Posted on January 28, 2018
Familia: Rounds Two and Three
Our first round of family flew out just as our second round was flying in, but we had a location change to affect before their arrival—from Marina Vallarta to Paradise Village, a resort a few miles to the north. Fortunately, we had our friend Lisa with us; she just happened to be in town from Alaska for the day, and it was fantastic to hang out with her on our short boat ride. Unfortunately, we did not have a smooth entrance to the marina.
We won’t go over the whole thing in painful detail; we’re convinced we were right, the marina feels otherwise. Suffice to say, there was a breakdown in communication. The harbor entrance is narrow, and prone to silting up; it’s constantly being dredged out to keep the water deep enough for boats such as ourselves. We entered the breakwater with some pretty big waves behind us, keeping the dredge to our left as instructed. Clearly, the dredge was not in a position to let another boat through, and we quickly found the edge of the channel and ran aground. It didn’t take long for the waves to push us into five feet of water, which is not helpful when you draw seven feet.
We immediately called the marina to let them know we were aground, and they sent two pangas to tow us off. The dredge moved over, pretending they’d been in that position the whole time and trying to look innocent, if that’s possible for a big old steel boat. Within ten minutes, we were back on our feet, unharmed but shaken. We’ve been nervous about the entrance ever since, and begged off taking people out for the rest of our visit. Our exit strategy involves high tide, clear and unambiguous communication with the marina office, and loud yelling at the dredge if they’re in the channel when we leave.
On to happier things, and a full embrace of the resort experience. Paradise Village is well north of Puerto Vallarta, in the thick of huge complexes from which you need never venture. Three pools, two hot tubs, three water slides (fast, slow, and toddler-level), many restaurants (with surprisingly good food), two spas, and more palapas than the eye can take in—we embraced it all.
First up for the resort treatment were my mom and her husband. While we did take one trip into downtown Puerto Vallarta, for the most part we were content to stroll the beaches and test out the pina coladas. There were tacos. There were cold beers. There were breezy lounge chairs set out on the hot sand. There was one very disappointing Vikings game, but we got over it pretty quickly. Things we were lacking: stress about the boat; challenges about logistics; cold, wimpy showers; an overwhelming need to get stuff done.
A few days later, my cousin showed up with her partner and kids. This was the moment my own kids had been waiting for. Yes, they were very excited to see grandparents and aunts and uncles, but it’s hard to compare to the pleasure of hanging out with cousins their own age. The Resorting kicked into high gear, as we exhausted the pleasures of ping pong, bocci, shuffleboard, boogie board rental, beach massages and seriously elaborate fruity drinks.
We are not people who would intentionally book a vacation at an all-inclusive resort like this, so on the one hand, it was hilarious to look around and convince ourselves that yes, we really were here, and could charge pizza and mojitos to a week-long running tab as they were brought out to our beach lounge chairs. On the other hand, it was amazingly convenient. We didn’t have to struggle to meet up, choose third locations where we could all hang out, or buy day passes to a hotel to use the pool.
Our string of visits has come to an end, and we’re slowly returning to our more-normal(ish) lives. We have a long list of tasks we want to accomplish before heading to anchor in La Cruz on Wednesday—the convenience of stepping out to a pier is something we’ve gotten a little too accustomed to, and it’ll be a bit of a shock to once again be at anchor, dinghying in through the waves with the groceries or the laptop. Overall, though, we’re looking forward to some relative peace—especially among the cruising kids we hope to find a bit to the north.