03/18/2011, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
After leaving Tenacatita, we headed north to Chamela to wait for a weather window to round Cabo Corrientes. The wind and swell came right into the anchorage for several days, so we were only able to go ashore once or twice during our stay. The winds climbed upwards of twenty knots and a three-foot swell bounced us around every afternoon. After a few days, the various weather reports gave the all-clear, and we headed out of Chamela with about ten other boats. When we were clear of the anchorage, we cracked a beer and poured the first sip overboard as a toast to Neptune, asking for good weather and safe passage (and good fishing!). We were rewarded about twenty minutes later when the noise-maker on the hand line sounded, signaling "fish on". After quite a battle, I managed to reel in a seventeen pound crevalle jack. Unfortunately, they aren't good eating, so we threw it back, but it sure was fun to catch.
The eighteen hour passage couldn't have gone any smoother. The winds were mostly on our nose, but for the most part they were light and variable. The seas were as calm as the winds, making for a nice, easy motor sail.
The beautiful Pacific
S/V Cuervo sailing into the sunset
We spotted a few whales and a pod of dolphins. At one point, a mother dolphin and her calf paid us a visit and rode the bow wave for a few moments.
We saw lots and lots of sea turtles, floating lazily along. To the seabirds, the turtles look like a great place to stop and rest their wings. The sea turtles don't seem to mind at all.
The next morning, we were happy to see the familiar sight of the La Cruz anchorage. On our way in, we listened to the morning net, and were surprised to hear that our friends Randy and Jenny aboard S/V Mystic were in town. They told us they were leaving for the South Pacific sometime that night, and we were lucky enough to meet them for tacos before wishing them well and saying our goodbyes.
We headed south from Ensenada Carrizal towards Manzanillo about 10 miles away. There are two anchorages here and we chose the Santiago one as it was less crowded and supposedly cleaner water. The water was pretty clear, but still cold at around 72 degrees. I checked the hull and it was still pretty clean so I decided to delay a cleaning to a future date.
Manzanillo is a 6 peso bus ride away so we headed into town one morning. They have a nice small old downtown and a huge sailfish statue on the malecon. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch and then headed to the market. It is a newly remodeled market and did have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but the meat area was not the best we had seen. We still think the Bravo market in La Paz is our favorite.
We woke up this morning to Tsunami warnings so that confirmed our trip back up to Barra de Navidad as we did not want to be in the anchorage during a potential event. We pulled anchor around 10:00 and headed back north and around 1:30 the event did indeed happen. Things were not bad here with only about a 3 to 6 foot rise and fall in the anchorages, but the entrance to the lagoon in Barra de Navidad had very large currents, enough to pull the channel markers under water. So we made the call to continue north up to Bahia Tenacatita, which is another good anchorage only another 15 miles away.
When we arrived there the boats were swirling around their anchors during a 6 foot plus swing in water depth which had the currents running all directions. We waited about 15 minutes while a few other boats reanchored and then set the hook for a good nights sleep.
03/05/2011, Ensenada Carrizal
After lots of searching for the right place and time, Dan and I got married aboard Akupara at Ensenada Carrizal on March 5, 2011!! We tried to stop at a few small anchorages on our way south from Puerto Vallarta, but were unable to anchor due to the weather. We didn't despair because we knew we had one more anchorage on the list, as well as the opportunity to revisit those we'd missed as we made the return voyage north.
We had our eye on Ensenada Carrizal from the beginning when we looked at potential sites in our cruisers guide. Carrizal is the only undeveloped anchorage on this stretch of the Pacific coast of Mexico, and I love it because it is quiet, rugged and wild. When we arrived in Carrizal, we hopped in the dinghy and went to take a look at the beaches. Both of the beaches are gravel, steep-to and make for a rather tricky dinghy-landing. Not to worry, because we realized we already had the perfect place for the wedding right under our noses. Akupara is a wonderful boat, and has taken care of us on our journey. What better place to get married than on the deck of our own boat?
The next day, we stood on our boat under the Mexican sun, exchanged vows and became husband and wife. Right after the ceremony our new friends Larry and Mel on s/v Hemisphere Dancer, who we'd only met a few days prior, called on the radio to wish us a long and prosperous marriage, and topped it off with a ceremonial blow of their air-horn.
After the radio call, I went below to make a few calls of my own:
"Hi, Mom. Guess what? I'm married!"
We invited Larry and Mel over for a celebratory drink, and they were generous enough to share a bottle of their champagne.
We toasted our marriage and spent a wonderful evening with our new friends.
03/04/2011, Barra de Navidad
Last week Dan and I attended the Carnival parade in Barra de Navidad, a first for both of us. It's hard not to get swept away by the sea of colors, sounds and smiles.
There were around twenty or thirty vehicles/floats in the parade, carrying anything from kids in costumes to transvestites to disco dancers.
We had a great time watching the parade, and everyone involved seemed to be having a lot of fun, which is what Carnival is all about.
The parade in Barra came a week before Mardi Gras, so the locals will now be able to attend the even bigger Carnival celebration in Manzanillo on March 8th. If we can figure out where everything will take place, we are planning to join the festivities. As they say, the only thing better than a Carnival celebration is TWO Carnival celebrations!
We have now traveled down to the lagoon at Barra de Navidad. On the trip down we tried to stop at an earlier destination, Cuastecomate, but that did not work out. The wind was coming in pretty strong from the northwest, probably gusting over 20 knots which was not too bad so we deicided to try and drop the anchor. We circled the anchorage which had two boats and then tried to drop the hook, well it did not set. So after hauling it up, we re-thought the anchorage and decided to head the 5 miles down to Barra. That was a good choice as it turns out, the wind kept building and reached 30 knots that afternoon so Cuastecamote would have been a very uncomfortable anchorage on a rocky lee shore.
With the winds building it was even a little fun getting into the lagoon at Barra. The channel in is narrow, shallow and not marked for the last half, but we had good GPS waypoints so we were not too worried. Zepplin was anchored in the lagoon, so we gave them a call on the radio to verify that our GPS points were good and they confirmed that and also provided good info on where to anchor in the lagoon. With over 60 boats in here, it can get crowded and knowing there was an opening in the center helped us out a lot.
We anchored in 11 feet of mud and let out 100' of chain, with a 10:1 scope we felt good that we would hold in the wind, which it did, but not so for 4 other boats in the anchorage that drug that afternoon in the strong winds. Here is a picture of the 8 dinghies that helped out when Cloud Nine drug over the top of the anchor for Gray Max. The dinghies lined up on the side of Cloud Nine (who's owner was gone for the day and the boat was locked so we could not start the engine) and pushed it off to the side so Gray Max would have room to pull up his anchor and move to a safer spot. Then we let out more chain for Cloud Nine, which slowed the drag down some but they kept moving back until they hit the mud bottom, then they stopped moving. Luckily the bottom in the lagoon is soft and running aground occurs often with almost always no damage other than the owners ego.
The next day the wind was still blowing and Luffin It came in late in the day and after running aground in the previous mentioned unmarked channel, tried to anchor next to Ideal One, well the anchor did not grab at all and the drifted down on Sea Dog fast and then fouled the anchors. I jumped in the dingy and got there in time to grab Luffin It's anchor and lift it over the chain of Sea Dog. Once the boats were separated, Luffin It moved forward and had a successful set on the anchor. The good thing here is that as soon as someone has a problem, there are lots of people coming out to help, cruisers are always ready to lend a helping hand.
Our anchor has held so far and with Mardi Gras coming up I hope the wind dies down so I can leave the boat without having to worry about it too much. The town of Barra de Navidad is a great little town with cobblestone streets and lots of great little places to eat, our first lunch was gorditas at Gorditos and at 10 pesos each they were the best we have had in Mexico. There is also a French baker in town that is supposed to have great chocolate croissants, and he delivers to boats!!!
Tunnel in the estuary dinghy trip
We had a nice trip down to Bahia Tenacatita from Chamela, not much wind and the sees were close to 6 feet, but the period was fairly long so it was not too uncomfortable. We did have the Genoa up for an hour or so but then the wind died even more so we had to pull it in. On the way down we went in to look at Paraiso, a nice small anchorage on the way, but the above mentioned swell was going right into the anchorage and it was not a good place to be. It looked very pretty though, so we will definitely try to stop here on our way back north.
There is a big red tide in Tenacatita right now so swimming is possible, but not really enjoyable. The water is finally warm enough, so hopefully at our next stop we will finally be able to go swimming and snorkeling again. We went on a dinghy ride through the mangrove estuary yesterday, we did not see a lot of wildlife, but the path was nice. It was pretty narrow in a lot of spots and had mangroves growing together over the top making for a nice tunnel to dinghy through. Afterwords, we pulled the dinghy up on the beach and had a beer at La Vena, a nice little palapa restaurant on the beach. While there we met our anchorage neighbors, Blue Sky. They are a family of four that our just finishing their "trip around", the world that is, that they started 5 years ago. They said it was a great time and the kids loved it. We also had them give us a few tips on dinghy landing and launching through the surf. They have been doing it for a while and after watching all four of them haul the dinghy into the surf, jump in, and power out without getting any water in the dinghy, we will probably heed their advice.
We will spend today here and probably get a little fishing in and a nice hike on the beach before we head south tomorrow to Cuastecomate, our next potential anchorage. It is supposed to have good snorkeling and we have not heard anyone mention a red tide there, we have our fingers crossed.