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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Banderas Bay Regatta

Attention Friends and Family,

We will be in Puerto Vallarta from March 10-16 for the Banderas Bay Regatta (http://www.banderasbayregatta.com). If you would like to come visit us in PV we would love to see you. We'll be staying in the Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta (http://www.paradisemexico.com) where we can get you a no frills room at a reduced rate. (We'd have you stay on the boat but it's too crowded as it is.)

If you're interested, please send email to wbd3734@sailmail.com and let us know.

Let there be 120 volts AC!

February 11, 2005
Barra de Navidad, Colima Coast (19o 11' N 104o 40' W, about 90 miles south of Puerto Vallarta)

We checked out of Barra de Navidad today and are planning to spend a few days in Tenacatita on our way back towards Puerto Vallarta. We're looking forward to spending time there, though it sounds like there are a LOT more boats there now than when we were there in December. It will be interesting to see what sort of anchorage politics develop.

On a happy note, we have just purchased an item which we hope will change our lives: a 1000 watt Honda generator! You may recall my writing about trying to get one of these little babies while we were in Zihua but that it seemed impossible to order one. In fact it turns out that we COULD have gotten one in Zihua, it was just our language skills holding us back. The model we thought we wanted was a EU1000i, and the guy at the hardware store could only get us an EU10i. I looked for the EU10i on the web to see what it's specifications were and the only info I found said the EU10i is 240 volts (European voltage). Well, we were taking a tour of Barra with the dinghy the other day and I noticed a big 'Honda Marine' sign. I went in and asked about getting a generator and the owner said 'No problem!' I made sure that it was a 120 volt model and then put half the total cost down. Delivery was in an astounding 5 days. I picked up the generator yesterday afternoon to find that it's a EU10i, but instead of 220 volts it's 120 volts. Exactly what we wanted!

We've been trying it out these last couple of days and at this point it sure seems pretty slick. It's very quiet and doesn't produce much heat, so the boat is cooler than when we run the engine. It generates enough power to run our battery charger so the boat's batteries get charged, also we plug in the computer chargers so the computers get charged, and best of all, our electric tooth brush is plugged in so it gets charged. Clean teeth again, yahoo!

Happy Birthday to Linda

February 9, 2005
Barra de Navidad, Colima Coast (19� 11' N 104� 40' W, about 90 miles south of Puerto Vallarta)

Looking back on our Blog reports I see I forgot to mention a problem we started having with our notebook computer. Specifically, the 't' key has completely stopped working. Reading through this post I'm sure you notice that there are several 't's present so I bet you're wondering how these are being generated if the key itself isn't doing it. Well, until recently it was necessary to find a 't' in a previous post and copy it so that every time you want a 't' you could then paste it. Very slow, also very confusing. I can't tell you how many times I typed 'Ctrl-t' instead of 'Ctrl-v' to paste. The former does nothing and ends up with a lot of extra typing. However, we recently purchased an external USB keyboard (a 'teclado' in espa�ol). This is no small feat let me tell you, it required trips to no less then eight computer stores and in the end we ended up paying about $25 USD for a keyboard which we can't return if there are any problems. It seems 'warrantee repair' doesn't translate well into espa�ol. It's not all down side though, as I'm sure you have noticed, the keyboard is 'in Spanish' and has great keys like �, �, �, and �. �Muy bueno, no? Hopefully when we get back to the states we can get a replacement keyboard for the notebook so we can get back to being 'self contained'.

Remember my description of getting into the Barra Lagoon. Well day before yesterday there was an excellent example of what can happen when you don't pay attention to what you're doing. A sailboat ran aground at the entrance to the lagoon and got pretty stuck. Now there are good times to run aground and there are bad times. This was a bad time. The tide was falling, and not only that the low tide was the lowest tide all month. So not only were they stuck for over 6 hours, they were also heeled over at about 30 degrees when the tide was at its lowest. Finally, about a half hour before sunset they put out a call on the radio that they were ready to get off the sand bar. About six dinghies responded and commenced pushing the boat sideways off the bar. It seemed to me a little early to be pushing so hard, but the owner was anxious to get anchored in the lagoon before sundown and he was also worried that the wind would pin him on the sand bar even after high tide. Anyway, with 75 horse power of dinghy outboards pushing it didn't take long for the boat to come free, and then it was just a matter of collecting the anchors they'd set before they went aground again. My advice: If you go aground on a falling tide and intend to wait for higher water make sure to set your anchor out in deep water.

Linda and I have a new hobby, we're net controllers on the Wednesday edition of the Amigo Net. The Amigo Net is a High Frequency Single Sideband (HF/SSB) radio net that meets daily on a frequency of 8122 kHz. I run the net, which means asking other boats to 'check-in' on the net, and facilitate boats contacting each other. Also we spend all morning taking down notes at lightning speed. The net also has weather which is given by a man named Don in Oxnard CA. He spends about eight hours a day preparing weather forecasts for western Baja, the Sea of Cortez and south to Panama. He transmits his forecast to the Amigo Net and it's the net controller's job (me on Wednesday) to copy it all down. Today this process involved about 30 minutes of rapid fire typing - the weather is a complicated thing. In spite of the nerve wracking work we're enjoying having something productive to do with our time.

We went out to celebrate Linda's birthday last night. It was just the two of us and we had Italian food if you can believe it. I had a great pasta with shrimp and pesto sauce, and Linda had pizza. About half way though dinner some friends wandered by in the street below the second floor balcony where we were seated, and when they found out it was Linda's birthday dinner they stopped to sing 'Happy Birthday'. We topped the evening with a trip to the Thrifty Ice Cream shop, yes the same as the Thrifty drug store complete with the cylindrical ice cream scoop. Linda had two small scoops, one of black cherry and the other mango. I had two Thrifty sized scoops, one black cherry and the other chocolate brownie. Barra de Navidad is so civilized...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Road Kill Dinner

February 3, 2005
Barra de Navidad, Colima Coast (19o 11' N 104o 40' W, about 90 miles south of Puerto Vallarta)

We moved from the anchorage off Melaque the other day to the lagoon of Barra de Navidad. This is a fully protected harbor, meaning there's no swell in this anchorage whatsoever. The only down side is getting in. The entrance to the lagoon is through a narrow, un-marked channel which shoals rapidly on either side. Everyone has their favorite way of following the channel ("head for the tallest palm tree on the island", "Keep the fish trap close on your right hand side and line up the sunken panga with the corner of the house", "head straight for the left hand edge of the island and turn only after you pass the black boat"). We did our best to average these directions and went really slow. We felt the shallow water on the right hand side of the channel on our way, using the depth sounder, but we made it in without running aground which was better than the boat that came in before us did. We dropped our anchor in a whopping 12 ft of water and let out 80 ft of chain rode. In spite of seemingly good holding there were a couple boats that had to re-anchor when the wind came up so we decided to sit tight on NAKIA for the first windy afternoon to make sure we'd stay put. No problems.

In spite of other cruisers raving about Barra de Navidad we're kind of cold on the place. There really isn't that much to do outside of shopping for tourist junk, eating in restaurants and drinking in bars. There aren't any good tiendas or super mercados and everything except the bars and restaurants closes up by 4pm. We liked Melaque much more. For example, we spent last Sunday evening in Melaque. There's a little plaza (one square block) across the street from the church. There are two evening masses, one at 7 and another at 8. By the time the 8 pm mass lets out the plaza is packed with people. Everyone is wearing their finest Sunday church cloths and everyone walks around and around the tiny plaza, taking a Paseo as if it were the grand Malacon of Puerto Vallarta. Very cool. We had dinner for about $2.50 each; we each got two tamales, some French Fries and a churro. Of course being at anchor in the Barra lagoon isn't bad, there's absolutely no roll. We could be in our slip in Redwood City and it wouldn't be any more calm. Between the stillness of the anchorage and the lifelessness of the town I'm sleeping pretty well these days.

Every area in Mexico seems to have it's own unique form of street cuisine. In Zihua it was hamburgers and bacon wrapped hot dogs served hot from the grill of the corner push cart. In Barra it's BBQ chicken. The chickens are prepared a couple of different ways. There is the standard rotisserie where the chicken is placed on a spit with half a dozen other chickens and slowly roasted until golden brown. The other more prevalent method of cooking is the butterfly cut BBQ where the back of the chicken is cut out and the breast split. The chicken is then spiced and laid out flat on the grill to cook. We were in the process of looking for a good BBQ stand when we met up with a couple of friends from another boat. We asked them if they had any recommendations for BBQ chicken and he blinked back at us with a confused expression. We went on to explain the BBQ method and he said "Oh, you want a road kill!" and gave us directions to his favorite road-kill-aria. Needless to say we had the rotisserie chicken, maybe the mental image will wear off in time and we can try the butterfly cut then.

John and Linda