Nuevo Vallarta

January 29, 2001. Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. N 20 deg, 41′ 12” W 105 deg, 17′ 54”
We arrived in Paradise Village Marina Saturday and I am still troubled by the fact that the boat doesn’t move anymore. I can leave a cupboard door open and it will not bang with every wave. I can walk through the boat without being thrown off by a swell and I do not need to lock the pot of boiling water on the stove anymore. We also do not need to watch our water and electricity usage. It is very nice!
Paradise Village is a luxury resort and as marina guest we can use the pools, hot tub, boogie boards, lounge chairs on the beach, and showers. The marble shower stall is as big as the entire bathroom on Temptress! The resort offers many convenient services: laundromat, internet access, supermarket with delicious bread, many (expensive) restaurants and a spa. There is also a zoo with a tiger couple with a cute cub and parrots which can perch on your shoulder for a photo. Clark’s favorite perk though, is cable TV. I have the feeling we are going to catch up on all the recent movies… What we do not watch will be recorded so we can “survive” this summer without TV.
Unfortunately it is my turn to have a cold and I am sniffling a lot, even though it is warmer here than in La Cruz due to the proximity of land. We are going to take advantage of the coming week and the large supply of water to clean up the boat before Clark’s parents arrive. We have already removed a lot of sand from the deck, accumulated after many beach landing. I am enjoying being able to wear long skirts, pants and generally more dressy clothing as I don’t need to jump in the water from the dingy in a beach landing. I can just step off the boat on the dock: what a luxury!
Hope all is well with you.

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La Cruz

January 22, 2001. La Cruz, Mexico.
We are still in La Cruz. Clark recovered from his digestive problems just in time to catch a cold, even though it is above 80F/29C everyday. We did go to Nuevo Vallarta and Marina Vallarta to investigate available space in marinas and ended up reserving a slip in Paradise Village for the month of February. We need a treat, away from the swell and waves which are never predictable and have given us an uncomfortable day at anchor last Thursday. It will also make Clark’s parents visit easier.
During that day, we also went to a real supermarket and found a wonderful bakery with fresh french bread hot from the oven. The smell was heavenly for someone starved for decent bread. There is one stationer’s shop in La Cruz that sells a good and expensive (2 US dollars) “homemade” whole wheat bread but the supply is very erratic and a batch disappears so quickly that you have to be lucky to get a loaf. A loaf at the bakery near Marina Vallarta was only 40 US cents. But we may trade dependable good bread for more expensive restaurants. Here in La Cruz, a half chicken barbecued and served with rice, salad and hot sauce is 2 US dollars. I can not cook easily for that price. We move to Paradise Village Marina on the 27th of January and so have a week left to enjoy La Cruz. We went to music night at Dos Philippe and heard a gringo group as well as a mexican kids choir. It was fun.

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When we go to bed, we also sometimes hear whale songs through the hull. It is an eerie but nice lullaby. Hope all is well with you.

Chacala

January 8, 2001. 1:20pm Chacala, Mexico. N 21 09′ 41″ Slightly Cloudy 82F water 80F W105 13′ 37″
We stayed a couple more days at Isla Isabella. Clark started working on boat projects such as building a longer solar panel connection wire so we can place one panel on the bow and maximize sun exposure. He also modified our windvane oar, adding lead to it to reduce its buoyancy. We snorkeled daily as I was getting use to breathe through a snorkel and quite enjoyed the underwater scenery. Right off the boat, at the east end of the anchorage, there were many rocks attracting a diversity of fish: colorful tropical fishes mixed in with schools of small tuna, needle fishes and even a graceful spotted eagle ray. Clark’s favorite was the dark purple and orange king angelfish while I liked the juvenile damsel fishes with shimering neon blue spots on a dark blue coat. But my favorite tableau was of a large school of small silvery tuna coming out from between two rocks like an unending flow of water at a source, and schooling around us. We also saw many humpback whales from the anchorage, throwing their upper body out of the water, showing their flippers and falling back in the water on their back in a big splash of water. Some of them just stick one flipper out of the water and wave it as to say hello, before diving back down. They seem to enjoy themselves!
I made bread as we ran out of bread from Cabo San Lucas and started meal planning to optimize the use of the remaining fresh vegetables. We were not sure we would find vegetables in Chacala and wanted to be free to cruise for another ten days without re-provisioning. The bread turned out good, although I am never able to make it as crusty as a good Italian loaf. I saved some of the dough for a pizza.
We left Isla Isabela Saturday morning at about 5am. We motored nearly all the way to Chacala on the mainland (between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta). There was no real wind and seas were flat. We towed two fishing lines behind the boat the most of the way and caught a Crevalle Jack, three Black Skipjacks, and a Dorado (Mahi Mahi). We threw all the jacks back but kept the Dorado for dinner. We arrived here at Chacala about 4pm and anchored down bow and stern to hold our nose into the swell. We then deployed our rocker stopper to keep the boat motion down. This isn’t quite as nice an anchorage as Isabella. But the dorado, steamed in butter and lemon juice on the barbecue, and served with mango chutney, was delicious.
This bow and stern mooring also showed itself to have another advantage, Because the boat is always pointing the same way we are able to rig one big solar panel in the bow and one on the stern, both on the sunny side of the boat. Usually one of these big panels is shaded by something on the boat. With this arrangement and the small panel we get as much as 18 amps of power. This is quite a lot. The best we were able to do before was about 12 amps.
We caught back up to some friends we met on Isabella: Greg and Penny on Long Tall Sally. We went to one of the beach palapas for dinner with them Sunday night and then back to their boat for a game of Mexican train (dominos). Birgitta had a deep fried red snapper and I(Clark) had some chicken tacos, also deep fried. The others had broiled Dorado. That night I got quite sick. I felt much better in the morning though quite tired. I hope this is a step in my getting used to the local food and water.

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Chacala is more tropical than Isla Isabella. The anchorage is in front of a coconut plantation and the beach is lined with palapas (open-air restaurants) and little stands selling coconut and pineapple. There are a couple of very small grocery stores too. It is a beach frequented by Mexican families during weekends and holidays and has not yet been transformed into an American resort, although a few knowledgeable gringos have their motor home parked along the beach. Hope all is well with you.

Isla Isabella

January 2, 2001. Isla Isabella, Mexico.

As long as the wind stays from the north, this is a lovely anchorage and island. On New year’s eve, there were 4 boats here so we all gathered on S/V Candlewin for drinks and desserts after dinner. We stayed up to midnight, telling bawdy jokes, boat stories and drinking champagne. I had made cream puffs for everyone which turned out very good. It was a very relaxed and fun party, with no one worried about driving home.

Yesterday, we had a very nice snorkel swim on the outside of the anchorage. Clark fed the fishes the fat from the steak we had eaten the day before which they seem to enjoy very much. The fishes were very varied and colorful, like in an aquarium, but bigger on average. We had “happy hour” on S/V Long Tall Sally, then we had chocolate mousse for dessert and played dominoes with Greg and Penny.

It is very nice to be in an anchorage where you enjoy the company of the other cruisers present,like here in Isla Isabella. I tend to miss the regular social contacts I had with friends in Seattle. While cruising, we get to meet new people in every anchorage which is fun but also somewhat tiring as you have to make the effort of getting to know each couple and then deciding whether they may become good friends of not. And when you have found friends, we end up separating after a few days going different directions and we may not see our new friends for days or weeks, if ever again. We keep thinking that if we meet enough cruisers, we will eventually always find friends in a new anchorage. We already have a few “steady friends” we meet often, but there are many many cruisers and many anchorages!

We are pretty tired of bananas. After eating banana bread 3 days in a row, then banana smoothies and banana fried with orange juice and rum, we still had a stack of bananas we got from the banana grove on the island and started distributing them. I had recipes for banana cookies and banana pancakes but we had had enough.

Hope you all had a safe and fun New Year celebration.