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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

Does a big iguana live here?

Dave tells Melissa that there is a big iguana that lives in the trees around the pool.  Uh huh.  Right.  Sure thing.  Somehow that lizard is always MIA when Dave tries to show it to Melissa.  This afternoon Dave claimed to have seen it poking its nose out checking out the street out front.  Melissa comes running only to see nada yet again.  This time though Dave managed to snap a photo before the guy sneaked off.

The next morning Dave gives a holler to Melissa who is cooking breakfast in the kitchen.  The big guy has decided to put in an appearance on the tree next to the kitchen table!  Well, hello Mr. Lizard!

New outlet

While Bob was here, he tried to repair the exterior deck outlet behind the BBQ on the lower deck.  What he discovered was that the area behind the outlet was so deteriorated that we couldn’t screw in a new outlet plate because there was nothing to hold the screws.  The plate fell to pieces in his hands.  Today Dave decided to use epoxy (his favorite thing) to repair the wall.  He filled in the wall where he needed to screw in the plate to create a flat and solid "wall" where there was none.

And now there is a brand new outlet!


Pots galore

Melissa has been working on replacement of the deck pots.  Turns out that clay pots down here deteriorate over the years.  To the point where they turn back into dirt.  These two are so bad that if you poke at them with your finger they just fall apart.  The remaining dozen pots are in somewhat better shape, but not much.


For weeks, Melissa has been debating over what to replace these pots with.  Condo management says that clay pots have to be maintained to keep this from happening.  Twice a year you have to sand and repaint all of them.  Even with cheap labor down here that amounts to $250/yr.  The condo management recommended fiberglass pots.  But to replace them all is $2000 USD.  Hmm.  What to do.  Research begins.

Turns out that when they do the maintenance on the pots, they just use regular paint.  Research indicates the right thing to do is to first seal the pots with a cement sealant.  That way moisture doesn’t get into the clay to deteriorate it.  Melissa decides the right thing to do is to use a 6 step process – which if luck holds out – shouldn’t have to be done every year:

  1. Clean and prep – Behr has a cement cleaning product that removes oil and dirt and etches the clay so that it will accept sealants
  2. Seal – Melissa intends to use a construction cement sealant that can be used on things that get a lot of moisture under pressure like retaining walls
  3. Prime – Behr has a paint primer intended for cement that will be applied next
  4. Paint – Debate ensued over color.  The existing pots are a classic Mexican red which Dave likes but Melissa is not crazy about.  Melissa takes pictures of the sea in full sun and snags a color off the photo – which then she has formed into a color chip and has paint made from that
  5. Stain – to get a two-tone depth, she plans to use a brown stain over the blue paint
  6. Sealant – finally to get a tough exterior that is easily cleanable, another Behr product to seal cement that can be applied over paint

Sounds like a lot of work right?  But never fear!  We have help here!  Irving will be working nights and loving the extra pay.

Meanwhile, Melissa heads out to buy the pots and the materials.  There is a landscaping/nursery store on the main highway with a ton of pots.  She decides to stop there.  There are hundreds of clay pots to choose from.  The proprietor’s wife comes out to help.  With 4 of the cutest puppies at her heels.  Ok, gotta stop and play with the puppies, right?

She follows Melissa around taking notes as to which pots and how many are needed.  No English, but Melissa’s little bit of Spanish plus a lot of pointing works fine.  Eventually the proprietor arrives – speaking perfect English.  He can deliver the pots today!  There are 16 all total.  $1000 USD.  Gulp.  More than Melissa had figured on, but would much rather pay a local like this than a fiberglass pot factory on the other side of the country.  So she forges ahead.

Onto HomeDepot to get the paint and supplies.  As she walks through the door, a gal with a handful of postcards that say “Behr sale!” on them flags her down.  So when does that ever happen?!  You walk into the store and the thing you need a ton of is on sale!  They flag down a sales rep to help Melissa.  Melissa shows her the shopping list with the pictures of all the products she needs along with the shelf locations (don’t you love HomeDepot shop before you go features?  They work here in Mexico same as back home).  The sales rep has Melissa’s shopping cart filled up within minutes.  Now to have the right color blue mixed.  We review paint chips not finding the right color until the sales rep finds one called “Ocean Blue” (kid you not).  Its exactly right!  Yes, please mix a gallon of that!

A couple of hours later two pick up trucks arrive with the pots.

After much hoisting and lifting…

All the pots are on the upper deck waiting to be processed and painted.  Melissa gets tired just thinking about it.

The proprietor is a riot.  Here he is showing off some of his properties for sale.  Later he explains that he can do our kitchen shelves that we want installed.  We are currently awaiting a quote.  But seriously, nice guy who we are feeling lucky to have found.


Now, just have to get these pots cleaned, sealed, and painted.  Will be weeks of work, no doubt about it!

Rack of Lamb Cooking Lesson

While Bob and Patty are here, Melissa has been doing a bit of cooking.  Cuz, ya know, guests and food.  They go together!  It was fried fish and giant onion rings a few nights ago.  Tonight, a rack of lamb.  Simple as can be – roasted in the oven with rosemary and garlic, with lemon green beans.  And a nice merlot to match. The perfect end to a great week with Bob and Patty!

Bob gets new teeth

When Bob and Patty arrived, Patty (a heart surgeon’s assistant) was curious about health care down here.  She asked whether we try to take care of all our medical appointments, dentist appointments, and so forth before we came down here.  Quite the opposite we explained.  Melissa had just been to have her teeth cleaned last week, and it was $40 USD.  Cheap and great service.  The dentist herself did the cleaning, most trained in the US, and they have modern equipment like ultrasound cleaning equipment.  Bob then explained that he had a tooth that needed a repair that the dentist said would cost $600 after insurance.  Melissa said casually, “yeah probably be $100 here”.  Patty then pressed on, “What about cosmetic stuff?  I’ve always wanted Bob to have his front teeth fixed”.  Melissa offered to make an appointment so they could get a quote – having already decided to come back next year for their vacation!  So Monday morning she called and the dentist had an opening that same day.  So we headed into Bucerias – a 20 minute drive.  The dentist explained that she would fix the tooth for $40, do a whitening for $50, and do veneers for his two eye teeth for $700.  Blink, blink.  Wow.  That’s nearly what the dentist back home was going to charge just to fix the one back tooth.  So we asked how long the process would take.  She asked when Bob was leaving – to which we replied Friday.  She said – I can do the fixing of the tooth in the back, the whitening, and the prep for the veneers tomorrow, and the veneers installation on Thursday.  Blink, blink.  Wow.  Ok.  So Bob decides to go for it.

The next day, Bob remembered the dentist back home saying something about his eye tooth not having enough root to do a veneer.  So when we reached the dentist office, we reported that to the dentist.  She got out the X-Ray machine, and in a matter of minutes was reviewing the film with Bob and Patty on her computer screen – showing them that the root was just fine.  So work proceeds.

Meanwhile, Melissa and Patty went shopping for blankets.  Melissa has wanted some blankets for the foot of the beds.  She needs a teal one, orange one, and a yellow-green one.  We shopped around Bucerias.  We found one of the stalls in the shops near the central square where a kid swore to us that they didn’t make the blankets the way Melissa wanted – in an effort to convince us to buy the ones he had on hand.  Melissa laughed – yeah they do.  So scramble ensues.  A blanket in teal shows up exactly as Melissa had described!  Then more negotiating – they think they can get the other ones from the brother’s shop in Puerto Vallarta.  Uh huh.  Right.  Patty and Melissa stroll along.  Only to be met on the other end of the shops by the same kid – holding an orange blanket – even better than what Melissa had originally described.  He had run all through the shops ahead of us to find the right blanket.  Good on ya kid!  We knew we would likely have located the blanket further along – but boy that kid could hustle and who could blame him?  There are so few people here this year that the shop owners are really hurting.  So what if we paid a bit more than we should have?  When we tried to negotiate – he said “stop being so Mexican!”  Ok, you get paid just for making us laugh.  That’s two blankets down.  Still looking for the third…


We return to retrieve Bob from the dentist, who informs us that the veneers might be ready a day early – tomorrow.  Sure enough, Wednesday morning at 9am they call to report the veneers are done.  This time Dave drives Patty and Bob back to Bucerias.  At which point the dentist says “I made you the veneers as promised.  But we thought that actually a whole set of front veneers would be better.  So we made them for you so you could see.  You can have the originals installed as planned, or you can do this full set for $1000 more.”  Some quick internet research reveals that the price back in the US would likely have been $10,000 for this work.  After some debate, Bob and Patty decide to go for it.

Judge for yourself – here are the before and after pictures!



Sunrise and Sunset over Bahia De Bandaras

Bob and Patty have been up before dawn watching the sunrise over the mountains to the east.

And then watching the sunsets to the west.

And look, the iguana that Dave swears lives by the pool, but mysteriously is never present when Melissa is around, allowed Patty to take his photo!

Whales with Bob

Since today is one of two full days we will all have free while Bob is here, we decided to rent a boat and head out to the Mariettas islands.  We pack up a lunch, the snorkel gear, and towels in anticipation of an afternoon out.  In the end, we should have just taken our sunglasses and towels.  It was a great day, but no picnic and too cold for snorkeling to the hidden beach.

Bob comes from a long line of “Roberts” and has long been known as “B III” (Bob the 3rd).  And sure enough, someone knew to prepare the life jackets for his arrival on the boat:


Bob arrives

Melissa has not spent any length of time with her cousin Bob since we were kids.  A wedding here, a dinner there when we pass through Minneapolis, sure.  But not like a “get to know you as an adult” vacation time.  When we bought the condo here, Melissa reached out to her Aunt to invite her (she couldn’t make it this year) and told Char to reach out and let Bob know we would love to see him and his wife Patty.  Turns out they were just trying to decide what to do with their vacation week, which had already been booked well in advance.  A quick couple of phone calls back and forth – and plane tickets got booked!  Patty has never been to Mexico before – and like everyone – they have been in quarantine a long time.  So they were so very excited to come!

We picked them up from the airport.  Weirdly, Melissa’s cell phone stopped sending/receiving text messages – which caused a freak out moment when we realized we couldn’t communicate.  But all was well in the end – Bob and Patty made their way through customs and out of the airport where we were waiting to drive them back to the condo.  Their reaction when we arrived “the pictures don’t do it justice”.  And as per usual, Dave’s Margaritas fit the bill as we watch the sun fade!


We’ve been together a long time.  Dave knows Melissa’s screeches.  There is the “ick what is this gooey mess?” screech.  Then at a somewhat higher volume there is the “I found a GIANT spider and I am sure he is going to eat me” screech.  At the top end of the squeal-o-meter is the “boat is tipped over too far its time to roll up the sail” screech.  Today Dave discovered a whole new level of screech – the “OMG there is a creature in the house” squeal.  It actually made him run – top speed mind you - from the office to the dining room.  Where Melissa then screamed “Stop!  Don’t move! You’ll step on it!”

Dave looks down as Melissa is freaking out “what is that thing?!”.  Dave says calmly – “it’s a baby bat”.  Oh.  Well.  That’s a whole other thing then.  A baby bat needs our help?  Lassie kicks into gear.  Upon further analysis, we figure that the baby bat is one of the bats that live in the roof top and come out at dusk (very cool to watch at just past sunset).  This one made the mistake of flying into the condo – where it promptly ran smack into a fan blade and was knocked out cold.

At this point it is starting to recover but can barely move.  But its clear that our presence is freaking it out.

Dave tries to make it a box with some water and food.  Alas he climbs out and gets away.  We decide to leave him alone and see if he recovers on his own.  We close up the deck doors so he can’t wander back inside with the fans.  Next morning Dave reports that the baby bat is gone – having successfully flown off.  Melissa thinks to herself, “really?”.  Alas twas not to be.  Next day after sunset he crawled out from whatever hiding place he had found (we think up inside the BBQ cover). 

Sadly, we decide that short of taking him to a vet (and where bat vet would be found here we have no idea) there is not much more we can do for him.  We decide to take him down to the garden by the pool hoping he can find a way to a nice home from there.  We put him gently in the garden.  Only to have him crawl his way to the wall and blindly fall over onto the cement – a three foot drop – spat.  Sigh.  We are really bad rescue crew.  We scoop him up again and put him in another garden spot – this one without any drops for him to leap off of.

An hour later we were down in the hot tub and saw the local cat come crawling through the garden on the prowl.  Next day – no baby bat in the location we left him.  We are telling ourselves he made it safe and sound back home.  Because that is what we want to believe.

Breakfast before Valentina departs

Today Valentina heads home.  But not before taking us out for breakfast and some very large Bloody Mary’s!

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