Puerto Vallarta and La Cruz

Our parts arrive via DHL in only 2 days from Seattle, what service.  My hats off to Coastal Marine, the Volvo dealer and to DHL for getting them to us so fast.  People said that they go through Guadalajara and will be stuck there for weeks, just sort of disappear into a black hole.  Not so in our case.  We make plans to haul out on Friday 13th, yes I know but I did a little dance to the Gods and maybe all will work out fine.

We came out of the water and the problem was exactly as suspected, the line had destroyed the oil seals on the output shaft.  After a bit of assistance from the shop at the marina we managed to push out the seals and refit new ones.  We also replaced the anodes and applied more anti fouling to the leg, perfect time to do this maintenance. 
All in all it took about 3 hours for everything and then it was time to pay, and pay we did.  The total haul out came to $850 USD, almost 3 times what we paid in Bellingham.  But they have a captive audience and we were definitely captive.  In any event we were glad to get it repaired and to find out that the damage was not more extensive.

Arrived safe and sound
Christian and Kendra arrived on Saturday, 14 Jan.  We went via the local bus to collect them, it was a bit of an adventure for the pair, we hope they liked it.  We spent two nights at La Cruz with them, showing them the sights and did a day trip to Sayulita.  I could see Christian scheming as to how he could chuck it all and become a surf bum.  The place has a pretty good surf and there are a number of surfer types hanging around.  We had a nice lunch on the beach, Christian rented a board and had a go, even got up a couple of times.

                                                                     Doug and Jan came over on Sunday 15th and we all went out for a sail in the bay, spotting some whales.  Everyone got a turn to drive under sail since the wind gods favored us with a nice light breeze.  After this we moved over to Paradise Village marina to give the kids a change of environment.  This was a good move since they have the run of the hotel, able to use the pools, hot tub restaurants etc.  The only fly in the ointment is the long hike into PV via the local bus, but we managed to get it down to a science.

Doug and Jan enjoying a cool one
One night time excursion was to Pipi's for dinner.  Oh my, are the margaritas good and BIG.  One is almost too many but two-after that the night is a blur.  Once dinner is over we head off to La Bodeguita del Medio for some salsa dancing and mojitos, not that anyone needed any more to drink.  The following day Christian and Kendra have a rest by the pool, Jackie and Leif are on aspirins!

We say goodbye to the kids on Saturday, 21 Jan with heavy hearts.  A week is just not long enough, and Christian is trying to figure out how to join us long term!  Once they are gone it is back to more mundane things like laundry (hard job to lug it up to the laundry lady) and house cleaning, takes almost an hour!

Christian and Kendra at Pipi's
Surf landing at Bucerias
There is to be a big festival at Bucerius, the blessing of the boats on the 24th of Jan.  We put together a group, board the bus and head out.  It was a most interesting time with large number of boats running up onto the beach, dancing horses and many street stalls selling everything under the sun (no pun intended), and at least 4 banda bands all in a small square playing at once.  For the life of us we could not figure out how anyone could tell who was playing with who, the noise was ear splitting.

We had talked of going to Guadalajara with Bob and Karyn, so we set off  on Jan 25 via another first class bus on the 5 hour trip.  The bus is great with his and hers bathrooms, movies (sometimes English), a drink, snack and a sweet of some sort.  They are spotless, smooth and most comfortable with wide seats that recline.
We arrive in Guadalajara and take a taxi to the hotel Morales, another unique (good one) experience.  The hotel is very old (1800's) but kept in excellent condition, it also has the advantage of being just 2 blocks off the main square.  It was also the favorite hotel of the bullfighters, so has quite a history. We walked everywhere, feeling perfectly safe and really enjoyed the big city with the small town feel.  In order to get a quick tour we jumped on the double decker, open top tour bus, cost a whopping $5 and we could get on and off all day long and could even take any of the 3 tours they offered.  We did 2, the city tour and Tlalapaque, a suburb with many artists selling unique art.   The remainder of our time was spent visiting the museums, looking at the murals, going to the HUGE market and eating a torta that was so big it would choke a horse-and delicious it was too.  We were a little disappointed in the place of the Mariachies but we did not stick around for the night time entertainment so the fault may be ours.

Bucerias Market
Any shape, size or color for only $3

Tortas for only $3, enough for 2 people
Fountain in our hotel

Our old buddy Bruce arrived on Jan. 29th, he will be vacationing with us for 2 weeks.  We haul him around showing him the sights of PV, with another visit to Pipi's (second time just as bad as the first).  Soon however, it is time to say adios to PV and  we begin to head down to Manzanillo.
The first day we plan to make it to Ipala, a small bay with just a bit of shelter from the N wind.  We managed to sail a bit of the way down and dropped the hook at 1630.  Only one other boat anchored there and even at that because the fishermen have pens in the middle of the anchorage there is only a little room.  The anchorage is a bit rolly but we manage to get some rest.
The gas run


                                                                     Next is Chemala, a much better anchorage with a small settlement ashore.  We arrive at 18:30 after a nice day in which we had flying fish and whales, even got the headsail out for awhile.  In the morning we head ashore and do a pretty good surf landing, well at least we didn't turn upside down and besides it is only water!  Cervezas ashore and then found someone to drive us to the tienda for  gas  for the dinghy for sale in big plastic containers in a corner.  We buy the driver a beer and some chips for his children, everyone is very jolly.  Then we hit the Manualita palapa  for a late lunch-early dinner and back to the boat through the surf again.  After showers we watch Jack Nicholson in Crossing Guard with popcorn and we all managed to stay awake for the entire show, a first!
The next day we head out for Tenacatita only to be blown back with S winds!  Not to worry, we drop our hook in about the same place and spend the rest of the day reading and enjoying the warmth.
Mangroves at Tenacatita

6th Feb finds us underway to Tenacatita with very light winds, too light to sail.  We anchor at about 3 pm amidst a number of other boats, some we have met on the way.  This is a big bay and where the anchorage is there is not much ashore.  We do another surf landing and hit the one palapa open for a couple of beers and a light lunch.  We later go up the river through the mangroves but there really isn't a lot to see other than some egrets.  The ride out the river through the surf is exciting and in our frenzy to exit Bruce ends up on his back in the bottom of the dinghy, at least he fell forward, so we  planed out quite easily.  Jackie thinks it was more good luck than good management, Leif says nonsense, everything went as planned.
Entrance to Barra looking out
Gold platers only!

Next on the agenda is Barra de Navidad, an interesting place where you anchor in a lagoon, approached through a narrow, unmarked channel, that is of course unless you are well heeled and can afford the $2.60 per foot per day that the marina charges.  As this would seriously curtail the number of Pacifico's (beer) we can consume we opt for the lagoon.  We only went aground twice before some kind panga driver had us follow him into the lagoon.  The water is so murky that you cannot see the shallows, the only saving grace is that the bottom is more like slime than anything else.

A visit to Barra would not be complete without the French Baker
One of our side trips is to the capital of the state of Colima, strangely enough called - Colima.  Jackie and Leif had been here before but thought it was a good representation of a  smallerMexican city. 
We are to spend 11 days at Barra, with us putting Bruce in a taxi to the airport from here as it is actually closer than Manzanillo and hence cheaper-Bruce isn't Scottish for nothing!

We liked Barra, there are a number of decent, inexpensive restaurants and some pubs showing Canadian television.  It has a big expat community which is good or maybe not so good if you want to meet Mexicans.  Here we got to try something called pozole which is a precolumbian dish which was originally made with meat from people sacrificed to the various Gods.  Since there are no more sacrifices these days we have to make do with either pork or chicken.  But they do say that the pork tastes just like the old recipe!
On Feb 16 we make our way around to Santiago, which is just a stones throw away from Manzanillo.  On the way into the anchorage we get a little whale show.  Lucky us.

Santiago market

Abandoned house on hill
Santiago beach

Los Hadas

This is another big bay where we are tucked in behind a headland, good protection from the prevailing winds but there is a bit of swell that comes in causing us to roll a bit at times. The shore is lined with a number of palapas and every day we have been entertained by banda music, luckily it all seems to shut down at sunset.
We spend about a week at Santiago and learned the ropes, like 10 peso beers at Hollywood and Vine, and 10 peso tacos at Erica's.  There is also a good marine store downtown plus the mercado  is worth a visit for your comestibles.   On Sunday there is the Santiago market, an absolute must see.  The locals bring out their wares to sell and the place is teeming with buyers. 
We move over to Los Hadas bay and anchor in front of the hotel for our "Kodak" moment. The anchorage is pretty crowded and the swell does sweep around the corner. We pay the 200 pesos to tie up the dinghy and enjoy the hotel's amenities. A swim in the pool and a stroll around the grounds are a welcome diversion from the grind of sailing.
Our stay there is only a couple of days as we have to make our way back north, wanting to get in a trip back home before we put the boat away for the summer.

Back to Santiago and we spend a couple of days getting ourselves prepared and take in a beach party organized over the vhf net.  We are lucky enough to meet Stan,  of Solemates Santiago, who does the daily weather for curisers in the area.  He does a great job and both Jackie and I are eternally grateful.
We also experiement with making margaritas with tequila (of course), triple sec and Damiana.  Jackie had tried one at Todos Santos of hotel California fame, and just had to try to duplicate the receipe.  Not bad, at least fellow cruisers Ken and Heather didn't complain and a quick cocktail turned into a pretty good evening!
Punta Carrizal

The next day we started the slog back north and went a whole 5 miles to Punta Carrizal and spend only the one night.  This is a smallish well protected bay from everywhere but the south and it is so deep that the swell does not have much effect.  There were 6 boats anchored in the bay by the time the sun set.
We set the alarm for 6 A.M. and make out way out along with 2 other boats.  As we were approaching Tenacatita we hear an old friend on the radio.  He is meant to be half way to Hawaii by now, we tempt fate and pull in to get the latest scoop, our two travelling companions continue on.  It seems that Glen had second thoughts on doing the long ocean passage at this time of the year.  Especially with the news of another Canadian boat lost on the same passage.  Borboletta will now travel back as deck cargo on one of the Yacht Path ships.
The next morning we left at first light wanting to get around Cabo Corrientes very early the next morning, before the daily thermals kick in and make the corner rough.  We are in luck and round the cape around 2 A.M. in flat calm conditions.  The sea gods have smiled on us again.  We arrive at La Cruz at 7:30 A.M. and grab the same slip we had previously.  It really felt like coming home, everything was so familiar.

We cleaned up the boat and did a couple of boat jobs while waiting to catch our flights home.  Jackie is especially excited about seeing our kids and of course the grandchildren

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