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Saturday, January 29, 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.

A little information is a dangerous thing

January 29, 2005
Melaque, Colima Coast (19o 12' N 104o 40' W, about 90 miles south of Puerto Vallarta)

We made the last of our over night hops last night. The plan was to wait in a little anchorage called "Maruata" for the northwesterly winds to back off. That is, the forecast northwesterly winds. You see, we wanted to go to the northwest, but the weather forecast was for high-ish wind from the north west. The problem was that is wasn't blowing from the north west, in fact it was blowing from the south east, exactly 180 degrees opposite of the forecast. Not only that, but Maruata is completely exposed to the southeast so when the wind started to pipe up we had to abandon the anchorage. Oh well, we set sail and were actually having a pretty good day, except we kept waiting and waiting for the forecast northwesterly to slap us in the face and send us back to Maruata. That never happened. We sailed all day and into the night with a fair breeze and then the wind died. It never blew from the northwest. The second problem was that since we had to leave Maruata at a time other then our own choosing we were early. It's 95 miles from Maruata to Melaque and at 5 knots it takes us 19 hours to make the trip. We had to bug out of Maruata at 1230, which would put us in Melaque at 0630. The problem is the sun doesn't come up until 0730, so we had to purposely slow down just so we'd arrive in the light (a good idea if you've never been into the place before).

Anyway, we're back into a regular cruising area with good anchorages and short runs in between. Hopefully the area hasn't gotten too crowded in our absence.

John and Linda

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Drakes Bay in Mexico

January 26, 2005
Lizard Bay, Michoacan Coast, Mexico (18o 11' N 103o 07' W)

We made a night run from Isla Grande to Caleta de Campos on the 24th and had no problems other then a little head wind right out of the blocks. That finally died down, the land breeze kicked in, and we were able to sail a couple hours before we dropped the hook in the little bay south of the town of Caleta de Campos. It's so beautiful there, 150 foot high red sandstone bluffs stand above a one mile long beach with a 30 ft red sandstone rock set right in the middle of the beach. The town sits scattered through the bluffs overlooking the bay and the ocean. The only bad thing about the bay is the amount of roll from the Pacific swell that runs in almost unimpeded. We made the best of it and spent the afternoon, our wedding anniversary, swimming and walking on the beach.

Somehow we managed to get some sleep and got underway the next morning bound for Manzanillo. Everything was going well until about 1200 when the wind started to crank up from dead ahead. I set sail but after an hour of bashing into the chop it was time to look for someplace to relax. Anchorages are few and far between on the Michoacan coast, but it just so happened that as I was thinking "Man, this really sucks," we were passing a small bight called Lizard Bay (Pichilinguillo). We reefed the main, bore off for the coast and 30 minutes later were anchored behind a rocky point in 35 ft of water on 200 ft of chain. The wind is blowing 22-27 but we're pretty snug. It's just like being in Drakes Bay except without the cow smell and it's 83 degrees instead of 60.

We'll stay here until things die down and make another try for Manzanillo tonight or tomorrow. There's one small anchorage 15 miles north of here, Muruata, which we can duck into if this heavy wind keeps up, other than that there's nothing until Manzanillo 80 miles up the coast. Lets hope for light winds!

John and Linda

Monday, January 24, 2005

Isla Grande

January 24, 2005
Isla Grande (Isla Ixtapa), Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 40' N 101o 39' W)

We checked out of Zihuatanejo on Jan 19th and moved to Isla Grande. This is a small island just a short panga ride from the bustling resort of Ixtapa. As a result the beaches of Isla Grande are inundated daily by tourists from Ixtapa all wanting to snorkel, eat seafood, drink out of huge coconuts, ride jet skis, bounce around on banana boats, and soak up the sun. The anchorage is not that great - there's a lot of swell that rolls into the anchorage - but the island is a 'nature preserve' (how they can call it a preserve when there's 25 restaurants on the island I have no idea) so every night at 1700 everyone leaves and it gets nice and quiet.

The first night we were here we went to Megabyte for dinner. Joe and Cindy were there from Maggie Drum and Debbie made great fish quesadillas. After dinner we played a couple games of Mexican Train dominoes. By the time we left Megabyte the anchorage was pretty rolly so I set the rocker-stopper so we could get some sleep. Unfortunately there's only so much the rocker-stopper can handle and we still rolled badly.

The next day we decided to hang low on the beach and went in with Joe from Maggie Drum (Cindy's been sick with a bad cough) and Dave and Debbie from Megabyte. No sooner had our dinghies left the boats then the 'waiters' on shore started blowing whistles and waving flags to get us to come into their palapa restaurant. I guess the competition is pretty stiff for business. We headed into a restaurant that Dave and Debbie had been into before and the waiter pulled our dinghy out of the water and right into the middle of his restaurant. We made arrangements with him to keep our stuff safe and headed off to the snorkeling beach to see what we could find. The conditions were pretty good, about 35 ft visibility, and we spotted two or three eels, an octopus and the ever present colorful fish. After snorkeling we spent the rest of the afternoon eating lunch at our restaurant/dinghy parking lot.

We returned to NAKIA after lunch, and since a few boats had left, we moved to a little more protected spot around the corner. That afternoon the weather started to turn with large clouds rolling in from the south west. We were snug in our new spot so we weren't too worried. We went to bed around 9 pm with the nearly full moon completely obscured by clouds. All of a sudden around 1 am the clouds opened up and poured! We ran around the boat like mad to close all the hatches and portholes. Then sat down to listen to the torrent. It only took us about 30 seconds to realize that we should be out on deck scrubbing the boat down - we haven't been in a marina since leaving Puerto Vallarta November 20th - so we stripped down to our birthday suits, grabbed scrub brushes and headed out onto deck to scrub down the topsides. The rain lasted long enough to completely clean and rinse the boat and the next morning we sparkled like new. Unfortunately our rain catcher was in storage under the pullman birth, otherwise we'd have had full water tanks too.

The weather continued stormy for the next 24 hours, giving us enough time to get the rain catcher out of storage and put some water in the tanks but this morning there's not a cloud in the sky and we plan on leaving tonight for points north. Our next stop will be a small anchorage called Caleta de Campo on the Michoacan coast. We should be there the morning of the 25th (our anniversary!).

John and Linda

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Moving again, well almost

January 21, 2005
Isla Grande (Isla Ixtapa), Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 40' N 101o 39' W)

(You may be able to tell that I'm a little behind on my posting, the events in this post occurred when we were in Zihua Bay and we've now moved to Isla Grande. That's because I want to make sure I cover all the things we're doing but don't want to have to write hours every day to do it. This way when there's nothing going on, like yesterday when we sat around and read all day, I can catch up a little).

We had a big problem after being at anchor in Zihua for almost a month. The bottom of the boat had a huge amount of growth on it. I had spent some time on a few patches and cleaned most of the barnacles from the prop but Linda and I needed to work together on the rest if we expected to have a clean bottom the next time we got underway. To that end we moved to Playa Ropa where the water is a little cleaner to completely scrape the hull. I bought two plastic putty knives from the hardware store so we could keep from scraping off the bottom paint. We both wore gloves to keep the barnacles from scratching our skin, a SURE way to get an infection, and we dove over the side to start the process. Linda worked on the water line, as far down as she could reach without diving, and I worked on everything else. Three hours later we were both water logged and had swallowed enough salt water to shrivel our tongues but NAKIA's bottom was clean. We stayed at Playa Ropa for the next week, until we departed for Isla Grande, and I dove every day to keep the sea critters in check. Well, at least I don't have to mow the lawn too.

The day after our bottom cleaning marathon was my birthday (Jan 15) and we invited a bunch of our fellow boaters to spend the day at Playa Las Gatas to celebrate. We'd spent a day at Amado's beach palapa restaurant the week before and thought this would be a great place again. The waiter at Amado's, Jorge, gave me my current nickname "Juanito Mion" and after the party everyone in the fleet has been calling me that. Anyone know what it means? The party was a success, the guest of honor electing to spend the day playing dominoes and watching the beach activity, while other members of the party hiked to the lighthouse and snorkeled. Thanks to everyone who helped me celebrate!

Sunday is traditionally fleet party day in Zihua Bay, how that happened is hard to describe, and the day after Juanito's birthday was no exception. However, this time instead of having a dinghy raft up, or boat dog pile (where someone with a big yacht invites the entire fleet over to their boat), Rick (of Rick's Bar) invited everyone over to his house for a Pool Party. Strangely, no one thought it was a bad idea, especially with Rick offering to open his showers, kitchen, satellite TV and pool to the fleet. Linda spent most of the time in the pool playing with Rick's German Shepard, "Zorro" (who wasn't allowed in the pool), and I just hung loose, recovering from my B-Day fest the day before. We had a great time!

As I've said we're at Isla Grande outside of Ixtapa for a few days, we've checked out of Zihua and are on our way north. We've had some strange weather here (to be described in the next post) so are waiting for things to die down a bit before we take off.

John and Linda

Thursday, January 20, 2005

New penalty for falling in at a dock party

January 18, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

We (and a group of about 8 friends) took a big walk over the hill the other day. The best exercise we've gotten in a long time. The best thing was the destination, it was a beach with no one on it. A very strange thing for Zihuatanejo. I guess the reason the beach was deserted is because it's surrounded by 'Neo Ruins'; the remains of a failed attempt to build a luxury hotel on the beach. The complex was complete with a huge four level swimming pool, beachside palapa bar and nearly a mile of smooth concrete roads. We had a great time looking into the murky water in the pool to see if there was anything alive within. Unfortunately the surf was too rough for swimming so we contented ourselves with walking around the complex speculating about what went wrong.

After completing the 5-7 mile trek to the beach and back we just had to treat ourselves to lunch out. We all agreed to go to the local Tamale place and started through town when I remembered a side trip we just had to do. One of the local hardware stores has something out front that I'm sure very few people in the US have seen, so I decided to show the rest of our group. On approaching the store I pointed out these interesting items and several of our group said 'Oh, they're gourds.' No, I said, look closer. They do indeed look like hollowed out dried gourds with small handles. They come in many colors ranging from almost white to almost black, but mostly they are flesh colored. They are about the size of a cantaloupe and have a smooth texture except for small hairs covering the entire surface. Have you guessed what they are? Well I'll tell you then, they are dried bull scrotums! This bit of news just about freaked out a couple of the female members of our group so we beat a hasty retreat to the tamale restaurant. (It turns out you can get them in several sizes, ranging from 'key chain' to '5 gallon bucket', go figure that one! Anyone want one for a Valentine's Day present?)

A friend introduced me to a new term the other day: 'A Goat Rope.' I had no idea what that really meant, but apparently we were responsible for starting one. We planned to take Doug and Karis (our friends visiting from the States) to Pozole on Thursday and put it out on the net in case anyone else wanted to come. We ended up with 30 people. Apparently, there's no need to herd goats, all you really need to do is rope one and pull it along and all the other goats will follow without hesitation. Yep, Pozole was a goat rope. We had a great time anyway and this time we didn't drink a huge quantity of tequila, so it was easier making it to the bus.

After Pozole we decided to go to a dock party in Ixtapa, and since Doug and Karis's time share was on the way they suggested we stop by to check it out. Talk about sweet! They had a great corner suite on the 8th floor with a full ocean view. Between the view, air conditioning and two full bathrooms we didn't want to leave. Unfortunately there were six people and only two beds, and since we couldn't decide on who should sleep on the floor we felt it was best to let Doug and Karis enjoy their suite by themselves for the rest of their vacation and we headed out to the dock party at the marina.

The dock party wasn't much to write home about, it didn't go very late and it didn't get very wild. I'm sure the reason is that no one wanted to get so tipsy they might lose their balance and take an un-wanted swim. You see, Marina Ixtapa is home to several 12 ft Crocodiles, the divers won't even clean your bottom in the marina. In fact there's a rumor going around that a poodle got snatched off the dock last year by a large croc. Yep, you definitely don't want to get falling down drunk at one of these parties...

(I'm running a little behind on posting, stay tuned for a report on John's birthday.)

Monday, January 17, 2005

You asked for the gory details...

January 16, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

There's a daily VHF radio net in the Bahia where anyone can get on and ask for assistance from their fellow cruisers. I'm sure that it doesn't surprise anyone who knows me that I'm often one of the guys on the giving end of assistance. Recently I had the chance to do some serious helping on a computer repair. Some new acquaintances, Steve and Kay on Kavenga, called out for help with their notebook computer recently. Dave on Megabyte was the first to say that he'd take a look at it and I happened to be on Megabyte when Steve brought said computer over. It was pretty clear that there was a problem with the hard drive. Of course I have a spare hard drive and told Steve that I'd have no problem putting it in his computer except for one thing. I didn't want to be the guy who had to figure out how to dismantle the notebook to find where the hard drive is located. I've done this several times with my old notebook - even replaced the keyboard after spilling coffee on it one day - but my computer's never really been the same since I first 'operated' on it. He went to work, with the help of another less squeamish cruiser, and in the end was successful in locating the hard drive under the keyboard. We removed the drive from his computer and installed it in mine and sure enough my computer didn't even detect his drive. Bad drive. We installed my backup drive in his computer, and installed Windows 2000 after many false starts, and low and behold a working notebook computer again. Unfortunately he didn't have a backup for the old hard drive (I've really got to do that myself one of these days!) so it was like starting from scratch. At least he's got a working platform again and there's a slight possibility that his data can be recovered when they get back to the USofA.

We've finally run out of meat from the US and now we have to buy it here. That may not seem like a big deal but as I've said before the meat markets here are something you have to see to believe. If they were rated like movies, the butcher shop at your local Safeway would be rated G (_maybe_ PG). The carnicerias here in Mexico on the other hand would have to be rated XXX! As the 'Peoples Guild to Mexico' says "about the only part of the butchering process not performed in front of your eyes is the actual killing." For now I think we'll stick to the PG-13 version at the SuperMercado. Also we plan on eating a lot of hot dogs.

One thing we've found that we're not too shy to try: street side rotisserie chickens. Right up the street from the central mercado is a guy with his rotisserie set up next to the sidewalk. $50 pesos (about USD $4.50) gets you a roasted chicken and salsa verde. A quick trip to the tortillaria for a half kilo of tortillas (about 35 cents US) and you've got a meal! Of course the chicken isn't what you're used to eating in the US. The fat and skin are a darker shade of yellow and the flavor is a bit stronger, but they are very tasty.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Water, mail, and a movie in Zihua

January 14, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

We finally have full water tanks again, the first time since we left the dock at Puerto Vallarta. This may not seem like such a big deal to you boaters back home, but unlike you we cannot just pull up to the nearest water spigot and fill 'er up. We've been getting water from Ismael, a local who delivers water, beer, and soda to boats in the anchorage in addition to his 'regular job' of delivering water, beer and soda to Playa Las Gatas where there are no roads for delivery trucks. He's very efficient and also very reasonably priced. He'll bring as many five gallon water jugs to your boat as you want and picks up the empties after you're done transferring the water into your tanks. The problem for us is that we're not really sure how many five gallon jugs we can put in the tank at any particular time. We therefore underestimate on purpose so we don't end up with a bunch of full five gallon jugs on deck that we can't fit in the tank. Fortunately we have five empty jugs on board (we bought these in Tenacatita, actually we paid a deposit on them so we should be able to return them...) so as long as we have fewer than five jugs that won't fit we can keep the full ones around. It's very complicated. Anyway we finally got the guess right and were able to fill the tank, with three jugs left over. I put these in after a few days so we could get an idea of how much water we're using. According to my calculations we're using 7.5 gallons per day, that's for everything: showering, drinking, washing dishes, bushing teeth, washing hands... That's pretty high for us, we are normally under 4 gallons per day, but since we can't swim in the bay to bathe we have to take 'full showers' every night on the boat, hence the high usage. Any of you land dwellers want to compare how much water you use?

We've had some visitors from the States: Doug and Karis, cyber-cruisers who we met at Darwin and Mary's wedding (geez, how long ago was that?!), have a time share in Ixtapa and found our blog while searching for information on Zihuatanejo. They were very kind and brought us mail, some zincs for our prop, and some January Latitude 38s (complete w/ Linda's picture on the cover!). I guess there's more than one reason to publish on this site. We took them out for drinks at a beachside restaurant, which is cool because we don't usually go to beachside restaurants :-) and hooked up with them later in the week for Pozole Thursday (to be written up soon...). It was great to see them again and hear all about what's happening in the 'real world'.

The other night Dave and Debbie invited us over to their boat, Megabyte (a Maxum 4600 power boat), for a movie night. They have a large selection of DVDs and, best of all, Air Conditioning! We spent a blissful 100 minutes watching "O' Brother, Where Art Thou", complete with Dave and I singing many of the songs. In retrospect we should have gone for something a little longer, maybe "Gone With The Wind", and added a cartoon or two, just to be able to sit in a 76 degree room for a little while. On the up side we may have been able to convince Linda, Debbie, and Cindy to do laundry like the Sirens in the movie. Or not.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Life on the beach

January 13, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

Getting good exercise is really beginning to be a problem. With peak daytime temperatures around 90 degrees and humidity of 80-90% we don't really want to be working out in the middle of the day, so last Saturday we made an effort to get out early and take a hike through the jungle to the light house on the southern end of the entrance to Bahia Zihuatanejo. About 10 people from various boats made their way over to Playa Las Gatas (Cat Beach) where the hike was to begin. (Linda and I had scoped out this beach a few days earlier; it's very nice fine white sand protected by a reef 1/4 mile from the beach. The only problem is that the area between the reef and shore is only 1-4 feet deep.) The hike started out promising, through a palm jungle (watch out for more temporarily permanent power lines hung at eye level!) and followed a stone and concrete path up the hill. This was great, we said, we're finally going to get some real cardio exercise. Wrong! The hill topped out after less than 1/2 a mile and right after the top we were at our destination, the Light House. Oh well, the view was just as nice as if we had sweated for hours to get there.

We made our way back to the beach and went out for a swim/snorkel to get a _little_ more exercise. Conditions weren't that great but I did manage to see a sea turtle swimming through the murky water before we gave up and swam in.

Content with the knowledge that we had at least we _tried_ to exert ourselves, we retired to a beach side palapa restaurant and ordered cold beers and cokes. Of course our appetites were piqued from the anticipation of our strenuous work out so we also ordered lunch, Linda and I opting for the Shrimp Tacos. Now, we've been eating out a little more then we should, causing our budget to be hit harder then we'd like and these Shrimp Tacos were a hefty 90 pesos (about USD $8.75) but we figured, as we usually figure when faced with a menu in a nice restaurant, 'what the heck, we'll order something nice for a change'. Well, 'something nice' turned out to be one of the best meals we've had in Mexico! It's amazing how good fresh shrimp lightly sautéed in butter with onions and garlic can be. Worth every peso. No doubt they would have been positively scrumptious if we'd pounded 6 or 7 miles of hiking trail into dust under our boots before eating them.

Friends of ours recently proved that I'm not the only one capable of really screwing up in an inflatable dinghy. During an ill fated driving lesson these people (who will remain nameless) managed to put a 5 inch gash in the forward section of their rigid hull inflatable boat by impaling it on a panga propeller. Of course they enlisted my help in repairing the hole, showing another lapse of good judgment, after all I'm on my third try at repairing the gash in our dinghy. However we forged ahead, the myopic but experienced leading the totally blind, and glued on a patch using methods that seem to be effective judging by the week or so my current patch has lasted. The patch has been left to cure under a pair of heavy clamps for a couple days so you'll have to tune in later to see how it comes out...

I've discovered a new way of getting some exercise, cleaning NAKIA's bottom and anchor chain! The marine growth in Bahia Zihuatanejo is outrageous. I pulled up the chain recently to find 1/2 inch of fuzz growing on top of barnacles 1/8 of an inch in diameter. No doubt about it, we needed to do some scrubbing. So I cleaned the anchor chain off as best I could and we hauled up the anchor to head over to a section of the bay with cleaner water for diving on the hull. Big problem. NAKIA normally motors at about 5.5 nm per hour (5.5 kts). We were only able to go 2.8 kts without overheating the engine! What should have been a 30 minute trip turned into a 90 minute creep. As soon as I got into the water it was clear what was causing the engine to overheat, not only was there thousands of barnacles on the hull, there was about an inch of growth on the propeller blades. These blades need to be smooth and hydrodynamic to push water effectively, otherwise they will overload the engine and cause it to over heat. Working with a 1 inch putty knife I carefully cleaned the propeller and started on the hull. Two hours later I was tired and my hands looked like soggy pink prunes. I climbed out of the water to test my work. Thankfully the engine ran cool and we able to move at our normal cruising speed (in spite of only cleaning about 20% of the barnacles from the hull). At lease I have an exercise plan for a few more days; clean the rest of the hull. I have to get a bigger putty knife!

John and Linda

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Walking in Mexico

January 10, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

The saga of fuel hose:
Well my 350 peso fuel hose turned out not to be such a great deal. The first signs of trouble appeared when I tried to put an in-line fuel filter in the new hose (same as the old hose had). I cut the new hose at the appropriate location and pushed the end of the in-line filter into the hose and to my surprise, the 'brand new' hose split like an over ripe banana! It took several tries before I was able to get the filter into the hose without splitting it. Of course I feared that the first time it got stepped on in the dinghy it would break wide open, but I didn't have any ready alternative, so I put it on the outboard hoping it would be ok. Yeah sure. Later that same day I looked into the dinghy from the deck on NAKIA and saw a big puddle of gasoline. The hose had split on about a foot of its length, without even having to be stepped on! Oh well, it was crummy hose anyway, so we spent an entire afternoon rowing in, walking to the bus stop, taking the bus to the 'car parts' section of town, buying a new length of quality fuel line, taking the bus back toward the boat, walking back to the beach, rowing back to NAKIA and putting together the new fuel line. It's much better than even the old hose was, and to make sure it doesn't get stolen again I've put a stainless steel wire on it which locks it to the dinghy.

We've been pretty careful announcing on the morning radio net that there has been a theft of an outboard fuel line and that people should make sure to lock stuff in their dinghy. Unfortunately more fuel lines have been stolen. All the thefts are of fuel lines that have in-line fuel filters. In fact, it was clear that someone tried to steal ours again but was thwarted by the stainless wire I installed. I guess it's not all paradise down here...

Speaking of the challenges of cruising MX, we've noticed that walking in Mexico is a lot like driving in the US. When you learn to drive in the US, they tell you that you should not fix your attention on one spot, that instead you should continually scan everything in your field of view: the road ahead, out the side windows, the side and rear view mirrors, the engine gauges... Well, walking in Mexico requires the same kind of constant scanning, especially in the city. Everywhere there are 'Gringo Traps' waiting to come out and bite you. These range from un-finished gaps in the sidewalk to low hanging awnings to temporarily permanent power lines strung across the sidewalk. To avoid falling prey to these traps it's necessary to scan your surroundings as you walk along the street. It's a jungle out here!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Buen Año Nuevo

January 1, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

For xmas day we went to the movies ("Ocean's 12" with Spanish subtitles for all the lines we couldn't understand in English) and out for a tamale dinner with another couple (squash blossom with cheese was Linda's favorite). But that was the extent of our xmas celebration since our best gift is just being here in the first place.

John worked very hard to repair the gash in the dinghy again. The 5200 patch he did in Puerto Vallarta failed a few days ago so now he's back to trying contact cement. It's Mexican contact cement so he's hoping it will have some nasty environmentally unfriendly chemicals that will be more effective than the U.S. kind. We finally broke out the inflatable kayak to use while this stuff cures but I can't really see us hauling laundry and groceries in it. It's very stable but it's wet! (Update, the patch seems to be holding for now, though we have yet to fully inflate the dinghy, we're keeping the pressure low for awhile.)

We've been trying to arrange to purchase a small generator, a 1000 watt Honda. But we seem to have run out of luck there. We were working with a local hardware store (ferreteria) to see if they could order one in. It seems now that it's not possible to have this unit delivered into Zihua. We're going to try a few other places just for the fun of it, since it would sure be nice not to have to run the main engine just to charge batteries.

We've had a small theft: the fuel hose from the gas tank to the outboard motor was stolen from our dinghy as it sat on the beach day before yesterday. It's pretty strange because there were several other items in the dinghy that any self respecting thief would have stolen, so we're pretty sure it was taken by someone who really needed it rather than someone who was just stealing stuff. I was able to buy a new one at a local marine store for US$35, only US$10 more than West Marine.

We spent New Year's Eve at a friend's boat: Megabyte, a Maxum 4600. There were about 18 people onboard for the festivities (don't power boats make the best party platforms!). The fireworks show wasn't quite what we were hoping for but it was still great to be with a bunch of new friends to toast in the New Year. We departed around 0130 for NAKIA and in spite of all the guns being shot off on shore we seemed to have avoided any damage from stray bullets.

The weather continues to be very warm, 85-90 degrees during the day and 70-75 at night. The humidity is also very high,so we spend much of our time wishing we could take a shower. We hold off on this luxury until just before bedtime so we can at least sleep in comfort.

That's about all for now, except to say keep an eye out on http://www.latitude38.com. It has been rumored to us that Linda is on the cover of the January issue. (I keep humming "on the cover of the Rolling Stone..." in my head.)

John and Linda