January 5, 2013 Punta Mita

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Happy, Happy, Happy Dang New Year, Everyone!

I’m sitting here on Willow, securely anchored at Punta Mita, just at the entrance to Banderas Bay.  The wind is in the mid-teens, there’s an occasional cloud wandering by, but the air is soft and comfortable.  Since leaving Mazatlan, my trip has been gifted with some really great people and new friends.  While at Matenchen Bay, I would sit and read, enjoying an early morning cup o’ joe while watching as the fishermen worked hard throwing small nets out for their daily food.   The grins and high fives for a 6″ fish made me feel very grateful for everything I have.  Often times, that one fish was the only reward for hours of fishing.  Pretty amazing.

I left Matenchen Bay on the 29th and sailed down to Chacala.  What a beautiful little town, and it is a must-stop during the trip back up the coast.  As you’re approaching the tiny bay, you begin seeing the homes built among the coconut palms and banana trees.  They are elegant, lush, and very colorful.  All of the color lends a festive and happy air to the location.  The anchorage wasn’t bad at all, and though it was still Christmas Week there, the busloads of revellers were so, so happy.  All of the sounds were excited, gleeful, and just, well, happy!  I didn’t go ashore, and departed the next morning, but I know it will be on the agenda for my return trip.

On the 30th, I headed toward Punta de Mita, Punta Mita as the locals say, and wound up motoring most of the way.  After playing up-down with the sails at least eight times, I said forget it, and stuck with the engine.  The hills and the valleys of the coast were the source of my frustration.  In the offshore breeze, I would just get the sails up and trimmed nicely when I’d hit another peak or hill, effectively shutting off the air.  Then I’d get in a valley, set sail and take off again.  Until I hit another hill, and well, you know what happens…  I got a few firm tugs on the jig I was trolling, but didn’t land anything.  The best part of the leg was the whales!  The humpbacks are in the area and going strong.  I watched a trio for miles breaching, pectoral fin and/or tail slapping for about two hours.  It was an awesome sight.  The whales are all over the bay here in very high numbers.  The pangueros supplement their fishing income with whale watching trips; they’re busy, and successful!

I spent one night in Punta Mita, then headed along the coast to La Cruz, also known as La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, after a miracle wooden cross.  I arrived New Year’s Eve, had an early dinner, and promptly fell asleep.  So much for New Year’s shenanigans and fun and frivolity.  Friends asked where I had watched the fireworks from.  Fireworks?  Pretty much from the inside of my eyelids…  New Year’s Day brought about 2″ of steady rain, and it was fun to go exploring the town on foot.  In the rain, flip flops aren’t the wisest of footwear, as each step you take kicks up the dirt of the road onto the backs of your legs.  I needed a shower after the rain!  Instead, I decided to go paddleboarding, and had such a nice paddle in the rain-flattened surf.  Not having my surflegs enough to surf from the SUP yet, this was a great opportunity to go out and play in some real gentle swells and gain some more confidence.  Feeling pretty ‘pro’ about how I was doing, I promptly fell ass over tea kettle and head first into the drink!  The water was so warm!  That rinsed the heavy ends of my walkabout off my legs, and I returned to Willow for a quick rinse off.  It was a pretty fun day…

One of the items I’ve been having trouble keeping aboard Willow is cat litter.  I thought about it before I left, and figured there wouldn’t be a problem.  There’s a problem!  Willow was off limits to visitors until I found a suitable replacement for the litter.  Beach sand didn’t cut it, as the cats wouldn’t even step into the litter box with it.  Word was out already on the morning radio net, since another boat was in the same pickle.  Alison, who lives with her husband and two boys on the Kin te Anai, put out that she would be heading down to Puerto Vallarta in their van, and would be happy to stop at Costco.  I was in for that, and promptly took her up on the offer.  What a really nice and kind woman.  Another couple and I hitched rides with her. The couple took a cab back since they were going to make a pretty big purchase, and didn’t want to take up all the cargo space.  Needless to say, I got my litter (100 pounds of it!), the other boats’ litter, and then walked around gaga-eyed at all of the neat stuff one takes for granted when Costco is literally just around the corner.  Fortunately, I remembered how small Willow is, how storage-challenged Willow is, how much crap Willow has on her, and kept my purchases to the 18 rolls of paper towel, two loaves of 7 grain, whole wheat, gluten free bread, some tonic (malaria prevention, of course), tequila, and chicken.  Alison and her husband, Merle, have a boat care company, and will keep an eye on boats when the owners go home for short, or long periods.  We stopped at Paradise Village to look at two boats, then Zaragosa’s, the West Marine of Puerto Vallarta.  I got a wonderful tour, and boy, how things have changed since I first walked around PV  13 years ago…  I spent the next day and a half doing laundry the old fashioned way, found I enjoy it much more than sitting in some laundromat, and came back to Punta Mita yesterday.

While in La Cruz, my neighbor in the marina was aboard a Passport 40.  One of his friends was down visiting from the Snoqualmie River area of Washington.  Ian and Dave both worked as volunteer firemen and EMTs, and it was really fun telling stories and lies.  This is in addition to their careers as accountant and lawyer, and it renewed my admiration for our volunteer brigades out there.  I was wined and dined by two very generous men who just wanted to talk-story, laugh, and have fun.  Ian remains in Mexico, and Dave returned to Washington, with priomises to come back down for some more fun.

These experiences are why I’m here.  Meeting such great, un-complicated, honest, giving and fun people is what this voyage is about.  I’ve not been disappointed yet, whether by the locals or gringos, and I look forward to more of the same. Seeing some of the most incredible vistas, sunrises and sunsets is why I’m here.  I look so forward to more of the same of those, too.  My rough plan is to stay in the area at anchor, bus in to La Cruz or Bucerias for any needed groceries, and keep the costs down.  I may head about a hundred miles more down the coast to Barra de Navidad, before heading back up toward La Paz.  Thanks to you all for sharing in the trip.  It’s really very fun for me to send these postings out.  Take care, don’t work too hard, be well, and have a great 2013.

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