Thursday, March 27, 2014

Banderas Bay Regatta 2014

We decided to race Shindig in the Banderas Bay Regatta again this year.  It was a great event, as it brought more friends aboard, including Mark and Patty Thompson, and Dan Adamis from the San Francisco area, and Max Shaw, captain from Fluenta, a fellow Baja Ha Ha alumni from our 2012 rally.   Dan was a repeat from our Baja Ha Ha crew as well as one of the crew members from last year's race.

With a total of 6 aboard, compared to 4 last year, we had some more specific roles, as well as the opportunity to improve our crew skills and wardrobe.  First decision was to debut some Shindig shirts to keep the morale high.

Looking good
For the decorated boat parade, we decided it would be best to play off the theme "Living in Paradise" with something that differentiated us on board.  Patty and Mark gamely agreed to dress up as a sophisticated couple, and be served oysters and champagne by their adoring crew.  Nancy played live piano on her keyboard on the bow, while Captain Rob deftly maneuvered us through the parade route.

"Living in Paradise"

Once the parade was finished, we all scrambled to put away the keyboard, costumes, flags and merriment, and get down to some serious racing!

Winds were brisk on day one and two and Shindig enjoyed hull speed conditions.  Day three was a bit on the light side for our 41,0000 pounds but still made it around the course well,  Shindig won first place in our cruising class of 8 boats..   We finished each night with a post race debrief in the cockpit, and get together dinners at the Vallarta Yacht Club or out.  The final Awards dinner was held out on the sandy beach past the Paradise resort.  It was a week to remember, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Mark trimming the spinnaker, chasing down friends on Wind Chime.

Max posing for "Cruisers Weekly"

Whale in the parking lot at Vallarta YC.  We had a great speaker/biologist  that talked about the whales we see in the bay all the time. 
Day Two Racing.  Taking the gun at the finish line.

Patty and Nancy

Hydration during the race
Dehydration after the race

Final Toast after 3rd day of races
Captain Rob and crew at awards dinner accepting our trophy
Goofballs with trophies for the class win and the "living in paradise" parade

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

March is almost over, and we have been behind in updating the blog.  All for good reasons, as we've had a month of visitors in Banderas Bay. So fun to show off part of our life down here.  And it sure is refreshing to see Mexico from the enthusiastic eyes of visitors!

Bryan came down for a warm spring break away from college in Boston.  We enticed him with lots of good taco stands, a few nights at the Westin so we could spread out, walking foodie tours of old town Puerto Vallarta and some days at the anchorage and beaches of Punta Mita.  We are thankful that he wanted to spend his precious free time with us in Mexico.  And we're happy that he is really enjoying his studies and hard work at Northeastern.  

Paradise Village Pool Time
Taco Crawl in La Cruz
We took Bryan to four places in one night
Muertos Pier

Mom gets a squeeze in with Bryan 

Eldene, Erin and Roy flew in for a long weekend in town.  With a little overlap with Bryan, they "did the town" right.  We've agreed to a "non-disclosure" on Facebook and other social media.  However, these few photos may give you a glimpse of the fun we all had.  

Tequila Tasting aboard Shindig
Jewelry shopping with Designer Cassandra Shaw
Nancy's favorite bauble store in PV

Paparazzi and Eldene 
Beach Day in Sayulita
Kevin and Sean showed up as planned at the Vallarta Yacht Club, after already immersing themselves in the fun life downtown.  We spent a long weekend with them, mostly aboard Shindig, as we went out for a private whale watching tour, showed them the La Cruz anchorage and marina, and restaurants and beaches.  Our hang out day back in Sayulita was a great way to end their trip.  We revisited a favorite beach spot, with umbrellas in the shade, sling back chairs and very attentive service by Umberto.

Looks like a J Crew ad

Enjoying the warm sun and wind

Sean and Kevin at new beachfront lounge

Amidst the calendar was a slight two day break in visitors, and oh yes, our anniversary!  We had a quick get away back to Sayulita, finding a cute boutique hotel, Kupuri, amidst this great bohemian surf town.
A younger version of the Novaks

Anniversary Dinner in Sayulita 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Exploring Inland - Tequila! (3 of 3)

It's kind of hard to describe our last stop in the town of Tequila without smiling.  Suffice to say, after spending two days and nights in Tequila, our appreciation for this Mexican liquor has increased.

We had a special playbook with recommendations from new friends on Agave Azul.  Yes, their sailboat is named after the tequila source, also known as blue agave.  We decided to go on a tour at one of the better known tequilas, Herradura, as well as find some boutique distilleries, Miravalle and Los Abuenos.

No, the town was not full of Cabo style bars, with happy hours and pitchers of margaritas to consume.
Yes, there were strange looking "tequila" buses, some resembling large tequila barrels, transporting a tourists around to the distilleries.  It was surprisingly quiet little Mexican village, with much of the distilleries hidden from view.  Tequila is also designated a Pueblo Magica, (magical town) which includes the government provides additional funding to help preserve the uniqueness of this town.
As we walked through the town, we were approached several times asking whether we needed a tour guide.  With our own car, and some determination, we were able to buzz around ourselves, and discover several of the roads less traveled.

After spending most of the day with a wonderful tour of the Herradura site as well as finding Miravalle (photos belows) we attacked a roadside pollo asada stand, and devoured 2 chickens with 20 tortillas, coleslaw and beans.  Then we returned back in town in search of Los Abuelos, the final stop in our itinerary.  Unfortunately we found the distillery, museum and store had closed 45 minutes earlier.  We had really wanted to admire and purchase some of this artisan tequila, stone crushed and packaged in handmade bottles with custom ceramic corks.  After feeling sorry for ourselves in a nearby tienda, Nancy thought we might as well ask.... So back we went.
As we approached the closed gates, the woman working in the tienda was just exiting on her way home. She graciously opened up the gate, turned on the lights in the store, and patiently waited for us as we admired all the beautiful things to buy.  She even opened up the tequila tasting area, so that Danny and Rob could have try before buying.

We all left with beautiful packaged bags of goodies, including some of their renowned tequila.

The intrepid travelers make a right turn to Tequila heaven

We were the only guests in this pretty hotel, Casa Dulce Maria
It was a couple blocks from the main square, quiet and nice.  
Rob with the mascot raven from Jose Cuervo
Jose Cuervo is expanding their presence in Tequila...the grounds included beautiful courtyards, museums, exclusive  gift shops and tasting rooms.  It reminded us of a mega winery such as Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley
Our first stop was to Herradura, located about 15 minutes from town.  There we enjoyed a very thorough and interesting tour of the complete lifecycle of tequila, Herradura style.

These are harvested Pinas from the agave azul plants.  Each can weigh from 20-50 lbs.
To get to the Pina, this man, called a Jimador, uses a crude hatchet like tool to chop the tops from the agave azul plant.
Those are sandals, not steel toed boots.
Mounds of Pinas waiting to go into the ovens.
This man was showing the traditional mule carrying tequila in oak barrels.

Rob thought it was too early for a sip of tequila, but this was a great photo to take anyway.

After baking in the ovens for 26 hours, the pinas are ready to be crushed

Juices from the crushed pinas are on their way to the fermentation area

60,000 liter tanks ferment the solution to 5% alcohol 
A bank of distillers remove dangerous byproducts and yield "ordinario" that is then diluted to make white tequila.

Herradura Tequila tasting line-up.
The premium tequila, boxed, is for sale at Puerto Vallarta airport this week for $200 USD.

Miravalle Distillery 

We hunted down a boutique tequila distillery, Miravalle.
After being let into the chain link fence by armed  guards, we finally found the "tasting room", which was the  guard shack.  This friendly man gave very generous pours of Miravalle's Reposado tequila.
In return, we purchased many bottles of the good and economical tequila.
See that Danny is indicating "un poquito" to the guard. 
Rob and Danny in the Agave Azul Fields on the road to Miravalle
Los Arbuelos - fifth generation artisan tequila
If you see it, buy it!
Enjoying our last get together in the town of Tequila at Casa Sauza
Say Cheese!,  I mean, Tequila.
Oh yes, there was a pretty town church