sailing homepage : trip reports : 5: pv to zihuatanejo : melaque and barra
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Jan 16-20: Passage from Bahia Tenacatita to Melaque to Barra de Navidad, a day in the sun, learning to windsurf, and exploring two cute little towns

Tenacatita and La Manzanilla were so interesting and easy to enjoy, a week had flown by without either of us noticing! We finally decided to bite the bullet, pull off the sail cover, and continue our trip south. Our destination was the bahia featuring Melaque and Barra de Navidad, about eight or nine miles south. Yep, this was one of our longer passages. Thank goodness we had lots of limes; scurvy sets in faster than you think.

Hazy morning
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Rocky outcropping
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The two-hour trip was easy; we hugged the coast and enjoyed the rocky pinnacles, sandy beaches, and finally some sunny weather. So many people we've talked to go way offshore, even when port-hopping, and we just don't get it. Sure, we have to pay attention and keep a close eye on the depth finder, but we really enjoy watching land glide by.

Sara relaxing
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Another boat heading north
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We've been seeing more of this sight lately: a boat heading north! I guess people are starting to think about getting back to the US, or at least heading up into the Sea of Cortez for the summer. It was a perfect day for 'bashing' north, very light shore winds, none of the huge sharp wind/swell waves we've experienced lately. We had a nice relaxing sail, all in all it was a slow lazy passage.

Melaque
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Centro
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We anchored in the north end of the big bay just off the beach at Melaque. The other boats in the anchorage were all using both bow & stern anchors, which really meant we had to do the same. When a later boat arrived and didn't drop two hooks, they swung around their anchor with the wind and currents - not usually a problem, but it brought them much closer to everyone else who was fixed in one spot!

It's not our favourite anchoring style: when the wind isn't blowing in the direction we want to be pointed, it can be really hard to put the two anchors where we want them! Of course the wind was blowing 90-degrees to our desired angle, which was pointing from the beach towards the rocky headlands.

The ocean swell was wrapping around the headlands and rolling right into the anchorage, thus everyone's decision to use two anchors. With the wind coming from every direction except the peninsula, the boat would have been rolling all day and night - not fun! We ended up using the dinghy to haul the stern anchor out in the right direction, then pulled ourselves straight by hauling in the lines. It's more work than it sounds.

We had a fun afternoon exploring the cute little town of Melaque, refreshed our peso supply at the only Bancomex within 100 miles, and had one of our new favourite snacks: a fruit 'liquado', consisting of strawberries and sugar and milk and ice blended together. Mmmm. Dinner was quick and we were to bed early.

Sunrise over the bay
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Chillin on the bow
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I woke up to the most beautiful sky and couldn't help but wrestle Sara out of bed and onto the foredeck for the sunrise. We really like sleeping in, sometimes we get nine or ten hours of sleep a night, and unless we're doing a passage it's rare for us to be on deck when the sun comes up. Not today! It was already warming up; we sat and quietly enjoyed life for almost an hour.

What cuties
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This is one of the best times of the day here in Mexico. It's still cool from the previous night, the water is almost always calm and flat, and it seems like the crowing roosters are the only others awake. We watched schools of baitfish flash past, hungry pelicans above waiting for them to surface.

Of course we couldn't lay around and relax forever, we needed to get our affairs in order!

Huge pile of laundry
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Sara and our breakfast
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We sorted and hauled our laundry into shore, leaving our dinghy parked next to the fishermen's pangas, and grabbed another fruit-shake liquado for breakfast. These things are addictive! I hope they're good for us.

We wrote off the whole day, claiming a table under a palapa on the beach and idly reading and sipping beers. Wanderlust sat at anchor, unnervingly staying in the same place no matter which way the wind blew, and we swam and talked and enjoyed the peaceful beach.

Sara enjoys our shady spot
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Wanderlust
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I spotted a fisherman untangling his net down the beach and went to have a look. We saw maybe four or five of these guys later in the day fishing with hand-made weighted nets. The nets are huge, and the casting method is like magic. He somehow manages to spin and throw this thing off his shoulder, in the direction he wants it to go, without getting his face caught in it. I knew I would not be so lucky.

He's a magician
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Perfect cast
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I wish I could say we did something else this day, but we didn't. We dropped off the laundry, drank a few beers, ate some todopos y salsa and fish ceviche, swam, read, and if it hadn't been for running into some friends, that would have been it!

Clouds over the mountains
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Will & Sara at dinner
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We bumped into Stu and Ann again, and also met John and Leela from Yachtsman's Dream, a nice huge cat parked next to us. We picked up some ice for John & Leela and were invited to dinner when we dropped it off. We didn't expect it, or bring anything except the ice, and it turned out to be a feast celebrating their 40th anniversary! Great!

John & Leela
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Stu & Ann
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We all had a great time talking into the night, and the next day we were back to help John troubleshoot a problem with his bow light. I went up the mast (yeah, Mike, I'll climb anyone's mast, you homophobe) and retrieved the bulb. For 'helping', which really wasn't a big deal, I hijacked John's windsurfer and spent the next four hours torturing myself.

Oh yeah, I rule
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Oh no, I suck
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I managed to get the hang of it after about an hour. I'd like to say I figured out how to turn by going back to first principles, or from thinking about the force vectors, but I just fooled around and eventually figured it out. The mast not only spins to adjust the sail trim (angle of attack), but it also can be moved forwards or backwards and side to side. The side-to-side determines how much wind the sail is exposed to, and the forward-back turns the board!

It makes sense if you think about the centre of effort caused by the sail. If the effort is to the back of the boat, behind the daggerboard, a rotational force is present and the board heads up towards the wind. Push the mast forward and the board falls off. Very cool.

I spent the next three hours having fun, enjoying what little wind we had. I managed to tack a few times, and even gybed once! Too much fun, I wish we could fit one of these things on Wanderlust. I definitely have newfound respect for the guys out surfing in SF Bay on those gusty 25-knot days!

Posh hotel next to the lagoon
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All the cool kids are here
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The next day, Friday Jan 19th, we moved from Melaque into the laguna behind the town of Barra de Navidad. It's a very nice anchorage, well protected in all directions, but the laguna is really really shallow! We came in at high tide and still managed to get outside the unmarked channel and run aground on the mud. It wasn't a hard stuck, thankfully, we just throttled up and powered off, but still nerve-wracking anyway!

There were a lot of people in Barra's laguna! We must have been the 30th boat or something like that. We anchored in less than ten feet of water, only five under the keel, and let out an amazing 120ft of chain on the recommendation of our neighbour. He explained the ground under the lagoon was 'like jello' and anything less than that would have us dragging into the mud flats. Sure, 120ft sounds good to us.

Amazing dinner in Barra
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Fruitshake for dessert
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Barra is a very cute little town, seemingly unaffected by trinket-vendors and timeshare salesmen, but still receptive to tourist yachtistas. A local hotel lets everyone tie up their dinghies and use their pool, so we even had a quick swim (read: bath) and ordered a few drinks to be good citizens. We're just trying to do our part.

We explored all over, polling public opinion to find the best restaurant, and were rewarded for our efforts by discovering Restaurant Bar Ramon. Every single local pointed us there. Well, except the cabbies, who get commissions from every other restaurant in town I guess. The food was amazing, like nothing else we've had in Mexico, and a full dinner for two with four beers and dessert was about $20.

This guy rules
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Breakfast overlooking the beach - how cool?
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We explored further the next day, coming to the conclusion that Barra is really a special little place, and spent about four hours taking care of affairs back home at a local pub with internet access. Funny story: the pub was new, had a wireless router, but no one knew how to use it. We got to talking with the proprietor, showed him how to setup the access point, and he asked us to put a password on it.

He quietly explained it was to keep the nitwits who he worked with from changing the wireless settings. No problem. I explained that he would absolutely need to remember the password, because there's no way to reset these boxes without it. He came up with something, his wife's name, had me set it up, and then proceeded to tell all the 'nitwits' working behind the bar what the password was so he wouldn't forget it. Go figure.


Previous: tenacatita
Random 'best-of' trip reports:

Our arsenel of anchors

 

Wanderlust shows us her keel!

 

Spinny and Genoa downwind