[040225, 0118 UTC, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico; 20º41.9'N/105º 17.7' W]

Dear Friends;

We are now in Nuevo Vallarta near Puerto Vallarta in the state of Nayarit in Mexico, about two hundred miles down the coast from Mazatlan. We are staying at a lovely spot called Paradise Village Marina that is in an enormous resort called appropriately, Paradise Village. Nuevo Vallarta is located just about in the middle of Banderas Bay (Bay of Flags), the largest bay on the west coast of Mexico. We arrived at the cape at the north end of the bay (Punta de Mita) at midnight after a two days and nights at sea and used our GPS, radar and compass to guide us past some shallow rocks and islands and into the bay. One particular rock is reputed to lie just 3 feet under the surface and its exact location is unknown. We had a pleasant sail from Mazatlan in light to moderate winds and saw numerous pods of humpback whales, a few pods of dolphins, two green turtles and one BIG marlin that leaped repeatedly near the boat. During one of the whale sightings near Mazatlan, Philip had to put the helm hard over to port (left when facing forward) to avoid hitting a humpback whale that surfaced suddenly in front of the boat - a close call. One experience with dolphins occurred on a dark, moonless but star-lit night where their movement created comet-like phosphorescent trails as they zoomed up to, then under and around the boat. We could hear their blows as they came to the water's surface and sniffed the briny, fishy smell of their breath in the light breeze. The water's phosphorescence was the brightest we've seen and the effect of the rapidly moving and glowing dolphin trails was frightening at first, then exhilarating once we realized what we were seeing. This night, Carina's wake glowed for a great distance behind and the activity of all sea life was painted with a ghostly green glow.

Paradise Village is aptly named. Picture a first-rate resort set in coconut palms with bright flowers on every byway, a wide sandy beach bordering turquoise water that stretches north for many miles, backed by an estuary filled with the serenading calls of unknown tropical birds, and - so we hear - crocodiles. Daytime temperatures are in between 78 and 85 F, cooling into the 60s at night, considerably warmer and more humid than Mazatlan.

We chose to stay at Paradise Village (rather than the less expensive marina across the bay) for two reasons: we are hosting friends Lance and Karen from chilly Montana and thought that the amenities here would be perfect for them to enjoy during their brief escape from winter, in addition to the fact that the Vallarta Yacht Club facility located here is the site of a ham license exam that Leslie wanted to take. As Paradise Village is a resort, it does not represent a true Mexican experience, so we hope to sail with our friends to some outlying villages that are not as influenced by visiting gringos. In the meantime, we plan to wallow in "Paradise" like closet sybarites.

We spent our first days here preparing our crewlist and other paperwork and checking in with the local Capitania de la Puerto (port captain), paying our entrada (entrance) fee, visiting with other sailors we've come to know and cleaning up Carina from the clutter and general disarray that seems to be a consequence of passage making. The first night here we also went to bed early and slept late, trying to mitigate fatigue that sets in during any passage at sea.

We've made a couple of trips down to Puerto Vallarta so far, walked the steep cobblestone streets far up into the hills, strolled the malecon (the paseo or wide walkway along the water) with its often bizarre but fabulous bronze sculptures, kept our own amongst the aggressive time-share and souvenir vendors and experienced our share of edifying local bus experiences.

Jake loves having company who enjoy spoiling cats and is also adjusting well to the daytime heat. He's not so happy about the big things that go thump against the hull during the night, but we aren't enamored with those noises either. Seeing a crocodile would be great! Well, maybe…

Su amigos de la velero "Carina",

Leslie, Philip & el gato bonito, Jake