Saturday, February 19, 2022

Settled and Alone in Barra de Navidad

Marina Puerto Navidad, Barra de Navidad

Yesterday we moved Intermezzo from the Barra de Navidad laguna to a slip in the marina at the Grand Isla Navidad Resort. Today Robin left to attend to family matters. I'm settled in here for awhile, alone.

We enjoyed our week anchored in Tenacatita. Robin mastered her kayak surf exits and entrances. I was violently ejected from my kayak during one attempted landing due to my indecisiveness regarding a breaking following wave. My kayak had a lot more sand in it when we left the anchorage than hers. She wants people to know that.

We motored to Barra on Wednesday, February 16 in light headwinds, picking up a lift towards the end when we were able to roll out the jib to add a boost to the engine. We anchored in the laguna in nice spot between a trimaran and the rest of the boats. This proved helpful when the winds piped up the next day and blew 20-25 knots. We didn't need to worry about other boats dragging down on us, as can happen in this anchorage.

Thursday morning we took the dinghy into the marina to check in and reconnaissance our slip, located in a relatively narrow fairway, a bit tricky for docking. We went for a walk afterwards and discovered an extensive network of roads in an undeveloped subdivision in the hills behind the resort. No houses, no traffic, just miles of nice roads winding through the jungle and connecting to an ocean beach. It's a bit of a mystery. Many millions of dollars must have been spent on the really well-engineered infrastructure, which in addition to the roads, lighting and landscaping, water storage and treatment, includes an extensive storm drainage/rainwater collection system. However, there are very few buildable lots due to the steep terrain and so essentially no houses have been built. I understand there was some sort of political dispute associated with the resort that resulted in the border between the states of Jalisco and Colima being shifted. I'm sure there is an interesting story to be heard.

I had barely enough room to turn the boat and back into our slip yesteday morning, but I made it with a few feet to spare. Thankfully, there was little wind and no current. I'm not sure I would have attempted docking if there had been.

I was sorry to say goodbye to Robin this morning. We have had a great time sailing together and she has taken good care of Intermezzo and me. I will miss her.

I'm resolved to spend the next few weeks getting boat projects completed and making substantial progress writing my Sailing Intermezzo book, a project that I began over a year ago. Hopefully I can maintain motivation and discipline on both fronts. After procrastination, my biggest enemy is heat and humidity. It isn't that hot here, temperatures in the low 80's, but humidity can get up to 90%, which is uncomfortable and makes me lazy. Today I installed the air conditioner I bought in Charleston during a heat wave, prodded on by my crew, Lisa. While heat and humidity might slow down my progress on boat projects, it now can't be an excuse for not writing.

The Barra de Navidad laguna. Intermezzo is the second boat by itself from the left.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Enjoying Tentacatita

Bahía Tentacatita

We sailed from Paraíso to Bahía Tenacatita on Tuesday, February 8 and have been enjoying ourselves in this big calm bay for the past few days. There are lots of boats in the anchorage; we counted 27 yesterday. Fortunately, there is plenty of room and people on the other boats are friendly and quiet, so it doesn't feel crowded at all.

We had a really nice stay in Paraíso. The highlight was snorkeling the rock reef along the north shore of the cove in which we were anchored. There was plenty of healthy coral, forest green and purple, and lots of large colorful reef fish. The water was clear and the surge from the ocean swell made snorkeling along the rocks fun. We would hover over fish and be swept in and out by the surge, the fish below us moving in unison. Even the jellyfish tentacle that wrapped around my arm, stung me and left a big welt, was colorful; bright orange papules spaced along a clear string, like a garland.

As we swam from the reef to the sandy beach at the end of the cove, we passed through huge schools of minnows. Thousands and thousands of little fish. It was like flying through living clouds for a solid ten minutes. I've never swam through that many fish for so long before.

Before we set sail on Tuesday morning, we inflated the kayaks and explored the rugged shoreline and rocky islands outside our cove. We ended our time there with a swim from a tiny private beach.  It was hard to leave such a pretty place.

We had a nice downwind sail to Tenacatita under full main and jib. The wind was around 10 knots when we started out and built to almost 20 by the time we turned towards shore to enter the bahía. I'm really happy to have burned so little diesel since leaving La Paz. We dropped anchor in the middle of the gaggle of other boats, about a quarter mile off the beach.

Yesterday we did boat chores and projects in the morning, then kayaked around the anchorage. Robin practiced her kayak surf entries with, shall we say, "varied results". 

Today we paddled the kayaks about a mile and a half up an estuary to "The Aquarium" beach.  Renée, Marc, Marcy and I had explored this estuary with the dinghjy back in January 2016, shortly after Hurricane Patricia. It was a difficult trip, the estuary clogged with blown mangroves and downed trees. This time, it was a much easier passage and we saw lots of birds- egrets, great herons, not-so-great herons and night herons. The night herons were particularly numerous and would scramble into the mangroves to hide as we approached, scolding us with a chuk-chuk-chuk sound. I really enjoyed paddling through the narrow parts of the estuary, the tree canopy above forming a shady tunnel. 

When we arrived at The Aquarium beach, we had a nice lunch of ceviche, papas fritas and beer at a very rustic beach restaurant and did a bit of swimming before paddling back down the estuary and out to the boat. After cleaning up and resting a bit, we headed back to shore for dinner at the nice little palapa restaurant on shore where they serve a local specialty, rollo de mar, a fish filet rolled around shrimp and vegetables, smothered in an almond cream sauce.

Tomorrow morning we need to make a trip into town, La Manzanilla, to replenish our food supply. It's about a two mile dinghy trip across the bay, requiring landing and taking off through the surf. We'll go early when the waves are smaller and, hopefully, I'll time things better and not soak Robin or our groceries.

Tiny beach in Paraíso cove

Birds on Tenacatita rocks with cruiser fleet anchored beyond
Tentacatita rock formation
Estuary between Bahía Tentacatita and "The Aquarium" beach

Monday, February 7, 2022

Moved On to Paraíso

We left Chamela this morning and motored about 8 nautical miles to the tiny rocky anchorage of Paraíso. We are anchored just off the sandy beach of a boutique hotel, nestled between two rock points. There was one boat when we arrived here, plenty of room. Two more boats have arrived, including a big 50-foot catamaran. It's getting a bit crowded.

We enjoyed our three days in Chamela.

Friday we slept in after our overnight passage from La Cruz, then took the dinghy to visit the small islands in the middle of the bay. Our aim was to go snorkeling, but the visibility was not very good due to all the krill in the water. No wonder there are so many whales about. Still, we enjoyed a picnic on a rocky isolated beach, then a bit more time on a sandy beach with a few daytrippers lounding about.

Saturday we took a long walk along the long crescent beach of the bahía. The beach is over three miles long, fringed with small palapa restaurants, a few modest hotels, a handful of beach campgrounds and an estero lined with mangroves. It was long nice walk on a breezy sunny day. I had run along the beach barefoot the evening before and my feet were well abraded by the sand by the time we sat down at a palapa restaurant for a simple seafood lunch and beers. When we launched the dinghy to return to Intermezzo, I misjudged the surf and shipped a big wave over the bow. Fortunately Robin was there to block the wave from getting me wet.

Sunday we relaxed on the boat and go work done. I did my monthly administrative "paperwork", called my Dad, reviewed my to-do lists.  Robin scrubbed the dinghy and got rid of the sand from the previous day's wave mishap. 

Today's short passage was uneventful, though we did see a couple of whales "commuting" northwards. I'm glad we arrived when we did because I probably would not have stayed if there were as many boats here as there are now. We'll do some snorkeling, swim over to a tiny private beach, maybe inflate the kayaks to explore the rocky islets just outside the anchorage. No complaints.

View from Paraíso anchorage, big catamaran arriving to crowd us

Picnic lunch beach in Bahía Chamela and our trusty dinghy, which I am naming "Intermeccito"

Chamela islet shorelines, our sandy beach stop way off to the left in the distance.

These boobies need tough feet to roost on spiny cacti

Friday, February 4, 2022

Anchored in Bahía Chamela

Bahía Chamela

We arrived in Bahía Chamela at sunrise this morning after an overnight sail from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle in relatively calm conditions. We're anchored off the long crescent beach and will spend at least a couple days here swimming, snorkeling, walking, running, reading and, believe it or not, getting some work done. I have a proposal for some business consulting services due today. Not a bad place for working remotely, though.

The wind steadily increased after we rounded Cabo Corrientes and at 7 pm it was blowing a steady 20-23 knots. Time to reef. Since we were sailing almost directly downwind, we furled the jib completely and sailed under just the double-reefed main. As with our landfall in La Cruz, I had to keep boat speed down so as to arrive in Chamela in daylight.  Yet, even with just the reefed main, we were moving along at 6 knots, too fast.

Only and hour after the winds got stronger, they began to subside. The main started to backwind when surfing down swells causing the boom to bash about. Not good for sleeping. So we dropped the main, unfurled the jib and continued in this more quiet configuration until the winds died at 11 pm, quite a bit earlier than forecast.

We spent the rest of the passage alternating between sailing very slowly at 2-3 knots and motoring too quickly at 5-6 knots despite running the engine at minimum rpms. I think there must be a southerly current running, given the boat speeds.

Robin was on watch when we arrived at the waypoint for our entry into the bahía at 6:30. I woke up when I heard the waypoint arrival alarm and went up to the helm to find Robin miserably tired and cold. I took over steering while she warmed up in the cabin. It was quite chilly out with a decent land breeze blowing from ahead making it feel ever colder.

It was a beautiful dawn as we entered the anchorage, the sun turning the undersides of the clouds on the horizon a bright orange, the sky and clouds above shades of steely grey, the water a sparkling dark grey. The anchorage is fairly crowded, we had to take a spin around it to find a good spot to drop anchor.

It doesn't seem like much has changed since I first visited here in January 2016 , except that the cellular data service is much better, excellent even. When I read my blog entry for that visit I chuckled as it seems like sailing conditions from La Cruz were very similar, too fast then no wind.

Entering Bahía Chamela at dawn

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Whales, Rounded Cabo Corriente, Fine Sailing

Cabo Corrientes, En Route to Chamela

We weighed anchor off of La Cruz at 0930 and motored away under calm conditions under mostly cloudy skies. There were lots of whales about, so we set about watch them rather than steer our rhumbline course.

I'm not sure what sort of whales were were seeing, but I'm guessing they are humpbacks based on the ones I saw breaching in the distance later. They slowly surfaced in a graceful arc to blow and then take a big breath of air, diving down with their tail flukes in the air.

We saw a large group of whale-watching boats off in the distance and then whales breaching around them, their heads coming out of the water and then re-entering with a great splash. We made our way quickly over to the action but, alas, the whales had done whatever number of breaches they had agreed to with the tour operators and were back to their graceful feeding routine when we got there.

We got back on our course and motored towards Cabo Corriente where around 1500 the wind piped up, we raised the sails and shut down the engine.

It's now 1700 and we've rounded the cape and are sailing nicely on a deep broad reach in 15 knots of wind under full main and jib, loping along at around six knots in a gentle swell. The weather forecast is calling for winds to build a bit until midnight and then steadily fade by morning. We'll probably be motoring the final few hours. I'm estimating our arrival in Chamela at around sunrise.

All is well. Boat is happy. Captain and crew doing well. Boat feels a bit empty without Dan.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Leaving La Cruz

 La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

We've enjoyed four days anchored off La Cruz in lovely weather. Tomorrow we set sail for Chamela, about 96 nautical miles (nm) down the coast.

We enjoyed wandering the streets of the town, a tasty meal at Cevicheria La Cruz, a small seafood restaurant along the main highway, watching the 49'ers playoff game (too bad they lost) and relaxing with good coffee in the Octopus's Garden.

Yesterday afternoon, we took a short bus ride to the neighboring town of Bucerías and relaxed at Adauto's, a beachfront palapa restaurant. We pulled three lounge chairs under an umbrella and enjoyed drinks and snacks. After taking a swim, Robin and I enjoyed a fish filet in white wine sauce dinner while the sun set. (Dan had eaten earlier.) We took the bus back to La Cruz and drove the dinghy back to Intermezzo in the dark. It was a really nice day.

Dan left Intermezzo today, flying to L.A. to visit a friend before heading home. I really enjoyed sailing with him. Though we have known each other for over 30 years, we had never spent this long a time together. I'm glad to know we can coexist happily in close quarters.

Tomorrow's sail should be pretty easy. We need to round Cabo Corrientes (Cape Current) which can sometimes be a bit rough but, after that, it should be smooth downwind sailing in moderate winds. It should take us about 24 hours to get to Chamela. Last time I sailed this route, it was with my friends Marc and Marcie in January 2016.

Looking at the bigger picture, our plan is to get to Barra de Navidad for Robin to fly back home to take care of some family business on February 19.  Barra is only 38 nm from Chamela, so we'll have plenty of time to linger and enjoy time in pretty anchorages along this section of the coast.