Returning North - Prairie SeaShell Sea Stories

We have made our trek as far south as we had intended to do for this season, now we will be making our way back north to meet up with the first of our visitors. My sister and niece will be in Puerto Vallarta for two weeks, then Greg will meet us back in Mazatlan for about 10 days.

However, before we leave this area, we thought we would take a peek at the Las Hadas Hotel where the movie Ten was filmed many years ago.

We pulled up anchor and headed back to Barra, or maybe Tenacatita. Calm seas today allowed us to see tons of turtles floating on the surface. They barely move as we go, yet is is still hard to get a picture of them. We also had dolphins playing in our wake for a few minutes, then just as we were approaching Barra a pod of whales appeared, surfacing sometimes three at a time. Got pictures of lots of whales splashes, but not much luck with the whales.

Instead of trying to navigate the shallow channel at Barra at low tide, we decided to anchor at the town of Melaque. Went for a quick swim to cool off, then after a fairly nice dingy landing, went into town to the "Hawaii" store. It is very well stocked with gringo items, even Montreal smoked meat as there are lots of French Canadians here. We bussed back to Barra the next day to meet up with Steve & Sheila for lunch, then we headed to Tenacatita again, wind on the nose, and 27kn winds for the last hour or so, but all was calm by night fall and we were anchored comfortably right beside Merry & BJ on Willow.

We spent the morning trying to find the source of the water in the bilge that we had noticed the day before. At first thought it was the dripless seal on the shaft that may no longer be dripless, but was too much water for that. Turned out to be the seal on the raw water pump, the same one that we replaced in LaPaz that became a whole week job to repair. Fortunately we have spares, and since Don has already taken this pump apart several times, he knew exactly what to do, and more importantly, what not to do. Up and running again by early afternoon, so headed to the beach to visit with Merry & BJ.

Next day, we took PSS and Merry & BJ over to the town beach and anchored there for the day. They got to use their new snorkel gear, and we dove on the "aquarium". We didn't put on enough weight, so tried to carry rocks around with us to stay down, which made the swimming against the current rather difficult, and before long, I started to get a leg cramp, just when we got to the best part of the best reef we have found so far. We still saw some awesome sights, the biggest pencil fish ever, a whole school of Moorish idols and a few fish I couldn't identify.

We went to the beach for lunch and had the biggest and best rollo del mar ever. It's a bacon wrapped fillet of fish, stuffed with shrimp and cheese etc, and smothered in an almond sauce. A great day had by all, and for the grand finale, a school of rays followed along right beside us and then a whale went right under us in only about 50ft of water.

We left about 3 am and headed to Chamela. We wanted to get an early start as we knew some bad weather was coming. We anchored about 10:30 am just off the beach in front of the huge R.V. who had let us use his password for the internet. We needed to get a note off to Donna to see if she could bring us a new water pump in case the repair doesn't hold.

By 12:30 the wind was blowing like stink in the bay and we started to drag - we found ourselves about 150ft closer to the beach than when we anchored ... too close for comfort, so we moved to the other side of the bay. We only had to persevere the blow for about 3 hours, then it started to lay down, and by 5:00 pm it was calm enough to go to town. Needed to top up our supply of transmission fluid, because, yes the dripless seal is dripping.

We had a short snooze, then left around 10:00 pm for Puerto Vallarta. Wanted to pass Cabo Corrientes in the day light and before the afternoon wind picked up. An uneventful night, calm seas, and I even got a little sleep ... something I rarely can do while we are underway. We couldn't reach Marina LaCruz on the radio, so just went on in and picked a slip on dock 9. Arubio and one of the guards was there to take our lines and we docked right beside Tom & Cathy from s/v Awanee. Had a shower, a quick supper and turned in early as we are heading to Puerto Vallarta tomorrow to try our luck at getting a slip at the marina thru the hotel that Donna will be staying at.

No luck with the hotel slip, so went into the Marina office. Adrianna told us nothing available today, but to check back tomorrow. Didn't sound very hopeful, so we decided to walk the docks to see if we could find anyone who might be leaving. Found a few possibilities, including a 1979 cold-molded boat from Australia - it still looked in great shape ... hope PSS holds up as well.

Next we went to try our luck with pump parts. On Board Marine could replace seals & bearing, for $170, but not the shaft. Zaragosa Marine didn't have the parts available, but they did have the entire pump at a relatively reasonable price, so off to the HSBC to get cash for our 10% discount.

We stopped at Las Mapaches (The Racoons) Taqueria for lunch, picked up the pump and bussed back to La Cruz. After a quick visit with crew from Mary Rose who we had met in Tenacatita and a visit from Scot Free, who remembered us from Comox (good memory) the day was done, except to watch the eclipse of the moon.

The next day we once again bussed into Puerto Vallarta to check in with Adrianna at the Marina. When we arrived, Sergio, the manager was there and when we told him we would like a slip for two or three weeks, he told us we could have a slip on M dock for as long as we like. That was exactly the dock we were hoping for as the Flamingo Hotel is right at the head of that dock and that is where Donna and Kim will be staying.

Got up bright and early the next morning to take PSS to the Marina in Puerta Vallarta. Small problem however, the dredge is working at the entrance of the channel, hope we can get out past it. Successfully maneuvered past the dredge out into Banderas Bay.

No sign of any whales today, except for a pillar of bubbles that we think may have been whales below. The water in the bay is quite deep so they could have been a long way down.

When we arrived at Marina Vallarta, another little problem. The slip we were told to take was already occupied. We tied up to the end slip and I tried to find out from the boy on board the boat in our slip how much longer he would be there. However, in my poor Spanish, I'm not sure if I asked him how long he had been there, or how much longer he would be there. In any case, he told me two hours, and we only had 2 hours to get to the airport to meet Donna & Kim.

We walked up to the marina office and fortunately Sergio was there. When we told him and Adrianna that "Lady Monik" was in our spot, they rolled their eyes and said "No, not again". Guess this is a regular happening with "Lady Monik". Sergio made a phone call and by the time we got back to PSS the slip was empty. It was a very narrow slip, but fortunately we did have a line handler from a neighboring boat come over to help us get settled in.

I arrived at the airport at noon, about 20 minutes before their flight was due to arrive, only to find that their flight wasn't even listed on the arrival board. Finally at 2:18 it appeared on the board, and said it arrived at 2:26, however, I never saw them come out of arrivals until 2:46.

Puerto Vallarta is a very small, but very busy airport, and extremely noisy! I was very glad they had finally arrived safe and sound and we were anxious to get back to the relative calm at the marina.

We got Donna & Kim unpacked and settled in to the Flamingo Hotel, then took a walk over to the Mega Store (Mexico's version of the Real Canadian Super Store) to stock up on some groceries for the next few days. I had warned our guests about crossing the streets here, and about the condition of sidewalks here ... step up, down, jog around a light standard, duck under an air conditioner etc.

Never the less, Kimberly found out first hand, the hazards of walking, and took a tumble over some re-bar sticking out of the sidewalk. Fortunately, nothing broken, just a few scrapes and bruises, so we continued our mission ... strawberry kiwi waffles with media crema for breakfast, and of course, some very specially priced wine for a tonight!

Returning North Photo Album coming soon.

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