April 3, 2007

Barra de Navidad to Puerto Vallarta - February 2007

Hi All,

We've been busy, but now we have a chance to catch up with everyone...

We hope you are all well and enjoying Spring weather. Speaking of the weather, it was a relief when we returned to Barra Navidad in mid-February. It almost felt cool in the high 80's. Zihuatanejo was probably 10 degrees hotter plus greater humidity.

It was so hot that some of our Scharffen Berger Chocolate bloomed (horrors)! Fortunately, it's still tasty! The most affected bars we melt down and make almond bark!

The first order of business once back in Barra de Navidad was getting the boat cleaned and taking care of whatever boat part has demanded attention. This time it was an oil leak that needed to be tracked down and remedied. It was the hoses to the remote oil filter. We removed the remote oil filter assembly until we could get new hoses in Puerto Vallarta.

Then there was the engine raw water pump that needed to be replaced as it was leaking salt water from the shaft seal. We had a spare pump and had the old one rebuilt in Puerto Vallarta.

Also Bill replaced the shredded genset impeller. And what is going on with the bow thruster? (Too many barnacles). Bill had his hands full. Luckily we had the spare parts needed and Bill made pretty quick work of it... only 4 days.

The highlights for the time in Barra was my birthday party and the trip to Colima that Bill arranged for me. We hired Memo (Español for Bill), a Mexican tour guide to give us a private tour of Colima and the surroundings.

Colima was a lovely surprise. Even though it is an old city, it is modern looking with clean wide streets, lovely gardens, several universities, museums and a performance art center. It's very prosperous.

We also visited the ongoing archeological site in Colima and went as close to the volcano as we could. The volcano was not blowing off any steam that particular day.

In our travels to and from we visited banana, avacado, mango, coconut, papaya and coffee plantations; salt flats; a brick factory; coffee mill and the lovely country side.

We stopped at the town of Comala, just North of Colima, between it and the volcanos. Comala is known for the uniform color of the town's buildings. They were all painted the same, white top half, red bottom half and orange interior walls. Recently the locals decided they wanted to show some individuality. So now some of the buildings have either blue, green or pink bottom halves. The top half of every building is still white.

The town's other uniqueness is a series of restaurants that serve Botanas (small plates of food), for free, when you order a drink. The waiters keep bringing new items until you ask them to stop. Mariachis are everywhere, both inside and out. It was a popular place, tasty, a nice lunch and it was very inexpensive.

My birthday party was much more fun than I anticipated. It was good to have a fine group a friends to help celebrate. Bill set up the party at "Restaurant Mary's" (Hmmm, I like that name). It's a palapa in the Barra de Navidad Lagoon with great food. They even added balloons and silly hats. You can see in the pictures on our website that no one minded being silly.

You do need to be mindful of the ambush with that fizzy tequila drink. I'm not sure what the ingredients are but they slam it on the table and it just start foaming away. It took me by surprise.

We also tried out the newest restaurant in Barra, Sambuca. Most just call it "the tree house restaurant" because it is located by a landmark major tree and gives the impression that it is a tree house with several levels. It has a limited menu but each item is excellent. Highly recommended.

We found the fish market which supplies the local restaurants also along the Barra Lagoon. So when we left we had a nice supply (3 kilos) of giant shrimp. Yum! They became Thai green curry and coconut shrimp, shrimp diablo and paella. Yum again. No, (thank heavens) we are not gaining weight with all this talk of food.

Our time was up in Barra and it was time to head north. We passed over Tenacatita and went directly to Chamela which we like better. I love being out on the water, moving, traveling to a new destination, wondering what we might see this time. Once there, we alerted Yonish the Polish dude who is a partner in Manuelitos Palapa, that we were up for perogi. He knew we were coming back so he was ready with his ingredients. He had a busy morning. The next day he served a perogi lunch to about 20 cruisers.
Yum. Oink. This is not a light dish. It is better suited for a cold winter evening. But it is still yummy.

Yonish also was able to give us the recipe for diablo sauce, at least his mother-in-law's. Later when I followed her recipe, I modified it slightly (adding the cabernet vinegar and honey) to achieve the bit of sweet and sour effect with the heat. Check the recipe section on our website for the revised recipe. In all fairness to her, Mexican catsup does taste different...much more sugar.

We spent four days in Chamela waiting for a favorable forecast to round Cabo Corrientes and return to Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta). While we were there, other boats pulled into the bay until 8 were queued up to head North.

In the past when we left Chamela headed North, we departed in the morning and stopped in Ipala for the night. Early the next morning we rounded Cabo Corrientes before it started to blow around noon. Ipala has added fish holding pens taking up a lot of the prime anchoring spots. We all had a major concern that all of the good anchoring spots would be taken. If we left in the morning and Ipala turned out to be full, we would be forced to anchor in a very uncomfortable spot in Ipala or round the cape
during the highest winds and seas.

We changed our habits and left with a group of 8 other boats at 4 PM on Feb 26th. We went non-stop to Puerto Vallarta. All started out fine but soon the winds built on our nose - only 18 to 20 knots - but the seas were short, square, choppy and confused. That is not good sleeping weather because the boat falls off the waves and slams. It's not too bad in the cockpit but down below it is much more dramatic.

We compensated by slowing the RPM's down and tacking out 30 degrees and them tacking back. That helped but it was still choppy and also took longer. Ipala was full so we could not stop there. But at that point conditions improved. We still had a few hours to go so sleep was in order...in shifts naturally.

Our timing was good. It was daylight when we reached Paradise Marina in Nuevo Vallarta and came right back to our old slip, E-44.

That was our February.

Stay tuned for our March fun in the continuing adventures of Mary and Bill on Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Mary Mack and Bill Finkelstein

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