Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Highway through Bucerias
While I had been at the music festival in Bucerias, Scott had made an attempt to reassemble the generator, but had stuck his pocket knife through the metal fitting between the exhaust manifold and the exhaust elbow.  Monday, we went off on another quest to get that repaired.  We took the bus to Mezcales and picked up a few things at the bolt store.  Unfortunately, the plumbing store next door did not have the 1 ½ “ by 2” piece of threaded iron pipe we needed.  We then walked a couple of blocks to a machine shop.  They agreed to remove the rusty piece of pipe from the manifold end plate and exhaust elbow, clean everything up and rethread the manifold plate for 300 pesos.  They promised to have it ready by 6 pm.  We then took the bus back to Bucerias to visit Ferre D’ Todo, where we were able to obtain the necessary piece of iron pipe.

We got back to the boat just in time for Scott to meet up with Mike from PV Sailing, who was coming to measure our boat for the used 150% headsail that he is cutting to fit Fool’s Castle.  When that was completed, Scott braved the trip back to the machine shop by himself, while I took a nap.  I hope this means he is starting to feel a bit more comfortable here.  They hadn’t finished when he arrived (of course), so he had to wait.  He did return with the parts in hand, however, and the work was satisfactory.  We had tamales for dinner and then I spent the evening working on my blog.

Scott spent Tuesday cutting new gaskets for the generator and reassembling the exhaust system.  It was hot and his back was bothering him, so Scott wasn’t too excited about working down in the engine compartment.  I spent the late morning and early afternoon, scraping varnish drips, epoxy, caulking and heaven knows what else off the starboard side of the boat.  It wasn’t as ugly as the port side had been, but it was still a lot of work.  There was a local woman scraping varnish off the boat next door and she offered me tips on how to get stains out of fiberglass.  I might get to that task, eventually, but I still have plenty of gook to get off the deck first.

My Favorite Butcher in La Cruz
Corner Grocery in La Cruz
When it got too hot to work on the deck anymore, I decided to go into town to get something to cook for dinner.  The last time I went into town and stopped at the Gecko Rojo for a beer, all the butcher shops were closed by the time I got out of there.  I figured they had closed at 5:00.  I stopped into the Gecko Rojo to get a schedule for the music festival in La Cruz and someone bought me a beer.  About 4:00, I declined a second beer and said, “I’ve got to go to the butcher shop before they close this time.”  The owner, Gregg, said, “Too late.  They close at 4:00.”  Not wanting Scott to think I was just hanging around drinking beer and not accomplishing my mission, I decided to try anyway.  The woman from Kenny’s butcher shop was mopping the floor, but she was still willing to sell me a kilo of chicken breasts.  We chatted for a bit and she told me that the La Cruz marina had been very expensive when they first opened, but had learned that they made more money with lower rates.  All the shop keepers were very happy with a marina full of customers for their enterprises.  I continued on to the grocery shop to get eggs, oranges and tortillas and then made my way back to the boat.

After dinner, Scott wanted to go to the Gecko Rojo to see Wolverine Immortal, which was featured at their movie night.  Many of the businesses around here have movie nights, since almost no one has television.  Apparently, it is very easy to get pirated copies of films here, because we have seen some very recent films.  I also learned that the local movie theater sells two tickets and a big bucket of popcorn for 108 pesos (<$10.)  They even have movies in English.  It would be fun to go if we were going to be here longer.  We had a nice, relaxing evening watching the film and didn’t get back to the boat until about 10:00 pm.

When we got home, we found Cole, a young man we had talked to about a crew position, waiting for us on the dock.  He had come in on the bus from Guadalajara.  We were tired, but we chatted for a few minutes, installed him in the forepeak, and went to bed.

Wednesday morning, Cole and I went in search of provisions for our trip south (Such faith!) while Scott worked on the generator.  First, we walked into town and bought beer and fruit, thinking it would save us from lugging heavy stuff back from Nuevo Vallarta.  We ran into Fabiola from our favorite restaurant at the market.  Then, we took the bus to the supermarket.  We ended up buying a lot of heavy stuff anyway.  Fortunately, Cole is a crossfitter, too, so we sucked it up and lugged 100 pounds of groceries home on the bus and then across La Cruz to the marina, figuring it was our workout for the day.

Thrilloblues Playing in the Bushes at Frascati
Our social schedule for Wednesday evening was too busy for me to cook dinner.  First, we went to the Gecko Rojo for a few games of Mexican Train dominoes.  Then I went to hear Thrilloblues at Frascati while Scott went to eat at our friend Fabiola’s restaurant.  Frascati is an Italian restaurant that somehow manages to be elegant, despite the fact that it is an open air restaurant located under a roof supported by tree trunks lashed together with manila rope.  The chandeliers are made from bundles of red wine bottles with halogen bulbs suspended inside of them.  There is a large raised planter at the back of the restaurant and they had located the band up there.  They were pretty much hidden by the bushes, which made it hard to see the musicians, but the sound was OK.  I splurged and had calamari and shrimp and a glass of merlot.  They served amazing warm fresh bread with sesame seeds and garlic in olive oil and both habanero and chipotle dips for the seafood.  They weren’t exactly Italian, but they were tasty. 

After the Thrilloblues set, I scurried over to Philo’s to meet Scott and listen to Luna Rumba.  Luna Rumba is the band formed by Geo and Cheko who had played at the benefit last week.  They play flamenco fusion and they are truly amazing.  If you like the Gypsy Kings, you’ll enjoy Luna Rumba.  Cheko plays rhythm guitar and sings.  Geo plays both lead guitar and wild gypsy violin.  He gives me goosebumps.  You can check out their music at www.reverbnation.com/lunarumbaTheir songs are available for download at Amazon.  Scott was sitting at the bar with my friend, Ron, and Sonja, the woman who does our laundry.  Ron was conversing with her using google translator on his laptop.  I guess technology does sometimes help us make human connections.

I went for a five mile run on Thursday morning and then finished up cleaning the crud off the starboard side of the boat.  Scott sent me on a mission to Mezcales to pick up a selection of bolts from the bolt store and I wanted to buy some acetone to clean the grime off our emergency fender that was leaving marks all over my now clean deck.  I took the bus to Mezcales and went to the bolt shop and then stopped into the hardware store to look for acetone.  They didn’t have it and suggested that I got to the pharmacy to get nail polish remover.  I then went to the paint store.  They didn’t have it, either, but told me where there was a Dupont outlet.  I crossed the highway on the pedestrian bridge and set off toward the Dupont store, but I ran across an auto paint store on the way and figured they had to have acetone.  They did, indeed, and were willing to put a liter in a bottle for me.

I hopped back on the bus and went out to my bank in Nuevo Vallarta to get money to pay for the headsail that PV Sailing is making for us.  I then took the bus to the Mega just outside Bucerias.  I had been passing the Mega for weeks and decided to check it out.  I had heard varying opinions as to who owns Mega, but it appears from the brands offered to be owned by Costco, although they sell in normal quantities.  It’s a nice store.  I managed to get more lemon lime Gatorade powder and a big bag of almonds.
I had seen a music store on the far edge of Bucerias and foolishly thought I could easily walk there from the Mega.  I managed to walk there, but it was probably two miles along the highway, sometimes on the highway.  I was looking for a ukulele or small guitar, but didn’t find anything cheap enough to tempt me.  From Bucerias, I took a bus back to La Cruz.

Tatewari at Masala
The music festival was in full swing, so we went out to listen to Tatewari and then stopped briefly at Philo’s to hear Philo’s band.  Tatewari was playing at Masala, which despite the Indian name is an elegant Italian restaurant.  They must have been trying to tone themselves down for the small venue, because they sounded more like a jazz lounge band than their usual energetic flamenco selves.  They did finish with a humorous medley of classic Mexican songs.  Philo’s band was murdering some of my favorite Emmylou Harris songs and we didn’t stay long.

Interior of Profligate
Richard at the Helm of Profligate
The Crazy Crew of Capricorn Cat
All the way through the HaHa, Michelle really wanted to get aboard the flagship, Profligate, a 60’ catamaran.  Friday morning, the owner Richard, was giving rides from La Cruz to the Vallarta Yacht Club in Paradise Village, so I hopped aboard.  I needed to go to Nueva Vallarta in search of 8D batteries, anyway, which was my excuse for goofing off and going for a boat ride.  We had a lovely ride over and a nice breakfast at the Vallarta Yacht Club while we listened to their spiel about the club.  We then had a free hour in Paradise Village, so I went to the Vallarta Chandlery and inquired about batteries.  We could get them delivered on Monday for slightly less than it would cost to take a taxi to Auto Zone and get them ourselves on Saturday.
Vallarta Yacht Club

While I was out gadding about the bay, Scott and Cole put the generator back together.  I went to play a game of volleyball in the pool with Richard from Latitude 38 and some of the other folks who had been on the boat earlier.  While I was gone, they got the generator started and Scott summoned me out of the pool to tell me the good news.  I came back on worked a while on cleaning the emergency fender and Scott eventually got the generator running and even producing electricity.  Success!  Ice maker!  Now we just need batteries and we can leave.

 Saturday, we got up in the morning and Scott and Cole heaved the 140 pound batteries out of the boat and into dock carts.  We called Ezequiel, our friendly taxi driver from the time we took the generator head to El Pittilal, and he arrived almost immediately.  We loaded the batteries into his trunk and headed off to Auto Zone.  First, we had to go to the bank.  The ATMs were functioning erratically and there was a long line.  The mall wasn’t swarming like it would have been in the US 10 days before Christmas, but there may have been more customers than usual, adding to the backup at the bank.  We waited in line for at least a half an hour before Scott was able to validate his new credit card.  We then crossed the parking lot to Auto Zone and purchased a couple of new 8D batteries and some oil filters for the generator.

Cole at the Helm
Back at the boat, Cole and I made our crossfit instructors proud by heaving the 140 pound batteries back up onto the boat.  He and Scott then jockeyed them back into place and Scott reconnected them.  I had intended for us to leave around 10 PM so as to miss the winds around Cabo Corrientes, but Scott didn’t want to pay for another night in the marina and preferred to leave right away, instead of anchoring for a few hours.  This wreaked havoc with my plans to barbeque chicken for dinner, but I threw it in the oven, instead, and we pulled out of La Cruz about 5:00.

We headed south across Banderas Bay and made for a point a few miles off Cabo Corrientes.  Instead of arriving there at two in the morning when the winds had died down, we arrived around 9:00 at night when they were at their strongest.  I’m sure it wasn’t blowing more than 20 knots, but the seas were large and we were rocking and rolling.  For my 8:00 to midnight watch, I had to stand with one foot braced against each side of the cockpit to keep from falling over, which is kind of a stretch for me.  Since there are only three of us and Cole is new to sailing, Scott and I are doing four hours on and four hours off.  Cole is sharing two hours of each of our watches, but we are each alone at the helm for two hours.  This was the first time I had been alone at the helm on this trip.  It was strenuous and I wasn’t really able to sleep after I was relieved because it was so rough.  I do like being alone at the helm at night, though.  Next time I do a night watch, I will remember to bring my iPod, though.  I could have used tunes.

Islands in Bahia Chamela
The winds started to calm down about 2 AM and conditions were actually pretty pleasant by the time I came back on deck at 4:00 AM.  It was actually fairly cool out there.  I was wearing the long sleeved t-shirt I was given by the tourism board in La Cruz (and was certain I would never wear) and a pair of capris, the most clothing I had worn since Bahia Santa Maria.  Sunrise was fairly unspectacular after the consistently gorgeous sunrises in La Cruz.  It was, however, nice to be able to see where we were going.  We coasted southeast a few miles offshore, past Roca Negra, and into Bahia Chamela where we anchored close to shore on the NW end of the bay just after noon.

My intention was to fire up the watermaker and fill our tank there in Chamela, but I first had to clean the system, since we hadn’t used it in a couple of weeks.  To clean the watermaker, I have to cycle a cleaning solution through it for a few hours.  I started that process and then we ate roast beef quesadillas and went for a swim.  I dove down and tried, unsuccessfully, to clean the paddlewheel on the knot meter.  Well, I was successful in cleaning it, but not successful in making the knot meter work.  Since we can’t lower the swim ladder without first lowering the dinghy, Cole and Scott had to haul me back up onto the boat, since we have a lot of freeboard.  That was embarrassing.  I finished cleaning the watermaker, but the pump was leaking air into the system, so we weren’t getting any water out of it, just air bubbles.  That threw a wrench into my plans to visit other anchorages on the way to Manzanillo because we were almost out of fresh water.

We did have enough water left to make spaghetti and have a nice dinner in the cockpit with a bottle of good red wine.  It was nice and cool out there.  We had been somewhat concerned about forecasted southerlies making the anchorage rolly, but we passed a very calm night.  There isn’t much in Chamela and everything closed up tighter than a drum at sunset.  There were no loud bar bands keeping us awake and we all slept like babies.

Los Frailes
Monday morning, we got up with the sun and resumed our journey at 10:00 AM.  We headed south out of Bahia Chamela and then turned southeast around Punta Etiopia and followed the coast down, past Los Frailes, to Punta Hermanas and then across Bahia Tentacatita (Alas, our water situation caused us to miss that anchorage.), Around Cabeza de Navidad and into Bahia de Navidad and finally up the estuary to the Marina at Barra de Navidad.  The marina is associated with the Wyndham Gran Bay Hotel and it is very posh.  I feel like I am in Italy, rather than Mexico, until I try to take a shower and there isn’t any hot water.   Because we participated in the Ha-Ha, we get an incredible rate of 60 cents per foot.  The usual rate is $2.73 per foot.  For our $25/night, we get access to the hotel internet, pool, lobby and beach.  The grounds are gorgeous and it is a real steal.  The only problem is that we are on the opposite side of the estuary from the town of Barra de Navidad, so we have to take a water taxi across.  The taxis do operate 24/7.  Cole managed to go out to meet a friend for the evening and get back to the boat without incident.

Marina and Hotel in Barra de Navidad
Tuesday morning, the radio woke me up at 6:10, so I got up and went for a run.  I ran around the hotel property, which encompasses the entire point between the estuary and the bay.  There is a Pemex station and an attached fuel dock on one side of the marina and some empty buildings that once housed a yacht club and restaurants on the other side.  After running all around the marina, I headed up the hill (the first hill I had run up since leaving Benicia) and then down into the town of Colmilla.  It’s a tiny town, but there are a few restaurants, a laundry, and a grocery store where I can recharge my Mexican phone minutes.  On my way back up the hill, I encountered two friendly teenage dogs that wanted to chase me, so I had to slow down and walk until they finally lost interest.


  1. Rene, I am really enjoying your blog. You write a good narrative, and the photos are fine. It's a pleasure to follow you and my son Scott in this way. FYI, I took a fall here in November the first day rain turned to slush. Quite a lot of pain in my right rib cage. At first the doctor thought I might have crushed a vertebra and pinched a nerve but I began to feel better earlier than the timetable for that injury. Finally he decided I pulled a muscle or two when I fell. It's been slow. Today was the first time I have been out in my own car. Really felt good. Ferne Dec. 22.

  2. Sorry to hear about your fall, but I am glad that you are recovering well. It looks like we may be stuck here in Barra de Navidad for Christmas. I guess that's fitting, since it's "Christmas" Bay. Hope you have a wonderful holiday. There is going to be a big party of cruisers here, if we are still in the area.