Tenacatita and onto Zihuatanejo
17 February 2014 | Mexico
We left La Cruz and Banderas Bay about 11am on the 21st of January. We motored for a couple of hours to charge the batteries because of ongoing issues with the batteries and charging system (another topic for the ”tech page”) and to top off the water tanks. Then we set sail in the NW wind and had a nice reach out to Cabo Corrientes which is the headland at the south corner of Banderas Bay known for its accelerated winds as you round the corner. We continued on that reach until we were about 20 nm offshore to stay out of the way of the long line fishermen who are often out working the shelf closer in. The winds were picking up and we decided to try out our new reefing system and since night was approaching we put in a second reef while we were at it. We turned south and the wind was now 22 knots gusting 26 and we had a nice comfortable ride all night with a double reefed main and half the genoa out.
As dawn approached the wind faded and we motored for a couple of hours. Then the forecast SW wind filled in to the point we could beat the rest of the way to Tenacatita with two tacks. We were able to sail right into the bay.
Tenacatita is truly a paradise. The water is warm (about 81 degrees when we were there) and clean and there is a beautiful beach. There is lots to do. Swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, an estuary you can explore by dingy and a beach palapa that you can get a cold drink after a game of bocce ball. The highlight of the week is the Mayor´s raft-up on Friday evening before sunset. Tenacatita has a mayor, Robert, from the sailing vessel Harmony and he organizes the raft up. This particular Friday night there was about 20 boats that meet in a quiet corner of the bay and all tie together directed by Robert until we are all in a big circle. Appetizers are brought by each boat and passed around and people bring something to drink as well. Each week there is a question that each boat must answer and this particular week the question was “tell us about your life that brought you to this point”. Robert started and his story was very inspiring as were many of the other stories that followed. It certainly was a great way to come to understand how special all the people were that were sharing the bay with at this time.
Tenacatita is a place where people come and stay for weeks but we had plans to continue south to Zihuatanejo and take in Sail-Fest. We had never been south of Barra de Navidad which is just the next bay south of Tenacatita and we were anxious to go to Manzanillo which many people rave about as a cruising destination which is on the way to Zihuatanejo. For us going to Z-town (as it is affectionately referred to by the cruisers) was a tough decision because the 220 nm trip is known for its light winds and the necessity of motoring which we try our best to avoid. But we really wanted to go and see the place at least once so we set off on Saturday about 1 pm, the day after the mayors raft up because there was a NW wind blowing. We got out and the wind was better than expected, about 16 knots, and with the spinnaker flying we were sailing miles that we wouldn´t have to motor. The wind held up until sunset although it was down to about 12 knots which was as predicted. We expected the wind to continue to diminish and so contrary to our usual overnight sailing plans I decided to continue flying the kite. We continued to click off the miles but not without concern. That stretch of water is close to one of the big international freighter ports and so there is lots of freighter traffic. Generally speaking we get information on all the big ships via an AIS system that gives us data on each ship including name, identifying MMSI number, course, speed and also calculates the CPA (closest point of approach in nm) and TCPA (time to CPA). Of the numerous ships we were passing there were two on collision course (or close to it) with us. We contacted the ships because when flying a spinnaker our manoeuvrability is more difficult and they were kind enough to alter course to allow us to continue without needing to jibe the spinnaker or take it down. We continued until about 10 pm but the wind was rising not settling as expected and when it started hitting 20 knots it was definitely time to douse the chute.
Not to mention we had lost the foreguy connection to the pole holding the chute out. So down came the chute and we continued until about 4am under main alone doing quite well when the wind died and the motoring began. We motored until the later afternoon trying to sail once with not much luck. We arrived and a nice bay and resort town called Calata de Campos and dropped the hook for the night. We were now about 70 nm from Z-town.
We arose early and were underway in the dark by 5:45 and it was again a mill pond out on the sea. As the day wore on a SW wind developed and we were treated to a beam reach sail into our destination for the last 20 nm. We arrived into beautiful Zihuatanejo Bay at sundown and dropped the hook off Playa Principal. We were met by a welcoming committee travelling by dingy at cocktail hour from boat to boat encouraging us to join in Sail Fest. The Sail Fest is part of a large fund raising effort which has been occurring annually for years to raise funds to aid in educating many of the poorest children in the area and it has become a great success both financially and in terms of a great time for the participants. We have checked in with the Port Captain and are about to find out what it is all about. First impressions of the town are good. The weather is fine but hot and humid.