Sunday, January 31, 2016

Barra de Navidad, Shipwreck, Intermezzo Quarantined

We spent three nice days anchored in the laguna of Barra de Navidad. Barra is a pleasant little town of narrow, pedestrian-friendly streets. It is a clearly a tourist town, but with enough funk and grit to make it interesting and “real”. We enjoyed walking around the town and some good meals out, especially the mocajetes at El Manglito, spicy stews served in blistering hot stone bowls.

I figure Canadians outnumber American tourists in Barra by at least a factor of five and they aren’t shy about displaying their maple leaf flag, including getting it tattooed on their bodies. It’s interesting to me that people from a country that seems so laid back flaunt their nationality so patriotically in Mexico. Perhaps its just a way to identify themselves to make friends with people from home.  Perhaps it is sincere national pride. Maybe both. However, I think the connotations associated with Americans prominently flying flags in Mexico would be quite different and not so well received.

Renee and I walked the 2 1/2 miles along the beach to the town of Melaque at the other end of the bay. On the way we passed a huge crocodile sleeping on the beach. Fortunately saw it before tripped over it. It’s a nice enough beach town, but nothing special. We enjoyed eating a really fresh coconut at a beach restaurant. It’s one of my favorite foods. First, the top of the coconut husk is chopped off and a hole pierced into the nut so that you can enjoy the cold coconut water. Then you send your drained coconut back to be chopped up, the meat extracted and served on a plate. It’s common to season the meat with salt, lime and hot sauce, but I like to eat mine plain or with just a touch of lime and salt. The fresher and colder the coconut, the better.

The Barra laguna is a great place to anchor. The water is smooth all the time and there is plenty of space to keep some distance from your neighbors. Best of all, there is a 24 hour water taxi service to get you from your boat into town and back. You call the taxi on the VHF radio and they arrive within about five minutes and whisk you into town for 15 pesos (85 cents) each way. No wet bottom from riding in on the dinghy and worry about where to park it.

As we approached Barra de Navidad on arrival, we were startled to see a huge cargo ship stranded against the cliff and amongst the rocks of the coast. A little research informed us that the ship, Los Llanitos, wrecked last October during hurricane Patricia. It seems that an environmental disaster was averted by successfully pumping out most of the fuel the ship carried before it spilled into the sea. It also appears that planning for the disposal of the ship has a strong environmental focus. Latest reports state that four alternatives were considered and authorities have decided to dismantle the ship in place rather than try to refloat it or leave it “to be eroded by the sea”. That seems like a good choice to me and we observed what looked to be a well-equipped and professional salvage company in charge of operations. I hope the dismantling goes well and doesn’t do any more damage to this beautiful stretch of coast.

Unfortunately illness has befallen Intermezzo and she has become a floating infirmary. Renee returned from the U.S. with a cold caught on the airplane. She recovered quickly, but passed the cold onto Marc, who has not been so fortunate. I got sick from something I ate in Barra and was walking around like I had a hangover for two days, but feeling better now. Now Marci has come down with some other ailment. I'm thinking about flying the yellow “Q” flag from the mast to indicate to others that we are a quarantined vessel and to stay away.  Hopefully the entire crew is 100% fit for duty soon.

We’re currently anchored in the small isolated cove of Ensenada Carrizal. It’s hard to believe that a beautiful undeveloped cove like this exists only six miles from the big city of Manzanillo. I did a quick snorkeling reconnaissance yesterday afternoon and the coral reef I found is one of the best I have ever seen in Mexico. It is wishful thinking, but it would be nice if this place was declared a preserve, protected from development and mooring balls put in to prevent damage to the coral from anchors. (Intermezzo is anchored in the middle of the cove, beyond all coral.)

Barra de Navidad

Music at a Barra bar, mostly 60-something Canadians in the audience

Barra street scene
Bait fishing in the Barra laguna anchorage

Sunset on the Barra laguna

Crocodile on our beach walk to Melaque
A boy who likes the sand and pelicans in Melaque






The poor ship Los Llanitos with a broken back

Beautiful undeveloped Ensenada Carrizal, just six miles from Manzanillo