Wednesday, March 16, 2016


February 23, 2016

Tuesday morning I woke with a pain in my left ankle that kept me from running.  Don and I had agreed  to go shopping at 9:30, so I spent the morning packing and took my first load of belongings to Comet when I went to meet Don.  I wanted to go sailing, but was reluctant to leave Agave Azul and La Cruz in general.  However, I knew we’d be back, so I set off in good spirits. 

Don and I took a collectivo to the Mega.  We did our shopping and then took a taxi back to the marina.  There is a delicate balance between having enough fresh food and not being able to fit all of it into Comet’s small refrigerator.  We wanted to go to a seminar on tuning rigging at 14:00, so we went our separate ways to check out with the port captain and retrieve the last of my gear from Agave Azul and return the keys.

Don and I met back at the seminar and, as soon as that was finished, filled our water tanks and checked out of the marina.  It was 17:45 when we got to the fuel dock and it appeared to be closed on our first pass.  Then I saw someone taking out the trash, so we pulled in and managed to top up our fuel before motoring out into the anchorage and dropping the hook.  We wanted to wait until
Sunset at Anchor in La Cruz
midnight to leave so as to reach Cabo Corrientes in the early morning when the winds and seas would be calmest.  I cooked chicken thighs for dinner and then we napped until it was time to go.

February 24, 2016

We got up when the alarm went off at midnight and had the anchor up by 00:30.  There was a full moon and it was a gorgeous night for sailing.  Don took the first watch and rolled out the jib while I was sleeping.  I came on at 4:00 and we both stayed up until we rounded the cape and gybed.  The wind died shortly after Don went to sleep, so I rolled up the jib, centered the main and started the engine.  It was somewhat cold and damp out.  I wore a fleece and my shorts were wet by the time I woke Don to take over at 9:00.

Roca Negra

We motored south all day, past Roca Negra, and pulled into Chamela Bay about 16:30.  The wind and swells were coming from opposite directions, making it hard to Decide where to anchor,but we finally chose a spot off a small beach on the back side of Isla Colorada. Having accomplished our mission for the day, we had a beer and went for a swim.  The water was just warm enough to be tolerable, but felt refreshing.  Don barbecued some arrachera for dinner and I made a salad and heated beans and tortillas.  Our first night at anchor in Chamela was peaceful.

February 25, 2016

Don slept late, so we decided to stay a day in Chamela before heading on to Tenacatitta.  I made coffee and bacon and eggs and we relaxed.  It was a cool day for Mexico in February, so I stayed inside most of the day, catching up on my blog since I finally had a working computer.  Eventually, I ventured out to wash my hair, but didn’t feel like swimming in the cool weather.  Don let me connect my Kindle to his hotspot and download a supply of books to read.  Dinner was spicy chicken wings, salad and rice.  The swells kicked up late in the day and the boat began to roll.  We didn’t pass a very restful night.  I was up every hour checking the position of the boat relative to the island, visions of Rage on the beach haunting my dreams.
The Anchorage at Chamela

February 26, 2016

We got up fairly early since the boat was bouncing all over the place.  The tide was high and big swells were breaking right over the reef that had sheltered us in calmer seas.  We made coffee, but passed on breakfast in favor of getting out of there. We were underway by nine.  We motored out of the channel between Isla Colorada and Isla Cocina and headed around Punta Etiopia and south towards Los Frailes.  There was very little traffic and no visible sea life.  Everyone in La Cruz had been commenting on the lack of whales and dolphins this year, probably due to El Nino.

Boat at Anchor in Tenacatita
There was no appreciable wind and we made good time motoring over flat seas.  By early afternoon we were passing the rocks of Los Frailes and around the corner into Tenacatita Bay.  We dropped the hook in the anchorage at 14:30.  Both the weather and the water were warmer than they had been in Chamela.  We had a beer and a pleasant swim and spent the afternoon basking in the sun and munching on guacamole and chips.  Don tracked the water maker failure to a loose wire and was happy to get that resolved easily.  Dinner was leftovers augmented by salad and fried plantains. There were 25 boats in the anchorage, many of them familiar from the previous two years.  All was quiet and peaceful.

February 27, 2016

After passing a restful night at Tenacatita, we had a relaxing breakfast of coffee and oatmeal.  I saw my first dolphin of the season swimming through the anchorage.  We pulled the anchor and motored out of the bay at midmorning.  The day was overcast, but warm and nearly windless.  We saw a school od large fish jumping on our way out of the bay.  Despite the warnings of big swells headed our way from Hawaii, the seas were calm.  We rounded Cabeza de Navidad and proceeded across Bahia de Navidad to the channel leading to the lagoon and the marina, arriving about 14:30.
Marina Isla Navidad

It was good to be in a marina again, especially one as nice as the one in Barra de Navidad.  I hosed the dust off the boat while Don checked in.  Then we both went up and took much needed showers.  I reveled in the first decent water pressure I had experienced in quite some time.  The Grand Bay Hotel does things right.  On the way to the showers, we ran into my friend Betty and her skipper, Klaus, whose boat was just up the dock from ours.  They invited us for cocktails later.

Don and I were hungry and needed a few provisions, so we took a water taxi over to Barra de Navidad after our showers.  Barra showed some evidence of damage from Hurricane Patricia, especially along the beach.  My favorite bar, which was in the ruins of a hotel damaged by an earlier hurricane, had been swept away.  The largest beachfront hotel appeared to have been gutted, although it was difficult to tell how much of that was storm damage and how much was just renovation possibly prompted by storm damage.  Further down the beach, Melaque had already had storm gutted buildings long before Patricia.  The Grand Bay Hotel and marina appeared unscathed.
Water Taxi Dock in Barra de Navidad

We ate a very pleasant and reasonable early dinner at Ramon’s and then bought beer, rum, and fresh fruit at the tiendas in town.  We took our time and it was 19:00 by the time we got back to the marina.  The cocktail party on Klaus’s boat, Sea Otter, was in full swing by the time we arrived and we spent a diverting couple of hours there, chatting with Betty and Klaus and Rick and Pam from Hotel California.

February 28, 2016

It is always nice to wake up in the Barra Marina.  I had tripped on our visit to town the day before and sprained my foot, something only I seem to be able to do.  I could barely hobble, but managed to get myself up to the lovely showers.  I have weak ankles.  As a result, they are so flexible that I can’t twist them.  Instead, when I trip, I always seem to step on the top of my foot and bend it in unnatural ways.  It wasn’t swollen or bruised looking, so I figured it would eventually recover.  I didn’t need to walk much while sailing, anyway.

We spent a leisurely morning, enjoying coffee and the pastries delivered to our boat by the French baker.  The marina was full and he was zipping to and fro, displaying his skill as a panguero.  Betty and Klaus left about 10:00, but we lingered a while longer and then went to the fuel dock to fill up before we set off.  The fuel dock had been damaged by the hurricane and one of the fingers was in pieces along the shore.  We filled up and set off at 11:30. the Fuel
Hurricane Damage at the Fuel Dock

The town of Barra de Navidad fared pretty well in Hurricane Patricia, but as we rounded Punta Graham, we were surprised to see a large ship that had gone aground on the rocks there.  At first, it looked quite intact, almost as if it had been parked there on purpose.  However, as we rounded the point, we could see that its back was broken.
Ship Aground on Punta Graham

Rather surprisingly, we had good wind once we got out of Bahia de Navidad and we had a rollicking good sail all the way to Santiago.  We saw a lot of dolphins that stayed with us for a long time, although they were subdued and rarely broke the surface.  I used up my camera battery trying, unsuccessfully, to photograph them.  We could see Klaus and Betty ahead of us and caught up to them just as we both arrived in the anchorage.  Klaus chose a good protected spot to anchor, tucked up against the northwest corner of the bay.  It was far from the beach, but we weren’t planning to go ashore.  We spent a very pleasant evening there listening to music.  The data signal was strong and I even managed to post to my blog via Don’s iPhone hot spot.
Sea Otter at Anchor in Santiago Bay

February 29, 2016

We didn’t have far to go, so we spent a leisurely morning at anchor and then motored around the corner from Santiago to Las Hadas.  The Las Hadas Marina is Med mooring only and Comet has no rear exit, so we anchored outside the marina in a gorgeous protected cove surrounded by fabulous white stucco resorts draped in bougainvillea. 

Betty and Klaus had arrived before us and tied up at the marina.  The marina charges 200 pesos to land a dinghy, but we tied up to Klaus’s boat and managed to avoid paying.  We walked around the shore to the Paradiso Restaurant where we got a nice lunch and some of their signature blackberry margaritas and enjoyed the view.  We could see Comet bobbing peacefully below.
The Paradiso Restaurant
We visited with Klaus and Betty by the pool at Las Hadas and then repaired to Klaus’s boat for a beer, returning to Comet just at dusk.  We passed a quiet evening and, even though the nearby disco cranked up about the time I went to sleep, I fell asleep early and slept until morning.

March 1, 2016

Having gone to sleep early the night before, I woke up at 6:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I read and browsed the internet until 8:00 and then got up and made coffee.  Don stirred shortly thereafter.  I made us an omelet out of some leftover spicy pork and veggies while Don took a swim. We left the boat shortly before noon to head into Manzanillo for groceries.  Betty and Klaus had already left when we got there and, this time, we were detected by the marina staff and had to pay the 200 peso fee. We figured that paying the fee half the time got it down to a reasonable price and so felt no guilt.
Rooms at Las Hadas
We wandered around Las Hadas for a bit, admiring the architecture and taking pictures.  The resort is well maintained and staff outnumbered guests.  I felt like I was in a Gaudi building that had been whitewashed.  The details were impressive, all with a vaguely middle-eastern flair.  There were gargoyles and fountains and bas reliefs everywhere we turned.  Even the restrooms were impressive, with men’s and women’s indicated by pictures of sheiks and harem girls.

Women's Room Door at Las Hadas
Las Hadas

Tower at Las Hadas
Once we climbed up to the road, we caught a bus to the main road and then switched to another bus that took us into central Manzanillo.  The entire peninsula containing Las Hadas was filled with fabulous homes and resorts.  The road was somewhat treacherous, but the views were spectacular.  Don needed a battery for his windlass remote so, against our principles, we exited the bus at the Walmart in Manzanillo, because they carry the best variety of batteries.  We didn’t need a lot of provisions, but stocked up on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.  It wouldn’t do to run out of limes or avocados while cruising in the land of plenty where a kilo of limes costs about a buck and less than two bucks will get you a kilo of avocados.  The trouble with Walmart is that they don’t sell the delightfully fresh, salty, greasy chips produced by the local grocery chains.  They do, however, have the best produce.  Many grocery stores in Mexico neglect to refrigerate the produce, resulting in somewhat limp veggies.

We needed to cross the main road to catch the bus to Las Hadas and, while we were there, we stopped at the Auto Zone (Every major city in Mexico has one.) to buy oil for the boat.  Then we retreated to a strangely antiseptic, ice cream only Dairy Queen for cold confections and air conditioning before attempting the hot bus ride back to Las Hadas.

Marina & Anchorage at Las Hadas
Back at the boat, I had a swim and washed my hair while Don chatted on the phone. Then we had a cocktail and I made beef shish kebab for the barbecue.

March 2, 2016

We got up before dawn and pulled out of Las Hadas just as the sun was rising.  There wasn’t much wind, so we motored across Manzanillo bay.  The three tall stacks of the power plant on Punta Campos was belching smoke which painted a brown smear across the sky for miles. The temperature was pleasant, but the sky was hazy and we never did get enough useful wind to sail.  There was very little traffic and we saw only one other sailboat and that was heading north.
Sunrise in Manzanillo Bay

We both stayed up most of the day.  I made stuffed chicken breasts for dinner and then took the 20:00 to midnight watch.  It was very dark.  The crescent moon didn’t rise until after midnight.  We motored gradually south, several miles offshore.  Don took the helm from midnight to 4:00, while I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to sleep.
Power Plant Polluting the Sky for Miles

March 3, 2016

I came back on watch at 4:00.  The moon had risen and it was still warm and dry.  We were approaching the container shipping port of Lazaro Cardenas.  The clouds above the port would suddenly glow orange from time to time, probably from refinery flares.  I kept a sharp eye out for ships, but never saw any moving.  While it was somewhat stressful to know that a massive freighter might want to share my space at any moment, the presence of the port made for great data coverage and I was able to surf the internet from a few miles offshore, which made staying awake much easier.  As the dawn broke, I could see several large freighters anchored in the bay outside the port of Lazaro Cardenas.  Zihuatanejo, our objective, lay at the other end of this large bay.
Hazy Ixtapa

Don came up and took over at 8:00.  I ate some breakfast and lay down to take a nap until nearly noon.  When I came back on deck just before noon we were off Isla Grande.  We motored past the islands lying off Playa Linda and Ixtapa, which looked much less spectacular than usual with the hazy sky.  We dropped our mainsail inside the bay.  There were fewer boats anchored in the bay than we expected with Guitarfest due to start on Saturday.

We dropped anchor near our friend, Dan, on Dazzler and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and recovering from the 30 hour transit.  We had a bean dip snack late in the afternoon, so ended up just having a big salad for dinner, which we ate in the cockpit surrounded by the lights of Zihuatanejo.
Boat at Anchor in Zihuatanejo Bay

No comments:

Post a Comment