Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

Posts tagged ‘Tenecatita Bay’

Tortugas Bebes de Tenecatita(Baby Turtles of Tenecatita)

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Playa Tenecatita With Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds

In December 2016 Nikk and I again sailed south about 120 miles to Tenecatita, a lovely bay and anchorage where many cruisers gather in winter.  In the previous two blogs there are numerous details of the adventures awaiting the cruisers and shore folk who visit this area.

After anchoring Balance in a protected little corner of the bay with about six other boats, we paddled our kayaks to shore, and gratefully landed with no mayhem.  While Nikk played bocce ball on the beach I walked down to the Blue Bay Hotel area with several of the women and went to investigate the Turtle Sanctuary.  There in a concrete holding tank were 23 baby turtles, just hatched from their eggs, some with the membrane still attached, awaiting their release to the ocean, which we were told would occur at 6 pm that night.  With excitement I hurried back to tell Nikk and we agreed to stay on shore and wait the three hours until release time.

 

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These are probably Olive Ridley sea turtles

Mexico has six of the seven endangered species of turtles, and Mexico is at the forefront of turtle conservation.  This is just in time, because turtle meat and turtle eggs have been a source of food and income for centuries in Mexico.  When the military was occupied in Chiapas with the rebels some years ago, hundreds of thousands of turtle eggs were looted from beaches that had formerly been protected by the military.  Now the government is promoting agroforestry and chicken farms to provide eggs to replace the need for turtles.

Turtles come back to the beach where they were hatched years before to lay their eggs, after swimming thousands of miles to feed and then mate.  In that time they face predators, including humans, and being trapped as a byproduct of fishing boats with huge nets.  I read that recently many of the huge fishing boats have started using nets which release turtles and dolphins.  Still, of 1000 baby turtles that manage to make it to the ocean, only 1-3 are estimated to return to their beach to lay eggs.  In the Marina Riviera Nayarit  in La Cruz, I have seen several large  adult Green Turtles swimming inside the marina, looking for the beach that was there before the marina was begun in 2006.  I don’t know what they can do when they can’t find their beach.

 

Playa Tenecatita at the Blue Bay Hotel is one of several turtle conservation beaches along the Costalegre, the area of beaches in the state of Jalisco stretching from Puerto Vallarta to  Tenecatita, and then to Manzanillo in Colima state.  Four of the six species in Mexico are found here.  We often see huge turtles swimming along while we sail, sometimes we even see them mating.  The turtle conservators, who are paid by the Mexican government, collect the eggs (up to 200!) when they are laid and place them in the sand inside a pen that is guarded 24 hours a day.  A sign is erected and placed above the buried eggs, giving date of laying, number of eggs, and then later the date of hatching and how many baby turtles are successfully hatched.  The actual hatching is called a “frenzy”, which makes  me suspect that the turtles hatch all at once from their clutch.

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The sign says that there are 60 nidos (nests) and 113 eggs?

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Los Angeles Locos is the local turtle protection group

 

At 6 pm many people, young and old, gathered in excited groups at the concrete pen containing the baby turtles.  Luckily for us some of the people were vacationing from the U.S., spoke both English and Spanish, and were happy to translate the instructions and information.

 

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Two guards gathered the turtles into buckets and began to walk to the water’s edge with the humans following, eagerly awaiting what we assumed would be the guards releasing the turtles near the surf.

 

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When we arrived at the edge of the beach we were very surprised to have the guards line us up in an open rectangle and begin giving us the baby turtles to hold.  The baby turtles flailed their flippers vigorously, making them hard to keep aloft.

 

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Seeing the looks of rapt attention and the care that the children showed for the baby turtles gave me an upwelling of grateful emotions.

 

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The turtles felt cool and their shells were hard.

 

Soon it was time to lower the turtles carefully onto the sand, and they scrabbled  themselves slowly towards the surf.  There was a lot of cheering from the sidelines as one by one the baby turtles met the waves and were carried out into the bay.  Sometimes it took several waves before one big enough to carry the turtle away arrived.  The turtles were released at sunset when the pelicans and other birds were back at their nightly roosts, to avoid the pelicans snacking on the baby turtles like they do  in Puerto Vallarta when the release takes place in the late afternoon.

 

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“Goodbye little turtle”, we said, “live long and prosper on your journeys far and wide”.

With happy hearts we walked back down the beach to the kayaks, being grateful to all the caring Mexicans who help restore and conserve the turtle populations of the Costalegre, including all the people who came to the beach to participate.  The joy in our hearts was echoed by the warmth of the deep red sunset.

 

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Several sites with information about participating in turtle rescue are here:

https://www.mexperience.com/outdoors

http://www.puertovallartatours.net/baby-sea-turtles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vagabonding Once Again: La Cruz to Barra de Navidad

 

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Chamela Bay looking across to Balance anchored at the tip of Isla Pajarara.

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.

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Sunset as we paddled around Isla Pajarara

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Balance with Zoe B

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Immature Brown Booby with Heerman’s Gulls.

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).

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The dinghy shortly before being swamped during the La Manzanilla landing.

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Nikk with a little Crocodile buddy at the large Crocodile Refuge in La Manzanilla.

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Gordo, the 70-80 year old crocodile at the refuge.

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The Mexican who called Gordo to the bridge so we could get a good photo.

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.

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The Tenecatita anchorage, seen from the beachside palapa restaurant.

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Surprise! Moonshadow and Janna Banana arrive in the dinghy.

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Nick wrestling mangroves trying to get us a way through to the lagoon we visited two years ago. Sadly, he was defeated.

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Denizens of the estuary: White Ibis in a hurricane-denuded mangrove.

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A Green Heron whose relatives we see when paddling the Tualatin River west of Portland.

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?

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The almost Full Moon of Xmas Eve .

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Moorish architecture at Hotel Grand Bay.

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The spectacular Grand Bay Hotel from the marina.

 

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.

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Happy New Year and Prospero Ano Nuevo to all!

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