|Zihuatanejo to Bahia de Navidad
|Well we finally managed to make ourselves leave Zihuatanejo. We now understand why they say folks come to visit but never leave.
This being our furthest point south that we intend to explore this year, we turned Southern Belle north for the trek back into the
Sea of Cortez. We are a little bit behind in our updates to this website. We hope to kick it in gear a little and catch the website
up to where we actually are. In this installment we will describe our journey north from Zihuatanejo to Bahia de Navidad. You can
find corresponding pictures by clicking on the Photo Album button above. Remember, you can always look at our previous ramblings
by clicking on the archived Journal Entries above and the corresponding archived Photo Albums on the Photo Album page.
On our way south we sailed a straight shot from Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo. But on our journey north we harbor-hopped up the
coast to Manzanillo. We first stopped at Isla Grande, a mere nine miles from Zihuatanejo. We didn't want to jump into this
northbound thing to quickly you know. Isla Grande is a big tourist destination, but only by day. Droves of touristas come out via
pangas, and by 1700 hours they have all been ferried back to their luxury hotels. We kayaked ashore and scored a couple of lounge
chairs so close to the water the waves were lapping up on our feet. It was a great way to relax and watch Joshua play in the surf.
Not to mention the fact that we had a waiter anxious to bring us food and drink, at reasonable rates I might add. We left the
anchorage before sunup the next morning and continued north.
Our next layover was at Caleta de Campos. As we motor-sailed north a very large swell out of the southwest was rolling ashore.
We were sailing at a distance of two to three miles offshore and the swells were in excess of 6 feet but very widely spaced. Even
from out where we were you could tell they were pounding the shoreline with some spectacular waves. When we made Caleta de
Campos we found our friend Evan aboard the 50-foot Crowther Catamaran Java. He had been surfing all day and told us how great
it was. Thanks to the big swell we spent a rolly night at anchor with the huge waves crashing ashore right behind us. It was
beautiful yet a little stressful thinking about what would happen should our ground tackle fail. Thankfully we held firm all night.
The next morning we headed north again and within a couple of miles we came upon Java anchored off a lee-shore. Evan and others
were surfing what looked to be a great break. The pictures don't do it justice.
That afternoon after a wonderful sail up the coast we made Maruata. The wind blew out of the south-southwest so we had a nice
long spinnaker run. The big southwest swell was still running so there was no chance of going ashore and we spent another rolly
night aboard Southern Belle. We got underway again the next morning and were treated once again to a fresh breeze out of the
south-southwest. We thought we would be bashing our way up the coast into head winds and swells yet here we were getting long
spinnaker runs. Way Cool! We made it to Cabeza Negra that day and spent another night much like the last two. Not getting off
of the boat for a few days is not such a big deal for two old codgers like Melinda and George (okay, just George), but for a 6 year
old boy.... well let's just say he was getting a bit antsy.
The next day we had very calm conditions as we motor-sailed up to Manzanillo. This time we did not mess around with the
Downtown Harbor, and instead went straight to the anchorage at Las Hadas. It was nice to be able to go for a walk on land, check
e-mails, and let Joshua get some much needed exercise. The next morning as we were having coffee and breakfast, we picked up the
cruisers net in Bahia de Navidad about 20 miles to the north. They announced that the town of San Patricio de Melaque was going
to have their annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration. We looked at our calendar and determined that today was St. Patrick's day.
What a coincidence! So we decided to leave Southern Belle in Las Hadas for the day and do a little land travel. We packed some
gear, dinghied ashore, and started making our way to Melaque. We took a cab to the local bus station which was nothing more than a
taco stand on the side of the road. We purchased first class tickets for the bus ride. That's right baby! First Class! OK, so it
was only $3 per person and Joshua was free, it still counts as first class. The bus was actually quite nice. It was clean, air
conditioned, and had a bathroom. When Joshua needed to use the bathroom we found out that it was out of order, but the driver
was nice enough to pull over and let Joshua use the restroom at a roadside taco restaurant. I don't know if y'all knew this, but
there are alot of places to get tacos in Mexico.
Once in Melaque we set off in search of all the St. Patrick's day festivities. The information we heard over the VHF radio made it
sound like there was going to be many activities to astound all of us touristas. We had gotten an early start so as not to miss
anything and after the 1.5 hour bus ride had arrived at approximately noon. After walking around town for an hour the only
celebration we found was a group of locals enjoying their day off with a bottle of tequila on the beach! We finally found someone
in the know who explained that the St Patrick's Day celebration did not start in earnest until about 6:00 PM. Good thing we
rushed over. Since we were there we decided to tough it out. We obtained a little beach palapa at an ocean front restaurant and
cooled our heels for the afternoon which turned out to be quite nice.
At about 5:30 we walked up to the main drag and found the St. Patrick's Day parade had begun. This parade is quite different from
locals in what appeared to be Indian costumes. As they marched they did a dance step in time to drums or a small marching band.
The two columns of costumed people were followed by two columns of folks in regular street clothes. There were maybe 6 to 8
marching groups and each one had a little something different to offer. One group had a statue of St Patrick, one had members
dressed as demons with whips, one had a group shooting bottle rockets into the air, and so forth. It was very interesting but we
wished we had a better understanding of some of the symbolism. The parade marched all throughout the town and ended up at the
town square which was where the cathedral was located. The parade marched around the square and then each marching group
marched into the cathedral as the Priest stood outside and sprinkled holy water on each person as they filed in. After the
cathedral was filled to capacity, and then some, they started a church service that lasted well over 1.5 hours. After the service
was concluded the festivities kicked off in earnest. A carnival fair with rides and games opened up to the public and a large band
began to play music on the Gazebo in the town square.
While the church service was taking place there were arts and craft tables setup for the children. Joshua took part in this and
made friends with an interesting boy named Teo. Teo and his family are a travelling circus who call themselves The Sprockets.
They are from Europe. The Dad is English and the Mom is French, and besides Teo there are a couple of other young men with them.
They all travel together in an old refurbished English-style double decker bus. They have been travelling since 1997 and have
visited places such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, etc. For the past four years they have travelled north from the southernmost
parts of South America into Central America and are continuing north through Mexico. Teo who is now 10 is completely fluent in
English, French, and Spanish. We agreed to take the boys to the fair and Teo ended up being in charge of dealing with the Mexican
Carnies. It was fun to watch this street wise 10 year old. By the time he was finished, the carnies didn't know what had hit them.
For that matter neither did I as he successfully worked all the money out of my wallet! He and Joshua went on the bumper cars
where Joshua got smashed and promptly had his one remaining front baby tooth knocked out. We don't think OSHA is paying
attention to the Mexican travelling fairs, as the bumper cars looked like they were easily doing 20 MPH.
After the kids wiped out our flash cash we went back over and hung out by the Circus Bus which was parked adjacent to the town
square. We chatted with Teo's Mom, Isabelle, while the kids ran in the square and the locals and touristas danced to the sounds of
the rather large band. The music was great! Isabelle explained that there would eventually be a fireworks show that could get a
little crazy and suggested that the boys watch it from the safety of the second level of the Circus Bus. That sounded good to us,
but we thought... how crazy can a fireworks show get? At about 10:30 the locals setup a huge elaborate fireworks tower in front
of the cathedral. It must have been 30 feet tall. It was constructed of bamboo and reeds and consisted of spinning wheels and all
manner of dangerous looking firework gizmos. As we watched them set it up we thought maybe this was the dangerous stuff that
Isabelle had alluded to. When the fireworks show started it was almost 11:00 PM. It was very cool. They would light a section of
the tower and things would start spinning and different colors would sparkle all around. After that portion of the tower burned
out the band would break into a rousing song and all would dance and sing. Then they would light another section of the tower and
do it again. Occasionally some sparks would fly off into the crowd and people would scurry about. That must be the dangerous
stuff that Isabella warned us about, but thankfully it wasn't that bad. This went on for almost an hour. At the very end of the
show the top portion of the tower started spinning around and went shooting up into the sky and spelled the word FIN. At this
point everyone in the square started making a very quick mass exodus. Why is everyone in such a hurry we thought. Are they
trying to be first in the bathroom or beer line? Then all of a sudden from the area where the burned out tower was located, half a
dozen guys started running into the crowds carrying large wooden contraptions over their heads which looked somewhat like bulls.
The contraptions were laden with large bottle rockets which would shoot off into the crowds and spin around out of control. They
were powerful and definitely capable of doing some damage if one hit you in the face. As soon as a wooden bull would run out of
ammunition, the carrier would scurry back and get another fully loaded bull. This caused the remaining people in the square to
start stampeeding about as they ran for their lives. George turned to Melinda to say, "OK this is definitely dangerous and I'm
glad the boys are in the bus!". But Melinda was nowhere to be found. Looking up there she was, peering out of the second level of
the circus bus along with Isabelle and the kids! Smart girls! Us guys were left to fend for ourselves in the once peaceful square
now turned fireworks madhouse! This craziness went on for at least 30 minutes. Did we mention that OSHA is not paying much
attention to what goes on in Mexico. It was actually quite exciting and other than a few minor burns and a stubbed toe, none of us
were seriously injured. When it was all over we bid our new friends farewell and promised to keep up with them via their website
www.thesprockets.com, and headed for the bus station. By this time it was after 1:00 AM and we thankfully caught the last bus
back to Las Hadas. By the time we reached Southern Belle it was almost 3:00 AM. We were dead tired, but it was a good tired.
The next afternoon, after some much needed sleep, we raised the anchor and motored around to Santiago Bay, approximately 7 miles
to the north. We spent the next couple of days visiting with our friends Stan and MJ from the sailing vessel Sol Mate. After
some provisioning we sailed north to Bahia de Navidad. When we stopped in here on our way south we stayed at the Grand Bay
Resort Marina. This time we went into the anchorage in the lagoon. It is mostly flat calm and very shallow as you anchor in a
bottom consisting mostly of mud. You have to be careful not to run aground as you enter this anchorage. In the short time we
were there 2 boats ran aground coming into the anchorage and had a dickens of a time getting off. Our friends Gene and Vicki on
Caravan were in the anchorage so we had fun catching up with them, and Joshua got to have some play time with their daughter
Fiona. The town of Barre Navidad is lovely and the lagoon is a fine place to anchor. One day we snuck into the Grand Bay Hotel
and took advantage of their ultra-cool swimming pool. Gene and George entered in the Sand Bar darts tournament and took fourth
place (out of four teams). Bahia de Navidad was so nice we ended up staying a couple days longer than we had intended, but in the
end finally said goodbye and started north toward Banderas Bay and the dreaded passage around Cabo Corrientes (the Point
Conception of Mexico).
Joshua enjoying the first cake he's ever baked!
We hope this installment finds you all healthy and happy! Until next time we wish you all a fresh breeze and following seas!