Jan's Journal

Moving On. Time to Find Some Warmer Weather

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Bahia Balandra
Mushroom Rock

Feb. 5, 2004: I washed, dried and stowed last night's dishes while Jim listened to the weather on the morning net. Kevin stopped by to say good-bye. Just as we were getting ready to go, he yelled to us that a boat in the marina had parts that needed to get to Puerto Vallarta. I wasn't thrilled about delivering them because it wouldn't allow us to alter plans, but said okay. Corazon was able to get a ride out to us with the box of parts. We said good-bye to The Right Lane and Sowelu. Shortly after we left, Unicorn hailed us to say Bahia Balandra was too bumpy and they were heading north. We decided we'd check out Caleta Lobos instead and if it was too rolly, we'd head north too. It was a very choppy ride. Jerry wasn't happy; indeed, we all need to get our sea legs under us after being still for 6 weeks. Caleta Lobos looked like it would provide decent protection (another norther with 30 kt. winds is predicted for tomorrow). The anchor chain was so twisted from having done the La Paz waltz for 3 weeks that it jammed in the hawsepipe as Jim was lowering the anchor. I stayed at the helm while Jim yanked, poked, prodded, and pulled the chain from every conceivable angle until he finally freed it. Then it took us three attempts to get the anchor to set. What an anchoring fiasco!! After lunch, we lowered Ruthie and rode over to Bahia Balandra, about a mile away. There was only one boat at that anchorage and we could tell it wouldn't have been a good spot to spend the night. Bahia Balandra is a very beautiful spot with a white soft sand beach and the infamous Mushroom Rock. We beached Ruthie and walked along the beach collecting sand and shells for Colleen and wiggling our toes in the warm sand. I thought that the El Mogote had a better selection of shells, but here the shells were still living. Gray clouds were moving in and the wind started picking up so we returned to Mañana. We enjoyed both the sunset and full moon. Jim cooked marinated chicken, rice and fresh green beans for dinner. I purchased the chicken from the "chicken lady" at the public market. It was so good -- I'm sorry I didn't buy a kilo of it.

Unexpected Company

Sunset in Caleta Lobos

Feb. 6, 2004: As the T-shirt says, "I'd rather be in a boat with a drink on the rocks than in the drink with a boat on the rocks." It was a little rolly in the anchorage in the morning, but tolerable. The wind was blowing 15-20 kts. Late morning, a charter boat out of La Paz came into the anchorage and dropped its anchor, but it did not set and they started dragging down onto us. There was a lot of commotion on Amigo, with folks running in and out of the engine room, but no one started the engine. They started coming too close to us so we started our engine. However, we could not raise our anchor to get out of their way because they were sitting over it. A short while later, they dragged past us by about 20 feet and were headed to the rocky shore behind us. Cathy on Star had previously hailed us asking if she could help in any way. I hailed her back to see how her Spanish was, but she told me it wasn't great. Jim tossed Amigo's crew a line and tied them off our stern, and had me put Mañana into gear to help take off the strain of the two of us on our anchor. They started pulling in their chain and anchor and that's when we realized that Amigo's anchor had snagged our anchor and we were both now in danger of being blown onto the rocks. In addition, their anchor rode was under our boat and we couldn't chance having it wrap around our prop, so we took Mañana out of gear. Not knowing what else to do, we hailed the Mexican Navy. Marina Palmiera intercepted our call and notified the port captain for us. The port captain then hailed us and asked what our problem was. Jim told him in the simplest English possible, but it was apparent that the port captain didn't understand. He simply said "OK, sounds like you have things under control - thanks." and he signed off! The wind had been blowing 15-20 kts. up until this point. Miraculously, it dropped to 10 kts. while Amigo was attached to us (thanks, mom). A few minutes later, they got their engine started (what a beautiful sound) and we untied them. They were going to throw their anchor line overboard but Jim suggested they tie a defensa (fender) onto it and he would dive and unfoul everything. He told them it would take him 30-60 minutes. He hasn't dived in 2 years and not since he lost his weight, so this was a trial under fire. He successfully unfouled the two anchors (the tine of their anchor speared the chain link of our anchor!) and swam the fender away from our boat. He then rechecked our anchor to make sure it was holding okay and scrubbed the growth from our log instrument on the bottom of the boat. Amigo came closer than I would have liked trying to pick up their fender, but they were successful and left shouting "muchas gracias". As for myself, I've never been as happy to say "adios Amigo" as I was then! Later in the afternoon, Reno (Star) rowed over and gave us a nautilus shell that he'd picked up during his hike on shore. It's so delicate and the first we've ever seen -- it is the shell of a cephalopod (octopus and squid are in the cephalopod family). He also showed us an ancient spear that he found. And after he left, two guys from a Moorings charter boat that came in late in the afternoon dinghied over to see if we'd be interested in 1/2 case of beer...free! They had over-provisioned in the beer department and today was their last day of vacation. We graciously accepted their offer. The anchorage was very rolly by the end of the day, but the winds had finally calmed down. We made quesadillas with our leftover chicken and beef and enjoyed another amazing sunset and moonrise.

Feb. 7, 2004: Don's weather prediction indicated the winds would start calming down today, but we had 15-20 kts. consistently until mid-afternoon and the anchorage was very rolly. Not wanting a wet dinghy ride to shore, we stayed on board and did a few small chores. We heard a hail from someone in the La Paz anchorage asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of the owners of Blue, which was the other boat that was in the anchorage with us yesterday. Apparently their boat was dragging and nobody was on board. Other cruisers were trying to round up help so they could get someone on board to raise the anchor and then reset it so no damage would come to Blue or any other boat in its path. Now we don't wish ill thoughts on any cruiser, but yesterday, in our time of crisis, Blue, who was beside us and had their dinghy in the water, decided to pick up anchor and leave. They never asked if they could be of any assistance; they just passed by us and then stopped next to Star. So at this point we were thinking "well maybe they were planning to leave anyway and this was just the kick to get them moving". But the use of their dinghy would have been very helpful. However, when all the excitement was over, I hailed Cathy to thank her for her moral support and asked what Blue had to say. She told me they had made a derogatory comment about the "new neighbors in the anchorage." So when we heard Blue's boat was dragging, we believed karma was playing its part. Jim wished there was a way he could tell them to remember that strangers had come to their aid in time of need and in the future, they shouldn't turn their back when others are in need. But we just bit our tongues and smiled a big smile to each other. Yes, what goes around, comes around.

The Cerralvo Channel
Los Muertos

Feb. 8, 2004: We woke early and were underway by 0715. It was very calm and the seas were comfortable. Had a pleasant, uneventful trip to Los Muertos. Managed to get through the San Lorenzo Channel with no difficulties this time around :), but memories of our first trip through here was definitely on both our minds. The southern channel marker is now in place. We continued south through the Cerralvo Channel and had dolphins come by several times. They never cease to put a big smile on our faces. Arrived Los Muertos at 1400 and anchored next to a local power boat -- this is the first time we've been in an anchorage with another power boat and no sail boats! The shore looked tempting and we'd heard good things about the Giggling Marlin restaurant, but the wind was blowing 15-20 kts. so we stayed on board, read and watched the pelicans fly around us. We had hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner. I'm out of practice when it comes to cruising; I was very tired, so climbed into bed early.


Feb. 9-10, 2004: We left Los Muertos at 0700 headed for Los Frailes. Don the weatherman predicted calm wind and seas in the crossing area for the next two days. In fact, he said it was going to be motor boat weather. We looked at each other, said "Hey, that's us!" and right then and there changed our course to southeast rather than south. We checked into the morning net and gave our destination; hooked up with Encanto after the net and apologized for our abrupt change of plans and asked if they would relay our change to Ceilidh. As Don says, the crossing is a very wide area to make predictions for any specific location, so during the morning we experienced winds in the 10-15 kt. range and sea swells 2-3 ft. By afternoon, the wind and seas were beginning to calm a bit. Dolphins visited us several times during the day. We started standing "official" watches after dinner. Day One was uneventful, which was a good thing. At 0150 Jim woke me because we were having engine problems. A bolt on the raw water pump had sheared off and water was flowing into the bilge. Luckily Jim had a spare pump on board and was able to make repairs within 45 minutes. And luckily the sea swells and waves had mostly subsided because with no engine, Mañana likes to go "beam to" (parallel) the waves and it can get very rolly. I headed back to bed at 0240, but was unable to fall back to sleep. I was supposed to come on watch at 0300, but Jim gave me a bit extra time. I was back on watch at 0345, definitely not awake and not in a good mood. I put music on and had a chocolate pudding, hoping either or both would stimulate my brain enough to keep me awake. Day Two was full of wonderful surprises from Mother Nature; the wind and waves virtually disappeared, we had a pod of at least 12 dolphins play in our bow wake for 10 minutes or so, a small sea bird landed on our bow rail and hitchhiked a ride with us for a little while (much to DC's delight), we saw several fins of what we believe to be hammerhead sharks (they swim just under the surface and based on all the skeletons we saw, were a dime a dozen on the El Mogote), and we discovered four small squid that had somehow launched themselves onto our boat deck during the night. By the time we found them, they were long dead, but quite a surprise to find them! Late in the afternoon while I was on watch, I saw something BIG leap out of the water about a mile in front of us. It was so big that I shouted "What the hell was that?" Jim got up and watched for a moment and it happened again. We believe it was a humpback whale breaching. Wow!! Even from our vantage point, the splash it made upon landing was tremendous. We were relieved that we saw it "from a distance." It was apparent that we'd be arriving Isla Isabela after dark, something we normally won't do. But Jim really wanted to stop here and neither of us were up to the idea of another night underway. We know the Mexican charts are not accurate (in fact, a statement on our chart indicates the charted location of Isla Isabela is 1 3/4 miles from its actual location.) so when we checked into the evening net, we asked if anyone had the lat/lon for the east cove anchorage. Once we had that information, we felt a bit braver to attempt it in the dark. We gave the island a wide berth and then slowly made our way to the lat/lon position, which landed us exactly where we wanted to be (praise be current technology!). We dropped anchor at 2030, washed a Tylenol PM down with a few mouthfuls of wine and climbed into bed. After 37 1/2 hours at sea, we had arrived.

Isla Isabela - East Cove
Isla Isabela - South Cove

Feb. 11, 2004: Spent an uncomfortably rolly night at anchor, but luckily for me, the sleeping agent in the Tylenol PM made it so I really didn't care. When I awoke, it sounded like people were talking outside the boat. I looked through the port light and saw hundreds of birds flying over the island. As the wind was starting to build, we decided we'd weigh anchor and move to the anchorage in the south cove, which looked like it would offer more protection. Four or five boats were headed out, leaving only two boats in the anchorage (and the other boat was also a trawler)! Isla Isabela is a magnificent bird sanctuary and snorkeling area; it was featured in an article by National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau also filmed one of his documentaries here. It was amazing to watch all the birds -- frigates (males with the red sack under their throat), boobies, pelicans and other sea birds. The birds' cries were hypnotic, except for the gulls, whose cries sounded either like a child crying "ow, ow" or someone laughing. Out in the distance, we saw whales breach a couple of times. We used the cloudy and windy day as an excuse to rest. I did some housework, washed my hair and we both read. Sunstone arrived at noon; we were making the crossing sort of together and we kept in contact and talked them into the anchorage. After lunch, Jim and I took an hour-long nap which helped refresh us. DC seemed intimidated by all the birds and stayed inside for the most part. I made pork chops, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans for supper. We were looking out at the water after dark and noticed lots of silver flashes. Jim turned a flashlight on and we were amazed how many fish there were. Five needlenose fish swam into the beam of light. We talked to Encanto and Manu Wai on the SSB after the net.

Mañana in Chacala
Chacala's Beach Front

Feb. 12, 2004: Don the weatherman forecasted strong east winds for our area which would make the anchorage uncomfortable or dangerous. Tom and Vicky (Sunstone) rowed over around 0900 to see if we were going ashore. They mentioned they were going to leave for Chacala at dusk. Jim and I talked over our various options as I did a small load of laundry. We decided to forego our trip ashore and head to Chacala then. We notified Sunstone that we were leaving and said that we'd see them in Chacala. Jim decided to put out a trolling line and I wished him luck but told him not to catch any whales. No sooner had I said that when I saw a spout directly ahead of us and throttled back. Jim came running inside, thinking something was wrong with the boat. The whale surfaced about 20-30' in front of us and then dove. As Klinger on M*A*S*H would say, "Holy Toledo!" It was HUGE!! It happened so quickly that we didn't have time to think about just how close it was until after the fact. Jim kept saying "wow!" every 5 minutes after our encounter. We saw so many more whales during our 8-hour cruise, but all at a comfortable distance. The dead giveaway was a tremendous splash on the horizon. We'd then focus on the location and sure enough, one would breach and then land flat on its back. You can imagine the size of the splash a 50' and I don't know how many tons whale landing on its back makes! Sunstone hailed us at 1115 to say they were underway and asked if we'd talk them into the anchorage again, as they'd be arriving in the dark. Our cruise was very comfortable with light winds from behind us. We arrived in Chacala at 1730 and was advised boats were using stern anchors...oh great! We hadn't set a stern anchor since we were in the Catalina Islands. We told Legacy we should sell tickets for the comedy show that was about to take place. However, we successfully set both anchors on the first try, in front of everyone! Yeah! I think this anchorage is the prettiest we've been in so far. Chacala used to be a coconut plantation and the pretty stretch of sandy beach is lined with coconut palm trees. It is extremely lush, compared to the arid Baja peninsula and is very warm and humid. I made fresh salsa to go with our chicken and rice. Sunstone arrived around 1930 and we climbed into bed at 2000.

Welcome to Chacala

Feb. 13, 2004: Our stern anchor wasn't angled correctly and we had a very rolly night. In addition, we aren't used to the heat and humidity. We heard on the local net that the Port Captain would let you stay free for 24 hours, but given Don's weather forecast for more high winds, we decided we'd do the officialdumb check-in, pay the fees and stay a few days. Tom rowed over to thank us for our help last night, and in return, offered to move our stern anchor for us. We took Ruthie ashore and went to see the Port Captain. In Chacala, he is all the offices and the bank. He asked how long we planned to stay and we told him 2-3 days. He checked us in for a week and out so we don't need to come back. All in all, it took about 20 minutes. They should all be this easy! We walked through town and down by the beach. There are several palapa restaurants, a couple small tiendas and 2 souvenir shops. We bought a pineapple for 12 pesos. Tom and Vicky joined us for happy hour and brought us a chunk of freshly-caught fish. They have done extensive cruising around the world and we enjoyed talking to them. We all watched the sun set; Jim and I witnessed our first "green flash" sunset. The green flash occurs when the last of the sun dips below the horizon; I'm not certain exactly what causes the green flash to occur, but I know conditions have to be just so, and they happen very rarely. Anyway, what you actually see is a green flash immediately as the sun disappears. Spectacular! They left around 1900 and we decided we were too full of crackers and cheese to bother cooking a real dinner. The quilt has officially been moved off the bed!

Feb. 14, 2004: Happy Valentine's Day! Jim surprised me with a musical card and I gave him some chocolates. We spent a quiet morning reading. After lunch we headed to shore to check out the beach. From the boat, we could see lots of people on it, jet skis in the anchorage and hear music playing. A couple of locals helped us pull Ruthie up on the beach; it was much appreciated because she weighs so much. We walked along the path to the beach. There was a lot more action in town today. We stopped at a small palapa on the beach and had a cold refreshment. Our table was under a thatched roof and felt totally tropical. Musicians walked the beach with their instruments and would stop occasionally to play, children of all ages played well together and families gathered for BBQ lunches. A couple of young vendors walked the beach trying to sell necklaces made of shells to locals and tourists. We chatted with the couple on Gypsy Wind out of Seattle for 30 minutes before heading back to the boat. Two more locals offered help in dragging Ruthie back down the beach and into the water (we really need to get wheels for her). We had leftover lasagna for dinner. We watched the sunset hoping for another green flash, but it wasn't to be.

Approaching Punta de Mita
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Feb. 15, 2004: We had a very rolly and uncomfortable night. We had decided to leave the anchorage early today for Bandaras Bay, so it wasn't difficult to climb out of bed earlier than usual. As cruising days go, it was relatively short, but very rolly until we rounded Punta de Mita. We saw several spotted dolphins, humpback whales and lots of turtles (measuring 12-24" in diameter). As we were approaching Punta de Mita, we heard Andiamo and Encanto talking. We chatted briefly with John on Andiamo. Later on, Genesis intercepted our hail to Encanto. Camira heard us talking and hailed us. Mike gave us a good description of the anchorage and they came by about 15 minutes after we'd dropped our anchor. They were happy to receive the box of parts we'd brought them. Mike and Danna joined us for tea/coffee/cookies and filled us in to what's what in La Cruz. We can stay in La Cruz for free for 24 hours; more than that and we need to check in. We are approximately 7 miles from Nuevo Vallarta and 10 miles from Puerto Vallarta. We were advised that Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta have separate port captains, so if we decide to leave here, we'll need to decide which place we're going to stay and check in to. The two are separated by a river and are actually in different states and different time zones (La Cruz is in the Central time zone). Given Don's forecast for more high winds (sounds like a broken record), we'll see if Nuevo Vallarta has room for us and we'll stay a few days to visit with our friends. I made a stir fry for dinner. Bandaras Bay is about 20 miles long and we are at the north end of it. It's amazing to see so many lights along the shore line -- you'd think we were in a big city.

Feb. 16, 2004: We neglected to change our clocks yesterday and ended up sleeping in. It was a rolly night and I guess we both needed the sleep. Don's forecast is for the winds around Cabo Corrientes to die down beginning today. We didn't know whether we should move ourselves to Yelapa at the south end of Bandaras Bay or perhaps to the Punta de Mita anchorage. In the end, we decided to stay put and keep a low profile. Technically we should go ashore and do the officialdumb check-in. We'll play dumb if anyone comes looking for us. Tom and Vicky stopped by on their way to town and invited us to their boat later this afternoon. We mentioned that we needed some groceries and would they let us know what was available. We didn't want to be off the boat any longer than necessary. They very nicely bought some yogurt for Jim and wouldn't take any money for it. Jim spent the afternoon reading and I worked on an article for Women Aboard. Later in the afternoon, Jim went over to Cabaret, the other power boat in La Cruz. They are headed around Cabo Corrientes tomorrow with four sailboats. We may join them. We spent happy hour on Sunstone. Returned to Mañana at 1900 and I made bacon and eggs for dinner. It's amazing to watch all the fish swimming around the boat after dark. They create a phosphorescence light in the water. We prepared the boat for an early morning departure and went to bed at 2100.


Young Boys

Feb. 17, 2004: The alarm went off at 0530 but Jim realized that we didn't really need to be up that early. At 0600, Cabaret talked to some boats that were headed north around the Cape. They said it was okay and getting better so we got up and were underway at 0640. The sea conditions weren't bad until we got outside the lee of Punta de Mita. Then we were taking the swells on our beam -- mostly 2-3 feet but occasionally up to 6' and it was very rolly. However, the closer to the Cape that we got, the smoother the seas got (they usually get worse). Jim put out two trolling lines and within 20 minutes, had caught 4 bonitos. He had received instructions from the Admiral (me) that said "NO MORE BONITO" so he threw them all back and pulled in the lines because the wind was up to 20 kts. and the seas were kicking up. Rounded Punta Ipala and was the last boat of the group to enter. We tucked way in the back. Eventually two more sailboats arrived, making 10 of us in this very cozy anchorage. The beach is inviting but the guidebooks don't recommend going ashore nor do they tell you why they don't recommend it. Pure Chance went ashore and lived to tell about it. We had mock shepherd pie for dinner. At 1830 four young boys came through the anchorage. One was using a large styrofoam lid as his boat and the other three shared a mini body board. By the time they got to us, they had a couple Ziploc bags full of candy. They asked if we had pencils for school, which we did. We sent them on their way with three pencils and a pad of paper. They said "thank you" and we said "de nada". Climbed into bed early; we have an early morning departure.

We're Anchored Where?
Bahia Chemela

Feb. 18, 2004: We got up at 0600 to find that half the boats in the anchorage were alreaady gone. By the time we left at 0700, only 3 boats were left. We had ideal conditions all the way to Bahia Chemela with the exception of a foul current that had us running 6.2 kts. Jim put a couple of lines out but no joy in the fish department today. Suzie (Cabaret) thought she'd caught an albacore tuna and we were all talking about dinner on Cabaret tonight, but she quickly realized her error and said it wasn't a tuna (either that, or she didn't want to share with three other boats!) We arrived at 1500, once again the last of the group to arrive. This anchorage is quite large and very lovely. It reminds me very much of Chacala. The Mexican charts are off by as much as 1.5 miles. Our navigation chart really looked funny with us anchored 1/2 mile on shore (the red boat is us). Jim lowered the dinghy and the swim steps, put on his swimsuit and jumped off the side deck. Our water temperature sensor was reading 80 degrees. He was raving about how good it felt and had convinced me that I should put my suit on. Just as I emerged from the aft cabin, Cabaret stopped by to say there would be a potluck on their boat at 1830. We told her we would bring a cabbage cilantro salad and a pasta salad. Jim said he'd start things and I should go swimming. And I did just that and it felt wonderful! In fact, it seemed like everyone dropped anchor and went swimming! At 1830 we went over to Cabaret. Scott and Ali (Pure Chance) joined us. They brought some freshly baked sierra and dorado. We keep hoping that we'll catch either one of these fish -- they're so delicious! We had a good time and returned to Mañana at 2130.

Chemela's Beach

Mañana in Bahia Chemela

Feb. 19, 2004: We slept in and it felt good. After breakfast, I did a load of underwear (flying our colors again) and then we headed into town. We stopped by to say hi to Bill and Mary (Orion). We last saw them in Sausalito. Timed our beach landing well and didn't get swamped. We started walking into town when a couple we'd seen on the beach stopped in their car and said they'd drive us to the store. We thanked them and climbed in. We arrived two minutes later...it's not a big town. We went into every store (all three of them) and found a lot of what we needed. We took the beach route back to Ruthie. I managed to step on a bee and got a slight bee sting...Ouch! We saw Impulsive, Pure Chance and Cabaret at a small palapa so we stopped and joined them. Jim had a beer and I had a Pepsi for a total of 17 pesos. We all left together and met up with Melissa and Ed (Mag Mel) and Bill and Mary. They helped us haul Ruthie down the beach and into the water. We're all invited to Orion tonight at 1700 for appies. After lunch I did a load of T-shirts and we read and relaxed. I made Mari Sushi for tonight's appetizer. Jim put our two chairs into Ruthie and at 1700 we went to Orion. Everyone in the anchorage was invited but Impulsive decided not to come. There was lots of wonderful food -- tuna, pork, melted cheese with chili dip with bread, pesto and cheese wrapped in phyllo, etc. We sat up on Orion's bow (she's 88' long) telling stories and didn't leave until 2000. Neither of us was hungry for dinner then. Instead, we sat outside looking at the stars and listening to the fish jump. I got a flashlight and walked around the boat shining it in the water. A school of fish (hundreds, literally) followed the light. I felt like the Pied Piper! We then climbed into bed where we read for a while. We'll be off for Tenacatita tomorrow.

Feb. 20, 2004: Got a later start than planned because the navigation software wouldn't talk to the radar and Jim was trying to figure out what was wrong. Eventually Jim decided to use the back-up GPS connection and we headed out. Don completely missed the weather forecast. We had 10-15 kts. from the south with 1-2' sea waves. Not unbearable but enough that we were taking spray up on the windshield. Unfortunately we also had a foul current and were running 5.5 kts. the whole time. Jim hailed Carmelita as we rounded Punto Hermanos; they gave us the anchorage conditions. We anchored behind them and Paul came over to welcome us to the neighborhood. This is a "happening" place! We arrived in time for "Mayor's Night Out." Paul suggested we ride with them so we wouldn't have to lower Ruthie. The dinghies in the anchorage raft off one another and everyone passes appetizers from boat to boat. Jim counted 15 dinghies in the raft up! Great fun -- introductions all around -- and lots of boats we've heard on the net before. Carmelita came on board after bringing us back to Mañana. They gave us lots of tips for Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad. We checked into the net, the first time in 3 days. Paul and family left at 2000. I did the dishes and we both popped Tylenol PMs so we'll get a good night's sleep. Again, no supper tonight. Luckily I cooked the chorizo earlier figuring this would happen!

Las Hadas Palms
Looking Good After 3500 Nm.
Beautiful Flowers

Feb. 21, 2004: We were out of Tenacatita at 0740. The south winds were gone and we had ideal conditions, but again had the foul current. Jim set two trolling lines and caught two bonitos and one Ziploc bag. He threw the bonitos overboard and the baggie in the trash! It was very hazy as we entered Manzanillo Bay, but we could still see the mansions and resorts on the hillside overlooking the bay. Our destination, specifically, was Las Hadas. The movie "10" was filmed here and the second owner of our boat sent us a picture showing Por Nada (as she was known 30 years ago) at the resort dock. Jim thought it would be fun to take a picture of Mañana in the same setting, although we stayed at anchor and didn't enter the marina. We arrived at 1415, dodging jet skis and water skiers in the anchorage. We changed into "good" clothes and at 1500, went to the resort's dinghy dock. We walked around admiring this magnificent place and decided to celebrate the safe arrival of Mañana at her southern-most destination with dinner out. The restaurant was reasonably priced and the menu definitely designed for gringos, but what the heck! We had a good view of Mañana and she looked so small compared with some of the other boats in the anchorage. Returned to our boat at 1800 and relaxed for the remainder of the evening. We'll take our photos tomorrow morning and then head over to the anchorage at Santiago Bay, still in Manzanillo. At some point Jim and I need to sit down and decide what anchorages we want to (re)visit on our way north.

Mañana at Las Hadas
Hundreds of Brown Skates

Feb. 22, 2004: Slept in this morning. Jim acted as a relay for Wanderlust V during the morning Amigo net and Don said the winds should start blowing 20-25 kts. tomorrow through Thurs. afternoon. Given that forecast and the fact that we'd like to be back in Tenacatita by Friday, we decided to go directly to Barra de Navidad instead of Playa Santiago. We left Las Hadas at 0940, after taking several photos of Mañana with the resort in the background. We encountered rolly seas that we took on the nose and at times I felt like I was in a washing machine when the seas turned confused. As we were eating lunch, we noticed a brownish circle on the water. Jim was curious what it was and slowly turned Mañana towards it. At first we thought it was rocks, which shocked us because they weren't on the chart but then we realized they were moving. Jim was able to manuever the boat so our bow pulpit was directly over them and we discovered it was hundreds of brown skates, each about 18-24" in diameter. We'd never encountered anything like that before and could not identify the species. Quite a sight! Rounded Punta Graham and made our way successfully through the narrow, shallow channel and into the lagoon without going aground! The channel is lined with palm trees and there are a couple of hotels with marinas there as well. We anchored in 9 1/2' of water, again, the only power boat in the anchorage. Pure Chance was in the anchorage so we hailed them to say hi. They hailed us back shortly afterwards saying they had called for a water taxi and were we interested in sharing it with them. Sure! Barra de Navidad consists of 3 or 4 main streets with side streets. There's a nice looking beach, lots of reasonably-priced restaurants and a few tiendas. We arrived in time to watch a parade go by. It consisted of a tractor pulling a cart that had musicians in it, one pickup truck that had 6 young boys in traditional Mexican dress, one pick-up truck decorated with gold fabric and a lady and a baby in a gold costume (we have no idea what her costume was supposed to represent), plus 4 or 5 young girls in traditional Mexican outfits riding horses. One of the parade participants was passing drinks to adults who were on the side of the road. She stepped out of the parade and handed Jim a glass containing a reddish liquid. We looked quizzically at her and she said "punch". Punch my eye!! This stuff must have been 90 proof alcohol! Wow! I had a couple of sips and Jim finished the glass and walked a straight line afterwards. We bought a few supplies and returned via water taxi (15 pesos r/t per person). Jim prepared spaghetti with chorizo and English muffins with garlic butter for dinner. We listened to the evening net and climbed in bed early.

Inside Laguna de Navidad

Feb. 23, 2004: The French baker announced himself as he came into the lagoon. Carmelita had told us about him so we were anxious to taste his treats. We bought a small loaf of bacon bread and two croissants. We had the croissants for our 1000 coffee break -- yum! Jim was stymied trying to get our two computers to talk to each other. We needed to do the officialdumb check-in and wanted to bring the computer with us to update the web site. He finally got things working and we headed out in Ruthie at 1230. I took lots of photos on our way to the dock at the Sands Hotel. We went to where our guide book said the Port Captain was located, but not surprisingly, they moved! We asked someone for directions and was told it was 8 blocks away in Barreo. We started walking and found a map of town, but it didn't have the Port Captain's new location or a street called Barreo so we asked again. It was suggested that we take a taxi; Barreo is a neighborhood. So we climbed into a taxi and he promptly made a left-hand turn onto a main street without stopping and then passed a bus on the wrong side of the road with an oncoming taxi headed straight at us. We survived the trip but the driver got no tip! The Port Captain's office is in a residential neighborhood far away from the lagoon and marinas...naturally! The clerk was very nice and wrote us up for clearing in and out even though we told her we'd be here until Thursday or Friday. Next stop was the banco, which is several miles away in Melaque. We walked up to the main drag and caught a bus for 4 pesos each. It was a 15 min. ride and the driver let us off directly in front of Banamex. Melaque is a sleepy little town with dirt streets, but it houses the only bank in the area. No lines at the bank and we were out in 5 min. Bought some pistachios from a street vendor and waited 10 min. for the return bus. Returned to the Port Captain's office with 15 min. to spare! We walked back to town; stopped into one internet cafe but the connection lines were so slow that we couldn't conduct any business nor could we update the web site. We moved on to Alice's Restaurant internet cafe. The connection was a little better but we still couldn't update the entire web site -- will have to wait until we get to Puerto Vallarta and hope they have faster lines there. Bought some limes and tomatoes and returned to Mañana. We had leftover shepherds pie for dinner. Climbed into bed to read at 2030. The music at a nearby restaurant started at 2100 and didn't stop until 0200. We were NOT happy campers!

Feb. 24, 2004: We had the bacon bread for breakfast and it was so good that we ordered two more loaves for the freezer when the French baker came around. Don said the winds should be starting in the afternoon so we decided to stay on board to keep an eye on things. The holding is soft mud and not terrific for anchoring when high winds are predicted. We had a couple of gusts over 30 kts. but by late afternoon, things were beginning to die down. It seemed like everyone in the anchorage stayed nearby and luckily no one dragged anchor. Jim took a nap in the afternoon. We made shredded pork with a canned chipotle sauce for dinner. The sauce was too spicy for either of us even though we had tried to dilute it with water and BBQ sauce. Oh well! Guess I won't buy that again!

Barra de Navidad

Feb. 25, 2004: We stayed on board and relaxed all day. I sat out on the aft deck and read. After an hour or so, I looked like a boiled lobster so came back inside. Around 1600 we decided to take a water taxi into town and get some dinner. We walked around a bit and someone suggested Nacho's Restaurant as a good place to eat. We tried the ceviche and in addition, ordered some nachos, wine and beer. The ceviche was excellent (shredded white fish with cilantro, serrano chili, tomatoes and grated carrot). It was served with tostados. The nachos were covered with refried beans and had cheese melted over it. It, too, was delicious. The bill came to US$12 but US$6 of that was my two glasses of wine. I really need to learn to drink cerveza! After dinner we walked around some more and found ourselves in an older neighborhood with cats, dogs and roosters running around and the locals very friendly. We stopped to watch a group of men pour concrete onto the second level of a building. A few men worked the portable cement mixer and when the concrete was ready, the men formed a chain from the street level up scaffolding made of tree trunks and boards and literally tossed the buckets from man to man. We counted 15 men working on the project. I climbed into bed shortly after we returned to the boat -- I couldn't wait to get my clothes away from my sunburn!

Feb. 26, 2004: We took the water taxi into town and caught the red bus to Melaque. The red bus goes through Melaque's residential neighborhoods and was a real eye opener (the buses we took on Monday took the express route). We got off in the downtown outer limits and walked around. It's a bigger town than Barra; more of a tourist destination with lots of small hotels and an RV park. We walked through the public market and decided to have lunch at one of the small family-owned stalls. Jim had chile relleno and I had cheese quesadillas. The man sitting next to Jim said he spoke a little English so he asked questions in English and we answered in Spanish. He couldn't believe that we'd come all this way in our 38' boat and he asked a lot of questions about where we'd been, how long it took to get here and what we thought of big waves. I ordered a glass of OJ and watched them squeeze the oranges -- it doesn't come any fresher than that! Jim then ordered some frijoles and tortillas -- our total bill was 72 pesos (US$7.20). It's not unusual to see all ages of family members taking care of the children and although we've seen lots of little children, rarely have we heard any of them crying, nor have we heard the parents yelling. Maybe we need to rethink which country is really more superior. I'll take a poor but loving family over a rich uncaring one any day. We returned to Barra and loaded ourselves down with groceries and wine as we'll head out of here tomorrow morning. We watched a couple of guys fishing here in the lagoon. I made chicken in diced tomatoes with corn, jalapenos and carrots over rice -- good stuff!

Feb. 27, 2004: We were on our way to the fuel dock at 0745. Jim briefly lost track of the unmarked channel and saw .8' under the keel -- that's cutting it close! We took on 900 liters of diesel (US$2.05/gal) and got rid of our smelly trash. We left Barra at 0845 and had a comfortable trip to Tenacatita, arriving at 1100. After lunch we went ashore to check things out. Stopped at the palapa and had a beer and soda for 18 pesos and talked to several couples. The talk centered around fishing. Don't you know the guys told Jim that bonito works well in ceviche? C'mon guys! (They said they throw the blood meat overboard and keep the lightest meat). The surf break was a bit rough and Jim caught the dinghy engine's trim tab in the stomach. Ouch! We stopped at Mañana briefly to gather up our plates, drinks, etc. and joined the Mayor's Night Out raft-up. There were 19 boats there tonight and Sunstone rafted beside us. Similar to last week, there was plenty of good food and a book exchange. Jim came home with two Clive Cussler novels.

Feb. 28, 2004: After the morning net we followed Sunstone across the bar for our Jungle Cruise adventure. Half the adventure was successfully crossing the bar without getting swamped by breaking surf, getting tossed into the rocks or running aground in the shallow channel! We took our time enjoying the birds and scenery in the channel. The channel narrows down and the mangroves grow tall, forming a canopy above you. Two different pangas filled with tourists passed us (we'd pull into the mangroves as much as we could and hold on to them until the panga passed) so we knew we hadn't taken a wrong turn. After an hour, we reached the lagoon and beached our dinghies. We then carried our snorkeling gear about 1/2 mile to a place called the Aquarium. There was a small RV park and perhaps two dozen people. Tom, Vicky and Jim went snorkeling first while I sat on the beach and watched our stuff. After a while, Vicky and I traded places. Jim and I swam out to the rocks and saw lots of pretty fish and some coral. Not the best snorkeling but we're told it's among the best around here. We sat and dried off for a while and then returned to our dinghies. Jim and I couldn't decide whether to have lunch back on the boat or at the palapa. Mother Nature decided for us -- it was low tide when we got to the bar and we couldn't get Ruthie across. So we beached her and had shrimp quesadillas at the palapa. We left the palapa at 1600 and Tom helped Jim walk Ruthie across the bar while I sat inside with an oar ready in case we went sideways to an oncoming wave. We were physically drained when we got back to Mañana. Jim had leftovers for dinner and played a big part with the relays on the evening net. Peter (Wanderlust V) says he's going to make a net controller out of Jim yet! We each took a Tylenol PM and climbed into bed to read until the pill took effect -- sweet dreams!

Feb. 29, 2004: How can it be the end of February already? Tom and Vicky stopped by and we gave them several gallons of water. Unbelievably they've been all around the world without a water maker. I must be a gigantic wuss having informed Jim that I "wouldn't leave home without one." I had a productive day; changed the sheets, vacuumed, scrubbed the head, sanded the aft port rail, made fresh salsa and finally read a bit! Jim scanned and copied some documents for Pegasus and then dove on our boat, scrubbing the growth off the log wheel and helped Anticipation replace their zincs. In my attempt to download the pictures of yesterday's Jungle Cruise off the camera, I had a brain fart and ended up deleting them off the camera's disk before I copied them to the computer. Lesson learned: don't touch the camera when I'm tired! We had leftovers for dinner and climbed into bed to read at 2030.

March 1, 2004: Wiped down the aft port rail as soon as I got up and was able to get a coat of varnish on it and the flybridge rail after breakfast while it was still cool out. Jane (Anticipation) stopped by with a loaf of sundried tomato and garlic sourdough bread and a bottle of white wine. This was the payment for Jim's efforts yesterday in replacing their zincs. Jim went diving with Pegasus and Lemuria. Gary and Greg each caught a halibut but Jim didn't have his gun loaded and came home empty-handed. While he was gone, I removed and replaced the elastic in his swim trunks. There were fish boils all around the boat and with them came the pelicans and gulls. The pelicans would dive down and they were so close to the boat that we could see their expanded pouch. They leave their head in the water and drain the water out of the pouch. Then they tip their head back and you could see the outline of the fish as they swallowed it! I watched two pelicans in particular. They each ate one fish after another, many times they didn't even have to move from their spot. Jim decided to try fishing off the boat. We could see the fish were about 12" long and were silver with black tails. The fish were interested in his lure but not enough to bite. Oh well -- no fish for dinner tonight! Suzie on Cabaret is organizing a dinghy poker run tomorrow so we signed up to be one of the mystery boats. We watched McHale's Navy with Tom Arnold. It was a corny movie but it was filmed here in Tenacatita and it was fun to be able to recognize a few spots.

March 2, 2004: I was able to get a second coat of varnish on the rail after breakfast. They look good (for the moment)! Jim worked on fender whips and line ends while I polished the stainless rails. Tom and Vicky came over for more water. They are headed south (ultimately Chile) in the morning. Carmelita stopped by to say hi and Anticipation stopped by too. Jane had caught a pompano and wanted to know if we knew if it was a good fish to eat...our book said no but she decided to cook it anyway. The poker run began at 1300. There were seven mystery boats and 10 participants. All the mystery boats had provided clues to their boat name and amazingly, there was a tie between two boats at 17 minutes (Suzie had anticipated that it would take an hour). The kids all seemed to have a good time and we enjoyed it as well. Afterwards we put on our swim suits and anchored Ruthie out beyond the surf break and swam into shore. The most difficult decision of the day (for me) was how to get out of the dinghy -- frontwards, backwards, head first or feet first! Ultimately, I just slid off. Jim wore his hat and held our clothes, which were in a ziploc bag, over his head while he swam! We joined a large group at the palapa and didn't leave until 1730. Thankfully Paul (Carmelita) gave us a lift out to Ruthie; the sun had gone behind clouds and it would have been a chilly swim, plus I hadn't figured out how I was going to get into the dinghy. We readied the boat for an early morning departure. I made Greek pizza for dinner. Paul stopped by with his computer for a little while. He was in need of assistance from Mr. Computer Man.

March 3, 2004: We left Camp Tenacatita (as Jim's been calling it) at 0715. Don was predicting another weather system with increasing winds in the afternoon so we wanted to be in Chemala by then. The wind was light but we were heading into 2' sea swells the entire trip and we both felt queasy enough to munch on Saltines and candied ginger (thanks, Anola!). Jim wanted to anchor behind one of the smaller islands in the bay but it was already rolly and the winds hadn't started picking up so we went into the main anchorage. Three swallows greeted us, flitting around the boat. DC was out on deck as soon as we shut down the engine. Birds are just too tempting for him. In mid-afternoon I was in the aft cabin when I heard Jim stomping down from the flybridge. Thinking something was terribly wrong, I came running up the stairs and saw DC on the settee, with a bird in his mouth. Jim told DC it wasn't nice to eat the natives and DC dropped the bird. Miraculously the bird flew out the side door! We had stir fried steak and noodles with cheese for dinner. Listened to the net and watched a beautiful evening sky turn from orange to pink to yellow to purple before the sun finally set.

March 4, 2004: Jim woke at 0500 to the sound of fish splashing and the "poff" of dolphins clearing their blow hole. Once he confirmed what the noise was, I got up and we watched the dolphins blow bubbles to corral the fish and then go after them. They made phosphorescence trails in the water -- way cool! The dolphins' trails looked like incoming torpedos. They were all around and under the boat. We went back to bed and occasionally would hear a soft tapping on the hull as the fish bumped it. We relaxed in the morning and then decided to go ashore before the afternoon winds and surf picked up. The fresh produce truck must have recently been here as all stores had good looking fruits and vegetables. A panga fisherman helped us drag Ruthie down the beach and into the water. After lunch I decided to design a memory quilt of our trip. I had a lot of fun doing it -- hopefully the fabric stores in Puerto Vallarta have good quality cotton (not seen in La Paz). Jim made shredded pork, rice and corn muffins for dinner. Gust winds in the anchorage reached 22 kts.

March 5, 2004: Absolutely no wind in the anchorage in the morning but Don's still predicting high winds. I did a load of laundry and Jim cleaned the aft cabin. By mid-afternoon the winds were over 20 kts. We spent the day relaxing on the boat and had french toast for dinner. During the evening net, Wanderlust V indicated he needed a net controller to take over Friday nights so Jim volunteered, making Wanderlust V very happy. Jim and his dad had hoped to talk via SSB at 2100 but propagation was not good.

March 6, 2004: Jim woke up not feeling well and we prayed he wasn't catching the flu. He laid low all day and I did some laundry and edited my articles for Women Aboard. By later in the day, Jim was feeling better. Thank goodness! Rich and Nancy (Agape) stopped by in the mid-afternoon and introduced themselves. They invited us to their boat for drinks at 1700. They were tired of the rolliness in the anchorage and were headed to tierra firma! We received e-mail from Encanto suggesting it would be great if we could be in Puerto Vallarta early next week for a bon voyage party for Matarua and Sowelu. Don is predicting winds from the North 10-20 kts. until next Thursday so if we head out, we'll be slogging into it. We joined Agape for wine and tried to listen to the evening net but propagation was still terrible. They are headed north, too, and we all decided to wait until Monday to leave. With luck, we should be in P.V. by Tuesday. The four of us ended up on Mañana to see if our radio was any better than their's (it wasn't). They love cats so DC and Jerry had lots of attention.

March 7, 2004: Spent the day on the boat. Jim was hesitant to take Ruthie to shore because the tide comes in/out quickly and it's become apparent that the two of us can't haul Ruthie down the beach to the water when the tide is out. Nancy rowed over in the afternoon with a bag of books and movies. Jim took the newest Clive Cussler novel and I took a movie (There's Something About Mary). We listened to Don before the evening net; the forecast is the same so we'll head out at 0 dark 30. We notified Agape of our plans and they said they would leave when we do. Jim made chicken mole and I made a Spanish rice for dinner. Climbed into bed to read and hoped we'd get a good night's sleep.

March 8, 2004: We were underway by 0530. We headed into a north wind/sea the entire trip. At times, initially, it was uncomfortable because the sea swells were spaced closely together but things smoothed out a bit as the morning went on. We passed at least a half dozen Olive Ridley turtles...they look like speed bumps on top of the water and are at least 18"-24" in diameter, so it's pretty hard NOT to see them. In addition, we saw dozens of jelly fish of a species we've never seen before. They had translucent "globes", between 3-5" across. Some had an aquamarine blue color to them but most were a yellowy color. At the bottom of the globe was their short propulsion system. Each jelly fish was surrounded by 12-15 1" fish that would swim underneath the jelly fish as we passed by...very interesting! We arrived at Ipala at 1315 and within 10 minutes, the music at the beach palapa was turned on and up -- almost as if they saw us and said "gringo cruisers in the anchorage"! Agape arrived about 15 min. after us. Nancy rowed over and offered us a lift to the beach. We hadn't had time to go ashore the last time we were here. It is a very small town built into the steep hills. There are several houses, a couple of tiendas, a couple of restaurants and a small hotel. We bought some provisions and walked up the only street, which was carved into the hillside. We had a lovely view of the anchorage from there. Unfortunately we'd left the camera on the boat :( At the bottom of the hill, Jim noticed a place that sold ice cream. After the walk up hill in heat, we decided we deserved one! Nancy rowed us back to our boat and we had left overs for dinner. Agape said that 0530 was too early for them today (I second that!) and they plan to head out tomorrow at 0700. We'll go when they do. In the evening we heard dolphins beside the boat. They were eating the fish and their phosphorescence trails were spectacular.

March 9, 2004: All three boats in Ipala were underway by 0700. Don had forecasted winds to be in the 5-15 kt. range around Cabo Corrientes but we were seeing 15-20 kts, much more than what we expected based upon yesterday's conditions. In addition, the swells were 2-3' with 1-2' wind waves...very bumpy! Jim stood off the Cape and conditions seemed to be better than if we were closer to shore. By late morning we were comfortably cruising in Bandaras Bay. We hailed Encanto but Matarua answered us. Peter said he'd grab our lines when we arrived. We hailed him again as we were approaching the breakwater. When we got to "the wall", Peter, Encanto and Andiamo were all there to greet us! What a welcoming committee -- we were tickled to see everyone! Once we were tied up, there were lots of hugs all around. As we were literally outside the Port Captain's office, Jim immediately went to do the officialdumb check-in and reported the Port Captain to be very friendly and the process painless. Next he went to register with the marina. We'll stay on the wall until a slip becomes available. This marina has been for sale for over 12 years and maintenance has been minimal at best, but the price is right considering we're in the Puerto Vallarta area ($.29/ft). Encanto had us over for dinner along with Sowelu and Mai's daughter, Tracy, who's visiting from Edmonton. Andiamo later hailed Encanto and sort of invited themselves, although Lisa did bring large shrimp. Unfortunately both John and Lisa had had a few too many drinks and we weren't able to catch up with either Sowelu or Encanto. Jim ran back to Mañana for a bottle of wine and found both cats off the boat. Jerry ran back on board but DC was no where to be found. We'd left the doors open about 3-4" and both cats squeezed out. Bad kitties! When we left Encanto at 2130, DC was in the grass next to the boat. He had several burrs in his fur and was sick from having eaten the grass.

Huichol Bead Work

March 10, 2004: John stopped by this morning to return a tool he borrowed and said Sami wasn't feeling well. DC hopped off the boat again and Jim had to grab him before he climbed under a chain link fence. John told Jim to be careful because there are scorpions in this area. Hey, that's the kind of information I like to hear! NOT!! Jim threw DC in the aft cabin and closed the door - bad cat! After John left, we locked the boat up and took Ruthie to Paradise Village so we could get to the bank. We checked out the facilities at Vallarta Yacht Club and then walked through an air-conditioned mall that had a Domino's Pizza and McDonald's. Domino's prices were the same as State-side, but I've been craving pizza so maybe we'll splurge. We also watched a man from a Mexican Indian tribe decorate a wooden tiger with tiny beads. He spread a wax-type substance over the wood and embedded the beads into it...meticulous and beautiful work. We wondered if the wax would melt if in a hot enough locale. After we returned to the boat, I put a harness on DC and Jim attached a long line to it. DC was not a happy camper! It will take us a while to figure out the best place to tie him off so he can roam wherever he wants on the boat. At 1730 we joined a dozen other boats for a bon voyage potluck at the top of the dock. About half the boats will be heading to the Marqueses within the next week and the other half are going up into the Sea. As with all potlucks, there was delicious food and great friendship. We didn't return to Mañana until 2130.

March 11, 2004: The weather report on the morning net said the current temp. was 80 degrees and the humidity 94%; it was only 0830. The forecast is for mid-80's for the next 10 days. This is definitely the hottest spot we've encountered in our trip so far. We went up to the marina office and Jesus said we could move into Encanto's space when they leave. We ran into Judy and Mai; they showed us where the book swap library is and we came out with a bunch of magazines and a couple more books. After that we went to Encanto to say good-bye to them. Lisa (Andiamo) and I took the bus into Puerto Vallarta to WalMart. It's a superstore and stocked with a good deli, fruit and vegetable section. I returned to our boat with two full bags. While I was gone Jim moved Mañana onto the dock and Peter and Boja helped with the lines. We're going to have to get Peter a Mañana "crew" T-shirt if he continues to catch our lines! A/R DeFever, Arthur DeFever's boat, pulled into Paradise Village. Mr. DeFever is the one who designed our boat. We'll have to dinghy over to see if we can meet them. By mid-afternoon, the sun, heat and humidity was killing us and we decided it was time to pull all the screens that came with the boat out of the storage locker to see what there was. We could figure out where a couple of them went, but there were several that we just have no idea! Most of the original snaps had rusted out so we brought the screens to the local canvas shop for replacement. The screens for the door windows need to be resized before we have the new snaps installed. We had leftovers for dinner and talked to Encanto after the evening net. There are a couple dogs on this dock and they seem to have cured DC's itch for wandering!

March 12, 2004: Woke to dense fog. We could have been transported back to the Northwest except for the palm trees! Jerry had an accident on the bed which pushed doing the laundry to the top of the list. We decided to kill two birds with one stone and go to the internet cafe while we were out. We were just getting things together when a diver finished cleaning the bottom of the boat across from us. We asked him how much he would charge to do our boat and was told $1/ft, so we asked him to do us next. We finally got out of here at 1145. We had lunch at the Vallarta Yacht Club and updated the web site as we ate. Then we went to the laundromat. While the laundry was doing its thing, we reserved my airline tickets for next month's trip to Seattle and we bought a rug for the main saloon. Returned to the boat at 1600. I made Greek pizza for dinner. After dinner, Jim called his mom and I talked to Mai, Sandy and Paul (Cuervo). We ended up on Sowelu, with Mai feeding everyone. Returned to the boat at 2000, only to discover DC had somehow gotten outside. That cat is Houdini!

March 13, 2004: When we let DC out, we noticed that A/R DeFever was gone. Dang! There was a swap meet at the head of the dock so we went up to check things out. Jim had previously talked to Pat from Casa Fresca about embroidered shirts and she had confirmed that she could do an enya. We were anxious to see her work and find out what she charges. We decided to order two white polo shirts for ourselves (with scanned photo of Mañana and boat name) and an embroidered navy polos for Peter and Babs. Pat said she'd have the preliminary work done on Tuesday for our approval. Al (Sunship) borrowed our can of Dolphinite so he could finish a project. After lunch it was very hot and we decided it was a good time to wash the boat -- she hadn't had a bath since mid-January when we were in La Paz and she was FILTHY! It took us two hours to get her looking good.

Nuevo Vallarta Breakwater and Beach

March 14, 2004: We spent a lazy morning reading and chatting with folks on the dock. In mid-afternoon, we took Ruthie to Paradise Village and followed another couple to the pools. We now know the drill should we decide we want to come here to go swimming. We walked around and out along the break water. There was a stiff breeze and a sailboat race underway. On our way back to the dinghy dock, we noticed several cages that housed spider monkeys, tigers and panthers. We continued to explore and found more cages with parrots, deer, flamingos, a raccoon and ostriches. We both felt really bad for the animals -- the animal rights activists would have a field day down here. We returned to the boat, had supper and continued reading (Jim's reading Clive Cussler and I'm reading Nelson DeMille).

March 15, 2004: After the net, Jim and I hopped on a bus, thinking we were going to tour Puerto Vallarta, get to the chandlery and then to both WalMart's and Sam's Club - wrong! We decided to forego touring P.V. and went to the chandlery first, figuring that working on boat projects took priority. Zaragoza's had a pretty good selection of stock, but invariably, Jim needed 4 of something and they only had 2. Such is the norm in Mexico! We stopped for a bite of lunch and because of the hour, decided to shop at "Mega" which was across the street. We were able to find just about everything on the shopping list, except tonic water, but as a bonus, they sold several items from Costco, including pistachios -- SCORE! The pistachios were $4 less here than in La Paz so we bought 2 bags. We were well and truly ladened with groceries. We each had a full backpack and canvas tote. We crossed back across the street (you run) and caught the local colectivo to WalMart, where we had to transfer to the bus to Nuevo Vallarta. Why you can get into P.V. on one bus but it takes two to get out is beyond me! Anyway, the second bus came right along and we were back on board Mañana before the butter melted. We made a salad and at 1800 we went to Sowelu and joined Andiamo, Matarua and Cuervo for a combination 18th birthday/going away party for Mai's daughter, Tracey. We had a fun evening and didn't leave until after 2000.

Jerretaderas Farmers' Market
Butcher Shop

March 16, 2004: Al and Mary (Sunship) stopped by bright and early to return the Dolphinite and invited us to their boat tomorrow evening for a game of Mexican train dominos and some wine and popcorn. Lisa had offered to show us how to get to Jarretaderas, where every Tuesday, there is a public/farmers market. Bev said she would walk with us and John drove Bev's car. It's a pleasant 25 min. walk from the marina and once at the market, we ran into several cruisers. We found everything from fruits and vegetables to clothes and sandals to tools and toys. We bought a papaya, cabbage, eggs, cilantro, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, peaches, tangerines, garlic, celery and avocados for under 80 pesos. From there we walked to the butcher's and bought a kilo of steak for 25 pesos and asked for 4 chicken breasts. The majority of the ordering was done in a combination of Spanglish and sign language, so chicken breast translated into "pollo" and then I tapped my chest! A man brought two freshly-slaughtered and plucked chickens out from the back room. We were asked how we wanted the chickens cut, did we want the necks, etc. When she cut the chicken, some blood splattered onto my arm -- yuck! I told Lisa I've been very brave when it comes to the phrase "when in Rome," but I absolutely draw the line at eating chicken feet! After that interesting shopping experience, we went to the local cocina economico for lunch. I had a shredded pork torta (sandwich) with freshly squeezed OJ and Jim had a chorizo w/cheese torta and a glass of jugo de piña (pineapple juice), for 68 pesos, which included tip. Talk about affordable, and it was delicious! John drove us to Casa Fresca; Pat had the art work ready. We made a couple of suggestions but it looks terrific. We decided to order t-shirts as well -- $11 for a custom embroidered t-shirt is just too good a price to pass up. We decided to order one for Colleen as well. Pat said she'll have them done by this Saturday's swap meet. Returned to the boat and bleach washed the fruits and vegetables, vacuum bagged the chicken and steak and Jim made chicken soup with the chicken backs and necks.

March 17, 2004: Happy St. Patrick's Day! There are a few parties/functions planned in the Bandaras Bay area, mostly for and by cruisers and gringos. However, the town of Melaque has a huge celebration as San Patricio is the patron saint for the town. I sanded down the starboard aft rail while it was still cool out but by 1000 it was too hot to varnish. As there's another swap meet scheduled for this Saturday, I decided to make quilted eyeglass cases and wine sacks. The cruising kitty is very low these days. I pulled out several pieces of coordinating fabric but cut only one to see how it works and fits. Other than altering how the liner goes in, it was pretty straight forward. I went over to Sowelu to ask their advice on how to price them. They both thought it should be under $10. Lisa came over and suggested $5. Both she and Boja had a couple good suggestions that I might incorporate into the next ones. On my way back to the boat I ran into Sandy and Bev. They suggested splitting the difference and charging $7. Bev's husband Carl found a vacated grapefruit grove and brought back 80 grapefruits. They were dirty but Bev said they've been eating them. I came back with an arm full and Carl put a half dozen more on the boat...no chance that we'll get scurvy! I washed them and they should be just fine. The wind was picking up and made cutting the fabric a real challenge so I put things aside until tomorrow. A distress call came in on the VHF but the longitude was East instead of West. However, Jim called the USCG and relayed the position, which, if the longitude was really supposed to be West, put it 10 miles inland from Ipala. We had the chicken soup and the other half of the frozen bagette from the French Baker for dinner. At 1900 we went to Sunship and visited Al and Mary. They own a Valiant 40 and know Brian and Betsy from Deer Harbor. Small world! We had some wine and popcorn in their cockpit and then went below. They taught us how to play Mexican train dominoes, a very popular game down here. We really enjoyed ourselves. On the way back to the boat, we noticed the phosphorescence in the bay was an electric blue -- we've only seen green previously. Quite spectacular!

March 18, 2004: I wiped down the rails and let them dry before varnishing. The rails are in bad shape but hopefully new varnish will make them look a bit better. Once the varnish was done, I started sewing eyeglass cases. I sewed all day and by 1700 I had 10 cases 75% made. I certainly wouldn't want to do this all day every day! Jim is hooked on The General's Daughter and spent the entire day reading. I made stir fry steak fajitas for dinner.

March 19, 2004: I started sewing right after breakfast and worked through lunch. Jim took off to the yacht club to check out some things on the internet. Around 1400 I took a break and was down talking to Andiamo when Jim returned. The four of us decided to go for a ride in our dinghies. There are several canals around here and they wanted to explore one of them. We said we'd follow. The canal passed by the Dolphin Adventure and dead-ended shortly thereafter. We did see several birds along the water's edge but no crocodiles in this canal (there is reportedly a crocodile in the canal that runs in front of Paradise Village marina.) As we were returning to the marina, the show at the Dolphin Adventure was just starting, so we stopped alongside the fence and watched. For US$150 you get to climb into the pool with 6 dolphins. The trainer was a young guy who gave a quick talk about the dolphins habits and answered questions that the group (and I) asked him. The folks in the pool were mostly college-aged girls who are here for Spring break. They got to dance with and get kissed by the dolphins, and then got to ride on them. All in all, a good show but I doubt I would have paid $150 for it! Jim gave the trainer a tip as he'd been nice enough to let us hang onto the cage and talked to us. We invited John and Lisa back to the boat to sample some peach chardonnay we had. It sounds disgusting but is actually very refreshing on a hot afternoon. Lisa brought along some cheese and crackers. We sat on the flybridge chatting. When we polished off the peach chardonnay, we started in on the liter box of Baja California white wine that we paid 22 pesos for...cruisers are a cheap bunch! Jim and I had the leftover sloppy Joe's for dinner. Tonight was Jim's first night as net controller; we were both really upset when the digital traffic started up and the southern boys (in the Gulf of Mexico) came over the channel. It meant that it was going to be difficult for us to hear the boats trying to check in. But four boats helped Jim relay traffic and in the end, it was a successful first night with 27 boats checking in.

Puerto Vallarta

March 20, 2004: I headed up to the swap meet at 0945 and set up. A lot of ladies oohed and aahed, but no one bought anything. Oh well! However, all was not lost! Pat (Fresca) brought a huge box filled with quilting books to the swap meet and they were free. I came away with 10 books and gave Pat a donation -- she is teaching the local ladies how to sew. She also brought our shirts with her and they look terrific. When the swap meet was done, we took the bus to Puerto Vallarta. We thought we'd have lunch at Gaby's Restaurant but couldn't find it so we walked towards the downtown core looking for a non-Gringo restaurant. We finally found one and had a great lunch for about 85 pesos. Puerto Vallarta didn't turn me on when we were here 9 years ago and it still held nothing for either of us; all we saw was a hundred shops selling t-shirts, chain restaurants (Hooters, Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, etc) and people trying to interest you into sitting in on a 90 min. talk about a timeshare unit. On the positive side of progress, however, was the lack of children selling Chicklets on the street. In fact, we haven't encountered that anywhere in Mexico. We took a few moments and went into the Our Lady of Guadalupe church. It's a beautiful church, both inside and out, and its dome resembles the crown of Queen Carlotta. During our walk we came across Rizo's Supermercado, which is reported to be the only store in the P.V. area that sells tonic water. We bought all that was on the shelf -- all 4 bottles! We caught the bus back to the marina; we were totally wiped from the heat and humidity. Nothing had been pulled out for dinner and neither of us felt like cooking so we went up to Estudio Cafe for steak fajitas. The night air was really hazy and heavy with humidity. On our walk back down the dock we noticed the electric blue phosphorescence in the water. Jim got the camera and took pictures while I splashed. Unfortunately our little digital camera isn't good enough to adequately capture what we were seeing with our eyes. The spooky thing was seeing the phosphorescence all over my hand when I took it out of the water and the electric blue dots on the dock after I shook my hand.

March 21, 2004: We headed into town at 0915 -- today was major provisioning day. Our first stop was Zaragoza's but we discovered they are closed on Sundays. We then took the bus to Sam's Club and obtained a free one-day pass. We bought a few items -- they had ham steaks and canned chicken. They also had boxed raviolis and fresh tortellini, but the tortellini was 70 pesos and I refused to pay that much. Right next door was WalMart's. We grabbed some lunch and then went shopping...850 pesos later and we were done! It always sounds like so much money but in actuality, we were shopping for 3-4 weeks and it cost us about $85. Try that at home! We took a taxi back to the marina and began the process of stowing all the food. Andiamo stopped by on their way to the yacht club and reminded us that the wine tasting and auction was from 1500 - 1800. We changed into our Port Captain clothes and took Ruthie to the yacht club. There was a good crowd. Admission was 50 pesos per person (or 5 tickets towards wine) and included appetizers. The wine was between 1-3 tickets, depending on the quality of the wine. Some art work and beaded jewelry was on sale out on the balcony -- nice stuff but way beyond our budget. Okay, in truth, we just went for the wine and food! We each had a couple of glasses and returned to the boat. I've really been bothered by the heat and humidity these past few days (and these damn hot flashes don't help any) so Jim got off his duff and hooked up the fan in the main saloon and the aft cabin. Aaahhh..... He made shredded pork tortillas with frijoles while I worked on the web site. Afterwards I sanded the aft starboard rail. I absolutely MUST get the second coat of varnish on it tomorrow morning. Our time here has flown by. Once the sanding was done, we both headed up to the showers. Oh, boy, did they feel good!

March 22, 2004: I put the second coat of varnish on the rails and Jim did some boat chores in the morning before the heat cranked up. Laundry (and lots of it) was on the "to do" list, but we did that in the afternoon so we could take advantage of the air-conditioning. While I was doing the laundry, Jim went to the yacht club so he could take care of our finances on the internet. Then he picked up our mail package. Mailboxes had estimated it would be 60 pesos but it turned out to be a bigger and heavier package and cost us 150 pesos. We weren't too thrilled with the price, but it contained tax information and a surprise package for me -- three quilting magazines! Whooppee!! (Jim knew I was having quilting withdrawals when we were in Tenacatita so he emailed Babs and asked if she'd put a few magazines in the mail for me -- what a sweet guy!) I made chicken mole, rice and zucchini for dinner.

A Day with Family
Iguana on the Rocks

March 23, 2004: I got up very early and made some fresh salsa and a pasta salad. We left the boat at 0845 and caught the bus that went to all the resorts in Nuevo Vallarta, something we hadn't done before. We got a good tour of the town and arrived WalMart at 0935. Eric, Angelyn, Pam and Anna (age 9) were waiting for us. It was great to see them. We'd heard a lot about Pam and Anna but had never met them. We took a bus back to the boat and after a quick tour, we headed out for a short cruise. Eric asked if we could go south to Conchas Chinas, where they are staying. He wanted to see if he could spot the villa they are staying in from the water. With binoculars, he managed to do so! On our way back to the marina, we came across a mom and baby Humpback whale. Mom was putting on quite a show and baby was doing its best. Both of them breached, rolled and did some fluke slapping. What a thrill to watch them! We had lunch after we returned to the dock and then walked over to the Dolphin Adventure. Anna plans to hop in the pool with them on Sat. Everyone left around 1615 but Eric returned in time for dinner. He has just made his first CD and I asked him if he'd be willing to put on a concert for the cruisers. It didn't take much arm twisting for him to say yes! Although there were only about 10 of us listening, he put on a great show and took requests. He left us at 2000.


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