Punta Mita to Barra de Navidad

We spent a couple days at Punta Mita – the original destination. I’m sure one of said at least twice “Once we’re in Punta Mita we can relax… there will be tons of waves, we can get everything we need there. Vallarta area and Banderas Bay are the destination for a while…” Well, we didn’t spend too much time here after all. We are headed South so that means 1000 more miles until the Tehuantepec is behind us and we have about a month or so to do it. Hurricane season starts in May and we’re hoping to be to El Salvador by early May. Anyhow I’ve finally put a post together!

The little beach in Punta Mita has coarse sand and sharp rocks so pulling the dinghy beyond the surf was very tricky. A warning from a local cruiser said he wore through his fiberglass bottom on this stuff… so watch out with that inflatable floor! We needed gas for the outboard and the first guy we met on the beach showed Andrew the way to gas for sale just up the road… Pemex? No, Casa. A local Senora had her pantry piled with jugs of gas for sale – not bad. The pantry had no windows or ventilation and while her young daughter looked on we got equipped to go for a surf mission. We both surfed at Burros one day with pretty crappy waves crowded with a variety of board users (including me on the hand-plane) but at least I had a go and it was really fun. The dinghy return trip was so wet and bumpy we swore to never return. Waves on the point and at the beach were really small. I would have needed a long board and rental was $10/hr. Probably wouldn’t have been able to catch one in an hour.

I found some cool sea-glass and shells walking the beach including a bright yellow, a marble and a unique speckled green piece. Finding a marble for a seaglass huntress is pure joy.

A colorful collection of sea things. Click Here to see my seaglass jewelry!

Inside the panga pen at Punta Mita this lovely girl was eating a mango and doesn’t she look beautiful?

We left there in the afternoon and had an awesome downwind sail to La Cruz where we spent 4 nights (one in a slip) doing repairs, laundry, shopping, etc. The anchorage was sure open to the winds here… an arrival on a windy day perhaps but it was a wet dinghy ride into the dock and hard to leave the boat unattended.

Anchorage in La Cruz

We bussed in to the Mega store for 16 pesos where we went nuts on foodstuffs and consumy delights. The marina and anchorage in La Cruz is packed with cruisers all of whom enjoy the nice bathroom facilities of the yacht club (paying or not) and I was very grateful to attend the free vinyasa yoga! The day we got the slip (about $17/night) we fixed the depth sounder and did 9 bucketfuls of laundry all hung out to dry on the lifelines. I also gave Andrew and myself haircuts with the borrowed trimmer from our neighbors. Andrew agrees it’s the best haircut he’s ever had… although I think he’s just relieved from the heat. We were assigned a slip across from a boat from Olympia, WA – it gave me a good ol’ dose of nostalgia for the home town! What are the odds? In addition to being at a ridiculously fancy yacht club that is the cheapest place we have been in by far… there are also tons of tropical fish swimming around the boat and it’s quite like being in aquarium.

Fancy La Cruz Marina that is actually very cheap

We headed out of La Cruz at dawn and motored all the way around Cabo Corrientes. We passed a large Navy vessel that altered course dead for us and then turned off. We were preparing to get boarded based on what others have been saying about a new Navy ship patrolling the area and boarding vessels from Puerto Vallarta to Barra. Seas where pretty mixed around the point but there was no wind – couldn’t even keep a sail full at all. About 2:30 we picked up about 8 knots NE wind on a broad reach down the point. Within one hour it was blowing 20+. We reefed down the jib to almost nothing and were making solid 6 knots and didn’t even have the main up. The seas built rapidly and were very steep. We clipped in, held on and sailed hard towards Ipala – a small anchorage about 15 miles South of the Cabo. We also both had to put jackets and pants on for the first time in a while – it was cold!

This really shows the cape effect… graphic taken from a few days after we made the passage.

We watched the dinghy that we were towing go nuts behind including slamming the stern on more than one occasion – thinking of a guy who told us just yesterday – “take advice from an old guy: don’t tow your dinghy!” Guessing it was blowing harder than we had seen it while at sea our whole trip – easily 25 knots and the seas were very steep and breaking. It was rough and little scary. Rounding into the little bay that was described by Charlie (the guide book dude) as ‘nearly worthless as an anchorage’ was the most worth-it anchorage ever. Great protection from the seas and wind. There were two other sailboats here both headed north who we talked to a little over the radio. Guess it was really nasty out yesterday and the day before as well.

Ipala as the winds started to calm

After getting settled-in the AIS let us know a mega yacht was on it’s way into the cove. The 64 foot glistening multi-million dollar boat was captained by a crew of morons. They came in and dropped their hook twice practically on top of us while driving forward and dragging it all around. Then asking a panga driver if it was good to drop it right on top where we had dropped ours and he said.. si si! Andrew and I looked on in horror. What they did was incredibly rude or incredibly dangerous, it was actually both although I don’t think they intended it to be either. They were enjoying cigars and pipes against the full-length mirrored doors while I shouted from the bow over the wind that they needed to MOVE. They moved. Pheeeew.

The anchorage here reminds us of the channel islands. Tall cliffs with white, orange, blue and gray rock and sand, with little vegetation and waves slamming ceaselessly upon them. There is a small sandy cove and a little fishing village tucked in with some pangas anchored out. There are also plenty of very well marked fish traps or farms all throughout the anchorage and apparently some rocks. We’re exhausted… I made spaghetti for dinner – how exciting! (sarcasm) and we watched some Trailer Park Boys episodes off the external… sometimes a little consumy TV eases the tension. 50 miles to Chamela – we’re leaving at first light.

Left Ipala at dawn and motored nearly all day 
in really light to no wind all the way to Chamela. After a cold day yesterday the heat today was almost unbearable. We have to take turns being out in the cockpit on watch because we don’t have a bloody bibini for shade. The water is looking pretty 
gross – red tide or algae bloom or something made the sea look like red tea. Turtles everywhere… I think (based on our guide book) that they are Olive Ridley Turtles. I had seen only one turtle until this passage when we spotted nearly 100 all floating or lazily swimming at the sea surface with the top of their shells making the perfect perch for birds. Really a day brightener to see the little guys in communion.

We arrived in Chamela at sunset after giving the headland a wide berth… usual procedure. We anchored in the NW corner along side a few other cruisers. Although there are some going-ons on the beach here we were rather uninspired to go ashore and picked up the hook the next morning and headed for Tenacatita Bay in the mid-morning. We had some nice NW wind on this passage into Tenacatita pushing us right down where we needed to go.

The little bay of Tenacatita has always been a favorite among cruisers where there is a nice little village, snorkeling, and it’s rather secluded and very protected from the NW wind and seas. Unfortunately, in the recent weeks some jerk developer found a loop-hole in the quiet villages land rights and sent in a security force to kick everyone out at gun point… now the place is a ghost town with a couple of security trucks monitoring that no one comes back – I guess. I probably have the story all wrong but either way some effed-up crap went down. In the binocs I could see the security trucks on the beach and the empty palapas. We rowed to shore to a little beach some-what removed from the main beach by a small headland and hiked up the hill for a view and then walked the beach to find some treasures and headed back to Arcy to make the very short passage to Barra di Navidad.

Lookout over Tenacatita Bay

Andrew said while waiting for me that most of the shells keep getting up and walking away.. hermits!

Pacific side of Tenacatita

That’s me looking out at the boat… you can hardly see it! The ground it rather dried up and dead

The Urchin. My favorite of shells

We arrived and left Barra Navidad… it was an interesting place we were expecting a lot more from based on cruisers rave reviews. The anchorage is in a river estuary… which I would describe as a muddy, croc patrolled, mosquito infested swamp. There is a beautiful hotel looming on the cliff as you enter the narrow channel and it’s green, palm lined perfected landscape reaches right down to the water. There are little coves that are private for the hotel guests with fancy white draped cabanas on the beach. Across from this are the mexican style docks and the small town of Barra.

Swamp land. This guy came from Canada.

The entrance is a little tricky because there is a narrow channel that is unmarked to the anchorage and if you don’t stay in it you’ll be sure to hit the bottom. We hadn’t done any of research before arriving and so the quick read-up before entering had us a little worried and since it was low tide (and the guide said to enter at high) we opted to anchor in the cove of the bay off Melaque… only to decide to pull it back up again from the decent rollers and wind and head in behind the bar. We anchored in 6 or 9 feet of brown water (depending on the tide) and when we arrived to the anchorage inside the channel it really started to pipe. It was howling! Not so protected we thought… Some guys over the radio said one dragged anchor last night and was checking to see if it was always this crazy wind? We later read that boats drag anchor here all the time because these evening winds and the silty floor. One guide recommended to leave your key in the ignition, your windlass on and take a radio with you in case the other cruisers have to rescue your boat while your dining in town. Protection from the seas is one of it’s likes but the wind acceleration would be one of it’s dis-likes. It was dead still in the night though. I actually thought we were sitting on the bottom and woke up Andrew… but we weren’t, we still had maybe 3 feet under the keel. It was just so calm.

The beach in Barra looking towards the breakwater

The town is cute and there is a wave here that I should have surfed and Andrew didn’t surf because it was pretty small and crappy. The coolest part about the place is calling a water taxi to pick you up in the anchorage. For only a couple bucks we got picked up and dropped off right at the boat and got to ride in the high speed panga and not worry about our outboard and dinghy getting stolen which has been happening a lot this season (dislike!).

Morning taxi ride… with the fancy hotel ahead

Andrew on the breakwater hoping the waves will improve (see haircut)

Another Barra shot looking across the bar into Bahia de Navidad

We spent 2 nights in Barra… one of which we enjoyed an amazing pizza on the ocean front. We were ready to head out of Barra and left as early as possible after two nights at the anchorage. We’re not really sure why people love it here but plenty probably sneak swims at the fancy hotel and most I guess dine at the several rather expensive spots in town. I suppose if the waves were good and outboard crime was down things would have been a bit better… but if you can’t jump in when it’s as hot as a skillet, it sucks! I got lots of mosquito bites too. So, we headed to Manzanillo… another post coming soon.

Smokey morning hills on the way out of Barra

3 Responses to “Punta Mita to Barra de Navidad”
  1. lookin sharp with the new doo’s

  2. Huirazo says:

    Mama rossana says: Me enamoré de Tenacatita y la concha de erizo… Les sigo deseando mucha felicidad, buen viento, buena armonía, mucho amor!. Estoy en Antofagasta con Joaquin, Juan Pablo, José, Almorzando chicharron de mariscos mixto (Fried seafood Mix) acompañado con 2 salsas: Aji amarillo peruano y Leche de coco con curry y gengibre. Todo esto para celebrar semana santa con la familia!.
    Bendiciones, feliz pascua de resurrección, los quiero abrazar!…

    Mama Rossana

  3. Sara says:

    Hi guys!!! I spent some time today catching up on your adventures… so happy to see the pics and wander off into your stories. Hope you are both wonderul and thank you for the tales.
    Love ya!

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