La Cruz to Perula … A Whale of a Time

From La Cruz, Banderas Bay to Perula, Chamela Bay – 14-15 February

Whales! We are lucky to experience our fair share of marine life heading South. An hour after we left La Cruz, we were greeted by a whale and its slapping tail. We never tire of seeing these enormous creatures. These moments put a guaranteed smile on our faces. Well, there were more Humpbacks.  After lunch, a whale came up in front of the bow. Chris immediately put the motor in neutral and allowing the boat’s forward momentum to change course temporarily. This is a safety practice that is encouraged to all sailors in Banderas Bay and the surrounding areas.  In the past, too many whales have been injured and this practice has considerably reduced injuries.

So a couple of hours later, we are moving along nicely … but the winds picked up, so we decided to reef the mainsail. We were both on top along the boom and mast working to flatten the reefed sail. Just then, Carrie happens to be looking aft when a whale — 75 feet from our stern, completely breached. The entire whale came straight up, extending its beautiful massiveness, with a nanosecond of a pause, then free falls to the water with a huuuuge kaaa-splash !! Back into the water it went, creating a crater and sending water up as high as our necks could bend back. It was a jaw-dropping, OMG!, “Did you see that!?” moment. Editors note: Carrie actually said – “Oh Sh-t!!” and pointed to the whale. I whirled around thinking we had lost the dinghy or something. Henceforth, we have agreed to point and say “Whale! … or Dolpins! … or Sea Life!, or something. Pointing and saying “Oh Sh-t!” is now saved for the past tense.

Did we really leave too early from La Cruz or did we happen to travel much faster than we calculated? It was the latter. When we plan our navigation to a new location, we use a conservative calculation of traveling at 5.5 kts, or 6.33 miles, per hour. (That’s a slight jog for you fitness buffs out there). We had a 17 hour leg ahead of us but we also timed our departure to go around the point of Cabo Corrientes, which translates to Cape of Currents, when it was calm. The cape extends out to the sea, the southbound current tends to swirl , creating a giant eddy, and those changing directions creates turbulence in the water.  Also, the winds accelerate from a 10-15 breeze to 20-25 knots.  Big winds and turbulence seas is not a fun combo for us.  In fact, not for most.

We left at 1100 Sunday with little wind, so we motored sailed. With the swells on our stern, we were making good time and it was evident we needed to slow down to avoid arriving two hours before sunrise on Monday. We had the right wind to turn off the motor, double reef the mainsail, and sail at two knots. (That’s about how fast the average person can moon-walk.) This setup was successful, with us arriving at 0745 Monday. We drop the anchor in front of Perula, Chamala Bay.

With a cup of coffee and breakfast in our hands, we sit in the cockpit listening to the lapping sounds of the waves on the beach. Immediately, we are tranquilo, calm, and reminded how much this fills our cup of joy. 

Perula – February 15-22

Rest days are important with any lifestyle. Sundays are typically our rest day that consists of reading, napping more than a typical day (if that is even possible), or very low-key activity or socializing. Additionally, a rest day after a long passage has become a tradition for us.

One on One with Nature
Casting is Relaxing

The west southwest (WSW) swells were creating a rough and rolly beach and river entrance making it inaccessible. We did attempt to scope out the possibility but the break at this beach is very near to beach itself, not leaving much room to get over the waves, out of the boat, and up onto the beach without the next wave knocking us down, or worse, flipping the dinghy over. So we took a pass for the day and headed back to our boat. We made the best of it, as we always aim for. We read our books, played a couple of games, sewed a couple more face masks, tailored a top for Carrie, and then watched some flicks. Almost treating it like a rainy day in Portland, OR. Then we took a rest day.  

But alas, on the next day the swells settled down and we take the dingy up the river, tie off at one of the three new docks, and check out the work on the new Malecon since our last visit last in March of 2020.  It is beautiful, wide, and inviting with artful concrete work, floral plants, palm trees, and bushes. We speculate on why the big investment in the small town. And we concluded, like many of the other small towns along this coastline, they will host day visits from cruise ships that will anchor on the outskirts of the bay.  But honestly, there isn’t much to this town that resides along this beautiful long beach.  There are a couple of tiendas, laundry, a few hotels, a school, three restaurants in town, and many small businesses trying to make a living, restaurants located at the north end of the beach, and the traditional banana boat rides. 

After having lunch at our favorite Perula cafe, Jazz Cafe, we walk east in town, then down to the beach.  Walking barefooted in the surf and taking in the sites.

Gone in 60 Seconds – Part I

We mosey back to the docks and that is when Carrie realizes her phone is not in her purse.  S%$@!!  You know that feeling when you reach for your phone and it’s not there? Too many horrible scenarios run through your head.  Well, we frantically backtracked up the beach to the last place Carrie took a photo, to no avail.  We decided to go back to the boat and use the Where is My Phone app on the laptop.  Back at the boat where we left Chris’s phone, we see a text message from a stranger and a voicemail from our good friend Gina, on SV Raven. Turns out my phone was found about a 5-minute walk from the dinghy and the finder called and texted the last person Carrie spoke to that morning.  The stranger’s name is Brad he was going to be at the beach all day. We went back to the beach, retrieved the phone, and had a nice conversation with some folks from Guadalajara. Our offer of some reward money was denied – he believes in Karma too, and all is well. Hours later Carrie’s heart rate is back to tranquilo.  

The next morning, we hear a call on the VHF for any boats going south to Barra de Navidad.  Chris on SV SeaGlub was looking for a cruiser who can help deliver school supplies for the school fundraiser SailFest.  He forgot he had the bag in his bilge while he was there.  And naturally, we volunteered. The large donation bag was delivered to our boat while we were out padding the river.  Speaking of, the swell to the river opening was small this time so we took the kayak and SUP around the bay and then up the river. The morning was peaceful and the bird activity in the low tide was plentiful.

We didn’t have our cameras to take photos but our memory worked well. 

Pretty cool birds, wouldn’t you say.

The surf that encouraged us to decide having lunch on the boat.
It was only going to get larger during the afternoon.

After ooh’g and ah’g at the birds, we paddle out the river and hung a left towards the beach. Naturally, our beach landing was graceful. No, not really. It was hilarious. Carrie surfs in and looking promising, then at the very last bit her board catches an edge and she is thrown onto her stomach. See ? Grace. Chris paddles with the surf, looking pro, but makes the mistake and looks back over his shoulder (the mistake is you don’t paddle when looking over your shoulder) and loses his forward momentum. The wave catches up, tumbles him a couple of times, and he stands up.  Drenched too.  See, also graceful.  We walked the beach, drying off, an hour later we return to the craft.  We debate having lunch at a beach restaurant.  We are “sighting (measuring) the waves” and wonder what the conditions will be an hour from now.  It is easier to enter the waves on a SUP than the style of Kayak, and the surf is only getting taller, so we decide to head back to the boat.  Grace returns … the surf is about 3 feet and is crashing early, and we are really rusty with sea entrances.  Carrie makes a clean entrance.  Chris takes on two, chest-high waves, and fills the kayak.  He paddles out beyond the waves and begins to bail the kayak by hand.  Kind of funny and kind of not.  Depends on the perspective. 

The following photos are this and that of Perula; a typical tienda patio, a tequila worm theme on a child rollercoaster (start them young), a bee visiting our boat, tropical flowers, a beautiful floral wall, and what we thought looks like a dragon in the clouds.

Looking forward to the bow, the windless is in the foreground.

An evening experience that has happened to us several times since we have arrived in Mexico is a visit by a Night Heron.  These nocturnal birds perch on our bow pulpit reading themselves to ‘hunt’ the fish below them.  We can watch their activity out the hatch above our berth.  During the day we can find these characters looking like old men hunched in the limbs of the mangroves.  

Alrighty, the forecast states we have one more day of strong winds from the north and then all will be calm. We are familiar with this.  The easy sounds of waves, the light breeze, crashing waves on the beach, again … tranquilo.  This, and a few small tasks for the boat during the week. The weather is delightful and lovely.

Thanks again for stopping by and reading about our travels. It is flattering and means a bunch to us. Take care good care of yourself and yours. And Live Your Best Life.

~Chris and Carrie

Boat Terms: 

Aft – the direction to look from the boat.

Motor Sail – motoring while keeping the mainsail up. Having the sail up reduces the rolling (side to side) motion.

Windlass – a mechanical device used to drop an anchor attached to a chain or line.  Then to retrieve the anchor, aka weighing anchor. Can be operated by hand or electronically.

Berth –  a place to sleep, sometimes in a dedicated room, sometimes with a door.

Hatch – an interior door in the ceiling of the boat, often all wood, and often clear or smoked acrylic to allow in light, lifts to open on a hinge. Also, a covering of a storage portal.

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