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Stories with Photos

This page is an overview of random stories some short and some long. They are usually filled with photos, shocking surprises, intrigue and ironic endings. Ok, well at least there are photos.

Currently showing the story "Mazatlan to Barra and Back". Click here if you want to see the full list of stories available.

Mazatlan to Barra and Back

Friday Jun 30, 2006

Photos (22)

Words (2178)

Our first big trip after dealing with Cancer was designed to be simple and fun. And while we only went from Mazatlan down to Barra de Navidad Mexico, we surfed, sailed and saw lots of friends

We were determined to see some of Southern Mexico (700 miles round-trip) before having to do a u-turn and run north from the hurricanes.   So the day Sherrell's radiation treatment ended we drove back to Mazatlan from Guadalajara and piled back on the boat and hauled our butts out of there.

You can also try out our Satellite View of our favorite anchorage for a real virtual tour of some of these places!

Sherrell still had one more surgery left, but we decided since Puerto Vallarta (PV) was closer to Guadalajara anyway -- let's just go!  Sherrell sure is one tough cookie to go through all these "medical experiments" and still keep cruising!

We made a quick 5 hour stop at Isla Isabela after a 22 hour passage, because the anchorage was too crowded to stay the night. We also needed to keep moving because of the upcoming surgery.

It was a pretty place full of birds, but we didn't have time to really enjoy it and there was just too much on our minds.  After a quick rest, we took off for another 20 hour passage to La Cruz.  We stopped in La Cruz just long enough to sleep and then find a space in one of the marina's so we could leave the boat (and the cat) while we caught a bus to Guadalajara for surgery.

You might be wondering at this point why the rush?  Well, we had family flying into PV for a visit, and we really wanted to get the surgery done prior to their visit so Sherrell would have time to recover and so we could continue to travel further south.  We really needed to find a space to leave the boat fast.  Much to our relief after some calling around on the VHF we found a cheap spot in Marina Nuevo Vallarta tied between some pilings - we were good to go.

We left Sarana and Jezebel, bolted to Guadalajara, rolled Sherrell thru surgery, and in about 5 days we were back on the boat with her recovering nicely just 4 days before family showed up.  Phew!

Sadly, in the middle of all this our laptop died and so did our digital camera!  We were lucky our family was coming for a visit, because we were able to load them up with our new tools (far superior to the old ones)-- or is that toys?

We spent lots of time visiting and touring the PV area and it was really great to see my dad and his family again.  My dad and his step-daughter Yasmine even took a spin in our dinghy, Puff!

They stayed for about a week and since they had a rental car, we were able to see lots of stuff and provision the boat easily!

After they left, we spent a lot of time getting all our old software and files setup on the new computer.  I also had to strip apart the outboard carburetor, as it had died on us in La Cruz, and we met-up with a few family friends around the PV area before we left for parts further South. 

Finally one morning, we untied from the pilings and headed for the dreaded Cabo Corrientes, purported to be the "Cape Horn of Mexico".  Along the way, we continually had to dodge out of the way of several huge manta rays who didn't seem to know we were there.  They were very beautiful to watch gliding along the surface of the water but it was a little nerve racking, having known sailors who have collided with these beautiful creatures in the past.  But, we made it without even a bump.

After about 3 hours, we rounded the Cape with about 5 knots of wind, glassy seas and 2 knots of current against us.  We tried to sail but after an hour of doing only 1.5 knots, we gave up and fired up the iron beast.  24 hours later, we were finally able to sail for the last 2 hours into Tenacatita where we met up with our long lost friends Scott & Liz on Ocean Lady.

Even though we had to motor along this usually windy stretch of coastline, there was plenty to enjoy. We saw dolphins and lots of turtles!  It's really funny to see the seagulls catching a free ride on top of turtle shells.

How are you liking the new camera?  Much nicer, isn't it?

We rendezvoused with our friends and met some new ones but we were so tired after the 26 hour trip we weren't very good company.  The next day the new boats went north and our friends and us traveled 15 miles south to Barra de Navidad for some surfing and relaxation (Here's Liz surfing a "right").

The lagoon we anchored in was fantastic.  There was a French Baker, who was actually from Canada, and he would bring baked goods right there to the boat.  There was no swell or waves in the lagoon and the town had lots of entertainment to offer.  One of the local hotels even let us swim in their pool!

Basically we surfed like crazy for days and days before pulling up the hook and heading back north to Tenacatita to explore it more properly.

Tenacatita has a few different bays you can anchor in.  The one we went to this time was way up inside by a mangrove estuary.  The river, or estuary, is a narrow trail that zigzags thru mangrove jungle for about 3 miles before coming to a dock on the backside of a beach village with tiny stores and palapa restaurants.  The trip through the jungle by dinghy is unbeatable.  Although, getting through the surf break at the entrance was a little tricky, and took careful timing.  One couple got caught in the surf and flipped their dinghy but fortunately Scott & his friend Michael were nearby to help rescue them.

Once inside the surf, the trail winds its way through the mangroves for miles!

It was spectacular.  I've never seen anything like it.  Sherrell was here 10 years ago with her dad & step mom on their boat and she said there were tons of birds and animals.  However, we were there during a very busy Mexican holiday and pangas ran five or six at a time up and down the trail all day long giving tours.  They were aggressive drivers so when we glimpsed one coming we had to dash out of the way and hope they didn't swamp us.

We spent about a week here checking everything out and waiting for a good weather window to continue north.  As soon as we were ready, we did a nice day sail north to Chamela, 30 miles away, as our friends on Ocean Lady demonstrate.

Chamela turned out to be a nice surprise.

The water at Chamela was super clear.  The visibility was over 25 feet.  It seemed like a great spot to snorkel, but we were getting anxious to head north back around Cabo Corrientes (Currents Cape).  According to the weather guru, Don, who gives forecasts over the SSB radio nets twice a day, it looked like we had a good opportunity the following day.  So rather than play, we geared up and set sail.

We didn't get far.  We ended up trying to go offshore for about 2.5 hours under engine, in hopes we could turn NW and use the WNW wind to sail.  But we just took a beating instead.  So rather than make life miserable, we turned around and went snorkeling.

Because the weather wasn't cooperating we got in about 4 days of snorkeling and it was FANTASTIC!  There were fish everywhere and coral galore.  The water was so clear we didn't mind hanging out and swimming every day.

But all good things must end and a weather window appeared to be opening, so we took it.  Since this time of year the winds are still mostly from the north, we had a brief WSW wind to help carry us north.  And we got in about 3 hours of good sailing before it turned light and directly from the NW.

King's Way left the anchorage with us that day and sailed north with us.

And of course Ocean Lady broke out all her sails too.

And we got a great shot of Ocean Lady motor-sailing while the sun set.

It all looked nice and calm, but we were wary.  Cabo Corrientes is a massive cape that creates its own weather system.  If the wind blows anywhere in Mexico, you'll find it at this cape.  So we continued on through the night, hoping to round the cape around 3 or 4 am when the thermal winds would be the weakest.

As luck would have it, we were able to squeak around in relative comfort.  It was a little bumpy, but at 3:30 am we rounded the cape and entered Bahia de Banderas!  Yeah!

We took a day trip to see the old part of town and to shop for provisions.  There's lots of small streams that run off the big mountains around PV and they wind their way through the city.

And there are some old pedestrian swinging bridges that are always fun to cross.

While we were anchored near PV, in La Cruz, one of Ocean Lady's good friends who owns a restaurant on shore was hospitalized for gall stones.  Fortunately it wasn't too critical or much of a surprise, but they wanted to wait to make sure everything was going ok before departing north again.

During this time, this massive 120+ foot long sailboat appeared in the anchorage.

It was so big, I don't think they could even dock anywhere in PV because they needed deep water.  And when the people walked around on deck they looked like little tiny ants compared to the huge boat.

A couple of days later, we were stocked up on food, water and ice.  Scott & Liz got a chance to say goodbye to everyone and see their friend recovering at home and early in the morning, we set sail for Matanchen Bay for some more surfing!

On our way out of Bahia de Banderas, we passed by the beautiful Tres Mariettas where we snorkeled and swam with my family a month earlier when they visited us in PV.

The winds were light, but coming from the right direction so we decided to sail to Jaltemba for the night which was half-way to Mantanchen.

Jaltemba was pretty but it was ROLLY.  We rolled from side to side all night long and hardly got any sleep so we busted out of there at 7am.

The wind was a bit stronger and we were able to lay a course for Matanchen Bay on a single tack.  Here's a shot of me standing UPRIGHT inside the boat while we are heeled way over doing about 5.5 knots hard on the wind.

After a nice fast sail we anchored in Matanchen Bay where there is some great surfing (Spring/Summer only) and a picturesque bay surrounded by mountains and great beaches.  It took a while to get used to the big South swell rolling right into the anchorage and under our boat - we actually surged back and forth as we rose up, over, and down each roller.  Here's a small 270 degree view of the bay.

The surf was fairly small but the waves rolled on forever.  This was a great place for me to practice controlling the surf board and steering through the waves.  And I was able to ride them for about a full minute!  Matanchen is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the "longest wave" in the world.

We spent close to two weeks here catching waves and hanging out with Sergio, who owned one of the restaurants on the beach.  He surfed too, but we never had a chance to get him out on the waves with us.  He was kind enough to drive us around the nearest town of San Blas one day, and even let us borrow his car once.

The winds started to blow from the south and my mom was coming to Mazatlan to visit, both cues that we needed to move on.  So we packed it up and sailed north 130 miles to Mazatlan.  It was a rolly passage but we were able to sail for about 7 hours out of 25, which is unusual for that leg going north.  It's nice being docked in calm water again, but we'll be itching to get going again very soon I'm sure.

We still plan to see the Sea of Cortez and all our friends again this summer.  There will be lots more to come!