Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sailboat surfing down to Chamela.

The ham radio signal has been very poor being close to the big city of Puerto Vallarta so here is a brief recap of the last couple of weeks.

Hidden Beach, Banderas Bay

PV - After arriving in Banderas Bay a couple of weeks ago we have meandered through the various anchorages that the bay has to offer.  A few days at Punta de Mita with it's decent surf break, nifty shops and quaint beach restaurants.  Several days in La Cruz where there is a marina and more resources for any needed repairs, restocking or just hanging with friends as there are a lot of boats in the marina or on anchor just off of La Cruz.  At one point we left La Cruz heading out to Punta de Mita for a jump the next day south around Cabo Corrientes and farther south down the Mexican coastline.  However, a refrigerator glitch sent us back to La Cruz the very next morning to get someone to look at it.  It was a simple fix fortunately and we were back online by the end of the day.

Yelapa...is a quaint little town on the southwest side of Banderas Bay that is home to indigenous people who have lived there for centuries.  There are no roads into Yelapa so it is only accessible via boat or mountain trails.  We spent an awesome day there walking up through the little town's stone and cement walk ways up to the base of the waterfall that feeds the town with fresh water.  The waterfall itself is about 150' tall with the water cascading down the sheer face of the rock and splashing into the large pool at the bottom.  From the base of the falls we walked up a stone and dirt path that winds steeply up the mountain and takes you to the top of the falls.  As we walked through the jungle going to the top we saw several black hoses that feed the various homes down in Yelapa with clean, fresh water.  Well, not water that most of you would consider clean as it was actually kinda of brown, but to them it is "agua dulce", fresh water.  As we were walking through the narrow street we were passed a few times by young me on small horses or donkeys packed with supplies being carried to homes further up the mountain.  We also came across a boa constrictor that was ambling along the path.  I quickly picked it up as he slithered his 5' or so length around my arms, shoulders and neck.  Boas are awesome, so docile.  We planned to spend the night in Yelapa but there was a huge north swell coming into the anchorage and the boat was rocking wildly so we left and headed back over to La Cruz where we arrived at dark around 7:30pm or so.

Looking down...

Chamela - We left La Cruz at 5am and headed toward the infamous Cabo Corrientes (Cape of Currents), aptly named.  Cabo Corrientes is a prominent point of land that protrudes out into the Pacific forming the southwest boundary of Banderas Bay.  Because of it's prominent point weather patterns and currents are magnified for many miles along the coastline near the point.  All cruisers respect the point and many are simply fearful to round it so most, or those that are prudent, chose a very calm day and also try to move through that area at night or the early morning hours of the day in order to take advantage of the greatest possibility for calm.  By the time we rounded the point, on what was supposed to be 3-5 knots of wind and calm seas, we were in the middle of what seemed like a washing machine with waves coming from all directions and winds in the 15-20 knot range.

That lasted for a couple of hours then the seas began to organize a bit with the dominant swell coming from the northwest at about 4-6'.  Not bad.  However, the wind increased to 25-30 knots from the north which made for exciting sailing and we found ourselves surfing down the faces of the waves flying the drifter out front doing 8 knots for well over 3 hours.  Our max speed for the day was 10.2 knots as we sailed and surfed down the big swells.  It was a wild ride!

The original plan was to dip into Punta Ipala, a small fishing village 45 miles from La Cruz and south of Cabo Corrientes, spend the night there then arise early the next day and travel the additional 50 miles south to Chamela.  With the large swell and wind we doubted how protected the small fishing village would be and so we elected to blow by Ipala and continue on to Chamela, even knowing that we would arrive there an hour or two after dark.  It was a long day, a total of about 94 miles which took us from 5am to 7pm.  Chamela is a large bay with excellent protection and we arrived safely under careful vigilance as we entered the island and reef protected port.  Just before we rounded the reef into the bay I saw a dark object just off the bow.  It looked like a 6' tall fence post or buoy, maybe a rock, I just couldn't make it out.  We slowed the boat down as I saw, lost sight of then saw again this mysterious object.  When we got within about 50-100' of it we heard a very loud SLAP.  Then another and another.  It was a humpback whale lounging on it's back slapping it's pectoral fins on the water.  Because it was dark we really couldn't see much we were amazingly close to this magnificent creature while we listened to it frolick and then disappeared below the surface as we moved by.  An amazing moment to a LONG day surfing downwind in uncomfortable seas to Chamela.

Cappy and his new buddy found on the trail.

That's a wrap my friends.  Ciao for now.

SV Liahona
Bret, Marne and Tarren

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