we encountered cruising friends Mike and Julie of "Slacker" and Joe and Deb from "Pacific Jade". The night was on. After happy hour at Pancho's we went to a local favorite tacos al pastor, which happens to be near the bus station. In this small town nothing is too terribly far from anything, making walking very convenient. The tacos here are superb and very reasonably priced; Dinner for two and a couple of beers, about $10 (US) including a tip.
After dinner it was back to the water taxi and home to the boat.

cruising
Hotel Ceballos, Colima
Dave, warm, cloudy and rain
01/06/2014, Colima, Colima, Mexico

OOPS, out of order, I ment to post this before the sail to Tenacatita. This is from inside the Ceballos Hotel in Colima, which is the capital city of the State of Colima. The hotel is an old building, constructed in the late 1800's I believe, and well preserved considering the frequency and severity of earthquakes in this region. Colima is a historic Spanish Colonial town, however apparently none of the old colonial buildings remain, all having been knocked down by earthquakes, many of them several times over, so this old place must have been pretty well constructed to make it through the last century. All the rooms had heavy arched areas marked in Spanish and English "take refuge here in case of earthquake".

It was a beautiful place to stay, but being old it did have design problems. The rooms were small and it was noisy. Non-the less it was an interesting place to visit; It's clean and right down town on the central square and across from the State Government building. This photo is of me in the interior hall just around the corner from our room, which was an interior room and had a window that opened onto this inside atrium. All the rooms either had an outside window or an interior window that opened on these old interior square or atrium for ventilation and light. They have since closed in the top with a framework and corrugated fiberglass panels over it to keep the rain out and they made the lower inner patio into a dining room. With the lack of acoustics and heavy walls you knew when the kitchen staff went to work in the morning!

cruising
On the beach at San Pancho
Dave
01/03/2014, San Pancho, Nayrite, Mexico

It was on Saturday, November 9th that Bill, Buddy and I took the local bus to Bill's friend, Chris Parson's home in San Pancho. Time flies when your having fun and I'm just getting to this event. Chris' place is right on the beach, unobstructed ocean view and what a nice home it is, particularly suited for the 'beach life'.

Chris' girlfriend, Lolo, is French and a chef and owns her own restaurant in Sayulita, but she's not in the picture. Buddy decided he didn't care if he moved from that hammock all day, and he just about didn't. Looking back on it we were all still resting up from the long voyage down. We spent the day lounging in the lawn area, on the beach and swimming in 82+ degree ocean water before the bus ride home, for that story see the earlier blog post!

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