South Poke

After spending nearly 2 months in the La Cruz area on Banderas Bay, we decided that it was time to poke our way south before slowly heading north to the Sea of Cortez for the summer. Our destination was Barra de Navidad, about which we had heard lots of great reviews. We planned on making a few stops along the way to break up the 134 nautical mile (nm) trip since we wanted to explore some other anchorages and avoid an overnight sail. Yes, I’m still not a fan of sailing at night.

In order to do so, we needed to round Cabo Corrientes, or Cape Currents, which is the southernmost point on Banderas Bay. Let me tell you a few nautical facts. It is known that winds tend to accelerate near capes. Also, the current around this part of Mexico runs from the SE to the NW. When this current is met with a typical winter wind which runs from NW to SE, very large waves develop. So, every day on the cruiser’s net the “weatherman” tells you not only the wind in your area, but what is happening at Cabo Corrientes.

We had a weather window of very light NW breezes for a few days and decided the time was right to head south. I must mention that the weather forecasts around here are rarely right and, true to form, the weather that we saw was nowhere near what was predicted. We set out in soft NW winds, I must admit, but after we rounded Cabo Corrientes the winds piped up and eventually we were sailing in 30 knots with large waves. It wasn’t too bad though because the wind was coming from behind us.

Our first destination was Punta Ipala (Point Ipala), 49 nm away. I wouldn’t really call it a point as it jutted out barely enough to fit 4 boats. It was quite intimidating entering this anchorage in 30 knots of wind as it was very small and the waves were ominously crashing on the rocks very close to the boat. If we dragged at anchor our boat would have been smashed in minutes. The boat that we were travelling with arrived there first, took one look at it and continued sailing south throughout the night to the next anchorage. But we persevered and I’m glad we did. The small fishing village containing at most eight buildings was very cute and we ended up having dinner at one of the two palapas that were on the beach.

The next day we set sail for Bahia Chamela which was 50 nm away. This was the complete opposite of Punta Ipala. The bay could hold over 100 boats and it was surrounded by miles and miles of golden sand beach, swaying palm trees and a handful of national park islands. We enjoyed it so much that we spent 3 days there before continuing on.

Chamela

Our next stop was Bahia Tenecatita which was only 29 nm away. One of the “activities” for boaters in this bay is to do a dinghy tour through the lush mangrove lined estuary. We picked up our friends on the way and the four of us proceeded to the entrance of the estuary in our dinghy. We first had to cross over a sandbar which sounds easy but isn’t when waves are crashing over it. I’m sure we’ll be on YouTube one day because our execution of this maneuver was very comical. As we approached the sand bar, we saw a large wave building behind us so we jumped out of the dinghy in the shallow water and proceeded to walk the dinghy through the water towards our destination. No sooner did we do this when the wave came crashing over us and took three of us down. After checking our egos, we got up and rapidly continued on before the next wave could wreak its havoc. The tour took us through mangroves that narrowed as we continued on and provided a canopy over us. We were on the lookout for crocodiles, but didn’t manage to see any, although sightings were reported. It was an interesting outing and we managed to exit the sandbar without getting soaked.

Tenecatita Dinghy

Tenecatita Mangroves

Tenecatita Mangroves 1

Our final destination, Barra de Navidad was a short hop away. We decided to spoil ourselves and stay in the marina at the Grand Bay Hotel since the slip prices were extremely reasonable. What a place!!! The grounds were spectacular and the pool was on 3 levels with water slides in between each level. It was also surrounded by a very large golf course and I enjoyed long morning walks through the course, usually taking 1.5 – 2.5 hours. We also met up with some cruising friends from the Ha-Ha that we hadn’t seen since Cabo San Lucas in November. The town of Barra de Navidad was very nice with lots of beachside restaurants. One evening we enjoyed watching the sunset on the fifth floor rooftop bar of a hotel with 11 other cruisers after which a few of us went to a small place and ate the best tacos at only $1 each! And, we were allowed to bring our own wine. How civilized. The best part of Barra de Navidad is the French Baker. He arrives daily to your boat and sells French pastries and baguettes that are to die for.

Grand Bay Hotel

Grand Bay Marina

Grand Bay Hotel Waterslide 1

Grand Bay Hotel Pool

Barra de Navidad

French Baker

Alas, after only 4 days we had to leave because we received a weather forecast that a SW wind was approaching which was favorable for heading back north. We did the trip back in one stop with the second leg being almost 100 nm which we completed in 16 hours. We only saw a south wind 10% of the time – so much for weather forecasts. Luckily, the wind from the north wasn’t strong and we actually had some great sailing. We will definitely go back to Barra de Navidad when we head south again later this year. For now we’re back in La Cruz and will soon take an inland trip into Mexico City and Palenque. Stay tuned.

Advertisements

The Luxury of Time

It seems like a long, long time ago but back in 2000 we took a one year sabbatical and sailed from Toronto, Canada to the Bahamas. It was an awesome experience that put us on the path to becoming lifelong sailors and our current adventure.

We’ll save the details of the trip for another post but highlights included going through the locks on the Erie Canal to the Hudson river, sailing through New York Harbour, anchoring in Annapolis during the boat show, motor-sailing the Intercoastal Waterway, anchoring and snorkeling the beautiful turquoise waters of the Exumas, and racing our boat in 7-feet of water in the Staniel Cay Regatta.
Celebration Ha Ha

Things have changed a lot since that first sabbatical. We now have a bigger boat with lots of room and a lot more features. We’re not using Pocketmail with a public phone to send e-mail. And, we don’t have jobs to go back to this time (which may or may not be a good thing).
Main Salon

However, the concept of time hasn’t changed so we’re enjoying the “luxury of time” that we didn’t have during that first trip. It may seem strange that taking a year to sail from Toronto to Bahamas and back was not long enough but when you’re travelling over 2,000 miles (each way) at approximately 5 miles an hour or 50 miles a day you don’t have a lot of time to really get to know the towns and villages along the way.

We did enjoy extended stays of a few weeks in Annapolis, Miami (of course), Staniel Cay and Georgetown but there were so many places that we had to pass on (Key West, Turks and Caicos, Cape Cod) or where we wanted to stay longer (the Abacos, Eleuthera and Charleston) but ran out of time.

As you can already tell from our posts, we’re definitely taking our time this trip and have already spent almost 3 months in just two places – La Paz and La Cruz. Granted they are both sailing destinations with lots to do and see, and all of the amenities that long-term sailors need but the point is not only have we been to all the tourists stops and restaurants, we’ve also gotten to know the streets, supermarkets, street markets, bus routes (yes, we take local buses) and local events. Did you know the “secret” fruit and vegetable market in La Cruz is on Sunday and Thursday nights from 5-10 pm in a warehouse?
La Cruz Calle
La Cruz Fish Market2

The other advantage to staying in one place for a while is our Spanish is actually getting better. OK, Audrey’s Spanish is getting much better and mine is marginally improving. But, hey I’ve still got a year, right?

Staying longer has also made it easy for friends to visit for extended periods without us having to worry about where we plan to be or when we need to rush to the next destination. In December, our friends Matt and Madalin escaped from winter in Toronto for two weeks to join us in La Paz; then just a day later Diane and Julio from Mexico City (via China and Miami) joined us for a week.
Diane and Julio

As a matter of fact, Sharon and Graeme from Toronto just left us after almost 2 weeks here in the La Cruz area, which includes Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa, Punta Mita and Sayulita (a cool surfing town), and we think we were able to pass some of our experiences on to them. We went to the La Cruz Farmers Market and “secret” fruit and vegetable market. We had them ride the local bus to Puerto Vallarta and again on a trip to Sayulita. As a matter of fact, Audrey and Sharon took the bus to Wal-Mart, which entailed being dropped off on the side of the highway, crossing the highway and jumping into an unmarked white van to get supplies while Graeme and I did boat chores. We even took them to “Tacos on The Street” for the best street food in town. And, while discussing plans for Yelapa (see Audrey’s previous post) we warned them about the very rolly anchorage and the 4-hour hike to the waterfalls.
Puerta Vallarta 1

Lawsons-1

Sayulita-1

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in La Cruz for over a month as there seems to be so much more to do, including the upcoming Banderas Bay Regatta and spending more time in Puerto Vallarta, but it may be time to move on. We’ll let you know in the next post..:-)

In the interim, here’s a few more pics from our recent adventures: