Mexico 2011

One Definition of Cruising

Taking apart the quarter berth to repair the hot water tank10 January 2011 | Paradise Marina, Banderas Bay, MX

Most of you are probably familiar with the old saw defining a boat: "A hole in the water, into which you pour money." There's another that's commonly mentioned among the cruising community: "What's the definition of cruising?" Answer: "Repairing your boat in exotic places." We're now living that definition, at least for a few days.

Here's a photo of the quarter berth, during the process of ripping it apart for repairs to equipment underneath.  Read on for the full story...

We left La Cruz Marina the day before yesterday, to go cruising to Punta de Mita (at the north end of Banderas Bay) and make at least one day trip to the Islas Marietas. The islands, near Punta de Mita, are known for the good snorkeling, caves and abundant wildlife. Another reason for leaving La Cruz is that our watermaker doesn't work so well (or at least it uses up filters at an unreasonable rate) in populated areas. We wanted to get out into clear water so that we could fill our water tanks. By the time we got to Punta de Mita, we had a healthy ten inches of water in one tank. We shut down the watermaker, and prepared to make an early departure the next morning for the Islas Marietas. We headed out yesterday morning (watermaker going) and made the passage out to the islands. They're rugged and interesting, no question about it. We saw whales, dolphins, and those line dancing stingrays, as we got close. We anchored, and Craig went down to check on the watermaker's progress. Whaa?? The tank gauge shows four inches of water, instead of the 10 of the night before. Not only that, the bilge pump is cycling on and off, and there's a significant flow of water into the bilge.

We cleaned out every under-sole compartment, and they were all full of water. Hot water. Pop cans, beer cans, wine bottles, canned fruit, sitting in hot water. Vacuum sealed bags of chocolate candy, sitting in hot water. (Yikes!) Cleaning products, sitting in hot water. Everything got removed, every compartment got cleaned, and every limber hole reamed out (allowing water to flow from compartment to compartment and eventually to the bilge).

Needless to say, we concluded it was the water heater. That fabulous, compact, Swedish, stainless steel water heater, situated under the quarter berth. Now we moved everything off the quarter berth (where we store a fair amount of stuff). Off come the cushions, the boards under the cushions. Out comes all the spare hanks of rope, scuba tanks, pieces of plywood for unknown woodworking projects (hopefully never needed). I didn't get a picture at this point, but imagine all that stuff, and everything that came out of the under-sole compartments, all sitting out in the normally clean, neat public areas of the boat. And we're sitting at anchor in the middle of a wildlife refuge/snorkeling paradise.islas marietas
We figured out that our little sortie from the dock was at an end, and that we needed to get ourselves to a place where we could take on water, not worried about the water impurities one worries about in Mexico. The marina that advertises itself as having clean water piped to the docks is Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta. So here we are. This morning Craig completed the disassembly of the hot water heater (which involved lots more hot water, heated by the engine on the way here). He figured out what parts were needed -- the heating element had corroded completely through, destroying its electrical connection, and making an exit channel for the hot water to escape. In the 9 years since we bought the water heater, the Swedish company has been acquired by an Italian company, but hopefully there are parts available in the United States. Then it's just a question of getting them here. That maybe is a subject to be covered in a later writing.

Paradise Village is an upscale marina. It charges more than La Cruz (although not much more), and has fabulous facilities. 4 swimming pools. Innumerable restaurants. A shopping mall steps away. Close by buses into Puerto Vallarta. And time share salesmen lurking behind every bush.

So: Shall we go cruising with no hot water? Shall we hang here until the parts arrive? Is this the time for a land trip? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are some scenes from our time at the marina at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  In this gallery you'll find pictures of the wildlife refuge and outpost in frothy seas at the Marietas Islands, seafood for sale in the fish market across the marina, and our friends, Mark and Dot on Pua'ena (another Outbound 44).  The second picture in this group needs a bit more explanation -- When we returned from our Christmas break, the La Cruz resort was hosting a four day yoga retreat.  On the last night of the retreat, there was a concert of Indian music and chanting, at the amphitheater on the jetty across from our slip.  It was really quite charming, and we enjoyed the rear view of the musicians playing, with the crowd swaying behind them.