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Pacifico's Return Voyage to Mexico
Back to Barra Lagoon

On Thursday, January 13, 2011 Pacifico returned to the Barra Lagoon, this time without incident. We anchored out in the lagoon along with So Inclined and Blue Rodeo along with about 15 other boats. Sirocco got a slip in the marina because of her deep keel and the shallow depths of the lagoon entrance. It is no wonder Barra is a cruiser's haven along this part of the coast. It has about everything that is needed to keep us going except for a large repair facility and has a great small town, friendly atmosphere. We were back at the Sands using wifi, and visiting with cruising friends, old and new. Mike and Julie on (Slacker), were here and it was great to get together with them in Mexico. They are repeat cruisers and know the lay of the land down here and were very helpful; much thanks Mike and Julie! We tried a great place to eat, "Gorditios" taqueria or comida Mexicana owned by Isaias and his wife, Rosita. The food was great and very reasonable. Like our favorite in la Cruz, "Tacos on the Street" this place offers a simple and limited menu and they do it well. We had a great dinner of tacos al pastor and "gorditas" small maiz tortillas with a little flour added to the mix, grilled and stuffed with various fillings. Yummy! We took some fun photos at this place including with Isaias and Rosita and their daughter, she's the one making tortillas on the grill! We had so much fun Isaias and Rosita invited the girls back the next morning for a tortilla making lesson, we purchased a tortilla press and we can now have fresh, home-made tortillas on Pacifico! Mike and Julie shared some of their local knowledge and took us to the Port Captains to check into Barra and to their favorite carniceria or meat market where we purchased some great looking rib eye steaks at about $4 US a pound and chicken. Of course no visit to Barra is complete without a visit or two to 'Piper Lover, Barra Cruiser's Lounge' bar for some night life. Mike from So Inclined brought C Monkey along since they were bacheloring it together and old C Monkey had quite a time of it, see Mike's blog for So Inclined, which is linked to ours under friends at the bottom of this page. Shamefull!

We had dinner with Mike, Lee & Cathy aboard Sirocco in the marina and were glad we were anchored in the lagoon. The mosquitoes in there were awful, but it was fun to get together and thanks for the great dinner Cathy!

On Sunday 1/16 we took a long hike by dinghy from the little community of Colimilla below the hotel through the golf course to the Pacific coastal community whose name escapes me. Great beach front homes, mostly American and Canadian upscale beach bungalows. On the way back we encountered a Mexican family out for a day at the beach with their pet raccoon! Too cute, the man digs holes to find sand crabs for the little guy who politely ate one for us and he was very photogenic. That was about it for this trip to Barra. We will depart Monday, 1/17 for Ensenada Carrizal near Manzanillo.

01/22/2011 | Mary & Gary Cane
We're looking forward to fresh, handmade tortillas when you guys return! We're having a little summer right now which is awesome. That C Monkey sounds like a chick magnet. Maybe that guy Mike is pretty smart! Keep the blogs and photos coming!

We made the approximately 5 NM run to Cuastecomate from Barra on Monday, January 10, 2011. Cuastecomate is also known as the "secret anchorage" among the cruising community because it was not published in the cruising guides and is not visible when transiting to or from the entrance to Barra Lagoon. I was told about it last year by Terry (Coastal Passage II) and we found it as described, beautiful, secluded and a great snorkeling spot. As a foot note, Cuastecomate has been discovered and was recently published in the new "Pacific Mexico" cruising guide by Breeding and Bansmeer. Oh well, so much for seclusion, but it is a small anchorage and will only accommodate five or six boats anyway. As much as we enjoyed Barra we were anxious to get out of the lagoon and into an anchorage that we could swim, kayak and standup paddle board in; this is the place! We dropped anchor in about 16 feet of clear water along with So Inclined and were among a group of five boats in the anchorage.

There is a small beachside community here with one hotel, half a dozen beach palapa restaurants and one abarrote. We found the community very small and currently much underutilized with only one or two of the beach restaurants open. The few northerners we encountered were mostly Canadians and the hotel looked to be open, but doing little if any business. This place is about 2-3 miles off Mexico Hwy 200 from the beachside town of Melaque, which kind of services the greater Barra area as the business community where you can get things done and do some shopping. After getting some snorkeling in along the south side of the cove among some pretty nice coral Marisa, Mike and I decided to walk to Melaque. We only got about 100 yards out of town when we were offered a ride by a local fellow in the back of his pick-up truck, that's kind of the way it is down here, friendly and helpful. After behind dropped off near Melaque we walked into town to locate a hardware store (a ferrerateria) and do some grocery shopping at "Super Hawaii" a great supersized abarrrote. There are several hotels along the beach and again we found most of the tourist cliental to be Canadians, most were down for the winter months, but then who can blame them? The weather here was great! After shopping in Melaque and finding a little off beach place that served a great "everything" pizza for about $8 US, we loaded our new found possessions into a taxi for a $50 peso ride back to the beach. Our dinghies were safe and we made a successful night time off the beach, through the surf run to the boats; that means we stayed dry! The next day was another snorkeling and paddle boarding day. This time we took the dinghies to the rock outcropping north of our anchorage location and what a find. Bill and Cindy eat your hearts out. This place was an aquarium. I personally have never seen so many reef fish or schooling fish in my life, it was great! It was fabulous! OK, enough said. As a sad, side note to the sea life we were alerted that there was a huge sea turtle in the anchorage one morning. Going topside to investigate we saw a huge old and dead sea turtle floating by So Inclined, then over to us. I actually had to use the boat hook to fend him off and took a picture of him as he went by. He was as big as our dinghy, 8'8" from head to end of his flippers. I can't say what killed him but would guess natural causes do to old age. He drifted onto the beach in front of the palapa restaurants. It didn't take long for one of the owners to send their kids out with a boogie board and a rope to tow the turtle to a more isolated corner of the bay where he was beached and nature took its course. I have been asked how we can sleep on the boat at night and not worry. Who says we don't worry? Anyway, we work at setting the anchor so we can sleep well. I learned to be patient in this skill from John & Gail (Rover) as well as Tim and Michelle (Shell-y-T) and have been pretty successful so far. We have a 33# Manson Supreme anchor, which for our boat is the largest anchor that would fit the bow roller with 100' of 5/16 chain and another 200' of 9/16 three strand rope rode. If I had room for more I'd like another 50' of chain, but we don't and so far so good. The other thing that we do is when I drop the anchor at the bow Marisa is at the helm and she hits the "mark" button on the GPS at the helm to set a waypoint. After we are all settled in I take that coordinate and put it into the GPS at the nav-station below and set an anchor alarm on the GPS. The anchor alarm will go off if we exceed the maximum distance set from the anchor waypoint. We leave the GPS below on all the time that we are anchored and can see our "track" as we swing on our anchor. We can see if we have drug and let out more rode, that is increase our scope as needed. Not flawless, but it sure helps, and yes, we have drug when anchored in windy conditions when anchored in really soft mud, but were able to reset and increase scope to accommodate the conditions. We were able to reach our friends on both Blue Rodeo and Sirocco by radio and both were able to join us at Cuastecomate for part of our stay there before we all moved back to Barra, and that's another story!

Barra de Navidad

19° 11.325'N, 104° 40.305'
We arrived here in Barra de Navidad, or 'Barra' late in the afternoon on January 4th and anchored in the lagoon. The sail down here with 22 knots of wind from Tenacatita was fun, getting into this lagoon on a minus, but rising tide was, noteworthy!

We came into the outer channel, which is well marked and relatively straight forward without issue. That channel leads back to the entrance to the marina on the south side where it forks, one channel leads east back to the lagoon and the other bends south and east around to the fuel dock. There is clearly an outer channel that follows the bank around the outside past the fuel dock, but apparently does not go anywhere. According to our chart guide we wanted the center channel that takes a slight dog leg just past the entrance to the marina. The problem was at this extreme low tide there were sand bars extending out from the south side of the channel and along bar on our left. Keep in mind none of this is marked. The sight was reminiscent of running a ski boat on the Lower Colorado River.

Anyway, we started down the wrong channel, which was still OK, but trying to get back to where we were supposed to be was where the problems started. We draw about 6'3" and had 2 to 3 feet under our keel, which is not a lot of water. We proceeded very slowly, about 1-2 knots, just enough to make way with all the wind, when we grounded. The bottom conditions in this lagoon are sand over mud so this is what's called a "soft grounding." The boat just kind of heaves forward as the keel impacts and presses into the bottom until you're stops. With all the wind outside we had strong gusts in the lagoon that push the boat even with the sails down, so we were listing on our imbedded keel. I was able to back us off the bar fairly quickly and all was well. Still picking our way slowly we hit a second time and this time I couldn't back off. We were being pushed sideways by the wind and I thought we were going to be stuck until high tide at midnight. Several local fishermen were motioning towards the correct channel, but getting there was the hard part. The water in here is cloudy and visibility is limited to just a few feet so you can't see bottom. We got the bright idea to use our boat hook, extended to full length and probe off each side of the boat. We found that we had about 4' of depth to starboard, but plenty of water to port. With that I turned to port and powered through a few feet of sand/mud to clear water. OK, free again, but not for long. Getting back to the channel proved to be a challenge; we grounded several more times, but were able to free ourselves relatively easily in the same manner.

Once in the channel we were home free and we came through it all almost unscathed; Marisa took a fall on the deck on one of the groundings, which resulted in a couple of nice bruises, one visible, one not!

Mike and Bill from So Inclined had come out to help and later Bill said he was going to nickname me, "Bounce." OK, so in self defense several boats per day go aground in this entrance. When we left Barra for Cuastecomate (but that's another story) three boats in front of us all grounded at least temporarily, one so badly that it took assistance to get off. It ain't easy! Barra is an interesting little tourist town catering to Mexicans and us northerners alike with several up-scale restaurants and quite a few budget priced eateries. There are a few tourist oriented bars complete with live music in the evenings playing mostly US Oldies with a strong Mexican accent. There are several smaller and older hotels in town and a nice ocean front beach. Barra sits on a long sand bar connected to the mainland at the north. The large lagoon we anchored in with about 15 other boats is to the east and then across the narrow opening into the lagoon there is a very large and beautiful hotel complex on the hill, The Grand Bay Hotel, that is as nice as its name sounds, complete with marina and golf course, but we weren't staying there. Once in the lagoon we were safely anchored with get this, 6 inches under the keel! It was the low tide of the month so that was sufficient in this situation, just un-nerving. The lagoon is brown brackish water and no one swims in it and because it is rumored to have crocodiles, which is the down side, but it is a calm anchorage safe in any wind direction. There is an efficient water taxi service from Barra to both the hotel and to the boats anchored in the lagoon. You call them on VHF radio and a panga picks you up in just a few minutes and deposit you at their dock on the back bay in Barra. A guy there charges you for the round trip, $25 pesos each or $2 US and gives you a ticket for the return ride. After midnight no one attends their dock and the sign on the wall says to flash the lights off and on and one of the pangas will come for you. It sounds kind of odd, but we found out that it works! You can also take your own dinghy into town and dock it at the Sands Hotel. They allow us cruisers to tie our dinghies off on their sea wall and use their pool and bathrooms. All they ask is that we patronize their bar, and they'll give you a wifi code while you are there. How could we refuse and the beer is only $15 pesos or about a buck and a quarter! As a side note to the Sands being friendly, I ordered my first hamburger there since leaving the US in November and it was darn good! It's just a short walk from the Sands to a number of restaurants, abarrotes, a laundry service and you're right in town.

There is a local French Bakery, "El Horno Frances" operated by, a "real Frenchman" and his wife. The cool thing is that he delivers by boat to the marina and lagoon. It's fun and quite good. He announces his rounds on VHF Channel 22, the cruiser's net, "this is the French baker, I am beginning my rounds," or "I am entering the lagoon" and at the end he announces, "I have completed my tour" all with French accent. Anyway, his products are really good, pastries, breads, quiche, croissants and more, all on a daily basis delivered to your boat, and he will take special orders a day ahead. It's better than the Helms Bakery truck, can't beat it! Speaking of the Cruiser's Net; this net is operated on VHF channel 22 and has a typical maximum range of 25 miles. This net is operated six days a week by cruisers in and for the greater Barra area. As in other areas, Mazatlan, P.V. and so on, we disseminate local information keeping track of each other on who has arrived, who is departing, who needs assistance, local weather forecast and tides. It takes about half an hour and starts at 0900 hrs and is all volunteer. Each day someone takes the MC roll and follows a script then begs for someone to take it tomorrow! We also have HF radio system on Pacifico and listen to the Amigo net broadcast at 0800 out of La Paz. That net is a little more formal, but is essentially the same with a greater focus on weather. The HF radio bands are capable of reaching out hundreds to even thousands of miles, case in point the fellow who provides the daily weather is Don Anderson, a "retired cruiser" and weather expert who broadcasts out of Oxnard, Ca. We spent several days anchored in the Barra lagoon visiting with So Inclined and crew and partaking of the offerings of Barra. As I mentioned you don't want to swim in the lagoon and despite access to both the Sands pool and for the few days So Inclined was at the marina to the hotel pool there as well, but not being able to jump into the water on a warm day from the boat or use our kayak and paddle board made it less than desirable.

After Bill, Cindy and Josh left on Sunday we decided along with So Inclined to move to more hospitable waters. We will depart Barra and head north just a few miles to the small anchorage at Cuastecomate, also known as the "secret anchorage" to wait for Sirocco to catch up with us there. Barra was fun, but it was beginning to feel like moss was growing on our keel so it was time to get moving again. We will be off to another anchorage, but there will be more to come on Barra and some photos too.

01/21/2011 | Tim
Wow! This looks like a cool spot. Sort'a why one goes cruising. And the moon lite nights, ahh.
Chamela to Bahia Tenacatita
01/07/2011, Barra de Navidad

19° 17.298'N, 104° 50.298'W

It seems like I'm always playing catch-up on this blog, have I said that before? We have not had much internet again and this will again be a late post. We departed Bahia Chamela on Sunday, 1/2/11 and made an uneventful 31 nm, 6 hour passage to Bahia Tenacatita. We had to motor sail the entire distance, but we had to make water and charge batteries anyway and that about topped us off in both departments. I think I mentioned this before, but we have a 400 Amp hour house battery bank, which really means 200 usable hours and with refrigeration pulling down 4-5 amps per hour 24/7, plus lights and etc, you use it up quickly. We do have solar panels and they are great, but do not make enough to fully compensate for what we use; they just post pone charging. The good thing was that we were fully topped off on power and water when we got there.
We were on a heading of roughly 120° traveling basically ESE down the coast and had a pretty good following sea, which means that the swells were coming at us from behind. The wind was from the ESE as well and we motor sailed with just the main sail most of the time. The following seas can give you a little boost, but they also tend to push the stern of the boat around and that means a lot of hand steering because the auto pilot can't handle it.

We arrived at Bahia Tenacatita with our "buddy boat" So Inclined with Mike and his guests Bill, Cindy and Josh Roush still aboard at about 1300 hrs. In short order were anchored in about 20 feet of water and had our dinghies down and were heading to the beach. This is a pretty large bay and there are two anchorages on the north side. The outer anchorage is behind series of rocks and reefs known as "the aquarium", but we didn't stay there because that is also the site of the former beach community also known as Tenacatina that was recently taken over by court order on behalf of the plaintiff in a suit in Mexican Courts. The new guy promptly had the entire place bulldozed, fenced off and patrolled by armed guards. Needless to say we avoided that entire issue. In Mexico the beaches are public property to the high tide limits so you could still get onto the beach there, but there is nothing left. We were tucked up safely inside the second bay behind Punta Chubasco. This bay is also called "Blue Bay" because there is a hotel at the eastern most section of the beach called Hotel Blue Bay. Was the water blue? Actually there has been an algae bloom taking place and the water all the way down this area of the coast is green and cloudy with limited visibility but a beautiful spot and almost no development. This entire strip of beach is vacant accept for that hotel and at our anchorage there is a small, privately operated tent campground that caters to vacationing Mexicans from the inland regions. There is also at a small river mouth here that feeds a large estuary landlocked behind the two bays within this bay.
This was a great place to put the paddle board and surf board into the water and head to the sandy beach. We saw a few small rays and there have been some jelly fish, but they are readily visible so we watch where we are going to jump before getting into the water. It was a fun afternoon at the beach and in the water, and it turned out that the little camp ground had a palapa cantina that served cold beer and some great chips and salsa!
The following morning we had our own "jungle river tour" in our dinghies. We went into the river mouth on the slack tide and headed inland to the head water about 2.5 miles upstream. There is a larger lake there and it is actually behind the beach at Tenacatita, which is roped off and there are guards on that side as well. It was pretty interesting trip in that we actually saw two baby crocodiles and a variety of birds. The channel gets narrower as you proceed further up into the estuary and the mangroves eventually overlap the entire water way. We were back to the boats in time for lunch then back to the beach where we tried to surf some of the very small waves. Some of the photos of our dinghy show wheels and tires at the back of the boat with the tires raised up above the transom. Those wheels are mounted there to be dropped and pinned in place for beach landings. When we approach the beach we stop and lower the wheels then proceed onto the beach. The wheels touch the sand before the propeller from the dinghy motor and the best part is that we can step out of the dinghy and pick it up by the bow and walk it onto the beach, like a reverse wheel-barrow. The dinghy and motor combined weigh about 140 lbs. and are just too heavy and awkward to try to drag up the beach.

We tried to take a land excursion out of here to what was rumored to be the town of Tenacatita, about which there were also rumors that it was only a half hour walk, maybe 2 or 3 kilometers. Well after walking UP the long driveway from the Blue Bay Hotel and not finding a road we accepted a ride from one of their employees, Marcus, who was driving a hotel van, with air conditioning. Did I tell you it was about 80° and all uphill? Anyway, Marcus was a good sport and offered to take us to the main road where we could catch a bus, but he advised Tenacitita was really 45 minutes by car from here and it will cost us $300 pesos for a taxi ride back, with six of us we would need two taxis! What to do? We all discussed our options while Marcus patiently waited. For $200 pesos he took us back to the campground at the beach where we were anchored. We were happy, Marcos was happy, and to boot, he had some ice cold beer that he offered us for only a small "propina" or tip. It seems the beers were left over from a hotel function, what a deal. That's how things just seem to work down here.

Listening to the "cruiser's net" in the morning I recognized a fellow that I had met last Spring while doing a delivery out of Puerta Vallarta with my friend Terry (Coastal Passage II). Herb and his wife Juliette were also bringing a boat north and were friends of Terry. Anyway, Herb and Juliette live aboard Synchrony in this general area of Coastal Mexico and Herb was here in Tenacatita while Juliette was visiting in the States.
Herb gave us some great "local information" and for something to do accompanied us the following morning the 3 miles across the bay to the little community of La Manzanilla. We anchored off the beach at La Manzanilla at about 0800 hrs. on Tuesday, 1/4/2011 in about 25 feet of water. We were the only boats there and dinghied to the beach to make a surf landing. La Manzanilla is a small, somewhat colorful Mexican community that caters to a limited tourist trade because it is so isolated and has a natural, small town atmosphere. We all had breakfast at Martin's Restaurant where both Herb and the cruising guide said we could get great cinnamon rolls. It seemed Martin was either late or we were early and things took a little longer than planned, but the food was very good, although we are still waiting for those cinnamon rolls to come out of the oven!

We walked the town and I found a couple of tool items I'd needed to supplement my stores at a local 'ferretería', but not much else. Of interest, they do have a crocodile sanctuary 'in town' that is chain link fenced to keep the critters from strolling through town. Herb warned us that the afternoon winds would kick in and to be out of there by noon, which we were not, and they did. It was "fun" getting the anchor up with 18-20 knots of breeze across a long fetch. The wind waves were of short period and steep. We also didn't take the dinghy up, but were towing it, which is not a good thing to do in any kind of wind or sea conditions. We bashed back across the bay to the shelter of the headland behind Punta Chubasco where we put our dinghy up on deck and got our main sail up, put in a reef then headed back out. So Inclined had departed directly from La Manzanilla and our next stop was Barra de Navidad or just "Barra" about 15 miles further south.

We finally got to sail. It was about 15 miles out of Bahia Tenacatita, around the point, Punta Estrecho and into Barra. We were reaching across the bay then broad reaching around the point, gybed and headed downwind into Bahia de Navidad. It was pretty windy, 22 knots true when we dropped our sails before entering the channeled enterance. But, Barra de Navidad will be another story. This one has gone on long enough!

01/07/2011 | dennis boomer
Things are fine here, saw your son at the condo watering. You have a credit card here so let me know. Weather is good both here and the desert
01/08/2011 | ted & Lois langs
Sounds like you have adapted to the cruising life-style very easily. How is Marissa adapting?
It sounds especially nice to be able to have friends in other boats around you on your journey. It makes the experiences that much better. Look forward to your return. I am wondering if Lee and Cathy will have to make an early return due to Cathy's back problem? She can't be having that great of an experience while she is in such pain. Doesn't seem to be easing with rest either. I guess that is the downside of extended vacations is health. Jeff is moving forward with the raft up at the end of the month by the looks of positive responses. Continued safe journey's and Happy New Year to you & Marissa!
01/08/2011 | Ted & Lois Langs
I am curious about laundry issues aboard the boat. How do you wash your laundry and moreover how do you manage to keep clothes dry without a moldy smell. Maybe it is not a problem there but whenever I went camping for extended periods it was always an issue to keep your socks dry. I have noted there is a portable hand washer that can be purchased that looks functional for boaters and campers alike.
01/10/2011 | Mark
OK, Dave, you've held out long enough on your story about entering Barra de Navidad. What's happened??
Ipala to Bahia Chamela

Chamela anchorage: 19°35.029' N, 105° 07.923'W

Happy New Year everyone!

We arrived at Bahia Chamela and were anchored just off the beach in the calm waters behind Punta Perula by 1500 hrs. This was a 53 nm run from Ipala. This was a nice "motor sail" down. There was sometimes enough wind to sail effectively but we needed to make water, therefore run the engine. We are now fully caught up on our tanks and batteries, which is good. We were visited by a pod of spotted dolphins on the trip down. I always love to watch the dolphin play in our bow wake and had taken the camera for a few photos. I was looking directly down through the view finder when a rather large turtle passed through the viewer and clunked off the starboard side of the hull. I didn't get a shot of him, and I don't think he was damaged.

There is a small fishing and local tourist beach resort community named Perula here. I should say the anchorage is calm in that there is little northerly effect, but the local pangas run through the anchorage with disregard to their wakes effect on the anchored boats, but no flopper stopper was needed. It seems commercial boatmen and fishermen universally have little regard for us "recreational boaters."Marisa came to life later in the afternoon and we took the dinghy to shore to accompany the crew of So Inclined. We walked the beach, had a beer at one of the little palapa cantinas and interestingly met a Mexican family at the table next to us who were visiting from Riverside, Ca. (my home town) and Chicago! Small world. That evening both crews got together aboard So Inclined for dinner and to celebrate New Years Eve and Bill's birthday. Marisa conducted class on how to make an authentic Mexican margarita and salsa fresca, as learned in our "Salsa y Salsa" class in Mazatlan (see Marks post of 12/3/10 from Mazatlan). We had a great dinner aboard So Inclined, thanks to Bill for sharing his fresh red snapper with us.

There was no television to watch the ball drop in Time Square, but we actually stayed up to bring in the New Year with a toast of champagne before heading back to Pacifico on our dew damp dinghy. Again, we shouldn't complain here. Our weather continues to be very pleasant, mid to upper 70s day time to upper 50s-low 60s at night. New Years Day we stayed aboard Pacifico to get caught up on email and internet and some boat projects while the crew of So Inclined moved a mile or two to relocate between the islands of Isla Pajarera and Isla Cocinas and get in some snorkeling. We had agreed to leave for Tenacatita Sunday morning at 0600 hrs to again travel that approximately 30 nm distance together, both crews wanting to get south to warmer weather and waters as soon as possible.

I checked out distances and location relative to places of interest in the US. We are as the crow flies 1030 nm from our slip in Oceanside and almost directly below Denver, Colorado, so hi to all the grandsons there! This area is on Central Standard time and we are one hour ahead of Denver and two from the West Coast, that means it is dark until almost 0700 and light until about 1830 hrs or 6:30 PM, maybe a little later so when we leave at 0600 hrs it is completely dark.

01/03/2011 | Slacker
Hi guys. Welcome to the Gold Coast. We are now holding a spot for you in Santiago Bay. Only one other boat here. Nice!
01/05/2011 | mike cobas
been wet & cold in O'side, you've got the right idea! Happy New Year!
01/06/2011 | Darwin Southard
Hey there you sure are having a great time. That picture of the vendor cart is giving me ideas for decorations for the O'side dingy parade ha! You both take care. Darwin
Rounding Cabo Corrientes

Here's a late post of the cape and it's lighthouse, if you can see it.

La Cruz around Cabo Corrientes to Ipala

Ipala anchorage: 20° 14.133' N, 105° 34.357'W

Greetings, this is a late post, or post-post I guess. We were joined in La Cruz by So Inclined for our last evening on the town with our friends from Swift Current and Blue Rodeo. We had to get one more evening at Tacos on the Street under our belts and some last items from the abarrote. Marisa has posted a few photos to go along with this story.

We left the marina at La Cruz at 0417 hrs, only 17 minutes behind schedule and not bad considering Marisa was sick, it seems she caught the flu. We had used public transportation, busses and taxis there in the greater Puerto Vallarta area and she was probably exposed to something. Luckily I did not get it, I'll credit my having a flu shot for that. We were on our way, buddy boating with So Inclined with Mike and guests, Bill and Cindy Roush with son Josh, from Oceanside YC. Bill was a pal and brought several spare parts down for me, kudos to both he and Buddy from West Marine. Bill got a green light at the Mexican Customs inspection coming into country so no import duty issues.

There are times when I get the "big boat envy" and then again at times I'm very happy with Pacifico just as she is, this was one of those times. Marisa was pretty well down all day Thursday and half of Friday before she felt well enough to come up for air. Needless to say she didn't get involved with boat handling and watches or food for that matter. I was single handing Pacifico, from casting off to anchoring, which I'm OK with and being the nurse maid to a sickie!

The run to Punta Ipala was only about 48 nm and around Cabo Corrientes, which is similar in effect to Point Conception. We had watched our weather and had a good window so it was an easy ride across Bahia Bandaras at a heading of about 220° to reach the cape. There is a strong opposing current that takes effect as you near the cape. The current coming up the coast from Manzanillo is a counter current in that it runs generally south to north along the coast. I could definitely see the influence of the current on our headway, no so much slowing us, but generally pushing us towards shore. We rounded the cape at about 4 nm off, then down the last 14 nm to Punta Ipala and the little beach community of Tehuamixtle.

It was an odd feeling traveling in company with another boat after almost 1200 nm of going it alone. We had met other boats and made friends, but we did not "buddy boat" in that you travel with and stay in close proximity with that boat. We had rather by coincidence had similar itinerary plans and would meet up at some destinations and that was only after Mazatlan. It was doubly odd in that we were now talking on the radio with Oceanside friends, Mike, Bill and Cindy with whom we boat regularly at home. I was looking at the scenery and charts and wondering if we had ever really left home waters! It was a strange feeling. All that said "buddy boating" has its advantages. While making the crossing of Bahia Bandaras we encountered several inbound cruise ships, the really big ones. Anyway, I was on deck and had been watching intently. It was either the third or fourth one that was well off our starboard bow, with rights, when I got a radio call from So Inclined asking me if I was aware of that ship. I thought I was, but had apparently fallen asleep and it was now much, much closer! I'll give Bill credit for making the call, it was close, how close it would have become thankfully we won't know!
We anchored behind the small point with So Inclined and I stayed aboard Pacifico with Marisa while the crew of So Inclined dinghied to shore to explore. I could see with my binoculars that there were three bar restaurants and a few other buildings. It looked small but more substantial than some of the larger beach palapa bar scenarios we had experienced and appears to be not only a small fishing village, but a small beach resort destination for locals. There was no internet access again, and as a post note to La Cruz we had little or no internet access the last few days there as well. It seems there was a problem with the system at the marina, oh well, the same thing happens at home too.

The anchorage at Ipala was small, hampered with fish pens and was rolly because of the wave effect coming around the point. This place is an OK stop to break up the trip south, but not a great place to stay. We had anchored out farther than necessary and had to put out the flopper stopper to settle the boat down, Marisa was sick enough and the extra motion didn't help. We left with So Inclined at 0600 hrs, Friday 12/31/10, the last day of the year for Bahia Chamela, about 50 nm further south and east down the coast.

C-Monkey in need of rehab!
12/28/2010, La Cruz

Greetings again from La Cruz. We opted to spend Christmas Day here in the marina and not travel to Nuevo Vallarta to avoid any potential transportation issues. The bus service is quite good here, but from the main highway out to the resort area where the marinas are located in Nuevo Vallarta we were not so sure of the Holiday schedules and were concerned about the return trip at night. We celebrated Christmas morning with breakfast at a local place called "The Organic Café," which is also an art gallery and a little jazz club, not that they were playing any jazz in the morning, but the place is quite nice and had free Wi-Fi. There we were, six middle aged people sitting at a table and five of six were on lap tops! It was really fun to make a call to the grand kids with a video monitor via Skype. If you have not opened a Skype account consider it as an option worth exploring also very cheap. We spent the remainder of the day catching up on phone calls home to family and friends, and to get a little rest after all the last minute Christmas shopping on Friday. We were invited to a real home style Christmas dinner with turkey and all the good stuff aboard Swift Current that afternoon. I volunteered to bring desert, and what could be more fitting than flan? We had it aboard and it turned out to be a real hit, but what to share for an appetizer? I'm thinking: OK, what do I have that I can take to the party? Well of course, tuna. I was going to cut some up in chunks and Bar-b-que them but then decided to 'try' to get fancy. I'm thinking some kind of flaky, tuna encased little bite sized things. Well, long story short they turned out to be biscuits with bits of tuna inside. Pretty funny, way too much bread, but not bad, or at least everyone was polite and said they were "really good." OK, I'll stick to cooking and leave the baking to someone else. Anyway, it was a feast and one of the best tasting turkeys I have ever eaten, so thanks to Lynn and Howard for including us along with their other friends.

OK, now for the dirt. The day after Christmas we traveled down to Nuevo Vallarta to the Paradise Village Marina to meet the crews of Sirocco and So Inclined. We made the trip and figured out how to get from the main highway out to their location. We met up on Sirocco and got to see Bob Ray just before he flew home. After chips, salsa and a beer we made it over to the resort's pool area, where some of us got into the hot tub or pool, and others of us napped in the sun on the pool loungers, (that would be me, so I'm absent in those photos). After a little mall shopping we hopped into dinghies and headed up the channel into the mangroves in search of a place called, Fajita Republic. We found it and what a great choice that was! Lee said the credit goes to John Erhardt for the referral, so thanks John!

We took the boat over to the fuel dock Monday morning to fuel up to get ready for the next leg, then out into the bay for a motor sail to make water, pump out our holding tank and just to throw off the dock lines. It was pretty uneventful ride except we were once again treated with a great whale show and pretty close by too. After that it was back to the dock for more boat work and to start provisioning. Our water consumption has been greater than we can keep up with, with our on board water maker. It is a Katadyn 80E and makes 3.5 gph. We only make water when out in open, clean ocean water and we needed it. Still didn't make enough so ended up buying 10 & 20 liter jugs and lugging them back to the boat. That's the kind of stuff that fills your days, but not today, Tuesday. Today we hired a local boat cleaning and maintenance crew and we took the day off and went by bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta. Marisa had not been there so we went sightseeing and did a little shopping and tequila tasting. It was a long day and we walked for miles before finding the bus connection to head back home to La Cruz. We both agreed La Cruz is the place to be and the boat looked great when we got back! How easy was that?

Tomorrow, Wednesday, So Inclined will be joining us here in La Cruz. Bill and Cindy Rousch, Oceanside friends have joined Mike for a week and they have not been to La Cruz yet, so what better day than for Tacos on the Street!
All in all it's been a good few days with the day time temperatures holding at about 75°, clear and sunny. Speaking of that, we need to get moving south. The weather reports are that it is about 10° warmer overall down in Zihuatanejo, our ultimate destination. The plan is to leave early on the morning of the 30th with So Inclined. We will head southwest to Cabo Corrientes, which is about 27 nm across the large expanse of Bahia Banderas and by passing Yelapa until the return trip north in Spring, then down the coast south and east towards Chamela. Chamela is about 100 nm from La Cruz and we may break it up with an overnight stop at Ipala for the first day's leg which will be about 50 nm. We are leaving what they call Mexico's Coasta del Oro, Gold Coast, and heading down their Coastalegre, Happy Coast. I've also heard of that area as being referred to as the Gold Coast as well but happy or gold that's the way we are going, but that's not for another day yet. Hang on Mike and Julie, we're coming!

12/30/2010 | Mark
Sounds like a great way to spend Christmas - and your mid-70s temps are much warmer than the 55-60 degrees we've been having in SoCal. The tuna pastries actually sounded good, and now you've got some experience to fine-tune (or fine-tuna) your recipe.

Tell that monkey to get his act together, or you'll have him shipped back to colder latitudes!
Feliz Navidad!
12/25/2010, La Cruz

20°44.885N 105°22.665W

Merry Christmas from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico, in Bahia de Bandaras, which is about 10 miles from Puerto Vallarta. We are now in a slip at the Marina Rivera Nayarit here in La Cruz. Nice place, reasonably priced, actually quite reasonable, new and modern facilities. The little town here is pretty cool; it is not a tourist Mecca, almost no hotels and no big ones, or big stores either. All our groceries come from "arraborates" which are little grocery stores located on almost every block. Most people here have little or no refrigeration and shop daily. There are "carnecerías", tortillerías and panaderillas along with other services, barbers, beauty salons and of course restaurants and cantinas disbursed liberally, mostly for us gringos. This little community has a small fishing fleet, but generally seems to be a suburb of the greater P.V. area with a principle source of income from facilitating the marina and cruising community. The streets are beach or river rock stone set in a deliberate pattern. Many of the homes and businesses are kept clean and painted but like in any area without zoning restrictions the neighborhoods can be an eclectic lot. There seems to be quite a few ex-pats here on a full time basis and quite a few local businesses that cater to us cruising tourists are owned by those folks.

We arrived here on Sunday, December 19 after a short 8 nm passage from Punta Mita. We had arrived there from Guyabitos the day before but it was a pretty rolly anchorage so we left the next morning. We anchored out here in the open anchorage with about 30 other boats, including Sirocco and So Inclined. It was good to catch up with them again and because it was Sunday we all took our dinghies ashore and went to "Tacos on the Street" a local restaurant that is only open four evenings a week and serves a limited menu of rib-eye steak tacos, quesadillas and tostados and they do it well. We have included a few photos of the place in our photo album from La Cruz that Marisa has already posted. If you ever get the chance it's really good, cheap and fun. They only serve soft drinks but you are welcome to supply your own beverage of choice. It's so good that the tourists from PV come up and there is a line out front to get in, but since it's an open air kinda place there is no door and they put tables in the street for the over flow. Like everywhere, here the custom is not to rush the patrons out by bringing them their bill, you don't get "la cuenta" unless you ask for it and you can sit and talk after dinner without concern. It is a refreshing custom, but I understand why it can't work that way at home.

We have spent several days working on the boat, getting things cleaned up, laundry and a few repairs and projects as well as exploring La Cruz. The marina here has worked hard to entice the anchored fleet into the marina with discounted rates and services. There is a wonderful bar/restaurant atop their facility that has hosted a happy hour daily. Despite these efforts this marina is only about 2/3 full at the most. On Tuesday, 12/21 we cruised out to the Tres Marietta's Islands that are about 10 miles out into the bay from here to meet So Inclined. On the way we were trolling with a blue green Rapala Magnum lure and hit pay dirt. With some considerable effort we landed a 32" yellow tail that weighed about 25-30 lbs. Once we got it to the boat it wasn't easy to get it aboard or finding deck space to clean it. Pacifico is a small sail boat set up for cruising and with a surf board and now a paddle board on the rail, a kayak tied to the deck and towing a dinghy. Figuring out how to land it, then clean it, took a while, but it was fun! We ended up with several large zip lock bags full of fish! By the time we got to the islands it was almost time to go. We dropped a "lunch hook" paddled over to So Inclined to see Mike, Amanda and Abe for lunch and it was time to leave. No snorkeling that day.

I've spoken about security issues here in Mexico previously. While I'm not naive or think that bad things don't happen down here most of the bad news that is reported at home is pretty specific to areas involved with narcotics trafficking. Generally people here are typically friendly, giving and remarkably generous with what little they have to share. As an example; last year when I was here with Sirocco we went into a little abarrotes and the owner asked if we wanted to share his lunch of ceviche that his wife had sent with him. He gave us crackers and hot sauce off his shelves as well. No charge! Today on the bus the lady next to us was helpful answering as best she could our questions about where to find certain products. She opened a bag of chocolates for her kids and shared them with us. Not only that, but when we got off the bus, she had her daughter take one of the bags Marisa was carrying and carry it for her. Later we went into that same abarrote and yep, that same clerk/owner was there. This time he was sharing a bottle of tequilla that he was taking home for his Christmas party, opened it and poured everyone shots!

With all the rain at home, people keep asking us what's the weather been like here? Typically it has been warm, mid to upper 70s, mostly clear with sometimes a little haze and no rain. We have been having a typical land effected sea breeze with an off shore flow in the early morning and on shore flow in the afternoons, up to 18 knots the day we came back from Tres Mariettas, so pretty nice for sailing. We have not seen any rain since we left Oceanside, November 16! The nights have been typically upper 60s, nice for sleeping. There has been quite a bit of humidity and we have wet decks in the mornings, which is good because when you're anchored out you can take a towel and clean the boat! The night of the lunar eclipse was clear and we had a great view of that event. I set the alarm for midnight and we watched it without getting out of bed, just opened the forward hatch over the V berth and looked up, dozing off and on until it was in full effect at a little after 0200 here. Also, this area adjusts their clocks to Central Time, so we are two hours ahead of the West Coast.

Today, Friday, Christmas Eve day we jumped on the bus towards PV to do some shopping, our first time in real stores in a couple of weeks and we needed some re-provisioning. There is a new Wal-Mart in Nuevo Vallarta that was our first destination, and then on the way back we stopped at Mega, a large Mexican grocery store chain outlet in Bucerais. You have to remember that this is all by bus, carrying everything that you purchase, we're learning to choose wisely. We couldn't find a couple of items, but had to get back to pick up our laundry before they closed for Christmas. Yes, we did a lot of it ourselves, but did take some bulky stuff in for service. Remember, when we wash it on the boat it has to fit on the life lines along the rail for drying, which is difficult with sheets and the like. Anyway after lugging all that back to the boat we jumped on a bus and headed back to Bucerais for one last attempt at finding a few things, just like Christmas shopping at home! All settled in and back at the boat we bumped into a Christmas Eve dock party. The cruising life style, that's where your days go!

Dave caught a fish!
12/23/2010, La Cruz

Here's a picture of the 32" tuna that Dave caught 2 days ago. Dave plans to write a blog later tonight, so stay tuned....

12/24/2010 | Paul Schmitz
What an adventure. And I hope you guys have a great Christmas. Really enjoy reading your blog. Stay safe. And tell us how the fresh tuna tasted!!

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