Jan 7, 2006

PARADISE TO TENACATITA...

Although our stay was way to short, Guadalajara was an incredible city. The Cathedral is the most amazing structure with such rich history behind it, it felt a little like we imagine being in Europe would feel (we have to imagine it because we've never been there... only our kids have! - What's wrong with this picture??) We were able to see some of the wonderful museums in the center of the city as well as the outlying plazas. It was truly mind-boggling for we two small town Big Bearians! We will try to get back to the City some time during our stay in Mexico.

We were able to do some provisioning in Puerto Vallarta while we had the car, which makes it much more convenient. Provisioning can be much more of an ordeal when you have to take a long bumpy crowded bus ride in and out of the city carrying heavy (read - Beer) and bulky items ... not to mention then transporting them by dinghy out to your boat and hoping the surf doesn't swamp the dinghy in the process. By the time we got back to our anchorage the swells in the bay were getting bigger by the hour. By the afternoon the swells coming into the anchorage area were about 6 feet+ which meant that they could start breaking right on many of the 60 boats anchored in the bay. We were anchored in about 17 feet of water so we moved out to about 25+ feet and re-anchored to help keep out of the swell. It was a long and rocky night at anchor. One of the boats that did not re-anchor that night ended up sinking. We are hearing reports from So Calif that the surf is about the biggest anyone has ever seen at many of the beaches - which is why the swells are so big in the normally calm bay we are anchored in. Did any of you back home go surfin'??

Although we skipped the present thing this Christmas, I spent one day cooking a blackberry cobbler and cinnamon rolls. The blackberry cobbler was to take with us to our friends, Gail and Houston, for dinner that evening. The cinnamon rolls were to give to our cruising friends in the anchorage for Christmas morning. My baking day took two calls home to Vicki - who is our Onyx neighbor and expert chef and cinnamon roll maker. I tried to be Martha Stewart but I think her kitchen is bigger than my 4' by 5' galley and her oven is bigger than my 10" by 12" oven?! I also don't think she burns as many things as I do. A few "toasted" batches later I was able to get the hang of it ... sort of. In reality we have all the room we need and have learned to live quite well in the space we have. On Christmas Eve we delivered Cinnamon Rolls to about 10 of our boat buddies in the anchorage then went to Philos to meet up with about 100 other cruisers. He had about 5 turkeys and everyone brought dishes to share. Santa came in about 7pm and we distributed gift bags, that Philo and all the cruisers prepared, to about 350+ local children. It was very special to see all those little kids coming to see Santa and dressed in their best clothes. I got to be Santa's helper for a little while which was very special?

Our first Christmas living on the boat was a memorable one. We shared a potluck dinner at "Foxes" with about 40 other cruisers. Had a great dinner and gift exchange and then went back to MaiTaiRoa's boat with Spirit and Two Can Play for cocktails. We all checked into the Southbound Evening Net (where Jerry on Po'OinoRoa was the net control,) and became known as the Christmas "Roa" club for the night. Great day to be thankful for all we have been blessed with this year.

Ken continues to work on the alternator and has now figured out how to get it to produce more power - which is a really, really good thing living at anchor! Living on Solar energy for the last 18 years gave Ken a lot of experience that most cruisers don't have. It has come in handy for us and helped him troubleshoot some problems for others out here. He readily jumps in and helps fellow boaters with his mechanical skills; however, when it comes to a stopped up toilet he draws the line. On a boat it is not a question as to whether or not your head has ever stopped up ... it is a question of when, as they ALL do... no matter what!!

The big swells continued throughout the week between Christmas and New Years. Ken took advantage of them and went boogie boarding with Caston, near Punta de Mita a few times. As mentioned before, the swells are great for surfing but not necessarily for sleeping at anchor. We have a 3' by 10' swim step on the back of the boat, about 5 inches away from where our heads are when we are sleeping. It sits in such a way that when the swells or chop rolls in, they slap the swim step (5 inches from our ears) in such a way that you would swear someone is banging on the outside of the boat with a sledge hammer! Don't feel too sorry for us though... we can always move to the front cabin where it is a little quieter most of the time (which is our "guest" cabin if any of you come to visit!) Although we like being on the hook, staying in a marina is a luxury! It is not as rolly, allows one to wash the boat with FRESH water, makes it easier to work on the boat, and provides better access to parts stores, shops, restaurants, etc. For the most part it is great but does eat into the cruising kitty a lot if you are not careful. When we arrived in PV all the marinas had been sold out for months, which was OK with us. However, when our friends on a big catamaran (Sarabi) said they were leaving their slip in "Paradise Village" for a few days and asked us if we wanted to use it, they did not hear us stutter when we said "yessssss!" We spent three days at Paradise Village which is an entire resort in and of itself. It is more of a Las Vegas type of facility with everything from fancy restaurants, a shopping mall, exotic animals (like our neighbor Randy's,) and we were right next to our Trawler Trash buddies on Maestra which made it even better.

A few years ago, Jo & Adie (our sister and brother in law) met up with a crazy couple in San Diego the night before the couple was leaving to go cruising in Mexico (on a trawler!) for an undetermined length of time. There names are George and JoAnne and they have been cruzin’ on their boat “Kalinga” ever since. We have been following their logs and emailing from time to time, living vicariously through them for the last two years…… as we continued to dream of doing what they were doing! Well we knew our paths would cross one day….. they ended up in the marina right next to the one we were staying in. We hit it off instantly, were able to meet for dinner one night and will be hooking up with them again as we head further south.

New Years Eve it was back to the LaCruz anchorage where we spent the evening with friends and brought the New Years in in royal fashion! We even stayed up until after midnight for the first time in years. Loren and Patty emailed us to tell us he had two tickets waiting for us at Snow Summit, so we could ski the torchlight with them that night… knowing that we wouldn’t want to break the 10++ year tradition of bringing In the New Year by skiing down the mountain with torches in hand…. not mention poaching a few extra runs on the mountain after the lights were out! We considered it (for 2 seconds) but decided it was not worth the $1,000 in transportation costs to get us there? Come to find out that due to lack of snow they had to cancel it anyway!! Hey Brent & Bonnie – does that mean that we will see you down here soon?!?!

We left LaCruz de Huanacaxtle January 3rd, after being there almost a month and headed south again. We saw LOTs of whales as we left Bandaris Bay and worked our way around Cabo Corrientos to the Ipala anchorage the first night. We saw as many as 6 whales at a time coming as close as 100 feet from the boat…. what a spectacular site! The following day we headed to the next anchorage - Chamela. Although friends Neil and Elaine on Senjero, left Ipala after us, they arrived at Chamela hours before we did. They are on a 57” Nordhaven that goes about 8++ knots per hour - about 2-3 knots faster than us. We are not too jealous though… they burn 4.5 gallons of diesel per hour – 2.5+ gallons an hour more than we do! Tried our luck at fishing and were able to catch a few nights worth of dinner along the way! Although we planned on staying in Chamela and nearby anchorages for 3 or 4 days, the winds chased us out of there the next morning. We followed the parade of boats out of the anchorage where we followed each other to Tenacatita Bay which is more protected from the winds.

As we entered Tenacatita Bay, Houston from Blew Moon kayaked out to meet us as we noticed the bay was full of many boats/friends we had met along the way. The anchorage is surrounded by beach, palm trees, a small palapa, and a big hotel complex (that doesn’t allow cruisers to visit.) Behind the beach there is a small inlet where you can take your dinghy on a “Jungle Cruise”…. Just like Disneyland – minus the hippopotamus! We followed the inlet back about four miles where the mangroves become very dense with a canopy cover. As much it appeared that we should see monkeys, poisonous snakes, crocodiles, or Tarzan jumping out at us, the fiercest animal I found in the jungle was Killer Ken! In Tenacatita, the cruisers have organized themselves well. There is a Mayor (i.e. the person who has been in the bay the longest), Friday night raft ups, daily swims, Botchy Ball, and games. I have even been initiated into the world of being a “Net Control” while anchored here. Cruiser “nets” are set up at a scheduled time when all cruisers dial into a specific frequency on their SSB/HAM/VHF radios. Each net has a net controller that runs the net for a specific day. There are local nets, that discuss what is happening in one specific area and other nets where they cover hundreds of miles of cruising ground. They are very cool and provide a great service because they cover everything from emergency traffic to weather, boat check in’s to know where boats are, relays, local information on where to find parts/services, who’s leaving that can take mail to the states or Canada for other boats, lost and found, what is going on in specific areas, as well as an opportunity to ask other boaters for assistance when needed.

We are currently in Tenacatita which is about 10 miles north of Barra de Navidad, and is part of the section of Mexico they call the “Gold Coast.” We expect to bounce between here and Chamela to the north and Manzanillo to the south for the next month. I am flying to Colorado February 6th to see Kim and help her look for wedding dresses. Keri and mom are also flying in. Sister Diane and brother Tim live there so I am looking forward to a “family fix” for a week. Ken will stay on the boat, probably in Manzanillo until I return on his birthday – February 13th? He is on the prowl for a topless beach to visit while I am away….. luckily there aren’t any that we know of in Mexico…. guess he’ll have to settle for a photo of me!

That’s what we have been up to, so until next time……… We hope that you are all well and you have a great 2006!!

Much love,
Ken & Dottie

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