Throughout that day and night the wind remained constant at 15-18 knots out of the north and we made good progress under sail. With light air in the forecast we were thinking of passing to the north of the Islas Tres Marias and stopping at Isla Isabella before turning south to Bahia de Banderas but the seas were still fairly rough, left over from the strong northerly blow of the previous few days, making it uncomfortable to sail toward that island. I was just as happy to leave the Marias to port and sail the more direct route.
Early the next morning the wind backed around to northwest and lightened to about 6 knots, which gave us a speed of about 3.5 knots toward our destination. I fired up the diesel and we motorsailed the rest of the way to La Cruz. I had been watching another sailing vessel on AIS that left San Jose an hour ahead of us. It was a nearly new 50 footer with a code Zero headsail up, which gave it good speed in light air, and it stayed about three miles ahead of us for the entire passage.
As we approached Bahia de Banderas I noticed that the other boat was headed directly for the Islas Tres Marietas instead of the safe channel between those islands and Punta de Mita. By the time we were within about ten miles of the Islas it was pretty clear that their intention was to thread their way through them. As it was a dark and moonless night, and knowing that the folks aboard that boat had never been in these waters before, I called them on the VHF and offered to give them some waypoints in the channel between the Marietas and Pta. de Mita. The skipper thanked me and altered course about 20 degrees and made the entrance to the bay safe and sound. The Tres Marietas are beautiful but there are lots of rocks and shoals around them, and it's not a place to be on a moonless night if you're not armed with very good local knowledge. Even then, it's better to visit them during the daytime.
Finisterra entered Bahia de Banderas just after 0300 local time. With no wind at all, we motored slowly toward La Cruz, timing our arrival for first light on Sunday, November 30th, Nevertheless, was still pitch dark when we got there so we loitered just outside the anchorage until the first streaks of dawn appeared over the mountains to the east, then entered the harbor and took a berth on Gangway 10.
It was great to arrive back at our favorite harbor in all of Mexico.