03 February 2020 | Chamela Bay, Mexico
Wednesday, no Tuesday, January 28, 2020
It’s been two years since we last cruised outside Banderas Bay but I know I have fallen into the rhythm easily because I had to ask what day it is and I don’t know what time it is. Nor does it matter.
We escaped Nuevo Vallarta just in time to avoid the brewing storm although we did wake up to some rain in Ipala. It lasted about an hour or so and then we left under cloudy skies. We did get some wind so were able to sail. A whale came up beside us.
We are beginning to think Cadenza is a whale magnet. On our trip from Nuevo Vallarta to Punta de Mita, we saw twelve. Seven were traveling in a pod together. We slowed down and enjoyed the show. They would spray, one at a time, down the row of whales. Then, they would wave their fins or wag their tails as they dove under the sea.
Today we are in Bahia Chamela. I have written about this place before but for those of you who haven’t read my earlier blogs, I will share my view from the boat and on shore.
Chamela Bay is an anchorage surrounded by foothills with a mountain range behind them. Palm trees line the white sand beach. Some restaurants and a few homes dot the shore. The large bay is home to several smaller islands. The water is shallow and clear by these islands and good for snorkeling. The water temperature is perfect. Cool enough to be refreshing and warm enough to be comfortable.
Our first day here was one of relaxation. We put the dinghy down and while I was tidying up the lines at the stern of the boat, I managed to knock one of our solar lights into the water. We love those lights as they look like tiki torches. They also act as stern lights to keep pangas from running into our boat at night.
“Quick!” I yelled to Jay. “Jump in the dinghy and go get it!” Jay was having none of it.
“No. You jump in, go swim and get it.”
Hmm, I thought as I watched it float away with the current. “Okay.” I took off my hat and sunglasses, threw off my cover-up and jumped – none to gracefully – into the water. I swam after it and grabbed it, so proud of myself for saving it. Fortunately, it didn’t sink. Even better, it still worked once it dried out.
As I swam around the boat, I asked Jay to get my raft. It is an inexpensive, flimsy raft and we had a good laugh as I tried to get on it and stay on it. Up and over I would go. More laughter. I finally gave up and just had a good swim.
Yesterday we took in our new dinghy to shore. (Haven’t named her. Any thoughts?) We actually haven’t beached here in several years and weren’t sure where to go, exactly. Plus, I was nervous as my accident still haunts me to this day. (See “Recovery” posted 9/2/15) So, Jay asked our friends, Tony and Diane from sv/Dolce, if they would like to come along with us. We have yet to purchase wheels and we were not sure if Jay and I could handle getting her up on the beach. And Tony and Diane were here last spring and knew the best landing place.
The river entrance is in the NW corner of the bay and turned out to be just fine. We had to be conscious of the depth and the tides but all went well and we pulled up to a spit of sand. Where to tie up?
Some Mexican fisherman were nearby and getting their panga ready to go out and one of them was joking with Diane who speaks fluent Spanish. He took the painter from my hand and tied it to a rock. I added another rock on top of the line for good luck. The tide was going out so we were fairly certain we would find our dinghy still tied up when we came back.
Along the river bank was a huge bulldozer, crane and other heavy-duty equipment. Diane learned that the town is going to make a better breakwater and a Malecon/walking area along the river. Maybe add a dock. I am not always in favor of progress, but this time, yeah for progress! This is such a beautiful bay. I think the cruisers would welcome an easier landing area where we can tie up and I know the community would get much more business once they finish.
We walked into town along dirt roads passing dogs, cats, chickens and roosters along the way. The town is actually Perula (where Hurricane Patricia landed a few years back) and the town of Chamela (which we have yet to visit) lies further south, nestled in the foothills, along the bay.
We ducked into the tiendas as we passed to see what they had available. Some had fresh tomatoes. Others had eggs. A few had beer and wine. We made note of who had what so we could stop on our way back as part of our mission was to pick up some fresh vegetables, beer and wine.
Our primary mission, however, was to go to the hardware store. Who knew this small, somewhat simple town, would have a hardware store the likes of Home Depot? We discovered the hardware store the first time we were here and Jay couldn’t wait to go back. He found everything we needed; thirty feet of polypropylene line, two screw-eyes, and two carabiner hooks. The cost was sixty pesos or a little over three dollars! Hah! Mission accomplished.
“Shall we have ice cream before lunch?” Diane asked as we left the hardware store.
“Might as well.” Tony said. “After all, we would just have to walk all the way back here after lunch.”
Two doors down was a little ice cream store off someone’s home. As I stood waiting for my cookies and cream, I noticed the dining room off of the side entrance. This is how a lot of the local people live. They use part of their home as a market for this or that.
I asked Jay what kind of ice cream he had chosen. “I’m not quite sure…but it is cold and refreshing.”
We were in the center of town where there is a main square. It is almost February and they were just taking down their Christmas tree. The square is sparse with a few trees and a cement stage painted blue for community gatherings and the requisite colorful sign stating the name of the town, Punta Perula. A woman was standing in front of the sign as her husband took her picture. Young children in uniforms held hands with their mothers as they were being walked home from school. Some stopped at the ice cream store. Their eyes alight with excitement and anticipation.
The main square also is home to a mercado (This is a larger market than the tiendas.) I remembered this from last time. It had lots of fresh vegetables and also wine – at a lower cost than the tienda up the road. We finished shopping, found a tienda with Modelo Negra and headed back to the beach.
Now for the finish. Lunch with our friends; fish tacos and beer under an umbrella with my bare feet in the sand while watching the waves hit the shore. It’s the simple things that bring me joy.
P.S. Oh! And the dinghy was there, right where we put it when we left. Safe and sound.
Our 2020 cruising route: Nuevo Vallarta to Punta de Mita, 13 nm; Punta de Mita to Ipala, 45 nm; Ipala to Chamela, 50 nm; Chamela to Tenacatita 29, nm; Tenacatita to Barra de Navidad, 14 nm. Approximately 151 nm. We took ten days to come down. We will stay in Barra for about three weeks and then take two weeks to travel back up to Nuevo Vallarta where we keep our boat for the winter.