Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Return to La Cruz

Leaving Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo behind, our northbound course took us once again past the busy port of Lazaro Cardenas. Our approach this time was about 10 miles offshore, giving us plenty of time to spot and avoid the ship traffic around the harbor entrance. The wind was very light and we motored throughout the night, arriving at a rough little anchorage called Caleta de Campos around 0800. There is a small bay here called Bahia Bufadero.  It is wide open to the southwesterly swell and we anchored a hundred yards or so outside the surf line and slept for a few hours with the boat rocking in the large swells and the surf booming nearby. Around 1400 the Honcho sailed from Caleta de Campos with a good westerly breeze, bound for Bahia Manzanillo, 114 miles distant.

By nightfall the wind, as it usually does, fell light so the Honcho motored the rest of the way to Bahia Manzanillo. We anchored once again off Las Hadas and spent a couple of days relaxing around the pool and touring the city. Bahia Manzanillo is separated from Bahia de Santiago by the Peninsula de Santiago. Both bays are ringed with broad, beautiful sand beaches and luxury hotels, but we were more intrigued by the old city of Manzanillo and spent our time wandering around the old waterfront town, enjoying the sights around this picturesque area.

Rested and well provisioned, we left Las Hadas, bound for Bahia de Tenacatita, about 40 miles up the coast. We arrived there in the late afternoon and had time to drop the anchor and enjoy a fiery sunset from the cockpit of the Honcho. We did not go ashore here, just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery of the place. This bay is home to a pod of dolphins that seem to enjoy rubbing against the chains of the anchored boats. While the water wasn't clear enough to see them, we could feel the vibrations and see it moving around as they played with our chain. Strange sensation.

The following day we made the short hop from Tenacatita to Bahia de Chamela, anchoring in the northwest corner of the bay just off the little town of Perula. Chamela is about 70 miles down the coast from Cabo Corrientes, the southern border to Banderas Bay.  Cabo Corrientes is known for its frequently rough conditions and cruisers usually wait for predictions of light winds in the area before making the dash around that corner and into the relative safety of Banderas Bay. The winds had been strong the last few days, but with a forecast of light winds in the offing we departed from Bahia Chamela around 1800 so we could pass the cape early the following morning, when conditions were predicted to be fairly calm.

Clearing Punta Rivas, the outermost point of land that protects Bahia Chamela, we ran into a 15 knot headwind and 6 foot seas. These stayed with us all night, making for a bumpy ride up the coast. Tacking in close to shore, the Honcho made the best of it as we slowly worked our way along the rugged coastline, arriving at the cape around 0700 the following morning. Here the sea was still rougher than we had hoped, but as we rounded the cape and entered the southern reaches of Banderas Bay, conditions steadily improved. By 1000 it was calm and we were motoring across the bay with the Islas Tres Marietas and Punta de Mita on our port beam. We felt like we were returning to our friendly home waters with our arrival at La Cruz. But the bay also serves up a breeze now and then, and by the time we reached the anchorage outside the harbor the wind was over 20 knots. With our oversize ground tackle, anchoring in a stiff breeze is a cinch and within a few minutes we were snugly anchored and had time to ponder the large number of boats anchored and bobbing around in the wind before the sun set. When we left here about a month ago there weren't many boats anchored here. Now I count nearly 50.

In the evening the wind died down, but the swell rolled us uncomfortably all night long and all the next day. We had planned to spend a few days in the marina anyway, so the following day we upped the anchored and took a berth in the marina, where we'll stay until mid-March, when weather conditions should be better for heading north into the Sea of Cortez.

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