Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back to Las Hadas

Thursday, 12 Feb
We have just arrived at Maruata Bay, a remote anchorage about 90 miles south of Manzanillo after having done 36 miles against steadily increasing headwinds. By the time we arrived they were blowing 20-22 kts . Mannasea (Phil), a small catamaran with engine problems, is a few miles behind us and is beating against this wind, hoping to get into the bay by nightfall. It will be a hard slog for him.
After leaving Zihuatanejo, on Monday, we motored up the coast and anchored off Isla Grande, just offshore from the large resorts of Ixtapa. The island serves as a beach playground for the resorts with pangas delivering tourists in the morning and taking them back to the resorts in the late afternoon. By 5PM the place is deserted. The well renowned snorkelling coves on the south side of the island were inaccessible due to high surf conditions so we had to be content with a late afternoon stroll on the beach with Rosie. Tuesday night we decided to leave for Caleta de Campos with Kalalau , a boat from Port Townsend owned by one of the skippers of the Adventuress, the American tall ship in the pacific northwest. George and Kathleen will be heading off to the Marquesas in a few weeks so they are rushing back to PV to join this year’s group.
We departed at midnight, aiming to reach Caleta de Campos, a 67 mile run, before the afternoon winds developed. It was a very pleasant night with light winds and a full moon as we motor-sailed north. At 4 a.m. on Fran’s watch, as we approached the busy port of Lorenzo Cardenas, a darkened, very fast vessel passed down our starboard side and took station a mile away on our port quarter for 30 minutes. We had been advised by other boats that the Mexican navy was doing drug interdiction patrols in the area and we presume that was one of the patrols. Had we been a lone boat we might have been boarded but by maintaining a continuous dialogue between Kalalau and ourselves probably helped our lot.
We arrived in Caleta de Campos without further incident by early afternoon. As predicted, the wind had shifted from a land to sea breeze by noon so the last 2 hours were a slog into headwinds of 18-20 kts. Caleta de Campos has wonderful beaches but there was hardly anyone enjoying them. We were able to make a landing in the surf and had a nice afternoon walking Rosie and enjoying a cervesa in one of the many wall to wall palapa establishments covering a good portion of the beach adjacent to the village. The different table coverings are the only indication of where one starts and the other ends. If you like beer and fish dishes, this is for you. Much to Fran’s disappointment there were no Margaritas available but the guacamole was the best we have had so far. But in reality, these establishments are just an extension of a family’s home and they eke out a small living by feeding tourists when they can. Menus are basic and based on supplies that are easily available: seafood, beer and pop.
We left there the following morning after Rosie had done her business and after recovering the outboard off the dinghy. We have been towing the inflatable for the past few days instead of lifting it to the foredeck. Much of the morning was flat calm but by noon the sea breeze started to develop and it increased steadily until we arrived in here Maruata Bay. Phil arrived just after nightfall, very tired and thankful for our directions into the anchorage. Without radar and before moonrise it is very difficult to make out shore features after dark.
0530, 14 February, Happy St Valentines
Cruising north in light aires and calm seas. This can’t last...
We are on our way to Manzanillo after a 2200 departure. We were counting on the sea breeze to die down after sunset but it persisted until about 0200 with headwinds from 15-22 kts. It was not a pleasant ride for the first few hours but the wind has let up and the seas have calmed somewhat allowing us to make good headway. We hope to arrive in Manzanillo before the sea breeze re-establishes itself but that may be wishful thinking.
We spent the day relaxing and helping Phil sort out his engine problems. We were able to make some band-aid repairs to his engine, sufficient to get him to Manzanillo where he can get a permanent solution. Lucky for us he had an extra 15 gallons of diesel onboard. J-G miscalculated our fuel reserves for the return trip and we were contemplating hiking to the nearest Pemex station but thanks to Phil that won’t be necessary. Have to add spare diesel jerry cans to the shopping list for next season...
Maruata bay is very typical of the coves along this coast. It is a lovely sandy cove protected from Northerly winds but the SW swell refracts around the point giving us a gentle rocking motion. Landing on beaches like this can be an exhilarating experience. You start by choosing a landing spot and timing the swell pattern and then rushing in to the beach, jumping out and hauling the dinghy out of the surf line. We don’t want to repeat the dunking we experienced a few years ago in Tenecatita with Royal Exchange’s dinghy. This time we had Phil with us so the landing and departure were textbook. There is always that moment of apprehension when the outboard doesn’t start back up on the first pull but we had observed the swell pattern well and had a good calm period between sets of breakers. We had a pleasant few hours on the near deserted beach and had lunch in one of the few open palapa restaurants on the beach.
With another 80 miles to go to Manzanillo we decided to leave by 2200 to take advantage of the land breeze during the night and the calms that seem to develop from early morning to early afternoon. As luck (or bad luck) would have it we encountered 3-4 ft seas and 12-15 kt headwinds for the first 3 hours before it began to lighten up.
1800, 14 Feb 2009, anchored off Las Hadas
We arrived back at anchor off Las Hadas by 1400. The light winds didn’t last and by early afternoon the sea breeze developed again but by then we were entering Manzanillo Bay and we were finally able to have a good sail into the bay. By A few hours later Mannasea arrived. The engine repairs he had done lasted the trip but the rough seas were not kind to him.
We will be here for a few days before heading north towards Barra de Navidad and meeting friends in Maleque at the end of the month.

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