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February 2004

photos at bottom of page (text that refers to a photo is followed by O)

We woke up the first day of February out at the Tres Marietas Islands.  We did not sleep well, as we had to be checking the anchor regularly because of switching winds.  The day before we had been able to swim with giant manta rays right where we were anchored.  As soon as we anchored we started to see big fins cutting through the water.  No, it was not sharks, but 12-15 foot rays.  They were so cool.  They would jump out of the water about 6 feet high and splash back down.  One was doing it right next to the boat and it would flip over and land on its back.  Most of them had white undersides, but this one had a pink belly!  Very fun to see them, and very cool to swim with.  We went kayaking and explored some sea caves and then took the dingy over to a beautiful beach O to take Hopper for a walk.  We headed back to Punta de Mita for a couple of days at the northern tip of the bay.  Punta de Mita was fun to go back to.   We only spent a couple of days there, but it was nice, like visiting the old neighborhood.  We cruised the shoreline, gently turning over rocks and found some beautiful nudibranchs.  We sailed O back out to the Tres Marietas for a couple more days.  While we were sailing, we had an Orca come from a distance and swim right past the boat.  I spotted it from a distance and knew that it was not your ordinary dolphin.  I told Mike that it looked like an Orca, then he came beside us and proved me right.  Needless to say, there were no humpbacks around.  We explored the topside of the island this time, it was a great hike.  We saw lots of nesting seabirds, walking right next to their nests, but they did not budge.  The most notable were the boobies, both yellow and blue footed. O We explored some great caves on this island.  They were gigantic. O One had the look of being lived in with rock terraces, a fire pit and different rooms in sections of the cave.  The islands are not known for being a great anchorage, but by now we were getting used to the moods and wind shifts.  We had a more comfortable night and got up early to get into the beach for a snorkel.  Mike, Nancy and Fletcher went for a long snorkel while Dana hung on the beach with some other folks that had come over on a panga from Puerto Vallarta.  We snokeled through a shallow archway into another bay.  It was very nice.  Fletcher is getting really good at snorkeling, he is diving down to look into nooks and crannies and to swim with schools of fish.  Dana is still wanting to hang out on shore and snorkel in 1-2 feet of water.  She has seen some fish, but does not really understand that she needs to get further out.  We left in the afternoon for a beautiful sail back to La Cruz.

The next day it was time to catch up on real life again.  Mike went to Bucerias to go to the bank and get some cash.  The kids and Nancy stayed at Philos and  worked on school and email catch up.  Mike ended up being gone for hours, and we were beginning to really worry when he finally showed up.  We were wondering what we would ever do if someone did go missing!  We went to a corner stand up on the highway and got some roast chickens.  We gorged on chicken for lunch and dinner.  While we were back at La Cruz, we cleaned the kids clothes out and took them in to be donated to an indigent kids school near Puerto Vallarta.  We also heard about another boater that was selling off a bunch of stuff and went into Marina Vallarta to check it all out.  While going to Marina Vallarta sounds easy, it is not so simple.  The first bus, which goes right by Marina Vallarta, does not stop there.  So, you have to get off at the airport, wait for another bus and then take that one where you can get off for the Marina and then walk in.  Going to Nueva Vallarta was about the same deal.  With 4 of us traveling, sometimes it seemed that we should just take a taxi, but we always opted for the bus.  We also took the bus to a cute little town called Sayulita.  It is known for its surfing, and remnant 60's hippie population.  It is very cute and on the Pacific Ocean (rather than the bay).  We did a cool hike down the road, through the jungle to a beautiful, long beach.  On the hike we heard something running through the jungle and some dogs chasing it.  We only saw it for a flash and think that it was a coati.  The rest of the week was spent gearing up for Fletchers birthday.   Because of the threat of another rain storm, we began celebrating a day early.  Weeks before, Fletcher had pegged "Splash", a waterslide park, as his location of choice.  We got up early and took the bus into town to try to get some discount tickets, what a goose chase that turned out to be.  We finally got the tickets and took another bus back to the Splash exit and began O.  We all had a great time.  We had told Fletcher that we could stay until closing time... and we did!  On the way home, we stopped at Fletchers favorite taco stand for a late dinner.  After the kids went to bed, Mike decorated the boat and Nancy baked the cake for the real birthday.  We also put all of the presents out.  When Fletcher woke up, he was so excited. O He had told us days earlier of his selection for his birthday breakfast and dinner.  He chose French toast for breakfast and we went all out. O Later in the day, Mike and Fletcher went for a father/son beach walk while Dana and Nancy decorated the cake. Fletchers favorite color is red, so we did it all in red. O The cake was bright red and the frosting to match.  Fletchers selection for dinner was homemade pizza.  We make them like calzones and fry them.  Everyone makes and stuffs their own.  They are yummy and fun.  For Mikes birthday, two days later, we also had French toast, but this time it was stuffed with a cream cheese stuffing.  Quite yummy.  He just wanted to work on the boat all day, so that is what we did.  For dinner we had his favorite, chicken paprikash and for his cake, Nancy made a layer cake with Dulce de Leche O between the layers and for the frosting too.  It was topped with grated coconut.  Coconut and Dulce de Leche are two of Mikes favorite foods down here.

We were now ready to leave Banderas Bay.  On the way out, we stopped to get fuel at Marina Vallarta.  We were going a  little slower that usual, but did not think much of it.  We pulled into the fuel dock and fueled up.  As we pushed off, we realized that we had no control of the boat.  There was no propulsion either forward or back.  This was really bad, because Marina Vallarta is very narrow and there are boats coming and going continually.  We were now adrift right in the middle of this narrow, busy channel.  Mike quickly lowered the dingy and tied it to the side of the boat so that we could use the dingy engine to push the big boat back to the dock.  A couple of guys came down to see what was up, but nobody had any great suggestions.  Mike decided to dive under the boat to take a look.  This was in really yucky marina water.  So, down he went.  He saw that the propeller was encrusted with barnacles and grabbed some tools and began scrapping.  People around were quite curious and aghast at him being in that water and skeptical that this was the problem.  He finished up, started the engine, and sure enough we had power again!  Yea!  We rinsed him off with some antibacterial soap and immediately put antibiotic on all of his cuts and scrapes.  One fellow even said we should start him on a course of antibiotics right away.  Anyway we finally got out of there and headed to Yelapa to check it out and spend a day or two there before we headed around Cabo Corrientes.  Cabo Corrientes is compared to Point Conception on the California coast, very rough, big wind and waves.  On the way to Yelapa, we went through, next to, and around many humpback whales.  They were having so much fun and we sure had fun admiring them.  Yelapa was beautiful. O We got there later than we had hoped because of the propeller problem.  Anchoring there is quite tricky and this was not helped by the dusk that had come upon us.  The beach is very steep and then there is a narrow, and I mean very narrow, shelf on which to get your anchor before it drops off into very deep water.  Mike was quite nervous, but it all worked out fine.  The next morning, we got up early to head up to a waterfall before the tourists started to arrive from Puerto Vallarta.  We meandered through the paths that wound through the village of Yelapa.  This spot has no roads and no cars, the locals either walk or horseback ride to get around.  It felt very European with all of these meandering cobbled paths.  The waterfall was quite cold, but it was a fun hike. O We asked a local about another hike and he gave us directions to a footpath that wandered through the jungle to the top of the waterfall. It was fun and felt good to stretch our legs on an uphill climb.  That same day, we also did a long hike up the river.  It is a beautiful wide river bed.  All the women are at rivers edge doing their laundry while the kids play.  Horses, pigs and chickens are in most of the yards.  We walked up quite a ways and swam before heading back to the beach for some beach time before heading back out to the boat.  We got up the next day to pack the boat up to begin the next leg of our journey, heading south towards Zihuatanejo.  We were going to do an overnighter to Tenacatita.  It was quite rough  Mike had to steer almost all night as Nancy was really not feeling well. 

We arrived at Tenacatita early.  It is a beautiful bay with very friendly boaters.  There is no town near the anchorage, so it is just the cruisers.  This is the location where the movie McHale's Navy was filmed.  One of the other cruisers had a copy of it, so we got to watch it on location!  Not the best movie in the whole world, but it was very fun to watch while we were actually there.  We had speculated as to what some of the abandoned buildings and tree house was and in the movie we had our answers.  Our first night in the bay, there was a huge raft up happy hour.  Everyone brings an appetizer, ties their dingy to another and passes the food around from dingy to dingy.  We got to meet alot of people, and learn more about the area.  We spent almost a week here, it was so relaxing and easy to hang out.  There is also a huge mangrove swamp with canals that lead around to another beach area that is more populated.  The mangroves were again a treasure trove of nature. Lots of birds and we saw one critter that we surprised as he was down at the water line getting a drink.  From the other side of the mangroves we walked to another cove that was great snorkeling.  When we got back to the main beach where the boat was, there was a volleyball net set up.  The men were playing bocci ball, while the women were walking the length of the beach after a group swim in from the boats.  This anchorage is very community oriented as far as boaters are concerned.  It is a nice change.  Fletcher and Mike had a great time playing volleyball while Nancy and Dana hung on the beach.  We spent lots of time on the beach here and hanging out with the other cruisers.  Almost everyday the group swim, beach walk, bocci ball, volleyball routine was repeated and every Friday night they have the raft up happy hour.  We had a motor boat anchor next to us that has quite the set up.  They do underwater photography and even have a shark cage.  They invited us on board to show us pictures.  Wow, what luxury.  It was quite a boat!  And the pictures were beautiful.  On another note, by now our food supplies were running down.  There was no shops nearby to go to and it was too rough on the other side of the bay to go to the town over there that we had heard about.  We went up the mangroves again and asked some folks in RV's where they got supplies.  It turned out that there was a small village about a mile or two up the road.  They said that everyone just hitched if they did not have a car.  Well, we had the dog and kids with us and we were not too sure about that so we started to walk.  Soon, Hoppers feet got sore and he was limping along.  We decided that we would just as well try to hitch hike even with the dog and kids.  Right away a pick up truck stopped and we all loaded in with Hopper in the back, no problem.  He dropped us off and we found a great small market with very good vegetables.  We were so excited.  It took a bit longer to get a ride back, but again a pick up truck stopped and gave us a lift along with someone else that had been picked up before us.

The next day another kid boat pulled into the anchorage.  Boy were the kids happy to see some other kids. Fletcher was busy bodysurfing and playing volleyball, but Dana made a new best friend right away.  We had her over for dinner and then took her back to her boat where we were treated to slices off of a giant chocolate bar that they had.  Nancy, being the biggest chocoholic on board, was in heaven.  We hope to see them again in Zihuatanejo.  The next day it was time to leave Tenacatita, but there was still one thing left to do in the bay...go across to the town on the other side and see the crocodiles! O We sailed across and took the dingy in.  We walked through the cute little town on the way to the crocodiles at the other end.  Sure enough there was a swampy river empting out and in the lagoon were many crocodiles lazing around.  We shopped some more as we made our way back through town.  We found a great butcher shop and bought some meat for the next few days of our sail down to Zihuatanejo.  We had a nice sail down to a secret bay that another cruiser had told us about for the first night.  We were the only boat in there and it was very pretty.  We fully explored it in the dingy the next day.  We had another great sail down the rest of the way, and even managed to catch another fish, a crevalle. O As we were sailing, we heard on the radio that a volcano was going off and we could see the plume coming out of the top. O That was fun to watch as we sailed along.  We were wing and wing all the way with following seas, making good time.  We actually got to do normal life stuff underway.  Usually it has been pretty rough for us.    We did another all night sail and then we had one more overnight stop along the way before reaching Zihuatanejo.




Banderas Bay

Please click to enlarge!

  Sunset from our home anchorage of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

  Sailing out to Tres Marietas Islands

  On the beach at Tres Marietas

  Another beach on the Tres Marietas

  Hiking on the island

  Ohh, we found the caves!

  One of the entrances to one of the caves

  Inside and against the wall of the biggest cave

  And more cave

  And more cave

  The firepit and entertainment area

  On top of the island with Desiderata in the background

  Yellow Footed Booby

  Blue Footed Booby

  Booby and baby booby

  Another mother and baby shot

  Fletchers Birthday, Splash in Puerto Vallarta

  The family getting ready to partake of some birthday fun

  Off go the kids to explore the park

  One of the slides

  At the bottom of one of the slides

  Dana going down the steep one

  Of course Fletcher could not be outdone

  They had a dolphin tank that was being renovated, but we visited anyway

  They were fun to hang with, but we would rather see them in the wild

  Fletchers birthday set up

  Fletchers cake, it was this red inside and out

  The present opening begins

  Fletchers special birthday breakfast, fancy french toast

Mike's birthday cake, Dulce de Leche Delight

  Desiderata in Yelapa

  View out to sea from our jungle waterfall hike

  The waterfall

  Mike tests the waters, boy was it cold

  Nancy and Fletcher had to try too        

  Sailing down the coast from Banderas Bay, wing and wing most of the way

  The kids tucked in for the night while we were underway

  Tenacatita Bay was beautiful and had a great mangrove trip

  The mangrove tunnels

  Snowy Egrets were everywhere in the mangroves

  Crocodiles lived across the bay                    

  Volcan de Colima erupted twice while we were sailing south  (you need to enlarge to see the plume)     

  A yummy crevalle we caught en route

  Arrived in Zihuatanejo, finally swimming in 80 degree water!

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