The Good: We made it to Banderas Bay! Where we plan to stay for the next three months, hopping between Punta Mita, La Cruz, Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa. It’s a beautiful big bay with dolphins, tropical fish and breaching humpback whales. Nice wind for afternoon sails, though we haven’t yet sailed recreationally, been more sailing from point A to point B. Ready to switch to play mode! It feels good to have mountainous land on three sides now, it’s more like home than all the exposed, open ocean anchorages we’ve been in. We’ll stay here until Mach/April, then we’ll take the boat north into the Sea of Cortez to haul it out and leave it for the summer while we go work, hopefully on boats in Alaska. Then we’ll come back in the fall to keep sailing. At least, that’s the plan! But things don’t always go as planned which brings us to…
The Bad: We had our amazing, unfailing Achilles inflatable dinghy and fantastic, started-every-time Johnson 8 hp outboard STOLEN from our boat on New Year’s Day. Damn it! And a lot worse things we could think of to say. We had been anchored out in Matanchen Bay near San Blas (which is between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta) for about four nights and we had met wonderful people and were really enjoying our stay. Frequently on this trip we have hauled our outboard up onto the boat at night to prevent theft but this infamous night I was tired and Rob’s injured hand (strained tendons from overwork) was aching so we left the engine locked to the dinghy and we tied and cable locked the dinghy to our stern. It was a quiet night and we always listen carefully for noises so we thought it would be okay. So many regrets! We went to sleep surrounded by six other cruisers, also with dinghies in the water and we woke up to a cut lock and line. No dinghy in sight.
Let me tell you, that is a horrible feeling. After Rob made an announcement in English and Spanish on the radio, we found out one other boat had their dinghy stolen as well. The next two days were a blur of talking with cruisers and fishermen, making signs with a photo and reward, posting them all around San Blas, Santa Cruz and Miramar, reporting the incident to the police and to the Ministerio de Publico, who wrote up a report of which we got a copy. After nothing came of any of that, we headed south. We left our Mexico cell phone number on the signs and with the appropriate folks so if anything turns up, hopefully we’ll hear about it. But we’re not holding our breath. There’s a relatively new law requiring small fishing boats to have an auxiliary engine so the market for small outboards is even better than it used to be.
Now we know just how quickly something we treasure and depend on can disappear into the night. We still think very highly of the community of San Blas and Matanchen Bay, minus those select few, and appreciate all the feedback and condolences we received from locals when they heard our story. We hope cruisers and travelers continue to pass through for some of the best homemade tortillas (La Parrillada), the coolest crocodile tour (La Tovara) and the incredibly warm, friendly people. Just don’t neglect to haul up your outboard!
The Present: Now we are dinghy and engine hunting. And when I say we, I really have to give the credit to Rob. He is amazing, leaving no stone unturned. He’s hunted Puerto Vallarta’s Craigslist, cruiser sites, Spanish sites, new stores, used stores, chandleries, dry docks, talked to cruisers, marina staff, security guards, boat workers, store owners, expats, locals, yacht owners, mechanics and sport fishermen. Every time we make the 20 minute trek to the shore head, he’s scouring the docks for any dinghy that might be ratty enough that the owner could be considering selling it. He’s made announcements on the 8:30 am cruiser net three times and followed up on at least 10 different leads, including going to docks and houses to look at possibilities. There are few people left in this marina and possibly the whole Bay who don’t know we’re looking. And that’s just what he’s managed to do in the last 48 hours! Much to our dismay, nothing has panned out yet. We’re fairly sure we want an 8 foot RIB (which is a rigid hulled, inflatable boat) and an 8 horsepower, 2 cycle, short shaft outboard. They don’t have to be new or pretty. But they do need to stay afloat (the dinghy) and run with some dependability (the outboard). If we can’t find the right combo used, we will have to pony up some major dough and go new. That’s what credit cards are for, right? Sure would be nice to have those summer jobs lined up about now…
Other than all THAT, things are good! We had a fun Christmas in Mazatlan, stopped for a night at Isla Isabela which is a popular breeding ground for a gazillion frigits and boobies, enjoyed a panga ride up a river to see crocodiles and swam in a freshwater spring in San Blas and spent two rolly but picturesque nights in Chacala, a little town north of Banderas Bay. We’ve been attracting Canadians like flies recently, probably because we ooze Pacific NWerly vibes. We hosted a couple from Vancourver Island on New Year’s Eve, Dorothy and Chase and then a few days later we accepted a stowaway, Stephanie, from Nelson, B.C. She sailed with us from San Blas to Chacala and we had a great time. You can see their smiling, Canadian faces in our latest photo album. You’ll also see some pix of cruising friends including James, Millie and their baby Colin on the boat Jean Marie. When our dinghy was no more, they graciously provided rides to shore of which we were grateful! We love hanging out with them and not just because Colin is so incredibly cute.
We’re looking forward to upcoming visits from friends and family. Hopefully we’ll have a dinghy/engine by then so they don’t have to swim out to see us. I think we’re really, really close to figuring this all out and getting to a nice anchorage and then chilling out. Rob wants to surf and I want to find yoga and dance and we both want to volunteer and take Spanish lessons. It’s time! Drop the hook, we’re here.
Love to all,