Thursday, February 18, 2016


Our last day at La Cruz was a busy one.  We were up early as we wanted to get to the local weekly market and provision for the next stage of our journey.  Every Wednesday a few trucks arrive, loaded way above the gunnels with fresh fruit/veggies, dried nuts, granola and all sorts of other treats a person might find in a Mexican mercado.  

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All along the little side street, the venders had laid out their wares on folding tables – hardware, kitchenware, videos, make up, clothing for everyone and threaded throughout little stands selling coconut water, tacos and empanadas.  I was surrounded by the local Mexican women as we pawed through finding the perfect everything.  Doug stood by with the shopping bags helping me organize my purchases. 

We needed to be back to the boat by 9am when we were supposed to be receiving a water delivery as the water on the dock was considered “drinkable” but not “potable”.  Unfortunately the delivery man was not allowed onto the marina premises, although he had already made at least 2 deliveries in the past week.  We found out later that another company had the exclusive rights at almost twice the price.   We ended up filling our tanks with the marina water and adding chlorine.  Neither of us are particularly fond of the flavour of this chemical, but at least we knew it would be safe and palatable through our ceramic filter. 

Ka'sala buried in sailboats at the La Cruz marina
Later, I made two more trips into town.  One to complete my provisioning, and another to pick up the laundry.  I couldn’t resist buying a chicken slow grilled on a mesquite barbeque.  For 100 pesos we got a whole chicken, tortillas, rice, coleslaw and the most amazing mesquite grilled salsa!  I topped it off with some roast “pappas” (potatoes) from the rotisserie chicken place across the road.  We couldn’t complain about the great food available to us in La Cruz!

By 1pm we were off the dock and anchored outside the breakwater.  We were sorry to say goodbye to our friends who were staying behind, but hoped to see them again soon.  

Lyneita, Doug, Al and Lindy
We had a quiet afternoon and a lovely dinner.  We decided about 7pm that we would just head out for Chamela, 90 nautical miles away, so we could round Cabo Corrientes in the early morning hours – a time when the wind and waves would likely be at their most benign.  And we were right.  We drifted out of the bay, and as we got closer to the Cape, the wind picked up, but never exceeded 20 knots.  The seas were confused – Corrientes means “currents” and once around we knew why.  We had a southern current and swell against us, while the prevailing winds and wind chop were behind us.  Our point of sail was almost directly from the stern, not the best for filling the sails in rolly conditions, so we had everything prevented as well.  After we left the influence of the Cape, we motor-sailed for the rest of the night and morning, arriving in Chamela in the afternoon of February 11. 

Dawn on the coast to Chamela
We dropped anchor in front of the estuary entrance in about 8 meters of emerald green, clear-as-a-bell water.  No sooner did we have the anchor down when Jean-Guy, a Canadian friend of ours from our previous Mexican cruising adventure, was on the VHF arranging for us to get together.  He and his wife, Fran, had sold their sailboat Gosling after cruising Pacific Mexico for most of the last decade, including a year farther south and transiting the Panama Canal.  Although they have since bought another sailboat in BC (Comox of all places!), they will only sail it in the Pacific Northwest.  For the moment, they are travelling gypsies in their RV Casita Rosita.  We quickly made arrangements to meet them the following day.  That gave us a bit of time to eyeball the surf and try to figure out how we would get ashore.

Rocky point off main anchorage at Chamela
Our guidebook had told us that the best place to land was on the beach close to the palapa restaurants and the estuary.  All the local pangas seemed to land and take off from there as well.  What we hadn’t counted on was the prevailing southern swell, which sent roller sets to the beach every 5 waves or so.  We launched the kayaks and toured all along this rugged anchorage,  paddling up and down the beach trying to figure out the best place to land and time the waves.  Courageous Doug went first and it was looking good before a roller turned him sideways and flipped his kayak.  Not only did it fill with water, it also took on several pounds of sand.  He could hardly drag it out of the surf.  Reticent Lyneita, stood off and watched a whole lot longer before choosing a gap and paddling like mad.  Just as I made it to shore, a smaller break pushed me sideways and I carved into the sand.  The whole experience was totally safe and tremendously funny, though cleaning out the kayaks wasn’t so hilarious.  We also had to figure out how we would get back to Ka’sala!  We had dry clothes and stuff in sealed bags in the kayak compartments and were in our bathing suits, so there was no harm done, except, maybe, to our pride.

Ka'sala at the anchorage in Chamela
We asked one of the local palapa owners to watch our kayaks for us while we caught up with J-G and Fran.  A kayak had been stolen off the beach two days before and, although our kayaks are not expensive, they would be very difficult to replace if we lost them.  For the price of a margarita, toes in the sand, waves in the surf, we knew our kayaks would be looked after.

Anchorage at Chamela
We found the little 20 spot RV park but J-G and Fran were at the market.  We introduced ourselves to one of their neighbours and he allowed us to clean up in the park facilities.  Then we walked into the village of Perula to have a look around. 

Main Street Perula
This small place is a series of small houses and tiendas lined along the coastal highway.  A large number of Nord Americanos live in the neighbourhood, many of them French Canadians.  Along the beach were some amazing large homes.  We didn’t notice any damage from the hurricane that came close to the area a few months ago.

Veggie garden on the outskirts of town

Bougainvillea line the ditches on the way in to Perula
We had a lovely visit with J-G and Fran, catching up with their news and also consulting with them about their many experiences cruising on this coast and “summering” their sailboat in the Guaymas area.  We learned many things and are grateful to them for sharing and guiding us. (Jean-Guy has two great blogs: &  We were also surprised to discover that in the camper beside them belonged to Ellen and Ian, more cruising friends, who were now engaging in an RV experience.  Their sailboat, Kasasa, is for sale and currently on the hardstand in Guaymas.  We enjoyed catching up with them and appreciated the knowledge they shared with us as well.

Fran, Ellen, Lyneita, Doug and Jean-Guy
We indulged in a couple of delicious inexpensive meals with our friends - one at a French restaurant and another on the beach in an enormous palapa.  Both places were packed with gringos, most living the winter months in this area.  It’s not surprising as the bay is enormous and includes 3 different villages, as well as miles and miles of hard packed beautiful sand beaches.  The backdrop terrain is hilly and mountainous and covered in jungle.  It is hot and humid, but cooler at night with a heavy dew to cleanse the salt from our decks.  There are a number of islands in the bay and they are a destination for tourists looking for small remote beaches and the potential to swim, dive and snorkel.  I hope this does not seem judgemental, but the area does not feel “Mexican” to me – more like a less visited resort area servicing retired snowbirds who winter and vacation here.

Live local band at palapa dinner - note the unusual harp
For sailors there are a couple of problems – the anchorage suffers from total exposure to the south and, while we were there, the prevailing southerly swell rolled in making for rocky, rolly nights aboard and crashing surf to navigate beach landings.  Although we didn’t mind it, the panga traffic was fairly constant back and forth, either fishing or transporting holiday seekers.  Each afternoon the wind picked up, cooling things off and lining the boat up to the swell, decreasing the rocking.  We swam several times around the boat and in the surf.  Very refreshing and lots of fun!

Notre Isle at Chamela on a quiet morning  - beach palapas to the left
After three nights we decided to slip anchor, though we could have stayed a lot longer visiting with J-G, Fran, Ellen and Ian.  Instead of hurrying down the coast, we decided to explore two of the islands in the bay reputed to have good snorkeling.  We left late morning and anchored off Isla Cocina (the kitchen) and two tiny sand beaches.  The swell was significantly higher than the main anchorage and a good north wind blew through.  We decided to wait to go snorkelling in the morning when the conditions would be calmer.  Unfortunately, the swell and surf had churned the area so thoroughly there was very little visibility.  We returned to Ka’sala, drew the anchor and headed 30 miles further down the coast to “The Aquarium” at Tenacatita.

Isla Cocina
Addendum:  So – how did we get back to the boat through the pounding surf?  The first night, after dark, J-G and Fran walked with us back to the kayaks.  The surf was a little quieter and, in our bathing suits we walked them past the break, jumped aboard and paddled back to Ka’sala under the light of the moon.  The second day we took the dinghy instead of the kayaks.  Before the break we jumped out and waded it into shore and reversed the process going back out, again after dark, with the help of J-G and Fran.  We had to take a dry bag.  We didn’t want to risk flipping the boat with the motor attached.  Basically, we got wet. We need to practise.

Not us, but you get the idea

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