MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2006
Jacaranda Passage Notes #5: Zee French Baker calling!
Our last note left off in Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta. We left the anchorage of La Cruz in company with Jack & Hermy on IWA headed south around Punta Corrientes for an overnight stop in Ipala. Leaving at first light we motored across the large Banderas Bay seeing those wonderful humpbacks jumping around us. It wasnt until we rounded Punta Corrientes that the wind filled in with a light breeze and we were able to sail. Once we began sailing we saw a whale jumping near IWA. For the next 20 minutes as IWA slowly sailed SE the whale, heading north, was jumping nonstop up the coast. Finally, at long last, we caught a fish we could eat, a nice Sierra (beautiful mackerel that is firm white meat and very tasty). Another much larger fish must have hit our cedar plug because when we pulled the line in to check it the hook had been snapped off!
Ipala is a tiny anchorage (large enough for 5-6 boats) tucked into the cliffs about 15 miles SE of Corrientes. It does provide protection from the wind and swell but there are patches of smooth rock on the bottom and we had some trouble getting the anchor to bite. Like Punta Mita it is really just a staging area for boats waiting for weather to head north around the windy Corrientes point or for those making the trek headed south. We were up early and headed SE for Chamela before the sun peeked over the mountains to the east. A few minutes out of the anchorage we were able to hoist sail and take advantage of the light offshore breeze for a few hours before it died off later to fill in from the NW.
We did have a nice sail for the latter half of the trip, down this stretch of the coast called the Mexican Riviera or Gold Coast where some of the most exclusive and luxurious resorts are located; indeed we passed many a Hearst Castle overlooking the beaches. We arrived in Chamela late afternoon to find 7-8 boats swinging at anchor. We awoke the next morning to see dolphins swimming around the boats in the anchorage. One of the boats, OREA, purchased a very large Mahi Mahi from some fisherman and invited a number of boats over for a fish taco potluck. Also sharing the anchorage with us was the folks on GWENAN OF CAMBRIA, a sistership of Jack and Hermys IWA. They have lived and worked in the Yukon (North of the Artic circle) for many years. Arne is Danish and Carmen is from the US. Lots of entertaining stories of hunting, dog sledding, trapping and cold weather. Always great to listen to when we are in warm weather shorts and tee shirts.
After a few days in Chamela we departed and had a rollicking sail down to Tenacatita in 20+ knots NW. Just before we jibed into the bay we hooked a large 20-25lb Cravalle Jack. Of course it was at the moment we needed to change the sails and head in to reach into the bay. After rolling up the jib to try and slow the boat down (now 6 1/2 knots) we muscled (my tiny muscles) the fish in, got the book out to try and determine what kind of fish we had caught and finally tossed him back (poor eating). Once we sorted out the fishing gear, we carefully jibed the main and altered course; we now had the breeze on the beam. We reached into the inner bay with the full main (should have reefed), rail down doing 7 knots. As we got further in the bay we could see the 30+ masts of the boats at anchor.
Tenacatita is a large protected bay that appears to be a social hub for many boats. Some boats park here for a month or more. Staying put would be very easy to do as the days just fly by. On the beach Bocce ball, Mexican train (dominoes), hearts tournaments, volleyball, group swims to the beach, dingy trips up the jungle river One evening we had a Mayors night out (a mayor is elected from the cruising fleet) dingy raft up that consisted of at least 20 dingies all tied to each other in a calm part of the bay. Everyone brought something yummy to share and books to trade; it was a great way to meet everyone in the anchorage.
One morning at close to high tide we took the dingy up the river to the village at the other end. The small river (2 miles in length) is lined with mangroves, in places completely covered over in a tree canopy with just enough room for a dingy or panga (Mexican fishing boat) to pass. It was a delightful couple of hours and we saw numerous types of birds (such as egrets, ibis, herons) and mangroves so thick they were virtually impassable. The small village at the end of the river is very near the NE corner of the bay, (known as The Aquarium for its excellent snorkeling) and was filled with small shops and beach palapa restaurants. We walked the length of its beautiful mile long beach of fine white sand where a few Mexican families were out for a day at the beach.
On Wed we departed Tenacatita for the 15 mile jaunt around the corner into Bahia de Barra Navidad where we entered the narrow channel and wound our way into the inner lagoon. Part of the channel is marked but once we passed the marina (very posh and $2.10 a foot per day), there were no markers and we followed previously noted GPS waypoints into the lagoon. Its easy to run aground coming in and many boats have to be pulled off shoal areas by dinghy brigades! The huge lagoon is completely landlocked with mangroves surrounding the shore and it contained about 20 boats anchored in 7-8 feet of water. Only about 15% of the lagoon can be used by the boats because its too shallow. Roseate spoonbills and white egrets nest here. We reunited with Silver Gater Christy on ISLAND GIRL who acted as tour guide around the village of Barra, showing us the best places to provision, do laundry, eat out, and shop.
The next morning about 9am on the radio we heard the announcement that Zee French baker is now entering the lagoon!! We had been waiting for his arrival because it meant fresh baguettes, almond croissants, and quiches delivered to your boat. Se Magnifique! (Thats Spanench). Elvin was from Bordoueax and settled in Barra, opening a bakery and coffee shop. His daily arrival by panga into the lagoon was eagerly awaited by everyone at anchor. One boat called on the radio, French baker please stop at Trinity. Then a few seconds later another boat called requesting him to stop at their boat. Finally a third called to Elvin stating Heck just stop at EVERY boat! Ahh such a simple life that fresh croissants gets us all excited. After all, it is a treat after eating Bimbo bread (Mexican wonder bread) and tortillas for weeks!
We are now down in tropical Zihuatanejo, our furthest southern stop and will include it during our next passage notes. Its hot, the water is very warm, the butter melts and the mode of dress is shorts and tee shirts 24/7. Mighty Fine!