SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 2010

Jacaranda Passage Note #39:  Squall Magnetism Continues, Mainland Mexico

We departed Barra de Navidad after about 10 days of getting readjusted to civilization as we recently arrived from the marine wilderness of Socorro Island in the Revillagigedos. It did take a while to get our “land-legs” back after 7 weeks of not stepping foot on land. We’re always sorry to say goodbye to Emmerich, the French Baker, and his morning arrival to our boat by panga loaded with fresh bread and pastries. Of course we stocked up before departing!

We made the short trip over to Tenacatita Bay, about 20 miles to the north, which is the social center of the cruising season for many boats. Here we caught up with many friends we had not seen for a while - especially long-time friends Jack and Hermy on IWA who had reentered Mexico after a few years in Ecuador.

We needed to press on northward towards Puerto Vallarta since Linda’s birthday was coming up - friends Elise and Jerry Lazar along with Linda’s son Joe were due to arrive and share a condo for two weeks as part of the celebration. So the plan was to depart early and if the north winds (“noserlies”) began to build, we would stop in Chamela for the night. Otherwise we would continue on around Cabo Corrientes and into Banderas Bay. Departing early on a bright sunny morning, the breeze was out of the south and much to our delight, it followed us up the coast most of the day. Later that afternoon, boats coming down from Banderas Bay to the north now appearing within our view began complaining of the strong southerly that they were having to buck against. We smilingly said to each other: “How nice for us for a change that we have the wind with us from behind going north instead of the usual northerlies! ” But it wasn’t to last long. These same southbound boats gave us reports of just encountering very strong winds and heavy rain closer to Banderas Bay.

Soon, 20 miles south of Cabo Corrientes, we could see a huge black wall of clouds to the north of us stretching from sea level to tens of thousands of feet upwards. The ominous black wall continued to get closer and closer and fairly suddenly it began to drizzle with the wind veering 180 degrees coming at us from the north. Soon the southbound boats that had passed us disappeared altogether with visibility dropping to about 100 yards as we entered the squall with driving rain and 35 kts of breeze on the nose. The radar screen flared bright red. Not again!!!! What’s going on with this unusual weather...and what’s up with our timing? At this point, we did have a choice..... continue sailing through the squall or duck into Ipala to wait it out at anchor.

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Ipala, just to the south of Cabo Corrientes is a very small anchorage - only big enough for a few boats - and you have to navigate around the numerous fish pens and floats that pose obstructions throughout. An hour earlier, we had heard a vessel on the radio report that Ipala was completely closed out with breaking surf caused by the southerly winds. Well, now the winds were coming from the NW, and we heard friends on a catamaran called “Just a Minute” say they had just pulled in and anchored there. We called Patrick and he said it was fine protection but rolly.

Ipala http://www.sailsarana.com/maps/maps.htm?20,14.10,N,105,34.30,W,Ipala!,8
(Thank you to Eric on Sarana for helping me setup the above link using his website and Google maps.) If you click on the link and then once open click on the "+" bar you can zoom right in for a bird's eye view. Click Hybrid on the upper right hand corner for both map & satellite We have also incorporated these links into our previous Socorro posts.

We abruptly changed course and 6 miles later we anchored in Ipala in gusty rainy conditions. At sunset, we could see the rays of the sun breaking through black clouds far to the north as the worst of the squall was ending. We spent a rolly night with 5 other boats.

The next morning we had a pleasant, sunny, no-wind, motor boat ride into Banderas Bay, anchoring in La Cruz (northwest of Puerto Vallarta) about 2 pm.

But with this, our second storm, our reputation had been sealed. The rumor was: “Don’t leave with Jacaranda or you’ll have the curse of the weather gods follow you”.

Our next Passage Note (#40) will cover the events of our three month extended stay in Puerto Vallarta - from Feb. 28 until June 1.