Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hotel Traveler revisited

Yet another long sandy beach.
Note: I'm still messing with the email notification settings for this blog.  Click on the title on the post to take you to the full text with pictures.  sv

It is a sunny day, as are all days here, in the bay at Tenacatita.  We just got back from the beach after paddling our inflatable kayaks to shore. Actually, Connie joined a  dozen other folks who were swimming from the sailboat Harmony the half mile to the beach.  Connie and I paddled over to Harmony from our boat and she slipped into the water.  I took the painter from her kayak and towed it to shore.  Some folks started up a bocce ball game there and others went to see if any turtles had hatched out last night. Down the beach there is a fenced in hatchery there where they re-bury found nests so the little ones can hatch out in safety.  Once out of the nest the keepers put the little turtles in a concrete basin so they can practice swimming and learn how to flip themselves over.  The next evening they are taken to the water's edge and released, bypassing  the seagull and pelican gauntlet that is always present in daylight.  After looking for turtles we walked back down the beach to the little palapa restaurant, La Vena, and joined everyone for a cold beer before paddling back to the boat.

Today is truly our first rest day solo as the last two days have been filled with post-guest chores and provisioning. I sleep in and Connie gets up and has green tea while she writes in her journal.  We turn the radio off and take our sweet time getting going for the day.
Obligatory flattering pic of CB

Last week we had a great visit from our Seattle friends Lisa and Keith and now we are taking a quick break before welcoming our next set of guests, Scott and Karen, who will arrive from Seattle.  And so we call ourselves Hotel Traveler.

I'll briefly outline how a visit to Hotel Traveler goes.

Guests arrive by bus or taxi, exhausted and hungry and tired of their work-a-day existence.   We meet them in town and herd them through the small cobblestone streets, maybe stopping at a small street side restaurant for a cold beer and a snack.  It's 80 degrees.  Someone fresh from the 45 degree Seattle area might be a little flushed with all this excess heat so we move them slowly and deliberately, staying out of the sun and trying not to sweat.  The visitors are easily spotted here with their blinding white arms and legs poking out from Seattle style black clothing.  Most folks down here for a while wear white or colorful duds and of course they are tan top to bottom.

Barra de Navidad
Soon we arrive at the dinghy landing and we pile everything and everyone into the tender for a slightly wet ride out to the boat which is anchored nearby.  Riding in the dinghy is always a slightly wet experience but it doesn't matter because everything here instantly dries.  Wash a shirt, hang it on the lifeline, go below to get another and when you come back the first one is already dry.  Our first night with guests aboard we hope to have a nice quiet anchorage so that everyone can get their sea legs.  Later we will anchor in a more rolly place that might be less stable but much more scenic.

We'll have dinner aboard and great talk, catching up on trips and friends and stories.  We explain the intricacies of the head and stow everyone's gear.  Slowly the excitement of the trip wears off and eventually everyone beds down.  Our guest cabin is the Vee berth up forward.  It fits (almost) two people comfortably so there is a slight challenge for those couples who are used to a king or queen size bed.  We like to think of it as an opportunity to foster closeness in your relationship, to rekindle those early days of love when you were able to sleep anywhere together.
Luxury accommodations in the vee berth
There is a door to the forward cabin, a mirror, some drawer space and your own screened in hatch.  Two reading lights are mounted on the bulkhead so you can read and have a little pillow talk before drifting off to the gentle rocking of the boat.  You have your own space and we have ours. That's nice.

I'm not the early riser evil captain type so you get to sleep in as long as you wish.  Usually I'm the last one up so that gives everyone time to check out the surroundings and get your bearings.  The boat is normally pointing a different direction in the morning than it was the previous evening.  We'll all have tea or coffee and get a breakfast going before the heat of the day sets in.  I'll move the boom over to one side so the solar panels get full sun and once we've figured everything out (operate the head, brush teeth, find everything that is lost, organize a day pack) we go to town to provision.

A slightly wet dingy trip to town leads us to a safe landing and a stroll down stone streets to one of many little local tiendas where we buy fresh vegetables and beer.  Then we visit the tortillaria to buy fresh tortillas. "Un media kilo maize, por favor".  Next is the fish market to get a kilo of shrimp and a half kilo of sierra or dorado.  We fill our plastic egg cartons with unrefrigerated eggs.  The locals just put them loose in a plastic bag to carry home, something that would not work so well for our hike and dinghy ride.

You gotta steer an accurate compass heading
A little site seeing and we are back at the boat for a nice  dinner and evening of conversation.  In the morning we stow everything carefully and head out into the bay, raise the sails, and start our way to our next destination.  PFDs are optional unless we are in storm or high wind conditions.  If it is fairly calm then we can have a beer at lunch but if it is blowing like snot then the booze is kept locked below and everyone is in the cockpit hanging of for dear life.  But that never happens...

Our new Conestoga style awning
 You will be put to work hauling on lines or taking a turn at the wheel.  Someone has to keep a sharp lookout for whales or fishing pangas.  Later in the afternoon the sea breeze comes up and it can get a little boisterous.  We just hang on and charge ahead to the next anchorage.  We love to sail into the anchorage, turn upwind at the last minute and drop the sails.  The anchor goes down and Traveler backs down to set it firmly in the sand.  We are in 25 feet of clear blue water about 500 yards from the beach.  If it is cocktail hour then we get a snack and all sit in the cockpit watching the sun set.  If the sun is still high in the sky we get busy preparing the ship for the onslaught of the sun.  We unroll the flat sun shade and rig it from the boom gallows forward to the mast.  All hatches are opened.  Then Connie rolls out her new "Conestoga" style sun shade and rigs is from the mast forward to the bow pulpit.  I pull the boom out to one side and secure it in place.  Now Traveler is ready with plenty of shade.  We've got a full refrigerator and pantry.  The water and fuel tanks have been topped off and we are ready for a week of hanging out on the Mexican Costa Alegre.
You gotta pull on the staysail halyard thingamajig

As the sun sets some of the boaters blow on conch shells and the sound echos off the nearby hills.  The pelicans dive for their dinner and the sky turns orange reflecting the setting sun.

What follows is a week of snorkeling, sailing, visits to the the small town nearby, and visits with other sailing couples anchored nearby.  Connie plays music and I sing along.  Our guests meet interesting people and see beautiful flora and fauna.  The water is 80 degrees, nice for swimming or snorkeling.  We drink beer and eat local food in the beach side palapa restaurants. Because we have guests aboard we try to think of interesting things to do each day.  This gets us out of our groove (I won't say "rut") and gets our butts in gear to go further, see more, and pack more activity into our days. 
Exotic beverages

After a week of this we head back toward town and check into the marina where we all shower and experience the wonderful luxury of running water, swimming pools, and grocery stores. As soon as you step ashore the land starts to heave every which way.  We've all got land sickness.  Everyone starts getting a little quiet as the day draws near when the big jet will take the guests away draws near.  We go to town with the luggage and have a last little lunch before the taxi wisks them off, back to the land of rain and cold, snow and ice...  On the plane there are tears and recriminations.

Connie and I pick up a few items at the store and head back to the boat.  We don't talk much, thinking of our friends who are returning to that hectic world of the north country.  We will watch a movie tonight on the laptop and call it an early night.  Then the next day we clean the boat head to toe and wash sheets and towels in a bucket on the dock.  Another day later we provision in town, check out with the port captain and head out into the bay, this time just the two of us.  You know, we enjoy seeing our friends and showing them a good time.  We also enjoy it with just the two of us.  It is all good and very satisfying.
Dan and Kathy from the ketch Lungta

Our friends on Lungta gave me their internet passcode and with us anchored now in their lee I can connect to the internet and this blog site and type out this little message.  I'll find some photos and place them here and there then hit the POST button and out it will go.  

Hotel Traveler is here in Tenacatita, all cleaned up and ready to go.  We have clean sheets and towels in the guest room and look forward to meeting the next folks coming down who will spend their good money on an expensive flight just to hang out with us for a week.  

Contact us for reservations. Our door is always open.

Obligatory flattering pic of SV

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Visit from the Dekkers

Lisa, Keith, Connie, Scott
We had the Dekkers down from Seattle for 10 days and had a great visit with them, shuttling between Barra de Navidad and the beach at Tenacatita.  They flew into Puerto Vallarta and took the bus to Melaque.  We met them there and took the quick local bus ride to Barra.  We provisioned and headed north to enjoy the snorkeling, beach walking, and meeting other sailors on their boats.  What a great community!

Now we are back enjoying the dock for a day or two as we reluctantly let these two good folks fly home.

I've had to reset some of the auto-notify settings on the blog.  When you read this blog entry, please email me and let me know if you were notified of this new post by receiving an email to your account.  I hope it is fixed now but won't know unless you tell me one way or another.  Thanks!    sv
Can you spot Traveler in all this mess?