Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Points South & the Return to Banderas Bay

Barra de Navidad as seen from a hammock.
From Bahia Tenacatita, we went south to Barra de Navidad.  The entrance to the laguna at Barra is quite shallow and only a portion of the entrance has buoys marking the dredged channel so we had to keep a bow watch and a careful eye on the depth sounder to ensure that we were in the channel.  The laguna is a large, shallow basin with room for tons of boats.  There is a water taxi service that runs from the laguna to the town of Barra for a mere $25 pesos (about $1.95 round trip); all you have to do is hail them on the radio and they zoom over to your boat, pick you up and then zoom to the pier at Barra and drop you off.  When you want to return, you just walk down to the pier and hop on the next taxi going out.  Very convenient.

The French Baker (photo courtesy of Ojo Rojo).
One of the added bonuses of being in Barra is the French Baker.  A guy in a panga announces his arrival in the laguna and the nearby marina and then boats hail him over the radio and he drives up to your boat.  In his panga are all sorts of delicious breads, pastries and pies.  He also has a cafe in town but the convenience of having him deliver to your boat can't be beat.  We opted for cinnamon rolls and pane au chocolat one morning and were not disappointed.

The marina at the Grand Bay Hotel
with the laguna in the upper right.
One of the downsides of being on the hook in the laguna is the predicatable afternoon winds which rip through the laguna. They usually blow anywhere from 15 to 20 knots straight throught the laguna and it can make for a somewhat nervous day trip to town thinking about your boat in those winds. Richard stayed on the boat one day just to make sure our anchor had a firm grasp of the muddy bottom and sure enough, we had set our anchor securely.  But still, it can be a bit nerve wracking.  On our second night in the laguna, an announcement was made on the cruiser's net that the marina at the Grand Bay Hotel was offering moorage for 50 cents a foot which is a steal!  After the net, you could hear numerous boats bringing up their anchors and heading into this first class resort marina.  Osprey was one of them and we spent a couple of nights in the marina enjoying the ammenities that the hotel had to offer; a three-tiered pool with swim up bar and slides, hot showers (always a big plus in my book!), a "secret" pool and jaccuzzi (not so secret after the cruisers got there), hammocks overlooking the bay, a volleyball court, tennis name it, they had it!

Scott & Connie of s/v Traveler.
On our second night in the marina, I organized a dock party pot luck which was, by all observations, a huge success. Everyone brought a dish to share and we hung out on the dock socializing.  Connie, from s/v Traveler brought out both her accordion and ukelele and we had a great time singing along with her and Scott.  The cruising community is, if nothing else, a very social group of people and any and every opportunity to get together is taken up with the utmost of enthusiasm.  We mingled on the dock for several hours eating food, having drinks, socializing and listening to Connie play her instruments. A big "Muchos Gracias!" shout out to Connie, Scott, and Ezrah on Traveler for providing the wonderful entertainment that night.

Osprey at anchor in Ensenada Carrizal.
But alas, all good things must come to an end and on the 15th we untied our docklines and headed south for Ensenada Carrizal. Ensenada Carrizal is a pristine little anchorage that can accommodate a small number of boats.  There is no development to be seen and the snorkeling is very good.  On the left hand side of the bay (as you face the shore) is a fairly large coral bed with a multitude of colorful fish swimming around the coral and surrounding reef.  Richard and I swam from the boat to the coral bed and enjoyed several days of snorkeling in the very clear and warm water.  On the right hand side of the bay is a rugged outcropping of rocks that mark the entrance to the bay.  The swell and the waves pound against this outcropping and provide a pretty spectacular view, especially at sunrise and sunset.  I also saw my first Mexican lobster while snorkeling here (no, I did not take it...don't ask).

Richard, keeping an eye on the boat.
From Ensenada Carrizal, we headed to Las Hadas in Bahia Manzanillo.  We had intended to anchor out and take the dinghy to shore to catch a bus to Manzanillo, but the dinghy dock fees seemed a bit pricey so we opted to relax on the boat and then bring the dinghy in after the marina office closed for the day in order to grab dinner at a local restaurant. The architecture at the Las Hadas Marina and Resort is Moorish and provides a very picturesque backdrop to the anchorage.  As we were coming into the anchorage, I noticed a spotted eagle ray gliding just below the surface; unfortunately, I didn't have my camera handy and was busy getting ready to drop the time.

Beachside palapas in Melaque.
After our day in Las Hadas we picked up the anchor and headed north, back to Barra. We had intended to go into the laguna (or possibly the marina) but when we got to Bahia de Navidad the wind was gusting near 20 knots and made entering the narrow and shallow channel to the laguna a bit dicey so we opted to anchor out off of Melaque.  Melaque is a town a few miles from Barra on the same bay (Bahia de Navidad).  I ended up going to shore to do some provisioning and we ate dinner at a beachfront palapa both nights we were there.  The snorkeling wasn't as good as we had experienced elsewhere as there was a bit of a surge coming into the anchorage and breaking on the reef, stirring up the bottom and making the water a bit murky.  I don't know about you, but when I'm in murky water, all I can hear is the theme to "Jaws" playing in my head; makes me a bit jittery.

Part of the crowded anchorage at Bahia Tenacatita.
Having spent as much time as we had allotted in Melaque, we picked up our anchor again and headed north to Bahia Tenacatita.  As we were coming into the bay, we heard over the radio that a beach volleyball games was being planned.  We found a spot in the VERY crowded bay (last time we were here, there were less than 20 boats anchored out; this time there was closer to 40!), dropped anchor and jumped into the dinghy and headed to shore for some exercise.  When we got to shore, we saw Benjamin of Letitgo. Benjamin is being schooled on his boat and was on shore running up and down the shore as part of his PhysEd requirement.  We stopped to talk with him and tried to encourage him to play volleyball with us; he opted to watch (not sure if that counts as PhysEd credit).  After the game, we talked with Benjamin again and I told him to tell his family that we would stop by after dinner for a sundowner (cocktails in the cockpit).  That night, after dinner, we got into the dinghy and went over to Letitgo.  We had a great time with them and convinced them all to join us the next day on the beach for beach volleyball.  Little did we know the "expertise" we were about to witness!

Richard coming through the arch at Bahia Tenacatita.
The next day, we got together with the crew of Letitgo and snorkeled in the bay.  The water wasn't all that clear but we did see some interesting aqautic animals and all six of us swam through the natural arch.  Later, on the beach, Valerie, Laurent, Benjamin, Richard and I played beach volleyball; Emma stood on the side to document in pictures Benjamin's participation as evidence of his attention to the PhysEd requirements.  It was very hot and the sand was even hotter.  We had a great turn out for the game with about 9 players on both sides.  Several games were played and it should be noted that both Valerie and Benjamin were instrumental in securing important points for their respective teams (Benjamin actually scored the winning point for his team!).  We decided to have a potluck on Letitgo that night as it was the last time we were going to see our friends on Letitgo.  To commemorate the occasion, I even broke out a new pair of shorts!  It is a running joke that I seem to only were madras/plaid shorts and people must be getting sick of seeing these same ol' tired shorts...HA!

Brian, Emma, Valerie, Richard, Laurent & Benjamin
Letitgo in Bahia Tenacatita.
We had a wonderful dinner on Letitgo and spent the rest of the night talking about cruising plans and how we will definitely miss seeing each other.  I have to say that the family on Letitgo has been a bright spot on my radar.  When we haven't seen them for a while and then happen upon them in an anchorage, I get excited about the time we will spend with them.  I really should have taken more advantage of practicing my French with them but will nonetheless remember fondly all of our conversations and time spent with them.  If you ever see Letitgo at anchor, seek them out and ask them if they have any ice cream they want to share!

Heading north from Bahia Tenacatita...second attempt!
Our first attempt to leave Bahia Tenacatita was not successful. We left mid-morning and after about two hours of bashing into strong winds, we decided to call it a day and ended up turning around and anchoring in the outer portion of Bahia Tenacatita (we were perhaps too embarrassed to return to the bay after having tried to leave that morning).  We anchored out and planned to get up early and get an earlier start north than we had that day.  The alarm went off at 6 AM and we brought up the anchor around 7 AM.  We motored the entire way north with the first half of the passage being in very light winds which eventually built to pretty strong winds by late afternoon.  Initially we were going to stop in Chamela but we had decided that if things looked right to continue on to Banderas Bay that was what we were going to do.  As it turned out, it made more sense to continue on so we did an overnight passage from Bahia Tenacatita to La Cruz where we turned into the marina and got ourselves a slip.  Along the way we saw numerous sea turtles and even caught a monster fish (another Crevalle Jack...dang it!).

Back in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.
When we got into La Cruz, we heard someone hail Charra on the radio and so after that we hailed Bob and made plans to have dinner with him in town. Charra was anchored out in La Cruz and despite having cruised through the anchorage on our way to the marina entrance, we somehow missed seeing her.  It was good to see Bob and catch up on what he and Joyce had been up to since we had last contacted them.  It looks like we will see both Bob and Joyce in Paradise Village Marina when we both get there in March.

Well, that's what we've been up to these past few weeks...sorry for the delay in posting but I'm trying to balance living my new life with blogging about it which is not always an easy task.

Here are additional pictures from our adventures along the way...

Richard at the water taxi pier in Barra.
Barra local walking the streets.
Me with a tiny cerveza (needed a couple of those).
The marina at Grand Bay Hotel in Barra.
The swim up bar at Grand Bay Hotel.
Dinghy-ing in Ensenada Carrizal.
Moorish architecture at Las Hadas Resport.
Sea Turtle (take my word for it).

1 comment:

  1. I almost feel as if I'm there!!! So nice to,hear from you today, and glad I was home when you called! Keep up with the posts while you can :). Miss you!