Sunday, December 30, 2007


Low Tide in the Lagoon

As anyone who has lived near the sea knows, the level of the high and low tides can be widely variable. Recently we had a new moon and the tides were wild! Check out the photo of the water taxi dock with Jonesy's feet in the panga with our groceries...the end of the dock is high and dry!!

There is only a narrow channel as the entrance to the lagoon where we all anchor (for free!) and we've had several sailboats run aground while motoring in to anchor. No biggie - dingy's zoom out to help tug the new arrivals off of the sandbars and guide them back to the channel and out to the anchorage.

Here's a photo of how narrow the entrance is at these super low tides - that's the gap at the far right side of the photo - the megayacht is at the end-tie in the marina and you can barely see us sailboats way out in the lagoon. See all the shallow shoals???

How deep is it? Well, usually the channel is about 12 feet deep, but because it is narrow and unmarked, it is really easy to stray over to the sandy shoals. So why do we bother? Because anchoring is FREE and the town of Barra de Navidad is marvelously Mexican.

Of course the water depth in the anchorage also declines with these low tides and we've had some boats gently tap & ride the bottom. At one point we had only 6 inches of water under our keel on Niki wiki!!! But we were still floating so no biggie! Here's a picture we took yesterday of Niki Wiki anchored in the lagoon.

As this is the week between Christmas and New Year's the town is really crowded with Mexican tourists - mostly families. The surf was calm, the water is warm and everyone is partying like there's no tomorrow. We went for a walk over in the small lagoon village of Colimilla and came across these "sleeping policmen" in the road. These are some hairy speed bumps!!! At least these are well-marked - there are some pretty scary speed bumps on the roads in Mexico and many are not marked (anymore - once were, but the paint wore off).

On the KNITTING FRONT: I've started writing up some little patterns for my knitting guild for 7 x 7" squares for our Lap Robes for the Veterans Administration Hospital. I didn't have any acrylic worsted weight yarn in my stash, but actually found some in a little stationary/school supplies store in Barra. Now I can knit up the squares and have a full 12 different designs to make up a complete lap robe for the guild.

Jonesy is hungry - gotta go round up some grub for him....

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Market Day in Barra

Wow! We now have 23 boats anchored here in the Barra de Navidad lagoon! So many of our cruising friends from last season have shown up as well as new cruisers. The little town has really come alive this past week with vacationers from Canada.

Today was Thursday which is market day in Barra de Navidad. The arts & craft vendors set up their wares in the town square (zocolo) mainly for the tourists. There is the usual colorful pottery, tropical style clothing, tee-shirts,

necklaces, and acrylic tablecloths. Another area is aimed more for the locals with mundane household items such as clothing, kitchen ware, lots of plastic stuff, toys, shoes, and bootleg DVDs and CDs. It's a lot of fun to browse all the booths as you just never know what you're going to find.

So, I've been knitting a lot (oh really?), but just on mindless stuff - mainly dishcloths for our boat and for our fellow cruising friends. Cruisers are hard to "gift" as they don't want any more "things" on their boats! Space is at a premium! I know how we go through dishcloths/washcloths on our boat so I figure that these will make good gifts for other cruisers. We've begun handing them out at cruiser get-togethers and the response has been very positive! Yes, we DO use them - see? here's Joney's and my washcloths from this morning drying on the life lines.

After shopping at the market, we drifted over to the Sands Hotel for a cruiser jam session in the hotel's newly renovated pool bar area. Several of the folks here play guitar, drums, harmonica or other instruments. What a great afternoon! Oh, I knit - on Socks for Soldiers and chatted until I ran out of words (like that would ever happen).

And speaking of music, a few evenings ago we were on the sailing vessel Angel Fish for a little jam session in the lagoon with Frosty on the guitar, Dennis of sailing vessel Rapture on the drum, and Jonesy on the Pineapple...what? Oh yeah, Jonesy played a percussion instrument - a goofy wooden pineapple shaker noise maker thingy.

I don't think he really got it...

So what? You don't need rhythm to be the world's greatest cruising partner.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Beer Bob's Book Exchange

One of the great things about not only cruisers, but ex-pats (Canadians/Americans) in general in Mexico is the amount of sharing that happens. A great example is "Beer Bob's Book Exchange" in Barra de Navidad.

Now, Bob has been dead now for a couple of years. But, the free book exchange he started is still being operated by other volunteers. It is nothing special - just a garage facing a back alley/dirt road with books stacked on industrial shelving sorted by catagory (romance, biography, westerns, etc.). We have donated/exchanged many books in the last year. Sometimes there are surprises. See the picture to the right...yeah, dusty floor, what else? Are you a knitter? What is screaming at you right now?
YES! It is a knitting book!

I took it back to the boat and lovingly cleaned off the dust. Sure, it's from the 1980's but it is NEW to ME! Fresh material!!! A Snickers bar, iced tea, light breeze, and a little background music were all I needed to have a wonderful afternoon curled up with my latest find.

Speaking of the breeze - sometimes you have to go up on the roof to find the sea breeze in town. That's why you'll find some great little restaurants and/or bars up there, usually with just palapa (thatched with palm fronds) roofs. Sometimes it's hard to find the could be just a little doorway tucked inside another business. This one had a sign and I climbed the spiral staircase to a great bar.

What's in the black bag I'm carrying?? What do you think - knitting!!!

Finished Object and it's about time. I ordered the yarn and pattern for this Lopi wool Nordic sweater many years ago during Grad School (1998). Because I was working full-time++, raising two wonderful boys, and going to school, I wouldn't let myself commit to knitting it until after I graduated (2001). Eventually, it became one of those sad, abandoned projects hidden away in some closet.

After a couple more years and having only finished the body, I joined the Misery Loves Company (MLC) group on Sable Stasher's blog in the hopes of getting 'er done.

Voila! Here she be! Yes, rather unceremoniously laid out on the floor, but she's still a little damp from blocking and it's hard to find a large enough space here on the boat to photograph a full-sized sweater. On to the next UFO (Un Finished Object)...

Friday, December 14, 2007


Holiday Mystery Gifts finale

Well, it's almost over for this year...the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo! group will have our final pattern posting tomorrow (Saturday Dec. 15th). My contribution is this Trellis Fingerless Mitts pattern knit in Koigu wool and a couple of pairs of socks...Hot Air Balloons and Paw Prints & Hearts.

If you want any of the patterns - including Mindy's fantastic Christmas Pi Shawl Knitting Adventure then hurry over to the group!! All patterns will be deleted from the files section, but the group will remain open for sharing of photos and chatting. Plus, everyone is already signed up for NEXT YEAR! Mindy and I are working on a theme and will start designing patterns after the holidays (we need a rest and to do our own knitting!).

It's hard to believe that it's been two weeks since we arrived in Barra de Navidad. We've been so busy with socializing, exploring, chores, and relaxing. Busy with relaxing? Yep, it takes some effort to learn how to kick-back and relax.

These first photos were taken during our approach to Barra. First, you see the rocky outcroppings which create the small bay for Melaque (the rocky-Melaque anchorage).

The next photo is of the end of the sandbar ("barra") and one side of the jetty of the entrance to the harbor. In the 1500's the Spanish used this natural harbor to build the hulls of great wooden sailing ships that sailed off for the first Spanish exploration of the Philipines!
I'm sure that they must have had the same little greeters that we've had every time we've entered the harbor --- these little black & white tweeting birds!

They fly out and excitedly circle the boat, then a few hang out on the lifelines and sing. Cute? Yes, but they also want to nest in our boom so Jonesy got out the duct tape and sealed off both ends of the boom. No nesting on the Niki Wiki allowed.

Speaking of birds...we had a Roseate Spoonbill fly right by the boat the other day! These are very large birds and PINK like a flamingo!!! As we are anchored in a Mangrove lagoon, we have a perfect spot for bird-watching. In the evenings large flocks of Snowy Egrets fly by on their way to roost for the night and we can hear/see Great Blue Herons and Little Blue Herons too.

Here's a photo of a restaurant/bar out on an island in the Barra de Navidad harbor to show how flat it is in the harbor area. This place will be packed with vacationers in just a few days.

The first thing we do when we enter a new harbor is to "check in" with the Port Captain. The new laws in Mexico prevent them from collecting any money, but we still need to let them know that we are anchored in their jurisdiction. Just a nautical courtesy.

Next, we find the local "Lavanderia" to have our laundry done. Fresh water is too precious on a boat to waste it on laundry, and services are inexpensive in Mexico so out it goes. Same day service too! After a long day re-provisioning, socializing at our favorite outdoor cafe, we load up the dinghy and head back out to the lagoon anchorage. Those two bags - red and white on the seawall are our clean - ahhhhhh laundry.

BATTERIES - AGAIN Yes, again. Our batteries which we bought this time last year and had the massive re-engineering efforts to replace the old gel-cell batteries, have failed. These "deep-cycle" batteries are difficult to find in Mexico. Thank goodness a fellow yachtie here in the lagoon not only knew where to find them (Puerto Vallarta) but was hiring a taxi to take him on the US$150, 3+hour each way ride, for himself to go pick up a new dinghy engine. Whooo hooo! We gladly shared his taxi fee and he picked us up four brand new batteries (US$550).

Jonesy pulled up the salon floorboards, got out his tools and went at it. As this is the second time in one year that we have done this routine, we already knew how to lift the old batteries out, and lower the new ones down to the bilge - the tried-and-true block & tackle system. Here's a photo of a battery - in the canvas tote bag - making it's journey out the hatch in the ceiling.

to my step-father (my late mother's husband) on his recent marriage to Loreta (photo below of wedding in Singapore). May you both have many happy days.

Condolences... also to my step-father on the death of his youngest daughter, Mary Lou. Life sure is a rocky road filled with both highs and lows.

Friday, December 07, 2007


Early Season in Tenacatitia

While we were anchored in Tenacatita Bay, some of us yachties invaded were invited over to the catamaran SunSations crewed by Captain John, skipper Sharon and crewdog Diesel for a potluck dinner. Great folks!

As darkness fell, we took our full bellies up to the trampoline between the 2 hulls at the front of the boat. There we laid on our backs and stared at stars of the night sky. We counted the satellites we spotted, and the falling stars while we chatted.

But it's not it's not all play. Jonesy took a swim to clean the waterline of our boat (and admire our new bottom paint job up close).

I climbed the ladder and cleaned off the solar panel up on the radar arch at the stern. It was covered with sanding dust from the boatyard and wasn't making power. No sooner did I have it all cleaned off than a large boobie bird dropped in for a visit and sat on the solar panel.. No! Go Away! (Boobies aren't potty trained)

And I created and knit a few more designs for the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo! group. First there's the new 5-Point Holiday Ornament which is along the same idea flow as the previous ornaments (tam crown whorls), but has only 5 points/sides.

A little different is the Heirloom Cabled Ornament which is knit flat. The shape is achieved by short-rows and I stuffed it with unspun wool rovings for a totally sheepy outcome.

Finally, we have have the 3-D Fair Isle Holiday Ornament. The 3-Dimensional ornaments are made simply by stuffing the ornament before finishing the 3-needle bindoff. So simple! Then I stretched out the shape by from center point to center point and added a tassel. Shown below is how this ornament would look if I just left it flat, or used some different colors.

But wait! That's not all! I also knit up a fleece lined Thrummed Hat. Check out the inside of the hat - all those little tufts of unspun wool are added one at a time. Although this is an easy hat to knit, it sure takes a lot of time. Plus, when the breeze comes up in the afternoons, the unspun roving wants to fly off the boat into the lagoon!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Let the Cruising Season Begin!

Ahhhh...the official start of the cruising season began with the inaugural hammock sunset viewing from the bow of Niki Wiki in Tenacatita Bay.
After paying the ransom, we escaped the boatyard with the best looking hull in the fleet. We slurped up some diesel for the iron jib, and headed out to the open waters of Banderas Bay.

First stop: La Cruz de Huanamixtle. We began the clean-up of the multi-colored layers of sanding residue which covered every surface inside and outside of the boat. Although they tarped during the removal of the bottom paint, that fine grit worked it's way everywhere.

First problem: Overheating generator. So, Jonesy went to work diagnosing the problem and I knit. Turned out that the raw water impeller blew up so there was no cooling, we had no spare, thus we boarded the bus for a trip back to Puerto Vallarta. Many hours, blood, sweat, and swearing later, we had a happy generator and could make electricity again.

Hat: Brickwork Hat from my knitting buddy's handspun yarn.
The forecast for the weather and sea conditions was benign so after a couple of days in La Cruz and our problems solved, we hoisted the anchor and headed south around Cabo Corrientes on Nov19th. The one day journey to Ipala Bay and the little town of Tehuamixtle was heavenly! Dolphins cruised alongside us and sea turtles (both green and Olive Ridleys) were out in force. We motorsailed for a few hours, then as the wind came up, we shut off the engine and sailed along quietly at about 4 knots.

We anchored in the tiny cove among the oyster and fish pens, set the stern anchor, and kicked back. The next day we lowered the dinghy and went to shore to have a walkabout. A group of Canadians on a 3-month roadtrip were eating lunch in one of the restaurants facing the bay and called out to us. We joined them for fresh seafood and good conversation.
Soon it was time to leave and on Thanksgiving morning we rose at dawn for the one-day trip south to Chamela Bay. Here's a photo of Jonesy riding out in our dinghy to retrieve the stern anchor.
More later...

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