Repairs in Paradise

What a great punch line while staying at Paradise Village marina! We spent 41 days at two marinas while in the Banderas Bay Area. Because boats require continual maintenance and repairs regardless of how spectacular the location and other distractions that may exist, it’s often most efficient to do crucial chores while firmly tied to something solid. Fortunately Bill is quite handy and resourceful so that we rarely need outside assistance (other than occasional parts we don’t have in stock) to get things done.

Some of the projects accomplished during our stay included:

  • Repair (weld) corrosion (electrolysis) on our swim ladder and install zinc to retard further electrolysis
  • Install and rivet new radar support mount to the mast
    • Subtasks:
      • Numerous trips up and down the mast in the bosun’s chair
      • Remove old radar mount (and carefully lower radar unit to the deck to attach new mount)
      • Clean bird s%#t off the radar, wax it
  • Install (replace) mainsheet traveler
    • Subtasks:
      • Drill new mounting holes several inches completely through the deck into the galley ceiling (all holes did not line up with old unit placement)
      • Research local source for stainless threaded rod for us to fabricate (weld) custom bolts long enough to pass through the new traveler and the thickness of the deck
  • Reconfigure and improve (weld) dive tank mounts on aft side rails
  • Sew up some nice tropical-themed fabric pillow covers for the salon
  • Fabricate and install new (larger) top step on the swim ladder
  • Empty the refrigerators and clean them
  • Repair (sew) fleece fender covers damaged at surge-y marinas
  • Replace sensor in forward holding tank (phew!)
  • Reconfigure and reinforce (weld) spinnaker bow sprit
  • Create/sew cover for bench/sewing machine case; this box is nice additional seating at the salon table.

For the novice, the special laws of boat maintenance and repair include:

  • Each project will take at least three times longer than your estimate
  • Projects will frequently take a minimum of 50 various parts and tools
  • Because of limited space, it’s rare to be able to work on multiple projects simultaneously
  • The tool or part you need most will be stored in the most difficult area to reach within the boat
  • The tool or part you need most will have somehow missed getting onto the inventory list and you will be unable to find it
  • Occasionally a tool or part must be sacrificed to the sea gods, via accidental ejection from the boat and into the water
  • Within Mexico, several businesses will have to be visited (even after recommendations from other cruisers) before the right part can be found (if ever)
  • Ability to improvise a plus!

Sidebar: San Francisco

Because of our visa status and some necessities that will be explained below, we need to personally exit  Mexico (the boat can stay 10 years) at least once every six months.

We took a 10-day trip to San Francisco in January to take care of some business and collect some essential boat items. If we didn’t see you while we were there, we DID miss catching up with you but our agenda was overly full.

In the weeks before our departure we each kept a running list of items to order/collect/buy while back in the U.S. Upon our return to Puerto Vallarta, we brought back about 350 pounds of equipment and supplies in eight checked and carry-on bags, much of this included items simply not possible to obtain in Mexico. Most items were additional boat spare parts we’d left at home; either we didn’t anticipate we’d need them so soon, or didn’t think we would need them at all. Without a vehicle and being in unfamiliar areas, it is also hard to gather the wide variety of pieces and parts that a happy Voyager and crew require.

Before we left in October we obtained a “temporary import permit” that allows us to bring our parts for the boat into Mexico with a minimum of hassle. Shipping things down here is just a nightmare due to slow shipping times plus customs bureaucracy. It’s just easier, often cheaper, and much less worrisome to simply bring in the items personally by air or car (or impose upon a good friend to do so).

We actually took a bag or two full of items BACK to the states with us, such as our satellite T.V. converter boxes, as we need to change providers now that we are outside the U.S.


What did we bring down? The below is a partial list, for entertainment purposes only! (We’ve already started the NEXT list…also hoping that some friends that will be coming down in mid-March can bring us a few things!)

  • Great hand-me-down clothes from our pal Josh, 4, for donation to children’s charity (single moms in Puerto Vallarta)
  • Book: Sport Fish of the Pacific
  • Zincs for generator engine
  • Nine pounds of Molinari Italian salami
  • Paper cocktail napkins
  • Collapsible paddle for kayak (paddle boarding)
  • Feeler gauge
  • Mase generator engine manual
  • Wireless router
  • Plastic mirror for aft shower
  • Trader Joe’s precooked wild rice
  • Sailing gloves for bill
  • Star finder
  • LED light bulbs
  • Book: Sea of Cortez Marine Invertebrates
  • Red crimp connectors male and female slip tabs
  • Canned roasted green chiles for Bill’s chile relleno casserole
  • Mainsheet traveler (6 feet long, about 80 pounds before disassembly for airline transport)
  • Nice holder and doo bags for our yellow Labrador friend Sadie on C’est La Vie
  • Solar (night)light for aft rail
  • 2 TB hard drive and movies
  • Water maker expendables
  • Refrigerator part for another friend’s boat
  • Dri-Deck squares to place under dive tanks and fuel jugs on deck
  • Recent New Yorker, Economist and Cooks Illustrated magazines
  • Stainless radar mount frame
  • Boat fabrics for covers and shade material
  • Holding tank sensor
  • Microfiber dish mats from Bed, Bath & Beyond, quick drying!
  • Miscellaneous stainless steel hardware and fasteners including pop rivets to mount radar frame
  • Veggie “green” bags (Julie believes they help!)
  • Juice glasses (to replace a few broken ones)

Yacht Clubbin’

Nuevo Vallarta has the first traditional (building, catering, and staff) yacht club we have visited since leaving San Diego. The Vallarta Yacht Club has a beautiful clubhouse overlooking Paradise Marina, food and bar service seven days a week, and plenty of social activities for both the cruising community and those who have settled here on land either permanently or seasonally.

Julie, Bill and Dale waiting for some wine. Some of the great goodies from the club's kitchen.

One of the several events we attended was a fish fry with friends from Double Dharma and C’est La Vie. Like many yacht clubs the food was great and a bargain besides (this all-you-can eat dinner was around $12 pp and included a nice Latin/Carib band for entertainment). Nice cold Pacificos run about $1.60, this is our kind of place!

Latin grooves. Susan & Keith from C'est La Vie. Friendly club staff.

Navigartistes

There’s a lovely French couple, Delphine and Franck, who are traveling the world on their 40-foot sailboat La Loupiote with their two daughters (about 6 and 8). They’ve been on the go since 2004, beginning at Brittany, France. After crossing the Atlantic to see the east coast, they cruised the Caribbean and after transiting the Panama Canal are now visiting Mexico. When they stop somewhere they perform an acrobatic/high wire act in the rigging of their SAILBOAT!

Many cruisers need to produce some sort of income while on their journey; these two developed their “circus” idea before starting their sailing adventure. They pass a hat at the end of their performance and often the marina where they “park” will give them free berthing.

They have two different shows that are really spectacular – one a comedy act that would make you think of Chaplin or Lloyd, and another dreamy/romantic sketch. Their physical conditioning and techniques were amazing. We watched them while at Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta and then again at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz when our friends Carol and Phil were visiting from Florida.

When they depart the Banderas Bay area they’ll head to Hawaii, then to the Vancouver area (where they have a paid engagement), and then down the California coast. Their show would really be a treat for Bay Area sailors (and their kids!) to see around various San Francisco yacht clubs, we’re doing what we can to spread the word. The awesome Northern California sailing magazine, Latitude 38, did a nice article on them  (coincidentally one of their reporters was in town to cover the “Pacific Puddle Jump” – the annual multi-boat crossing to French Polynesia.) Furthermore, if this wonderful couple could somehow get the exposure get tied in with some upcoming America’s Cup festivities, it could be really cool. The performers have a website at voilierspectacle.com but there is not much to it. If they had some time to polish it that would really help them.

2011 Begins in Banderas Bay

We arrived to the Banderas Bay area on December 30, finally catching up with our friends from the Brisbane Marina – Ted and Brenda on our sistership Firefly who we had not seen since mid-November on the Baja peninsula.

For New Years Eve about 12 boats had a roving dock party with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres (I think the winner was the baked bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese) and cocktails (of course!) …temp in the low 70s. There were fireworks on the bay at midnight but we were in the sack by 11! (What party animals we are, but we usually don’t make it up that late where ever we are.) The cruising life often revolves around getting up (early) at first light, and winding down when it gets dark.

During a 10-day stay at Marina Riviera Nayarit at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle we met a nice young man Luis who runs a successful boat-care business. He invited the crews of Voyager, Firefly and Sandpiper (Ed & Annette) to a New Year’s Day family celebration.

Bill and Julie admire the beach. Brenda from Firefly finds a personalized watering hole.

We took the bus northwest about six miles to Punta de Mita, which is known for its lovely beaches, surfing, and a very large Four Seasons resort with oceanfront golf course. The party was held at the home of Luis’ wife’s grandparents. Probably the last “locals” to hang on to their oceanfront home in this area, their property is situated between a luxury condominium and a new upscale shopping plaza. They lease out a small portion of their beach to a surfboard rental company.

One of the many beautiful "heirloom" (julie's description) chickens wandering about. Gramps and the canines.

This was a very simple and modest home but the family was enjoying the day, the environment, and each other just like all families everywhere. The weather was marvelous for being outdoors and the view was spectacular. An entertaining feature with us cruisers was the large tree in the yard and its ladder to allow the resident chickens to comfortably climb the tree at night for roosting. To supplement some cold cervezas and some tasty cocktails, there were some incredible home-made tamales including sweet varieties of pineapple and strawberry.

JASDIP (figure it out). Luis presents the tamales, finishing on the grill.

Chacala

About halfway down the coast from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta we stopped for two nights to stay in a lovely bay just off the small village of Chacala. Normally this bay and its beaches are virtually empty, but many Mexican families were around on the beach during the day for the holiday school break.

Cobblestone streets of "downtown" Chacala. Lots of fun going on at the beach.

Some cruiser friends who are spending many months anchored in the bay (they have adopted the area and are participating in charitable activities), said that many of the families come from the Guadalajara area to enjoy the ocean. There were about eight boats anchored out when we arrived but only three when we departed.

The accordion player looked a bit like Prez Obama! Beach-goers admire Voyager (left) and Camelot (right) at anchor.

Christmas – Cruiser Style

Marina Mazatlan is a large facility with many amenities for cruisers, including a nice indoor/outdoor cruisers lounge upstairs above the marina office. The weekend before Christmas the kids from the local Salvation Army children’s home came to the marina to present a holiday program of singing and dancing.


The 35 or so kids (of all ages) who live at the home are either permanent or temporary residents. In some instances the children have been abused, removed from their parent/s and sent to the home. The Salvation Army receives no financial support from the Mexican government to care for these kids who must find ways to provide financing so that they can be housed, fed and clothed. Their holiday program is one of their fundraising efforts.

About 75 cruisers attended the program held on the cruiser lounge patio, They made donations, bought beers for donations, participated in a fund-raising action of the “last beer of the day,” etc. At the end of the program even some of the cruisers jumped up to dance along. Dena of Double Dharma and Julie were needing a shopping “fix” (having no other holiday buying to do) so they went to the local Soriana department store and bought a bunch of gifts for the kids – pajamas, socks, shirts, hair ties, etc. and had fun wrapping them all in time for the program.

Dan from Dazzler reading a Mexican tale of Christmas. Cruisers enjoying the day.

For Christmas Day, Dena and Julie and Nadine from Harlekin organized a potluck dinner for about 45 cruisers. Everyone chipped in a few dollars for smoked turkey (cooked aboard Voyager), spiral ham (cooked on Double Dharma) and one cruiser donated roast beef tenderloins (grilled by Cap’n Dale on Double Dharma). There were great side dishes – including the ubiquitous sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. Many bottles of wine were consumed and a white elephant gift exchange (many nautical-themed gifts of course) was a lot of fun.

What a Zoo

We could not pass up an opportunity to check out the Mazatlan Aquarium just off the malecon in central Mazatlan. It’s always hard for anyone to top the caliber of the Monterey Bay Aquarium but it was still fun to visit this modest facility (many Mexican families visiting during the winter break) and there was a small collection of (fresh water) turtles in the adjacent outdoor park.

Got Beer?

We took advantage of an opportunity to join a group of cruisers to explore the local (first ever) Pacifico Beer Plant. The only cost to us all was 17 pesos – about $1.30 – per person for a one way ride to the site in the back of pickup trucks with bench seating.

Aerial view of Pacifico Plant and central Mazatlan. Happy cruisers after free beer.

The tour was rather brief and simple but our hostesses did a great job and their English was quite good. The event culminated with a visit to their “museum” at the top of the factory (nice aerial view of the area except for some fog!), and few rounds of icy, refreshing Pacificos, albeit without limes. Life is real tough here but somehow we make do.

Parked in Mazatlan

We spent two weeks in the Mazatlan area at Marina Mazatlan which is just north of town. We are not seeing derelict boats in marinas down here, the dock pricing (in general costing twice what we pay for berthing in California) seems to discourage any poorly kept vessels from lingering.

Birds are of course everywhere. Aerial view of the north harbor, Marina Mazatlan is in the lower right corner.

One afternoon we took a dinghy excursion of the waterways surrounding the marina area with Dale and Dena from Double Dharma and our new friends Gary and Nadine from Harlekin. We saw many very nice waterfront homes (one would almost think that they were touring some of the canals around Fort Lauderdale), interesting wildlife including various birds, iguanas and jumping fish, and several places along the estuary where you can stop for eating/drinking.

Dinghy tour with Gary & Nadine and Dale & Dena. Iguana catching some rays.