Thursday, February 14, 2013

Costalegere (The Happy Coast)

Osprey heading into the sunset towards
Cabo Corrientes.
After leaving Puerto Vallarta, we headed south around Cabo Corrientes.  This would be the longest part of our trip south and required an overnight passage in order to round the cape at night which is when the winds tend to be more favorable for heading south.  We prepared the boat for the overnight passage and left Vallarta Marina in the late afternoon.  As we made our way west out of Banderas Bay, we watched as the sun set on the bay and the last rays of the sun reflected off of the hotels lining the beach.  The passage was smooth and it was actually warm enough to keep nighttime watches wearing shorts and tee shirts…now this is cruising!

The anchorage at Isla Parajera.
Our first stop on Costalegere was Bahía Chamela.  Bahía Chamela is a large crescent shaped bay with a number of rocky islands located mostly in the southeastern quadrant of the bay.  For our first stop, we decided to anchor out in the lee of Isla Pajarera.  The water where we anchored was crystal clear and we were anchored fairly close to shore.  The shoreline was a pebbly beach with rocky edges inhabited by an abundance of pelicans and blue-footed boobies.  After lunch we got in the dinghy and rowed to shore and attempted a surf landing.  Surf landings can be tricky because the possibility of overturning the dinghy always exists.  To successfully execute a surf landing, you really have to pay attention to the wave and swell patterns and time your approach carefully.  We managed to land the dinghy and dragged it up the pebbly beach.  We had brought our snorkel gear but when we entered the water, the surging surf churned the water up so much that visibility was limited and so we weren’t able to clearly see the fish that were swimming around the reef. 

Osprey on the hook at Isla Parajera.
Being thwarted in our efforts to snorkel, we put our shore shoes back on and decided to climb over the rocks that fringed the beach.  The boobies and pelicans that perched in the trees did not appear to be bothered by our presence as they rarely moved from their branches as we approached.  The vegetation that backed the beach was too thick to hike through without the help of a machete (which we don’t have…yet).  But the rocky beach was interesting enough with the huge boulders and caves that were carved out of the rocks along the shore so we spent the afternoon exploring and then headed back to the boat.

Pérula on the shores of Bahía Chamela.
Our first night in the anchorage proved to be our only night in the anchorage as the swells coming in from the southwest made for a very rolly night.  We decided to pick up the anchor in the morning and head to the main anchorage off of the little town of Pérula.  The town itself was small but quaint with palapas lining the shore and a little road behind the beach that led into town where we found a couple of restaurants and tiendas (corner stores).

Richard snorkeling, before the moray ell encounter.
To one side of our anchorage there was a small cove that was lined with rocky reefs and we decided to check out the snorkeling there in the afternoon.  The water here was also crystal clear and the surge from the swells didn’t reach this little area so visibility was much better than we previously experienced at the island the other day.  As we were snorkeling around this area, Richard swam over to me and indicated that I should follow him so I did.  He then pointed downward and I saw the gaping mouth of a moray eel.  We watched for a while as the moray remained in the crevice of a rock and suddenly he left the protection of the rock and swam away.  We followed for a little bit, safely keeping our distance.  We looked him up later in our Dangerous Marine Animals book and the text indicated that the gaping mouth is not threatening; it is how moray eels breathe.  Nonetheless, a bite from a moray eel can be quite serious as they apparently bite and do not let go and should be treated as you would a shark bite.  Good to know.

Osprey at anchor in Bahía Tenacatita.
We left Bahía Chamela on February 7th and headed further south to Bahía Tenacatita which is also a large open bay, backed by a crescent beach.  The weather had predicted winds out of the northwest (perfect for heading south) but instead we got gusty winds out of the southwest (on our nose).  When we finally turned into the outer portion of the bay the winds abated a bit and we were able to calmly enter the inner bay.  We dropped the anchor in the northwest corner of the bay and noted that there were over twenty boats in this large open bay.  A couple of the boats we recognized from previous locations and figured we might see them on shore in the days that followed.

Richard strolling the beach at Bahía Tenacatita.
The next day, we heard on the cruisers’ net (for the non-cruiser, a cruisers’ net is a radio broadcast, usually in the morning, for a particular area where a controller facilitates the exchange of useful information related to the area) that people would be gathering on the beach in the early afternoon for a game of beach volleyball.  Richard and I were certainly excited about the prospect of getting some exercise and meeting our fellow anchor buddies, so we made plans to join up with the group and participate.  I need to mention how hot the sand was while we were playing volleyball.  I had not worn any shoes to the beach and it was absolutely necessary to sweep your position on the court with your foot to uncover some cooler sand in order to stand in any one position for any longer than a few seconds.  Lessons learned, I guess.  Richard and I were on the same team and our team took three of the five games and so were declared the winner of that round of play.  After the games, we all convened under the shade of a palapa, had some beers and socialized for a bit before returning to our respective boats.

The rocky shore and palapa-lined beach
Bahía Tenacatita.
It always amazes me how small the boating community can be at times.  For one thing, I imagine that it’s going to be really cool when I actually meet some of the people whose blogs I have been reading.  I feel like I already “know” them but can’t wait to meet them in person.  Also, as you go from one location to the next, you run into people who have cruised around with other people that you know.  As many of you know, we started this trip buddy boating with s/v Rhythm and then our paths diverged for a while and we went one way and they went another way.  Well, while in Bahía Tenacatita, we ran into Mike and Holly of s/v Wanuskewin and found out that they had buddy boated with Rhythm for a while.  We completely expect to run into Rhythm and some of the other boats we have met as we make our way down the Mexican coast, and will treat these encounters as welcomed reunions when they happen.  Very small world indeed.

Me, underwater.
The snorkeling at Bahía Tenacatita was pretty good as well.  While there weren’t hordes of fish, there was a large variety of fish with a few examples of each species seen throughout the reef.  We bumped into Mike and Holly one day out snorkeling and all four of us treaded water and chatted for a while.  We learned of their plans to head south and told them ours and mentioned that we might run into them again before we head north for Banderas Bay.

On Friday nights in Bahía Tenacatita they have what is called the “Mayor’s Raft-Up”, which entails boaters dinghying out to a location with the “mayor” anchoring and everyone else rafting up to form a large mass of dinghies. Everyone brings a pot luck dish to share and a drink and the platters of food start circulating and the conversations begin and in all, it’s a wonderful experience.  You really get to meet a lot of people that way; people you may meet again down the road as you share an anchorage with them. 

Baby crocodile seen in estuary at Bahía Tenacatita.
On our last day in Bahía Tenacatita, Richard and I dinghied up the estuary in the hopes of seeing crocodiles…again.  We dinghied up to the lagoon, turned around and didn’t see anything that even resembled a croc.  As we were nearly at the mouth of the estuary, we were slowly motoring along with Richard manning the outboard and me sitting up front.  I noticed what looked like a stick in the water and as we approached to within a meter of it, the stick moved!  It was a small crocodile, about 2 feet long, and he didn’t seem too anxious about our presence; he simply swam away but not too far so we circled back to take some pictures and then continued on our way.  We figured there might be a mama croc somewhere who might not be too pleased that we almost ran over her little one.  Ah nature.

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