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S/V Si Bon
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Steve
01/31/2012, Simply.....La Cruz

I know it is sounding kind of redundant...but once again we're falling in love with one of our stops. La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, or simply "La Cruz", is definitely the cruising epicenter of the Pacific coast of Mexico. As mentioned in my last blog, the anchorage here is HUGE (pic), and even though there are somewhere around 72 boats in the anchorage, there is still room for another 72. There is also Marina La Cruz , which has slips for 340 boats. Add the 1000 or so slips in Puerto Vallarta, which is less than 15 miles away and it's no wonder that boats are attracted from around the world to the protected, pleasant waters of Banderas Bay.
La Cruz is a quaint little town with an easy, laid back pace. The cobblestone streets, shady huanacaxtle trees and friendly people add to the town's charm. La Cruz is a real Mexican town with tourist Mexico dropped in every couple of blocks in the form of a restaurant/bar or a shop selling souvenirs and/or sightseeing tours. La Cruz is a favorite gathering place for the cruising community for several reasons. We are just a hop skip and jump away from Puerto Vallarta making it easy to have friends and family visit, or for us to take a boat break back home. From the La Cruz area we are able to do short sails up and down the coast, and be able to cover an area from Mazatlan to Manzanillo (296 miles), without more than one or two overnight trips. La Cruz even has a hostel like house (no sleeping quarters) where you can have internet, take a shower, store things and make phone calls to the U.S. or Canada for a very low price.
We are now in Nuevo Vallarta where we will be meeting Sharon's Mom and other family members in just a few days. We're excited to see them and to share this little slice of paradise with them.
As we are currently in a slip in Nuevo Vallarta and will discontinue sending out Spot messages after tonight, until further notice.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, God Bless!

Banderas Bay
Steve
01/27/2012, La Cruz

We are now inside Bahia Banderas...which is the large bay where Puerto Vallarta is located. We officially entered Banderas Bay on Tuesday after rounding the northern Point known as Punta Mita. All of our cruising guides warn to give the large reef and rock strewn Punta Mita plenty of room while rounding it. As we made our way around Punta Mita we watched large waves break far out to sea all around the point. Another sailboat, that had been trailing us all day, tried to cut the corner...probably didn't have any cruising guides...or maybe just no brains. We watched him pass us inside and close in to the rocky shoreline not aware of the occasional large sets that were coming in. As a set came in homie quickly became aware that on his existing course he would soon become reef meat, and he abruptly changed course towards the open ocean. After rounding the point we made our way around another surf break and anchored off the beach for the night (pic). On Wednesday we left Punta Mita and came further into the bay to La Cruz Hauacaxtle...or simply La Cruz. La Cruz appears to be the epicenter of Mexico cruising, and as we dropped the hook between two other boats Sharon got out her calculator and counted 72 other boats in the anchorage, by far the most we've seen in any one anchorage (actually it maybe more than we've seen in ALL the other anchorage combined)
It's kinda looking like La Cruz is going to be another town that we will soon be falling in love with....stay tuned for more information on La Cruz in the next blog.

01/27/2012 | Amber
Sounds amazing and looks beautiful!
01/27/2012 | Dan
I pays to prepared. That guy's lucky! BTW, how do you count boats in an anchorage with a calculator? Do you point the calculator at each boat as you count em off? :-)
01/31/2012 | Phil anderson
Hey Steve.....I'm sure you'll soon try the restaurants in Punta Mita that are on "fingers" of the water breaks there.....If someone suggests that you check out Sayulita (and I'm sure someone will) continue on to the next town north...San Pancho....es muy tranquilo..similar de Chacala, posible' mas !!
Chacala
Steve
01/23/2012, Chacala, Nayarit Mexico

The 22 NM trip from Matanchen Bay was pretty uneventful. We motored down the coast about 2-3 miles offshore, other than a couple of fishing boats and a few whales in the distance, not much happened. Upon arriving in the small cove of Chacala we were able to practice deploying our stern anchor....something most sailors tell you you'll never need. The other boats in the anchorage all (accept one) had bow and stern anchors set. Keeping with the unwritten rule of anchoring the same as the other boats already in the anchorage....we, for the first time, deployed our stern anchor. Things didn't go exactly as planned, but after one failed attempt we were all set up bow and stern, thereby keeping Si Bow's bow into the waves and reducing the rocking motion of the gentle waves.
Chacala is the picture perfect anchorage that you've probably seen on travel brochures, or maybe a Jimmy Buffett Album cover....or maybe a Corona commercial. The beautiful white sand beach is framed by a rocky point on each side and surrounded by Palm trees blowing in the breeze. Add a few palapa restaurants and bars along the beach and there you have it...paradise.
We have spent the last couple of days lounging on the beach, swimming in the almost warm waters and wondering.....why are we leaving here????

01/23/2012 | Dan Berkey
Didn't you mean Si Bow's bon? :-) I'm envious dude! Have a great time.
01/25/2012 | kathy
You're leaving that wonderful paradise to go see your equally wonderful friends from Vermont and NJ at PV!! What could be better than that! See you soon.
01/27/2012 | Steve Cook
yes Kathy that was definitely the reason we hightailed it outa there, and we are now in the equally cool town of La Cruz. see ya in a few days. Dan...all ya gotta do is untie the doc lines and come on down bro.
01/27/2012 | Dan
Tempting dude, very tempting, but not to be for awhile. We're hauling out next week for some bottom paint and though-hull work. I'd like to pick your brain on the through-hulls. Let me know if you can get on Skype. Email me. Thanks!
San Blas
Steve
01/19/2012, San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

San Blas is a traditional, non-tourist Mexican fishing town. The sleepy little town was once a burgeoning naval port for New Spain. San Blas was more or less founded in 1530 and became New Spain's Pacific naval port in 1768. San Blas went into a decline shortly after the Spanish-Mexican war, as most of the commerce and shipbuilding was moved to either Mazatlan or Acapulco. Today San Blas has a population of about 6,000, including a fair amount of ex-pats who have settled into the carefree lifestyle of this charming, although very poor town.
Since we arrived in Bahia Matanchen during the night, we were pleasantly surprised on Sunday morning when we looked outside to see a lush green shoreline, complete with a banana plantation and coconut groves. The climate is now much more tropical than the dry Sea of Cortez. Sharon and I have enjoyed strolling the streets of San Blas where the bicycle is one of the major modes of transportation by both young and old locals. During our short stay we have done a jungle river trip, visited the fort which was built in 1770, seen several churches and of course visited several of the local hora feliz's. Our current plan is to leave San Blas tomorrow morning and continue south....that is if I can pry Sharon out of this little place she has fallen in love with.

01/19/2012 | Pat K'ski
Fascinating trip back in time! The town sure is well worn; I can only imagine what it looked like those many years ago. Great that you were able to get a real sense of the area and those who call that town home. Safe travel on the next leg of your journey.
Jungle river trip
Steve
01/17/2012, San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

One of the must things to do in San Blas is the jungle river trip. This morning several of us from the small marina boarded a Panga and headed into the estuary. It was something right out of Disneyland....only the large crocodiles were real. This was our first real trip into an estuary and the three or four amazing eco systems that we past through were all beautiful in their own way. Along with all the Crocs, we also saw many different birds, butterflies, fish and plants. As we ate lunch next to a clear spring in the jungle, several pangas came in loaded with college kids from Mexico City.....who turned out to be some of the wildest of all of the animals we saw today.

01/18/2012 | Pat K'ski
... and he smiled for your photo! Cool!
Mazatlan to San Blas
Steve
01/16/2012, San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico

As we exited the harbor entrance from Mazatlan we had our sails up within minutes and were on a broad reach doing about 5 knots in about 8-10 knots of wind. We set a course towards Isla Isabela, which is about 18 miles off of the coast of Mexico. Isla Isabela has been called the Galapagos of Mexico by both the National Geographic magazine and by Jacque Cousteau. Most of our fellow cruisers, and the cruising guides call it a small, rollie, rocky, non-protected, anchor eating island, which is only suitable as a VERY calm weather anchorage and then for only for a small number of boats. Never the less we felt that we needed to check it out for ourselves. We sailed through the afternoon and through the night and finally at about 4:30 Saturday morning the wind died out and we turned on the iron sail. I was on watch when just after sunrise while looking behind us I saw a monstrous animal surface quickly and then disappear. I grabbed my camera and aimed it towards where I saw the huge creature....suddenly Sharon appeared in the companionway and asked what I had seen, I informed her that I thought it was a Humpback whale...and a big one at that. We didn't have to wait very long before we began seeing water spouts EVERYWHERE. Humpback whales are one of the largest animals in the world and can reach 50 feet and weigh 35-45 tons....and we were right in the middle of their breeding grounds. There were several times that we had to take evasive measures to keep from hitting one of these huge, playful beasts, including one time that one was literally right up against our hull.
Upon arriving at Isla Isabela we were kind of surprised to find both of the very small anchorages packed with other boats, forcing us to attempt to anchor between another boat and a large rocky point of land. Neither Sharon or I felt comfortable with where we were, so we raised the anchor and went with plan "B", which was to go straight to the San Blas area.
Unfortunately with all the screwing around at Isabela, we were now going to be coming into San Blas during the nighttime hours. Most sailors, including myself, will tell you not to come into an unfamiliar port at night. Just south of the San Blas harbor entrance is a large bay called Bahia Matanchen, although not our ideal situation, we felt that we would make an attempt at entering Matanchen and if at anytime we felt it wasn't right, we would turn around and spend the night at sea, waiting for daylight. As we made our way past San Blas harbor we came across what can only be described as a minefield of Panga fisherman with their drift nets and long lines out just waiting to get caught in our prop or wrapped around our keel. I said a special thank you to the man upstairs as one by one the Panga nets began to blink with small lights and several times the fisherman themselves warded us away from their net/lines by directing us with their flash lights. As we entered Matanchen, we were both keep busy watching the dark sea and keeping an eye on our ever dependable radar as we felt our way into the large, peaceful bay. We dropped the hook at about 2030 hours, which was about 31 hours after leaving Mazatlan.
After spending yesterday in Bahia Matanchen, we have now crossed the sandbar into the estuary of San Blas where we will spend the next few days before continuing south. Tomorrow we are planning on a jungle river trip and should have a story or two to tell about that.

01/18/2012 | Midge
What an awesome experience. Your adventures bring me smiles. Glad you and Sharon are back together. Her parents are brave New Englanders. ( Most don't venture from this area) You are in my prayers
01/18/2012 | midge
PS Are you getting my messages? Just wondering?
01/18/2012 | Steve Cook
Hi Midge, I do get the messages you leave on my blog. I'm glad you're enjoying our adventures, it's fun sharing them with friends and relatives.

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