Dice Night in Paradise!

Dice Night lives on!  I guess spending a few nights in the La Cruz marina brought back the nostalgia of playing dice with our friends back at Bair Island Marina in Redwood City.  We organized a dice night last night on board Ellie and it was a blast!  

Today we are headed back into PV to try and get a replacement part for the sewing machine that broke while we (Alyssa) were sewing the jerry can covers.  We are also going to copy some large-scale charts of the South Pacific islands that Glenn on Beach Accesswas gracious enough to lend us.

And it is still raining…..has been for a whole week.  Everyone please do the anti-rain dance to bring back the sunshine!

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 The crazy crew, from left to right clockwise: Debbie, Jen, Bruce (The Pirate), Glenn-n-n, Robbie, Doug, Elena and Alyssa.

Merry Christmas from Puerto Vallarta!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We tried our best to get into the Christmas spirit – complete with holiday music and watching Christmas Vacation – but it sure is weird to be in shorts and flip flops while sweating in the tropical heat on Christmas!  Thank you to “Gramma Mama” for sending us off with a stocking!  It was a real treat to have a stocking on Christmas morning :-)

We spent the holiday with our friends on Island PrincessSkabenga and Beach Access – we had an awesome brunch followed by a dinghy race and then we took Beach Access sailing, a Lagoon 38 cat owned by Glen and Debbie.  We all had a blast jumping in the water off the bows and drifting under the cat!  It sure was a Christmas we will not forget. 

We are anchored in La Cruz near Puerto Vallarta.  Last night a huge squall rolled through accompanied by tremendous thunder and lightning; we didn’t get struck, thank goodness, but a few strikes were less than half mile away.  Scary.

The weather will be unsettled through new years so we will likely stay put until the new year and then head south again.

Here are some pics:

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Profligate under sail – we were on board for a trip to Nuevo Vallarta.

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Don’t always trust your charts!!

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We sailed through an island……great charts we have!!

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Huge provisioning run to Mega, Wal-Mart and Costco.  Stocked for the crossing!

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Snack cabinet is BACK BABY!

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Sailing on Skabenga

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At the helm of Skabenga during the “race”

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Tearing down the spinnaker!

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Being inducted into the Punta Mita Yacht Club!

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Raising money for the local schools.  The children perfromed for us!

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Ellie in Paradise Village

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Alyssa in Paradise (Village)

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Another great holiday meal on Island Princess

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Christmas morning – in a bikini!

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The girls striking a pose on Christmas just before the dinghy race!

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Staging for the first annual Christmas dinghy race!

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Glen and Debbie on Beach Access getting ready for the race!

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The starting line..

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And we’re off!

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We rounded the mark (Ellie at anchor) and headed for the finish line!

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And I WON!!

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Alyssa making jerry can covers.  Huge thanks to Beach Access for lending us the machine!

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Cheers and Feliz Navidad from Paradise!! 

We´re in Paradise! (Village Marina) in Puerto Vallarta!

We have been having the time of our lives and haven’t had time to write an update….so we took a few minutes between the air conditioned gym and our pool session to write!

We are in Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta.  This place is truly paradise, we could stay here forever.  The marina is world-class, beautiful and surrounded by towering palm trees.  There are gorgeous facilities including 4-5 pools (complete with water slides), air-conditioned gym, spa and lounge, tennis courts, a zoo with parrots, jaguars and tigers, live entertainment by the pool during the day (belly-flop contest yesterday) and every night (last night was country night complete with mechanical bull and line dancing), the beach is a short stroll away through the well manicured grounds, and the people are happy and friendly, the yacht club has high-speed internet and cheap food and drinks (awesome potluck last night – I told the best story and was awarded a free bottle of reposado!)……and we are enjoying all of this for only $25 USD per night!

Ellie got a fresh water bath upon arrival; our laundry is being washed and folded for a very reasonable price; the weather has been in the mid-80’s but cools down enough to make sleep comfortable; AND as an added bonus there are VERY FEW BUGS!!

It is REALLY nice to finally be at a place where we can enjoy a proper workout in the morning.  It has been over four months since we had access to a real gym.  And let me tell you, four months of mostly sitting in the cockpit during passages and not working out sure takes it’s toll on the waistline!

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We sailed from Chacala to Punta Mita last week and spent the night anchored off the beach, then sailed to La Cruz for a few days and anchored out.  We made a huge provisioning run to the Mega (like a huge Mexican WalMart or Target) to restock our canned goods supply.

Then we participated in the Latitude 38 sponsored Banderas Bay Splash and Blast.  Last Friday we sailed to Paradise Village on the Latitude 38 catamaran Profligate and enjoyed free breakfast at the yacht club before sailing back to La Cruz.  Then on Sunday

 

 we raced on our friends 44ft catamaran Skabenga and had a great time.  Then Sunday we entered Ellie in the race and raced upwind to Punta Mita and attended the beach party – where we were inducted as members of the Punta Mita Yacht Club! (and were subjected to the requisite paddle spanking)  Then on Mondaywe sailed downwind to Paradise Village and got our first night free!

Keep your eyes open for the next issue of Latitude 38 – Alyssa will be plastered all over the thing and we will even have our own interview in there!

Now we understand why cruisers get here and never leave.  It’s a very beautiful place and we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  Not sure how long we will stay here but it will definitely be a few more days.  It’s very hard to get in to this marina – we emailed twice in the last month trying to make a reservation but each time they said they were over-booked and the next open slip was in February!  We got to know the harbor master, Dick, and I think he likes us so we may be able to stay a while longer.  Just wish our cruising kitty would allow us to stay a month!!

If anyone gets a wild hair to book a last minute flight and come down for the holidays, shoot us an email.  We’ll save a lounge chair by the pool.

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Chillin’ in Chacala

We have been anchored off the beach in Chacala for a couple days now and are enjoying every minute of it!  Chacala is a quaint little beach town on a long stretch of white sand beach tucked in the lee of a palm tree clad point.  There are nice homes on the hills and beach palapa bars along the waterfront. 

I went spearfishing today and saw tons of beautiful fish that were just too pretty to shoot….maybe if we didn’t still have tuna in the freezer I would have brought a few home…but they lucked out today and I enjoyed watching them go about their daily routines.

We found a few shops in town that had beautiful Huichol art and we bought a few pieces – check out the pictures below.  I already mounted them on the boat.  They are made from yarn and beads.  Very beautiful and the stories and meaning behind the pieces are awesome.  The yarn art with the figure in the middle is a ceremony the natives perform before planting corn; each object in the art is a different aspect of the ceremony.  The cow skull is covered in the sun (power), wolves (knowledge and wisdom) and scorpions (protectors of peyote).  The eclipse represents the union between a man and a woman.

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San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

We have been having a blast here in San Blas all week.  Our morning dilemma consists of a decision between going ashore, where we are anchored, and hanging out in the hammocks at the beach palapas or taking the four mile dinghy ride in to San Blas to eat delicious pork tacos and cocos frios while people watching in the square.  

Yesterday we took the panga tour through the jungle to see huge crocodiles and swim in the fresh water springs.  It was a blast.  

Here are some pictures from the past week…

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Anchored in Paradise – Bahia Mantachen – San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

Hey all,

This morning we sailed the 45 miles from Isla Isabela and dropped our hook in the middle of picturesque Bahia Mantachen just before1:00pm.  We have covered just over 280 nautical miles since leaving Puerto los Cabos on Saturday.  Bahia Mantachen is absolutely gorgeous with towering lush green mountains to the east, palm tree-lined gold sand beaches all around and not another boat in sight!

The weather is equally amazing with current temp around 88 degrees and 65% humidity.  Sunny clear skies and puffy cumulus clouds over the mountain tops.

We plan to hang out here until the wind returns on Friday, when we will make the arduous (ok not really) 2nm passage into the protection of the San Blas estuary.

We are excited to relax and explore this great area.  I am particularly excited about the local markets where the native Nayarit Huichol Indian women visit from far away villages to sell their intricate bead art.  We were introduced to it in San Jose del Cabo (at inflated prices of course); the artwork is very beautiful and the symbolism intriguing.

Hope everyone is having a great week.

Please excuse us while we launch the dinghy and go find the beach palapa that the music is emanating from ;-)

Downwind It Is! We crossed the Sea of Cortez to the main land!

We crossed the Sea of Cortez! When we left San Jose del Cabo, we were expecting to have an easy six hour sail up the coast of Baja to stay in Los Frailes, the easternmost point on the Baja peninsula. As soon as we rounded the SE corner of Baja, however, we were met with bashing seas and 20kts on the nose! That was going to be a very uncomfortable and wet ride to an anchorage that didn’t look like it had that much protection… plus… it was going in the wrong direction! North? Who wants to go north in the winter?! So we fell off by about 90 degrees and headed towards Mazatlan. We held this course for about 40 nautical miles, but the seas were getting oh-so-uncomfortable and I needed to make dinner down below. That is extremely difficult to do when the swells were getting so big, we were both getting seasick even while looking out over the horizon. How am I supposed to go down below, while getting thrown around and not have the pot fly off the stove? So we made another change in course and turned further south. With a deep beam reach headed far downwind, we ate like kings (Mac and cheese haha), slept like babies (in 5 hour shifts of course), and sailed towards Isla Isabela, a very small island off the mainland near San Blas, Nayarit.

The second night Lewis took first shift, 8-midnight. When it was his time to sleep, he only got about 2 hours in when I saw a bright light on the dark horizon. At first I thought it was the island lighthouse, but as we got closer I realized it was a cluster of lights. And I mean, MANY LIGHTS. We were slowly (4kts) approaching into a sea full of trawling commercial fishermen whose navigation lights look like Christmas trees. Red on top of two whites on top of a green? They’re going WHICH way?!??? As it turns out, there were about 12 boats trawling (we think nets, less than 50m long) according to our “Pocket Rules of the Road, 2nd Edition” by Ocean Navigator, Professional Mariner according to COLREGS (The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea). It took us a good 3 hours to navigate directly through them all and then Lewis finally got to bed.

I took an extra long shift since I knew Lewis would have to navigate us into the anchorage as soon as the sun rose and there was enough light to spot submerged pinnacles, well known on this island. We made perfect timing to approach exactly at sunrise. As we enter the south cove, we see that the island is covered in birds (and very smelly bird poop) and everything is rock, including the bottom of the anchorage. There was one boat taking up the very center of the cove with submerged rocks almost on all sides. Plus the huge swell from the last 3 days of wind were wrapping around and making a horrifying breaking noise every 2 minutes on the surrounding cliffs. I’m fed up and so exhausted; I say we keep going another 60 miles to San Blas. Lewis is determined to check out the east side where there are statue-like rock spires sticking out of the water. We drop anchor just south of the one that looks like a turtle head and I pass out for a good 6 hours while Lewis fishes, reads and does a Spanish lesson. We celebrated that evening with crab cakes, thinking that was our last long/overnight passage until we cross the Pacific. Little did we know the wind shifted around 2am, putting us in uncomfortably shallow water with Mr. Turtle Head as our lee shore. Thankfully we were already on anchor watch because you cannot set an anchor when it’s a rock bottom. And the cruising guides both say that these anchorages are nicknamed Anchor Eaters. This is because the anchors can get caught under/around a boulder, especially if you drift because the wind shifts and your chain drags and wraps around all of the pinnacles and coral, all while you’re surrounded by cliffs. It’s much safer to drop your chain and leave the anchor behind than risk losing your boat. Thankfully our anchor came up easily and we are on our way to Mantanchen Bay in San Blas, Nayarit. We’re thinking we might stay for a week. After all, we have sailed about 1037 nautical miles since leaving Ensendada only 3 weeks ago…