Our last posting left off with us in a challenging situation, having just lost our dinghy and outboard and about to have guests. Life has a way of continually moving, helping to put such situations in context. Not too surprisingly, we have found a replacement dinghy and outboard, and our lives look remarkably similar to the way they looked before this shake-up. We found a used dinghy being sold by a couple in the La Cruz marina who wanted to upgrade to a larger one. It’s a fancier dinghy than the one we lost, including two benches with small storage compartments and even cup-holders, but has been somewhat heavily used. Water leaks into an as-yet-unidentified place in the stern, so we’re bailing daily, but we expect to resolve that problem in the next few days. We’ll need to make a new set of chaps (just like the last dinghy), to protect it from the intense sun – for Kathy, this is the biggest loss of the saga 🙂 . We found a used outboard on consignment at the only full chandlery in town. Normally they don’t carry used equipment, but through an unusual set of circumstances they happened to have a four-stroke 15HP Mercury outboard, exactly what we needed – except that the price for a 3-year-old motor was the same as a new one would have cost in San Diego. C’est la vie!
Kathy’s mom and two sisters came to visit for a week in early November, the week after the storm, so we quickly moved into the Paradise Village marina, both to help us regroup and to make our guests more comfortable. This resort opens all of its facilities to marina patrons the same as to hotel patrons. There are several nice swimming pools that we have enjoyed in the past (and certainly will again in the future!) as well as several hot tubs. While they were visiting, the resort had a “welcome event”, which included a performance by some local dancers that was quite dramatic. The dancers had flamboyant costumes, and leaped around pots of fire. They entered by running down the aisles through the audience, banging drums and crying out to one another in a primal voice. Quite a contrast to the rest of the show which involved introductions to the resort’s services and facilities, an audience participation game-show, and a raffle. In addition to lots of good conversation, we enjoyed some fun Scrabble games together, visited Sayulita, a nearby town with a nice beach, spent a couple of nights at anchor (and heard whale song through the hull at night!), sailed out into the bay on a whale-watching jaunt, wandered the Sunday Crafts Market, and played tourist for a day in downtown Puerto Vallarta. It was a nice visit, diminished only by the fact that Kathy’s brother Andy lost his passport and was unable to join us at the last minute.
The day after they left, we moved back into a marina (this time Nuevo Vallarta Marina, which has no swimming pools but is less expensive) to keep the boat secure while we “popped” up to New York to visit Dan’s mother. Although the weather was a balmy 50F when we arrived, the climate-shock was nearly as great for us as the culture-shock! Altogether we spent nearly 3 weeks in New York, with one of them being spent in up-state New York at Aunt Nancy’s farmhouse for the extended family’s Thanksgiving celebration. This year’s distinguishing feature was dessert, both for quality and quantity. Somehow there was a miscommunication when assignments were handed out, and the 3 people who were asked to bring dessert all thought they were bringing all the dessert needed for 20 people. That meant that we ended up with 3 times the dessert needed – all told there was enough for everyone to have an entire pie! Some of the desserts were traditional pumpkin or pecan pies, while others were more exotic, especially the yuzu fruit and the mocha icebox cake. No one left with their sweet-tooth still active! While in the NYC area, in addition to the nice family connections, we saw two films that were pre-release – Liv and Ingmar, and Some Velvet Morning – both of which we enjoyed quite a bit, attended an off-Broadway play (which actually turned out not to be our favorite, but the live-theater in-the-round experience was a rare treat for us – or at least for Kathy!), visited the Rubin Museum which focuses on Asian religious art, and each made a few connections with some folks from our distant past. We also spent a ridiculous amount of time in a wonderful upholstery shop, trying to find the perfect fabric to repair the seats in our pilothouse. Failing to find a good match for the existing fabric, we came home with enough to instead redo all of the cushions in the room, which will be a lot of work but a nice upgrade! Kathy got a new laptop – with the dreaded Windows 8 – and has spent numerous hours figuring out this brand new paradigm; it’s literally been decades since she learned a new OS! She also came home with a solid case of the flu, but as far as we know the correlation to Windows 8 is as yet unsubstantiated.
As usual, we had full suitcases when we returned, nearly bursting with parts and supplies for projects around the boat. We spent several more days in the marina working on the most critical of these projects (like a new raw water cooling pump for the main engine, without which we weren’t going anywhere) and then moved back out to the anchorage. We went through a period that felt to Kathy like “one step forward, two steps back”. Things were breaking faster than we could attend to them – and we had another guest visit during this period.
Kathy’s dear friend Suzanne, from graduate school days in Texas, came to visit for the last 2 weeks of the year. While she was with us we participated in a Huichol sweat lodge ceremony on a beach north of La Cruz, visited a friend of hers in the town of Chacala (an hour’s bus ride north of La Cruz), perused the Sunday Craft Market, and spent a wonderful day hiking along the coast south of Puerto Vallarta – from Boca de Tomatlan to Quimixto. Suzanne is always ready to jump into something new, and she enthusiastically helped us to put a new coat of paint and anti-skid on our decks (or at least the half that we were ready to do!). The visit was full and fun, but (because of schedules, weather and boat projects) not the one we’d anticipated. She’ll just have to come back for more. 🙂 But perhaps we can convince her to leave the rain behind the next time…
We spent New Year’s Eve on a nearby boat, celebrating with a pleasant group of cruisers and locals. It was an enjoyable mix of making new friends, great food, Spanish practice, and watching nearly a dozen distant displays of fireworks all around the bay. We joined in a cute Mexican tradition, where we ate a dozen grapes as the bell tolled midnight, with each one representing a month in the coming year – if you pay attention, you may learn which months will be sweet and which may be a bit sour. Dan says June will be a bit bland, but August is going to be positively juicy!
Now things have settled down, and we’ve made substantial headway on the list of problems that was causing Kathy to fret – cleaned out the hoses to our forward head that has been out of service for two months, repaired the watermaker that has been unable to desalinate water since we returned from New York, replaced the cooling water pump for our main engine which had been leaking more water into the bilge than it was pumping back out to the sea, repaired the heat exchanger for our generator so it no longer overheats after 20 minutes, installed two hooks to hold up the portholes in the galley where people frequently whack their heads, etc… But it’s not all work – La Cruz offers a tempting array of events and activities to join in! We’ve attended a movie or two, a musical event or three, and Kathy has relished a few yoga classes. As is so often the case, we’ve enjoyed reconnecting with friends on several boats who we haven’t seen since last year, as well as meeting new friends who we hope to see again. We’re now preparing to head south a few hundred miles, hopefully in about a week. We’re looking forward to spending more fun times at anchor in Bahia Tenacatita, in the lagoon of Barra de Navidad, and in several of the other smaller stunning coves along the Pacific coast. We’re hoping to make it a little bit further south this year than last, with the town of Zihuatanejo in particular calling. But if it doesn’t work out that way, so be it; it’s the journey more than the destination. We hope that each of you is also able to enjoy your journey, wherever it may take you…