December 30, 2008


Hi Folks!

We want to wish you all a very Happy New Year Tomorrow!

We had an uneventful passage around Cabo Corrientes on Saturday, had dinner and spent the night in Ipala.

Ipala is one of our favorite anchorages. Not because it's such a beautiful anchorage - which is is. And not because it's a great anchorage - it's pretty marginal. But because they have 3 beach Palapas and serve the best Lobsters in Mexico (at least that we've run across so far).

We each had a plate of Langostas con Mojo de Ajo (grilled lobster with Garlic). We each got 3 large lobsters halves - we think over a kilo total. Absolutely, fantastic! And only 240 pesos per plate (about $19 US).

OK, lobster is not on our diet. But remember - it's a lifestyle diet we're on, not a religion! We do stick to the diet most days - but when the opportunity presents itself for a truly wonderful meal - we have no qualms whatsoever and go for it!

Saturday night wasn't a great sleep night as our anchor chain was grinding away on some rocks on the bottom of Ipala bay. All the noise of the chain grinding on the bottom is transmitted up to our cabin in the forward section of the boat. Also, as the chain caught on the rocks it was pretty jerky. Oh bother.

The next morning (Sunday), we were up at first light (7 am) and continued on to Chamela.

Chamela was crowded with many Mexican Families in for the holiday weekend. We were thrilled as a few of the Palapas again had live music. It was much more lively than last year.

On Monday, we walked the beach and had lunch at Manualita's Restaurant. We stopped at the tortilla factory in town and bought a kilo of fresh corn tortillas for 10 pesos ($0.80 US).

Monday afternoon it blew about 25 knots in the anchorage from the South. So it was pretty lumpy until late in the afternoon when the wind died and was dead flat calm all night.

This morning, Tuesday, we were off again for Tenacatita. We motored in continued calm seas with only a few knots of land breeze and arrived at 1130AM.

Only about a dozen boats in here so far, down from the thirty or so here last year.

Tomorrow we head into Barra de Navidad for New Years.

That's the latest from Raptor Dance.

Warmest Regards,
Bill & Mary

December 27, 2008

We're on the go!

Hi Everyone!

We are enroute to one of our favorite anchorages, Ipala. We left Paradise Village at 7AM (Central) this morning to a beautiful sunrise.

As we are going to be on the go and anchoring out until New Years Eve - please use our Winlink address (the one this message is coming from) to reach us.

Remember if you use it:

1) Put the characters: //WK2K in the message subject. Winlink has a new Spam filter and you need to put that in the subject for your message to get through

2) Only send us messages you type - it's a very low speed radio link - no attachments, pictures, jokes, etc.

3) DO NOT REPLY to this message. Send us a new one. If you reply, you will likely send a copy of our message back to us. Bad news bears!
We got our engine heat exchanger on Tuesday, the 23rd. "Teapot Tony" the Mechanic, put it in the morning of the 24th. We did a test run and the engine was working great again.

Later in the day we went to a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at the Vallarta Yacht Club and had a very relaxing 25th.

Sunday, we did all the important provisioning. First the Chocolate ladies at Xocodiva in downtown PV. We picked up 2 kilos of 70% dark (should last us a few weeks). Then for groceries, we went to Mega Commercial and Costco. Getting back to the boat, we stowed everything, got the boat ready to depart, made dinner, watched a few DVDs and turned in. This morning, off we went!

We left a bit later than we originally planned due to the engine problems, but we still intend to stop at Ipala and Chamela before arriving in Barra de Navidad on New Years Eve. We'll continue on to many of our other favorite places: Santiago Bay and Tenacatita at the end of January.

Happy Holidays to you all!
Bill & Mary
SV Raptor Dance
20 34 N
105 28 W

December 23, 2008

Veggie Raptor Chili Wins in Puerto Vallarta!

Our Team - Jamie, Linda, Mary, Bill, & Ed 
Our low-fat vegan chili won the 9th Annual Cruisers Chili Cook Off in Puerto Vallarta on December 6, 2008, our 4th win in a row!

We really never thought we had a chance this year.  After 3 consecutive wins out of 3 total entries, we decided to go Vegan!  Who would have thought a Vegan recipe could compete against the other all meat entrants, but we did!  Why, because it tastes so darned fantastic!

The recipe was invented by executive chefs Bill & Mary with assistance in the prep and serving by sous chefs Ed, Linda, & Jamie.

Here are our prior 3 wins with the links to the 2 that are available online.
We have reduced this recipe to a more manageable size for you all, rather than the amount we made for the Chili Cook Off (5+ Gallons). We have given approximate amounts as there is no exact recipe – judge by sight, tasting along the way. We didn't follow anyone else's recipe but created this between us. This should make just over a gallon of Chili.

With the vegetables (corn, carrots, onions, garlic), plantains and beans judge by sight what ratio looks best – the finished product should have a pleasing appearance as well as taste.

When you are all done the flavor component contributors are: the green sauce and limes for brightness; the plantain, garlic and onion, for sweetness; and the chilies, por su puesto (of course), for heat.

The basic outline is:

1. Cook the beans separately,
2. Mix the green sauce ahead or while the vegetables are cooking,
3. Sauté the base vegetable group,
4. Add the tomatoes,
5. Add the beans, more vegetables and seasonings and cook to blend the flavors,
6. Taste and add the green sauce,
7. Taste and add plantain,
8. Taste and adjust balance and seasoning as necessary.

Green sauce: This is a good sauce on it's own too.

• Tomatillos - 2 cups+ rough cut
• Cilantro - 1 bunch remove any tough stems
• Garlic - 1 clove
• Jalapeño – 1 rough cut

Process tomatillos in a blender, add the remaining ingredients and blend. Taste. If the tomatillos are older, you may need to add some lime juice.


• black beans - 2 cups dry (makes 2 quarts)
• dried pasilla pepper - 1

Soak he beans overnight - 4 to 8 hours in cold water.
Remove the seeds from the pasilla pepper and lightly toast in a dry pan.

Cook the pepper and beans, in sufficient water in a pressure cooker 10 minutes on second ring or simmer on top of the stove in a regular pot, checking for doneness, for up to an hour.
Be careful not to overcook the beans so they do not fall apart in the chili.

Before draining the beans, taste the cooking water. It should have a nice flavor. If it is, save some to add at any point that you need water or need to thin the chili.


• chopped onions - 4 cups, +1/2 cup reserved for garnish
• diced carrots - 2 cups, +1 cup reserved
• diced celery - 1 cup
• garlic, whole cloves - 10-20, +10 coarse chopped reserved
• tomatoes - 2 16oz cans chopped or whole tomatoes chopped
• tomato paste - 1 can
• cumin - 1+ teaspoon
• coriander - 1+ teaspoon
• jalapeños - 2+ as desired
• poblanos - 2+ as desired
• dried pasilla - 1+ as desired, seeds removed
• chipotle powder - 3/4-1 tablespoon or more. This is another thing to judge by taste. Add more as needed rather than too much to start with.
• árbol chilies - as many as necessary to bring it to the heat level that you want
• corn - 2 cups
• very ripe (black) plantains - 3 diced

The Process:

• Cook the black beans and make the green sauce as described above.
• In a pot that will hold at least 6 quarts, Sauté the onion, carrots and celery in a small amount of water (just enough water to keep the vegetables from sticking in the beginning).
• During the cooking process if your batch gets too thick, thin with bean cooking liquid or water.
• When this softens add the whole garlic cloves.
• Cook to soften the garlic.
• Remove seeds from pasilla, toast the pasilla lightly in a dry pan.
• Now either puree in a blender with some of the tomatoes or chop.
• Add pasillas and the additional tomatoes, diced carrots and corn.
• Sauté the tomato paste until a rust color in a pan with a little water, add to the vegetables.
• Now add the beans, jalapeños, poblanos, reserved chopped garlic, coriander, pasilla, cumin and chipotle.
• Simmer to blend the seasonings and cook the carrots – about 20 minutes
• Taste for balance and heat. Add additional seasonings as needed.
• Add the green sauce.
• Taste. You may be happy with it right here and just need to balance the flavors. Or continue and add the chopped plantain.
• Taste and adjust for heat and acidity. Add lime juice to make the taste brighter.
• Serve with your choice of toppings, we like chopped raw white onions and chopped jalapeños.

December 20, 2008

Raptor Dance Update - Since Summer Started

Greetings and Happy Holidays to everyone.
(See all our pictures at

Yes, it has been a long time since we posted an update. We are fine and frisky. We just got caught up in the local action when we returned to Mexico.

We had a great time being back in California for the summer. One of the best times was with Mary's family in Pennsylvania for a celebration party for her parents with a big crowd of friends and family, mainly coming from different parts of the east coast. We children wanted to give this party while they could still kick up their heels and have a ball. There was eating and drinking, music and dancing, and laughing and hugging. Mom and Dad loved it.

We also purchased an elliptical trainer and set it up in our garage gym, this helped us get in better shape. We still watch Food Network on the Tivo while exercising as motivation – but the recipes have lost a lot of their appeal due to our new diet.

In July, we went in for checkups and Bill's Dr. wanted him to increase his medication for blood pressure and cholesterol. That was the last straw! He did a lot of research and as a result we switch to a new lifestyle diet. As a result of that diet, he's now off all medications. Since we returned home from Mexico in late May, Bill lost 30 pounds and Mary 20. From our peak weight on July 1, 2005, Bill is down a total of 70 pounds and Mary's off 55. You can see Bill's "before" picture here:

If you are interested in our diet, it's no added fat, sweetener, salt Vegan (just because it is a healthier diet). If you are interested in the details, you can find out more at and

Note, this is a lifestyle diet, not a religion. We are free to eat whatever we want, just not every day.

Another most interesting time during the summer was an adventurous caving excursion at California Caverns. Looking for the most exciting time, we took the Middle Earth Tour. It is the most extensive and extreme caving experience available to non pros.

It certainly was an experience. In that moment some spots were "not fun". That would be sliding through the dark (headlights only) tunnel being able to propel ourselves only by our elbows. It was so narrow and low that we had to be on our bellies in the wet mud for too long of a passage. It was interesting and beautiful in spots. That made up somewhat for the drop into cold muddy water and the caked on mud. We went in looking dorky with the overalls, kneepads, gloves helmets and headlights, and just came out as a complete muddy mess…not a spa treatment.

Ah, the things we do for fun. I might recommend the walking tour. That is unless you really like squeezing through a passage too small for an inflated basket ball! It's a good thing we lost most of our weight by then.

Another highlight was Bill's surprise birthday party. That is a long story on it's own. I'll just say it is not an easy thing to pull off when the person is present during preparation time. Luckily Bill was focused on other things, so he misread the splattered cake icing as a failed attempt to make something else and missed the smell of chocolate cake when he exited the shower (open windows helped).

The cake was in the shape of a duck which was a bit hit. As many of you know Bill grew up on a farm with a pet duck, named Ritz Quackers. Bill thinks the duck imprinted on him. Mary thinks Bill imprinted on the duck!

Mary's series of lame excuses for strange culinary behavior had Bill thinking that Mary might be getting Alzheimer's! Fortunately, it was a ploy.

A fun time was had by all!

Over the summer Bill handled his chores as Treasurer for the Vallarta Yacht Club remotely via the Internet. Bill is also the entire Information Technology Department for the Yacht Club, including Webmaster, see: He also did a number of websites for other folks, including one for Mary's Jewelry endeavor, see: For the complete list of websites see:

Before we knew it the summer was over and we were on our way to Puerto Vallarta in the Jeep (loaded). The first stop was southern California to visit with Bill's family and continue his BD celebration. From there we had a smooth journey and arrived well rested on the third day (one night in Nogales AZ and one in Navajoa in Sonora, Mexico). It's about 1,600 miles from LA to PV.

Since we got here, we've been involved in the usual social whirlwind, twice a week Spanish Class and a pile of boat chores, more on those later.

December 3, 4, 5 was the Banderas Bay Blast (no pictures of us, but see: ).

This fun event featured a cruisers rally from our home Marina, to Marina La Cruz – about 7 nautical miles away. We spent the first night at La Cruz Marina, where the Marina provided free slips to the participants.

This is a new marina and the work is still in progress but the slips are in as well as the very nice shower facilities, restaurant and Sky Bar. The view from the Sky Bar is great, looking out over the breakwater to the water. This evening it was also used for a perverted game of dodge ball, Instead of avoiding the ball, the aim was to catch the water filled balloons (that's Bill waiting to try to catch the Balloon). Very tough. But everyone was in great spirits and willing to give it a try. Few, very few succeeded. After everyone dried off we had a fun party at the local cruisers' hangout: Philo's Bar.

The 4th featured an upwind race to Punta de Mita. Upwind on our boat is fine as long as you don't have to tack too much… Guess what we did – oh, bother. Our friend Linda (Leendah) joined us for this mucho tacking leg.

At Punta de Mita, we anchored out and took a panga (Mexican 27 foot fiberglass launch) ashore for the party at "Margarita's Restaurant". The panga ride was especially important going back to the boat. The swell was up. We would have had a difficult time getting out in our dingy. We would have been, at least, drenched.

The final day, the 5th, featured a Spinnaker run and another party (are you detecting a theme here?) at the Vallarta Yacht Club. Our friends Pat & Bob from Berkeley were staying in PV and they had an interesting bus ride to Punta de Mita to join us for this leg.

December 6th was the 9th annual charity Chili Cookoff here at the Vallarta Yacht Club. We thought we would retire undefeated after our last two wins here and the one at Sail Fest in Zihuatanejo, but we got seduced into entering again. With our new diet, we devised a batch of Very Low Fat, Salt, unsweetened Vegan Chili.

We figured we didn't have a chance. After all, Vegetarian Chili is an oxymoron! Real chili has only meat, chilies and a few vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc). But we won 1st place in the Cruisers Division yet again! That's 4 for 4 for team Raptor!

We'll post the recipe soon (after we figure out what we did!). A lot of people thought our secret ingredient was Mangos, but in reality it was very ripe (i.e. very black) Plantains.

Reader warning – Geeky boat content follows:

Dear Raptor Dance had an early encounter with bees in June after we left and a second close encounter not long before we arrived in October. Bees like to make hives inside boat masts. We thought our mast was safe because we have internal halyards rattling around inside the mast. They entered the openings low in the mast, below the internal halyards, and flew down into the bilge. From there they came up through a grate into the saloon. Luckily a dock mate and our boat minder saw the swam and alerted us. We had hired a boat minder for while we were away. That was good. He was able to bring in a "Bee Man" and cleaners to rid us of our new friends. The October encounter didn't result in a hive, just a swarm around the top of the mast.

Next year we're going to try the preventative technique of moth balls inside the mast.

After we got to PV on October 29th we had a lot of boat chores to do this year. The first was thing was cleaning and gathering any bees that escaped detection. We were worried that we would need to wash everything inside the boat but no insecticide needed to be used inside. We also thought we would find bees scattered throughout the boat but there was only a handful mainly at the base of the mast and some bee mummies inside lockers (the cleaners did a great job).

All summer we had run one of our Air Conditioners in "dehumidify" mode. Basically, it came on once every 8 hours and ran for an hour to remove the moisture from the air. We did this in past years and it worked great. This year it did too, but when we got here we noticed that we had a lot of marine growth in the raw water system and that particular unit seem to have lost it's mojo (it wasn't cooling as well as it used to).

After a visit from the local refrigeration guy who put more gas in our system – it's efficiency was back to normal… But only for a month. Turns out our air handler had a medium gas leak. So we ordered a new one and had it flown in and installed.

The marine growth was ultimately solved with a muriatic acid soak. We then discovered a great trick. We get 3 inch pool chlorine tablets at the local PV Home Depot, divide them in quarters and put a chunk into the raw water strainer every 7 to 10 days. Since we started doing that, no growth!

During normal engine service, we discovered a heat exchanger leak and we started losing coolant overboard (your exhaust water turns green!). A marine engine's heat exchanger is basically like a car radiator. Except instead of dumping the excess engine heat to the air, it transfers it into sea water that's pumped through it. The whole assembly is about 18 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. It's not too hard to change, but once it leaks it's impossible to fix.

Oh bother. At this moment we are waiting for the new heat exchange to be flown in to fix that. Hopefully we can get it installed before Christmas so we can leave for our cruise down to Manzanillo. We had expected to be in Chamela for Christmas. Right now it is anyone's guess where we will be. We will be fine wherever we are.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!
Happy Hanukkah!
And a Happy New Year!

May 5, 2008

End of the 2007-2008 Season

When you last heard from us it was February and we were anchored in Tenacatita on our way north to Puerto Vallarta.

After a couple of days catching up with sailing friends who were in Tenacatita we left for Chamela. What a great trip that was! We saw whales, dolphins, turtles and lots of feeding birds and fish. Unfortunately I did not have any of our hand lines out to catch any of those fish. The truth is that we had not been catching many fish which lead to less fishing. In fact we sold our (like new) fishing polls and gear when we were in Barra. Our friends, who are much better fisherman catch way more fish than they can use – so we've still been enjoying frequent, fresh, free seafood! Real fisherman have a variety of techniques that they use, including kites on helium balloons to keep the bail lightly on the surface. Who knew!

Chamela was very quiet at this time. There were only a dozen boats in the anchorage. It seems that Barra was the favorite place to be for cruisers this season. Some mornings there would be as many as 70 boats sign in on the Barra morning net. We were on a roll so the next morning at first light we raised anchor and headed to Ipala.

Many people don't bother going into Ipala because it is a small cove which is partly taken up with the local fishing pangas and a few fishing pens and the town is small, very small. BUT, we have had the best lobster dinners there. We like it. In fact, as we pulled in I think our mouths were already watering for some yummy lobster. We invited the other couple of boats to go with us and we headed to shore.

Hopes dashed! They did not have any lobster but we did have a great Huachinango (whole red snapper), a good time and made new friends. As long as boats anchor in a reasonable fashion (not anchoring right in the middle) there is room for at least 6 boats inside. More can anchor a little further out but it is not quite as protected.

We left early the next morning and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise as we rounded Cabo Corrientes. The wind was blowing 20 knots but as soon as we rounded we were in flat seas and virtually no wind. We still had whales breaching around us as we crossed the bay. By early afternoon we were back and tied up in paradise Marina. We feel like we have so many homes now. It felt just like coming home when we pulled in, as it does when we go to Barra or back to Santa Rosa.

This year the weather was much cooler. I often needed a light wrap in the evening. Right now it is perfect weather for me but a little warm for Bill. It's in the 80's during the day and high 70's in the evening. We received reports that in March there were days of fog in the Barra area. That was a first. We have never seen fog. Plus there was a serious red tide around the same time. It's only now in May that the temperatures are approaching normal. It will be interesting to see what the weather is like in the Sea of Cortez this year.

Here in Nuevo Vallarta we saw, for a day or two at the end of April, what looks like lots of soap suds piling up on the beach. The locals say this is caused by warm and cold water meeting. Actually we think it is the protein by-product of the red tide organisms dying out at sea. Not a normal occurrence around here.

It was good being back in Paradise. We were able to visit and celebrate my birthday with Cindy and Scott on SV Beach House, a Switch 51' catamaran. Then we were able to spend time and celebrate my birthday with Linda of condo fame and our friends, Carl, Yvette, Joel and Kyle from SV Liberty before they made the "puddle jump" to the Marquesas and South Pacific. What!? Yes. We do believe in the two party system. And Liberty has arrived and is already enjoying the islands. It was good getting reconnected with our buddies here.

Then family, my brother Joe, his wife Ginny, son Rob with his wife Sue, plus their children Andrea and Eric arrived in style on a cruise ship. It was our good fortune that they had a long shore time. We were able do a bit of exploring in Puerto Vallarta with them and show them what life is like in Nuevo Vallarta.

Later that evening, we went to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens for their members' appreciation dinner, we had a great time with food, drink and fantastic fireworks right overhead. The Botanical Gardens is a great non-profit that also supports the local school system. We also visited the gardens again later with our friends Scott and Cindy.

On February 19th the new board was elected for the Vallarta Yacht Club. Bill had agreed and was elected Treasurer. The committee knew they were getting a good man but never did they expect what was coming. Every day, except during the Banderas Bay Regatta and a few odd days, Bill has spent in the yacht club and on the computer either there or on the boat totally revising the club. He has gone through all the documents, files, accounts, accounting systems and procedures, computing systems, ISP relationships, WiFi and bank accounts since it's inception. He has revised procedures, simplifying and improving them; implemented a budget (something new); instituted cash controls; done a complete audit; changed banks; changed web hosting providers and totally redid the website.

He has been working with the managers and staff every step of the way so they know how to follow through. You know Bill, he has totally redone the yacht club website and continues to improve it. Enough said…the list would go on and on. This did limit our activities greatly but Bill really enjoyed doing it. It makes me think that maybe he would enjoy getting back into business (comment from Bill: "NOT!"). You can see the results of the website rebuild at

While Bill was spending time at the yacht club, I used some of that time to take over the boat and spread out all the pearls, gems and jewelry making paraphernalia. I love the creative aspect, designing pieces that are unique. The logistics of taking a piece in my imagination to its end is sometimes a challenge but always fun. They all become one of a kind pieces. I have also been able to help other women with jewelry problems and teach techniques.

In between all that we had some boating fun. Vallarta Race Week in Banderas Bay was a little different this year. It was composed of The San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, The Mexorc Race, The Governor's Cup and The Banderas Bay Regatta (BBR). There was a lot going on!

We hosted 2 boats from the San Diego to PV Race, Holua and Beowulf, both from the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey. This amounted to greeting them with buckets of beer, tequila and anything else we could think of and helping them in any way we could. The finish line was at Punta Mita at the north end of the bay. That gave us a little notice of the approximate time they would arrive. Plus we (and anyone) could track the boats on their route down the coast on-line. Only one boat did not show up on-line…something about their transponder not working. We were lucky. Our boats arrived during daylight.

Mexorc was mainly Mexican boats. The BBR overlapped the Mexorc races. Each one of these events had evening activities planned. There was no lack of sailors, family and friends enjoying the music, food, drink and sailing stories.

We had planned to race Raptor Dance and our friends Lani and June (our ringers) came down to enjoy and help us. But we do need 7 or even 8 crew to race. The two of us are fine cruising but racing is a different animal. Actions need to happen fast and sometimes in tight quarters. Finding additional crew was difficult. There are fewer sail boats and fewer sailors in Paradise. Many of the slips are filled with powerboats or by commuter cruisers. A friend of a friend on Huma Huma, a catamaran, was also having the same difficulty. If we had the courage to wait until two days before the race, we would have had crew. Some sailing friends, who would be crew, arrived at the last minute. Before that time came though we had decided to crew on Huma Huma with the plan that if anything broke (or whatever) on Huma Huma, we would continue on Raptor Dance. We were already registered.

It was interesting and quite different racing on a catamaran. The feel is totally different. Instead of healing (leaning) the cat runs along flat. It doesn't give the same sense of speed even though we were going 20+ knots at times – about 2 1/2 times our normal speed on Raptor Dance. It actually made us love our boat all the more, no offense to Huma Huma. Tacking may be easier on this Cat but preparing and popping the spinnaker is a breeze on ours. The boat did very well. The majority of the crew were experienced racers and all were captains. You should have seen those "meetings"! We came in first in our class. It was a great team effort. A few of the crew may be on our boat next year. We'll plan further ahead for next year.

While Lani and June were here, we took time for a road trip! We ventured inland to the little towns of San Sebastian de Oeste and Mascota. Until the last year, these towns were only reachable over a dirt road. You also had to ford a river. Recently a new bridge was built and the paved road was finished. Now you can drive all the way from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara on this new mountain road. It's very scenic and the villages are still pretty much untouched. This is a major historic silver mining area and there is a lot of history here.

It's now early May and Bill is pretty much finished with all the projects at the yacht club. We are completing a few boat chores to do in preparation for the summer. We are again leaving the boat in Paradise Marina, the safest place in case of any storms. Banderas Bay has never had a hurricane.

We did take time out on Saturday to do another Canopy Tour. So far, we've counted at least 5 different Canopy Tour operators here in Banderas Bay. Each has it's own character. This one, Canopy La Vista, is not as long, fast or exciting as El Eden or Los Veranos, but it has great views of Banderas Bay – hence the name. It also uses a different pulley technology. With their system, you use a glove with a thick pad to both steer and brake – very interesting and quite different. It actually has a number of advantages in that you are more stable around the vertical axis with this system so you have more opportunity to look around.

Particularly noticeable during the canopy tour is how dry it currently is. We're just at the end of the dry season. The mountains in particular are as dry and brown as California. In June the summer rains start again. When they do, look out! It's normal here to get many inches of rain per hour during a summer thunder storm. When we arrived back in October, the last storm of the season dropped 2 inches of rain in half an hour. Don, the weather guru, calls Puerto Vallarta in Summer "web foot city" and for good reason.

Thursday, we will begin our drive north to Santa Rosa, plant some tomatoes and drink some good Sonoma County wine.

We hope you all are well and enjoying this Spring. We love hearing from you.

February 6, 2008

On the Mexican Riviera

Hi Everyone!

We raised anchor at the Las Hadas anchorage at 930 AM this morning, starting our journey back up to Puerto Vallarta, with planned stops in Tenacatita, Chamela and Ipala.

This was our Southern most destination this year.

On our way South, we stopped at Bahia de Chamela for Christmas. We had a lovely time again with very few cruisers and mostly local families. Only 3 boats were anchored in the bay on Christmas day. Festivities were more subdued than last year as the economy in Mexico, as in the US is in a bit of a slump. No live Mariachi bands this year, just recorded music.

Coming down from PV to Chamela, we were a little concerned as our speed was about 3/4 knot slower than expected. We thought it might be due to an adverse current, which it partially was, but when I (Bill) dove in the boat I saw that the bottom was quite dirty and needed cleaning.

Before we left Puerto Vallarta, we asked Guillermo the Diver clean bottom, but this time, his sons did it - he's breaking them into the business. His kids only cleaned the first 3 feet down! The keel, especially the bottom, looked like a forest!

I started cleaning, free diving. One hour into it, I felt a Jellyfish sting on my arm. Ouch! I knocked off for the day. The next day I continued with my thin 1 MM dive skin on. No more problems. The third day, I continued working on the bottom with SCUBA and got the keel, the bottom of the keep and prop clean, the way we like them!

Interestingly, we just had the bottom done in October, but the water down here is so warm that the sea life grows really fast! Even with new bottom paint.

After a few days in Chamela of work and play, we continued on to Tenacatita Bay.

This is another lovely anchorage that's a favorite of many of the cruisers here in Mexico. Some folks stay for months!

Chris and Heather Stockard of SV Legacy ( ) had just left to head South to Central America with their two Portuguese Water Dogs, Kira and Minnow. Chris and Heather as you may remember, served as "Mayor" and "First Lady" of Tenacatita for the last two years, organizing the daily swim to the beach, Bocci Ball, Dominoes, Volleyball and the weekly dingy raft up/cocktail party. With the loss of leadership, the anchorage was very mellow and quiet.

It wasn't until after we left that things got organized again. We're heading back today to Tenacatita, so we'll report on how it is. At it's peak, a few years ago, some called it "Camp Tenacatita" because of it's activities and organization. Hopefully, it remains mellower than that.

On New Years eve, we pulled into Isla Navidad Marina, where we stayed until Feb 2nd. We had a delightful stay re-exploring one of our favorite areas. A new Italian Restaurant, "Profumo di Sole", opened up run by a delightful couple from Bolonia, Italy. The Pasta is all made in the restaurant and everything is fantastic! The prices are also quite reasonable, especially considering the quality.

They have prosciutto on the menu, but we couldn't have it the first few times we visited since their slicer was broken. Mary, Carl (from SV Liberty) and I spent a couple of hours one afternoon fixing it, so we could enjoy their lovely appetizer with great local melon!.

The start of the month of January seemed to drag slowly by as we didn't get into the rhythm and we didn't have enough friends in town to socialize with. The end of the month flew by however as more and more people arrived. The second week of January was the low with only a dozen boats in the Marina and Lagoon. By the end of the month, there were over 60. I think we'll come down a touch later next year.

Back in Puerto Vallarta in December, Mary took and passed her amateur radio Extra Class License exam and also the test to become a Volunteer Examiner. In January, Dean of Emily B, Mary and I held a ham exam aboard Emily B in the Barra Lagoon. 5 folks showed up and 4 passed their exams. A very successful session. We think this was the first session held afloat in the Barra Lagoon. "The French Baker" catered the continental breakfast we had available for everyone.

On Feb 2nd, we left Barra to visit the Manzanillo area. We spent a night in Santiago Bay, having dinner with our friends Patti and Frosty from SV Angelfish; a night anchored in Ensenada Carrizal and two nights in the Las Hadas anchorage.

In Las Hadas, we visited Stan and MJ formerly of the Valiant 40, Sol Mate, who sold their boat and bought a "fixer upper" near the town of Santiago. Gosh, they've already done a lot, but have a ways to go on their lovely home.

As I type this, we're just off the coast about a mile, about halfway between Manzanillo and Tenacatita...

Later, we dropped anchor this afternoon in Tenacatita at 2:30 PM CST.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill & Mary

February 5, 2008

Santiago Bay

Just a quick note to let you all know that we're having such a fun time down here that we've fallen a little behind posting our pictures and stories.

We'll try to catch up soon.

In highlight (details later):

We had a great Christmas in Chamela, then moved on to Tenacatita Bay.

On New Years eve, we pulled into the Isla Navidad Marina, next the the Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel (winner of a number of award for "The Best Resort in Mexico").

A month of helping the local school, socializing, dining and just sitting by the pool ensued.

We spent the month of January there and left yesterday Feb 2 to anchor out.

We're now in Santiago Bay near Manzanillo and are planning to move later this morning to anchor in Ensenada Carazal just around the corner.

You can keep an eye on our current location on our website (Last 90D link).

We'll be on this, our winlink address for the next two weeks until we get back to Paradise Village. Just remember, no replies or forwards!

Warmest Wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year!

Bill & Mary