Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Posts tagged ‘Marina Riviera Nayarit’

Six Months in Mexico Come to an End

On the last day of April I sit in the rather chilly VIP Lounge here at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, reflecting on the past six months, and especially the past month here in Mexico. Foggy brain syndrome due to the past six nights of gigantic explosions at sunset, 11 pm, 5am and 7am is plaguing me right now. It is due to The Days of La Cruz, nine days of parades, entertainment on the stage next to the plaza, and an excuse for horrific amounts of Bang, Bang, Boom. If someone had PTSD they would need to get out of La Cruz for these nine days! I am avoiding anyplace that might have explosions, so there are no pictures of the festivities.

Luckily most of April was calm, but busy. Yoga many mornings for me, Nikk listening to the Cruiser’s Net each day at 8:30am, Spanish class Tuesdays and Thursdays for me, then meeting friends for potluck dinners, nights out at local restaurants, and a lot of saying goodbye to our friends sailing off north, south and west, or flying back “home”.

Birdwatching took on new meaning when I stayed at Punta Esmerelda in an upscale condo with my friend Zoe while she was “parrot-sitting”.

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Izzy the African Grey Parrot and Rudy the green Australian parrot got cozy with us (sometimes a bit too cozy, when the big yellow beak was only cm away from Nikk’s ear). African Grey Parrots are celebrated for their intelligence and speaking/singing ability. When Zoe sang opera, Izzy tried to duet. Of course we had to closely monitor our speech, to avoid having the owners come back to a bird with a startling new vocabulary. The most recently-famous African Grey Parrot was Alex, trained by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/books/review/Royte-t.html

Have you heard the saying “I’d rather have a palapa in Yelapa than a condo in Redondo.”? We sailed across the Bay of Banderas twice in April to investigate the Yelapa scene, once with visiting friends Bruce and Maureen, once on the annual trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

On the trail to a waterfall three miles away we found a palapa, perhaps not exactly what the creator of the saying had in mind, but perfect for someone to escape the SoCal scene.

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Nikk hiked this same trail up the river to the waterfall 30 years ago, and what a change he found. Many new concrete block homes, some hippie palapas, some Mexican homes built on stilts with homemade furniture from local woods. Finally the last mile meandered through the tropical trees without any abodes, and we came to the waterfall flowing over polished granite.

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The pool below the waterfall looked way too muddy, so we climbed the slick rocks by the waterfall and found a perfect pool above the falls. Since no one else climbed after us we stripped and bobbed in the cool water, being careful not to get swept over the falls.

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The other waterfall in Yelapa is a short but steep hike up through town. Along the way there you can stop to catch your breath and look out over the little deep blue bay with Balance anchored among the fishing pangas.

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This waterfall is visited by hundreds of tourists per day, yet still conveys peace, solitude and even romance from the right angle.

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Six boats sailed over to Yelapa from La Cruz for the birthday bash. To get to the restaurant we anchored with a mooring ball, paid the panguero 200 pesos (about 13 US dollars) for the mooring ball and rides to and from the boat, gathered for drinks at the beachside palapa, hiked up the beach, waded across the fairly shallow river, hiked up some steep steps between homes, across a bridge, and arrived at Gloria’s Restaurant. The seafood was fabulous, fish in garlic and butter sauce, with rice and salad, shrimp, octopus, and oysters cooked numerous ways. Then Mike’s cake arrived, with candles, whipped cream, and a little caballito, a small, skinny glass full of tequila in the center. The Mexican birthday cake tradition is to take the first bite using no hands or implements. Mike removed the little shot glass and complied. Somehow some of the frosting got transferred to Katrina. The picture is a little blurry because we were all laughing so riotously.

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Back in La Cruz, Earth Day began with a bird watching tour where we found 38 species just by walking near the marina, through the town, and down the beach. After the bird watch we joined a beach cleanup, with many cruising families filling up huge trash bags. That night Katrina the marina PR organizer arranged a bonfire with music to thank everyone.

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Friday the 24th was the last Science Friday for the season, so we exploded zip lock bags by mixing vinegar and baking soda. The baking soda was wrapped in a paper towel to slow the mixing and production of carbon dioxide gas, which allowed the kids to pass the bag around like a hot potato until it exploded. We also made giant soap bubbles with a special recipe I found on the Internet. www.happyhooligans.ca/homemade-giant-bubbles

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We fly back to Portland next Tuesday, and until then the days will be filled with the work needed to leave Balance here for the next six months.
Instead of boring you with those details I’ll leave you with a shot of our dock taken from the third story La Pezka restaurant, where we just might have dinner tonight.

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Just a Note Before We Go

Nikk and I are back on Balance in the Marina Riviera Nayarit, after living in a house here in La Cruz for four months, and taking care of two cats and too many plants in pots. We do miss the air conditioning, here in La Cruz in October the sun is still high in the sky, and the temperatures in the afternoon, when the sun beats down most mercilessly, are in the low nineties but feel like one hundred degrees. I’m writing this in the air conditioned marina lounge, where all the cruisers without air conditioning, like us, hang out in the afternoon to read, work, chat, and sleep. Yesterday at five I tried another way to cool off and met a friend to take a dip in the bay at the little beach right here by the marina. We waded into 95-degree water, with two or three foot swells that lifted us right off the sandy/rocky bottom. The wave action stirred up the sand so much that we couldn’t see our feet on the bottom, but when we swam around with our masks and snorkels we were immersed in swirling gold mica flecks from the sand.

It seems like the monsoonal weather is now over, the last big storm was about two weeks ago. While we walked to dinner the air was sizzling, right before the simultaneous crack and boom of the lightning and thunder, then the skies cut loose with a downpour. The open-air restaurant was soon flooded, luckily the palapa roof of thatch kept the water off our heads, so we ate with our feet propped up away from the inch of water on the floor, and watched the beauty of the storm.
Here are some pictures of the monsoon in September.

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For nine months of the year this is a dry riverbed that we walk up to go birdwatching.

Even though La Cruz didn’t get any huge thunderstorms like they had three years ago when it rained 30 inches in five days, all that water picked up a lot of debris; trees, branches, fence posts with barbed wire, and a lot of plastic and styrofoam, which then flowed out into the bay and washed up on the beaches. Some of us here at the marina picked up bags of plastic litter on the beach one morning, to prevent it from going back into the water. The pool at the house would overflow all over the deck from all the rain, and unfortunately, even though the house was only five years old, the ceiling would leak. The worst leak was right over the stove.

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Here I am trying to cook while holding a tupperware bowl to catch the leaks.

One day at the house I kept hearing a strange sound, almost like a tap tap tapping. No, it wasn’t a raven (think Edgar Allen Poe here), finally I found the source, a Yellow Warbler attacking its reflection in the kitchen window. The strange thing was that it was a female, the males have orange streaks on their breasts, and it had no streaks. She persisted for several hours, and a Golden-Cheeked Woodpecker came by to watch her for a while, maybe it was thinking she was pecking at a meal of tasty grubs?

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For birdwatching news, besides the Yellow Warbler, we’ve seen a Blue-black Grassquit, immature Grey Hawk, Golden Vireo, and a flock of Black-throated Magpie Jays. Even though we’ve seen these jays many times, it’s hard to believe that they can fly with their two-foot long tails.

Now that the clouds have given way to sunny days, we have taken two sailing trips out to the Tres Mariettas, islands at the mouth of the Bay of Banderas near Punta de Mita. On the first trip we were joined by a fabulous group of Estonian women, one woman, Crystal, lives here, and the others came on vacation. At one spot where we anchored, it’s possible to snorkel over to the rocky shore, watch the wildly-colored fish in the rocks, then swim underneath a rocky opening and into a hidden beach. Nikk took Sophie, who was six years old, in through the opening in our kayak, she laid prone in the kayak, and Nikk pushed her through. She was really brave! The Estonian women were such delightful companions.

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Every week for the past five weeks I’ve been meeting with two boys, ages 11 and 8, and their mother, and doing chemistry. They live on a boat and are home-schooled, and are so excited to do chemistry. We’ve done bottle rockets, made indicators and tested acids and bases, dissolved pennies in hydrochloric acid, made hydrogen gas and exploded it, dipped a dollar bill in rubbing alcohol, lit it, and saw it survive, cleaned tarnished silver with a hot solution of baking soda in a pan with aluminum foil, and much more. Alison has been trading Reiki treatments for my back and shoulders, so I’ve been getting tuned up and unloosened.

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Here they’re mixing corn starch and water, it feels solid, and then it turns into goop, and back again.

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Getting ready to ignite a bill dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Now we’re getting the boat ready for another journey. Next week will be time for a trip to Costco and some local stores, storing provisions and water, then celebrating Halloween here at the marina, and two Days of the Dead Nov. 1 and 2, the first day for departed children, the second for departed adults. Many of the restaurants here will have altars for displaying pictures of departed loved ones. One restaurant here, Anna Banana’s, has bags of cremated ashes of the former patrons hanging from the ceiling. A bit of a shock when we were first here and found out what the bags were. We are going to do two or three short trips to locations here in the Bay of Banderas, then head south for a couple of months. We’ll be anchoring at some remote beaches, exploring, and winding up at Barra de Navidad where we’ll be joined by Rob and Stephi on Red Witch II. They have been up in the Sea of Cortez all summer and I am really looking forward to seeing them again. And at the end of December I fly to Portland to spend January helping Deva with the boys and the new baby girl, who is due Dec. 14. For now, we’re enjoying the music and food of La Cruz, and hanging out with our friends here until we again sail away.

En La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

It’s three in the afternoon, the blog is being written in the Ikuai Sailor’s Pub www.marinarivieranayarit.com/amenities/ikuai-sailor-pub/ at Marina Riviera Nayarit, a beautiful marina in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a small village about 20 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. The temperature is about 85 degrees, hot when in the sun at 20 degrees north latitude, but perfect while sitting in the open-air restaurant with the breeze gently blowing. We sailed across the Pacific for 270 miles after leaving Cabo San Lucas Monday November 26, alternately sailing at 6-7 knots with perfect wind conditions, or having to motor because the wind dropped off to almost nothing. We were amazed to arrive on Wednesday at about 4pm, much earlier than expected. Our friends Jane and Tim from Midnight Blue gave us a forecast from their SSB radio before we left Cabo, and we checked out a website for wind conditions, but the combination of pressure, air temperature, sea temperature and some other factors that a meteorologist would know kept the winds constantly changing. Luckily, when I was on watch I only had to make a few sail changes from the cockpit while Nikk napped, and we both were able to sleep much more on this leg of the journey than on any other multi-day cruise. Thanks to the wrist bands with little magnetic bead, there was no seasickness, so I was able to cook, eat, and even read. Maybe it was the full moon that worked magic out on the ocean.

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Last fall we helped Nikk’s friend Dick sail his boat, Que Sera Sera from San Diego to this Marina Riviera Nayarit, and we’d sailed from here in previous years while visiting Sayulita in February. The Bay of Banderas is about 24 miles across, and has wintering humpback whales that have just started arriving from up north. The juvenile whales will sometimes breach many times in a row, showing off their exuberance, perhaps, and often while sailing you can get close to a mother and baby whale. Whale watching tours come out from Puerto Vallarta, so we look for these boats because they communicate with radios about the whale locations. Supposedly a Spanish explorer came into the bay and was greeted by the natives waving bandanas, thus the name of the bay was created. Many cruisers stop here because of the beauty of the bay and the ambiance of La Cruz. We knew that this would be our marina home for a least the month of December. Our friends Dick and Mary Ann purchased a house here last year, and created a beautiful rental on the first floor, which comes with a soaking pool, huge tiled kitchen, and much more. They are completely rented for this season, but still have some weeks open for the 2013-2014 season, which runs from November to June. Check out pictures of their stunning renovations, painting, and art at this site:
www.vrbo.com/419085

La Cruz is not only blessed with marvelous weather most of the year (monsoons and sometimes tropical storms strike in the summer months), there are also many restaurants with mexican and italian food, including pizza, and live music (jazz, rock, country). We have gone out to listen to music on many nights since we arrived, and have also had dinner with friends at their home or on their boat. I’m thrilled that there is a yoga class at 8 six days a week in the marina lounge, and Nikk & I are taking a beginning Spanish class Monday and Wednesdays also at the marina lounge.
We learned so much the first day that our heads hurt, and that was just going over the different forms of To Be, one for description, one for location, and many adjectives.

So 2200 miles of sailing done since we left Portland September 11, we still feel like pinching ourselves when we look around and realize that we are truly tied up in paradise. Here is a picture of the marina to end this blog post.

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