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Fourth Season in Mexico, getting ready for SoPac

Link to 4th Season Pictures

Hot, Hot, Hot, in Paradise Again  11/20/06

We had a pretty easy drive down from Nogales, made it through once again without having to ‘splain what we were doing with a couple grand worth of new dinghy and solar panels in the back of the van.  Whew.

Since our arrival here in Nuevo Vallarta, it has been unseasonably hot, and there was an unseasonably late hurricane named Sergio that had us watching our weather reports closely for a week or so.  Serge decided to be a good boy and not bother us, luckily.  As a result of the heat, though, work progress has been slow, and we are going to have to pick up the pace to get it all done before we head south in a couple of weeks.  When we unloaded the van at first, the entire port side deck was stacked high, and Arabella had quite a list!  We do have everything stowed and finally were able to wash down the boat, so some progress has been made.  Besides that, I have attached one 10’ stainless tube between the aft pushpit and the lifeline gate stanchion, and hung both new solar panels from it.  The other side will go on soon (was supposed to be today) and we’ll move one panel over there.  I’m still dreading drilling holes to run wires through the deck, but I guess it will have to happen sometime…

We also have sent the dodger in for restitching and zipper replacement, and have made an appointment with Dustin from Fox marine to get the new VHF antenna installed, and the nav light reinstalled on top of the stick.

We haul out December 1 at Opequimar, and hope for a fast bottom job there, but can’t seem to find the cheap Mexican bottom paint that has served us so well since the last haulout in San Carlos.  Still looking, though.

We were fortunate to be invited to Dr. Jorges son in law’s birthday party at his Hacienda yesterday, and really had a good time with the family and some other gringo friends.  The menu included the good doctor’s own Birria, and venison pozole, to name a couple of highlights.  Speaking of Birria (goat stew),  Jorge has  been building up quite a nice little flock of goats, which Buddy took great pleasure  in herding around with a new little friend he made.  Of course we forgot our camera…

That’s about all I have for now.  We’ll try to get some pics up soon.

Hope all is well with everyone,


Mike, Barb, and Bud the goat herder

Goonies in Barra de Navidad 12/22/06

Once more that “deja vu all over again” feeling has come over us, as we float peacefully in the protected waters of the Barra Lagoon.

We pulled out of Paradise mid-afternoon on December 11,  just leaving ourselves time to make it to Punta de Mita before sunset.  Even though Punta Mita is on the extreme northwest edge of Banderas Bay, and we were planning to go south, it seemed like a good place to take off from, and gave us a chance to check out the engine for awhile on the way there.  About 2am I woke up and decided to get underway.   With a bright half-moon painting a silvery trail on the water to my left, I was confidently steaming along a southerly course towards Cabo Corrientes when my reverie was rudely interrupted by the engine alarm going off.  I still don’t know what it was, but whatever caused the overheating must have been temporary, and we were soon moving again.  Long story short, after 18 fairly uneventful hours (well, the sunrise off Corrientes was rather spectacular, complete with dolphin escort) we arrived at Bahia Chamela  just as the sun was beginning to set, and got the hook set just before full darkness.

Buddy was very glad to finally reach the beach when we arrived early afternoon the following day at Tenecatita, and he didn’t really want to return to Arabella until sunset that night.  Couldn’t say I blamed him, but someday we still hope he will learn to relieve himself on deck while we’re underway…

So midmorning Thursday found us gingerly picking our way through the narrow channel to the Lagoon behind Barra, since we’d decided to save some fun tickets by avoiding the expensive Grand Bay marina this visit.  Besides, we wanted to check out the effectiveness of our two new solar panels, and see if perhaps they might keep up with the load from our refrigeration system.  Well, after a week here, we have to admit they don’t quite, but they do help a lot.  We may (probably do) need 4 new batteries, and also need to redo the wiring from the panels so the Heart Interface can detect the amps they provide.  The poor thing only knows about the amps going out, and  now thinks we are about 600 amp-hours in the hole.  It comes up when we run our generator, but there has been a steady decline every day that isn’t correct.

We have our Christmas lights up, and Barb has been putting her Christmas CDs into the changer, so we are beginning to get into the spirit despite the tropical heat here!  Speaking of heat, one of the nice things about anchoring here in the lagoon is the breeze we get every day, as the Marina people sizzle in the lee of the giant hotel.  It’s good to be a Goonie.

We retrieved the van from PV the day after our arrival here, in order to be able to pick up Sister Deb at Manzanillo Airport last Monday, and look forward to seeing her and her friend Sue (whom she’s visiting in La Manzanilla) tonight at Seamaster for Bonnie Gibson’s season debut.

Christmas will be a repeat of last year’s Cruiser Potluck at the Sands Hotel with 58 people signed up so far.  Hope they cook plenty of turkeys!  Last year my slightly inappropriate contribution of sushi rolls was gone in less than 2 minutes, and there were lots of them, so I may do that again.

Anyway, we are really happy to be back in our adopted Home South, where it feels like old friends are everywhere we look, and life is as sweet as it gets.

We hope all who read this are well and happy, and if we have any regrets about being here, it would be not having you all here with us.

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and the best of New Years!


Feliz Navidad from Barra de Navidad,

Buddy, Barb, and Mike

Holiday Fun and the Start of a New Year -1/22/07

 With a couple of exceptions, so far 2007 is shaping up nicely for the Arabella crew. 

The holiday season was great, highlighted by a visit from my big seester Deb, and the December 30 arrival of the ever-effervescent Lana to our little home town away from home.

We have made a couple of visits to Tenecatita; once for a week after the New Years festivities were over, and for a three-dayer during the week of my daughter’s visit.  It was truly bitchen there, as usual, with crystal-clear water for snorkeling.

Speaking of Bitchen, we finally got to meet Jody and Bob Bitchen (publishers of Latitudes and Attitudes Magazine) when they sailed into town early in the month.  I could tell they were a bit traumatized by their little “encounter” with the dock, but hey, if the tranny won’t go into reverse, what ya gonna do?  Several days later we lucked out and caught them at Piper Lovers bar and had a little more time to chat with them.  What nice folks.  Hope to see them again when they return from their boat show run.

Speaking of Piper Lovers Bar, he has finally taken the self-serving advice I’ve been offering for 3 years, and set some services up for cruisers.  He has installed WiFi in the bar, a private shower downstairs (big goodness), will receive and hold mail for cruisers, is getting a fax machine, has food available, etc etc.  We hope it helps his business as much as it will help us out!

So, I suppose you want to hear the not so wonderful stuff too, eh?

Here’s a little story I’ll call Black Monday.

We had decided to take my daughter Lucy out to Tenecatita Monday to escape the sometimes too much fun of Barra for a few days, and show her our favorite beach.  She was only here for a week, and there was much we wanted her to experience.  Since I get flustered trying to navigate the narrow channel in and out of the lagoon, Barbie, my intrepid lagoon channel pilot, agreed to do it, even though she was not quite 100% that Monday morning, for reasons we won't go in to.  As you may have guessed, we ran pretty hard aground  trying to get out of the lagoon.  No way could we power ourselves off, and the herd of dinghys that so kindly materialized to help couldn’t budge us either.  Then a couple of pangeros showed up and offered to help, and with one pulling on an extended main halyard to heel us over, and one pulling forward with 200 horses, we eventually shot out of that muddy trap like we’d been launched by a slingshot.  I guess nobody noticed we had run over the tow line, and when reverse was applied, we wrapped it up really well on our prop shaft.  The pangero couldn’t get it his knot untied, so he cut my brand-new 5/8 x 250ft three strand nylon stern rode right about in the middle.  Oh joy, I guess I will now learn how to do that kind of splicing.  But I digress, things still got worse.

Maybe I was flustered, maybe I’m just stoopid, but I grabbed a mask and snorkel and dove into the funky lagoon water to unwrap the line, forgetting the wallet in my pocket.  If it just had gotten wet, as has happened more times than I’d like to relate, that would have been fine.  But no, you guessed it, it floated away un-noticed by anyone, never to be seen again.  Now I get to deal with the hassle of canceling all the cards and getting new ones imported, as well as trying to figure out how to get a replacement driver’s license down here…

So, we made it to Tenecatita finally, thinking that the embarrassing and extremely hassle-causing departure was bad enough to color the day black on our memory calendars.   That was, until I found out several days later that our dear friend Dr. Jorge Ruiz passed away that same Monday.  He had complained to me about some severe stomach pains when we saw him last month in PV, but he didn’t want to have it looked at until he and his new ladyfriend Sylvia sailed down here from Paradise Village with Mark and Deb on Seangel.  When we arrived here, he and Sylvia had already returned to PV a few days prior, and Mark confided that Jorge had been looking pretty rough.  We agreed it might just have been from a week-plus aboard, experiencing an unaccustomed lifestyle, plus the aforementioned nightlife once here in Barra.  Apparently there was advanced cancer, however, and he went extremely fast.  We will miss him greatly, and will always have fond memories of the times he welcomed us into his family for parties at his ranch. 

All in all, it was a Monday we hope we don't see the likes of again.

When we returned from Tenecatita to get ready to start planning to take Lucy to the airport, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy the new boat batteries, so we are in the marina for a few days to make the transfer easier, as well as clean up the boat, fix the aft head, and spend a day or two catching up on internet stuff like this update.  I hate marinas, especially expensive ones like this, but they do make life easier!

Plans are still to hang down here until the end of February and then head back to PV for final provisioning and prepping for the Pacific.  WhoooHooo!


Ciao for Now,

Webcaptain, Ladysailor, and the small, cute, but funny-looking dog

Countdown to Puddle Jump   03/01/07

So here we are, sitting in the almost-maxed-out Philo’s Bar in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, digesting some of Russell’s great ribs, and thinking about how soon it will be time to set sail (three weeks or so) on the longest blue-water passage one can make on the planet.  That’s not to say people don’t make non-stop passages around the entire globe, but the point is, if they want to stop somewhere they can, but on this passage, there’s nowhere to “pull over and ask somebody for directions”, as Captain Ron would say.

Anyway, we’re rather glad to be out of Barra, simply because the place is too much fun and made for debauchery.  It was really hard to concentrate on boat projects while recovering from the long series of “last nights”.  Those last two sentences are really nothing but "sour grapes".  The truth of the matter is that we have so many great friends there that it really is like our second home.  Almost like our first home.  So many times we'd go ashore with some quick task to accomplish, and end up spending the day with friends at the wonderful Sand's Hotel pool, then go enmass to the Alondra or Capri to watch sunset, then get a bite to eat at Mexico Lindo's, then a "quick drink" at Justin's Rey Momo bar, then another "quick one" at the Sand Bar and/or Piper Lover's, and get the picture.  We'll be back.

The trip up was fairly uneventful.  We made it an overnight direct from Barra,  leaving about 8 am and arriving here in La Cruz about noon the following day.  We enjoyed some great sailing for awhile, then some slow motoring when the wind shifted to “noserlies” and the chop got sloppy.  Slight overheating problems (déjà vu?) forced us to throttle back to 1800 RPMs, so that didn’t help our speed either.  We think we may have a small family of barnacles in the intake, perhaps.  That’ll be something to address when we get into the marina on the 11th along with our recalcitrant tri-color light on the masthead.

Otherwise the boat is in pretty good shape for the trip, needing only a good clean-out and sort, along with stowing provisions for three for 45 days.  It’s going to be a challenge planning meals, buying, and stowing all that food.  Luckily our van is here, and we won’t have to schlep everything on busses, like many have to do.

One nice thing that happened was Barb winning a beautiful black pearl at the Puddle Jump Kickoff party sponsored by Latitude 38 at the Vallarta Yacht Club last Monday.  It was the top door prize, and we got lucky!

Since I lost my camera about a month ago, we don’t have any new pics, but we’re hoping Lana might give us some to put in.

I’ll add an update as we get closer to casting off.


 Mike, Barb, and Buddy-dude

Link to PuddleJump and South Pacific Logs