Village Marina, Beach Resort and Spa -Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
By Lois Joy
We arrived here yesterday. We are so happy to be here. This
truly is Paradise to us.
But for the Grace of God, a lot of luck, (and some good navigational
planning, I might add) we could be waiting in some bay waiting for a
“weather window” that does not materialize and is only expected to worsen
over the next few days. This makes our being here already even
more of a pleasure. We expect to pamper ourselves here while awaiting
the arrival of the Stuart Richardsons on Sunday, who will crew with
us to Cabo San Lucas.
Pacific Bliss in Paradise
This is the place to pamper ourselves. This marina is
an excellent deal; we are paying about $25 per day (plus tax) for a
slip, yet we can enjoy all the privileges of a resort vacation destination.
We met many cruisers who plan to spend the summer here, waiting
out the hurricane season. The hotel is massive, with a Mayan pyramid
design theme, three swimming pools, two Jacuzzis, a full service spa,
tennis courts, jogging trail, work-out room, mini-zoo, travel agency,
special events (last night was western night featuring a mechanical
bull rodeo contest). It is a real tourist trap and we love it!
The new shopping plaza next door has two floors of every shop and convenience
one could think of-plus two Internet cafes. Our first action was
to devour a maple nut ice cream cone, along with a cold cappuccino.
We are truly in civilization now-vacationland, and we do not mind one
bit! We may manage to rouse ourselves from or lounge chairs on the beach
to take a one-day cultural tour inland. But then, maybe not.
Today will be a rest day; we were running on adrenaline yesterday,
with very little sleep, and fell to bed exhausted last night.
I was surprised that I woke up so early this morning, and am now writing
this story, so a siesta is definitely in my plans for the day.
Of our buddy boats, Pacific Bliss is the only one to make it
here so far. We hope to see some of the others pulling in today.
Yesterday, we couldn’t relax until we finally heard from Finally,
(the “baby boat”). We are always concerned about Maureen and Jean Marie
and little five-month Lauren, we worry about them as if they were our
own kids; in fact, we call them “the kids.” When they are “out
there” we wait up for them. Linda on Miss Lindy says that
it’s like having teenagers again, waiting for them to come home at night.
The kids don’t seem to mind; they treat us like surrogate parents. Miss
Lindy is still in Barro Navidad, planning to move on to Tenacatita
today (only about 15 miles). They were waiting for their mail,
an express package that was supposed to arrive in Barro last week.
They have now missed the weather window, so plan to move here slowly,
bay by bay. Finally left Tenacatita one day after us; yesterday
afternoon they had to pull into Bahia Chamela after a voyage of less
than 35 miles because of the high winds on the nose. We were so glad
to hear that they did that. Maureen gets seasick going to weather, and
she is still breast-feeding. I think she likes having all these
concerned “grandmothers” traveling with her
We did not hear from Quest yesterday, but assume that they made
it to Ipala, the last anchorage before rounding Cabo Corriente, and
will complete the voyage today. Judy and John, cruising while home-schooling
their only son, LJ, who is about 10, own Quest. They are also
on their way to San Diego, and then later, on to Vancouver. Canada
is their home country.
Another couple, Jimmy and Michelle, on Wayward, arrived here
the day before we did, under much the same conditions. We first met
them in Barro Navidad. Michelle gets seasick also and was sick
on the way. She plans to fly back from here, and jokes that the only
vessel that goes well to weather is a 747! Jimmy has crew coming
in to help him get the boat back to San Diego. Another couple we met
a little dockside party here last night has hired crew to take their
boat back while they fly. But then, yet another couple, Nora and Merle,
both in their seventies, and on the way here from Barro Navidad, are
taking their monohull, Er Nibs, to San Diego themselves, along
with one hired crew. They plan to wait here until mid-June, when
they hope the weather will soften somewhat. So there are many
options, we are finding.
Gunter and I plan to take Pacific Bliss to San Diego ourselves,
even through the “Baja Bash.” The “Bash” is just toughing it out against
current and north winds from Cabo on. Not fun, but fortunately for us,
we have never been seasick on Pacific Bliss, have never even
taken the medication (which makes one drowsy). While we are not looking
forward to that part of our voyage, but we are so homesick that we feel
we can “endure” to get there!
Wednesday night was an example, we think, of the weather we can expect
in that part of the voyage. If so, we know the boat can take it; kevlar
hull and all, Pacific Bliss just plows on through, the spray
over her bows, crashing into the waves, never sustaining a hint of stress
or damage. Her two motors (a huge advantage) just keep on grinding
Here’s how we managed to be the first of our northbound group to arrive
First, when we arrived in Tenacatita on Monday afternoon, I had the
foresight to immediately begin plotting our navigational options for
Puerto Vallarta. Within a few hours, and before sunset, my favorite
time outside-in the cockpit or on the net-I had already plotted waypoints
to Nuevo Vallarta, along with alternative anchorages along the way,
selected carefully from our three piloting/guide books covering the
local area. We had planned to spend two nights in Tenacatita,
to take the jungle river dinghy trip (see previous story) but we have
learned to become very flexible and to keep our options open. So when
we heard the weather forecast on the Amigo Net at 9:00 AM Tuesday morning,
“no warnings, normal weather along the Mexican coast except for
winds up to 35 knots around Cabo Corriente Wednesday and Thursday” we
changed our plans immediately. Cabo is the cape that we needed to round
to reach Nuevo Vallarta. We preferred to be in Vallarta ahead
of the weather, not stuck in a storm anchorage waiting for it to
change. We had a small window. We figured that if we left by 10:00
AM, we had the option of anchoring in Bahia Chamela, 35 miles away by
4:00 PM, or if the weather was still OK, continuing on to Vallarta.
Within the hour, we had finished our breakfast, stowed our gear, and
pulled anchor, but not before Quest, who left within 15 minutes
of Gunter saying (on the VHF after the SSB net) that Pacific Bliss
had decided to go. But Finally was not ready to go. Jean Marie
said, “We want to finish our breakfast, then I have 1 ½ hours of work
to do on the boat, then we wanted to check out going onto shore here.
It is so beautiful here.” (Never mind the surf pounding onto the
shore). We had morning of motoring, a nice little sail in the
afternoon, catching up to Quest, the wind 10 knots from the SW.
It appeared as if we would have a charmed passage. By 2:00 PM, we congratulated
ourselves on our decision. If the wind were going to clock around
to the North, as it usually does in these parts, it would have done
so by now, we thought, sailing blissfully onward. (Usually, the
wind changes between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.) We reached our waypoint
#4, Bahia Chamela, with perfect weather, so both vessels decided to
continue on, knowing that from this bay there would be no storm anchorage
for 55 miles, and that we would then reach the waypoint for that anchorage
in the evening. Ipala, full of rocks, we had been told, was not an anchorage
one wanted to pull into at night. So the decision was really to
continue on, rounding the Cape at a benign time, in the early morning
hours, reaching Vallarta by noon or so the following day.
By 5:00 PM, the wind had clocked to the NW, 20 knots right on our nose.
Quest called, notifying us of their decision to turn back to
Chamela. “We have only one motor, and only a twin-blade prop.
We’re making only 2 1/2 knots in this. If it worsens, we’ll make
no progress; we’ve been there, done that with our boat. Wish we had
yours.” Gunter and I looked at each other. It was a difficult
decision for us. Pacific Bliss could easily make 5 knots with
its twin Volvo Pentas, even with 25 on the nose. It would be uncomfortable,
but then we would be at our destination before the weather worsened.
Otherwise, our choice would be to overnight in a rolly anchorage, proceed
before dawn to another poor anchorage, then proceed the next day before
dawn to round Cabo Corriente in the only benign time of the day for
this cape: the wee to late morning hours. We decided to push on.
It was a long, miserable night. At the beginning, we were motoring
along over the chop, the wind at 17 knots (Force 4) and I was even at
the nav station at the computer, writing the Magic Cove story
for the web. But by 9:00 PM an anemic sun had set through a haze
and cloud cover; it was pitch dark, overcast, with no moon. The
wind, which typically dies down after sunset, increased to 25 knots,
and the wave height increased accordingly. Oops, this was not the forecast
for today! We discussed the situation. There was nothing we could
do about it now. We might as well hunker down and tough it out,
we decided. We couldn’t eat dinner, but found that crackers with
peanut butter gave us the energy we needed.
The wind varied between 25 and 30 knots all night, as Pacific Bliss
churned through the sea mess like a bucking bronco. She creaked
and heaved and splashed. But having spent half a year and over
8500 miles in her, we trusted her to carry us through. We did
one to two hour watches only, most of the time spent inside at the nav
station, radar on. Whoever was not on watch was lying on the salon
settee. Neither one of us could sleep. By 2:00 PM, the winds subsided
to 16 knots, which now seemed like glass! We could establish
a real watch schedule and get some much-needed sleep! I
continued on till 6:00 AM, when we had rounded the Cape and continued
on into Bandera Bay. Then Gunter took it to 10:00 AM. By
11:30 we had turned off our faithful engines and tied up to Slip B15
in Paradise Village Marina. It was Paradise at last!