What a year it has been! COVID and then hurricane season kept us holed up in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (near Puerto Vallarta in beautiful Banderas Bay) for 15 months. We fled the heat of Pacific Mexico for July, August, and September, driving north to do medical appointments and and see family. We were lucky to be able to quarantine with house-sits before seeing anyone in the US.
Our Summer and Fall: Off the Boat
After three wonderful but way-too-long months of living in hotels and borrowed houses (and tents!) we returned to the boat in early October. It was still unbearably hot and humid so we decided on another road trip – this time to inland Mexico where it is higher in altitude and cooler. We visited Ajijic and the Lake Chapala area (5000′), then San Miguel de Allende (6200′). Ajijic and Lake Chapala were lovely, but seemed full of gringos and there wasn’t much in the way of cultural activities. San Miguel seemed much more Mexican and had museums and art galleries galore, which of course we couldn’t visit because of COVID. But some day… Despite the COVID precautions we enjoyed San Miguel and could see much more promise for when things opened up. We also saw a house that was so perfect for us that we made an offer. It had been on the market for nearly two years so we didn’t give a full price offer. To me, coming from expensive Bellingham, Washington, the sale prices seem affordable and the rental prices seem high.
We then drove back to the boat to wait for an answer. Everything went smoothly and we settled December 17. Yup, we bought a house in Mexico (pictures). No, it wasn’t part of the plan, but we are totally thrilled to have a bolthole for the heat of hurricane season as well as a place to ride out COVID if we aren’t sailing. And eventually maybe it will be our full-time retirement home when we are too old to sail the winters as we don’t own a home in the states.
The climate is optimal there – nights rarely go below 40 in the winter and summer and winter day time highs are 70s to 80s. It is never muggy. About 22″ of rain a year, mostly in the summer nights. The stone houses and brick ceilings need no heat or cooling – we use a gas fireplace in the living room for coziness in the coldest winter nights, but we were never really cold. I love living someplace where there is no mold and windows can be open year round.
We returned to San Miguel in mid-December for settlement, then stayed to deal with utilities, property taxes, and figuring out how to maintain the gardens while out sailing. In late January we finally finished all those tasks, decided not to rent the house this season (because, COVID) and returned to poor neglected Eurybia.
Our Sailing Plans for Winter and Spring
This sailing season we are heading to Puerto Penasco, all the way at the northern tippy top of the Sea of Cortez, to haul out in June-ish. Lots of tasks to do – stripping and painting the masts and booms, re-rigging, polishing the hull, repainting the bottom, refreshing the cabin soles, deep-cleaning … lots of deferred maintenance to look forward to.
Between here and there we have 1000 miles of sailing north, so of course we are starting by sailing south. We hope to do at least a few weeks in the beautiful anchorages between Banderas Bay and Barra de Navidad. Then when the winds are more favorable for going north, and when the Sea of Cortez warms to swimming temperature we will head north, poking into some the delights of the Sea – our first trip. All we did on our way here was to touch down for a night in Cabo San Lucas and scurry across the sea directly to Banderas Bay (where Puerto Vallarta is nestled).
I can’t wait to get out of the marina and back into sailing, it’s been too long.
Meanwhile… at the Marina
But, we’re not quite ready to leave.
So while Jon is doing the really essential things such as repairing the raw water coolant system on the engine, getting rid of stuff, fixing the pressure water system, getting rid of stuff, rewiring the navigation lights that failed, getting rid of stuff, working on the head sink sump pumps that have never worked, and creating on-deck storage for the dive tanks, I am in sewing mode. Jon wanted covers for the three jerry jugs (water and diesel) though god knows we don’t need more diesel unless we’re crossing oceans, which we are NOT this year. And I wanted covers for the two sport-a-seats (padded adjustable seating) which are hard to wash and will last longer if they have covers.
So that’s what I worked on when I wasn’t studying Spanish. Of course I am also doing most of the cooking and grocery shopping, Zoë always needs a walk and cleaning and reorganizing the boat is a given. We also pop out to local inexpensive restaurants from time to time (luckily most restaurants here are outdoors so we have relatively safe choices). And we are still trying to renew the license plates on the car – not as simple as it might seem. The main issue is finding a legal address in the state we’re in. Next year we’ll move our car paperwork to Guanajuato where San Miguel is, but this year we are trying to use the marina address to register the car in Nayarit.
And finally, I have to talk about our inflatable kayak. We have an older Advanced Elements kayak that was missing the correct pieces for blowing it up. We borrowed a set from a dock mate (thanks, Southern Sister!) and tried out the boat. I LOVE IT! Paddle boarding is fun, but I really enjoy being close to the water. The funny thing is Zoë loves it too! As soon as I get into the kayak she jumps on the fore deck for a ride. And we were finally able to get our own set of pump parts delivered to the marina so we can keep it inflated while traveling the sea. I added a large starboard cutting board under the seat area to give me a bit more rigidity there. It seems to give me a bit more power for paddling. I also used parachute cord and a whip stitch to add grips to the paddles. The metal handles get very slippery when wet and I was having trouble holding on. I guess I’ve had wooden paddles in the past which have a bit more grip.
That’s about it. A pleasant quiet life with a little exploring, a little work, a little creativity. We are happy but eager to get moving again.