Catching up with Dharma Girl
We’ve done a lot of backtracking so far with our blog; so I thought I’d post and do some catching up in a vain effort to keep us as current as possible.
We’re back in Banderas Bay, anchored in the cruiser anchorage at La Cruz just outside the marina proper. The anchorage is busy with about 30 boats or so. We’re tucked in close up to the beach and about a 10 minute dinghy ride into the dinghy dock. There’s a bunch of dolphins and jumping rays in the anchorage and some whale activity out in the bay.
It’s Sunday, which means the Farmer’s Market is here on the malecon. *** (minor edit: It’s now Saturday, we moved into the marina … it’s taken us this long to edit photos & get on the marina wifi …)*** Carrie hitched a ride with our neighbors Bill & Nina and is in doing some shopping. The Kid’s Club Trash Boat Regatta is on later this afternoon. Generally speaking, it’s crunch time for those boats prepping for the Pacific Puddle Jump; with boats looking to depart in roughly three weeks from now. Lots of seminars and an active morning VHF net. Even more exciting than all that – I’m seeing north of 20 amps from the solar panels from mid morning on. (hey c’mon – what’s better than that ?!)…
Departing La Cruz for Punta Perula
We left La Cruz just after New Year’s Day and sailed in light winds across the bay to Yelapa. Yelapa is a known rolly anchorage, and the pangueros there guide you into a mooring ball that you rent for the night. On good advice, we doubled down on both a bow and stern tie to keep us aimed into the rollers.
“A Palapa in Yelapa beats a Condo in Redondo…”
Yelapa is a great day ride for tourists coming over from Puerto Vallarta for the day. Party boats unload people onto pangas, and the pangueros make an exciting beach landing – often driving up from the beach break and into the first or second row of chairs. Yelapa itself is a tiny town – I think they’ve only had electricity for 10 years or so … a lot of people still use burros to get around, or big quad runners.
Carrie and I did two hikes – one through town to the small waterfall, and another one up to the big waterfall, although we don’t think we officially made it to the big one, as somebody moved the sign around on the trail. It was a great day – we saw a flock of wild parrots and herons as we criss-crossed the river several times.
We left late the next afternoon and headed for Punta Perula, rounding Cabo Corrientes in light winds. I don’t recall us sailing this leg – but I did get to witness a full sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset with clear skies and a full moon. It was rather neat.
We absolutely loved our stay in Perula. It was our first stop where we could swim off the boat in warm, turquoise water. You could see the anchor in 20 feet of water. We spent at least a week here. Perula is yet undeveloped, so there’s no condos in site – only a smallish RV park, a few palapas on the beach, and a small malecon being built in the little estuary. There’s a single paved road.
We enjoyed a few brunches at Scuba Jazz Cafe – a wonderful little corner place under a big tamarind tree. We sat and sipped coffee and jugo verdes; watching nothing much go by on the road, chatting with the Canadian expats who lived there while the local dogs begged for a snack then left to loll around in the sun.
One day a pair of dolphins came in and scratched their backs on our anchor chain. One liked it so much we think he may have jostled our anchor enough to make us reset it.
We moved out to Isla Cocina with our friends from SV Starfire and did some snorkeling on the little beach. SV Beach Access met up with us on the beach; they improved on the little rickety palapa there for some shade and we enjoyed the day chatting and swimming. There was also a big hired motor yacht anchored just offshore that day. Their crew setup a full catered lunch for 12 under a canopy. It was great people watching for all of us, seeing how “the other half” was living.
Tenacatita is a special spot for cruisers down here. Everybody stops here for some time, so much so the place has its own mayor – Robert and his wife The Lovely Miss Virginia – genuinely lovely people. The beach has a campground with palapa at the north end, and a cluster of small resorts at its south end. We got to (ahem) enjoy the nightly variety show from the resorts booming loudspeakers. (you actually get used to after a while).
Every day at 2PM there is a bocce ball meetup onshore with a beach walk. Later on, everyone gathers under the palapa for drinks and a little food until it’s time to head back to the boat for sunset. We played Mexican Train with Dan and Nancy from SV Karvi – old friends of Pat and Melodie’s… it was fun to connect those dots.
Conch shells blow to announce sunset every night. Friday evening is the Mayor’s Raft Up. Everyone gathers in their dinghies with appetizers to pass around. The Mayor gives a little speech and then we all share our stories on a chosen theme. As the conversations wind down, everyone slowly peels off as they head back home for the night. It’s hard to describe just how special this little gathering is.
We took a day to anchor off of “the aquarium”. We spent the afternoon snorkeling and had another pair of dolphins visit – a mom and her teenager. The teenager sat there eying us for a while then had a lot of fun rubbing his belly on the bottom of our keel. He made several laps around and under the boat, so close we could hear him breathing alongside.
I dinghied over to La Manzanilla for some groceries one day. As I hauled up the dinghy onto the beach, I stepped on a dead porcupine fish in my bare feet. Carrie & I had a funny exchange over the VHF where I thought I might die from some exotic poison, while she diagnosed me via Wikipedia on her phone.
Back at the main anchorage, Virginia hosted a women’s gathering that Carrie attended. She liked it so much we lingered around another weekend so she could make it to the second one. Then I think it rained for a day (with a spectacular lightning show inland that night) and afterwards we got lazy and didn’t leave for another few days after that.
Isla Carrezal, Bahia Santiago, Las Hadas
Isla Carrezal is a daysail south from Tenacatita. It’s the first anchorage in the large bay that encompasses the larger Manzanillo area. We had stopped here on Starshine in 2015. The snorkeling was great – we had schools of big purple parrot fish following us around. The coral is in good shape.
Next stop here was Bahia Santiago, just around the corner. I have renamed this place La Playa del Jetski. We anchored on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a three-day Mexican holiday weekend. Dharma Girl quickly became the turnaround point for the local jet ski rentals. We watched people zoom by, often with one of the passengers holding their cell phones for that all important selfie. Everyone was friendly for the most part, waving and saying hola. All the hoopla died at sunset.
We dinghied ashore for some groceries, walking through the Club Santiago property to the little town of Miramar. Miramar had a few nice little tiendas, and a larger mercado on the main road.
I was all excited about seeing the fancy resort at Las Hadas. It is known for its unique Moorish architecture, as well as being the place made famous by the movie “10”, starring Bo Derek. (Dudley Moore was in that too, but I don’t think anybody cares.). Las Hadas is also notorious for their $240 peso dinghy fee that keeps us riff-raff out in the anchorage where we belong.
The anchorage itself is really nice, you can tuck up into it and get out of the wind and swell. At night, the resort is all lit up and is very pretty. We shared it with SV Joy and SV Zero. We had a nice chat with Christian and Faye from Zero, a young couple from Germany.
We were also really low on both pesos and groceries and were ready to head into Manzanillo proper to stock up. We could practically see the La Comer and Santander ATM through the golf course.
There’s an old saying that says: “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong…”
Unfortunately, I suffered a double-whammy of health problems while we were here. I got sick from eating some questionable tuna we had onboard. That only lasted one rough night. The next day I suffered an acute case of sciatica while in Las Hadas. It was so bad I couldn’t walk from the dinghy dock to the taxi stand. A dock worker – who spoke no English – had the taxi drive down to the dock so I only had to walk three steps to get in the car. At this point, I decided we needed to go to the urgent care clinic for medical help. Yo tengo mucho dolor (I have a lot of pain).
Our taxi driver was also fantastic. He spoke little English, but called a friend to help translate for us to get us to the Echauri hospital in Manzanillo – the good clinic in town. Carrie had a little trouble getting cash from the ATM on the way. Our driver escorted her to the bank while we were at the shopping center. After all this help, he did not raise our fare one peso when he dropped us off at the clinic. I gave him a big propina and a very enthusiastic thank you. I would have hugged him but I’d probably would have fallen over onto the sidewalk. I’ll say this again – our experience with the Mexican people continues to be extremely positive – everyone we meet goes very far out of their way to help us, in both matters big and small.
Long story short, I got some excellent health care in Manzanillo. The clinic was great – no forms, no insurance – a short wait and straight to the doctor. You pay cash on the way out. The process was so efficient it was disorienting to us gringos used to US healthcare.
I got X-rays, a thorough exam from an Orthopedic specialist, a set of meds, and am on the mend. And we keep the xrays.
Carrie really stepped up her game here. Not only did she take care of me, she took on the workload I normally do as part of our two person team running the boat. We both learn a lot of little details as we do things in our respective roles. There’s a lot of effort embedded in those details.
Departing Las Hadas, Carrie readied the boat for being underway, weighed anchor, and did all the driving until we reached the entrance marker at Barra de Navidad. I basically laid there and sucked my thumb all morning. I’m quite proud of how she’s become a competent sailor.
I’ll do another post on Barra de Navidad in a bit, as this has turned into a long one.
If you’ve read this far, thanks again for following us.
Chris and Carrie
SV Dharma Girl
Currently Lying La Cruz de Huanacaxtle