Spa Day

After several thousand miles of sailing, and our arrival in warmer waters, I noticed our bottom paint is not holding up well.  When we bought the boat it was moored in fresh water and the bottom looked great during the haul out for the survey.  And on the trip down, with pretty constant movement and cold water, I didn’t notice any growth (granted I didn’t jump in to check).  But after some time anchored in La Paz, I noticed some growth starting, and by the time we sat in Banderas Bay for a few weeks, it was getting disturbing.  It turns out this a a good place for disturbing bottom growth, as the going rate for bottom cleaning is a whopping $1 per foot.  I would have paid $3.  But beyond that I probably would have dug out the scuba gear.  Although after watching another cruiser spend a good chunk of two days in the water, maybe not.  But fortunately the rate stays the same regardless of the condition of your bottom.

In tandem with arranging for the bottom to be cleaned, I dug out the receipt the previous owner left on the boat for what I’m assuming is the last bottom painting, and realized I’m having issues because it was dated 2008.  Bottoms Up Marine Service in Port Townsend was very responsive to my email and helpful with advice about how to prep the current paint (or what is left of it) for the next bottom painting.

Having worked out and date and time with one of the local bottom cleaning crews in the marina, we arranged for a slip and brought the boat in for the dreaded exercise in docking.  This is only the third time I’ve docked the boat in Mexico, but with a couple friends on the dock to catch lines it went smoothly.  Because the dinghy dock at the La Cruz marina is usually packed, and a bit of a walk from the happening spots we’ve been slipping in between Bella Star and Jace (aka Knee Deep).  Since Jace pulled out the day before we went into the marina, we grabbed their spot since we were already so familiar with it.

We arrived mid morning, and our cleaning crew showed up within 10 minutes or our appointment.  Not shabby for Mexican time!  They were done within an hour, and stuck with the original quoted price.  I pitched in a few extra pesos for a job well done.  With the bottom clean, we started to think about the topsides.  Of course we had given the boat the mandatory scrubbing that comes with getting a slip in a marina after weeks of anchoring.  But there were some crews that do topside cleaning, and one of the cruisers on the dock I had been talking to about boat cleaning had just hired a crew that was well regarded.  He sent the Jeffe, Ernesto, down to talk to me, and the quote was pretty reasonable.  So, we took the plunge and hired them to start the next day on our boat.  Of course this also meant a few extra days in the marina, but the rate wasn’t unreasonable and since Aaron’s birthday coming up it would be nice to be able to walk back to the boat after a night out rather than taking the dinghy on the search through the anchorage for our boat we sometimes find ourselves involved in after dark.

It took Ernesto’s crew two days to polish and wax the stainless steel on our boat, clean and wax the topsides, and buff and wax the hull.  Ventured looks great, except now my motivation to do something with the teak toe rails is a little stronger.  We’ll be working on that soon.  We also spent the time in the marina to let the growth on our anchor chain die off by spreading it up and down the dock beside our boat.  I never anticipated scrubbing my anchor chain as part of the cruising life.

The house and car, looking shiny and clean.

Next post – How Ventured thanked us for all the TLC.

While the boat was being cleaned, Nicole arrived back from Seattle with a couple goodies from Seattle including our new Coast Guard documentation and some cat toys for Minion, kind of a late birthday present for him.  And speaking of birthdays, she arrived on her husband Aaron’s birthday so we headed out on the town.  After some happy hour draft beers at the Huanacaxtle Cafe, it was time for some tacos.  Full from our trip to Red Chair Tacos, and approaching cruiser midnight, we poked our noses into the Huanacaxtle Cafe to say hi to their friendly beyond description staff on our way back to the boats.  They waved us in and despite an approaching closing time offered to serve us more beverages, and agreed to let us plug in a computer and play our own music so we could dance.  I had my laptop and soon started playing DJ, trying to play songs everyone knows and loves rather than dipping into my obscure collection.  And then… the karaoke book came out.  It didn’t take long for the door to be closed and our own private karaoke party to begin.  We didn’t even have to request songs, we just ducked in the back room and punched in the number for the songs we wanted and they queued up.  Besides ourselves and the birthday couple, we were joined by the Deep Playa, Panache and Wings of the Dawn crews, and the eight of us tore it up.  The staff even joined in some songs while keeping our social lubricants flowing.  It was a great time that would have been hard to top if we hadn’t returned a couple nights later for another karaoke party, this time joined by crews from Jace and Popoki along with their kids.  If you ever find yourself in La Cruz, go say hi to the folks at the Huanacaxtle Cafe, they are delightful, friendly and have the best wings we’ve found in Mexico.  Their Happy Hour draft beer is 10 pesos (we’ve agreed you can’t afford not to drink it) and the cocktails are 2 for 1 and they bring the bottle and mixer to your table and pour the alcohol till you say stop.  And they don’t chicken out.  But I have – I’ve yet to order a mixed drink but I need to do it once before we head out.

It isn't a Mexican karaoke birthday party without the birthday boy wearing a sombrero.

I couldn't let Aaron have all the fun.

Jenn doesn't want to be left out of the fun.

Dawn (SV Deep Playa) and Oliver, patron of the Huanacaxtle Cafe, play along to Sweet Child of Mine.

Karaoke night round two, this time with children. It didn't keep things any tamer as one of the mothers (who shall remain nameless) sang Why Don't we Get Drunk and Screw.

After just two days Ventured was sparkly clean, the hull shiny enough to reflect the sun hitting the ripples of water dancing around the boat.  Since we had to do something to keep ourselves from feeling too guilty for paying others to work on the boat, we scrubbed the dinghy and installed the dinghy wheels (finally).  We returned to the anchorage, happy with our investment and hoping Ventured enjoyed two days of spa treatment.


A Day in the Life

This was supposed to go up a couple days ago, but… it didn’t.  Oh well, hopefully it will still be enjoyed.  I’ll try to write about yesterday’s jungle hike today, but… I might not.  It depends on how smoothly the water pump pressure switch replacement goes.

I suppose this is a post all of us cruising bloggers write at some point, but today feels like a good day to share my doing quite a bit while not really doing anything at all.

Jenn suggests a birthday present for Minion.

Despite it being Sunday, we actually got up and off the boat by about 9:00 am.  Of course, we took some time to sing Happy Birthday to Minion and give him some raw tuna for breakfast as a gift for his first birthday before we left.  We then went ashore and walked to the Huancaxtle Cafe to meet Bella Star for breakfast.  There we found out they were closed till 10:00 am, and would have a buffet at  11:00 am that cost a little more than our breakfast budget.  We radioed Aaron and Nicole to let them know, and after meeting in person we all walked up to The Octopus Garden.  We had been there once before, just for a drink, and really like the space the restaurant is in, plus Aaron wanted to try their pancakes.  Of course, they aren’t open on Sunday.  Another radio call to Anon, who was supposed to be meeting us there, along with the visiting Hello World crew who had a bag of goodies they brought down from stateside.  So another hike through town brought us to Eva’s Brickhouse, where we ordered coffee and someone got a bloody mary (hint, it wasn’t me).  When Keith from Anon arrived we found out he wanted to go to another place for some music with breakfast but we had already put in the beverage order so we agreed to meet them later.  Sometimes VHF conversations don’t quite seem to communicate all the important details.

I can’t say we enjoyed our breakfast at Eva’s – they had no pancakes for Aaron, we had to wait for refills on coffee because our waiter told us someone forgot to start the next pot, and the cook came out and yelled at us for telling our waiter what ingredients we didn’t want in our omelets, not what we did want.  Our waiter explained his behavior with the words “Italian Cook.”  After all that, the food was decent but priced more for tourists than locals.  I doubt any of us will return with so many other choices in town (on any morning but Sunday anyway).

A quick break from doing nothing to help Ben on Jace, who was not having a lazy day.

We then proceeded to wander around the local market.  We were told later that the merchants at this Sunday market have to either make their goods, or grow or use locally grown products for the food items.  Of course when you live on a small sailboat you usually aren’t shopping for local handicrafts, but we did grab a tasty salsa and some caramel filled pastries.  We also chatted with a few cruiser friends we ran into, and caught up with Jason and Christy from Hello World.  I glanced at enough jewelry, baskets, organic produce and Mexican blankets to last me for at least a couple months.

Jenn and Nicole practice their shop till you drop skills.

I think I would rather catch a real one than have this on the boat.

Pretty safe to say this artist is producing locally made goods.

Aaron amuses himself without checking out locally produced goods.

Finally marketed out, we took a quick trip back to Bella Star to drop off our purchases and the goodie bag from Hello World.  Somewhere along our trip through the market we picked up Zack from Panache, since his plans for the day hadn’t been made yet.  Our load lighted up a bit, we set off for a beach hike.  We headed east along an almost deserted beach where we spent some time making sure Ventured seemed okay in the anchorage, as there was enough swell coming for some locals to surf just a few hundred yards from where we were anchored.  Every thing seemed okay from our vantage point so we continued down the beach, stopping to look at birds, explore some tide pools, attempt to skip some rocks and just kind of take it all in at a relaxed pace.

A little shore break just behind the anchorage.

Some local wildlife.

We eventually arrived in Bucerias, which after some later inspection I determined is apparently Spanish for souvenir stand.  But before we explored that portion of town, we quenched the thirst we had worked up with some cervesas, then decided we had worked up enough appetite for some tacos.  Of course there was an ice cream shop next door to the taco stand, and we felt obligated to spread our tourist pesos around to support the local economy.  However as we wandered through several streets of souvenir stands our generosity dried up, despite being told that items were “almost free.”

I do love the colors in Mexico.

Zach takes a new apporach to sampling salsa. I prefer using tortilla chips.

We braved the guantlet. Sometimes you have to be adventurous when traveling.

The girls were relieved to find out if they join a cult, they can still have stylish clothing.

Finally feeling the pull of home, we walked up to the highway just in time for a dash across to hop on the bus that pulled up moments after our crossing.  A short ride later we spilled off back in La Cruz, and walked back down the the Huancaxtle Cafe just in time for happy hour.  Which they don’t have on Sunday, plus they were out of draft beer, our favorite happy hour special.  We’ve been having a great time at this place the last few days, and Jenn even thought the wings we had there yesterday were the best we’ve had in Mexico but today just wasn’t their day for us.  JC, our very friendly waiter, promised to try to get more draft beer ASAP and discuss adding a Sunday happy hour with the management.  So instead it was back to Bella Star for a couple drinks and a discussion that mostly centered around movies, ending with a couple list of movies for each couple to watch.

As it was getting on towards Minion’s dinner time we said our goodbye’s and headed back to the boat.  More tuna for Minion  while Jenn whipped up some beef stew, and I typed this.  And now that it is just about ready I’ll wrap this up while so we can eat, then get some pictures together and post it after dinner.  One does have to keep their priorities straight, and eating Jenn’s cooking is one of mine.

Nothing completes a day in Mexico like being chased by a Chihuahua in a pink sweater.

Tomorrow probably won’t be so exciting as it will include the search for a pressure switch for our water pump which will now not shut off after we shut off the faucet like it is supposed to.  Hopefully the full moon beach bonfire in the evening will be exciting, but not too much so since we are up early for a jungle hike on Tuesday.