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Mexico - Mainland II

Written by Cathy Siegismund
January - March 2001


I had a busy week in Seattle January 11-17. I stayed with a good friend of mine, Keli Covin, and spent most of my time running errands with not surprisingly a disproportionate of them to marine stores. I did however, have a chance to visit with friends; it was really good to catch up. What I had been told to expect, but didn't really understand until I had returned to 'civilization' was how much I had slowed down while spending 3 months in Mexico. The conveniences of home were great, but the rushed pace was exhausting. It didn't take too long for me to jump back into that pace, so all the better I only spent a week in Seattle, before returning to Zihuat.

My friend Keli, flew back to Zihuat with me where she stayed for a week of vacation. Keli also helped me bring back all the things we needed or missed and couldn't find in Mexico. With 12 bags total (only 3 of which were actually clothes for both Keli and myself), which held books, boat parts, specialty food items and included a backpack full of cheese. We're not big fans of Mexican cheese.

The lower level of our fridge stashed with Tillamook and Cougar Gold cheese to get us to French Polynesia

Keli stayed on the boat with us, a little cozy on a 31' boat, but we had fun exploring Zihuat and Ixtapa and she enjoyed slowing down and relaxing in the sun for a week. I enjoyed showing Keli all the sights of Zihuat, our favorite town in Mexico.

Zihuat walking street with restaurants on once side and the beach on the other

Pier at Zihuat

Dinghy parking lot on the beach in Zihuat

Looking out to Zihuat Bay -- full of cruising boats

When we returned to Zihuat, Ken and Tam (Rainsong) had nearly completed their scuba certification class. Keli, Jan (Raven), Jason & Tam (Rainsong) and Ken and I all went out on their open water checkout dive. The dive was fair, visibility was only about 35 feet, and it was colder than I expected but it was good to go diving. We also got to know Ken and Tam's dive instructor Silvino and his wife Margarita. Tam and Jason, Ken and I hosted a dinner on Rainsong for them, and they later had us over to their home on Las Gatas. Ken is now certified so when we get to the South Pacific we can enjoy diving together.

Keli left Zihuat on January 24, and we spent the 2 weeks catching up with friends and preparing for our departure from Zihuat to head back north to PV. 

We found time for some beach relaxation at Las Gatas with Wendy & Garth (Velella) and Paul and Suzette (Altair). Paul and Suzette are now headed to Panama, where Paul grew up. They are then going to the Galapagos and then to the Marquesas. We hope to meet up with them in the South Pacific.

Our favorite palapa restaurant on Las Gatas - Amados (Clockwise: Garth, Ken, Cath, Paul & Suzette)

Our final two weeks in Zihuat of course also included some time at Rick's Bar. 

Rick (right) and Memo (left) at Rick's Bar

Friday evenings Rick brings in local musicians.

Friday evening jam session at Rick's Bar

Saturday nights he has a dance group from one of the large hotels in Ixtapa perform a number of Mexican folk dances.

Mexican folk dancers at Rick's Bar

Mexican folk dance with candles    

Old Man folk dance

Elk folk dance

On Thursday February 1 and Friday, February 2, we prepared to head north. We got fuel, provisioned at Commercial Mexicana and the market, and checked out with the Port Captain. 

Wendy joined me at the market as they're also getting ready to head back north.

Wendy buying fresh produce at the Zihuat Market

Bright colors of the Zihuat market

The market sells everything from produce to meat to socks to hardware

Until recently the large market was the only place to shop in Zihuat. In the last year or so, Zihuat has added the large, air-conditioned, and modern Commercial Mexicana which carries almost anything you could want. We did however, find that the market often still had fresher produce and better prices.

However, one of the risks of going to the market was stumbling across one of the very fresh meat counters!

Wendy showing our mutual discomfort at the carving up some carcass - I guess we're still not quite hard core cruisers!

Our last night in Zihuat we had dinner with Wendy & Garth (Velella) and Tam and Jason (Rainsong) and Jason's parents who where visiting for two weeks. We had great tacos in town and dinner for 8 came to $34.00 US!

At 11:30 Saturday, February 3 we sailed out of Zihuat bay. We had planned to make two stops prior to reaching Bahia de Navidad our next stop with a Port Captain. However, we had only mild northwest winds (the direction we were going) so we decided to press on and do a two-night passage to Bahia de Navidad. 

As we had light and variable winds we motored with the mainsail to stabilize us. We arrived at Bahia de Navidad at sunrise, on Monday, February 5 after a quiet 2 night passage. 

Arriving at Bahia de Navidad at sunrise

Bahia de Navidad is a medium-sized bay about 4 miles across, and is located about 20 miles north of the industrial city of Manzanillo. The town of Melaque is located at one end of the bay and the town of Barra de Navidad is at the other. Bahia de Navidad has several options for cruisers. There is an anchorage off Melaque - known as "Rocky Melaque." Barra has two additional options, a lagoon at the end of narrow dredged channel, which we heard could be a little "buggy" and a marina at a 5-star resort called Puerto de Navidad.

Since it was early and we were tired from the passage, we decided the easiest would be to anchor off Melaque rather an try to navigate the channel to the lagoon. 

Melaque

We dropped the hook at about 0800. We used our stern anchor for the first time. Ken dropped the stern anchor, and then we proceeded forward several hundred feet where I dropped the bow anchor. Then as I left out the chain on the bow, Ken pulled in the stern rode, until we were taught between the two anchors. This kept us pointed into the swell and we really didn't find Melaque very "rocky". We made breakfast and listened to the morning net that covered Melaque, Barra and Tenacatita. We heard from Raven, who were on their way over to Melaque from Tenacatita, and we made arrangements to meet later in the day. Ken and I then crashed until about 1300.

I stayed on the boat the rest of the day, and Ken went exploring with Jan and Signe. That evening we had a lovely dinner in Raven's spacious cockpit. 

The next day we set off to explore Melaque and Barra and check in. Jan and Signe gave us a ride to shore off Melaque. We tried unsuccessfully to go to the bank. There is only one bank in Melaque that serves both towns. You pull a number like at a bakery, Ken pulled #276, they were helping #44. All concerned thought it was better that we borrow some pesos from Jan and Signe and pay them back when we found a cambio.  

We grabbed a bus and took off for our next stop, the Port Captain's office. We would never have found this if we hadn't received directions from another cruiser. You take the bus from Melaque to Barra, get off about 1/2 way between the two towns in what appears to be the middle of nowhere by some soccer fields. Then you turn down the side street and walk until you see a giant #16 hand painted on the side of a house. That is the Port Captain's office -- on the ground floor of someone's home. 

After an hour or so there, we continued to hike into Barra. We explored the town and then took a panga across the channel to the Puerto de Navidad resort and marina. We planned to explore and talk our way into using the pool.

 

View of Puerto de Navidad Resort from the beach at Barra

And it kept getting bigger!

The panga dropped us off at the marina, where there were cruisers as well as a number of mega yachts, including a 100 foot sailboat, and a 150+ foot power boat with a helicopter strapped on top. The grounds were lovely, and we explored some of the shops and then went to the pool. Where Jan had talked and tipped our way into some nice lounge chairs and towels. We played in the pool and had a few overpriced beverages. We then returned to Barra in search of Tess's Malt Shop - famed to be the best burgers and shakes around.

View of Barra from Puerto de Navidad

Bahia de Navidad, looking from Barra across to Melaque

Typical souvenir shop in Barra

A rather unusual biker bar in Barra

We found Tess's and had fabulous hamburgers and fresh fruit shakes for lunch. The owner is an American from Minneapolis, who spends his winters in Barra. We returned to Melaque and the boats via a very bumpy buss ride, for a much needed nap - otherwise known as a food coma!

The next day, February 7, Raven went back up to Tenacatita, 11 miles north of Bahia de Navidad. We needed fuel, so we motored across the bay and through the channel in Barra to the brand new and very nice fuel dock behind the marina. By the time we finished fueling it was after 1300, so we decided to splurge and stay at the marina for a night.

The Marina is top notch, and staying there gives you (legitimate) access to the pool, showers, gym, and laundry facilities. 

View of the hotel from our slip

Felicity tied up in the marina

We tied up, checked in, grabbed lunch at Tess's, again; and then hit the pool. We took advantage of the waterslides that connect the 3 pools, and of course the swim up bar. We also took the opportunity to explore the hotel and the fabulous views it offered.

    

    


    

Our colorful neighbor in the marina

That evening we worked out in the gym and did some much needed laundry. The facilities are really excellent. That evening we decided to explore the hotel. We were a little hungry, but it was almost 2200, didn't feel like cooking on the boat so we went exploring the hotel looking for a cafe. Not finding a cafe, and feeling rather underdressed in our usual shorts, t-shirts and flip flops, we stopped in a bar of what looked like one of the nicest restaurants. The bar and restaurant were empty, but we sat at the bar and ordered a couple of drinks. Ken asked to see a menu, and before we knew it we had 5 waiters setting fine china place settings for us at the bar. The menu looked terrific, so we splurged and both had lobster bisque, and Ken had a lobster dinner and I a caesar salad. We felt a little odd being waited on by 5 waiters and eating our palate cleansing sorbet between courses with our flip flops perched on the edge of a bar stool - but the food was fantastic. We also exchanged Spanish and English lessons with our bartender, Miguel Angel, and our head waiter Carlos. As we were sitting at a tequila bar with at least 100 types, Miguel and Carlos gave us an education on the different types of tequilas. We did refrain from sampling, as some of the high end tequilas, aged like Cognac, sold for $54 US per shot.

The next day, Thursday, February 8, we used the plentiful fresh water at the dock and thoroughly washed Felicity for the first time in months. We made another quick trip to the gym and pool, checked out, and finally got under way at about 3pm. In hindsight, this wasn't very clever, as the wind really kicks up from the northwest in the afternoons. We ended up bashing our way north for over 3 hours to Tenacatita in 20-25 knots of wind. We arrived just before dark and dropped the hook next to Raven with 5 dinghies tied off her stern. The inner bay now had over 40 boats in it, quite a different look from when we had stopped on our way south when there were only about 6!

As soon as we had set the anchor snubber and put on the sail cover, Raven sent over a one of their guests to pick us up for dinner. Jan and Signe had befriended a group of BC cruisers in Santa Barbara and San Diego, so we had a rousing dinner for 12 followed by a game of Mexican Train dominoes.

Raven anchored in the inner bay at Tenacatita

The next morning at 0930 Jan and Signe met us at our boat and we followed them to shore, where we were going to do the famous Tenacatita jungle ride. Tenacatita is a large bay with an inner and outer anchorage, separated by a large point. There is a brackish river that cuts from the inner bay to a lagoon which is a short walk to the outer bay.

The beginning of the river that leads through the mangroves

It is a 40-minute trip that can only be navigated in a dinghy or panga. The river winds across the point of land through a mangrove swamp. At times, the river is less than ten feet wide and the mangroves are knitted together over the top to form a tunnel. There are rumors of crocodiles and boa constrictors, but all we saw were a wide variety of tropical birds. 

       

Birds line the river that winds through the mangroves

    

Following Signe and Jan through the encroaching mangroves

    

The dense mangroves block out the tropical morning sun

Close up of the mangrove vines. You can see where they have been cut back with machetes to keep the river navigable

The river opens to a lagoon at the other end of the river.

After our 40-minute ride through the mangroves, the river opens up to a lagoon. A short walk takes us to the beach on the outer anchorage of Tenacatita. There is a good snorkeling area called the aquarium.

The aquarium in the Tenacatita outer anchorage

There are also a number of palapa restaurants and a nice beach. We sat on the beach for a couple of hours with Jan and Signe. We also met an interesting couple from Europe, rather unusual to date, as most of the cruisers are Canadian and or Americans from the West Coast. The couple, the wife is from the UK and the husband is Dutch, are sailing an aluminum boat they built. To date they have sailed it from the UK, into the Med, across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean, through the Canal, to Hawaii, to Kodiak, Alaska, down the West Coast and are now in Mexico. They are out indefinitely and are taking a rather serendipitous route around the world. They're spending a year Mexico, doing the Sea of Cortez this summer, and then heading to the South Pacific next spring. 

After a few hours, we had to head back to the return trip through the river, before the low tide prevented our return to the inner bay.

      

On the return trip, we led the way and enjoyed the quiet reflections of the mangrove tunnel.

We just made it out of the river at low tide. Much later and we would have been dragging the dinghy instead of motoring. We headed to the beach on the inner bay for lunch at the famed French Restaurant.  It is in a building which was built for a movie called McHale's Navy. 

The movie set built for the McHale's Navy

We heard the movie was awful, but the building is now leased by a lovely French family who run a restaurant there. The food is excellent and they run book exchanges, happy hours and generally cater to cruisers.

    

The American movie set, turned French Restaurant on the Mexican West Coast

We joined a number of other cruisers at Paris Tropical for a great lunch of hamburgers and quiche. We were then off to the boat to prepare an hors d'oeuvre for the Friday night dinghy pot luck. This seems to be a common occurrence in bays where there is a large group of cruising boats. At a designated time before sundown, each week there is a dinghy raft up pot luck. The first dinghy anchors in a corner of the bay, and all the subsequent dinghies raft up together. Everyone brings beverages for themselves and an hors d'oeuvre to pass around and share.

    

Tenacatita dingy raft-up potluck

The potluck lasts a few hours, and is great way to meet more cruisers. The conversations are typically where are you from, what boat are you on, where have you been and what are your cruising plans. It often then turn to worst the weather you've been in, and who's embarrassed themselves on the VHF radio - the cruisers party line. The oddest story to come out of Tenacatita was the boat that was heading south, and when the skipper went to lift a coiled line, he discovered a six foot snake coiled with it that had crawled up their anchor chain. I guess this mortified cruising couple beat the thing to death with a boat hook, and then pitched it over the side. They had announced their traumatic experience on one of the morning nets as a warning to others. The response to them was, why did you waste the meat, snakes are tasty and you had already gone to the trouble of tenderizing it! 

We decided to stay another day at Tenacatita before heading north to Chamela. We had a relaxing day of reading, and then headed back to Paris Tropical for the cruisers book exchange and happy hour at 1600. 

Ken in line for a cerveza

We were enjoying happy hour and meeting some new cruisers, when we noticed about 15 members of the Mexican State Police roaming the restaurant and grounds. They were driving around in pickups and ATVs. Some were armed as usual. A number of the cruisers where starting to look a little nervous, and the French owners were looking very agitated. Apparently, the family leases the building from a large resort at the other end of the bay, and the State Police where there to tell them their lease was up, and they had one day to vacate. Shortly thereafter, the proprietor of the restaurant, jumped in his car and took off. Some of the cruisers started to thin out, as it was getting dark and the mood was a little dampened. However, our group continued to chat, order dinner and even help behind the bar in the owner's absence.

Two of the Canadian contingent (Bob and Bob) start tabs for the cruisers still enjoying the happy hour. 

Note the abundance of bald heads - apparently head shaving was another happy hour activity the week before that we fortunately missed.

After a few hours, the owner returned, with beers on the house for those of us remaining. He had gone to the hotel and renewed his lease - that is typical Mexico.

For the rest of the evening we enjoyed good beer and conversation, and a very entertaining rope puzzle.

Two cruisers demonstrating how not to get out of the rope puzzle

The next morning Saturday, February 10, we got up at dawn to make the 28-mile trip north to Chamela before the afternoon northwestern wind and seas kicked up. About an hour into our peaceful motor, we tried to call Raven, as they had left the day before, to see where they were. They were spending their second night at Bahia Careyes. They said the place was great, with a fabulous hotel almost devoid of guests who welcomed cruisers to use their facilities, which included a restaurant with was described by Jan as having the best enchiladas he'd ever eaten. As we were ahead of schedule we decided to stop and head to Chamela the next day. We arrived after the short 17-mile trip north before noon. Bahia Careyes consists of a small three-lobed bay. Each of the three lobes of the bay has its own hotel or condominium development, villas, and residential structures, some of which are visible from the sea. Newly nicknamed the Mexican Riviera, huge mansions cling to the rock cliffs.\

Rock cliffs are home to enormous pastel mansions

Entering Bahia Careyes

Raven was in the second lobe of the bay off the Hotel Careyes. That part of the small bay looked a little crowded, so we decided to try the first lobe of the bay which only had one boat in it. It was off the very noisy Club Med beach. We usually have no trouble setting our anchor, so we were surprised at not being able to set it after several attempts. We decided this was a mixed blessing, as the constant announcements of ocean aerobics and beach volley ball from Club Med would have drove us nuts. We returned to the second bay and easily set the anchor next to Raven. The anchorage was a little snug, but everyone had out stern anchors to keep the boat facing the swell and to eliminate the boats from swinging. 

View from our anchorage of the pastel condos overlooking the bay

Beautiful homes line the small bay

We quickly changed into swim suits, grabbed our pool stuff and were picked up by Jan and Signe for a ride into the beach and hotel.

The lovely pool at the Hotel Careyes

If you tire of the comfortable poolside chairs, you can lounge in the shade on these large cushy sofas

Looking out at Bahia Careyes with little Felicity next to Raven, the mothership

We relaxed the rest of the day at the hotel, and did have a fantastic enchilada lunch at the restaurant. We returned to the boat around 1600, and Signe and Jan had us over for wine and a game of Mexican Train.

The next day, February 11, we only had a short 10-mile trip to Bahia de Chamela, so we slept in and motored up the coast arriving by midday.

We arrived in Chamela; and finding the bay nearly empty anchored in a great spot out of most of the swell. Raven was shortly anchored decide us, although we had left at least an hour before. That's what 60+ feet of waterline and an engine that motors at 10 knots will get you. We straightened the boat up and relaxed, having decided we weren't going to blow up the dinghy for a one-day stay.

Enormous flocks of sea birds fish off the beach at Chamela

That evening we again joined Raven and another Canadian boat for dinner and Mexican Train on Raven. We finished up at about 2130. There was no wind, and we had a 50 mile leg ahead of us to Bahia Ipala, a small bay just south of Cabo Corrientes, a cape that causes strong winds and short steep seas, the rounding of which should be done in the early morning. As the weather was so calm that evening, and we wanted to avoid the high winds of the afternoon that would be on our nose, we decided to the dismay of Signe and Raven to pull anchor and do an overnighter to Ipala. We were underway by 2300 and had a quiet motor up to Ipala, although we did have to dodge some fishing boats and sailboats along the way.

We arrived in Ipala at sunrise, and anchored in the small bay which is home to a tiny puebla and fishing boats. As the bay is only 14-miles south of Cabo Corrientes, many cruising boats spend one night here as a rest stop on their way north and south around the cape. We were visited by two local boys from the puebla who were looking for paper and pencils for school. We scrounged some up and sent them off with t-shirts as well. 

We took our usual post-overnight passage nap, and when we got up we had four other boats, including Raven as company in the small bay. We had thought of leaving that night to round the cape in the wee morning hours, but as it had been rumored, just before sundown fisherman strung a fishing net across half of the bay entrance. As we didn't relish the idea of snagging one of those, we decided to wait until sunrise to leave.

We left Ipala at 0700 just after sunrise February 14. This put us at the beginning of the cape at about 0900, which wasn't quite early enough to completely avoid a bouncy ride beating Northwest into Banderas Bay.

After rounding the cape, the winds and seas eased and we had a nice sail across Banderas Bay. We had arrived one day early for our reservations at Paradise Village Marina, so we spent the night at Punta de Mita about 12 miles Northwest of Paradise Village. 

The rolly anchorage at Punta de Mita, woke us up early the next day, so we pulled anchor and headed for Paradise Village, in Nuevo Vallarta (about 8 miles Northwest of Puerto Vallarta.) We pulled the marina at about 1000, February 15 and were met on the dock by Dick Markey, the harbormaster. It was only the third time we'd tied up to a pier during our four months in Mexico. We ended up being next to a guy we had met on the Ha Ha, Mike Miller on Uhuru, a Pearson Vanguard 32. He is singlehander who is spending the year in Mexico and then possibly heading to the Caribbean

The Paradise Village Marina and Resort, is a first-class facility. The resort has several great pools and the best beach on the bay. There is a hospitality room with full kitchen and showers that cruisers can use. The resort has a great spa and gym which Ken and I both joined for the six weeks we'll be staying in PV. There is a small shopping mall, which is a little pricey but has all the conveniences of North America, even a Dominoes Pizza and McDonalds. 

The first few days at Paradise Village, we caught up with Jan and Signe on Raven, and Dave and Linda Allegre on Crusader who we hadn't seen since San Diego.

Linda, Dave, Ken, Cath, and Signe having dinner and playing Mexican Train on Raven

Having only a week until our moms arrived for their visit, we kicked into project mode. We removed the old radar, started on the varnish and thoroughly washed the boat.  

We also made the requisite visit to the local marine store, Zaragoza and joined the local Sam's Club - which is like Costco. We were delighted to find a number of US products we had been missing.

Dave and Linda were soon heading back up to the Sea of Cortez for the summer, so we hosted a dinner on Felicity for them and of course invited our bachelor neighbor Mike as well.

Mike from Uhuru

Dave and Linda, Crusader

Dave and Linda will be heading to the South Pacific next year, so we hope to catch up with them there.

Ken's mom and aunt visited for a week and my mother visited for two weeks. Paradise Village was a great place for them to stay. They have studio apartments at the resort where some of the employees live and they reserve 4 rooms for marina guests at only $42.00/night. The rooms are cleaned daily, and have access to all of the resort facilities, so it was a great deal for our families.

The moms enjoyed the pools and beach and Ken's mom, Peggy and his aunt, Nancy went on a few tours and shopped downtown. We enjoyed a number of restaurants around Paradise Village, and went to Pipi's a great gringo hangout with some of the best shrimp fajitas and guacamole we've had in Mexico.

One of the highlights of Peggy's trip was a dolphin swim.

My Mom, Dorothy, didn't join the dolphins, but did visit with the parrots

I completed a number of sewing projects while I had the luxury of spreading out my sewing machine in my mom's room. 

During the fist week in March, Rainsong (Jason and Tam) and Layla (Drew and Vernita) arrived in Paradise Village. We hadn't seen Jason and Tam since we were in Zihuat and we hadn't seen Drew and Vernita since San Diego -- it was great to catch up.

We also finally collected all the parts, including our new radar, that Drew was so kind to bring down for us on Layla. We immediately went to work on the radar. We managed to get the new cable in without pulling the mast which an enormous relief to us. Over the next few days we managed to get the radar completely installed, and it worked beautifully.

I continued to work on varnish, and Ken worked on our other projects we needed to complete before we leave for the South Pacific.

Projects did stop for a few days, while Ken studied for his General Ham test, which he passed. This really opens up a lot more options for us on the radio. We have a great deal more bandwidth for email, including the ability to send attachments. It also allows us to participate in other cruisers Nets and use the Ham frequencies to receive weather information.

Another nice bonus at being at Paradise Village is that it is where all the Puddle Jump activities occur. The Puddle Jump is the crossing from Mexico to the South Pacific. There were a number of Puddle Jump meetings and an organized Puddle Jump single-sideband radio net, the Odyssey 2001 Net. We will begin checking in on this net once we leave PV. This is a nice safety feature, allows us to hear what the weather is like ahead of us, and is a way to keep track of our friends. Another great perk is the weather information all the puddle jumpers will receive via email. There is a gentleman in California, Don Anderson on Summer Passage, who provides great complimentary weather information via radio for a number of the Mexican cruisers nets and via email for the puddle jumpers.  

The puddle jump activities culminated with a Latitude 38 sponsored party. Around 50 boats are leaving from PV alone, with other boats leaving from Acapulco, Zihuat and Cabo. 

The Puddle Jump Class of 2001

Between work projects on the boat, we did make a little time for some dinners with friends. Our friends Wendy and Garth on Velella arrived at Marina Vallarta in mid-March. They have decided not to go to the Galapagos, as it adds nearly 3000 miles to their trip. We did hear from Paul and Suzette on Altair. They had left Zihuat for Panama and has arrived in the Galapagos. They will be leaving the Galapagos on April 12 for the Marquesas.

We took a day off from projects and went on a horseback riding trip up into the Sierra Madres with Tam and her sister. We were picked up at the hotel by bus, and drove about 30 minutes up into the foothills. There we had breakfast at the ranch, and then got on our little Mexican caballos. We rode through winding trails up into the hills for about 1 1/2 hours. They then tethered the ponies, and we walked another 15 minutes up a narrow path and over swinging suspension bridges to a small cool lake fed by a waterfall. They had cold drinks and Ken and I went for a very brief swim in the chilly mountain water. We then returned to the horses, rode back to the ranch and had a great lunch. It was $45.00/person, but was really a fun all-day event. 

Since we are ending up staying in PV through the end of March, we were here for the Banderas Bay Regatta, March 23 - 25. Ken crewed on Raven for the three-day race. I went out on day 2 only.

The race is supposed to be a cruisers race, but some of the more serious boats were leaving a lot of their cruising gear on the dock each day. There was a Hobie division, a large multi-hull division and a number of mono-hull divisions. Raven's appropriate t-shirt slogan was "Rail Meat for the Furniture Fleet"

Below are pictures from the 2001 Banderas Bay Regatta.

The crew of Raven, Ken working the main sheet

Captain Jan

Raven's impressive Battle Flag

Day one was extremely light air, with only boats in the fleet finishing.

Pantera leaving Paradise Village Marina, a screaming fast carbon fiber cat that was of the few finishers on day one.

Committee Boat for the Regatta

Banderas Bay Regatta has a beautiful setting with the Sierra Madres Mountains in the background.

Roxanne, a very fast custom Wylie 61

Not quite as fast, but we all thought a beautiful Little Harbor 54

Raven reaching the mark in the very light wind of day 1

Regatta boats off to the first mark

Raven's rail meat for the furniture fleet

Day two started better, with winds holding 12 - 18 knots most of the day.

Hobies off to a fast start

Raven making good time over the start line, looks back at most of the fleet

Raven's flying her spinnaker on heading toward the finish line

Raven finished in the middle of her division, but everyone had a great time with a relaxed skipper and a fun crew. 

A highlight of my stay in PV was a chance to swim with the dolphins. Dolphin Adventure is an enclosed facility with trained dolphin; I have no doubt that swimming with wild dolphin would be more thrilling, but it was a chance I couldn't turn down.

More Pictures in the Dolphin Adventure Photo Gallery

We are now down to about our last week in PV before our first major ocean passage. If we would circumnavigate this leg from Mexico to the Marquesas would likely be our longest passage. Our project list is getting smaller, and we feel the most prepared for this passage as any we've done to date.

The radar replacement was our most critical project. However, we have also been working on boat maintenance adding cruising gear we've discovered we need after being out here for 6 months. I added seven maintenance coats to all of our varnish, we've had jerry jug covers made, I sewed a new dinghy cover and cockpit table cover, we've inspected our sails, added some chafe tape and baggywrinkle to help avoid further chafe on our full-batten main on the long downwind sail ahead of us. Ken has worked on the engine and will be installing our towing generator, as we will largely need to rely on alternative energy sources (towing and solar) to charge our batteries on the 30-day passage. We do have the fuel capacity to totally rely on our engine to keep up with our power additions. We had some of the local guys polish and wax the boat. Felicity is looking more like she's going to a boat show than an ocean crossing!

Provisioning has taken up a good deal of my time. Not only will we be at sea for about a month, but provisions can be scarce to non-existent in certain areas of the South Pacific as well. Our first stop is the Marquesas Islands. Apparently you can get fuel and fresh tropical fruit if you befriend a local landowner and trade with them, but not a lot else. The next stop for us will be the Tuamotus, a group of nearly 100 low lying atolls which are home to black pearls and coconuts and little else. We will not see a proper grocery store until we reach Tahiti sometime in July. Think about grocery shopping for 3 months, the next time you go to the store!

Our last minute projects include our fresh produce provisioning which I'll do at the Sunday farmers' market a couple of days before we leave, final stowing and securing of the boat for a passage, and have a diver scrub the bottom and change our zincs after sitting in a marina for six weeks.

Our last few days in PV we also hope to find time to relax, visit the spa and maybe actually go out to one of the great restaurants in old town. 

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