Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Barra and Las Hadas

14:00, 1 February 2011, anchored off Santiago Beach, Manzanillo Bay
I have just realized that my last posting didn’t go through and i seem to have lost it altogether so here is a catch-up entry for the past 2 weeks.
We got into Barra de Navidad on the 19th without further incident and negotiated the narrow channel where many boats go aground. Since we have the waypoints permanently installed on the chart plotter it is a safe and easy transit for us.
We anchored in near our normal anchorage spot and joined a group of 26 boats. Several of these are here only for a short time getting ready to travel down to Zihuatanejo for the Sail Fest. We did that 3 years ago and that was enough. Maybe we’ll stop in next year on our way south.
Our plans to fuel and water were thrown in disarray when, as we approached the dock we were waved off. We later found out that a power cruiser had seriously damaged the diesel dock and repairs were extensive, without an estimated time of repair. The only option is to jerry can diesel from the gas station up the hill, a long and arduous task....
In the anchorage we finally met Lunautica with Mike and Judy aboard. Mike is Steve’s (Full Quiver) brother and we sailed with them aboard Full Quiver in last years’ Bay of Banderas race week. Their boat, a Moody 46 is a beauty! We also saw several old friends there including Manasea, Pacific Jade, Serendipity (UK) and Windward Bound. Many of the other boats were sporting the pink pennant of this year’s Ha-Ha event, an organised sail of southbound boats from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. This year there were 170 boats.
We didn’t stay very long in Barra this time as we were impatient to get to Las Hadas to meet up with Optical Illusion. A few days of re-provisioning fresh goods, a pedicure (for both of us), laundry and we were off once again down the coast to Manzanillo Bay.
We arrived at Las Hadas on the 22nd and joined 11 other boats at anchor off the beach in front of Las Hadas. It was nice to meet up with Optical Illusion again and with Serendipity (UK) which arrived a few days later. Three days after we arrived several boats left for Zihuatanejo giving us lots of elbow room. Just as well for us. The normal daily wind-shifts this year bring us around our anchor in a 360 degree circle. Danforth anchors don’t really like that so they tend to flip out and drag a bit before biting back in. This can be very disconcerting in a tight anchorage like this one. We had to re-anchor several times.
Serendipity (UK) is waiting for a Yachtpath ship that will take her from Manzanillo to Europe. She is scheduled to be loaded aboard on the 2nd or 3rd of Feb. Alan has asked me to help him get her to the pickup point and we have offered them accommodation until their flight leaves on the 4th. They are a very pleasant couple who live very close to where we had lived in the early 90’s. It is great to reminisce with them. They are also very experienced European sailors and are a fountain of information on cruising the Med and Greece where we would like to end up eventually.

After a few days at Las Hadas we headed to Santiago Bay for a few days with Optical Illusion (Jan.22nd). This wonderful bay is rimmed by a beautiful sandy beach and the shallow waters are host to many forms of aquatic life including whales. Early this morning at 6:30 Fran heard the tell-tale “whoosh” of a breaching whale and, lo and behold, there was a huge female fin whale and her young calf, no more than 100 ft from the boat. It happened at the exact time that the sliver of the last crescent of the moon was rising and in the same direction. Magic!!! Although it was difficult to make them out in the dark they were there for quite some time after we went back to bed. This may be the pair that were observed a few weeks ago when the calf was born.
One of the reasons we are in Santiago Bay is to have J-G do his evening SSB net control duties in a location where he will be better heard by the listeners up and down the coast. The net serves as a focal point for cruisers to get information on other boats and to get updated weather information from the weather experts. Nets are conducted morning and evenings near the times of dusk when propagation is best.
We are observing that Las Hadas has seen better days. The marina is in sad shape and the management is sorely lacking the experience necessary to run such a complex organisation. Adrian, the manager at present, has been hired on a 60 day renewable contract but he is getting little or no support. He has no marina management skills and has been told by upper management to charge exorbitant fees. As a result he is getting no cooperation from his potential marina clients, the tour operators, fishing charter people, cruisers, etc. or the upper echelons of Las Hadas. There are lots of people willing to give him advice but unless upper management is willing to listen there will continue to be a stand-off. Although we are supposed to be charged a 200 peso landing fee we have yet to see anyone enforce this policy so we continue to use the facilities free of charge.

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