Ambassadors for all we America was. Apologists for all America is.

Welcome to the world of Spiritus. Sailing remains a faint light in a dimming world.

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates of Athens "The unlived life is not worth examining." Russ of Spiritus


Shipping to Mexico: Another Entry for the Journal of Irreproducible Results

Gotta Have It and Instant-Gratification

In our high-tech world of rapid communication, complete with smartphones and Internet, we’ve come to expect almost immediate gratification when it comes to locating and receiving the goods and services which we need or want. Today, it’s inconceivable to imagine a United States when waiting weeks—sometimes months—for goodies to arrive at our homes or businesses was a common occurrence; but, at one point in history, it happened all the time. In the early 1900s, folks living in rural America had to depend on receiving huge catalogs in the mail (such as the Sears & Roebuck Co, Inc.’s Consumer’s Guide (1909)), then sending their return orders and prepayments also by “snail” mail, and waiting for weeks for their goods to be shipped by railroads and finally delivered locally by wagons owned by companies like the Wells Fargo General Express. Indeed, the types of products delivered to the rural areas were amazing: Smoked salmon from Seattle, dishware, furniture, and even prefabricated 2-story houses (Average Price: $1,500).

Aren’t we lucky that we don’t have to endure that anymore! Well, some of us still do…

Needful Things on a Boat in Mexico

We have now been in Mexico for four years, more or less continuously.  Our goal is to return to the US only when absolutely necessary.  So far that had been for two-three days each year for financial activities that the bank requires us be physically present for.

With that in mind, we have gotten familiar with the cities near the marinas we routinely use.  So, when we say some products are simply not available in Mexico, we mean just that.  Or, it means not available in our part of Mexico.  There are lots of things available in Mexico City that are not available in the rest of the country.  I will not list the items because the list is not short … it is long and touches many needs that a cruiser out of the US for an extended time will have to address.

Many ,otherwise very savvy cruisers, simply resort to having someone who is visiting the US bring them back when they return to Mexico.  This is very time-consuming and  only works if you are in one of the larger marinas where Americans are coming and going to and from the US weekly.

Let’s face it: Living or boating in Mexico is tremendous fun; but, there are times when you just can’t find some things you need or want. In any place but t few very large cities, Mexico is not a first world country.  In its villages, and small towns, it is much more like a third world country.  This becomes even more true if you are poor or living on a budget. Adding to the frustration is the fact that, even when you find a product online, getting it shipped here can be a major obstacle. Many companies do not ship internationally. Also, successfully calculating and paying Customs Fees (Aduana) can be a dicey proposition.

Don’t despair. The good news, regarding some of the items on your wish list, just may be possible to get here without Customs hassles or delivery headaches via And with shipments totaling $65 USD or more, your order may also qualify for Free Global Shipping!

BUT NOT SO FAST! Before you shout for joy, one disclaimer: The most important word in this article is MAYBE. It may be possible…Maybe.

And  a caveat:  We are talking about US and not  The listings of the site for Mexico are extremely limited in areas of computers, electronics, tools, and entertainment like DVDs and games.


Global Shipping from to Mexico

A couple of cautions: 1) Ordering from will not locate  highly technical boat gear, motor parts, or paint. So don’t waste your time. 2) This article needs to be read carefully (as does the Amazon website regarding ordering and Global Shipping). There are just some things that don’t ship internationally because of trade agreements, Customs regulations, HAZMAT (dangerous stuff) restrictions, and (perhaps sometimes) the phases of the moon. There’s been things I’ve tried to order (such as a certain brand of rafting sandals) that just cannot be sent to Mexico.

How To Order from Amazon

  1. Go to . Hit link for General Information regarding Amazon’s Global Shipping Service:

  1. Go to the next link: Simplified Steps for putting together an Amazon Global Shipping Order.

  1. The Customer Help link for international shipping also proved very helpful, especially regarding trying to put a package together that was eligible for Free Global Shipping…..For Mexico, your order Needs to be Total $65 USD or more… Even though they shipped my packages on two separate dates–(the other package came a week later)– the shipping was still free for both.

About FREE Amazon Global Shipping (very helpful link)

Setting up your ‘Default Shipping Address’ or ‘Default Address’

(1) Although your payment address and information will remain the same, you need to set up a default address to get your stuff to your marina or home in Mexico. Be sure to be very careful and thorough with you Spanish spellings in the addresses.

(2) Additionally, by shopping your items using your default address the item will inform you in the when you look at its description, in small print,  if it can or cannot shop to Mexico and specifically to the address you are using as your default. (It saves a lot of time when you go to place the order).  If your particular item cannot ship, you can just pull a list if identical or similar and find a company and item that does ship internationally.


Your Default Shipping Address (example)

  • sv Eagle/ John Doe (Your boat name and your name)

  • Marina de El Fantastico—(Marina Name)

  • 5555 Whatever Calle ( Marina’s Correct Street Address)

  • Isla Fantastico, Independencia, 55555 ( Mexican City, Mexican State, and Postal Code)

  • Mexico (Country)

  • Phone: 5555555555 ( A telephone number (cell or land line) that you can be reached in Mexico)

Now, go back and read the above again.  What is critical and makes this so useful is the [art about playing with your default address.  Once you figure this part out and get it right, it will save you hours of online shopping.  AFTER you change the default shipping address,  AFTER you change it, each item you add to your shopping cart will inform you whether or not if can ship to that specific address.  So, when you check out, you items will say shipping instead of ‘does not ship to ‘Isla Fantastico’.

Anecdotal Information

1) Aduana: Aduana is the Spanish word for Customs/ Import Duty. This includes the money owed for import fees. If you shop with, you may get free shipping (depending on your purchases), but this will not include what you owe to Mexico in Import Fees. Amazon does a remarkable job of charging you the right amount for your purchases automatically and this amount is added into your total purchase price. Upon several occasions, Amazon has actually credited back to me some pesos (a few cents); but, more importantly, I have never had a package fail to deliver because the company didn’t figure it correctly.

One caution !!!!!! It is possible to set off the “Bell and Whistle Alarms” with Mexico’s Customs folks. If your total purchase totals to over a $1,000 USD, you may get an email or phone call from the Mexican Customs Office, asking you to fill out some official forms proving that you are not an Import Business. This can be a great hassle and headache……

Last winter, while we were in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, one cruiser (s/v Cat-2-Fold) ordered a marine refrigerator. He wanted it fast, so he added expedited shipping to his order. The expedited shipping bumped his total purchase to $1,000 USD. Once it arrived in Mexico, he received an email asking for information—-totally in Spanish. This necessitated his seeking the help of a Mexican National to convince the Customs Office that he definitely was not an Import Business.

Second example, Carolyn, quartermaster and gourmet cook, ordered a bottle of mustard powder.  It got stopped at Customs in Guadalajara because the commercially produced and clearly labeled bottle had an unidentifiable indistinguishable yellowish powder inside.  We got a call from a very nice agent who spoke excellent English and was a cook.  She said it was a no-go on passing it thru Customs because the powder could not be ‘identified’.

That one left us scratching our heads for a while. But, the good news is that for some reason, the company had sent that part of the order in a separate package.  So the rest of the order sailed thru.

2) Methods of Shipping: Amazon uses several different carriers for its shipping, such as DHL and UPS. You cannot choose the carrier. And it never seems to come by the same carrier twice. It always depends on what you ordered and which marina the order is being shipped to.


Generally, if you are located in or near a highly populated city like Puerto Vallarta, your packages will come in time and sometimes even earlier than the expected date. However, if you are moored at a marina far from a densely populated area, it can take longer.

So, lets say, you expect three-day delivery cause you paid for it or because it was free, the experience may be quite different.  Our example, we tracked the package, three days after order it arrived 35 miles from us in Manzanillo.  We are thinking “score”. Not so fast!  What we did not know the first time we ordered was that Manzanillo office for this service only delivered to our part of the State of Colima on Fridays.   So the actual wait was till the following Friday for a delivery time of 10  days.  No amount of calling will get the phone answered locally, even if you have a number.

3) The Good News: It generally works and you get your stuff—your needful things. But, when it doesn’t (and that has only happened to us twice), Amazon is an excellent company regarding returns and refunds. Indeed it has a good reputation, and rightly so. I include this Amazon News Release from March 2016:

The results are in, and Amazon has the best corporate reputation among the 100 most visible companies in America, according to the just-released 23,000 person Harris Poll. We’ve been fortunate to have consistently been in the top 10, but this year claimed the top spot, just ahead of Apple and Google.
Amazon was rated “excellent” across all the Harris Poll’s corporate reputation dimensions including Social Responsibility, Workplace Environment, Emotional Appeal, and Products and Services.”

A final note.  This is not a recommendation for It is just an online outfit we are familiar with.  And, your results may vary.  It is Mexico.

But, if you do everything right,  you can use Amazon’s online store to get hard to get items to Mexico in a very reasonable time frame and ‘free.’


Note:  Lest you think all we do is order movies.  We have ordered a PS4 Gaming system after unsuccessfully trying to buy one locally in three different cities and on  Half a dozen video games for the console.

We have ordered three medical texts for the library.  I am a retired Paramedic but I decided as the brain cells gradually fade out I might need references to some of the procedures and info I had performed for years.

Filters for PUR water system that we cannot find filters for in Mexico.  For boat stuff, you can usually count on finding a chandlary near the larger marinas that uses WEST Marine as a supplier.  Prices are usually US price plus about 16% aduana.

FINAL NOTE:  The quarter master and co-owner of Spiritus, Carolyn, did the research on this.  It is the result of a year of painstaking ordering and waiting trial and error to see what works dependably. the article is none the less anecdotal.  Your results may vary.  Good luck!


Sailing isn’t always what you expect. As a matter of fact, no sail usually turns out to be exactly as predicted.  There is a randomness about sail-powered travel that approaches ‘chaos theory’ at times.  When you stare hard enough and long enough at what happened, it all starts to make sense.  A pattern emerges.  This pattern recognition  is also sometimes called ‘rationalization’.

This is a story of two Christmas season sails into Banderas Bay from the south around Cabo Correntes.

It is important to the story that you understand that ‘Cabo Corrientes’, in Spanish, means Cape of Currents.  Like most headland capes, there is a clash of ocean swell patterns, currents from Banderas Bay, and wind and weather patterns.

It is also the southern most  cape that feels the effects of weather patterns from the Sea of Cortex to the north.

Back to the story of two sailing days.

One story is of a quiet day sail and moonlight cruise with fair winds and following seas.  The other is of adventure, adversity, making do and working the problems as they arise.  The events for both are the same.

We were south, about 90 miles or a bit more, in a bay called Chamela.  We planned on staying there for a day and a night then sailing north to La Cruz, which is in the NE corner of Banderas Bay.  It is, for Spiritus, an 18- hour day.

Watching the weather patterns, we saw that two days ahead of us were forecast20 knot winds in the face and, on the third day, something not common for the cape.  On the third day, we saw a south wind no higher than 10 knots with a SSW swell of only 4-6 feet and an interval of 19 seconds.

For you non-sailors  or for those who need refreshing, this is the very definition of ‘fair winds and a following sea’ which sailors often hope for others when they’re leaving on journeys.

We sat out from Chamela at daybreak which was about 7:30 am. It was sunny with an offshore breeze, which meant we had winds abeam for the morning.  After motoring out of the anchorage, we could sail.

Around noon, the winds shifted to the South (meaning from the south, as predicted by the weather forecast). We had used every weather trick at our disposal to guess this weather window.  Still, you cross fingers. We had waited two extra days for this weather.  Still, you cross your fingers.

So far, so good.

We had not really tested Ripley, the auto pilot, since she had been repaired and this seemed the perfect conditions to see if she was still working right.  She did.  So far, so good.  We let her steer while we had lunch.

Seas were maybe 7-8 feet from our stern, but Spiritus is a double-ender so it loves this kind of following sea.

Before leaving Barra de Navidad, I had completely rebuilt the Racor fuel filter.   We had tested it.  No problems.  After leaving Chamela, it had by late afternoon maybe 18 hours of use with no signs of the niggling air leak that has plagued us for a year or more.

We were making good time, so we decided to motor-sail and let Ripley steer the boat.  I wanted to stress her a bit and the larger waves were just perfect for about as much wave action as I would use her in.   She did great.

With the engine comfortable at 14-15– RPMs, we were doing 7 knots.  We did so well that we arrived off Cabo Corrientes about two hours early.  We had decided to stay five miles offshore for the Cape turn into the bay.  With the south wind, this seemed safe enough and a good distance from the cape’s  north shore past the light house.

Just as a precaution, I checked the Racor one more time.  Hmmm … air, not much but it was there after almost 24 hours since the rebuild.  Good news, I have quadrupled the time it takes for the air to become a problem.  Bad news, as always, we are on Cabo Corrientes when the problem rears its head.

Hey, work the problem.  Slow the boat.  Switch back to sailing.  Pop top on filter and add some fuel till the air is gone.  Done.  Restart.  Off we go.  45 minutes pass and no problems.  We are gold.

The sun was gently setting, when we made the course correction to enter the bay and head for La Cruz.  Once we turned, the swell was such that the boat had a period of hobby horsing and lazy, short internal rolls that was not unexpected.  It was not as harsh as we have dealt with before.

Wind is now down to 4 knots in our face from the bay ahead of us.  Water has calmed.  We have the sails furled and down.  Moon is up.  Half-moon so we will have good visibility.  Big smiles.

This may be the best passage around Cabo Corrientes ever.  Big smiles.  Sighs of relief.

Engine chug-a-lugs. Hmmmm.   Maybe 30 seconds later it does it again.  Awww…crap!

I fling myself down the stairs to check Racor, fuel’s clear, no air.  I switch tanks.  Engine evens out.  Then chug-a-lugs again.  Awww….Double Crap!

That both tanks have a problem at the same time is unlikely.  One tank is full ,so it can’t be agitation of fuel.  Racor is good.  No fuel leaking.  Work the problem.

But first make sure we can steer and move since we are off the north shore.   Up sails.  Engine still running.

We are unable to make headway as the wind is maybe 4 knots.  We may have to turn for Punta Mita on the north shore of Banderas Bay just to make headway.

With the half-moon we can at least see things to gauge how far off the north shore we are.

Hey, we always wanted to have a moonlight sail on Banderas Bay.  We had even talked about that when we left Chamela.

My mind is racing.  What is the problem??  I am gradually beginning to think it is not the Racor and not the fuel supply.  What?

I asked Carolyn to switch on a fuel pump we have that  powers the Dickenson Diesel stove in the main salon for heat.  We have used it, on occasion, to clear air from the fuel lines when working on the engine at the docks.

To do this you simply turn the petcock off to the stove and turn on the pump.  It pushed fuel towards the engine instead in this configuration.  Everything on your boat should serve at least two purposes!

I have never known if this is by design or accidental.


A few months ago, I had discovered that I have the wrong pump installed.  It should be a 3 psi fuel pump and I had installed a 6-11 psi.  We had talked about replacing it, because I cannot run the heater with this pump.  But, as you can figure, with 90 degree days in December, replacing it was not high on the priority list of repairs necessary to sail safely to La Cruz.

When Carolyn flicked the switch for the fuel pump, I was hoping if we had air or something stuck in fuel line, we would literally blow it past what ever was making the engine stall and race.

Instead, the engine firmed up and ran at 1500 RPM again without a stutter.

We’re both holding our breath.  I turn us away from the north shore, now only 3 1/2 miles distant to put some distance between us and it.  So reviewing our situation, we have a mizzen sail up unreefed and the furler is out on the jib to 3/4.  We are making 7 knots again. We are moving away from the only danger near us.

I may have installed the wrong pump, but the mistake is saving our butts now.  Dumb. We love re-dumb-dancy!

The Hero of the story!

The Hero

The Villain of the story!

This also becomes our final diagnostic tool.  Since, when you switch off the electric pump, the boat starts to sputter, we now know it is the old manual fuel pump that is the problem.

The Villain

We are replacing it and rebuilding the current one.  This will give us a fully functional spare.

Moonlight Sailing on the Bay of Banderas!

Could anything be more romantic than a Christmas season moonlight sail in the tropics?

I mention to Carolyn what a beautiful moon. She is having none of it.

We are about three hours from the anchorage at La Cruz or two hours from Punta Mita anchorage.  After 45 minutes without a stutter, we start to relax.  Still, I will not change RPM or cut the engine until we are in the anchorage.  We agree.  We are still nervous that when we alter something, it will stop while we are anchoring. So, we talk about how to anchor it it stops.  It is a really calm nigh,t so I am not terribly worried but we still need to know what each of us will do it the engine quits during the anchor setting.

Because our GARMIN chart plotter is useless in the La Cruz area( as it does not even show a marina), we simply navigate back to a GPS way-point from last year when we were at anchor.  About 10 PM we can pick out a few anchor lights and the marina entrance red and green lighted buoys.

We decide to brave it and cut RPM as we enter the anchorage.  We are having trouble with some boats not having anchor lights on.  The moonlight saves us.  And, them.

We find a spot in 26 feet of water (four fathoms) and drop the anchor.  God bless this boat.  She backs up well and sets the anchor.  We kill the engine and turn off the fuel pump.

We are in La Cruz anchorage five days before Christmas.  It took us just 15 hours so we averaged 5.1 knots or 6 miles per hour.  Best passage to La Cruz ever.

Or more scary sailing.

Of course, a lot depends on how you look at it!







The Ghost of Christmas Present or the Father of all Dolphins

Spent the night in Tenecatita anchorage.  Beautiful calm anchorage. We are headed to La Cruz for Christmas, so for us this is the start of the Christmas Season.


The story, I am about to relate, is true.  I swear it.  At least, the facts are as stated.

The stars of the Milky Way are still grand in rural Mexico.  The sky is vast and no light mars your vision as you look upward in wonder.  Pitch black space, obvious and easy identifiable constellations, the milky soft white of the Galaxy’s plane of the ecliptic.

Add the slow swaying of a sailboat deck in a gentle well-protected anchorage.  Life is never better than this.

We had done some work on the engine and it had been eight months or so since we had Spiritus away from her dock’s electrical umbilical.  So, like good mariners, we made an offering to the ancient gods.  For Aeolus, god of the winds and for Neptune, God of the Deep Seas, we made a libation of two ounces of tequila- after a small sip in their honor–and poured the rest over the bowsprit to fall into the waiting sea.

Calm winds gentle, following seas!  A mariner’s prayer.

We were sitting above  a sandy bottom at 4 fathoms (24 feet) with 125 feet of chain out on a plow anchor.  Gentle conditions, so no snubber was attached to the anchor chain.  It was so calm that the boat was more or less directly above the hanging chain so no loud creaking rub on the bob-stay to break our sleep.

At 4:30 a.m.  exactly, the oddities began.  The chain started sporadically rubbing against the stay at waterline.  Grind … grind … pop!  Silence.  Eerie silence.  Wait a few minutes. Repeat.

Carolyn asked me to check the anchor to see if we were drifting. Modern electronic GPS based anchor-alarm says no.  But, like most sailors, I have set landmarks.  I check against the precision of the computerized alarm.  Pop my head up.  No wind,  no waves.   All the boats, that are near Spiritus are essentially in the same places.  Hmmmm….?

I walk forward.  I hear the rattling of chains.  Very dark.  Somewhere behind me, I swear to God I could hear heavy breathing.  I turn.  Nothing.  Hairs on back of neck stand on full alert.

Senses, the ones God gave me, are now on-full.  Since we have gentle solar anchor lights in both forward dorades, that cast yellow cat’s-eye shadows when we are at anchor, I can see the deck without a flash light to move about safely.

More rattling chains and a hushed breath, almost like someone took a breath and is holding it. Someone other than me, that is.

OK, this is creepifying and not Halloween!  It is Christmas!

I reach down in the near darkness and grab the chain to see if I can feel it dragging.  Odd.  It’s moving in my hand.  Dancing.  Not dragging. Never have I felt anything like that sense of movement on the chain.  Another freaking deep breath to my right.  I spun to look.  Okay, I am now hypersensitive, I admit it.  Nothing.  Pitch  black.  Moon is down.  Anchor lights only.

I slowly feel my way to the cap rail where I can see the chain enter the water or, at least, try to see it.  I peer over.  Holy shit, the chain is bioluminescent.  Cool.  It is also dancing in wide six foot circles.  Definitely not cool.

Then, I see him.

I see the ghostly outline of a giant dolphin.  He shoots out from the darkness near the boat appearing, as if by magic, below me.  He takes his snout and nuzzles the chain in circles.  I hear the rattling chains.  The air chills immediately to 88 degrees.  I break out in goosebumps.

As if my Christmas story isn’t good enough, reality is even better.  We had an 8-10 foot dolphin, maybe a fathom down, under the hull, in the dark clear waters.  He/she was aglow in green phosphor.  The chain was aglow as well.  All of this danced before my eyes in quiet stillness, except for the occasional surface break and deep breath he needed to continue jerking my chain.

This anchorage has a history of boat visitations by a local dolphin named by the boaters ‘Chippy’ .  One well-known cruisers’ guide states “his favorite past time is to use the boat’s anchor rode or chain as a backscratcher.” Shawn and Heather’s guide to Pacific Mexico for cruisers.

Our boat has never been visited before.

Was it ‘Chippy’ or was is the Father of all Dolphins?


Merry Christmas from Spiritus with a nod to Charles Dickens, Scrooge, Jacob Marley!



A Tropical Christmas

Merry Christmas from Barra de Navidad, Mexico.

We are getting ready to sail up to Banderas Bay and La Cruz for the winter months. It lets us get away from the docks and actually sail everyday or so.  But before we left Barra, we thought we would wish everyone a Merry Christmas tropical style. The tree in the picture is in the town square, not exactly Macy’s but no one here knows that.

It is made from palm fronds.  This is the same material used to make roofs on the palapas. Cool stuff.


It is lighted with twinkle lights and you can see the ocean in the background if you look closely.  From the town of Barra de Navidad,  Merry Christmas!  Or as we say in Mexico,  FELIZ NAVIDAD !

Disaster Tourism

The local fishing and tourism businesses in Barra de Navidad are, if nothing else, incredibly flexible about making the most of opportunity.

We recently had a chance to see, up-close, the shipwreck from Hurricane Patricia.  The pangas now ferry tourists out to see it and take pictures. When you only have lemons, make lemonade.  Take the potential disaster and make a living from it.  Interesting business model.

Disaster Tourism 1

The actual wreck is quite impressive.  Well worth the 500 pesos for the boat rental.  Six of us, who live in the marina, shared the ride.  The two lawyers who own S/V Karpesa paid and asked us all to come along.

Disaster Tourism 3

Of course, if you are a cruiser, you don’t actually have to pay anyone to go see the wreck.  You can always get around the local economy and see it yourself on the cheap in your very own dingy.

Disaster Tourism 2

Thanks to the aftermath of Hurricane Patricia, we now have a new attraction.  We have two heavy seagoing tugs, a very large barge just off the entrance to the marina, a helicopter making 5-8 flights a day from a landing pad next to the marina, and innumerable panga tours.

How long can the good times last?

Fire-base Barra

We have spent the summer in Barra de Navidad in Jalisco, Mexico.

I shot this footage when I wrote the last entry about the wreck of the cargo ship from Hurricane Patricia.  It struck some memory from my youth so I thought I would explore it a little here.

Watch the video then read below.

How is Mexico Like Vietnam


The video was taken early in the morning as the helicopter approached the fuel dock area.  We now jokingly call that ‘fire-base Barra’.  It flew in over the lagoon with the sun and the anchored boats at its back.  I could hear the sound of its rotors from two or three miles away.

I realized as I took the footage that I have been in or near the Huey helicopter since I was 17 years old.  That is when I joined the Army as a volunteer and headed off to South East Asia. I am now 65 years old.  This is a remarkable fact.

I have spent 48 years of my life and the Huey keeps reappearing like some totem beyond.  I have seen them in combat settings in South East Asia in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

I have seen the news footage after I got home of them lifting the last people (except for the marine squad left behind) off the roof of the Saigon embassy.  I watched the evening news as navy and marine personnel pushed them off the end of an aircraft carrier into the ocean because there was no more room for them to land.

I worked in Emergency Medical Services in Southern Colorado where at times the Air National Guard would fly medivac missions to the San Luis Valley in weather that civilian flight services could not fly in.  We hot loaded then at night with the blades still running because of the altitude of a bit over a mile high at the local airport.

Seen them in movies like ‘Predator’, ‘We Were Soldiers’, ‘Apocalypse Now’,’Clear and Present Danger’, and ‘ The Matrix’.  I have played the Ia Drang Valley battle in a simulator called Armed Assault, with a group of hard-core game players called United Operations, reenacting the battle from the movie, ‘We were Soldiers’ based on the actual battle early in the Vietnam Conflict.

The helicopter is iconic.  It is now a part of a collective memory.  It brings visions, dreams, nightmares, sweats, racing hearts, and smell of aviation fuel and smoke and heat from its engine.

All that was missing was the sound of 50 cals firing out the doors.  Thankfully.

Makes me want to add the sound track from ‘Flight of the Valkyries.’



Cruiser Update on Hurricane Patricia Damage at Barra de Navidad (11/24/2015)

As we all watch Hurricane Sandra form in the waters southwest of us, I thought I would update everyone  to let them know where repairs and functionality are at in Barra de Navidad since many stop here or pass by.

The Lagoon

More or less back to normal.  Channel seems unchanged to enter the anchorage.  Keep in mind that the passage to the fuel docks and the passage to the anchorage are not identical.  There is a shallow finger between the two.  If you try to cross the finger at a low water mark … you will be aground.  There are currently three sailing vessels in the anchorage.  And, one waiting for the tide to lift it from the sand bar.

Tidal flow and water quality back to normal again.  Color of water normal again.

The Fuel Docks

The actual dock that had broken free has been returned to the other.  They are not tied together.  The pump for diesel has not been repaired/replaced.  This does not mean fuel is not available.  The actual station attached to the dock for fuel is still functional.  So, be prepared to haul fuel to your boat in Jerry jugs.  Or be prepared to have someone help you with that.  From the marina, it is only about 1000 feet to the still functional station across a field.

Diesel is available at Marina Isla Navidad as just described.

Internet at Docks (wireless network)

Intermittent in the extreme.  Down about a third of the time, now.  No reason or pattern of network failures.  What is more than a little frustrating is that the two available networks show up and allow you to connect at times.  Then you will get stuck at the identifying network stage FOREVER.  Problem seems to be with DNS server and the fact that the network supplies only two of the four necessary bits of information needed to connect .  But, even when all info is supplied and a connection is established and signal strength is excellent, you will get a ‘no internet’ notice.

This situation exists even if you have a good wi-fi extender as part of your system.  It will drive you insane.  You will be tempted to tinker with your computers and fondle slabs.  Resist the urge.  It is not your equipment.  It is the hotel network.

If it goes down on a Friday afternoon, it will be Monday morning 9 am before if comes back up.

If you walk up to the hotel lobby to connect to their network (separate but equal)  it will behave in the same way.

Have a good Banda Ancha or another means of accessing the internet if you wish to manage a blog, pay bills, or stay in touch with families and friends.

There are internet hot spots at restaurants and small internet centers in town across the bay.

Internet access at the hotel and marina is marginal.

Electrical at Docks

Available.  Most meter boxes were damaged but have been righted.  Not fully repaired, but functional.

Water at Docks

Water is available at the docks.  There have been several interruptions of a day or two for more repairs.  As always, potable water is not available at the dock faucets.

The water can be rendered potable with a simple two filter prefilter for your boat.  Readings at the faucet before filtering are in the 120-150 parts per million range.  Filters reduce that to  100 parts per million or so.  Taste is good after filtering.  Water is acceptable,as is, for everything but drinking.

If you prefer, you can order water in the blue five gallon water bottled delivered to your boat and slip.  They will come back for the empty bottles after you fill your tanks.

Marina Showers and Restrooms

Fully functional.  As always, not all showers have hot water but this is not a critical repair.  The ones near the Marina Office always seem to have hot and cold water.

Sewage Pump Outs at Slips

Don’t have pump outs of sewage.  Never have and apparently never will.  The disposal of sewage here is a mysterious and wonderfully misunderstood thing.

Short version.  Pump all sewage before you enter the marina, as you do at sea.  Some folks might tell you that everyone leaves the docks and goes to sea to pump out.  This is magical thinking.

The most ecological of us will simply not use on board for anything related to solid waste.  Urine is pumped into the waters of the marina at night when the tide is going out.

The Hotel Pools and Elevators

Yeah, I know, not hardcore sailor concerns.  However, believe me, you will appreciate the three pools of the Hotel Grand Isla Navidad.   All are clean and functional again.


Water taxi and its docks

Fully functional and operates on Channel 23.  24 hours a day.

Navigation Lights

Back to fully functional.

French Baker

Started deliveries to the Marina and anchorage two days ago.  I guess the season is here.  So, back to normal.


Small community next to the marina.  Just outside the security fences.  Well known for its fishermen and restaurants.  Restaurants fully functional. More than half a dozen houses still un-roofed as rebuilding continues.  They got hit hard.

Town of Barra de Navidad

Just celebrated a belated “Dia de Muertos” and a great Revolution Day (November 22) with parades of ” little revolutionaries”.




Below is a picture of the restaurant I showed you in the post on Hurricane Patricia.  Look what you can do with just a few hand tools in four or five days.  Nice restoration, huh?



San Antonio de Padua Catholic Church

Closed to weather.  Doors temporarily repaired.  Stained glass above entrance still damaged.  But, fully functional.  Mass at 8:00 am on Sundays.  Other times posted somewhere.

Boats in lagoon and Marina

Marina and all boats fine.  No losses.  Lagoon had a sail boat run aground when its furler opened in the storm and off it sailed.  It was unoccupied and tied to the mangroves of the small island off Collimilla.  It was floated and now sits with its sail flapping in the winds but at anchor again (tied in same location).

Freighter aground on Punta Graham

Salvage operations under way.  Support is now a heavy seagoing barge, a helicopter, two smaller tug-style boats.  Lots of activity.  spill boom is now in water around ship.  Some concern still for environment but there is an actual response now underway.



The currents generally on that point of land are southward.  So, maybe only the golf course would be affected and not the bay.  Cross fingers and hope for a north wind till it is over.  Makes it hard for those of us headed north.

The helicopter for this effort is based in the sandy lot next to the marina.  If a Vietnam-era Huey is your ‘thing’, it is a treat.  If the sound of those distinctive rotors makes you crawl under a table and scream ‘incoming’, you may want to seek help or another anchorage.


Bus Service to surrounding towns

For rides to Melaque for the bank and the Hawaii Store.  For rides to Cihuatlan  to the Bodegon Store.  For rides to Manzanillo for everything convenient (Home Depot, Mega, Sorriana’s, Burger King, Block Buster, and Wal-Mart, as well as Government stuff like immigration.

All routes back to normal.

Hope this update helps everyone thinking of stopping here.  Oh, and don’t forget ‘disaster tourism’.  You can see a really big ship aground as you enter the harbor if you just go to Point Graham and look before you head in.  Stay far enough away (which is pretty close) to stay out of salvage operation area.  It is very interesting to see.

We are headed to Tenacatita anchorage next week and will let you know if anything has changed.  But boats are going back and forth from there now.  Some restaurants in La Manzanilla have yet to reopen. This small community got hit hard as well. I do not know if all crocodiles are accounted for in the sanctuary.

If you swim or swim your dogs.  Just a thought.

s/v Elsa

ship's log and journal of Elsa's journey