PUERTO VALLARTA

February 21,2004

ascension2.jpg (34270 bytes)In order to arrive in Puerto Vallarta in time for the "Puddle Jumpers" meeting first thing Monday morning, we pulled anchor and sailed away from our Island paradise of Isla Isabella at dusk. Ascension followed Tackless II, weaving our way through the newly set fishermen's nets that encircled the anchorage.


Finally clear of the fishing nets, we had a wonderful sail over glassy seas. In the dead of night, Gord called me out of my sleepy state "You've gotta see this" he said. I stumbled up the companionway stairs and was amazed at how bright it was considering there was no moon. Then I saw that the lights were coming from the water. The phosphorescence was the most amazing sight...the glowing wake trailing alongside the boat was so bright it lit up the sails, you could see your shadow! All around the boat there were spots of bright lights in the water that looked like flashbulbs going off. I don't know what little animals were causing this strange phenomena but the evanescence was really awesome.  I took over the watch and enjoyed the entertainment for several more hours.

February 22, 2004

The wind picked up by early morning and the seas were getting rough. We had planned to anchor in Punta De Metis but opted for the calmer water in La Cruz. We no sooner set the hook when Russ and Shirley from Wandering Star were beside our boat in the dinghy. We had a great visit on their boat, catching up on news since we had last parted ways in Mag Bay several months before.

Nuevo Vallarta

Since Wandering Star was heading back to their home mooring in Nuevo Vallarta, we decided to go with them and see if we could get a slip in the same marina. The channel into the marinas was not very deep and we touched bottom on the way in. We were able to get a slip at Nuevo Vallarta, which is much less expensive (albeit somewhat run down) compared to the luxurious "Paradise Village" a quick dinghy ride across the bay. In the Mood was tied in front of us and Maturua came to the marina shortly thereafter.


The next morning we attended the "Puddle Jumpers" meeting and registered our boat to be included with the 50 or so other boats making the journey to the Marquesas within the next month for PV. In addition, 50 other boats had already left for points further south and would be making the hop from there. My feeling was that it may be quite crowded in the South Pacific.


It is a wonderful support group here in Vallarta, with organized seminars and committees formed within the cruising community to exchange charts, and information. And it's great to meet others planning the same adventure. The second night we were here, Latitude 38 put on a Puddle Jumpers party at the Paradise Village Yacht Club. Everyone was offered free beer and snacks while the boats were interviewed for the Latitude 38 publication.


Shopping in Puerto Vallarta

February 25

Shirley was her usual very hospitable self, showing us where all the bargain in PV are. She took me shopping to the market, where I bought a huge bag of fresh veggies and fruits, all for 33 pesos ($3).  4 of us girls went to a Beauty School where you can get FREE haircuts, waxes, manicures, facials, pedicures and the like. If you want your hair colored you only pay for the cost of the product ($10). I had my hair cut and they did a really good job! 


02a--waiting-for-dinner.jpg (32701 bytes)Mexican Dinner

Later that evening a huge group of us went out to dinner to a great outdoor restaurant where all meals were 99 pesos (about $10). That includes smoked marlin appetizers and all the free beer you can drink while waiting for your table. Then you get soup and all the tequila you can drink!!! Gord and I had Mahi Mahi fish & shrimp w/ salad...so much we couldn't eat it all. For dessert...fried bananas w/ cream. Then Kalua and milk to wash down the rest of the tequila. ALL FOR $10 EACH! And we were entertained by a Mariachi Band.


03a-free-tequila.jpg (34000 bytes)mariache.jpg (21097 bytes)   

Dancing at the Bus Stop

07a-dancing-at-bus-stop2.jpg (32334 bytes)Waiting for the bus home, some Mexicans were strumming guitars and beating bongos at the bus stop.  Naturally, the group of us took advantage of the entertainment and started dancing on the street to the delight of the locals waiting for the bus.

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Later we stopped by Matarua.
Pictured here are Joyce & Peter.

La Cruz

March 1, 2004

We attended a Water Making seminar in the neighbouring town of La Cruz. The bus ride was very entertaining with the music cranked up so loud you couldn't talk to each other. In the usual Mexican fashion, the bus flew over the ragged cobblestone streets at an alarming speed, narrowly missing pedestrians and running another vehicle off the road altogether. 

taco-dinner-La-Cruz.jpg (32683 bytes)taco-dinner-la-cruz-2.jpg (32692 bytes)The town of La Cruz is a quaint little town with dirt and cobblestone streets and a truly Mexican flair. 


We went to dinner with Gwen and Don from Tackless II. A local family puts on a delightful dinner of home made tacos and quesadillas on Saturday night only. Tables are set out in the street, waited on by the sons attending Medical school. The tacos were absolutely delicious, washed down by the beer we had bought at a nearby tienda. And the price was right!

We were pleased when Ocean Girl arrived, taking a slip in Paradise Village. To our delight they had made the decision to cruise the South Pacific as well. We all decided to spend a relaxing Happy Hour drifting down the river adjacent to the marina in our dinghies, tied together. Although the mangroves are home to crocodiles, we didn't actually see any, to our relief. The river system is very extensive and we managed to get lost. It was dark when we sheepishly asked a local fisherman catching lobster the way back to the marina.

the-gang.jpg (55340 bytes)We managed to get in a number of Happy Hours before Wandering Star and In the Mood left the marina to sail south. We bade sad farewells and promised to maintain the wonderful friendships we have made. Pictured here is the group of us in Puerto Vallarta.


March 9, 2004

Our days are filled with the chores of fixing things and trying to find boatparts (after all, the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places). And there's  provisioning, collecting charts, doing income taxes, trying to find insurance, etc. However, I have managed to get in some terrific walks on the endless sandy beach, accessed 2 minutes from the boat. We fit in a few French lessons in preparation for our stay in the Marquesas.


And the 2-bus ride to the Old Town of Puerto Vallarta is worth the trip. The buses themselves are very entertaining. I must say that the Mexicans are a very ingenious and industrious group of people. You don't often see anyone asking for handouts or begging on the street. Instead, they will entertain at bus stops, on the bus or in other places that people congregate. If you like what you hear, you are welcome to tip. On a recent bus ride into town to go shopping,  a one legged man bound up the steps onto the bus and started singing. I recognized the songs, although they were in Spanish. He had the most amazing voice I have ever heard, singing without accompaniment Often locals will board the bus to sell peanuts and candy to the passengers. And you can almost always find someone selling cold drinks and snacks at the hot bus stops. Children everywhere work for tips bagging groceries, getting taxis and playing instruments. At one intersection not far from here there is always a fire eater, hoping the drivers of vehicles waiting for the light change will give a tip.. 

We had an entertaining night out at a little restaurant in La Cruz called "Papasitos." We went with Gwen and Don Tackless II, Derek and Tiffany, and  Mary and Michael (celebrating his 50th birthday) De La Mar.

In keeping with the Mexican flavour of the local buses, a couple of guys played their guitars and bongo drums while the rickety bus clambered down the cobblestone streets at the usual distressing speed. 

dinner-at-Papasitas.jpg (32225 bytes)We made our way through the little village of La Cruz, with its dirt and rock roads and quaint tiendas. The restaurant is not very big but it was packed with cruisers who had all come to see the entertainment. And it was well worth the trip. The trio, from Hungary, I think, played Gypsy and Flamenco music. Everyone really got into their sound including all the waiters and kitchen staff who were dancing among the tables. Michael joined in for his birthday dance along with a reluctant Mary.


March 20, 2004

We are scrambling to set sail for the Puddle Jump in a few days. Just finished filing my income taxes, copying charts, making flags, sewing hatch covers, organizing the medical kit and ditch bag, etc. etc...now onto provisioning. Gord has been doing major repairs on the boat and is heading for the airport today to collect yet another new watermaker! Hopefully this one will work. There certainly has not been any time to beach comb or sightsee. Don't know what Puerto Vallarta has to offer outside the marina, market and Walmart!. A lot of cruisers are leaving this coming week for the trek to the South Pacific. 

Our hopes are to be checked out by Wednesday, sail to the fuel dock, fill up and head out. This, providing the weather gods cooperate. For once we are waiting for strong wind. We need to avoid using our motor to conserve fuel for when we hit the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This area, usually referred to as the ITCZ, is a band of unsettled weather surrounding the earth just north of the equator where the northeast and southeast tradewinds converge and where the sea surface temperatures reach their maximum values. It is characterized by calms, light winds from any direction, and areas of moderate to strong convection reaching altitudes of at least 20,000 feet with strong electrical storms with torrential rain occasionally accompanied by strong squally winds.  Seas tend to be small but confused since they can come from any direction or several directions at once. 

A boat from our Puddle Jumper fleet left here several days ago. They were 4 days out when their rudder broke. Thanks to the cruisers net and ham radios, he has been in constant contact with everyone as he tries to build a rudder out of his cabin door or something. The coastguard has been contacted and are on their way to assist. He will be limping back to Cabos to attempt boat repairs but probably won't be able to sail to the South Pacific this year. I guess there are no guarantees out there, I only hope our passage is a smooth one. Friends will be able to track our progress by logging into www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VA7KER