The Sherwins, on board their Nordhavn 46 "Four Seasons", spent Christmas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and then continued south as they take their time to fully explore the picturesque waters and towns of Mexico.
December 24, 2001 - La Cruz
The Port Captain only worked half a day on December 24, but we were assured that if we got our request to Vilma at Marina Vallarta early, she would be able to process our departure papers. At 1:30, as promised, they were done and by 2 we were on our way out of the harbor. The first stop, in order to see it and to make an easy first day, was La Cruz, only about 5 miles Northwest of Puerto Vallarta. This is out of the way for going South, but it's a major hub of the Puerto Vallarta cruising scene. It really isn't much of an anchorage, just mostly an open roadstead protected from the worst of the NW weather but open to the South and Southwest. There were about 20 boats in here, and we had no trouble finding a good spot in about 25 feet, good holding bottom. It's a little rolly, but not bad.
December 25, 2001 - Ipala
Cabo Corrientes is about 30 miles south of La Cruz, past the Islas Tres Mariettas. Just past Cabo Corrientes is Ipala, a small anchorage with a small village and a beach. It's a very pleasant place, a good anchorage, though small, and you have to snake your anchor down in amongst some rather huge boulders. It's good holding ground if you don't land on a rock or get snagged by one. We put the underwater video camera in the water and looked around. The rock we were over was about the size of the boat and was about 15 feet tall off the bottom, which was 30 feet down. There were lots of fish around it. It was a craggy thing; we snagged the paravane on it coming in and laid the boat over on its side a little. There's only room for a few boats here, but we were the only ones there Christmas night. This was a fairly rough day, with 10-12 foot following seas from the NE and NW as well as, later in the day, a 25 knot wind from the port side. All in all a fairly nasty ride. The wind came up in the middle of the night to about 20 knots, and again about 5 AM, but we had no problems. By the time we left, it was less than 10 knots.
December 26, 2001 - Chamela
We traveled 50 miles Southeast in calm seas and light winds, leaving at 6 AM and arriving in the early afternoon at Chamela. This is a large open anchorage, well protected from the Northwest weather, open to the Southwest and South. Again, we were the only ones here. It's a great place to spend some time, with two large islands that afford marginal anchorage besides the one main anchorage. We were anxious to get to Carayes, since all the guidebooks rave about it, so we didn't dally here, but pulled up anchor at about 9 AM to do the 10 mile stretch.
December 27, 2001- Carayes
Well, we stopped here, that much we can say. We spent about an hour looking for a suitable place to anchor, and the more we looked the less we liked what we saw. The guidebooks rave about the picturesque quality of Carayes, and the abundance of hotels and eating places. All that is true, it's gorgeous, and we really wanted to visit. What they don't mention is that there is only room for about six boats and there were already seven when we got there. It is VERY small! One large boat had out 400 feet of anchor chain, and there appeared to be several permanent mooring balls, leaving few options for us. In the end we elected to move on to Tenacitita.
December 28, 2001 - Tenecatita-Day 1
Now this is more like it. A huge, well protected anchorage 130 miles South of Puerto Vallarta, with two optional anchorages for Southerly protection as well as the prevailing Northerlies. There were about 20 boats here, but ample room for us and good holding ground. There are miles of beach and snorkeling just around the corner. There is a large Hotel on the North shore, and a restaurant near the creek on the Northwest side. Here the Jungle River Trip, much touted in the guidebooks, starts. Surrounded by mangrove trees, we expected no-seeums and mosquitoes, but haven't been bothered by them yet. It's a nice calm place to practice with the kayaks we bought in Dana Point. We will spend several days here before moving on to Barra de Navidad.
December 29, 2001 - Tenacitita-Day 2
We took the Jungle River Trip. It's 2 miles long through winding overhanging trees and bushes. It's full of birds and the water is so crystal clear and still you can't distinguish the shoreline; it just reflects the trees. Getting into the river is a little tricky as you have to cross through a rocky bar that is very shallow at low tide. When the tide is dropping and current is running out of the river, it really runs! Probably nearly 5 knots at the entrance across the bar. We found that out when we came back.
At the end of the river is a lagoon and a landing area where you can walk up to a beach town. There is a dirt road that branches off the main paved road here, and it seems to be an RV and camping haven. There are all sorts of restaurants here, including one that seems to be famous for Fish Rolls. We didn't eat here as it was only 10 AM, but it looked interesting. I didn't like the looks of the water wells right beside the road, some right next to restrooms.
The bay in front of this town is called locally, "The Aquarium" because of the good snorkeling. Well, we tried it, but the snorkeling wasn't good. Donna got stung 3 times quickly and that was enough. No welts from it, but we think it was very small jelly fish. Too murky and surgey for us, but we had a good lunch on the beach at the ??? restaurant. They specialize in fish rolls, sort of like fish tacos, white fish and shrimp in a tortilla, but with a special sauce over them. I found them delightful. An interesting side note: While on the Chubasco ham net the previous day, Bill, N7XKD from Texas asked for a relay station in Tenacitita. We responded, and he wanted to pass a New Years greeting to Gloria and her son, Oscar, who run the restaurant. Of course we complied, and delivered the message. Gloria was delighted to hear from Bill, who also wanted her to pass on regards to "the gringos on the beach". There is apparently a large contingent of beach folks who more or less live there permanently.