Chocolate Makes Everything Better

May 29 – Another day with a broken water maker made everyone on edge and stinky (no showers until it’s fixed). Stinky body. Stinky attitudes! The girls did school work begrudingly, then Stella from Blue Zulu came over for a bit to interview Kyra – something for her school work. We went a shore and took a stroll along the road with the Pakokota Lodge owners (Matthieu et Agnes) dog named Kiera. She’s super sweet and so cute. She loved the walk as much as we did.
Upon our return, we inquired about doing laundry. She could do it for us today, no problem. I would bring it back shortly.  After lunch I dropped off the laundry.
Dave kept working on the water maker with little to no luck. He was more than a furious mad-hatter so we all tried to stay clear of his negative energy, but it’s difficult when we’re in such close quarters. I really wanted to help and kept offering to do whatever he needed or wanted.
Finally, around 5:30pm I made him clean up and get ready to head to shore for dinner at the lodge. We had made prior reservations and I wasn’t missing this. It was a good thing we were heading “out” because the boat was such a disaster and impossible to cook with all the tools out, seat cushions pulled apart and all of Camille’s stuff displaced since he was working under her bed.
As we dinghied across the water, delicious smells wafted along. Was it chocolate cake? Potatoes au gratin? I had wishful thinking which turned out to be exactly what was served along with grilled duck and a delicious salad of cabbage, carrot, tomatoes. Everything was super delicious and so wonderful. We all ate well!

Dessert did not disappoint – it was chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream. Thank goodness for chocolate to raise Dave’s spirits after a day of disappointment with the stinky water maker.

Paradise, Interrupted

May 22 – Today is departure day! After one day short of a week in Makemo hunkered down waiting out the stormy and windy weather that the locals refer to as the mara’amu blow, we went into town, got a few things from the store and then returned the keyboard and retrieved our piano books from Muskoka before shoving off. We said our goodbyes and then Scott came down to throw lines for us. The wind was about 14-16 knots. Not bad but getting stronger. Grr! No problem though! Camille drove us off while Dave pulled anchor. I pulled in lines that Scott released for us. I wrapped lines while we drove off.
We passed by Panacea in the bay and waved goodbye, hoping to see them again soon. The kids came up top and then Riikka. I loved seeing their smiling faces wave goodbye. I really hope they can get the part they need for their starter and then can get going again. We headed up the island towards a protected anchorage spot that was supposed to be good. We picked our way through bommies and rocks. As the day wore on and the sun was past its apex, it became harder to spot the bommies (submerged rocks and coral just below the surface) on the starboard side of the boat with the glistening sun shining on the water. We got a routine though and picked our way through carefully. Only one rascal snuck up on us on the port side the moment Dave was standing boom with no visibility to the port side because the sail was blocking his view. Dave was like a guy on safari searching for big game with his sun hat, sunglasses, binoculars, headset and remote control perched on the bow sprit looking out. Searching for bommies and rock outcroppings, he would tell me to go to port or starboard 5 or 10 degrees to avoid whatever danger lie ahead.
The girls were asked to help and be on lookout. Instead they proceeded to fight over the blue folding, captain’s chair. They fought for hours. It was so ugly and hard to deal with their constant bickering and grousing at each other. It goes on and on. I ask them to help lookout, because it’s really important, instead they complain about being in the hot sun. Finally, I get them up on the salon deck near the boom to look out in each direction. Instead they face each other chitter and fight over something. I bark at them to turn around and look out. They’re annoyed with me, each other, the sun, and complain constantly.
This state of affairs is so buggery and tiresome. Sometimes I wish we’d never done this trip, but then I realize that this would be happening at home too. The close proximity of our living quarters and the raging hormones of teens is painful. They never seem to find the beauty and joy in the moment. Kyra whines and cries constantly when I ask her to help out. Camille insights Kyra incessantly and of course Camille knows everything. There’s nowhere to run or hide. The negative energy is pervasive. Kyra is so rude, sassy, and bossy. I chalk it up to a stage of growing up, but it’s still hard to deal with. Her tone and body language are really difficult to deal with. When she speaks to all of us (no one gets preferential treatment), she’s indignant and irritated. She stomps around, rolls her eyes, snorts and growls whenever she doesn’t get her way or is asked to do anything whether it be moving the fenders, wrapping lines, doing dishes or starting her school work. She constantly argues with me no matter what I say. I know all parents go through this trying time, but I’m tired of it. Calgon take me away – wait I don’t have a bathtub, I don’t have a quiet place to retreat to, I don’t have my own bathroom, the only thing I have is a giant salty bathtub called the ocean and so I jump in sometimes and swim about. I wash myself of the negativity and return with renewed energy and a quirky smile under a dive mask.
We finally made it to the anchorage and threw down the anchor between dark, rocky outcrops. Not another boat in sight. Beautiful little bay with a long reef running out. I wanted to snorkel it before the light slipped away. It was already 3 pm. Unfortunately, it took us what seemed like forever to get ourselves together. Camille’s finger was still needing to heal, so I wouldn’t let her get in the water. She was very bummed about this, but I remained steadfast. It will heal much faster if she doesn’t get it in the salt water quite yet. I told her to give it 3-4 days.
We anchored the dinghy near the reef and went to snorkel. It was amazing! Beautiful underwater life. Dave even saw a baby octopus. After a bit the sun waned, and I got cold so I returned to the dinghy. Camille pulled up the anchor and we went to fetch Dave and Kyra. Dave wanted to go to shore but with the light nearly gone and tons of rocks and coral heads I wouldn’t let him take us. It wasn’t safe when we couldn’t see well. He argued and disagreed, but Camille was on my side for once and we returned to Anila. He was adamant though, so he blew up the paddle board and set out. I was actually very happy to see him go. It’s nice when he has time to just relax and enjoy himself since a lot of the time he busies himself with repairs or projects, keeping everything running safely, or route/weather/schedule planning. I started dinner while he was gone. We had an uncooked, whole chicken we’d been thawing. I prepped it and then popped it in the oven. The roasting of it with rosemary, garlic and olive oil wafted throughout the boat. I cut up potatoes and carrots too, tossing them in after half cooked.
We ate like kings. The feast was so delicious! We even opened a coveted can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce and Dave made gravy. It was almost like a regular holiday meal.
Here we are in a remote atoll, all by ourselves with the clearest water and eating like kings. The evening was so enjoyable. I got very sleepy after dinner and fell into bed early, sleeping like a baby in paradise! ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link.
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Celebration of Birthday

December 30 – The day was quite nice.  I woke to a pancake, eggs and bacon breakfast.  Dave was short-order cook.  Burgandy brought over the bacon.  Delicious!  Afterwards I bolted to town on a water taxi (panga) for an hour message.  Very relaxing but was confused at the end.  She didn’t tell me she was done and then never came back to wake me up.  I finally heard my kids voices in the distance which always wakes me so I got up.  We wandered Barra de Navidad shopping for a bit then headed back to our boats.

Later Camille and Violet went surfing.  Sitting on the beach, Burgandy and I watched the surfing and chatted.  It was relaxing!  For dinner we went out to eat at Besame Mucho.  This was a very good choice!  Little spendy, as far as Mexico goes, but so worth it.  Drank a red Temporanillo wine and had ribs, baked potato and corn on the cob.  I loved all the birthday wishes and enjoyed being in Barra de Navidad.

Hanging with the Locals

December 27 – Finding local families that welcome you into their home and feed you isn’t an every day occurrence.  We ate at a local restaurant in Colimilla (next door to the marina) one night and the waitress, Rosa, invited us to her house for dinner with her family.  She was born and raised in Colimilla, has 2 kids ages 16 and 19, a boy and girl.  Her husband has many siblings and came to Colimilla when he was 5 years old.  Their daughter is attending university in Colima studying biochemistry.  She’s quite smart and seems the most worldly of them.  Her brother, Diego, is younger and attends a prep school in Barra Navidad so he has to take the water taxi (panga) across each day.  They are both on holiday from school enjoying time at home.  Rosa is very sweet, has a big heart and loves to sing karaoke and dance.  She had a big boom box for music and microphone for singing.

Our Spanish may improve if we hang out around locals trying desperately to speak Spanish.  Mine is so bad.  I used google translate and so did Diego then we could communicate with each other.  He seems to know a little English but I believe he’s in the same situation as me:  he can understand a bit but cannot speak.

Rosa’s husband, Vicente, was very welcoming too.  He doesn’t speak any English.  They are such a happy and humble family, very proud of their home sitting up high on the hill above the lagoon in Colimilla.  They served us shrimp fajitas and molcajete.  Dave brought mojito makings and Burgandy brought drinks and cookies.  We all had a fabulous time eating, singing and chatting.

At the end of the evening we invited them to our boats.  She said 7pm but they arrived around 7:30pm tonight.  We were totally unsure how many would come.  She came with her husband, son, a friend named Laura, Laura’s daughter Solange, and a neighbor girl.  We asked where her daughter Manse was, but they said she was tired from studying all day.  We fed them fajitas with arrechera (yummy tenderloin meat grilled to perfection).  It was a very fun evening all around with more Spanish practiced.

Christmas on the Boat

December 25 – With a small tree from Walmart, mini lights, stockings and a few gifts we had a smaller scale Christmas scene but still lively and happy.  Everybody loved their gifts.  Camille was over the moon happy to get a certificate for tickets to Hamilton and a trip home to Seattle (well for all of us).  Kyra’s eyes lit up when she got Lego friends.  Dave was thrilled to get panettone while I was ecstatic to have a waterproof case for my iPhone.

The girls made us gifts!  And we had the best breakfast treats ever – French pastries from the French baker that came around via boat ringing his bell announcing his arrival.

We moved our boat away from a large, annoying power boat.  I made melon fruit salad and then brought it to the cruiser Christmas potluck at the ‘Time Out’ bar in town.  There were about 80 people in attendance with lots of food.  The traditional turkey and all the fixin’s.  We ate a lot but worked it off afterwards by wandering through town before returning across the bay to Isla Navidad where the marina is.

After the meal, they did a white elephant gift exchange.  We didn’t bring anything, as it was optional, but Burgandy brought her homemade jewelry and she offered our girls to pick something.  Each participant got a number if you put in a gift.  So when it was the girl’s turn they chose something.  Camille went straight for Burgandy’s jewelry and loved the necklace she received.  Kyra stole from someone else and got a round, wooden box.  She was so pleased with her treasure chest.

Later that day, we discovered the fridge and freezer wasn’t cooling and the compressor was overheating.  Grrr!  Dave investigated by pulling the pump off and discovering the inside of the mechanism was full of salty water and corrosion.  He promptly flew into a nook and dug out the spare pump.  I have to admit I’m very happy he was so thorough with buying a ton of spare parts, but at the time we were packing the boat, I kept grousing about how much “junk” he was stowing away.

With help from Jake on Sassafrass, they changed the pump and got the fridge and freezer up and running again.  Thank goodness!

Heading Towards Christmas – Barra de Navidad

December 23 – We arrived in Barra de Navidad at the marina and discovered it really is Christmas.  Up until now, it hasn’t felt much like Christmas.  The whole place is decorated so beautifully, and I even ran into a giant, life-size gingerbread house made of real gingerbread.  It’s taller than me so I could actually go inside but it’s roped off, just for decoration but they do have a bucket of freshly made and decorated gingerbread cookies in a tub in front of it for the taking.  I knew the girls would like it so I sent them up to investigate and find it.  They too loved it.

The resort is built into the steep mountainside so it rises high above the water, marina and lagoon with the most amazing views.  We even found a baby grand piano in the bar room, off the lobby that maybe they can play to get some practice in.  It’s been almost 3 months since their fingers have danced along a real piano keyboard.   Overall, this place feels 5-star with many amenities and a unique pool with water slides.

The girls are anxious to go swimming in it.  This is a real treat for the holidays and very relaxing.  I’m so glad we came here and especially happy our friends on Sassafrass joined us here too.  We met up in Tenacatita and then both came to Barra.  Camille is so happy to spend time with her friend Violet.


Passagemaking with a Sprinkle of Beauty-making

December 20 – Passage making is not my favorite but a necessary task to discover new places.  I wasn’t feeling great as we motor-sailed from Nuevo Vallarta to Chamela.  The waves were kicking us about and close together making it a choppy ride.  We sailed a little bit which was nice, but it was still bumpy and uneven which makes my stomach unhappy.  The girls didn’t seem to mind, they were painting toe nails.

To avoid being totally seasick and tossing my cookies, I lie flat on my back.  I cannot sleep but I go into a trance-like state:  trying desperately to become one with the boat and acquire my sea legs.  As I lie there, my mind has time to think and my senses go nuts.  Maybe it’s simply the nature of living on a boat.  The sounds I hear become very acute, distinct and purposeful.  It’s loud when the engine is running, yet I can still make out noises that are out of the ordinary or different.  My immediate reaction is to alert Captain Dave and see if he hears it too, or if something is off, wrong or amiss.  Sometimes it’s nothing.  Sometimes I’m right.  Other times it’s my imagination.

I wonder if other boaters have a similar thing happen to them:  my ears listen intently to all the sounds consciously and subconsciously and my mind parses it out with different reactions depending on it’s rhythm, volume or pitch.  The whirring propeller has one sound and yet another when the choppy waves kick us around.  I listen carefully, worrying at times that something isn’t quite right.  Or something is pumping and I begin to flip switches off to make sure we don’t burn out a pump.  Ah the joys of reacting to the sounds on a boat!

Paradise For Sure

December 18 – The pool drink called ‘Paradise Village” was quite tasty.  Sitting by the pool at Paradise Village Marina with friends and relaxing was wonderful!  I spent the morning herding the kids, going to the port captain via kayak across the way and bringing the stamped paper back to the office lady at the Marina Office.

Tonight we’re staying at Craig and Trish’s beautiful house in south Puerto Vallarta.  It’s up high with the most amazing view of Banderas Bay, downtown, Los Arcos, and beyond.  I could easily stay here a week or two.  Playing games was a highlight since it’s something we all enjoy and don’t seem to find enough time or people to play games with.  We played Ricochet Robots and Set.  I never win, but that’s nothing new!  I still like playing and always have fun.

Sibling Fighting on a Boat Is Intense

December 17 –  Why is it our kids have to constantly fight and harangue each other?  We cannot just be a happy, easy-going, relaxed family.  There’s always inequity, things are unfair, and injustice happens regularly.  There’s always complaining about who did what to whom.  The poking and one-upping is a sport.  The sneaking around doing what one shouldn’t be doing, then when caught, denying it or being quick to be defensive is a common occurrence every hour.  I’m not sure how I am still smiling.  My life soul is zapped!  I try every day.  I give every day.  I love every day.  I ask and remind very kindly every day.  I respect them every day.  I respond to their demands and requests every day.  In return I get crapped on.  It’s really hard to keep smiling when it never stops.  I see other families with children who aren’t fighting incessantly or snarking at one another for everything.  Yes, I’m coveting other’s happiness.  All I want for Christmas is a happy family.  This sounds so corny or cliché but it’s truly all I wish for this holiday.

Maybe because we live on a boat and we are so close together all the time that this occurs?

It’s not like we don’t get off it ever though!  We go out to eat and do all sorts of fun activities.  <Sigh>.


La Cruz Marina

December 12 – We headed out for La Cruz, or Marina Riviera Nayarit in Banderas Bay.  We arrived, got our slip and docked in the big, new marina.  It felt good!  Excited to check out the kid’s club; however, we discovered it doesn’t get started until January so there really was no activities planned for kids.  Oh well!  We still enjoyed ourselves here.  With a small pool, Kyra went swimming with some other boat kids, Sarah and Jake from Habi Hoba (anchored out).

Dave found a guy named Chewy to remove the old varnish on the port side of the cap rail, sand it and prep for finishing the varnish job on the wood that the dude (Carlos) didn’t finish before we left La Paz.  He also cleaned the rub rail wood and put on a teak rub to maintain its color.  The best part was Chewy referred us to a lady named Yannis who came to our boat, measured, quoted us a fair price and then sewed up our mesh window covers and the cockpit mesh enclosure, also the covers for the new dinghy wheels, stern tie wheel cover and flag pole sleeve.  We had the vinyl mesh (which we bought in Mazatlan) and sunbrella from home.  We paid her 4000 pesos for the window covers, 2400 for the enclosure on two sides (only enough mesh leftover for 2 sides) plus 2500 pesos for the zippers and 1350 pesos for the sunbrella covers.  We think this was a fantastic deal because back home it would be way more!  Plus, she was so nice, paid attention to detail, fixed little things like it was off by one inch so she resewed it, and even drove to Nuevo Vallarta for the final installation because we had moved from La Cruz to Paradise Village by then.  We highly recommend her to anyone in need of boat upholstery sewing.  She lives in La Cruz and here’s her info.  She only speaks Spanish, but her husband speaks a tiny bit of English.