sailing homepage : trip reports : 5: pv to zihuatanejo : leaving pv for ipala

Jan 2-4: Passage from Marina Nuevo Vallarta to Yelapa to Punta Ipala, lots of boat maintenance, passing Cabo Corrientes

[ written by Sara ]

We left Nuevo Vallarta Marina exactly a week after Willís family flew back to Canada and England. The day before leaving, we had provisioned for two weeks, and finished a few looming boat projects - wood work anyone?

As Will finished the shopping at the Marine store, I tackled the cabin floors, which needed a thorough cleaning and lots of oiling. This sounds like a piece of cake, but I assure you, spending hours on hands and knees, scrubbing and drying and oiling is lots of work and is very tiring. I was hoping for an enthusiastic response from Will, and all I got was, "Eh?". Discouraging indeed.

Having failed to impress him with my manual labor, I sent him topside to tackle all things rusting - our stainless steel steering wheel being the most serious offender. He took his time (smart boy), and I decided to reorganize the kitchen and to polish all the pots and pans. With that task done, I was ready to join Will upstairs.

Real teak, baby!


Will polishing his wheel

Unfortunately, I had removed the companionway ladder while cleaning the floors. The ladder doesnít stay put unless you screw in a piece of hardware - basically a screw with a small handle - and I had managed to misplace it. I spent the next hour looking for this stupid, essential screw to hold the ladder in place. I called Will down to help me - he was not thrilled. After over an hour of searching, turning the boat inside out, we realized that a fairy must have taken it.

By this time, Will was 1/2 of the way through the rust removal project. No matter, the brightwork needed another layer of protectant, and I was just the girl to do the job. Applying the West Marine Wood Pro Plus took more time than I had anticipated, and while I was still working on that project, Will had finished his rust removing. He decided the dinghy could use some attention, and put a protectant layer of wax on it.



Scrub the decks, me matey!

By the time the sun set, we had our beautiful, gleaming boat back to where it had been when we left San Rafael, and I was very pleased to see that all the dirt and grime could still be peeled off to reveal our treasure. Very good work!

We went to bed sore and excited to get on with our adventure. We had a very short list of things to do that morning, including checking out with the Marina, checking out with the Port Captain, closing the hatches, saying goodbye to our friends in the marina, securing any lose objects, and getting diesel and gasoline from Opequimar (the only gas station for boats in the area, located 15 miles south in Puerto Vallarta Marina).

Womaning the helm


Raining! In Mexico?!

We had finished all the To Doís by 10:30AM and were motoring to Opequimar, when we realized that a) it was raining and cold, and b) we werenít going to make it to Ipala, our first stop, by nightfall, and c) neither of us were feeling very chipper after the previous dayís exhaustion. No matter, we would figure it out. But first, the gas.

Opequimar is the only place to haul out your boat in Bandaras Bay, and for that matter, on the coast of Mexico up to that point. That should have been a clue. The other clue should have been the barges and cruise ships we passed while motoring toward the Pentax station. The third clue should have been the Cabo-like fishing boats honking their horns and trying to get into the station. No wonder no one was answering our radio calls for a diesel fill up!

Biiiig ship


Another biiiig ship

We waited, and waited for a spot to open up for us, finally getting in about an hour after arriving at the gas station. We filled up without incident, and I did a Y turn leaving the docks, thinking as I was doing it, that I am now probably qualified to drive a 40 foot truck, since at least the road wouldnít move under you, and the reverse gear wouldnít always walk to the right.

Oh, well, we pulled out of Opequimar without incident, but with even less time than before to make it to Ipala. We decided to head for Yelapa instead, since, as the saying goes, "a palapa in Yelapa beats a condo in Redondo." Since we had been to Redondo on the way down, it was decided, Yelapa it was!

It had been months since Will and I had sailed alone, and it was so calming to have it all come back as easily as it did. We turned off the motor, and glided through the water, appreciating the sights and smells of Banderas Bay, our home for the last month. Just me and my hubby sailing the afternoon away.

Bundled up


Ready for sunshine

As we were enjoying our sail, we got a whiff of something nasty. It smelled like it was coming from below. My first thought was that the head had decided to act up again, but on further reflection, realized that it was the bilge. All boats leak, at least a little. Fiberglass sweats, anchors are pulled up and put into their storage places, sinks drip, etc.

A bilge acts as a containment compartment for all the splishes and splashes, so that the inside of the boat doesnít get wet. So, the bilge has lots of water in it. It is also where all the engine oil, dirt, mud, seawater, and assorted bacteria grow. Sometimes, it gets splashed around a little too much, and starts to stink.

Will and I have named our bilge monster Beatrice the Belcher. Sheís fine most of the time, but every once in a while, she gets some indigestion and needs to get cleaned out. We like the combination of bleach, freshwater, laundry detergent, and oil emulsifier. Will went below and made our magic potion and she started to smell much sweeter.

Stinky Beatrice


Sara smells it too

God must have recognized how unpleasant that job is, because as we reached the entrance to Yelapa, we saw something big, something Really, Really Big, come out of the water. WHALES!!! Will went below to grab the camera, I cranked the wheel to try to get closer, and we were treated to a real show. Apparently, itís mating season right now, and the whales have lots of rituals to attract the ladiesí interest. They certainly held ours.

So huge


Gracefull too

We missed most of the shots, but here is a quick video of one of the whale's back and tail. It was gorgeous. As we were staring at the 6 or so surrounding us, we saw a huge whale in the distance come fully out of the water and belly flop sending white spray in every direction. Wow!

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Finally, as if on cue, all the whales submerged, and we made our way back to the entrance of Yelapa, and yes, the saying is true. Yelapa does beat Redondo. Itís simply gorgeous. However, it is a real pistol to anchor in because it is over 600 feet deep, almost all the way to the beach. As we were circling around, trying not to get pulled in to shore by the current and wind, a fisherman came over to us and offered his mooring ball for $20. Will talked him down to $10, and we didnít have to worry about anchoring any more. Phew!

Senor! Wanna buy a fish?


A Palapa in Yelapa...

With that task averted, Will decided to dive in and see how the bottom of the boat was doing. He came back up, asking for a scraper, and a metal glove. Wanderlust was covered with barnacles. He dove on it and dove on it, while I made dinner.

When he came up for good, he was sea sick, exclaiming, "I didnít realize you could get sea sick under the boat!" He had worked on cleaning the hull for over an hour and had only removed about half of what was down there. Meanwhile, I had made a culinary masterpiece of lightly fried zucchini, risotto with porcini mushrooms, and fresh ahi with an orange-tomato glaze.

Get to work, boy!


Culinary masterpiece!

It was a real treat for us to have a three course meal, but poor Will was too green to enjoy the dinner. He was a good sport and ate anyway, and I went to get him some dry clothes. And he slowly regained good health. When he was feeling better, we went below to watch a movie and rest. It had been an eventful first day.

We're outta here


Full moon

We left at 5:30 the next morning. It was so early that the moon was still up, and the sun had would not rise until almost 7. The water was calm and we were both excited to leave the Bay of Banderas for the adventure of more southern sailing. As the sun rose, we were treated to a spectacular sight of purple mountains in the distance, with fog over the coast line, and turquoise water. It was a beautiful start to the day.

Peeking over the hills


He looks cute, eh?

Cabo Corrientes (Cape Current) is famed as yet another difficult passage, with confused winds and seas. The current from the south mixes with the winds from the Northwest, and in stormy weather the place becomes a washing machine of wind and seas.

Every one we spoke with and all of our guides suggested that the best time to go around the point is late in the night or early in the morning. We had considered going the previous day, until we realized that we would not actually make it around the point until the late afternoon, when the winds blow full force and the waves have had the entire day to build. As it was, we rounded the cape at 10:30 AM. I was happy that we had decided to stop in Yelapa, since we were screaming along at 8 knots so early in the day!

The fearsome cape!


Rockin', baby

During the sail around Cabo Corientes we kept our eyes on a sailboat behind us, and realized that we were really moving! They reefed their main and brought in their jib; we were left wishing we had more sail to fly. It was a great sail. We left them in the distance and were very happy when we arrived in the early afternoon at Ipala--our first stop on our journey down the Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast is the 115 mile stretch of beach from Cabo Corrientes to Manzanillo. It includes beautiful seas, great snorkeling and fishing, and yellow beaches with flecks of golden sand. It is famed as some of the most intriguing and relaxing cruising available in Mexico. We were thrilled to be at our first destination.

Deep reaching


Wing on wing

As we pulled into Ipala, we were surprised to see a large network of nets stretching along the southeast corner of the tiny anchorage. We were very pleased to be the first to arrive, since it seemed that only one or two boats would be able to anchor in the open space, and we were able to choose the best spot with the least swell. Again, we were both very happy to have spent the previous night in Yelapa, since anchoring among the nets in a tiny cove at dark would have been stressful and potentially dangerous.

As it was, we were anchored by 1:30 PM, and were happily saluted by a mariachi band on shore for the remainder of the afternoon. At around 3PM, a local panga driven by two guys named Juan and Eduardo pulled up next to our boat, asking for some "cuerda" for their pull-start engine. We searched the boat for some rope the right diameter and length, and were happy to give them what we had.

Will did most of the searching while I quizzed the two about Ipala. The whole town was celebrating that day as it was the founders day of their church. There was a 7 person band with drums, horns, guitars, and singers, as well as a town feast. The nets were for an oyster farm for local restaurants. Juan, the driver of the panga had a family restaraunt on the cliff, and said he would be happy to ferry us into shore that evening for dinner. It was an opportunity we couldn't pass up.

Cute little town


Crazy oyster nets

In the meantime, Will finished scraping the bottom of the boat while I did some inside maintenance on the floors. Another boat, Walkabout, pulled into the cove and anchored behind us. At 7PM we were exhausted, but couldn't justify canceling, so when Juan pulled up, so we jumped into the panga. We were surprised when the panga didn't turn around but kept going to the other boat, but were very happy to meet Walkabout's captain, Ann, and First Mate, Stu. It was the boat we had seen in the distance on our way down to Ipala.

Cute couple


These guys are cute too

The four of us had dinner together, good naturedly ribbing each other about reefing and speed. It was nice to have won a race we didn't know we were in! Stu and Ann took to calling us the "non-reefers" and we shrugged it off with a digital photo of our maximum speed. Will and I were very happy to have met these two, and considered them friends from the start.

After dinner, Juan took us back to our respective boats and we fell asleep quickly after another full day of Mexican sun and sea.