28/02/2015, Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta
All going well we are heading to the South Pacific on Monday. We hired a car for 2 days to get all our groceries, fuel & last jobs done... saved a lot of time & headaches! PANNIKIN is sitting a little low in the water with all our extra food & diesel!!
We are expecting our journey to take around 21 days, arriving in Hiva Oa in French Polynesia around March 25th. Another 2700 nautical miles at sea!
We'll be unable to post blogs whilst we are underway. It may be a while before we can keep you updated.
22/02/2015, La Cruz anchorage
The past two weeks have been taken up with jobs on PANNIKIN, attending Pacific Puddle Jump seminars at Vallarta Yacht Club & also some fun time.
The couple of days at Punta Mita were great. Steve got some fabulous waves & the whale watching was awesome. Every time you looked up you could see a whale... some were close... only 100 metres from the boat & others were on the other side of the bay. One night we even experienced a 10 minute whale song - heard it right through the hull of the boat - they must have been close!
For Ange's birthday this week we took a two day road trip inland to see the round pyramids of Guachimontones near the town of Teuchitlan & also visit the town of Tequila. Most of Mexico's tequila is made here from the blue agave plant & we visited the distillery of Jose Cuervo. We got to taste lots of tequila - yucky!! Then a quick stop for a soak in hot springs one the way home & we were back on PANNIKIN by night fall Friday. We had a lovely dinner beside the lake of Presa La Vega on Thursday night. Their speciality was frog legs - caught from the lake. They were really nice - a cross between chicken & crab!!!
We are still aiming at leaving for the Pacific early March. We head across to Nuevo Vallarta on Tuesday to book into Paradise Village Marina where we will provision the boat & have our rigging work done. It's getting close now!
11/02/2015, La Cruz anchorage
Our gas system installation on Thursday went well. No problems getting the job done which was great. We headed into La Cruz to the canvas man to enquire about getting a bag made to protect the gas bottle & hopefully slow the rusting process (steel bottle). Next stop - the stainless steel man! He's going to make us a bracket to hang the gas bottle on. Ange made a quick pit stop at the local doctor to get a few scripts...easy as! Very friendly guy & nothing was a problem. Bought a BBQ chicken at the local rotisseria for dinner - included baked potatoes, hot pepper, rice, tortillas & salsa - all for $9!
Friday we headed into La Cruz marina on PANNIKIN to get a rigging inspection as requested by our insurance company some months ago. We were assigned a 'service slip' which ended up being a very tight fit. Steve did really well getting PANNIKIN into the pen with no hassles. Two hours after our appointment time the rigging guy finally showed up & we winched him up the mast. All good with the inspection although we will replace the two top shroud hangers which have small cracks. The parts will have to be ordered through Selden in San Diego USA & hopefully they can be installed when we are in Paradise Village Marina at Nuevo Vallarta at the end of the month. We are still waiting for confirmation. After picking up our canvas bag & bracket we headed back out to the anchorage. A bit of a waste of a day unfortunately....lots of hanging around.
Saturday we went to the 'Cruisers Swap Meet' where everyone has boat goods & parts to get rid of. Lots of bits & pieces for sale - it is always good to have a wander around - wishing you had lots of money to spend! Back on the boat we connected up our new gas system & were stoked when the BBQ worked. It hasn't worked on the bottles filled in the Caribbean....so BBQ chook here we come!
Sunday was a quiet day. Ange went into the local markets again for a wander while Steve made water & read his book. A nice relaxing day.
Monday we attended the Pacific Puddle Jumpers weather seminar at Vallarta Yacht Club at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. We met Dave (Aussie) & his wife Rose (Canadian) & spent the day with them, finishing with a chicken & salad dinner onboard PANNIKIN. They are doing the Pacific this year as well so we will probably see a bit of them over the next 8 months on their boat AUSSIE RULES. We spoke to a rigger at Paradise Village Marina & he will be able to change the shrouds for us when we book into the marina on February 24. A big load off our minds for sure!
Yesterday we jumped on the bus again & headed to Puerto Vallarta to stock up on spare parts, fuses & bits and pieces as they will be very difficult to find in the Pacific. We visited Walmart for the first time - what a big store!!!
Today we are heading up to Punta Mita to chase some surf for Steve. Also it's time we get away from the shops - too much money has been spent! We'll be up there for a couple of days.
05/02/2015, La Cruz, Banderas Bay
Saturday we made ourselves familiar with the town of La Cruz, checked in with the Port Captain & found a hand held VHF radio at the small chandlery in town, Todo Vella.
Sunday we wandered around the local markets in the La Cruz marina, ate some yummy food & chatted with a number of other cruisers. We caught a bus to the closest large supermarket, Mega, in the nearby town of Bucerias to check out our provisioning options & also grab a few groceries. Then it started to pour with rain.... we got very wet walking back to the marina & taking the dinghy back to the boat.
Monday it was still pouring & was a public holiday but we decided to catch a bus down to Puerto Vallarta to look for a fixed VHF radio for the navigation table & lots of spare parts for the Pacific. A large chandlery called Zaragoza Marine had our radio, but very little of everything else we needed. It was pretty miserable walking down the streets, so we grabbed a quick lunch & headed back to La Cruz.
Tuesday (which was nice & sunny) we headed back to the 'Centro' part of Puerto Vallarta to look for a gas shop. After two no go's we found a very friendly & helpful young man at Moragas. He fixed us up with a system which will replace our European tanks & hoses at a really great price, so we were really happy. It was a struggle lugging the new 3 x 10kg tanks around Puerto Vallarta though! Managed to find a Volvo Penta store to buy new oil & fuel filters & an electrical store for extra 12 volt switches as well. Back to La Cruz on the bus then & dropped off all our goodies on the boat. We went back into town & had a lovely late lunch at Philo's - a well known La Cruz hangout for cruisers.
Yesterday we started our jobs.... Steve installed the VHF radio & Ange started cleaning out cabins, airing mattresses & wiping down walls. Cleaned out storage areas & rearranged bits & pieces as well. The boat looked like a bomb hit it! At 6pm we walked in La Cruz, bought some beer & made pizza for dinner.
Today we are installing the new gas system. Wish us luck!!
31/01/2015, La Cruz, Banderas Bay
We spent a great 5 days in the anchorage at Bahia Tenacatita doing lots of swimming, walking & meeting fellow cruisers. We did the jungle tour up the estuary & played bocce on the beach. Australia Day we headed back over to La Manzanilla to get a few more groceries & also to catch a bus back over the headland to Melaque where the only ATM in the area is. As you can imagine the waiting line is very long! We headed back to our spot at Bahia Tenacatita around 3pm & celebrated 'Straya Day' with a couple of beers & Cold Chisel pumped up!
Tuesday there was a big blow (18 knots!!) for Mexico!! The wind turned all the boats around so our bums where facing the beach (& shallow water). All the Americans & Canadians in the anchorage were in a panic as they were not used to wind. We're pretty sure most of them haven't even unfurled their sails - they only motor. Some boats upped anchor & shifted to the other side of the bay. Others spent the whole day sitting on their bow making sure their anchor was still dug in. It was pretty funny to watch
Wednesday we continued our journey north with a slow but short sail of 30 miles to the anchorage of Chamela (chah-MAY-la). Only 2 other boats anchored when we arrived late in the afternoon. Again very much the same as other seaside villages we have seen - plenty of palapas (beach restaurants) on the sand & pangas (local fishing boats) resting on the beach. We rowed the dinghy ashore, had swim & then a couple of beers in one of the palapas. A nice way to finish the day.
Thursday after having a frustrating morning of trying to do computer work with internet that continued to drop in & out we went for a walk around town. Chamela is very basic but has plenty of RV parks which were packed with American visitors getting out of the cold weather up north. Some of their vans were huge! The afternoon was spent doing odd jobs on PANNIKIN. Steve scrubbed her bottom & Ange scrubbed safety rails. More boats are arriving, mostly heading south. We counted 10 other boats today.
Yesterday we picked up anchor at 6am, headed out of bay & turned right to our last destination in Mexico - Banderas Bay & the anchorage of La Cruz. We had a fantastic sail up the coast doing 7 - 9 knots with our sails wing to wing (one sail out either side of the boat). We made it into the anchorage at 8.30pm. Probably our best sail in a long time - 100 nautical miles in 14 hours. Even saw some whales on the way!
Today we will go in & check out La Cruz & start our never ending list of jobs to do on PANNIKIN before we head across to the South Pacific. First job - find a hand held VHF radio - neither of our VHF radios have worked for 2 weeks. Time to get back in contact with the cruising world!
Picture is of the crocodile that makes it home in the middle of La Manzanilla...right under the foot bridge that leads to the beach!
24/01/2015, Punta Chubasco anchorage
Sunday we ended up at Ensenada Carrizal, a small undeveloped cove around the corner from Bahia Santiago. It was great to have it all to ourselves for a couple of hours before 4 yachts & a stink boat took up residence as well. The water is crystal clear & the snorkelling was pretty good. A night without loud club music was heaven to our ears!
Monday we upped anchor & had a slow sail north to Bahia de Navidad. As with down south on the Guatemala border we came across 2 long lines laid by local fisherman. They are miles of rope with plastic bottles attached to float the fishing lines that are tied to the rope. We managed to motor around the first, but had to float over the second. Were lucky enough not to get the rope caught anywhere. We headed into the lagoon, grabbed some diesel at the marina & anchored in the lagoon anchorage in 2 metres of water! After getting the dinghy set up we went across to the town of Barra de Navidad (know as just 'Barra') & had a good wander around. There are heaps of American & Canadian tourists here but the town is not all built up & covered in high rise hotels. It has plenty of character & well worth a visit.
We had a couple of beers at Hector's Bar & watched the world go by. Every type of transport imaginable went past - from home made buggies, bikes & golf carts!
Tuesday we headed across the bay to the anchorage off the town of Melaque (Mal-ar-kee). We got eaten by mosquitoes in the lagoon & had seen all of Barra that we wanted. Melaque again is a nice town occupied by lots of tourists but hasn't lost any of its Mexican charm. No buildings over 4 stories adds to the relaxing atmosphere as well. There is a caravan park too - the first we've seen since we left the Mediterranean. With no swell we had an easy job of beach landing the dinghy & then had a walk around town. We found a supermarket called The Hawaii Store which was packed with food items we have not seen for a long time. Prices were expensive, but it was well worth it. We had lunch at a small restaurant back off the beach - again another cheap meal - AUD$10 for 2 meals & 2 beers.
Wednesday Ange went to the local weekly market that sold everything from food, clothing, touristy stuff to kitchen ware & cigars! We then had a lovely but slow sail to Bahia Tenacatita where we anchored off 'The Aquarium.' Aptly named due to its crystal clear waters & great snorkelling off the reefs that surround the headland. We had 2 nights there all by ourselves except for land based tourists that arrived during the days to snorkel & walk on the lovely beach. We did a lot of walking, swimming & snorkelling.
Yesterday we motored across the bay to La Manzanilla - the main town serving Bahia Tenacatita. It has a wonderful mixture of small Mexican town quaintness & seaside tourism. After taking the dinghy ashore we came upon the weekly markets where Steve picked up a couple of pairs of cheap boardies & Ange a lovely Mexican blanket. We found a computer shop to top up our internet credit & had lunch at a lovely cafe. At the edge of town is a large lagoon filled with BIG crocodiles. The protected sanctuary is fenced off so none of the crocodiles take a walk down town! We paid a small fee to have a wander through the lagoon on a raised boardwalk - there were lots of crocs! We stocked up on some meat & groceries and took PANNIKIN to the main anchorage of Punta Chubasco. PANNIKIN is in the company of 30 odd yachts here - the most we've seen since Panama City. There is a lovely beach to walk on & also a long inland estuary which can be toured in your dinghy - a "jungle tour."