28 March 2011
Well, our last weeks in Puerto Vallarta were pretty darn nice!!! We have the boat in Marina Vallarta which has a Whistler type ambience, that is to say there are at least thirty restaurants and all kinds of shops, all within walking distance from our slip. Needless to say, we had to check out the margaritas and guacamole at many of the restaurants and come up with some sort of rating system. This is tough work, if you can get it…
Chris stayed in PV for a few days before flying home and I stayed on for another week. We rented a car for our time in PV and spent a wonderful day at Sayulita surfing and just laying on the beach with some friends whom we had met on the Ha Ha. I think that it was a great send off for Chris, but it was a sad moment for me when I took him to the airport. He said to me as I dropped him at the airport, “I can’t believe that we were together for two whole months, it seemed like just a couple of days”. Tears came to my eyes as I basked in the compliment and watched him walk into the airport. It was a great adventure that neither one of us will ever forget.
I spent the last week working on the boat and going to La Cruz almost every day to visit friends or to surf. I met a fellow dockmate Gary who was a couple of slips down from me and it turns out he is also a surfer who has spent a lot of time in PV. He said that the surf forecast looked really good for the end of the week, so I called another friend Jeff on “Journey” and we went to Punta Mita and caught some great waves. We went two days in a row and really wore ourselves out. Then for the last couple of days my friend Gerry came to my boat and helped me with some engine and electrical issues. The cruising community is full of amazing people and I will miss so many of them, but hopefully I will see them all again next winter. We shall see…
I flew home last Tuesday and smack dab into another big winter storm. It has been quite an adjustment as I have not seen TV for over two months and have been living in about 250 square feet. Well, don’t feel too sorry for me as I have not seen rain in over two months as well. Anyway, I am adjusting and also reflecting on how lucky I am to have been able to have such an adventure and to spend so much quality time with Chris. Thanks to all of you that read the blog and made comments. We really looked forward to seeing who was traveling along with us. All I can leave you with is that if you ever have the opportunity to take an adventure like this one, do not hesitate, make it happen, you will remember it for the rest of your life…
18 March 2011
Bob Lesnett/ Nice and Sunny
March 14, 2011
For all of you that are wondering, yes, we did survive the tsunami but not without some drama of our own. To bring you up to speed, we left Barra de Navidad after many almond croissants, baguettes and key lime pies from the French baker, but no surf. The ocean was flat and our tummies were not, so it was time to head north again.
We sailed up to Tenacatita which is a beautiful bay just a day sail north and we dropped the anchor. We decided to stay for a day and take our dinghy up a narrow estuary through the mangroves. It was very cool, kind of like the jungle cruise at Disneyland, without the hippo. We did see lots of birds, red crabs and tons of small fish. It took a couple of hours before we reached a small lagoon and access to a beautiful white sand beach. This beach used to have many restaurants, a few hotels and many gringo residences until a developer with government connections decided that he wanted the land for a mega resort. On a sunny day last August the Mexican military police showed up with over one hundred militia and threw everyone off of their land. The next day bulldozers showed up and mowed down restaurants, palapas and houses. Some of the gringos had owned their homes for over twenty years. Now the beach is patrolled by armed guards and there are no restaurants and only a few homes left, most of which were set on fire. There is of course litigation that is ongoing, but it sure makes you think twice about owning property in a foreign country.
The next day we decided to go straight up to Banderas Bay to La Cruz which should take us about 24 hours. Everything started out really well with a rare wind from the south pushing us up the coast. After five or six hours the wind died and we had to fire up the not so reliable engine. It ran just fine for a few hours and then just stopped as if it were out of fuel. We of course checked a multitude of things that I won’t bore you with but decided that we were out of fuel, even though we calculated that we should have over thirty gallons in the tank. No worries at this point as we are on a sailboat, we decided to sail. Of course at this time the wind picked up but of course it was right on the nose, so we started tacking back and forth and really going nowhere rather slowly.
As the afternoon went turned to evening we knew it was going to be a long night but we did manage to get a little closer to La Cruz. The next morning we started hearing about the earthquake and the tsunami that was following. There wasn’t too much panic in Banderas Bay until the reports started coming in from Santa Cruz and other places in California. At this point the wind has died completely and we tried calling some friends on the radio who were in La Cruz and low and behold, they heard us and said that they were going to come out and meet us with some fuel. They had been asked to leave the Marina as a precaution by the harbormaster and headed our direction.
If I keep going with this story, I will be typing until Christmas and you all will be asleep, so let’s say that it took over 24 more hours before we saw our friends and they had to tow us to a slip in Puerto Vallarta.
The tsunami did hit PV and brought six foot surges into all of the marinas with the only damage happening in the La Cruz marina which broke off two of their brand new docks. I guess we were lucky that we were out floating around as we felt nothing at all.
Anyway we are safe and sound in Marina Vallarta, have fixed our plugged fuel tank and are catching up on our sleep.
07 March 2011
Bob Lesnett/ Nice and Sunny
March 7, 2011
Yes, we are back to the blog as we finally have internet access after more than two weeks without it. We are now back in Barra de Navidad after a great trip south to visit our friends Midge and Dean who have recently completed construction of their retirement home (Casa Margarita) in the surfing town of Saladita. At least I call it a surfing town even though it is more aptly a fishing village with a surfing problem. Anyway, we surfed everyday (at least Chris did) for ten straight days and enjoyed amazing hospitality from Midge and Dean.
I originally met Dean up at Soar Truckee, flying gliders and it was probably a couple of years before I discovered that he was also an avid surfer, so much so that he had spent at least a month for the last 13 years surfing and camping in Mexico. At some point, I convinced him that I should join him for a week and about six years ago I flew into Ixtapa and Dean and Midge were there to greet me. We spent five amazing days together and surfed at Saladita and the Ranch and camped on the beach with their camper (complete with outdoor shower). I hoped that this would become an annual adventure for me, but life seemed to always get in the way and I never made it back. In the meantime, Midge and Dean bought a lot and decided to build their dream home...
Now what you need to know about Dean is that he is an amazing craftsman in everything that he touches. He always had the nicest, cleanest glider in Truckee and it was because he had restored it himself, taking thousands of hours and making it better than it was when it was brand new. He was a master at fiberglass, not only on gliders, but also on surfboards. When I got to Mexico the first time, he showed me the boards that he had made for both himself and for Midge. They were works of art (check out the board mounted on the wall in their house in the photo gallery, as it is one of Dean's). I think his logo is "Surfboards by Dean", "Just a few since '62". Did I mention that he was also in construction...
Casa Margarita is like everything that Dean and Midge get involved with... first cabin. I hope that the pictures that I took do it some justice, but as you have probably figured out by now, I really, really, really liked what they have created... OK, OK, I will get on with the story...
We enjoyed our time in Saladita surfing in the morning, taking walks on the beach and watching the sharks feed about ten feet from shore, checking out real estate, having gringo taco night at the house and playing baracho Frisbee. Baracho means "drunk" in Spanish, but there is something lost in the translation for this drinking game. The object of the game is to throw the Frisbee and hit a stick which has a beer bottle on top of it. If you can hit the stick and have the beer bottle fall off without the other team catching the bottle, you get three points. Now, you always have to have a beer in one hand at all times and if you spill some, it is one point for the other team and if you do not catch the Frisbee with the other hand, then that is also one point. If you are confused, don't worry, the rules seemed to be constantly changing as the game went on as did the score for no apparent reason. It sure was a lot of fun...
We hated to leave Saladita and Casa Margarita as we loved the surf and met so many great people, but it was time to head back north. Thank you Dean and Midge for a wonderful time, many great meals, my first taste of Spam, many tasty waves, homemade ice cream, dips in the pool, rides on the moto and so much, much more.
Rock! Dead Ahead!
16 February 2011 | Barra de Navidad to Caleta de Campos
What!? We're three miles offshore. I don't remember the chart book mentioning under or above water obstacles. It's tiny, but whatever's under it must not be tiny. I hop over to the helm, hand hovering over the auto-pilot's stand-by; dad's downstairs making water. A bird is sitting on it, looking at me coyly atop its personal little island. The nerve this guy's got as we are about to go smashing into him! No, wait, we're just going to clear him to our starboard side. It can't be a rock, there's no way; a coke bottle, perhaps. Nope, it's sharp, rocky, and covered with guano. Depth? Deep. Huh? The bird gives up the staring contest and flies off its perch as our boat closely approaches. Whew! It's floating whatever it is. It sure looks like a rock...a floating rock. Something's moving beneath it. "Ohhh...Whoa," I think as a seaturtle's head pokes lazily out from underneath it's shell.
Surprisingly, there's a lot of action out here in the middle of the ocean. After multiple bird-perched-on-turtle encounters we had a pack of dolphins come over to the boat. All of them playfully fought for the premier spot under the bow to surf the bow wake. Dad laughed as one of them spat water out it's blowhole, hitting me in the face. Eyes pinched tight, I wiped my face in mild disgust, not appreciating the friendly sneeze. We heard them clicking to each other as they enjoyed themselves. There were thousands of small jellies in the water too, the biggest being about 8 inches in length. Some were quite beautiful with a perfect domey head, long streaming tentacles, and a white tissuey stomach floating within. Most, however, were irregularly shaped, looking like lost intestines. Later, a small pack of black, angled fins slashed through the water fierce and swift. We knew they were definitely not the playful dolphins we had seen earlier. And finally as the sun was setting, we sailed within a few 100 yards of some fisherman in a panga. By now we were accustomed to seeing pangas just about anywhere, except 16 miles offshore.
One of our most unexpected encounters happened a few days ago (actually a few weeks now that I think about it). On our way to La Cruz, I spotted a two foot long ray that burst out of the water flapping his manta wings as hard as he could. Generating no lift, he cannonballed back into the inky blue. Failure to fly was no deterrent as the ray continued to attempt flight again and again, with great form and graceful flaps. I was quite awestruck. Leaving La Cruz, we saw a whole pack of rays jumping about, attempting to lift off in formation.
(Check out the photo gallery- there should be a few good shots of Pops riding waves in Barra)
A Perfect Day In Paradise
13 February 2011 | Barra de Navidad
Bob Lesnett/ Nice and Sunny
February 13, 2011
Let’s see, how does the perfect day in Paradise start? Well, you wake up in a beautiful protected anchorage with the sun rising and friendly boats surround you. There is no wind and the sun warms you as the “French Baker” ties up to your boat with the morning’s baked goodies. This morning I choose a banana, lime, coconut concoction while Chris goes with the more traditional almond croissant. Ok, so we spend a few pesos, but what a delicious breakfast and we pass on the fresh baguette because we have not eaten the one from yesterday.
We do a few quick chores, lower the dingy into the water, put a few necessary items in the backpack like sunscreen, towels, books, hats, sunglasses and of course, pesos. We then load the surfboards, fire up the outboard (which is running quite fine thank you) and head to the Sands Hotel where the dinghy dock is located. Chris ties the bow to a tree while I secure a stern anchor and we unload the boards. It is a short but invigorating walk through town to the beach where we are greeted by perfect, head high, glassy waves. We park ourselves under an umbrella right next to our favorite fruit stand (more on that later), where the senoras agree to watch our stuff for us.
Oh darn!... There is no one out in the water yet and we will have all of these tasty waves to ourselves… So I let Chris go out first, while I sit on the beach and watch my son catch a couple of great waves before the proud papa paddles out and joins him. Now I catch a couple as well and then we are joined by a writer from Washington named Nick, who we had met a couple of days before while surfing the same spot. We catch more waves and more people paddle out to join us before my arms have had enough and I catch one last wave that takes me into shore. As I settle into my beach chair and catch some rays, Chris takes his final wave and plops down beside me. Now, remember the fruit stand??? We have papaya on a stick, which is hard to describe but needless to say is delicious. I am then informed that my beard is now yellow from the treat.
A couple of hours are spent in the sun watching the other surfers and commenting on their style and wave selection before a pretty major hunger sets in. We nod to the senoras and set off in search of lunch. We find the perfect spot just down the beach with a good view of the surf, but in the much needed shade. I order some guacamole, a cerveza and fish tacos, while Chris gets the special of the day which is a ceviche tostada and a fillet of fish with rice and veggies. Can you say mouthwatering???
Lunch goes down easily and we run into another new friend while walking back down the beach to our umbrella and a little reading. Dad has had a little too much sun and it is time to go back to the boat for some more reading and a short siesta.
I work on the blog for a while, download some photos and Chris is in the kitchen making a little tuna melt on baguette for supper. Then it is back to town to listen to some local music at the biker bar named “Piper’s”. There is one guy playing an electric guitar with an amazing voice while a bunch of the regulars get up and dance. We watch for an hour or so, have a cerveza and call it a night.
The dinghy ride in the dark is fun as we reflect on another perfect day in paradise…
The Revenge of La Cruz
12 February 2011
Bob Lesnett/ Nice and Sunny
The Revenge of La Cruz
Ok, Ok, I am back with the living and back to the blog. We last left you all as we were coming into Sayulita to throw the anchor out and catch a couple of waves before we headed to Punta Mita to anchor for the night. We ran out of diesel just as we were going to make a very tricky anchor drop and that meant that I was going to have to bleed the fuel injectors to get the engine restarted before we made a most ungraceful landing on the beach with the twenty thousand pound Rocinante. I won't bore you with the details but to say all went well and we got the engine re-started in time and my diesel mechanic status is intact.
We did manage to paddle from the boat and into a couple of nice waves before it was time to weigh anchor and get to Punta Mita before dark. We were hoping to find more waves at Punta Mita but alas the surf gods were not smiling on us quite yet. Punta Mita is the beginning of Banderas Bay which is best known for the city of Puerta Vallarta. It is a small town and we of course had to try out some of the local tacos, guacamole and cevice. It was excellent.
The next day we repositioned about 12 miles south to an anchorage outside the La Cruz Marina where there were fifty plus boats on the hook. We dinghyed in and met up with some friends that we had met along the way. La Cruz is a very friendly town with a fair amount of gringos and lots of restaurants and some good music. It was at a Gringo restaurant that I came upon the "Revenge".
To make a very unpleasant story short, I was sicker than the proverbial dog for the better part of a week... the good news is that I lost several pounds. It is here that I want to digress and talk briefly about the health care system in Mexico. After a couple of days, I knew that it was time to go and see a doctor and get some drugs to relieve my symptoms. Upon visiting the harbormaster, he personally called the doctor in town to make sure he was in. He was willing to come to the boat, but I elected to make the walk into town to see him and so Chris and I made the short journey into town. The doctor's office was in the middle of town and was attached to a small pharmacy with living quarters upstairs. I was greeted by the doctor personally and he ushered Chris and I into his small office/exam room and shut the door. He proceeded to have me lie on the table while he poked and prodded and asked all of the usual questions. He quickly came to the conclusion that I had a bacterial intestinal infection or something to that effect and he prescribed three prescriptions that were immediately filled next door. Total time with the doctor and the pharmacy equaled under a half an hour. The cost for the doctor's visit was 250 pesos, which is approximately 20 dollars (less than my co-pay at Kaiser, not to mention the $600/month membership) and the three prescriptions were another 20 dollars (again less than my drug co-pay at Kaiser) and to top it all off there was no waiting at all to see the doctor or to get the prescription filled. Can you imagine this same scenario in Marin County??? OMG...I would still be waiting to see the doctor and I don't even want to think of the cost!!! Ok, Ok, don't get me started... No wonder so many American's are now seeking their health care in Mexico instead of the U.S.
Well, I have about worn out the keyboard for today, but I will try to get you the real scoop on how much fun we are having now and where we are... Maῆana.
P.S. The real meaning of Maῆana is "not today, but not necessarily tomorrow".