Heading North: La Cruz to Cuastacomates

Botanical Garden
 Vallarta Botanical Gardens
After our hike thru the jungle in the Botanical Gardens, it was time to do an overnight passage to our next port of call - Chamela. Not only were we accompanied by Merry & BJ on Willow, and John & Gayle on m/v Sirens Call, but also by dolphins and whales.
The dolphins must have followed us all the way, because they were right with us when we dropped anchor in Chamela and stayed with us while Merry & I swam with them for a while.

Next day, we picked up Merry & BJ and took PSS around to the 1st island in the middle of the bay. We anchored in about 15ft of water and had pretty good visibility. Saw lots of black angels, porcupine fish, Moorish idols and some little navy blue fish with turquoise polka dots.

Went to the beach for lunch after, found that beach palapa prices have gone up a little bit, but still found some reasonable deals. I had garlic shrimp, Don had quesadilla de pescado, and Merry ordered fish soup ... but I don't think she was expecting to see the entire fish - head, tail and all, in her bowl, but she said it was quite delicious!

Once in a while, we do treat ourselves to something other than a Beach lunch. One night we had pineapple stuffed with chicken and veggies, sautéed in a Kahlua. A little more appealing to the eye, and very tasty!

Next stop, Tenacatita. Had calm seas on the way over, did dishes, made water, pastry and lunch and we were there. Barely got the hook down and s/v Optical Illusion came over and said they wanted to pick us up in a few minutes and take us to Good Dog Beach for a photo op. There were five Canadian boats in the bay, all Blue Water Cruising members. Bonnie from Murray Grey was to be our photographer.

The evening found us at a raft up in front of the beach. At a raft up, all the dingys tie together in one spot, we bring a snack to share and books & videos to trade. One by one, a spokesperson from each boat introduces themselves and their crew, tells a little about their boat and their recent travels and then we all exchange boat cards. It's a great way to meet all your neighbours in the bay, all at one time.

Lynn's pet
 Lynn's new pet

We took the boat around to playa Tenacatita and anchored at a site known as "The Aquarium". Got the tanks on and spent some time with my new pet! This little guy followed me for the longest time, getting right in my face. When Don put his hand out, he swam right over to him and Don tickled his belly, then the little fellow tried to eat out of Don's hand, even though there was noting there to eat. We also saw lots of trumpet fish, and a huge school of surgeon fish.

After our swim, we dingyed to shore, walked over the hill, thru the trailer park, and stopped at our favorite beach restaurant for rollo del mar ... a fish filet stuffed with shrimp and cheese, wrapped in bacon and smothered in almond sauce! Every bit as good as it was two years ago, and the price was the same!

Our next snorkeling encounter was just outside the bay at Tenacatita on a rocky point. Saw a very vibrant yellow trunk fish, and lots of black/blue lyre tailed somethings ... can't find them in my fish book to ID them.

Our next stop was Barra de Navidad, and there won't be any snorkeling or diving there. We anchor in a lagoon, in about 10 feet of water and have to dingy back into town, about a two mile trip. The nice thing about anchoring in Barra is that at night, it is so calm, it's like being tied up to a dock.

Second night we were there, we were in for another surprise. Most every night in Barra, we can hear the roar of the waves crashing on shore on the other side of the lagoon. It sounds like thunder to me, however, tonight, it was the real thing. A thunder and lightning storm! We were awaken by the rain, because as usual, we had left the hatches open. It remained cloudy the entire next day.

Following day, took the bus into Melaque, did a little shopping and went to the beach for lunch. Stopped at a palapa restaurant where almost all the patrons were Canadian, and there wasn't a Mexican in the place ... except of course for the staff, but even they spoke English. The meals were excellent, very reasonable, and the beer was 60 cents.

On our way back to Barra, we stopped at the LTH Battery store and purchased another battery to use as a starter battery. It has been so cloudy and overcast this season, that our solar panels don't seem to be able to charge the batteries sufficiently and our Suzie wouldn't start one morning. Not a big deal when you are anchored in a place like Barra where you can just wait till the sun comes out, but sometimes, its important we are able to leave before the sun is up.

Merry's brother David had arrived from the US for a weeks vacation, so they all came over to PSS for dinner, which consisted of Ambrosia Salad and banana bread. These folks are pretty easy to please!

They were heading off to Tenacatita for a few days, so we headed over to Cuastacomates for another snorkeling excursion. The snorkeling there is in about 20ft of water, so not really deep enough to put on tanks. There are lots of big rocks for the fish to gather round, and the coral appears to still be alive. Saw a small sea snake this time.

Merry enjoing fresh water
 Merry enjoying unlimited fresh water!
Plans for the next day were for Willow to return from Tenacatita and come and join us at Cuastacomates for a snorkel and lunch on the beach. However, once again, mother nature had other ideas. Black clouds rolling in, we are in for another storm. Willow got anchored just in time for a downpour of almost 4 hours which left about 6 inches of rain in the dingy.

There wasn't a lot of wind associated with the rain, but the seas did get kind of rolly, so Willow headed back to Barra, but not before Merry took advantage of all the fresh water and did some laundry, shampooed her hair, cleaned the dingy bottom etc. We persevered, and it did calm down nicely that night.

A few days later, we walked over to the Port Captains office to do our official check-in and check-out. We stopped at the Sands Hotel on the way back to check e-mail, and unfortunately while we were there, we had another downpour. There was no way to get back to PSS quickly, and we had left the hatches open.

The rain stopped as quickly as it had started, and we thought we were going to be in for a very soggy mattress. Luckily, the sheets and the mattress cover sopped up all the water and the mattress was still dry. We hung up the sheets, had a late lunch then the sun came out bright and hot and dried up everything by late afternoon - good job too, as it started to rain again by early evening. Will it never quit?

Took a few side trips from Barra de Navidad. Merry and I went into Obregon to the tienga, a Farmers Market complete with produce, clothes, DVD and local arts and crafts. I bought myself a treat, a set of multi-colored hand blown water glasses, made in the state of Guerrero.

Lounge chairs
 Rebar Lounge Chairs
We all took a trip into La Manzanilla, about a 45 minute ride. Walked along the estuary and saw the crocodiles in their native habitat, then had lunch at Dutch/Asian restaurant on the beach. We had expected La Manzanilla to be just a little fishing village, but not so. Lots of full time American and Canadian residents.

This enterprising young man was making lounge chairs out of rebar, then weaving them with some sort of plastic in every color of the rainbow. He must do a very profitable business as all the beach restaurants had them. Wish I could have bought one, but I don 't think it would fit in my suitcase, and it definitely won't fit on the boat.

I bought a short set at one of the local tiendas, and my salesman was Pedro, probably all of 9 or 10 years old. Very helpful, brought me out many colors and styles to choose from, and although there are no change rooms to try on clothes, he insisted I try on the blouse over my bathing suit and he even helped with the buttons.

Home made flan
 This little girl and her auntie are selling homemade flan - a thick vanilla custard.
We do spend a lot of time at the beach, and Melaque is one of my favorite places. Firstly, the beach has nice soft sand, a gentle slope and the swells are not too big to swim through without getting your bathing suit full of sand. We really enjoy sitting at the beach to watch the goings on.

Can't spend all of our time at the beach, it's time to head on to our next destination. This day, mother nature was with us, and we actually had a little wind in the right direction ... and Willow close enough to get a picture.

Next stop Bahia Santiago.

Don & Lynn on Prairie SeaShell
 Don and Lynn sailing Prairie SeaShell.

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