sailing homepage : trip reports : 5: pv to zihuatanejo : manzanillo

Jan 21-24: Passage from Barra de Navidad to Manzanillo, reprovisioning, exploring Manzanillo, and hanging out at the swanky Las Hadas resort (for free)

With the Zihuatanejo sailing festival rapidly approaching, and finding ourselves still more than 200nm north of Zihuatanejo, we decided to quit quaint Barra and continue on southwards. Hauling up the anchor we discovered the 'jello' bottom to the laguna was actually a thick muddy clay-like goop, and we managed to coat the boat in it.

Luckily we knew the fuel dock had some nice high-pressure water, so we headed over and hosed down the boat under the guise of filling up the dinghy with gas. We addressed most of the mud on the boat outside the anchor locker, but I expect we'll be dealing with this at some later date. Ugh.

I had flashbacks to when I owned a Jeep and went offroading a lot: muddy clay is the absolute worst stuff, it's impossible to totally remove it without scrubbing every spec of dirt free. When I sold the Jeep three years later it still featured some flecks of clay from some stupid mud-bog in Quebec.

Another hazy day; leaving Barra's laguna


The sun burns through the haze

The past few weeks have seen some funny weather: we've had cloudy hazy days and even some scattered rain! This is unheard of in Mexico at this time of year, and we're hoping it's not a prelude to an extremely-out-of-season hurricane or something. It's actually nice to get a break from the searing hot sun, so we're not going to lodge a complaint or whine about it too much.

Signal light on the rock


Heading in to our anchorage

Manzanillo bay is big, maybe half the size of Puerto Vallarta's gigantic Banderas Bay. Before wading into the middle of it, we decided to take a day and stay at a small little protected cove on the outskirts of the bay. We've always preferred peaceful tranquility and fewer other boats to a more-hectic anchorage packed with yachties. One of the reason's we're doing this is to escape from the herd, not to run into them all at the next anchorage!

As Mexico becomes more popular as a cruising destination, and indeed by all reports it's vastly more popular than it was even two years ago, we're guessing it's going to be harder and harder to find unknown spots to hang out at anchor and relax. Our trick is to take our cruising guides, which everyone else also has, and choose anchorages described as 'unsafe' or 'rolly' or 'dangerous'. It works! These places are much less visited, and often never as bad as advertised.

Sara yakking with family


Digging out the swim ladder

We came within cellphone service and Sara's phone rang almost immediately. It's nice to be loved. I guided us in as she yakked, and eventually she explained she had to go and help me anchor. It may have been the frantic look in my eyes and vigorous hand waving. I've never anchored totally solo before, but now I'm thinking about it, I bet it would be possible without too much drama! Next time I'll let Sara keep talking and try it.

Sweet beach


Beauty spot

We snorkeled the nearby rocks but were again limited by poor visibility. In our humble opinions, the best snorkeling is to be found north of here. Maybe it's the time of the season, maybe it's the larger-than-average rollers, maybe we're just unlucky, but all the great spots here in the Gold Coast can't hold a candle to snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez.

We had a great rest at the 'rolly' anchorage, which was only a little uncomfortable for an hour or two, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. After dinner we had another few games of Russian Patience where I mercilessly beat Sara again and again. If anyone out there knows how to play this game and would like a challenge, I invite you to bring it. Don't leave it in the car, because you will need it at the table with you. Yeah, we're trash-talkin' card players.

Hauling up the anchor


Thar she be!

The next morning we hauled up anchor and headed for our next destination, the anchorage just outside the famous Las Hadas Resort. Why is it famous? Bo Derek filmed '10' here. I guess I didn't see that one. It doesn't look all that famous, but once we got closer we realized it really is a five-star resort!

Leaving our cute little spot



Nice McMansion


The Las Hadas resort

We anchored in a breakwater-protected area right next to the resort. It's a nice public service that Las Hadas offers, and the cynic in me thinks that they must have planned to develop the area before running out of funds and turning it into an anchorage. No one spends money protecting a free anchorage for cruisers! ... or do they?

Guiding us in


Dropping the hook

With all my thinking about how to anchor solo, I bugged Sara into trying it out. She brought us in and then did most of the anchor work. I think it's actually pretty easy, so now I'm trying to think of how to make it more challenging. Okay, what about sailing up to the anchorage spot, dropping the sails, dropping the anchor, solo? That sounds like a challenge. Sara says I'm going to have to try that one myself. Hmm.

Panga parking lot


Sailor and his anchor

We went into town and walked around for miles and miles, stretching our sea legs and finally finding the grocery store. I confess that I led us on a half-hour wild goose chase: I had seen a sign that looked something similar to a huge chain we had gone to in La Paz, and led us right by another huge store. Why we didn't stop I can't remember, but I convinced Sara to continue on for no reason. She forgave me, I think.



Sara runs away

I found out, many hours later when we were both totally exhausted, that Sara hadn't forgiven me. As soon as the dinghy pulled up to Wanderlust she hopped out and ran below, leaving me with all the groceries. I think I even heard her laughing as I lugged everything in. What a punk.

Our first bus of the day


Bus number two

It was now Tuesday the 23rd and we decided to further explore downtown Manzanillo. We're running low on cash and decided to eliminate cabs from our budget. No problem, buses are cool. Well, they're cool when you only need to take one or two of them. We ended up taking seven buses. The upshot is that each was only a 50-cent ride, so we saved something like $30!

This is the fourth bus


Number five!

Manzanillo is a funny city: if you go to the 'centro' (downtown) area, and get off the bus when the guy says "centro", you will be mightily disappointed. It's a run-down wharf with a few bug-infested shops. I'm not kidding about that infested part, we spent half an hour doing the email thing and counted no less than fifteen new bug bites on our combined four legs!

We were about to give up and head back to the boat when we saw a little sign indicating a 'mercado centro' (central market) a few blocks away. We walked out of the wharf area, through a run-down little neighbourhood, and were suddenly in the cute cobblestone 'centro' we're used to! It was very strange.

The real downtown area, with shops, restaurants, little corner stores, and everything else you would want in a downtown, was hidden away! Like I said, very strange. We found a huge Manzanillo sculpture art thingy, again, totally hidden away from the 'centro' the bus guys delivered us to. Maybe the city bus planners were fighting the city counsel or something. Who knows?

The famous Manzanillo thingy


Sweet downtown area

We enjoyed Manzanillo all afternoon, walking around, doing a little light shopping, and massacring the local language with enthusiasm. It's important to try, even if you do embarrass yourself by sounding like a drunk four-year-old. I barely know the Spanish word for things, so if I can just get the words out I'm winning. Order, gramatical content, tense, who cares?! "Bus where station is?" Yeah, baby, I can hablo all day long.

Beautiful Las Hadas resort


Bridge across the swimming pools

On the way home to Wanderlust we snuck into Las Hadas and made like real pirates: we pillaged their hotel lobby internet access and then their totally abandoned pool! Yarr! It's pretty cool to stay near at these $400-per-night places, enjoying all the amenities, and paying nothing.

I like to think that we add something to the ambience: maybe the resort people want their guests to look out over the international collection of hooligans anchored just offshore, or maybe our grungy looks remind the resort-stayers how nice they have it.

We've surprised more than one finely-coiffed resortee by stripping down and lathering up in the convenience showers offered for the purpose of washing off your sandy feet. When we explain we haven't bathed in a week their expressions often subtly change and they slowly back away avoiding eye contact. If you're a resort owner/operator, you just can't buy an experience like that for your highly-valued guests!