Chamela to Barra de Navidad

More than a week zipped by in Chamela. We made one dinghy excursion down to the islands in the south of the bay. It was farther than it looked. But the island was thick and jungle-y with a nice little sandy beach away from the wind. We hung out, snorkeled a bit (the water is just gorgeous all over Chamela Bay) and had a picnic lunch.

Chamela Perula

Chamela Isla splash  Chamela isla beach

brownies done
Hint hint

The town we anchored close to is actually called Perula. I never got to see the town of Chamela. Perula is a very sleepy, low key town with limited provisions. The water in the bay is beautiful, clear and tuquiose and it was nice to just hang out on the boat and work on my soon-to-be revealed latest concept. It was quite rolly, but somehow we just kept staying. Going ashore was also not a big draw due to the strong, pounding surf that made dinghy landing downright scary to impossible.

We finally decided to eat a needlefish. Jonny caught 2 of these guys and I thought they were tasty, but he said they were too hard to fillet.

Chamela beachAs I was working on managing the books on my Kindle, it up and died. Wouldn’t turn on, off, reset or be recognized by my computer. I was in disbelief (I believe that stage of grief is called “denial”). After several days I tried to contact Amazon for help. I lugged my computer a mile down the dusty main road to an internet café and chatted online with several representatives. After nearly an hour it was determined that they couldn’t help me since I was unable to turn it on.   Ummmm OK. Then they said it was basically a known software problem that happens occasionally and they’d replace it for me. But- then—oops. NO. It was out of warranty, so sorry. I think the anger phase was next, then the bargaining and more denial (I took the thing apart just to see what I could do to it). And soon fell into depression. Not sure I ever really got to the acceptance phase.

Kindle fix?

One afternoon I was down below and I heard Jonny greeting some people with the most enthusiasm I’ve ever heard from him. Who could it be?!?! I came up to see, much to my surprise, Jeff and Anne – our friends and suppliers of the CPT Autopilot (most awesome thing ever) from Moss Landing! We had no idea if or when we would ever see them down here. They came by the next day and hung out a bit and it was fun to catch up with them. We thought we’d get to hang out more in Tenacatita, but unfortunately we didn’t see them again – somehow missing them before they headed back north. Maybe another season?


We finally decided we’d had enough rolling around in Chamela and set off for Tenacatita. Chamela JJ

As usual, we listened to the weather to plan our departure for a day of strong north wind. As often is the case, the weather reports were dead wrong for where we were. Instead we found ourselves beating hard into a strong south wind. We really didn’t feel like motoring the entire day down into that, so after a couple of hours we decided to head in to a bay called Paraiso (“paradise” – how could we go wrong?). The entrance to Paraiso was between rocky out-croppings and islands and was not at all clear or visible. All I could see was pounding surf spraying up onto all the rocks. It was necessary to trust our Navionics chart on the iPad, so I did and just kept heading towards what appeared to be certain death. The sea state was big and fairly rough and I just held our course as Jonny realized he needed to reel in the fishing line. Right at that moment a fish struck the line. We were kind of too close to shore to really deal with this, so I slowed way down and tried to veer off the wind a little bit (straight for rocks) while Jonny reeled in and released a big toro, which isn’t good to eat anyway (Damn the toros! Full speed ahead!).

Paraiso wave

I got us back on track and soon the entrance to Paraiso became clearer and I picked a path toward the anchor spot.   Paraiso is a teeny tiny “pocket” anchorage, and I couldn’t imagine another boat in there with us. Luckily we had it all to ourselves. And it was insanely rolly – as in you couldn’t sit in the cockpit without being thrown to the sole. But the color of the water was mesmerizing and Jonny knew there was no way I would agree to leave. It was time to finally try an anchoring technique someone told us about a while ago – where you haul up an amount of chain (about ½ a boat length) and hook a line on, drop it back down and put the other end of the line to a cleat at the stern of the boat – essentially turning the boat into a giant bridle. You can then pull in the stern end of the line and the boat will turn away and become beam to the wind. Remember that boats naturally always point into the wind – and in our case, pointing into the wind meant being beam to the waves. So by turning off the wind we were then nose into the waves, which seriously diminished the discomfort level. It was pretty cool how it worked. We were able to eat lunch and then we both wanted to get into the water and explore the shore. There were actually two shores – the main one at a beach with a low key sort of resort and a side beach that was deserted and didn’t appear to have any land access to it.   Since we had the dinghy on deck and didn’t want to go through the hassle of unloading it for one day, we set off with snorkels and dry bags. I went to the main beach and Jonny went to the side beach. After I determined the main beach was kind of messy looking (debris, random things, lots of rocks) and a bit gross, I swam out to the other beach and joined Jonny. We hung out for a bit and were treated to a siting of a Mexican ring tailed lemur who came out to the edge of the woods to spy on us. We also saw the first signs of Hurricane Patricia that made landfall just a little bit south in Barra de Navidad.ParaisoHurricaneDam

Paraiso summer

That night I was really hot to try a new recipe I found for okonomiyaki – Japanese vegetable pancakes. Despite the boat motion, I was able to pull these off and now I have a new favorite thing to eat! (sorry no pictures–they taste way better than they look).

The next morning we departed early for Tenacatita. It was mostly a very nice sail and the wind was finally behaving itself. We kept hearing how many boats were in Tenacatita (47 at one point) and we sort of dreading pulling into the crowded anchorage. As we rounded the corner into the first part of the Tenacatita bay call The Aquarium, we saw not a single boat in there! It looked nice and we anchored right on the anchor symbol on our chart. It was a bit rolly but looked beautiful with a huge stretch of beach and interesting rocks on our end. The palapas and homes on shore looked like they had been ravaged by disaster. The next day we set out in the dinghy to do some snorkeling. The water was not all that clear and aside from a giant manta ray and a cool rainbow-y fish, we didn’t see much. But it felt good to be in the water. It was a pretty rolly anchorage and we didn’t feel like hanging out on the boat. One thing I began to discover about having your home always rolling side to side – it’s not something you get used to or develop a tolerance to. Instead it’s something that slowly and insidiously drives you completely insane. We had a quick lunch and headed ashore to check out the beach.

Tena Aquarium

A couple more boats had come over from the other bay and gone right ashore in the morning. They were returning to their dinghies when we were landing in the sketchy surf break. I got the skinny on the place from one of the women: The beach had been taken over by some wealthy man who was friends with a previous governor and he kicked everyone off the beach and began to demolish all the homes and businesses. He had armed guards making sure no one came ashore. Not long ago, there was a new governor who didn’t let this man keep the power over this land, so we can go ashore now, but there are no restaurants or tiendas and hurricane Patricia destroyed things just a little more so all that’s left is a depressing array of what once was. Such a shame – as it looked like it would have been a great place. The only way to get supplies was to walk two miles or more inland to a small market and I wasn’t feeling it, we could get creative with the remaining food we had. We explored some of the ruins and finally posted our umbrella and played in the water for a while. I’ve become so spoiled that I don’t even like swimming at the beach that much because of all the sand…jumping off the boat is eversomuch nicer! But it was fun to play in the waves and I went back to the shade while Jonny got the big smile he only gets when being carried forward by waves.

We were getting pretty low on food, so dinners were getting interesting. We knew there were absolutely no supplies at the next stop and we would have to cross the bay to La Manzanilla for a day to stock up. We heard on the morning cruiser net that the resort at the end of the Tenacatita anchorage was offering a deal on Superbowl Sunday (the next day!) – where cruisers could go there and use the all-inclusive facilities to eat and drink whatever they wanted, swim and watch the game on the huge TVs. While the sports game held no interest for us, the rest of the deal was sounding kind of good – given we had no food and a little splurge might be fun.

We headed the short 4 miles over to Tenacatita early in the morning so we could make the most of the ‘day pass’.   I was starving! This is where all the boats were, but only around 20 were left by the time we arrived. We attempted to anchor twice and hit rocks and finally got the hook down in a reasonable spot, out of swinging distance of other boats. We were pretty near Linger Longer and I was looking forward to catching up with them again. Just as we anchored a couple came up to meet us and invite us on a group panga ride to La Manzanilla for the ‘big game’. While we declined, we ended up chatting with these people for quite some time. Finally we were getting in the dinghy and ready to head ashore to the luxurious mecca of food and relaxation. I wanted to say hi quickly to Linger Longer, but we were intercepted by Fred in his kayak (we’d met him in Mazatlan) and had a long chat and drifted quite a ways away. Finally a zip over to Linger Longer, for a chat and more declining of hospitality – I was really anxious to maximize this day pass. It was after 1:00pm by the time we survived the rough dinghy landing and walked over ½ mile to the resort. Walking through the resort, I tried to remain upbeat and positive, but it wasn’t all that nice. The food looked kind of gross and the pools were dingy, old and not in the greatest shape. When we got to the main desk and asked about the deal, they had no idea what we were talking about. They said the day pass was more than twice as much as we were told.   With my bubble burst, we trudged dejectedly back down the beach to the other end where we heard there was one palapa restaurant. We had a ridiculously overpriced and not very good lunch (it took my jaw an entire day to recover from the tough coconut prawns), but I did have a margarita to drown my sorrows.  Tena Margarita After lunch, I stripped down to my bikini and we braved the crashing waves to try to get the dinghy out without getting rolled. There was a guy waiting for a good set to land his dinghy, but he finally gave up and just went back to his boat. Not a pleasant dinghy landing!

We swam and hung out at home. We did not think we’d spent much time in Tenacatita as it didn’t seem to be the paradise for us that it seems to be for many other folks. There was no place to get water or supplies, but there were plenty of other people – so it seems the draw to this place is the social scene with little or no interference from “outsiders” (i.e. non cruisers). Tenacatita has its own morning net and they usually announce the time for everyone to swim ashore and play bocci ball. It’s like a little gringo retirement village on water.

The next morning we took Summer across the bay to La Manzanilla. The wind was not coming from the north as it was supposed to, so we had no worries anchoring there and getting ashore. La Manzanilla is a very small and downright adorable town. LaManzfromboatLaManzJardin JHWe found a number of tiendas selling pretty much everything on our list (and then some). We decided to make a pass through town and see all the shops before buying anything, and when we got to the end, we were at the ‘crocodile park’. We couldn’t resist entering the park and walking the rickety boardwalk that circumnavigated the lagoon.


LaManz safety 1st
Safety First

LaManzcrocsmileLaManzCrocShadowsLaManzCrocteethLaManzheronWe paid our 25 peso fee and risked our lives for a good close up look at the crocs. At the end of the walk we got to the nursery – so many baby crocs! LaManzcrocbabiesI had fun grabbing Jonny every time he was staring at crocodiles and watching him jump ten feet (he’s so easy to scare I can’t help myself). We got our groceries, some lunch and made our way back out to Summer. We relaxed for a while in the cute harbor before heading back across to Tenacatita.

And this is how I ended up with a peg-leg

Somehow we ended up spending a week in the bay and for the last five days there my feet never hit land. We took a nice long dinghy tour up the estuary, saw lots of birds and crabs, but no crocs (whew! being in a rubber boat surrounded by crocodiles is not my idea of fun).



K2 on Summer Tenacatita
Fun okonomiyaki and pina colada night with K&K

We visited with a number of friends and made some new friends. I finally got to see another Bristol in person! Summer’s big sister, Gypsy Dream is a Bristol 41.1 and Graciela and Hugh anchored her right next to us. I couldn’t resist going over to say Hi – as I was sure they didn’t notice Summer. They immediately invited me aboard and while it was fun to see another Bristol, it was even better to get to know Graciela and Hugh. They have a wealth of stories from their years cruising.   We were both planning to depart the next morning – us south and Gypsy Dream was heading north.  When I returned to Summer, Kris came by and invited us for breakfast the next morning – so suddenly it seemed very possible we were not leaving the next day (especially as it was mentioned that “Ceasars” might be on the menu – which are like bloody mary’s but with clamato juice (apparently a Canadian thing). I’ve never even had a bloody mary). Linger Longer was all set up for a fancy sit down breakfast and we had a great time and some good eats as always with these guys.

Tena K&K Breakfast

As it turned out Gyspy Dream didn’t leave either, so in the afternoon, they came over for a show and tell aboard Summer. Which of course turned into an entire afternoon of visiting – they have the best stories! I was sad they were going north and we were going south.  They left the next morning and we stayed on one more day. It was already going to be Friday and we might as well stay for the world-famous Tenacatita Friday Night Raft Up. I started to see how this place sucks people in…

I made a big batch of fried rice to share and we moseyed over maybe a few minutes late – 5:12 I think it was…and we were the last to arrive (save for one really late guy on a kayak). Man, these folks are punctual! I’ve always been punctual almost to fault, but in this current life, I’ve sort of relaxed a bit, as I thought it was part of deal, but apparently not here.


Robert (“the Mayor of Tenacatita”) and his wife, whom he calls The Lovely Miss Virginia, have been cruising for many, many years and Tenacatita is their favorite spot. Every Friday night, all the cruisers gather together on their dinghies and tie up in a big circle and pass food around, while Robert blows the conch and thinks of a question that each person must answer when introducing themselves. There were probably about a dozen boats at our raft up and we got to meet a few new folks. We sheepishly wormed our way into the group and got tied up. We ate some interesting potluck foods and heard some good stories and then just chit chatted with folks around us.

The Mayor addresses his constituency
TenaRaftUp J K2
The constituency listens raptly

As the group was breaking up, we saw a boat entering the anchorage…could it be? Yes! It was Resolute. We’d been hoping to see them come around the corner at any day. We headed over to say hi and got invited up for drinks and I shared what was left of the ginormous mound of fried rice. It was fun as always and ended up being a late night. They tried to convince us not to leave the next day, but we’d already overstayed by two days and were really ready to move on (not to mention we were nearly out of water). As it turned out, Meagan was planning to fly to Florida to pick up some much needed boat parts. Hmmmm…the US, eh?? I asked if she might bring back a small, flat object for me…that’s right A KINDLE! She said yes, so all I needed to do was find wifi and order one before she returned to Mexico. Oh yeah and since we might not be seeing them again, we also had to figure out a way to get it from Banderas Bay back down to me or vice versa. Easy enough, we were hoping to connect with Prism and Orion, and surely they would run into one of them in La Cruz? (as it happens, when Resolute was heading back to La Cruz, they crossed paths with Orion who happened to be coming in from their long journey out to the Revillagigedos Islands!) And hoping they get to meet Prism soon (if not already). My back up plan is they leave the Kindle with our friend Lynne who is living in La Cruz and I don’t get it until we end up back there in a few months.

The Resolute crew in Pudgly

We had a lovely afternoon sail down to Barra de Navidad. Sailing Mission to Barra

We did a ‘drive by’ through Melaque, which is just a bit north of Barra. It’s someplace we thought we might like to anchor after stocking up in Barra.   We’d heard entering the Barra lagoon was a bit tricky and I was VERY careful to keep the boat exactly in the middle of the channel as it’s marked on our chart.   Unfortunately that is the very wrong thing to do. We discovered this after we were stuck fast in the sand. Summer’s first true ‘running aground’. What a horrible feeling it is to see the depth sounder plummet to zero and feel the boat slowly grind to a sludgy halt as the keel digs down into sand and mud. After the initial few seconds of panic when you put the motor in neutral, you realize you aren’t really in any danger and the boat isn’t going to fall over, and certainly not sink. Then you begin the problem solving process. Firstly, of course, you try putting it in reverse and pulling yourself back to where you started. When that has absolutely no affect, you then start waving wildly as passing pangas. When that doesn’t work, you get on the radio and announce to everyone in the anchorage that you have grounded your boat and don’t know what to do.

A couple kind souls told us what channel the water taxis were on, and we called to ask for assistance. A panga arrived and we threw them a line and they tried to pull us backwards. We hoped it didn’t pull the cleat out of the transom. It didn’t, but it didn’t move the boat either. We tried a line on the front. A helpful guy (we later learned was Jeff) came out in his dinghy and tried to nudge us as the panga pulled from the front side. Still nothing. The panga motor was not strong enough to help us. The panguero left and we asked Jeff to help us by bringing and anchor out to the side of the boat. By setting the anchor in the direction we wanted to go, we could pull on the line and pull the boat towards it. This is known as “kedging off”, and for some reason we opted not to try that first (probably because digging out the anchor and the line and using our dinghy (which was not ready to go) would’ve been a huge pain in the butt – but with a dinghy there ready and willing, it wasn’t so hard. Jeff and Jonny went out in the dinghy and set the anchor while I paid out the line and then cleated it off near the end.   We then pulled the line in and started to make the boat budge (along with me putting it in gear and gunning it a bit). The panga returned and as all the guys were conversing, I noticed the boat was free and floating away. I had to yell “We’re moving! We’re moving” to get their attention and get Jonny back on task pulling in the anchor line (quickly, so it didn’t get fouled in our prop!).  Agrounded We were now free to go and Jeff chaperoned us along the proper course through the shallows and out to the also- shallow anchorage.   We picked a nice spot in the back and settled in, feeling oddly accomplished now that we’d truly joined the ‘aground’ club. It still remains to be seen what Summer’s keel looks like after this incident. The lagoon is pretty murky and gross, so there was no reward of jumping in to wash the sweat off after our hot afternoon ordeal.

The next morning was Valentine’s Day, which really didn’t mean that much to me, until the French Baker came by in his panga selling croissants, baguettes, tarts and quiches. I could not resist taking the last chocolate croissant and a pastry for Jonny and a chocolate tart for later. Along with my treats, I was also given a red rose! Suddenly, it seemed like a holiday!

BarraFrenchBaker Rose BarraFrenchBakeryBarra VDaypastry

After two nights in the lagoon and getting some food to tide us over, we decided to check into a slip in the marina for a night so we could fill up with water – and clean out the tanks – which somehow were full of debris, wash Summer, flip our 250 feet of anchor chain from end to end (the same end is always ending up in the water while the other end is always dry – seemed like a good idea to rotate) among other projects.   As it was Valentine’s Day when we went to the marina office, they were offering a deeply discounted rate – which they said we could have for later days if we paid on that day. We opted to pay for 2 nights, starting the next day. We got a nice little slip at the end and access to all the facilities of this posh resort we were anchored behind.Barra Resort Viewlagoon Barra Pool Barra resort terraces BarraLobby

Barra buffet

While there was no ‘all you can eat and drink’ deal, I did manage to get a few hours of pretending I was on vacation at a swanky resort.   Linger Longer was in the marina too and we had a fun afternoon at the swim up bar, meeting other cruisers. Jonny worked away on most of the projects while I managed to get a blog entry posted and take care of laundry and other business. It was a quick two days. After the first day, Dan on Dazzler pulled into the slip next to us, and it was fun catching up with him and having a wild and crazy neighbor. He gave Jonny a lot of grief for the fact that the French Baker had given me a red rose for Valentine’s Day and Jonny hadn’t given me anything. That night as we were peacefully watching a movie, Dan returned from having a number of drinks and loudly knocked on our boat and said “Hey Jonny, I have those roses you asked me to get! You know, to help you out! Yeah, you can pay me later, but here they are, the roses you asked for – for Jennifer” He handed us 3 red roses, and Jonny, not catching on to the fact that Dan was teasingly trying to make him look good, whispers to me “I don’t remember that conversation”. It went on and on and was pretty hysterical. Dan may or may not have disturbed some of our other neighbors. And I ended up with a nice bouquet. The next morning Dan sheepishly asked if he’d given us roses…

We finished off our work –giving Summer a final good scrub and filling the water tanks before heading back out to the peaceful lagoon. After having seen the town of La Manzanilla, I had been trying to coordinate a week-long session at a language school there, where I would live with a local family and go to classes every day. I really wanted to improve my Spanish and it seemed that Barra was an ideal place to leave Jonny alone for a week and it was a quick trip back to La Manzanilla overland. In Barra there were plenty of good folks around, boat projects to do and even a little wave Jonny can surf. Panic didn’t really set in for him until he realized he was going to have to feed himself.

I managed to arrange the school at the last minute to begin on the upcoming Sunday session. So I had a few days to hang out and see more of Barra. We also we took a bus ride out to see the town Melaque, just a few kilometers away.

Yeah, these are the kinds of things you can see randomly sitting on the sidewalk…

Finally it was Sunday and I was packed and ready for my week-long learning adventure. Jonny ferried me ashore and helped me to the bus and off I went.

AND…We’re so grateful to the help we get from our friends now and then feeding the kitty!!

Cateats copy

Isla Isabel to Chamela Bay

As Mazatlan faded away behind us, we were treated to one last fireworks display. Our overnight passage to Isla Isabel was fairly uneventful. We were able to sail most of the way, although it was a bit rough most of the time and neither of us really got any sleep, try as we did. But everything seemed to be going on the right direction so we can’t complain too much.

As we approached Isla Isabel in the early morning, we were taking bets on how many boats we’d find in the anchorage. We passed the Monas – the really amazing looking rock islands off the northeast side of the island and rounded to the southern anchorage to find…NO BOATS! We had the whole joint to ourselves! We anchored in the most ideal spot and made sure to put a floaty line with an empty plastic jug on it in the event our anchor got stuck and we had to disengage (losing our anchor is in our budget!) and hunkered down for a snooze to recover from our mostly wakeful night.


We had the island mostly to ourselves the entire time and we hiked almost every trail on the island (and bushwhacked a few times as well). Isla Isabel is a national park as well as an internationally protected area. It is home to thousands of frigate birds, boobies – blue and brown and other-footed types, and you can barely take a step without almost crushing an iguana. It was probably one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Rather than regale you with my oh-so-engaging prose, I will make this mostly a pictorial, saving us all thousands and thousands of words. In the five days we were there, I took 472 pictures (including videos). I will try to keep this to the most representative.

Tortilla rollups
Tortilla roll ups make good picnic food for expeditions to the island
This guy was quite the poser, practically begging me to take his picture
Las Monas
This little guy had fallen from his nest and I can only hope his parents knew where he was and were still feeding him
The materials and state of the fishing camp on shore seemed to run a little counter to the information that this was an internationally protected wildlife preserve…
Mystery fish that was actually pretty tasty. We learned later these are used for bait…(called chiles verdes?)

 Isabeltowersummer IsabelSunningFrigates IsabelSouthWallMonasboobie IsabelSouthWall




Isabelsplit tail iguana
This guy with the little split tail was my buddy. I’d have taken him home if I was allowed…
Isabelfrigate red puff
Male frigate bird showing off, as males do
The shrine on the island was taken care of far better than any of the other buildings
Looking down on the highest crater lake
Looking down on lowest crater lake

IsabelJennIguana Isabeliguanas IsabelNorthviewhill   IsabelMona IsabelBlueboobiesouth



With so much life there is bound to be lots of death as well…

Isabel tree roots IsabelNorthrim

On the 4th night, another boat came in and did a quick trip ashore and took off the next morning. Jonny helped them out by diving on their rudder and taking video of it with the GoPro, so they could see what they were up against for getting out of there (this place really has a reputation!). He also re-tied their float, which had come off and nearly floated away (not everyone is as obsessive about these things as we are).

Another boat came in the next day and we met Ola and Peter on Fukingivr [Say: FOO-kin-giv-r]. We decided we had climbed every mountain and were ready to set off for the 40 mile trip across to San Blas. As we were preparing to leave just after sunrise, another boat pulled in and dropped anchor. I could see they were from New Zealand and we had a nice chat on the radio as I filled them in on some of the best spots to see on the island and how to find them. They told me they were preparing to head back to New Zealand soon – they have spent the last 18 (EIGHTEEN!) years cruising. I so wished we could have spent more time with them. Fukingivr had left about an hour before us and we caught up and passed them as we headed to Mantenchen anchorage by sunset. Lest you get too impressed, their boat is 6 feet shorter than Summer, but we’ll take any win we can get! We were happy to have made it in before dark and were treated to a breathtaking sunset.

Adios Isla Isabel!



We decided to splurge a whole $10 and go into San Blas and get a slip in the cheapest of all Fonaturs for one night, before heading down to Chacala. We spent the day getting provisions (the banana bread is not to be missed) and cleaning up Summer. We had a fun and super cheap taco and ice cream night out with Peter and Ola. Mainland is always quite a bit less expensive than Baja, and San Blas especially. Ola was a landlubber from Canada, just along for the ride for a month (and somehow I still never got the story on that boat name). She thought Isla Isabel was ‘the most disgusting place’ she’d ever seen. Curious to see how their visit ends – hopefully we’ll run into Peter somewhere down the line. We thought we had missed most of the hype of the holidays, but San Blas was still rockin’ the Christmas music and the town square was unparalleled with its monolithic musical and lighted Christmas tree and the nativity scene containing a vast menagerie, which included an elephant and a turkey. That was all the entertainment I needed.

SB Lights SB tree

SB MexPink
If you ever wondered what Mexican Pink was…

SB nativity SB flowers

Despite the wonderful and friendly folks at the dock and the jejenes being not SO terrible, we did manage to pull out as planned the next morning and head to Chacala. It was a gorgeous day and we had an absolutely lovely beam reach sail the entire way. We even caught a huge sierra along the way – one of our favorites. I was reminded of the sailing we did in this area last year, which was also almost always quite nice – and it kind of hit me that the Sea of Cortez is not as friendly and calm as its reputation led me to believe. Thinking back to all our sails up there this summer, we had some pretty rough times and very few ‘absolutely perfect’ sailing days. That sea can definitely dole out the harshness!

Chacala was one of our favorite spots last year and it was nice to pull in to the familiar and beloved gorgeous views of colorful buildings and lush tropical greenery. It is known for being quite a rolly anchorage, so we immediately put out our stern anchor as we were getting settled. I managed to poach some internet from one of the hotels on shore, so it was nice to get caught up on a few things (and post the last blog entry). Since Chacala was already very familiar, and I already knew it was much prettier from the boat than on shore, and there was plenty of food on board, I was not feeling the pressure to GO! See! Do! I didn’t leave the boat for 2 days. It’s often hard to remember that sometimes I just need a few ‘days off’ to be a homebody. I’m not sure where it comes from, but there is a lot of pressure to be out exploring, having adventures, running errands. It’s just not a sustainable way to live in the long run. Jonny got to go out surfing several times, getting himself back into the swing of it after not having surfed the entire summer (the longest he’s gone in 30 years!). He was happy to get back to it and a little dismayed at how sore his ribs were.


Saw this big fella wandering the streets of Chacala

When we did go ashore, we decide to take the bus to La Penita – the next town down that we had yet to visit. We ended up having to take a bus to Las Varas (which we’ve been to) and then to La Penita. It was nice wandering around somewhere new and getting super cheap Chinese food for lunch (which, in hindsight I can say was very good, since I didn’t get an MSG migraine!). We came upon an el Segundo (thrift store) and Jonny was able to get a new button down shirt for $3.50 (kind of pricey actually!) to replace the one he was wearing which had a huge rip down the back. Since he couldn’t see it, it seemed fine to him…but I insisted he get a new one. I forgot to bring my camera/phone with me, so you’re just going to have to trust me that we actually did this.

We thought we might stay for a long time in Chacala, but Jonny was getting itchy to get south to new territory and to the big surf, which he was suddenly chomping at the bit to get to. We knew we needed to make a stopover in La Cruz for provisions and I was looking forward to catching up with friends there. We had planned to go to Yelapa again (one of my all time favorites) afterwards and then finally round Cabo Corrientes to explore the southlands.

We had another gorgeous sail from Chacala to Punta de Mita. As we were sailing along and I was dozing in the sun, mulling over a number of recent thoughts, ideas and suggestions, I hit upon an idea for something I wanted to work on and am very excited to bring it to fruition. I’ll share it when the time is right – but I have a lot of energy for this new endeavor and look forward to making it happen. We anchored for the night in Punta de Mita and thought we might go out to the Tres Mariettas in the morning, for some sites we missed last time around. In the end we nixed that idea and went ashore instead and had the worst cheap tacos in a smoky stand near the bus stop. Can’t win ‘em all.   We went back home and make the quick trip over to La Cruz. Another beautiful sail and we anchored down in the big La Cruz parking lot happily right near Resolute. The next morning I rowed over to say hi to Erik and Meagan (and Nikka – who almost pushed me overboard with her greeting kisses). It was just a quick visit as I was excited to go load up on fruits and veggies at the infamous La Cruz farmer’s market. On the row back, the pin that holds the oar to the boat snapped off. I quickly realized there was no way to row without the oar being attached. I was exactly halfway back, not really yelling distance to any boat and I hadn’t brought a radio. I was getting blown farther and farther away rather quickly. I ended up sticking the oar underneath the handgrip line on the dinghy and up against the oar holder part–it held it enough to get some purchase and row. I made it back to Summer just fine, only a little shaken up. Jonny was impressed with my quick thinking, and added “fix the oar” to his list of projects that day.

The Farmer’s Market did not disappoint, although I find myself less and less able to withstand crowds of people. The market is quite a crowded, happening spot and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But somehow as I was hurrying to the veggies tables, I got waylaid by the drum people. A table full of handmade, colorful drums of various types and a happy hippy guy banging away on one was hard for me to resist. I took drum lessons not all that long ago (rock and roll, not hippy) and have recently begun to really miss it. I think a wee-hours air drumming session, while listening to music and trying to keep myself awake on watch sparked it. I was very nearly about to pull myself away, all the drums were just too big to think about taking on board. But then I looked up and saw these much smaller ones hanging above me. I immediately knew I wanted one…badly. I played with it for a while and asked the price (far more reasonable than expected) but put it back and said I’ll see how many pesos I have left after all the food is purchased. I also felt pretty sure Jonny (who had left me immediately) would not allow such an expenditure.   We loaded up on fresh, organic greens and fruits, fresh bread and farm cheeses and were ready to head back. I still wanted to drum. Jonny left me again, saying, “I’m not getting involved, I’ll be waiting for you at the dinghy”. That was about as close to a “go for it” as I could possibly get! I negotiated the price down to what I had left and chose the one with the least unattractive design painted on it (the couple who makes them lets their child decorate the drums). I was a happy sailor.   So far Jonny hasn’t gotten annoyed at my banging.


I dinghied into shore and cruised the marina looking for friends. I found Lynne on Aldebaran, and Linger Longer. I learned that there was a bug or two going around and most people were sick. It sounds like the norovirus that hit all of us last year was STILL making the rounds.

We spend just over a week in La Cruz. We got our Mega provision run in, loaded up with water and fuel, got our propane tank filled and we got to catch up with friends (unfortunately we’d just missed Sang Vind). La Cruz is one of the few places where cruisers rule the roost. A huge number of cruisers spend vast amounts of time there and it’s not hard to see why. On our last stay in La Cruz we were visiting with out of town guest and spent most of our time on shore. We didn’t really get into the cruisers’ aspect of things or take advantage of the many resources available. The marina VIP lounge offers a large space for many classes and seminars on a variety of topics. Nearby a place called “Cruiser’s Comfort” offers internet, shower and a comfortable place to work. I spent many days on shore using the internet to work on my new idea. We also spent some time honing in on our long-term plans.   We went to a seminar about cruising south to Panama. Jonny went to a fishing seminar.

LC Lynne JH
We got to visit with our friend Lynne on Aldebaran
LC passingwind
I have no idea whose boat this is, but I couldn’t resist getting a picture of this one.

LC Iguana Sign

LC Giant Iguana
SO many iguanas in La Cruz!


Green Iguana

When I was off ‘working’, Jonny got a lot of boat projects accomplished. Our engine hour meter had died on the crossing to Mazatlan, so we had to buy a new one (and keep track of the hours manually prior to installing). Boat engine maintenance and life expectancy is based on the number of hours it runs, so it’s important we keep track of that. He also broke out the sewing machine a few times and made a cover for the dinghy gas tank, a bag to stow lines and hatch covers for our top hatches. He did an excellent job! Looks like I don’t have to learn how to sew afterall. My Mom taught me how to sew when I was young and I made an absolutely horrific skirt and that was pretty much when my sewing career ended.

LC SummerSewing
Summer turned sweat shop


Proud Seamster

Speaking of young, La Cruz is just crawling with kid boats – that is, cruisers with children. While the cruising life is absolutely amazing for kids, and boat kids tend to be wonderfully well adjusted and very comfortable interacting with adults in all situations; but they struggle constantly to find other kids to hang out with. It seems that all boat kids are so desperate to meet other kids that once they find them they all instantly bond and adore each other, regardless of age differences. People in La Cruz have all kinds of activities for kids, cookouts, beach camp outs, macaroni and cheese cook-offs… there’s even a morning VHF net just for kids. It was kind of fun to observe the kids roaming around in small groups and simply loving being with each other.  Also, it seems nearly impossible to live on a boat and be a spoiled brat – we learn on a daily basis how to deal with not getting our way and how shirking responsibilities can often be a matter of life and death. The ocean coddles no one and does not suffer slackers!

The anchorage was a lot rollier than I remember it being before. Spending most days off the boat made it more bearable, but no really sound sleep was to be had. As we came to the close of things we “must get done” we started paying closer attention to the weather and making our plans to escape. It looked like some big winds were coming and if we went to Yelapa as desired, we might get stuck for many days waiting for a calm time to round Cabo Corrientes (which can be notoriously awful – not unlike Point Conception in California). Yelapa can be extraordinarily rolly and due to the steepness and depth, it’s necessary to rent a mooring while there. We could potentially get stuck there waiting for the weather and paying for a lot more than just a couple nights. Also, Jonny was so overwhelmed with his need to get to surf that the dream of a few days in Yelapa started to seem like a silly idea. We had a short weather window; so getting ourselves down around the corner seemed like the right thing to do. We were also feeling pretty lucky not to have gotten sick yet, so better to quit while ahead.

We hit the Farmer’s Market one last time and loaded on the last provisions and had a final visit with Resolute (not a real goodbye, as we’re hoping to run into them again down south). We had a relaxing morning preparing to take off for our ~22 hour trip to Chamela. I was actually feeling quite relieved not to have to go ashore. Land life is quite exhausting! I was also feeling like I might be possibly getting one of the stomach bugs –as my guts hadn’t been right for a few days. I was hoping it was just due to all the eating out we’d been doing and I was looking forward to enjoying my own cooking again.   As we got underway, the fermented pickle kraut and chinese herbs worked their magic and my guts started to feel normal. I hadn’t wanted to think about what could have happened on an overnight passage where I started out feeling awful! Luckily it was the opposite, I actually felt much better and I felt unusually good the entire passage.


We sailed off into the proverbial sunset and were excited about seeing new territory. I played my drum and we ate the last of my La Paz-made pesto and gnocchi for dinner and we were ready for whatever the night was to bring. Unfortunately sleeping was not so much on the agenda. Jonny wanted to be on watch for the first part of the night as we rounded Cabo Corrientes, since any number of things could happen rounding a point like that. It was fairly benign in the scheme of things, but it was incredibly rolly, just past the threshold of being able to sleep. So I tossed from ear to ear for 4 hours and couldn’t take it anymore. It started to calm down just as I got up to send Jonny down and he was snoring in no time. We were sailing downwind, and it was warm and wonderful. I read Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat and it took me a while to realize the pine and sage smells were coming from land and not my imagination as I read about old time Monterey.   The land down here had a different kind of scent and it really did remind me of California. The wind switched on me and I had to jibe (and crawl forward to free the preventer line that got caught around the hatch) but otherwise it was an uneventful watch. I was starting to get painfully tired just when Jonny came up to relieve me. I was able to get a couple hours sleep finally.

Chamela Bay is large and beautiful – the golden sand beach goes on for miles and it’s fringed with palm trees and low homes and palapa restaurants fronted with chairs and umbrellas. It’s much warmer down here; the water is a near perfect 82 degrees and looks clear and inviting. It’s fairly calm but we did have a few rolly hours in the night. The wind event we just skirted in under is starting and we are enjoying the stiff breezes to keep us cool. There are 8 or 9 other boats here – none familiar, and all spread out at healthy distances. We are loaded up with food and I am looking forward to making my own chicken enchiladas, BBQ pulled pork and chocolate coconut macaroons. We are happy to spend a few days soaking in the views, swimming and relaxing before we brave the shore break to make landfall.