Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cruising the Costa Alegre

Finisterra departed from La Cruz on Thursday, January 8th, bound for beautiful Barra de Navidad. Our course took us in a southwesterly direction from La Cruz toward Cabo Corrientes, or Cape of Currents. After rounding the cape, we turned southeast along what is known as the Costa Alegre, or Happy Coast, so named because of the many beautiful coves and beaches along this coast all the way to Manzanillo.

After we left La Cruz the wind filled in nicely, about 12 knots out of the northwest. I hoisted the mainsail with a single reef and unrolled the jib. I put the reef in the main with the expectation that we'd find plenty of wind around the Cape, as it often blows pretty hard there. We rounded the Cape around sunset with about 18 knots of wind on the beam, a bit lighter than expected, so it was a very pleasant sail. As night fell we bore off on a southeasterly course and the wind dropped to about 5 knots, still out of the northwest, so we started the engine and motored with the jib furled and main sheeted in tight. It's about 130 miles from La Cruz to Barra and we averaged about 6.5 knots over that distance and arrived early the next morning. We took a berth in the marina at the Grand Bay hotel and spent the next few days relaxing and exploring.

Grand Bay Hotel in Barra de Navidad

The marina is across a shallow channel from the town of Barra. To get there we took the dinghy and landed at a concrete sea wall adjacent to the old Sands Hotel.  To keep the wall from damaging the dinghy we put out a stern anchor.

It's not yet the tourist season in Barra so the town was pretty quiet, and this policeman was relaxing on a very pleasant morning. Notice his hat at lower right. 

Even in La Cruz, the marina was guarded by sub-machine gun toting policia. They are always friendly once they get to know you.

We had lunch at a waterfront restaurant. While their parents enjoyed lunch, local kids had a blast jumping off the railing.
We left Barra on January 13th and motored in no wind a few miles to Bahia Santiago and anchored in the northwest corner of the bay. The water temperature hovered around 83 degrees so it could have been very pleasant swimming, but it was too murky to see much. We spent a day walking along the beach and then took Finisterra around Punta Santiago and anchored off the Las Hadas resort for the next five days. It's a nice anchorage and we had a lot of fun hanging out with friends from S/V Unleashed. Unfortunately the cost to land a dinghy in the marina is now 200 Pesos per day (about $14 USD). There were half a dozen other boats in the anchorage and everyone grumbled about the cost of landing here. We have noticed a lot of price increases in everything, including food, fuel, slip rents, etc. everywhere we've been in Mexico compared to last year. While it is still possible to live more cheaply here than the US, things are changing quickly.

The beach in Bahia Santiago

Finisterra departed Las Hadas the morning of January 19th. This part of the Mexican coast, from Bahia Banderas all the way to Huatulco is known for its light air and for the next 185 miles we motored over a flat sea and no more than three or four knots of wind, with the exception of a few occasional puffs out of the northeast. The water temperature rose to 84 degrees and humidity hovered in the 80% range. With these conditions the air is always a bit hazy. We spent a good part of the day dodging long lines but eventually got far enough out to sea to avoid them. Of course that put is out in the shipping lane, where there is a lot of traffic. Fortunately we are able to spot ships with our AIS system and we had no trouble avoiding them.
Finding Internet access is always an interesting, or frustrating, experience in Mexico. At the Paradise restaurant overlooking the anchorage we found a well stocked bar, free wifi, and a big screen TV where we watched Seattle's improbable win over the Packers.
Finisterra anchored off Las Hadas

We anchored on the northeast side of Isla Grande, Ixtapa around 1700 on January 20th and immediately jumped overboard for a refreshing swim. While at anchor there we scrubbed Finisterra's bottom, which had developed a fair amount of growth since it was last cleaned in La Cruz. The next day we came into Marina Ixtapa, where we'll stay a few days before heading south to Acapulco.

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