There we stood gazing at the varieties, sizes, numbers and opulence of the ships moored at rest in the Puerto Vallarta Marina. The only reason why we were standing at this marina’s entrance in the first place was due to a hitch in scheduling our flight. Marinas had never been part of our plan! Little did we know that this was only the first of several amazing experiences to come that day!
Flying Standby to Colima via Puerto Vallarta
Great friend, Carl Taylor and I planned a trip to Manzanillo, Mexico to shake off some winter and to let me show off Colima, the place I’d spent so much time bragging about on and off the golf course. I was confident he’d love my Mexican friends, incredible golf courses, amazing sights, warm Pacific Ocean, soothing climate and the many great restaurants.
Being employed at Westjet Airlines in Calgary, I enjoyed the privilege of travel benefits for myself and one other person. I listed Carl as my Travel Companion and searched for flights directly to Colima. The flights were busy and seats were few as snowbirds and ever-increasing numbers of Canadians were choosing Manzanillo, Colima over Puerto Vallarta as their winter vacation destination.
With greater numbers of open seats available to fly direct to Puerto Vallarta, I booked standby seats and looked forward to enjoying PVR for a couple of days. We’d rent a car or take the bus down to Colima, about 180 miles through the rainforest and fly back to Calgary directly from Manzanillo as seats on returning flights were plentiful.
Marina Vallarta Hotel Choice Proves Sensible but Sensitive
For the quick stay in PVR, I did a brief online search and booked two nights at a little hotel in an area known as Marina Vallarta that had good reviews for location, cleanliness and reasonable rates. We were happy the taxi driver we got at the airport spoke English and knew the hotel’s location. Our enthusiasm dipped when he winked at us in the rear view mirror telling us that the hotel was smack in the middle of the Romantic Zone.
At check in I think we may have over-sold the necessity for ‘two” queen beds, in fact, I think I even referred to them as “big” beds. Once over that hurdle, we got squared away and knew the time was overdue for ice cold Pacifico beer and some great Mexican food and went in search of both.
On the way for Cerveza we Judged Marina’s Best!
One block out towards cold cerveza we found ourselves at the entrance to the Puerto Vallarta Marina. Why we decided to enter the marina is unclear other than it appeared to be a logical path to the restaurants down the pier. We quickly realized this was a pretty incredible place to have stumbled across. The amazing ships included enormous multi-decked yachts crowned by ornate bridges, sailboats with huge masts and gleaming decks and every type of water vessel imaginable.
We had started out making a beeline for beer but found ourselves going up and down rows discussing the merits of dozens of ships. One large sailboat really stuck out for both of us. From its brilliant green and white colours, teak accents, grand mast, mainsail and mizzen, there was no question that this sailboat was special and in our opinion, clearly the Marina’s best!
Marina Restaurant’s Claim leads to Fateful Meeting
Now we were urgent for food and drinks and right there in front of us was a tiny restaurant boldly advertising on a sandwich board that they served the best shrimp and margaritas in Puerto Vallarta! Certainly, they wouldn’t exaggerate?
We were seated and had fishbowl lime margaritas, chips, salsa and guac served within five minutes. Minutes into the drinks and tapas I heard my name called from the pier and looked up from filling my face to see Barb Worobec, a friend and colleague from WestJet and a fellow waving. I returned greeting and waved them in to join us.
We introduced Bob, from Seattle and Carl all around. Barb and I commented how weird it was to run into each other here in Mexico while we rarely saw each other at the Calgary airport. I shared that we’d just arrived and told them about our plans for the next couple of weeks. Barb and Bob explained that they had sailed from Seattle, were planning to go south to Manzanillo and further south. We laughed at the possibility of running into each other in Manzanillo!!
Intriguing Sailing Experiences and Return to the Marina
Over dinner and drinks, Bob had our complete attention as he spoke about his thrilling sailing experiences over many years and about this Marina. It is home to 350 water-crafts including his sailboat. He also praised Barb’s ability to learn the skills necessary to assist sailing a large boat a great distance often through dramatic weather changes and severe winds.
Carl told them how much we had enjoyed touring the Marina and they thoughtfully invited us to return to the marina to see Bob’s boat. We happily accepted the offer and set off right after finishing up the margaritas and platters of coconut and garlic shrimp.
We Beat the Odds with Bob’s Beautiful Boat
We followed Bob discussing the various boats right down the seventh row stopping at a beautiful green and teak sailboat, the exact same one we had greatly admired earlier! We explained the amazing coincidence of choosing Bob’s sailboat as our favourite in the marina from 350 vessels, to their delight. Bob and Barb treated us to a tour of his incredible sailboat and explained the duties they performed at sea and in port. The entire marina scenario defied the odds and was a true highlight of the trip for us!!
We didn’t see Barb and Bob in Manzanillo the following week, but if we had, none of us would have been the least bit surprised!
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