In this installment we cover the area between Banderas Bay and Manzanillo.  This section of the coast is touted as being the
best cruising area along the entire Mexican Riviera.  Along this section of the gold coast we visited Chamela Bay, Carayes Bay,
Tenacatita, Bahia de Navidad, and Manzanillo.  We will provide details about each one of these lovely destinations, and you can
find corresponding pictures by clicking on the
Photo Album button above.  Remember, you can always look at our previous entries
by clicking on the archived Journal Entries above and the archived Photo Albums on the
Photo Album page.

Chamela Bay:

We got the weather window we needed and departed La Cruz on ______ in the afternoon.  On advice from Mike and Leah we made
a course that skirted the Marietas, and held that course until we were well offshore before turning southward.  This gave us a
wide berth from Cabo Corrientes, the large point that marks the south entrance to Banderas Bay.  Cabo Corrientes is notorious
for bad currents and wind which make for very sloppy seas.  We
Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo
installment we travelled from Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo (Z-Town), took in Sailfest in Z-Town, travelled home to visit family, and
took part in Queen Coleen's final Mardi Gras celebration (Final?!  Yeah... I'll believe that when I see it!).  In this installment we
will provide details about our passage to Z-Town and Sailfest, and you can find corresponding pictures by clicking on the
Album button above.  We will recount our trip back to el Estados Unidos in our next installment.  We've got some great pics from
Mardi Gras!  Remember, you can always look at our previous entries by clicking on the archived Journal Entries above and the
archived Photo Albums on the
Photo Album page.

Manzinillo to Zihuatanejo:

Since we needed to get on down the road to Zihuatanejo for Sailfest, we couldn't stay in the Manzanillo area very long.  When we
head north again, we will have time to revisit and explore Santiago Bay.   Having decided to sail a straight shot to Zihuatanejo, we
departed in tandem with solo-sailor Ken Hodge aboard
Peaceful Warrior (a beautiful Peterson 44) on an overcast, calm morning...
Friday January 26.  Approximately 2 hours into our passage, Melinda turned to George and said, "You know, it's considered bad luck
to start a passage on a Friday".  Greaaaaaat!  But not being superstitious we forged ahead.  Approximately 2 hours later George
looked back to see Ken do a 180-degree turn.  At first we thought he had lost his hat or something off the boat.  But alas, it turned
out he had a change of heart and decided to blow off Sailfest and head north in search of great surf breaks.  Hmmm, there goes our
buddy boat.  We can't blame him though.  If I were a single guy I wouldn't want to hang out with Ma and Pa, and the kids.  Well, no
problem.  The weather was calm, the seas were flat, and we were motor-sailing.  It was so calm that we were able to spot and
photograph many sea turtles.  South we went.

After sunset we noticed some thunderstorms over the mountains as we continued south.  It was quite spectacular!  Lightning
strikes and thunder were pelting the mountains.  Spectacular..... as long as it stayed onshore.  At approximately 0000, George was
standing watch and noticed a couple of large reflections on the radar screen.  They were approximately 6 miles behind Southern
Belle and headed our way.  Being fairly new to the technology, it was the first time we had seen a storm front on a radar screen.  
The front was small and passed over us without much of a fuss.  However, at approximately 0200, Melinda woke George to tell him
that another squall was headed our way.  No problem, thought George as he crawled out of the bunk.  Boy was he wrong!  Standing in
the cockpit we looked back at a huge line squall headed our way.  Complete with knife-edged lightning bolts blasting the water
approximately 9 miles behind us.  At that moment we solemnly vowed to never ever start a passage on a Friday ever again!  A quick
glance at the radar showed it stretched at least 24 miles off-shore.  There was no way for us to escape it so we dropped our
single-reefed main, placed all of our removable and spare electronics in our stove (which is rumored to provide some protection for
electronic instruments), placed a post it note on the front of the stove reminding us not to light it up, and hunkered down.  It was
really scary watching all of that lightning getting closer to us.  We decided to put on our tennis shoes.  The commotion woke
Joshua, who insisted on staying in the cockpit with mommy and daddy.  He laid down and promptly went to sleep and slept through
the whole thing.  When the squall hit us it brought following wind in excess of 35 knots, and driving rain.  After about 5 minutes
the average wind speed dropped to 17 knots and we decided to pull a 180 and get through the storm quicker.  As we turned, the wind
clocked around with us which was really disorienting.  Especially because the heavy rain brought the visibility to zero.  So we're 15
minutes into this storm and there hasn't been any lightning.  George was thinking, this is lucky but better not say anything out
loud.  Melinda was thinking the same thing and Joshua was dreaming that he was a Ninja Warrior.  After a bit Melinda just couldn't
stand it any longer and said, "The lightning seems to have stopped".  Dooooh!!  Within 30 seconds there was a huge blast of lightning
and simultaneous thunder right overhead!  POW!  We both jumped out of our skins and Joshua let loose a snore.  Luckily the boat
was not hit.  We are
SO not starting anymore passages on a Friday! The whole thing took only 30 minutes and we were once again
pointed south.  

We are happy to say that nothing else challenged us for the remainder of the passage, and on Saturday we made Zihuatanejo.  We
were treated to the sight of well over 100 boats anchored all throughout the harbor, and still with plenty of room for Southern
Belle!  We anchored near our friends aboard
Magnum and Daring so Joshua could have easy access to his friends Nate and Kara.  
Looks like SailFest is going to be a hoot!  After a nap of course.

Zihuatanejo & Sailfest 2007

The town of Zihuatanejo is absolutely beautiful.  We found it to be pleasing both to the eye and to the mind.  Shady, tree-lined
walkways lead you past shops and restaurants along the portion of town near the water front.  A large panga fishing fleet makes
their home on a shady portion of the town beach.  The town square fronts the beach and incorporates a full basketball court and a
large stage.  Every Sunday the square comes alive with people, music, and food.  And man is the food good!  For example, there is a
fellow who sets up a portable hot dog/hamburger stand similar to those we have seen all over Mexico.  The big difference is that
this guy is an absolute artist!  He makes the best cheeseburger you will ever eat.  He looks like, and has the same demeanor as the
Soup-Nazi from the Seinfeld sitcom.  So we always stand quietly in line with strict posture and heads bowed just so, in hopes of
not being denied our killer burgers!  The music in Zihuatanejo is phenomenal!  In addition to the ever present polka tunes, you can
find blues, reggae, country, jazz, bluegrass.... you name it.  Put all of this together with the wonderfully friendly people who live
here and Z-Town is the finest port we have yet to visit.  We can see why people come to visit and never leave.

One of the first things we did was to visit Rick's Bar to sign up for SailFest 2007.  Rick's Bar is owned and operated by a super
nice fellow who is coincidentally named..... Rick.  Rick is a godsend for cruising sailors.  He has his finger on the pulse of
Zihautanejo as much as any local, and he provides all manner of great services.  Laundry, showers, internet, mail service, food, and a
fabulous margarita.  Additionally, you can always find top-notch music at Rick's Bar.  SailFest is an activity packed 5-day festival
that was held from January 31, 2007 through February 4, 2007.  The festival is organized and run by cruising sailors (with alot of
help from Rick).  The secondary purpose of SailFest is to share knowledge and promote camaraderie between sailors, locals, and
tourists; but the primary purpose is to raise money for the local school children.  This year, with matching donations from a few
generous philanthropists, SailFest raised over $80,000 for the local schools.  Dats alot of Coconuts!

The activities at SailFest included seminars, silent auctions, live auctions, live music, a kids day beach party, a cruisers sailing
race, a flare shoot-out (which was an organized gathering at night where you could shoot off some of those old expired flares lying
around the boat), a potluck appetizer party, a dinghy treasure hunt, a chili cook-off, a sail parade, and a final barbecue beach party.  
We took part in as many activities as possible.  Our favorites were the kids beach party and the dinghy treasure hunt.  For the
beach party they bussed in all of the kids from the two schools which were going to benefit from the SailFest donations.  We had
organized beach games with prizes, a raffle, and a hot dog cook out.  Joshua jumped right in and participated in all the activities.  
That day all the kids were speaking the same language... PLAY TIME!  We also competed in the chili cook-off as team name IKO
IKO with our own version of Cajun Road-Kill Chili.  We had a great time  but, alas, did not receive any accolades for our chili
cooking prowess.  I guess there is no accounting for some peoples taste (we would have killed with our gumbo)!  The sailboat parade
was also a big hit.  For a nominal fee, locals and tourists were allowed to ride along on the boats during the parade.  We took 10
guests on Southern Belle and they all had a great time.  By the end of SailFest the crew of Southern Belle was worn down and
tired.  But it was a good tired!

After SailFest we raised anchor and moved our boat over to Marina Ixtapa, approximately 6 miles away, in preparation for our
planned visit to the Estados Unidos.  Marina Ixtapa was hot, buggy, crocodile-ridden (no joke, see the pictures), and had poor
services... but at least it was really expensive!  Can you tell we were not overly pleased with Marina Ixtapa?  Oh well, it was a
necessary evil because we couldn't envision leaving Southern Belle unattended on the hook for 3 weeks while we visited family and
friends back home in Louisiana.  When we returned from Louisiana we cleaned up Southern Belle and got out of the Marina as fast
as we could.  We took advantage of the relatively new haul-out facilities just around the corner from the Marina to replace the oil
seals on our sail drives (the starboard side was letting in a little sea water).  The yard has a huge travel lift that can handle boats
as wide as 27 feet.  While being rather expensive ($14 per foot to haul and $3/foot/day whether they do the work or not) it proved
to be the smoothest haul-out we have ever experienced.  We were scheduled for 0900 and when we pulled up the travel lift was
positioned in the water waiting for us to pull right in to it.  By 1000 we were working on the sail drives.  We had the yard guys do
some touch up on the bottom paint, and the next morning we were back in the water and headed for the anchorage at Zihuatanejo to
spend a few more days in paradise before starting our migration northward to the Sea of Cortez.  Sure we had to get some supplies,
but more importantly we had to get one more fix from the Burger Nazi of Zihuatanejo!

We hope this installment finds you all healthy and happy!  Until next time we wish you all a fresh breeze and following seas!

Best Regards,

George, Melinda, and Joshua
Crew of S/V Southern Belle