The lure of warm emerald water and isolated anchorages pulled us out of La Cruz on December 14, 2015, and south to Chamela Bay. Balance would have sailed out two days earlier but the remnants of a tropical storm pounded La Cruz with three days of rain. It was a final example of the weird weather of November and December – unseasonably hot and humid with apparent temperatures of 100 degrees F many days, or unseasonably cloudy and rainy. We splashed around the cobblestoned streets doing last-minute errands and saying goodbye to our many friends. Six weeks in La Cruz seemed like a long time at the beginning of November, and not nearly enough when mid-December came too fast. Three friends visited for a week in early November, and my brother and his wife came for a week at the end of the month. The advent of visitors created good times eating and drinking in our favorite restaurants in the evening, and kayaking, hiking, sailing on the Bay, walking the beaches and birdwatching during the day. I wound up leading some yoga classes again, taking Spanish classes twice a week, exploring the world of science on Science Fridays with the marina kids, and taking part in a stimulating Writer’s Group at the marina on Saturdays. Nikk kept at the boat projects so Balance would be ready to head south after almost a year in Marina Riviera Nayarit. She weathered the six hot months from May to October tied to the dock and watched over by Gonzalo, Richard, and the wonderful guards.
Finally the day came to cast off our lines and motor sail at sunrise across the Bay of Banderas 24 miles to Cabo Corrientes, around the corner with only mild chop in the usually rough area outside the Bay, and then halleluia! we turned off the engine and sailed for four hours on to our first night in tiny Ipala Bay. Small Spinner Dolphins accompanied us for about fifteen minutes, and they really do leap out of the water and spin like a drill in the air. That first night in Ipala Bay we didn’t even want to get off the boat and go ashore. Balance rocked her two tired sailors to sleep that night, with brilliant stars shining above, soon it was time to make coffee and sail south with the morning sun.
Hurricane Patricia in late October spared Puerto Vallarta and La Cruz, because the Sierra Madre mountains east and south deflected the 200 mph monster hurricane. It came ashore about twenty miles south of Chamela Bay, and we expected to see massive damage all along the coast and in the bays. Instead many trees, cacti, and buildings miraculously survived with only some damage. We heard that the destruction inland was much more extensive, with many people losing all of their banana or papaya crops.
Isla Pajarara lies in the middle of Chamela Bay, and there Balance dropped anchor so we could spend four days snorkeling, kayaking, and relaxing aboard our boat.
More fun and friends old and new awaited us in Tenecatita Bay. Robert (the Mayor of Tenecatita anchorage)and his wife Virginia on Harmony kindly invited us to sail across the bay with them and two other couples to visit La Manzanilla (a small town in the SW corner of the bay).
During Hurricane Patricia wave surge about ten feet high came ashore and flooded homes on the beach whose windows had been blasted out by the high winds. We heard sad stories of homes losing their roof, or having foundations washed away. Seven weeks later the damage was still being repaired, and one of the first places in town to be repaired was the Crocodile Refuge, because the fences had been washed away and large crocs were wandering the streets of La Manzanilla, wanting a tasty meal of cat, dog or chicken. Luckily for us by the time we arrived they had all been rounded up and returned to the refuge (at least we didn’t see any in town!).
Tenecatita is a cruiser’s paradise. Swimming, snorkeling, games of bocce ball on the beach, tasty meals at the beach palapa restaurant, and a two mile long estuary to paddle in our kayaks. Robert and Virginia on Harmony organize much of the fun. Virginia published Harmony on the High Seas: When Your Mate Becomes Your Matey in 2011, tales and advice about the cruising life, and how to stay in harmony with your cruising partner despite the lack of space and the dire and dangerous moments. I read the book two years ago (and read parts of it to Nikk) and I recommend it to all, even non-cruisers, for its sage advice, philosophies of love and living, and the fascinating details of how to build a harmonious cruising life.
After four days anchored in Tenecatita Balance carefully motorsailed through the rocks and reefs to spend a week tied to the dock in Marina Isla Navidad, next to the Grand Bay Hotel across the channel from Barra de Navidad. It’s been our goal to spend Navidad in Barra de Navidad again after the wonderful time we had two years ago. Unfortunately I must have been very bad this last year, because Santa brought me sciatica for Christmas and I hobbled for three days. I did manage to take a few photos of this spectacular hotel and the view of the Xmas Eve almost-full-moon. There will not be another full moon on Christmas Day until 2034, and I wonder if I will see that one too?
50 cruisers attended the Christmas Day Potluck and the wild White Elephant Gift Exchange at the Time Out Bar overlooking the bay. I was too busy being an elf for the gift exchange, trying to keep track of how many times a gift was stolen, and who received which gift. Fun and hectic and no time for photos. I can say our cruiser buddies know how to have a good time, and it was fun to see all the folks dressed up instead of in shorts and flip flops. We did get one picture of us at the bar, so I will end with that, and with our wishes for a happy, healthy and more peaceful 2016 for all.
We are sailing south today to spend New Year’s Eve in some secluded anchorage, if all goes well, and then Manzanillo for my birthday in early January.