Mexico Season From October 2001 to July 12, 2002

We departed San Diego 10/20, to be well ahead of the Ba Ha Ha fleet expected to number over 100 boats and had a fairly leisurely trip to Cabo San Lucas arriving on Halloween. Stops were made at San Quinton, Turtle Bay, Asuncion Village and Bahia Santa Maria. Were able to sail at good speeds over half of the time. Cabo was much changed since the last visit in the 80s and felt like a college spring break destination, noisy and dirty without compensating charm. The marina was very dirty and very expensive (twice the most costly in San Diego). After only three nights we sailed to Mazatlan and had a great passage.

Mazatlan was a very pleasant stay at El Cid Marina, a nice city where we were able to get repair services after some searching. We day cruised to Zihuatenejo, mostly in very light winds where we spent the Christmas season. High points along the way included Isla Isabela, a game preserve where we had great snorkeling, a very dramatic anchorage SSE of the Mannakins (Huge offshore rock pinnacles) and great hiking through the nesting sites of frigate birds and boobies. For those of you that follow, this is a challenging anchorage, not to be missed. We arrived Puerto Vallarta in a very red tide and entered Marina Vallarta through rafts of hundreds of dead fish. The smell for the first 4 days was an experience to be remembered, much improved after the staff removed truckloads of decomposing fish. We had a nice time over Thanksgiving in the company of many cruising friends. Bahia Chamella was a charming spot, a large bay with a number of islands some of which offer small private anchorages, The entire bay is reachable by dingy for snorkeling and exploring. Careyes is a small bay with an elegant hotel and condo development. The entrance between massive rocks leads to two small anchorages serving 4-6 yachts. Bahia Tenacatita Bay is a favored cruiser hangout  (we were with 30 boats) with a great beach, an estuary cruise by dingy, beach restaurants and the charming town La Manzanilla 3 miles across on the windward side of the bay. La Manzanilla is a great morning visit (until the wind comes up) having a stream with large crocodiles at the end of the street, nice cafes and a nice feel. We did stop at Barra Navidad for a night and fuel. At the time the officials were difficult and the heat made the stop less than fun. We anchored off Las Hadas in Bahia Manzanillo and looked around this beautiful and populated area. All services are available. The only negative is a massive oil fired power generating plant at the south entrance to the bay that causes almost continuous overcast but great sunsets. The terrorist events of  9/11/2001 had the effect of killing tourism in Mexico. Manzanillo was typical. Las Hadas for example, having over 400 rooms had less than ten guest registrations.

We arrived Zuatenejo 12/17 and stayed a full month anchoring off  La Ropa Beach in company of  30-55 cruising boats. This is a great place to spend the holidays. The town is very nice, the fellowship active and Marina Ixtapa is just a few miles away in a western tourist resort as a place to do boat clean up projects. Snorkeling was exceptional at Isla Grande off Ixtapa. We found this an excellent place to have parts shipped from the states as well as a good spot for air travel, Marina Ixtapa being a secure place though very hot and isolated as a place to stay on board.

Deciding we didn’t want the higher temperatures we would find to the south in Acapulco, we started back up the coast working toward the Sea of Cortez. Winds were light and often from the north. We made many of the same stops. New adventures were found. Caleta de Campos was a small, somewhat rolly, spot above Zuat overnight. It is a poor village with beach palapas offering nice people and great scenery. Encenada de Pechilinquillo  is a fairly open anchorage behind a rock island with very clear water and no village. Tenacatita was much busier, now 41 boats anchored and enough activities to drive a solitude lover crazy. Before rounding Cabo Corrientes and returning to Puerto Vallarta we tried the little harbor at Ipala and loved it. The place is known for smuggling, but we had a nice night and meal there in a dramatic setting.

In PV we had the boat hauled, surveyed and the bottom done at the Opecimar yard. The bottom had a few blisters that were well repaired by Juan Gonzallez. The work was good and a reasonable (not bargain) value. We did some local cruising and anchored for a while at Punta Mita. The spot was secure. There is enough of a town for some shopping and bus service to PV. The snorkeling at the Tres Marietas Islands was great. Heading north we stopped at Chacala and then the Town of San Blas, anchoring in Matenchan Bay. This area is loaded with history. Here Longfellow was inspired to write his last work, “The Bells of San Blas”. Fr. Serra sailed from here to start founding missions and after one year in the Baja he founded the Mission San Diego and started the work of the California missions. The fortress here was a stop for the Manila galleons. After another Isla Isabela stop we spent a week at Mazatlan before sailing across to the Baja leaving April 3 in coolish weather and in light winds for the 250 mile trip to Isla San Francisco, a clear hookworm shaped anchorage above La Paz 90 miles. Hammerhead sharks, whales and jumping manta rays were seen on our way in.

Heading up the sea we visited some memorable spots. Los Gatos Bay had extraordinary rose colors in the rocks and our first solitude. Bahia Agua Verde provided a small village, great scenery above and below water and great socializing with other cruisers.  Puerto Escondito is a bullet proof anchorage with an American retired community that was very helpful with medical problems and Loreto 15 miles north provided a doctor and shopping.  The nearby islands, Danzante and Carmen made for many anchorages. The top of Carmen had the clearest water we found. The anchorage at San Juanico served us three times with great snorkeling and seafood. We sailed from there to San Carlos (a beautiful approach but over rated for facilities) to pick up my pal Wink from Vail. We cruised through the Conception and Mulege areas. Conception temperatures were 105 plus discouraging slow cruising. Summer was coming on so we stopped at La Paz and headed uphill on the long slog to San Diego arriving in 12 days on July12. The winds were never favorable but often light for powering.

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