February 6 through March 23, 2006

Heading North Again

As one day melds into the other, it is hard to believe we have been “out here” for six months already. I know some of you probably thought we dropped off the face of the earth because we were sending updates at least once a month and now it has been three months since our last one!

Many have asked us “what’s so different about living on a boat in Mexico and living at home in Big Bear? How is life different and in what ways is it alike?” As you can see in some of our logs we have attempted to give you a look inside our cool but weird lifestyle. You could liken it to living in earthquake country – the rocking & sometime turbulent bumps and rolls…. It is just a little more predictable out here. Because we lived off road, in snow country, on solar energy, it is not as different for us as it is for some cruising friends who are used to paying their water, electric, and gas bills and simply flipping on a switch for electricity, turning on a faucet for all the fresh/warm water they need, and turning up their furnaces/stoves for heat and cooking. Everyday things like going to the store for groceries can become an all day event. Calling or emailing friends are no longer a matter of just picking up the phone or turning on the computer. When your “home or car” breaks you can generally get the parts you need within a few days. Try asking for directions, interpreting labels, reading menus, understanding instructions, etc. when you don’t know the language….. challenging…. but fun and eventful for us!

I, Dottie had a great trip to Colorado in early February. It was about 80+ degrees and I was in shorts, a tank top and thongs when Ken put me on a bus in Barra de Navidad for the 5 hour ride to Puerto Vallarta airport. My body went into shock when I was at Kim’s house in Breckenridge a few days later and the temperature was -22 degrees… yes that was minus 22 degrees! It was a great trip and it was good to spend time with the kids, Kim & Keri, mom, as well as sister Diane and brother Tim’s families. While I was in Colorado Ken cruised between Barra and Tenacatita, worked on boat projects and became a little bit of a hermit. After a week he greeted me at the bus stop in Barra(on his birthday Feb. 13th) with a dozen roses and said I wasn’t allowed to leave again – boating alone is not for everyone. I noticed his hand was bandaged and asked what happened……… remember those boat projects?? He was using the skill saw and cut the web of his hand between his thumb and index finger. Being the resourceful person that he is he proceeded to locate a sewing needle and some fishing line and stitch himself up. He said he had a shot of tequila between each stitch he put in … luckily he only put in 3 stitches!

The following day was Valentines Day and time to celebrate Ken’s birthday. It also happened to be Geno, on Chaletmer’s birthday as well. Geno & Patty decided to step up and rent a room at the Grand Bay Hotel in Barra and invite a group of about 15 of us to join in the festivities with them. We have attached a copy of a letter that our friends on Catn’ About submitted to a yachting magazine that describes much of that days events better than we could… hope you enjoy it. Disco dancing in Mexico makes for a truly memorable event.

We took a bus ride and traveled inland to Colima with Maestra and Catn’ About. Rooms were extremely simple with no real amenities but at $19 apiece it was a great deal. We wandered around and saw some other towns and more historical museums. One evening we tried to find a restaurant that was listed in our “Peoples Guide to Mexico” handbook. After walking around for what seemed like miles, we asked a Mexican family on the side of the street for directions only to find out that the restaurant we were looking for was out of business. In true Mexican hospitality, they offered (& we accepted) to drive all six of us across town to one of their favorite restaurants.

Before leaving Barra we were able to see our friend Sally Derevan, who had flown in to spend time with her boyfriend who lives in Barra and runs a local guide book. He had a party to welcome Sally to town so we had the opportunity to do some long overdue catching up (we hadn’t seen her in almost 10 years) as well as meeting several of the local residents around town.

After spending our time between Manzanillo, Santiago, Barra, and Tenacatita for almost eight weeks we began heading north again, back towards Puerto Vallarta and the Sea of Cortez at the end of February. First stop was a place called Carayes that the guide books describe as being “one of those picturesque hideaways you dreamed about before you started cruising. Swaying coconut palms, flowering jungle vines, crystalline water over white sand, a beach café where you can lounge in the shade and watch your boat swinging at anchor.” It is a small anchorage and we were one of only two boats anchored there (aside from the local pongas.) The hotel there is one that is listed in guidebooks as one of the best in the world (not just Mexico) and to think they are paying to look out at our little ol’ boat in the harbor? All along the coast in this area there are million dollar ++ villa’s perched on the top of bluffs that are truly spectacular to see from the waters edge. From there we went north to Chamela, another great little village 75 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. For at least 10 miles we saw literally billions of jelly fish in the water that at times were so thick our depth finder would clog up and say we were in 10 feet of water when we were really in 50 feet of water. While in Chamela we ran into “Second Wind” (Marjorie & Bill from Alaska) who we met last November in LaPaz and hoped we would see again along the way. They told of stories of him being on a fishing boat in Alaska that sunk and he had to be air rescued. The only thing that kept him going was that he had a survival suit that he said he would give us when we go to Alaska. The night before we left Chamela the old gang showed up and we had a get together on “At Last” (Mike & Neila) for a really fun evening which included lots of oldies and “boat lyric” sing alongs. By the way…. who the heck is Alice anyway??

In order to get around Cabo Corrientes (a cape area just outside of the entrance to Bandaras Bay/Puerto Vallarta, known for strong currents a rough weather) during the calmest morning hours, we left Chamela at 7 pm and arrived back in LaCruz by noon the next day, March 6th. After not being in a marina since November (aside from a few days during Christmas) we checked into Marina Vallarta to clean up, do some boat projects, and prepare for sister Diane & Mike to arrive for a visit. We had a great visit with them and they were happy to have come from the snows of Colorado to the warmth of Mexico. We anchored out one night and did some fishing to no avail? Mike being the great white (& I mean white) hunter we were hoping he would be able to catch “the big one” but fishing in the area was not good for anyone during the period of time they were here. We drug them around to meet many of our friends who were staying in Marina Vallarta as well. While Diane & I shopped (the guys favorite thing – not!,) Ken & Mike finished up some of the electric work that needed to be done on the boat (new outlets, and 12 volt connections) which was a welcome addition. Marina Vallarta was full with many boats that either had guests arriving to visit during the month of March or boats preparing to do the “puddle jump” to the Marquises.

Diane & I sewed wind screens for our friend Ross on Kabuki, (remember the guy from Alaska/Africa who sold/gave us the “pity rod” several months ago) who is now in the middle of the ocean on his way to the South Pacific. We have been able to track many of our friends as they do the 3000 mile crossing via sailmail, which has been very cool. We remember when Ken sailed to Hawaii last spring on a boat that did not have any communications so we never knew where or how they were for the 22 days it took to cross. Telecommunications have come such a long way, we were even able to (sorta) track our niece Heather from out here while she was doing another one of her crazy Adventure races across the mountains of Chili a few months ago!

We brought our Atlas with us and have continued to do lots of “armchair traveling” while we are out here. So many of the cruisers down here are from the Pacific Northwest and one particular morning we broke out a map of the “Inland Passage” area that goes from Seattle to Alaska. Boy did that ever get the juices flowing to want to get up to Alaska before too much time goes by. Understand that with cruisers (& everyone else for that matter) plans seem to change almost as often as one changes their underwear…. we began thinking, what happens if we keep heading south and once we get through the Panama Canal to the “other side,” we decide we don’t want to bring the boat back to the west coast?? perhaps we should head north before we go all the way south?? Therefore, to assure we won’t miss seeing the Pacific Northwest and Alaska by boat, we are now planning to bring the boat back to California at the end of June and begin working our way northward in August. Sister Jo & Adie have bought a new boat and will take delivery in Seattle in the fall. Our plans are now to meet up with them and do some buddy boating next fall and winter and then all head up to Alaska for the following summer. After that, provided we still love it and can still afford it, we will come back to Mexico and places further south... we think!

We are waiting for a good weather window to do the “southern crossing” back to the Baja side sometime before the end of March. We’ll keep you posted! We think of our friends and family often and hope you are all well, happy, and that winter is almost over for most of you!

Love to all,
Ken & Dottie

Supplement to Ken & Dottie's (Dreamweaver's) Log

Note: We could not have explained our Valentines Day as well as our friends on Catn’ About did, who submitted their story to a cruising magazine, so we attached their rendition of the day (of which we shared in.)

How did you spend your Valentines Day?

Valentines Day in Mexico is much the same as in the US, however, when you live aboard a boat full time it has a few differences. It's very hard to sneak away and get your spouse something as she is always with me. Next every square inch of our 30x15 boat is already filled with stuff and she doesn't need anything else. Now, I can hear the girls now… jewelry doesn't take up much space... however, Linda doesn't wear jewelry.

So we mutually decided on a nice dinner, steak and prawns. We also had some business to take care of so we loaded the laptop into the waterproof backpack then into the dinghy and into town to shop and do our internet chores.

We stopped at the carniceria (butcher shop) I asked the butcher for Filet Mignon in my bad Spanish, he smiled and said "se", he then pulled out a 4 lb filet. I told him I wanted two small steaks, he smiled and told me I had to buy the whole thing, I declined.

After a few more sentences of my bad Spanish he showed me a hunk of beef I'm not sure what part of the animal it was but he cut me a huge steak out of it. The meat was frozen and he put it in a plastic bag which I dropped into the backpack.

Off we went to the internet to take care of a couple of emails, as always these things take longer than planned. What we thought was going to be a couple of minutes turned into a couple of hours. However, we completed our business and started to pack away the laptop, Linda reached into the backpack and removed the meat bag as I turned toward her she was unaware that the meat had thawed and blood was dripping everywhere! It looked like Lizzy Borden had visited the internet café we had blood everywhere! It took us about 10 minutes to clean the place up. The clerk was very happy to see us leave.

Well, with that little incident behind us we continued on to pick up some fresh prawns.

I had seen a couple guys selling flowers alongside the road and being the romantic I am I strolled over and asked him how much the flowers were. Now after a month of Spanish class you would think that was an easy question, well my Spanish is better but my hearing is worse. I thought the guy said 2 for 50 pesos, what he said was 12 for 50 pesos. So I pointed to the white the red and the purple thinking I would get 6 total. When he bundled up the first dozen of purple I thought this is going to cost me a fortune. Sensing I didn't understand he smiled and asked "is that enough", "se" was my response, he got 50 pesos, Linda got flowers and I got major brownie points.

While walking back to the boat we passed a cigar store, now this is a real artesian his family has been making cigars in this little store for three generations, he had leaf right there. With some encouragement from my wife I bought a nice robusto for after dinner. I couldn't resist. (I think she wants the insurance money).

We returned to the boat and were promptly met by friends who wanted to know where we had been. One of the things about cruising is there is always a party on some boat. Imagine stuffing a dozen of your close friends cheek to cheek in a 6x6 cockpit, then happily stuffing your face with appetizers and consuming cocktails and everyone talking very loudly at the same time. That's the standard party.

Well tonight it would be different..

Apparently it was one of the guy's birthdays and he thought he should treat himself. We're all anchored in the lagoon at Barra de Navidad where there is a very swanky resort. (Checkout the Grandbay resort on the net for pics) Rooms start at $400 a night. Apparently everyone was at the top pool already and had been wondering where we were. Well not to miss a party we changed into our swimsuits and headed for the resort, the small marina they have is very spendy, last week a large boat jammed the entrance almost closed, they had a dinghy larger than our boat. They also had a ten million dollar helicopter on the aft deck.

So we strolled into the place liked we owned it, there was the group lounging around the pool sucking down cocktails. Now I said they were at the top pool, they have several pools connected by water slides all surrounded by palm trees and lush plants it's a very tropical looking place.

However when our group arrived it might have changed a little, imagine a bunch of old guys after a cocktail or two pushing little kids out of the way so we could ride the water slides. Very uncivilized, but it sure was fun...

We then moved the party to the room which was on the top floor of the resort, to say this was the plushest hotel we had been in would be putting it mildly. Our party had gone from being jammed cheek to cheek to sprawling out on large couches, room service that delivered appetizers (we did bring our own booze though, those drinks are expensive).

I noticed Linda's eyes had a glaze to them and she was staring at the bathroom, a bathtub something she hadn't been in in a while. The party was going well people were spread all over the room, out on the balcony and one still drooling in the bathroom...

A bottle of very nice champagne was opened (Perrier Jouet) and the birthday toast was made, and then the whole gang went down to the restaurant for dinner. Linda & I decided to pass on the restaurant and go back to the boat for the surf and turf, the steak had been marinating all day in teriyaki. We did the shrimp scampi style then served them on a bed of salad. Linda smelled her flowers and I smoked my cigar quite an enjoyable evening, it would have very easy to go to bed and call it quits.

However, I had promised my wife music and possibly some dancing. So it's now 2200 we hop into the dinghy in the dark and head for town about a 10 minute dinghy ride. We arrive at the same time as the rest of the group although it's size had been cut in half. Seems after paying all that money for a room they wanted to use it and without the rest of us there (we know when we're not wanted).

Six of us find a table at the Sands hotel, the band has just taken a break but hey it's two for one cocktail's, so when in the tropics drink something tropical. I order a Pina Colada, Linda orders mineral water. The waiter of course brings me two drinks (it's two for one) and the conversation starts. Now we like to people watch like a lot of folks and commenting on them sometimes can be cruel but fun. Our latest victim is a mid forties women who has what looks like a rats nest in her hair but I think she teased it like that, a raspberry colored tee shirt with a rope tied around her ample waist followed by velvet purple very short hot pants, at first I thought she had painted her legs pink and white but it turned out to be tights. As if she knew we were talking about her she strolled over to our table with a hat and asked for a tip it seems she was the lead singer of the band. We explained we had just got here and hadn't heard any music yet; she smiled and said she would return. Well, the music started and she had a pretty good voice something like a cross between Tina Turner and Janis Joplin.

The drinks flowed and everyone was on the dance floor, now this was an older crowd average age 60 so the dancing was not sedate but not wild. John & Gaye decided to call it a night as it was midnight so we were down to four. The singer broke into a song and Ken hops up and does some funky squat dance over to the dance floor, no one else is up he continues dancing with himself and pointing at the singer, I assumed his wife Dottie would get up and dance with him. She looked over and said he does this every now and again, Ken is now getting wild on the dance floor and the crowd is cheering, a woman leaps out of the crowd with a grin on her face and a look in her eye of "I'm taking you home with me!" She begins to dance with Ken. From the table we can see Ken pointing wildly and without being able to hear I know he's telling her " hat's my wife and friends over there" and "I'm not single", she's trying to climb on him on the dance floor, the song ends and Ken runs for his seat.

It's 0100 and the music ends we each climb into our dinghy and head for the boats, just a short distance later we pass a disco that's rocking, Ken swerves his dinghy in to see what's going on, the next thing I know we're all walking thru the door, it's a 40 peso cover charge and the music is so loud you can't hear yourself think. Now, the average age of this crowd is 25, they're all leaping about on the dance floor that has strobe lights, black lights and fake smoke being blown on the dance floor. Ken screams in my ear "come on lets show them how it's done". It's amazing how good you think you are after some drinks. Now Mexican discos are a little different, it's a live band and they have a tuba!! they're playing what sounds like polka music on crack, the kids are wrapped around each other and hopping in place. We follow suit and dance until about 0230 (my left hip hurts so bad this morning and I don't know why, thank God for Advil it's the old guys drug of choice). We dinghy back to the boats and like small children do donuts around a friends boat to wake them up at almost 3am, we giggle driving off to our own boat with out looking back thinking they won't know it us.

Hope you all had fun on your Valentines Day.

Written by:
Rob & Linda on “Catn’ About”

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