Update #4 – Leaving Puerta Vallarta

Greetings all.

This is a very short update. I’m really just passing along all the great email I received yesterday as a result of my blog update. There’s a lot of good information I thought others would like to have.

We will be leaving the marina in a few minutes to go to anchor just outside the marina. Our plan is to depart at around 2am headed south 100 miles to an anchorage near Manzanillo, called “Chamela”.

The wind and waves are higher than I’d like, but well within the capabilities of the boat (approx. 15-20 knots of wind from the north, swells up 6 ft.)

I’ll report more once we are safely at anchor.

-Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci



1) My comments are interspersed, preceded by +++
2) Boat names have been replaced with ‘*****’ (to protect the privacy of the person sending the email)
3) Don’t email me big files or pictures. My bandwidth is occasionally great, but generally slow and expensive. _________________________

Hello Ken

I have written to you several times before but never heard back from you.

My name is Ronnie, on the radio I am the Tea Lady. My husband is Teapot Tony, a British Merchant Navy Chief Marine Engineer. We have been repairing all sizes and types of yachts in Banderas Bay since we moved here from England in 2000. I wrote to you before you left on the Fubar advising that we were here to help you in any way we could. We have had many Nordhavens call in to Paradise Village.

Boy have you missed a lot by not knowing about Channel 22! This is a hailing channel the length of the West Coast. You make contact with another boat and then you take your traffic to a different channel. It is only during the morning net at 08.30 (Jalisco) that we share information, advice, etc., and we try and close the net by nine am so that folks can indeed contact each other. (You say 7.30 am which is Nayarit time. Everyone except Port Captain in Nayarit and a few government departments adhere to Jalisco time. You need to stick to this especially if you have guests departing by air.). The net consists of various categories, and these should cover just about everything, but just in case, the final category is “anything at all for the net”. If you continue listening, you will hear me as net control Mondays and Tuesdays. As you didn’t know about these nets, do you know about the SSB nets? Similar format, different times and wavebands down the West Coast. Incidentally people prefer the word “cruisers” not “boaters”.

The other thing you have missed is getting a copy of Vallarta Nautica, a glossy magazine now, but including the Cruisers’ Guide which was established many years ago, with all the answers to all the questions, including locations and maps.

Not only do we have Zaragoza marine store and a wealth of back street shops selling really hard to find items, we are now equipped with 5 major supermarkets plus Walmart and Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and soon Costco. We have three state of the art American style hospitals, and teams of medical specialists (all cheaper than in USA). We have fabulous fishing all year round with major tournaments; international sailing regattas; dolphins and whales and turtles – you can participate in assisting the baby turtles into the ocean..

We have world class golf courses, two indoor air conditioned shopping malls. We have tropical flowers and palm trees, a beautiful winter climate, reduced living costs, and an international airport. No wonder so many people come to Banderas Bay and stay.

I see you did get Sayulita, and to Bucerias but I think you missed the photogenic blessing of the fleet – but you are not going to visit Puerto Vallarta. That’s a shame, just a day trip would have been good, they have a wonderful malecon (boardwalk I think you would call it) full of avant garde sculptures. A great maze of backstreets, a lovely cathedral, and if you’re fit enough, climb up some of the hills and admire the wonderful view of the Bay spread out below.

Barra is very small but the marina is quite delightful, and you will enjoy some good fishing there. The golf course is superb.

Finally I see you are going to transport your yacht back North from Golfito. If you have not already made your booking, I am a Dockwise agent and would be pleased to assist you with this. I deal with all the paperwork and keep in constant contact with owner and Head Office, at no cost to you. I do hope you receive this email and look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards


+++ I just picked up my copy of Vallarta Nautica. A great resource!

+++ I agree with you that we should have gone into Puerto Vallarta. I almost didn’t send out the pictures with yesterday’s update – because they didn’t really show the beauty of the area. Unfortunately, we only have a few days here, so we’ve been focusing on places we haven’t been before, and bypassing some places we’ve already been many times. We almost bought a home here 10 years ago, and opted instead for Cabo, but it was a close decision. Both are great places to live.

+++ As to Dockwise: I have shipped with Dockwise several times (across the Atlantic) and am a strong advocate of them. They offer a terrific service. I spoke to them many times over the past few months, and they assured me there would be no shipments on the west coast this year. Thus I signed up with Yachtpath. Obviously I wasn’t the only one asking, and Dockwise is now running the west coast again. I look forward to shipping with them many times in the future!


Hi Ken.

I read your e-mail with great interest as I have recently visited the La Cruz Marina in the 86′ Nordlund “******”. In fact, we were 3 slips away from the “Spirit of Ulysses” but we left before the owner arrived. Jose the boat cleaner also washed our boat. Wow, what a hard worker. It took him two days by himself for only $80. We got our rental car from National Car Rental. $39 on the internet

Speaking of Philos, did you hear the band? Philo is an American who plays guitar and sings. His rather unorthodox band is SENSATIONAL and should not be missed. He rivals Jimmy Buffet and in many ways is better.

***** left La Cruz and went to Marina Vallarta for two nights, then one night in Chemala ( a beautiful place but very rolly after sunset), then to Tenacatita for 3 wonderful nights. Tenacatita can probably anchor 100 boats safely. While there take your dinghy up the “jungle river”. It is about a 45 minute slow ride through the mangroves to a lagoon where you beach the dinghy and walk about 100 yards to palapas on the ocean side.

We then went to Barra Navidad for two very expensive nights. Beautiful hotel and gorgeous marina, but quite pricey.

******* is now in Las Hadas Marina in Manzanillo for about a month as we fly home to take care of various items. Las Hadas is a striking area with a small but nice marina that also gives you access to their beautiful beach and hotel grounds. There is also a great anchorage just outside the marina that will hold 12-20 boats.

We return to Las Hadas mid February and then will work our way south to Zihuatenajo and Ixtapa before coming home. The owner of the boat has taken it to Panama many times and could be a wealth of information for you should we ever cross paths. Feel free to call me or send e-mail.


+++ We missed the band at Philos!! (darn it). Instead we went to Black Forest for the Flamenco music. They were packed, and the music was incredible.


that is a small anchorage, and it may be too crowded for you to get into, but if you can, it is heaven on earth.
Ken, we did not end up going on the Fubar, though we were sheduled to be crew on one of the boats, but alas, work interfered

Anyway, we have spent several seasons cruising the Mexican “Riviera”. Two things:
1) The cruisers net was our very good friend. Once, in hard times, they helped us make connections that ended up stretching across the US. It’s also a great way to get mail and or parts in and out of Mexico – not to mention meeting wonderful new friends, and
2) There is a spot just North of Barra between Chamela and Tenacatita. It is actually three small coves with a big rock in the center. In the center cove there is a restaurant – a giant palapa, Las Rosas I believe, run by a french woman named Caroline. The food is incredible, and it was the home of several magical nights for us. The hotel, in the cove to the South, is beautiful, luxurious, with an amazing spa and all available to the boats at anchor. Now, I am telling you our experience from several years ago, so things do change. But the last I heard, this place has not. Hope I’m not wrong, and we hope you make it.
3) If you do make it into Puerto Vallarta (which I love) ask the cruisers how to get to Ernestos for Tortilla Soup. Probably the best in the world – and world famous for it. On our last crew we ended up ordering A GALLON of it to take with on the trip back uphill.

We spent a couple of very happy years cruising down there, and we love living it again vicariously through you. My husband, *****, just helped a couple run their boat down from LA to PV, but it was a fast run, so he didn’t get to spend much time. And, KEEP THOSE EMAILS COMING. WE ENJOY THEM!



Hi Ken,

We have anchored there in the past (before Marina) and it would be a good idea. You already have your offsets from the charts and the GPS, so you can head right out . We have often seen pangas out in the middle of the night without lights at night. I remember once when I got one flash on Radar and was suspicious–I didn’t have night vision, but I put Marie on the bow with a hand held light and I hit the air horn a few times. Yep, there it was, I had gotten an echo off the engine block. The Mexican was asleep in the boat drifting with no lights. It was about 3 miles off the coast. However the distance off is no guarantee that you will not encounter a panga–we have seen them 50 miles off–and the one which Earthrace hit was about 12 miles off Guatemala.

We usually run about 5 miles off the coast along that part of Mexico–the only place we go in closer is in the Tehuantepec Coast. The problem with pangas is that they are launched off the beach and can be anywhere along the coast. We have always enjoyed Tenacatita; but we are more of the “anchoring out” set. We were at Barra shortly after the earthquake in the mid 90’s and seriously considered buying one of the villas on the Golf course–it is a wonderful place. (This was before the marina or hotel were finished.) We also always anchored at Isla Ixtapa (North of the entrance to the Marina). Now I’m homesick for this area!

Smooth seas!


+++ Thank you for the reminder on the pangas. Our current plan is to run the night vision non-stop and assign a person to monitor it continuously.


Hi Ken,

Just finished reading #3 and enjoyed your update. Ever thought about carrying one of those “Pirate’s Plague Adapters” (
http://www.captainforhire.com/store) onboard for safety. I did, but never got one. Now, I am thinking seriously about it. Yikes. Be careful out there!

Safe cruise on your next leg!

+++ I hope I never wish I had one of these!



Thank you for your wonderful Blogs and photos!

Very interesting reading your “First time” revalations. As you may remember we have made the trip thru the canal 3 times. The dinghy: We carried a large RIB or plywood floor inflatable (before RIB’s were popular), and either a 10 foot hard dinghy with a 5 hp or a 7 foot very light weight inflatable with a 3 hp outboard. The total weight of the smaller dinghies was 60 to 100 lbs total–enough that Marie and I could pick up the dinghy and take it up to the sea wall where it could be secured with a lock. We also had the large fold down balloon tires for the larger inflatables, when we had to drag them up onto the shore.

Yes, the VHF nets give you a lot of the local gossip and news. But for long distance the Amateur frequencies have nets which give a good amount of information. Examples: 14340 mhz, 1900 Z, Manana net: 7294, 14:45Z , Chubasco net; 21412, 2200Z, Pacific Maritime Service Net Also boats going in the same direction often set up their own nets on Marine SSB. For example: 6516 KHz USB Marine, 00:45 Z, Cruisers Southbound net–may vary. There are multiple frequencies which are not assigned and the mariners pick one which will have good propigation for those who are going on that way.

We have anchored in Chamela in the past, and it is a decent anchorage. Yalapa is not very far, and more marginal. However I am not sure I would leave at 2 AM vs and “all nighter”. My personal feeling is that there are more risks leaving (as well as entering) a harbor at 2 AM–you had a number of boats in the way comming in, plus you will find the usual assortment of Pangas which may be unlit. If I had the choice, I would run all night to Barra de Na vidad. (Yes, you want to do that entry in the daylight.). But you are missing one of my favorite anchorages: Tenacatita. I’ll admit it is slightly more commercialized, but still a wonderful place.

You do talk about missing the real Mexico–such as in Cabo–and rightfully so–that is not the real Mexico. But take the rental car, the bus (or we had motor bikes) and do some real inland exploring. Also some of the out of the way anchorages, you will meet the Mexicans. For example at Tentacatita we taught the manager of the hotel to windsurf. At that time, the only very elegant hotel was owned by the “Sugar Plantatation’s workers”–well it turns out it was a very high class Mexican Hotel for management and owners, and we ended up being the guests for dinner of a large sugar plantation owner and his multigenerational family. The next day, we had dinner on the beach with some farmers from inland Mexico who had driven to camp on the beach and fish. A few beers and some fish and yams later we had a much better understanding of the life lived by the average Mexican from central Mexico.

Be wary of the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Pay very careful attention to your weather routers advice. Stay close to the beach–we always stayed in about 10 fathoms–but be aware that there can be some shoaling near river mouths. The offshore winds can be vicious–even for a boat the size of yours. As for Central America; The first time we went thru Panama there was a good deal of fighting in this area, and we did stay 50 miles offshore. This does put you at some risk from the winds out of the Gulf of Papagyo–similar to the Tehauntepec winds. Other trips we hugged the coast. We stopped in most of the ports. It was a real education. We usually made friends with the commander of the naval detatchment. Most of these people have trained in the US. Many had some training at Pensacola, and we gave them our cards and invited them to visit us, if they ever came back to that area. We felt very safe, but did not stray inland far without an escort. The towns were certainly not “touristy”–and there were very few other cruising boats. Again–and education. We never had any incidents where there was potential for conflict. A couple of times we were approached by Pangas–we were wary, but no problems developed. We were shadowed by military patrol boats on several occasions. We would anounce out boat name, doc number, port of departure and next port on low power VHF and acknowlege the patrol boat’s presence. We went into the National Parks at the Northern end of Costa Rica before checking into Costa Rica at Playa Del Cocoa. Listen to people who have been to Central America–not to those who speculate what may be there.

Some of the best information for cruising this area comes from Seven Seas Cruising Association–either the monthly bulletins or the Discussion board. Also Lattitude 38 is a great source of information, the magazines, “Lectronic Lattitude,
http://www.baja-haha.com/Guide/index.html, as is “Down Wind Marine”: http://www.downwindmarine.com/downloads/cruisingdownwind.pdf

Thanks and smooth seas.




Thanks for the update. For my engine room checks with the IR gun, I write the target temps on each piece of equipment in magic marker right on the spot being measured. It makes it immediate to see if we are on target and also gives a good reminder of where to shoot.




fun to read your updates. Regarding engine room temperature checks. We marked each item checked with our heat gun with a red dot to help make sure we are measuring the same spot each time. This provides additional level of accuracy when we record and graph the data. Trend data is the most powerful tool available to spot potential problems before they occur. John (Nordhavn 46)


Ken I am an old sailboat racer now trawler owner. I have been to the Gold Coast many times since 1976. Lots of development but still relatively unspoiled when compared to Cabo. If you are going south you should not miss Chamela it is a large and beautiful bay, Carayes is a little further on and is worth a look see. Approach from the south, Tenacatitia is a very popular bay just north of Barra and should be visited if you have the time. There is a mangrove river trip that is fun and different. Barra is great and the Grande Hotel and Marina there are very cruiser friendly. The bay at Manzanillo near Las Hadas is friendly and good stores for supplies are handy from there. The Saturday Market in Santiago is fun.

Work on your Spanish you will be using the language all the way to the Canal Zone. The Latinos really like you to try. Remember to say ‘Buenos Dias ‘ before starting your conversation. It is amazing what a better reception you will have for your request.

Have a great trip. The Baja Net is a great source of information. There are some that operate only of SSB but lots are on VHF.

Have a good trip I envy you


+++ Roberta speaks spanish nearly fluently. I wouldn’t travel without her! It’s her turn to do all the translation duty. When we were in the Med, I speak French, and it was always me who had to do everything.



just read your last BLOG and found your comments about the use of the IR temperature gun interesting. Just before leaving on the FUBAR rally I purchased one from Sears and used it during each and every engine check. I created a check sheet for items that I wanted to gather temperature information for. By writing them down I was able to see trends between engine checks and thus give me early warnings. I checked things like the exhaust manifold, the stuffing boxes, the alternators (that’s another story that you might find interesting), the stabilizer units, etc. If nothing else it forced me to do a more thorough engine check than just a visual for leaky fluids, changes in hydraulic pressure, voltages or unfamiliar smells or orders.

Yesterday (Friday) my wife and I took a bus from Marina Vallarta (where we have had our boat for the last 4 weeks.) to La Cruz and found it to be very charming as you said but really secluded. Oh, about checking in the various Port Captains. Judy and I have made it a practice to check in and out of each Marina. In most cases the marina harbor master handled the necessary paper work for us. Here in Marina Vallarta we checked in with he Port Captain by VHF Radio, however, because our crew list will be changing we have to go through the formal process of redoing our papers. We do it at the Marina office with the help of a man known as “the paper man”. We are leaving next Thursday and heading down to Bara de Navidad and hope to be there by Feb 5th.

~~_/)~~_/)~~(\_~~(\_~~ ~~


See you there!


Enjoyed your blog and reference to Skype. I also use skype. In one of my emails to you I mentioned MagicJack. It is much nicer than Skype because for $40 you get a small matchbook sized unit that plugs into the usb port of your computer with a standard telephone jack at the other end that you plug an ordinary phone or a cordless phone that will let you use it up to 100 ft away or a headset like Skype. You also get a real US phone number so anyone in the world can call you at the standard cost to them of whatever they pay for LD calls on their phone service.

You also get incoming and outgoing unlimited calls to US and Canada from anywhere you have internet access, at no charge for the 1st year. The renewal cost for the 2nd year is $20. This works nice because as long as your computer is on you can make and receive calls from anyone simply and without going to your computer.

You can pick most any area code and phone number you want. I can send you more info if you want. I hesitated to send you this because you had requested that I stop my long emails but since I saw responses in your blog and thought this might be useful to you I decided to send it Enjoy the rest of your trip,


+++ Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Be the first to know when

the game releases!

Plus, receive special insider, behind the scenes, sneak peeks and interviews as the game is being made. Don’t worry. We will not spam you, and we will not flood your box with too many emails.
 — Ken Williams

Credits     |     Video produced by: Rock Steady Media     |     Teletype photo: Arnold Reinhold     |     PDP-11 photo: Trammell Hudson