When I was the cook aboard the Sea Shepherd, I learned a lot of things very quickly:
A satiated crew is a happy crew
A well stocked pantry delivers infinite possibilities
Knowing everyone’s favorite treats can turn around a bad attitude
Always cut up the fruit if you want anyone to eat it
Rotate your leftovers by incorporating them into a new dish
Popcorn is a universal treat
Cookies are magical
What I have learned so far on our boat, is what I heard repeatedly from others who cruise, but I did not heed their warning;
Do not over-provision!
Remembering that wherever there are people, there will be food. It may not be your brand or type of food, but it will be there nonetheless.
We decided that on our boat, we would mostly be plant-based (vegan). We don’t feel deprived and we never really miss anything (eggs may be the exception, and then we buy local). If we have an intense craving for anything, we eat it when we’re off the boat. Simple. Easy. Low Impact.
PRO TIP: When storing foods while the boat isn’t being used – assuming you have secured your boat from outside intruders (including blocking thru hulls with water permeable materials that keep bugs from entering), we get rid of anything canned that has high acid, tomato sauces, and flours that may hatch bugs. We also ensure everything is in vacuum bags or containers with lids, just in case we do have bugs hatching – it will help contain them. Separately, we layer bay leaves and fabric softener sheets (not in the food, obviously) throughout the boat and in all drawers and cabinets. We also use small cockroach hotels (just in case) on the floors, in cabinets and drawers. Knock wood, we’ve never had bugs.
The reason to eat mainly vegan aboard was multi-dimensional:
It’s easier on the systems of our boat (e.g. sinks, toilets, refrigeration)
Less waste, less spoilage, fewer odors
Seeing first hand the alarming depletion of life in the oceans over the past 20 years as divers
When “moving” to a new place for living aboard, it’s important to pick the right marina, the right anchorage or place to stay, particularly if you’ll be there for a period of time. In an anchorage, it’s fairly easy to pick up and move if you don’t like it, but in a busy marina, where you have to reserve a slip weeks in advance, it takes a bit more thought.
For us, our criteria is usually the same and fairly basic, but there is always the subjective “feel” of a place that is hard to capture, and let’s be honest, everyone has their own opinions on these things. Our first impressions of Puerto Vallarta are great. It’s been decades since we were here last (via land), but the city has grown up to be a lovely place with a vibrant arts and music scene. Banderas Bay is a beautiful bay to sail in, where the wind is usually perfect for sailing in the winter months.
In Mexico, you cannot believe what is written on a marina website as there tends to be misleading or untrue information listed; often times, if I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, they ASPIRE to the benefits posted, but just haven’t gotten around to making it all happen. In the USA, this would never happen. Someone would be sued, the site would be shut down, fines would be levied, etc. But, this is Mexico – Caveat emptor! The best way to understand a place is to go there yourself first, before sailing there, but that isn’t always feasible or practical.
So, now we are in Puerto Vallarta, in Marina Vallarta, which is the closest marina to downtown PV in Banderas Bay. Operated by Bay View Grand, their website is wildly misleading and or just flat out incorrect, so here goes my review, as of January, 2020:
WHAT WE LIKE HERE:
It’s minutes from the airport (we will be traveling a lot, so being close to the aiport is a plus), close to downtown with a multitude of restaurants, busses/great transportation options, and one of the best marine stores we have ever been to (Zaragoza Marine).
The docks are secure, with a friendly security guard at each gate; there is a cardkey pass (with a deposit of 500 pesos), the electricity and water seems consistent without surges or outages – there is an extra cost and all metered. The water is non-potable, so you’ll be hauling drinking water or making water with dock water if you have an RO system on board as we do.
It’s a dynamic location with a lot going on – including an energetic Thursday evening market with crafts and food.
There are crocodiles, which really are very cool (and hardly worth being concerned over, although you should watch that your small dog doesn’t wander along the water’s edge alone). In the mornings, the Kiskadees are your alarm clock (if the mariachi music doesn’t wake you first).
There is a great little bookstore/coffeeshop that is worth visiting, the Living Room Cafe & Bookstore, a nearby Starbucks with fast wifi, and many restaurants, bars and stores.
I’ve included a map (above), so you can see where the office, showers, bathrooms, laundry and ATM is, as we couldn’t find this information online anywhere. The website advertises “best in the region ” internet, pump out services, pool passes, laundry, showers and more! Most of these claims are not true and do not actually exist:
SOME CONS TO BEING IN THIS MARINA:
As we have heard from many sailors, this is NOT a cruiser’s marina. This is generally a marina for charter fishing boats or large power yachts. There is no service directory or map, the office staff – although friendly – doesn’t know much about boats (they do not understand simple terminology such as “we need a port/starboard tie”), no guidance on resources to clean your hull, change zincs or wash your boat. Some of these may be found on the Cruiser’s Net at 8:30am CT M-S on VHF Channel 22 and on the Banderas Bay Cruisers FB page or by just walking around and asking people. There are also several FB pages for PV that have invaluable information for the area.
There is no pump out service. The office staff told us to go north to La Cruz. I can guarantee you that no one is sailing their boats 2-3 hours north to complete a pump out….and in fact, one day, I saw some human waste float by (eeewwww!), so you know people are just pumping their waste into the marina (double eeewwwww!). Welcome to Mexico.
The internet and wifi is so bad it’s truly unusable. The office nearly refuses to give you a code because they say it won’t work anywhere. We have a wifi extender, and that is the only way we are getting online, but even then, it’s slow at best. We work at the nearby Starbucks if needed and use our 4G Telcel SIM cards otherwise.
There are no laundry facilities. There are laundry services for drop off (not affliated with the marina), but you have to pay by the kilo and cannot do it yourself (see map for 2 locations).
There is no pool pass. The office staff looks at you as if you’re making this stuff up when asked, even though it’s listed on their website.
The bathrooms are newer but not very clean. There is an A/C unit inside which helps keeps the humidity down, but only 1 shower and 1 sink works in the women’s bathroom, and there is less than 2 minutes of hot water available, generally.
It is “vibrant” – which means it can be boisterous. Loud music from the restaurants, construction noise from the workers who are on the charter boats everyday, and from tourists and holiday-makers. Surprisingly, with its proximity to the aiport, you don’t really hear airplane noise.
All that being said, we really like PV, we are here for a few months, making the best of it and enjoying the proximity to downtown. We will be checking out Nuevo Vallarta and La Cruz, where we will likely end up next and look forward to “finding our people” in another location…which may be back in La Paz!
Depending on the time of year, packing layers is a good idea – a long sleeve shirt or fleece
Comfy clothes to lounge around in throughout the day (e.g. yoga pants, sweats, leggings)
1 nicer outfit/shirt to go out in the evening or while on shore/in port – wrinkle resistant ideal, collared shirt for the guys
1-2 hats (ideally something with a strap, so you don’t lose it in the wind – Neptune already has more baseball hats and sunglasses than he needs!)
1-3 pair of shoes: non marking, non skid soled shoes (e.g. light weight tennis shoes or treaded sandals), shoes you can get wet/flip flops for marina showers, hiking shoes/sandals, and something to wear to a nicer dinner. We don’t recommend going barefoot on the boat when it’s moving, but feel free to be barefoot while lounging. Inside the boat, we ask you to remove your shoes.
Personal items (e.g. chapstick, toothbrush, moisturizer w/ sunscreen)
Duffels or backpacks are ideal, something compressible/malleable to fold into smaller spaces
Small tote or dry bag for marina showers, dinghy-ing to a shore destination, keeping your phone/camera safe, going on land adventures, etc. are better than a bulky purse
Motion sickness meds, patches and sea bands if you get sea sick
Downloaded music that can be played on bluetooth without wifi
Books/Kindle and/or magazines
Puzzle books or other non-wifi entertainment vehicles (we have games and cards on board)
THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME:
Sunscreen, soap, shampoo, bug spray, towels, jackets, life jackets, binoculars, other extras you may have forgotten
Basic medicine/first aid
Solar charger or external battery (we have iPhone/solar chargers on board)
Makeup, curling irons, hair dryers, heeled shoes, big purses, lots of jewelry
We planned to spend time in and around some islands outside of La Paz, but the Coromuels were starting to get a bit heavy, so we decided to duck into La Paz earlier to be safe and comfortable.
*Coromuels are a SW wind that blow in late spring/early summer. It’s a condition that happens around La Paz when the Pacific Ocean and land and sea temperatures are at odds with each other, creating a whipping and gusty SW wind that comes up around 11pm and lasts until sunrise. It’s usually blowing in the opposite direction as the day winds, and they can come up suddenly, without much warning. When they blow, they can also gust at 30-45 MPH, making for a dodgy anchorage or a very uncomfortable night on the boat.
Because we needed to get into a marina relatively fast, we opted for a marina that several of our friends were staying at: Costa Baja. http://www.marinacostabaja.com/ A beautiful marina, relatively new, fancy with hotels, pools, spa, lots of services, but with bad wifi, etc…..and, as we learned quickly and a long time ago – marinas with:
Mega Yachts + Mostly Powerboats ≠ Not Our People
SO, we moved down to Marina de la Paz (which we arrived at on the first day of Bayfest http://www.clubcruceros.net/TheClub/2018BayFest.html) and already love. It’s very laid back, low-key, right downtown, filled with sailors/cruisers who just want to work on their boats, talk sailing and share experiences. No fancy clothes, no dripping in diamonds, no sitting on a boat that never gets used…..http://www.marinadelapaz.com/ We thought of my mom, who has coffee with her friends every day in the early afternoon. Here too, there is a coffee hour – where people gather, share referrals, stories and tall tales. Every morning, on VHF Channel 22, there is a radio broadcast of sorts that covers everything from weather to requests for swapping or bartering. It’s very helpful and highly entertaining.
The winds are expected to get worse in the next few days, gusting up to 40 mph on Saturday, so we are pleased with our decision, as there aren’t really any anchorages around here that can protect us from this crazy wind phenom.
As Jodi leaves for a work trip to NYC in about 10 days, we decided to make this our home base for the next month before we head north to Espirito Santo, Isla San Francisco, Loreto and beyond. (see www.SVLodos.com for our tentative itinerary).
For those of you considering a visit, there are several options:
Come NOW and hang with us in La Paz – we can do some fun day sails, swim with whale sharks, sea lions, cook, picnic and relax together
Meet us mid-May north of La Paz or in Loreto (Alaska Airlines flies there) – we can explore this beautiful region together for the first time
Join us in San Carlos in early June & help us prep the boat for hurricane season (mainland Mexico) & maybe join us as crew to cross the Sea of Cortez
Come to Turkey and stay with us at our house there – anytime late July until early October
Island hitchhike (literally) with us back from Turkey to Greece in early/mid October