Costalegre: Barra de Navidad – Upstairs / Downstairs

Barra de Navidad Jalisco Mexico channel entrance.

Barra de Navidad has a narrow and shallow entrance channel.

Fishermen in Barra de Navidad Jalisco Mexico

Fishermen cast nets in the lagoon.

Barra de Navidad anchorage in Jalisco Mexico

The serenity in Barra's lagoon is a big contrast to most Pacific coast anchorages.

The French Baker in the Barra de Navidad lagoon anchorage, Jalisco, Mexico

The French Baker makes his rounds.

The French Baker in the Barra de Navidad lagoon anchorage, Jalisco, Mexico

Emeric delivers croissants, quiches and

baguettes right to your boat!

Barra de Navidad entrance channel pier, Jalisco, Mexico

Barra's pier.

Barra de Navidad entrance channel pier, Jalisco, Mexico with Grand Bay Resort behind.

The Grand Bay Resort overlooks the lagoon.

Sculpture of Las Sirenas in Barra de Navidad

"Las Sirenas" ("The Mermaids").

Water taxi pier, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

View across the water taxi piers.

Outdoor eateries, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Barra is loaded with cute little eateries.

Outdoor eateries, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Unlike other Mexican towns we've visited, almost all

tourists here during our stay were gringos.

Outdoor eateries, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

How about a meal looking through the branches of an

enomous piñata decorated tree?

Barra de Navidad lagoon anchorage Jalisco, Mexico

A 1921 sloop in the lagoon.

Macaw in Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

A restaurant's mascot macaw

blushes as I snap his photo.

Beatles grafitti in Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Mark finds the Beatles in Mexico once again.

Fancy wooden doorway, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Many of Barra's front

doors are very ornate.

Fancy wooden doorway, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Barra de Navidad lagoon anchorage Jalisco, Mexico Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Lagoon birds in Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

The lagoon has many

species of long legged

fishing birds.

Lagoon birds, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Lagoon birds, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Boat-in restaurants Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

One of many boat-in palapa restaurants on the lagoon.

Boat-in restaurants Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Water taxi Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Water taxis ferry visitors all over the lagoon.

Fortina's Restaurant Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Happy Valentine's Day.

Grand Bay Resort Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

The Grand Bay Resort proudly overlooks the gritty,

quirky town of Barra.

Grand Bay Resort Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Approaching the Grand Bay you suddenly feel a little out

of place in a bathing suit and flip flops.

Hammocks in Grand Bay Resort Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Hammocks by the lagoon shore.

Deserted lagoon island in Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico Puerto de Navidad marina and lagoon anchorage, Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Overlooking the marina to the cruising boats in the

lagoon anchorage beyond.

Barra de Navidad lagoon channel Jalisco, Mexico

A yacht traverses the narrow channel.

Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

A McGregor 26 (without its mast) slides past us at a fast clip.

Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

Dinghies scramble to save a sailboat from an unattended Offshore

48' power yacht that's suddenly on the loose.

Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico

A frustrated couple spends the day off-kilter on a

beached sailboat.

Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico

Mid-February, 2011 - After the gentility of the Las Hadas

Resort in Manzanillo and the sweeping waves and beach

scene of Playa La Boquita in Santiago Bay, we were

surprised to find yet another totally contrasting lifestyle just

25 miles up the coast in the eclectic hideaway of Barra de

Navidad.  Pulling into the anchorage, we felt like we were

landing on another planet.  For starters, the anchorage is

an almost fully enclosed lagoon, and to enter it requires

motoring down a very narrow and very shallow channel.

Fortunately the GPS waypoints given in the guidebook are

accurate, as the channel is marked with buoys for only half its

length, and the chartplotter is off by about a mile.  In these waters,

being off by 100 feet will put you hard aground.

But the real surprise lay inside the anchorage: 50 cruising boats

were crammed into the lagoon.  Until now, every anchorage we

had been in had hosted fewer than twenty boats.  What a crazy

zoo scene this was!  To top that off, being low tide, everywhere we looked for a spot to drop the anchor we had just inches of

water under the keel.  The lagoon's water is extremely silty, and you can barely see your toes when your legs are in water up

to your knees, so there was no way to tell the depth other than trust the boat's depth sounder.  In such a shallow and tightly

packed anchorage it made sense to let out just 50' or so of anchor chain.  A neighbor quickly set us straight however,

informing us that boats drag regularly through the soft mud and that everyone around us had 100' of chain out, despite being

in less than 10' of water.

Once the anchor was down, the sun began to drop low in the sky.  We kicked back in the cockpit and watched flocks of long

legged birds commuting home to roost while fishermen cast their nets behind the boat.  A chorus of lagoon bird songs filled

the air as they settled into the surrounding mangroves.

The next morning I poked my head out of the companionway to see a picture that for

all the world looked like one of the many beautiful anchorages in Maine where I grew

up cruising years ago.  Most Pacific coast anchorages are defined by mountains and

waves, making for dramatic scenery and often dramatic rolly nights.  In contrast, this

anchorage was as flat calm as could be and was rimmed by low lying trees.  The boats

were all well behaved, lined up with military precision, facing the gently rising tide with

dignity.  This is nothing like most Pacific coast anchorages where the boats tend to

pitch and roll, swinging in different directions, often quite wildly, challenging each other

to see which one can be the buckingest bronco of them all.

Suddenly the radio came alive with chatter; it was Barra's morning VHF cruiser's net.

For a full twenty minutes cruisers ran through the roll call of all the boats arriving,

departing or staying put in one of several anchorages in the area.  As soon as the net

ended, all fifty boats in Barra began hailing each other at once, making plans for

daytrips ashore, plans to meet in future harbors or plans for cocktails and dinners

together later in the day.  In the midst of all this conversation a heavily accented voice broke into the fray, announcing, "This is

ze French Baker and I am entering ze lagoon now."  A child's voice called out,

"French Baker, French Baker, we would like two chocolate pies."  The accented

voice answered, "I have only one."  "We'll take it!" came the happy reply.

Emeric Fiegen, a Frenchman who now hails from Canada, came to Barra years

ago and in 2003 created a unique niche for himself in this ex-pat community.

Opening "El Horno Frances" (The French Bakery), he sells French baked goods

out of a shop onshore and also out of a panga that he personally drives around

the lagoon each morning.  Offering quiches, croissants, baguettes and other

delicacies, he does a brisk business and is always sold out by the time he gets

to the far side of the anchorage.  This, unfortunately, was where we were

located, so we quickly learned we needed to email him our order the night

before.  After months of tacos, burritos and hot sauces it sure was a treat to sink

our teeth into chocolate croissants and miniature bacon and cheese quiches.

Barra de Navidad is a unique gringo hangout.  The town

hovers along one side of the lagoon, its small streets teeming

with cute tourist shops, charming outdoor restaurants, cheap

hotels and North American retirees escaping the cold winters

back home.  The mood is laid back and slightly gritty, with flip

flops and beachwear being the accepted attire.

A pretty pier extends along

one side of the lagoon's

entrance channel, leading

strollers out to views of the

bay and beach on the

ocean side of town.  On the

opposite side of the lagoon's channel the imposing Grand Bay Resort rises out of the

mangroves, offering high class and high dollar vacations to the younger still-employed (and

well-employed) set.

Cruisers stay in Barra for weeks

and even months each winter,

charmed by the convenient and

pleasing town, the picturesque

anchorage, and calm nights.  Some

sneak swims at the Grand Bay

Resort's beautiful pool (after a fine luncheon), and everyone winds up

at the Sands Hotel's pool or pool bar at some time, as that

establishment openly welcomes cruisers.

The social scene

in the lagoon is

intense.  It is an

easy dinghy ride

to visit your

neighbor for

happy hour,

and there are

a seemingly

infinite number

of places to

explore with

friends ashore.

All conversations

on the radio are

public, so

everyone's business is quickly well known.  The kids on two boats were the cutest to

listen to.  As they made plans to visit each other, the parents were consulted in the

background:  which boat, at what time, and with whose dinghy would they would get

together to play?

Sometimes this public forum

can get a little awkward.

Two women discussed the

dishes each would bring to a

dinner party and wondered

aloud whether or not to invite a third

boat that neither one was convinced

had arrived in Barra yet: "I think I

saw them in the lagoon but they

aren't due for another week..."  "I

have enough salad for all of us..."

"Okay, but I'm sure they would have

called us by now if they were here..."

Two men troubleshot a plumbing problem in detail: "You gotta turn that pipe 180 degrees."

"Yeah, but that sucker won't turn..."  They had forgotten to take their conversation to a

separate channel, away from the channel where boats hail each other, so they were soon

interrupted by a voice saying:  "Attention Fleet:  Which restaurant has the best burger in

town?"  "La Oficina" came the reply.  "La Casina?"  "No, La Oficina..."

Three boats were awaiting a mutual friend arriving from the airport.  A

comedy of errors ensued as the guest arrived with a hand-held VHF radio,

but because he was standing in the Grand Bay's lobby behind the massive

concrete structures of the resort, he was unable to hear any of the boats

responding to his calls from the lagoon.  For twenty minutes he hailed

three boats in the lagoon and they hailed back, to no avail.  Finally one

boat took a dinghy ashore and met the poor fellow in person in the lobby.

We took the kayak out on Valentine's Day for a quiet morning ride but found

so much to see that we didn't get back to the boat until almost dark.  First the

various long legged birds of the lagoon caught our eye.  The mangroves are

thick and the water is loaded with fish, making it an ideal location for birds to

quietly stalk their prey.

Along one edge of the lagoon there are a series of boat-in eateries

you can get to either by water taxi or with your own dinghy.  Several

restaurants seemed immensely popular and patrons filled every waterfront


Being our anniversary as well as Valentine's Day, we wanted to find

a quieter more romantic spot.  Fortina's fit the bill perfectly.  We

pulled the kayak onto their little beach and followed the sand right

to a table overlooking the water.  What an ideal spot to while away

the afternoon and reflect on the happy years we have spent in each

other's company.

On another day we took the kayak over to the dinghy dock at the

Grand Bay Resort and wandered through the beautiful grounds.

Manicured landscaping, even the jungle kind on the edges of the

golf course, define the fringes of this resort.  A row of hammocks

on a beach fronting the lagoon look out on a private island, and

everything about the resort oozes elegance.

We found a balcony overlooking the marina and the lagoon anchorage

in the distance beyond, and we watched a megayacht navigate the

skinny lagoon entrance channel past one of the resort's pretty outdoor

restaurants.  From simple beer and tacos on plastic chairs along the

lagoon's edge to haute cuisine in a stunning setting at the Grand Bay,

Barra de Navidad has everything a gringo escaping reality in Mexico

might want.

But living there in

the lagoon on a

boat can bring

reality back to you

in a heartbeat.

One morning,

while sampling

almond croissants

from the French Baker and pondering the unusual wind shift we were

seeing, panicky voices on the radio abruptly brought us to our senses.

"Attention Fleet: a McGregor 26 is dragging through the anchorage on the

north side of the lagoon."  We turned our heads and there it was, moving

at a fast clip right past us.

In an instant five dinghies rushed over to the wayward boat.

No one was on board, but the fast acting men in the dinks

quickly brought the boat to heel, deploying a second anchor

they found stored in one of the boat's lockers.  We hadn't yet

assembled our dink and put it in the water, so we watched all

the action feeling rather useless.

No sooner had the McGregor 26 settled down than another

call went out on the radio.  "Attention Barra Fleet:  I've gone

aground."  The wind shift had caught one sailor by surprise

and moved his boat onto a sandbar that had been a safe 50

feet away from him for the past few days.

Unfortunately, being a full moon, the tide was going to be the lowest of

the month that afternoon, and for six hours the boat laid further and

further over on its side while the owners crawled around on the high side

making the best of a bad situation.  Luckily, the soft mud bottom insured

that no damage was done to the boat.  At the tide's lowest point we

dropped a line over the side of our boat and measured 6' 8" of water --

and we draw 6' 6".

A friend stopped by in his dinghy, and we began discussing the morning's

crazy events when we noticed the 48' Offshore motor yacht anchored

behind us was suddenly much further away than it had been for the past

few days.  It was dragging too, with no one on board!  A large sailboat

was directly in its path, and the sailboat's crew were all on deck, madly

putting fenders out to save their boat from the impending collision.

Again the radio burst to life and dinghies zoomed to the scene from all corners of the lagoon.  In 15 quick minutes the dinghies

pushed the boat to a safe spot and redeployed the anchor.  There was a lesson in that escapade for everyone in the lagoon,

as the wheelhouse on the boat was locked, so there was no way to start the engine and move the boat under its own power.

Fortunately, the dinghies had strong enough outboards to keep the boat from crashing into the sailboat and to push it to a new

location despite the high wind.  A call soon went out to the fleet reminding us all to leave the keys in the ignition when we went

ashore so that others trying to save our boats could do so easily.  This, of course, was quite a contrast to the instructions we

had also all received to raise our dinghies and lock our

outboards each night since several outboard motors had

been stolen in this anchorage over the past two seasons.

Hmmm... lock the car but leave the house key in the front

door of your home...  Such are the funny contrasts of this

quirky town.

We could have easily stayed in Barra de Navidad for a

month, along with many other boats in the fleet who kept

delaying their departure day after day, but we felt an urge

to see some new things.  So after a week we made our

way a few miles north towards Tenacatita.

Find Barra de Navidad on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the Mexican Riviera (northern Pacific coast) to see more posts from this area!






























































































































Costalegre: Las Hadas Resort Anchorage – Beautiful!

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas (

"The Fairies" ("Las Hadas").

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort and the marina basin.

Manzanillo's main port is on the horizon.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Las Hadas.

Barceló Resort and Playa Salahua, Manzanillo, Mexico

Barceló Resort and Playa Salahua.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Playa La Audiencia.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Las Hadas Resort (Las Hadas anchorage), Manzanillo, Mexico

Las Hadas Anchorage.

s/v Groovy anchored off Las Hadas Resort in Manzanillo, Mexico

Groovy hangs out by the 18th hole.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Iguana sunning on the rocks.

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Monkeys at the back of a restaurant.

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Whimsically pruned bushes line the waterfront.

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A tribute to a bygone era of


Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Corn tortilla "factory."

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Street percussion.

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Pineapples are tossed and loaded onto a handcart.

Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A wheelbarrow load of body parts goes to market.

Las Hadas Marina, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Xilonen V, a 162' megayacht fills the marina.

Las Hadas Marina, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The megayacht dwarfs the boats

on either side.

Hobie kayaks Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Fellow Hobie riders.

Hobie kayaks Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Hobie kayaks Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Ready for the brochure.

Hobie kayaks Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico

Hobies lined up on Playa La Escondida ("Hidden Beach")

A slot canyon in the ocean.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima Mexico


Early February, 2011 - Las Hadas Resort at the northwest end of Manzanillo Bay is so

picture perfect that anyone with even the simplest camera in hand will find it easy to

take perfect pictures.  We enjoyed this spot so much we couldn't stay away.  For

several weeks we alternated between this breathtaking cove, embraced by the

enchanting Las Hadas resort, and the soaring openness of the expansive anchorage

over at Playa La Boquita a few miles away in Bahía Santiago.  Motoring from one

anchorage to the other, we would take advantage of having the engine running both to

make fresh water and to heat the water in our hot water tank.  On a few occasions we

had a blistering sail when the afternoon winds kicked up.  Groovy heeled nicely while

the knot meter park itself in the mid-8's.

Las Hadas begs to be explored on foot,

and with each foray onto the cobbled

paths that climb the steep hillsides, we

found more discoveries.  "Las Hadas"

means "The Fairies" (the origins of the

resort's name are explained here), and

we found two rather stern looking fairies

just beyond an underpass leading to the

resort's front door.  I'm not sure if these

two gals were knighting

some obedient resort

workers or granting

three wishes to

incoming guests.

Hiking further up the hill, the views grow ever larger, until you can

see clear across the resort, it's anchorage and the marina to the

smoke stacks of Manzanillo far across the bay.  The road twists

and turns in exhilarating switchbacks that leave walkers panting

and some bus riders wishing they had worn seasickness bracelets.

Next door to Las Hadas is the Barceló Karmina Palace resort.  It is

much more modern and swank, offering visitors a truly high end lap

of luxury.  But its mammoth marble and glass-filled foyers and grand

open spaces lack the otherworldly prettiness, coziness and charm of

Las Hadas.  As we trudged higher and higher over the hilly peaks we

paused to catch our breath and marvel at the beauty spread out

below us.

The Las Hadas

anchorage is rimmed with restaurants overlooking the

cove.  One has a huge sign offering discounts to

boaters (along with their wifi password), and we

treated ourselves to an afternoon of gazing out at the

anchorage and Manzanillo's busy port across the bay.

Banana boats, water skiers and jet skis zig-zagged

among the boats, throwing white wake patterns


We discovered the source of all this action on the water was

Mexico's Constitution Day weekend.  It seemed that half of the

huge inland city of Guadalajara had come to vacation on this bay.

This national holiday celebrates the signing and approval of

Mexico's constitution on February 5th, 1917 and, like the Fourth

of July, is clearly fully worthy of an afternoon of being towed at full

speed across the water followed by a raucous evening of happy

partying to loud music.

While walking the beach we

came across an iguana

sunning himself on the rocks.

Just a few weeks later we

discovered these guys can

swim, and we watched one

make its way across a

stretch of calm water, its

head bobbing up every so

often to get some air and

look around.

This is an easy climate for keeping

an exotic pet caged outdoors, and

we have seen loads of parrots,

parakeets, canaries and doves

caged outside all kinds of stores from flower shops to small groceries

to beachwear boutiques.  The squawk of a macaw drew us to the back

of a restaurant we were passing, and to our surprise, in addition to the

huge colorful birds, we found three large cages filled with monkeys.

They nimbly and silently climbed up and down the cage bars and

nibbled on fruits while staring us down.

The resorts and villas around Las

Hadas and Sanitago are the most

scenic parts of Manzanillo, but we took

the bus into the more gritty downtown area for a change of pace.  Manzanillo is a bustling port

with an urban heart, however whimsy and history can still be found.  The road leading into

town is lined with creatively pruned bushes, and we passed bushes shaped as hearts and

anchors and dogs.  A ficus tree pruned to look like a small boat caught my eye, as did the

bronze sculpture of a seaman at the helm of ship from another era.  Four hundred years ago

the Spanish used ports along this southern Pacific coast of Mexico as a link for trading goods

with the orient via Manila in the Phillipines.

I have gradually come to realize that

Mexico is a true blend of indigenous

Indian and foreign Spanish heritage,

beautifully expressed by the rich dark

complexions and lively Spanish

language of the people we encounter.

At one street corner in Manzanillo I said

something to a street vendor-beggar in

my passable American accented

Spanish, and she shook her head at me with that blank look of "No hablo

español" that is so familiar on gringo faces here.  There are pockets of

people throughout Mexico, especially in the southern areas, who speak

only their indigenous language, not Spanish.

Music is a universal language, however, and we found street musicians playing

wonderful tunes and rhythms on xylophone and drums.

Growing up and living in

the sanitized world of

saran wrapped

supermarket products

that have been delivered

by tractor trailers on the

interstates, it is always

surprising to encounter

other methods of food

distribution.  Here on the

streets of Manzanillo we

watched three people

unload a pickup truck full

of pineapples into crates on

a handcart to roll into the central

market.  They tossed the

pineapples to each other with

ease.  Does our food really get

thrown around like that?  A little

further on, another wheelbarrow

full of what appeared to be

lambs' heads, shanks and

backbones was ready to be

rolled into the market as well.

At the far opposite end of the reality scale, a megayacht pulled into the

Las Hadas marina, dwarfing all the boats around it.  Xilonen V is 162 feet

long, and when it was med-moored to its spot (tied to the docks at the

stern with a bow anchor thrown into the middle of the marina basin), the

bow of the ship was plunk in the center of the marina.

We had seen a couple float by the back of our boat on matching yellow

inflatable Hobie kayaks, just like ours, and we joined them to get a closer

look at this megayacht.  Xilonen V is staffed by a captain and crew of

11 people, and three of them were busy polishing the decks when we

floated by.  Of course all we could really see up close from our vantage

point was the waterline!

Lots of cruisers carry a hard-shell kayak or two on their

deck, but we haven't seen any other inflatable Hobies.

These new friends of ours have a condo in the area, and

when they bought their Hobies their neighbors all

thought they were so cool that they bought Hobies too.  Now the

building's kayak rack is filled with seven bright yellow inflatable

Hobie kayaks.  It looks like the final inspection and shipping

department at the Hobie factory.

We landed the kayaks on a private little beach, Playa La Escondida

("Hidden Beach") around the corner from the resort and took some

photos we thought worthy of a Hobie ad.

At one end of the little beach there is a kind of slot canyon that fills with

swishing waves as the tide rises and falls.  When the water swept back to

reveal the soft sand bottom, I walked in a little ways.  Suddenly a wave

roared in behind me and rushed around my legs and out the other side,

nearly knocking me off my feet.

It was finally time to venture to some new grounds, so at long last we left

Manzanillo Bay and putted 25 miles north to Barra de Navidad.  More and

more cruisers had started reaching this part of the coast during their winter's

cruising in Mexico, and on that brief trip we saw five other sailboats, a record.

Find Manzanillo on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!



































































































Costalegre: Manzanillo Bay – Hot sauce & a great adventure

Tern flies over Santiago Bay Beach villas on Playa La Boquita, Santiago, Mexico

Beach villas on Playa La Boquita, Santiago.

Beach palapas on Playa La Boquita, Santiago, Mexico

Beach palapas on Playa La Boquita, Santiago.

Colorful beach umbrellas, Playa La Boquita, Santiago, Mexico Casa Los Pelicanos, Playa La Boquita, Santiago, Mexico

Casa Los Pelicanos.

Gold and black sand on Playa La Boquita, Santiago, Mexico

Gold and black sand swirl together.

The Oasis Restaurant, Playa La Boquita, Santiago, Mexico

View from the Oasis.

Humpback whale breaches in Santiago Bay Mexico

Humback whale breaching.

Breaching humpback whale in Santiago Bay Mexico Breaching humpback whale in Santiago Bay Mexico Breaching humpback whale in Santiago Bay Mexico Breaching humpback whale in Santiago Bay Mexico Breaching humpback whale in Santiago Bay Mexico

Whale headstand.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo Bay, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort comes into view.

Cobbled paths at Las Hadas Resort, Mexico

Cobbled waterfront paths, Las Hadas.

Curved archways at Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico Bougainvillea and palm trees on the paths of Las Hadas Resort, Mexico. Chivas soccer stars at Las Hadas Resort, Mexico

Soccer stars from Chivas.

Polka-dotted puffer fish at the dock of Las Hadas Marina

Polka-dotted puffer fish.

Evening on the Las Hadas marina docks Mexico

Evening on the Las Hadas marina docks.

Augutsín and son León of Frida's restaurant, Las Hadas, Manzanillo Mexico

Agutsín and son León of Frida's


León dressed for work.

La Tia hot sauce from Frida's Restaurant in Las Hadas, Manzanillo, Mexico

La Tía Hot


Inside Auto Zone in Manzanillo Mexico

Inside Auto Zone.

Cihuatlan Cathedral Costa Alegre (Gold Coast) Mexico

Cihuatlán's Cathedral.

Cihuatlan Christmas decorations Costa Alegre (Gold Coast) Mexico

Ready for Christmas.

Chebio's shop in Cihuatlan, Mexico

Chebio's shop.

Shop music.

Mark & Chebio check out the alternator, Cihuatlan, Mexico

Mark & Chebio check out the


Ismael and Chebio chat about the alternator, Cihuatlan, Mexico

Ismael translates for us all.

A young boy in Johnny's Taco Shop sings for us, Cihuatlan, Mexico

Little crooner.

New copper stator and old burnt one.

Mark watches Chebio's quick, skilled hands.

Chebio has the worst looking but best

running car in town.

Mark and our helper/guide Ismael.

Manzanillo Bay - Santiago & Las Hadas

Mid-December, 2011 - We finally tore ourselves away from the beautiful gringo-filled

vacationland of Paradise Village in Puerto Vallarta and sailed and motored for 27 hours

around Cabo Corrientes to Manzanillo Bay on the famed Gold Coast or Costalegre.  We

pulled into Santiago Bay at dawn and were greeted with the familiar thick, moisture-filled air.

Hurricane Jova had

hit this coast very

hard two months

before our arrival and

it seemed that many of the umbrellas along the beach

were new with vibrant colors.

It was a neat feeling to return to a familiar place, and memories of

our time spent here last year came flooding back over the next few

days.  The tuba player that strolls this beach was still here, and my

favorite beach villa, Casa Pelicanos, was still decked out with

beautiful flowers.

The sand still had its lovely gold and back swirl patterns, and the Oasis

restaurant overlooking the beach where we celebrated my birthday last

February was still pumping out the tunes and burgers like something out of

a beach vacation magazine.

The only huge difference was that we were the only boat in

the entire bay.  Last year we were one of two dozen boats.

This year we could drop the hook anywhere we wanted.

We left Santiago for the quick jaunt across the bay to Las Hadas resort.

It was a quiet morning and we were puttering along under power making

water and kind of half day-dreaming when an enormous splash jolted us

both to our feet.  "Did you see that?" We said in unison, wide-eyed.  We

both grabbed binoculars and scanned the sea when a humpback whale

suddenly burst out of the water and fell back with a crash.

He was right between us

and the shore, and he was

having a whale of a time,

shooting up in the air like a

rocket and then falling onto

his back.

After a series of breaches he started doing

headstands, waving his tail and slapping it on the

water ferociously.  These guys are huge

creatures, and that tail has some power.  We

wondered if he was just having a little fun playing

in the morning hours or if he was communicating

something to a buddy or perhaps to us.

I have no idea, but after a

while he disappeared and the

gorgeous Las Hadas Resort came into view around the corner.  Again

the memories from last year came flooding back and we anchored and

took the kayak ashore feeling like we were coming home.

You can't go home again, though, and both the port captain

Adrien and the fuel dock operator Polo that we had

befriended last year had moved on to other jobs.  Las Hadas

Resort is in transition, searching for new management, and it

was very quiet.  Just six boats were in the beautiful little

anchorage, and two of those were unoccupied.

Wandering the brick paths up and down

and around Las Hadas is a joy, and we

spent a few hours strolling around the

grounds and enjoying the lovely pool.

We were treated to the presence of two major soccer teams in

residence during our stay.  The boys from the Guadalajara based

Atlas and Chivas teams jogged the paths, did exercises on the

beach, and performed soccer drills on a field at the edge of the

golf course.  Best of all was when they ambled around shirtless

after their workouts.  Fox Sports was hanging around too, setting

up their portable cameras to catch glimpses of these celebrities

during their pre-season training.

We never saw the boys swimming, but down by the dinghy dock

the water was so clear that we watched a polka-dotted puffer fish

swimming around.  It was amazing to get a clear photo of him

from above the water without even needing an underwater


The dock along the Las Hadas marina has several pretty outdoor eateries, ranging from a

simple table and chairs outside a convenience store where the locals enjoy a cheap beer

after work to the more elaborate fine dining offered by a high end Italian restaurant.  At

either end of the spectrum, this is a gorgeous place to while away the late afternoon and

early evening hours.

One of the highlights for us here

last year was meeting the new

owner of Frida's Restaurant whose

family makes the best hot sauce

we have ever tasted.  Frida Kahlo

was a surrealist Mexican artist of

German descent whose self-

imposted solitude spawned

endless self-portraits.  This

restaurant was named for her

before new owner Agustín took

over last year.  One of her famous

quotes is on the wall:  "I intended

to drown my sorrows but the

bastards learned to swim."

On lucky days patrons of Frida's are treated to the unmatched

service offered by Agustín's six-year-old son León.  This little boy

takes his work extremely seriously.  Although dad Agustín prefers

more casual attire, son León likes to come to work in a freshly

pressed white shirt, a jacket and tie.  Much to his dad's surprise,

he even sports a little cologne.  School was out for the holidays, so we were

fortunate to see this unique youngster once again.

Little León is extremely professional and takes his patrons' orders and delivers their

food with pride and care.  Last year one of the waiters started chatting with us in a

very familiar way while we were eating, and little León wasn't happy with this casual

closeness and even said so to his dad.  In his mind guests are guests and servers

are servers.  We all got a huge (muffled) laugh about this.  León is a rare, sweet

and special boy.

Agustín's aunt and uncle make La Tía hot sauce, a delicious hot sauce that is made

without vinegar, giving it a special flare.  It can be found at the mercado in neighboring

Santiago, but Agustín was kind enough to bring a few extra bottles with him one night so

we could buy them.

We spent a few more days at Las Hadas, soaking up its unusual and creative air.  Finally

we were ready to leave, and at 5:00 a.m. one morning we pulled out in the dark to head to Zihuatanejo Bay 185

miles to the southeast.  Four miles out the low battery light came on and we smelled a horrific smell of

something burning in the engine compartment.  We stopped dead in our tracks and began troubleshooting.

Flashlights, ammeter and noses on full alert, we realized this was a bigger problem than could be solved while

bobbing out in the bay between the freighters, and we turned around.

We have never had a boat problem that crippled our ability to travel, and we didn't dare think

about how this crisis would unfold.  Mark quickly removed the alternator and we took off with it in

the kayak to the dinghy dock and grabbed a cab to the nearest Auto Zone to have it tested.

Unfortunately the computers at Auto Zone were down and it took a long time for the store

manager to rifle through all the alternators on the shelf to find one with the same connections as

ours so he could enter the right codes on the testing machine to test it.

While we were waiting a fellow in line at the register introduced himself as Ismael and said he

knew an alternator guru in Cihuatlán, about an hour away by car.  Ismael told us he knew of this

guy because he owned a bus line with Mercedes diesel buses and he always had this guy fix his

alternators and work on his bus engines.  Once our alternator test was finally completed and the

screen showed large red letters saying "Falló" ("Failed") we hopped in Ismael's truck and drove

off to Cihuatlán with him.

On our way there we drove along a

five mile section of highway that had

been underwater when the rivers flooded during

Hurricane Jova.  Ismael had gone fishing the day

after the storm and the ocean was filled with cattle

and farm animals that had been swept away out of

the grazing fields.  Over 1,000 cattle were lost.  The

locals are working hard to recover.  The banana

trees were trimmed back right after the storm and

now were in full leaf and very healthy.  The vast

stands of palm trees were also fine.  But there were

marks on the buildings in downtown Cihuatlán of

where the water had risen to about 7'.

Now, however, Cihuatlán was getting ready for

Christmas, and the decorations gave it a festive air.

At last we arrived at the master's shop.  Chebio has been rebuilding alternators

and working on car electrical systems for his entire life, initially under the

tutelage of his very skilled father who opened the shop over fifty years ago.

The shop is largely outdoors and strewn with dusty parts like a junk yard.  Along

with the busy hum of machinery and hard working mechanics, a rooster

punctuated the air with his cock-a-doodle-doos from the roof

of a car and in a nearby tree.

As soon as we met Chebio we knew were in the presence of a

highly skilled mechanic.  He moved with the confidence and

ease of a master, despite near constant interruptions from

customers and mechanics looking for his expertise.

Throughout all this seeming chaos

his elderly father sat back and

watched the scene, collecting

money from clients and enjoying

the hubbub of his very successful

shop.  The young mechanics called

Chebio "Maestro" meaning

"Master" or "Teacher."

I did my best to explain our

problems to Chebio in Spanish, but

our guide Ismael jumped in to act

as official translator to make sure nothing was lost in the translation.

Chebio explained to us that he needed to take the alternator apart

and then see if he had or could acquire the replacement parts to

make it work.  "Give me 30 minutes," he said, so we took off for lunch

at nearby "Tacos Johny," a wonderful little restaurant.  Between bites of awesome 8 peso ($0.60)

carne asada tacos, we listened to the crooning of a young boy standing on a chair and then heard

our guide Ismael's amazing life story.

He became the man of his family at age 3 when his

father left.  Determined to make a better life, he

ventured to Nogales at age 14, knowing no English,

and worked in a restaurant without pay until the

owners saw what a great job he did and put him on

the payroll.  Continuing this method of making

himself invaluable before trying to reap any

rewards, he ultimately became the owner of a very

profitable framing company, opened three

successful Mexican restaurants and owned homes

in Montana and Colorado Springs.   A century ago

his tale would have been hailed as the ultimate

American immigrant success story, and he would

have been revered as a mentor by younger


Instead, after over 20 years in the US, rather than try to jump the high hurdles

blocking his path to remain there--where in all likelihood he would have continued

building companies and creating American jobs--he returned to Mexico with a fortune in cash with which he

bought a slew of rental properties in the towns around his family homestead and built a local bus line from


His story was inspiring and sad at the same time.  Somewhere along the line America has decided it doesn't

need the immigrants that have always made up the very foundation, heart and soul of its society.  From north

of the border it is too easy to assume all Mexicans want to flee Mexico, but as we sat in this classic Mexican

semi-outdoor eatery that exudes the most wonderful homeyness, friendliness and familiarity, I asked him if he

had ever been homesick while living in the US.  "All my life," he said quietly.  Caught between two countries,

he still owns houses in the US, and his American wife, who was afraid of life in Mexico, lives in Montana.

We returned to Chebio's shop to find that by some miracle he had the stator we needed in stock.  It was a

perfect fit and was his only one.  However, the alternator needed a new regulator too, and that required a trip elsewhere.

Chebio took off in his trusty car that appears to be falling apart but has the best running engine in town.  He returned half an

hour later with the necessary regulator.  Another hour or two of work, during which time he had to explain to quite a few

customers that their projects would be delayed because of ours, and he got the alternator back together again and fully tested.

It was a great scene.  The rooster crowed, Chebio's dad sat back with a

satisfied smile watching his son at work, and a cluster of younger men gathered

around to soak up whatever bits of wisdom they could from the master.  The

outdoor shop and tools were rudimentary at best, but the job was very well

done.  Chebio used a kitchen knife and a light bulb, among other things, to

complete his alternator tests.

When all was said and done, he charged us 750

pesos ($53) for the project, of which 550 pesos

($42) was for parts.  We were stunned.  This

meant he valued four hours of his time on a Saturday at just $11 total.  We paid him a lot more

than he asked, and he was as thrilled with our payment as we were with his work.  It took two

cab rides and a bus ride to get back to Las Hadas.  Topping off our colorful day, the bus stalled

on a hill and, to cheers from its occupants, the driver finally got it started again by popping the

clutch while sliding backwards downhill.  Mark installed the alternator in no time, and it worked

perfectly.  Next morning at 5:00 a.m. we were off on our 27 hour motorboat ride to Zihuatanejo.

Often in this strange life of cruising and

full-time travel we place ourselves in the

hands of fate without any idea how

things will turn out.  We had woken up

this morning prepared for an overnight

sail to Z-town and instead were rewarded with one of the most amazing

experiences we have had to date.  The seeming disaster of a dead

alternator put us shoulder to shoulder with two of the finest and most

generous men we have met: our guide Ismael and guru-mechanic

Chebio of Cihuatlán.


























































































































Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Santiago & Playa La Boquita – Beach Fun!

Sunrise in Manzanillo


Sunrise at Las Hadas resort A sea turtle along the Pacific Mexican Costa Alegre coast.

A sea turtle drifts by.

Sailing in Manzanillo Bay in Mexico

Mom enjoys a brilliant sail.

Villas on Playa La Boquito in Santiago Bay, Mexico

Villas on Playa La Boquita in Santiago Bay.

Villa on La Boquita Beach in Santiago, Mexico La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Playa La Boquita.

Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Black and brown patterned sand yields gold in bright sunlight.

Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico sv Groovy at Playa La Boquita Anchorage, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Looking out at the anchorage.

Tuba player on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A tuba player could be heard

every afternoon throughout

the anchorage.

Estuary on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Umbrellas line the shores of the estuary.

Estuary on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A footbridge crossed to Las Palmas resort.

Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Manicured lawns bring a special kind of serenity.

Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Canoes wait for passengers.

Panga in the mangroves Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A panga in the mangroves.

Swimming off the back of Groovy, La Boquita Beach Anchorage, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

81 is the new 18.

Bike shop in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Mark talks "bike shop" with the locals.

Flea Market in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

The Santiago Flea Market offers tourist souvenirs.

Flea Market in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Mexican sinks.

Horseback riding on Playa Miramar Bahia Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Horseback riding on the beach.

Frigate bird sits on San Luciano Shipwreck, La Boquita Beach, Santiago, Colima, Mexico

A frigate bird takes a close

look at us.

The Oasis Restaurant, Playa La Boquita, Bahia Santiago, Colima, Mexico

The Oasis gave me a perfect birthday moment.

La Boquita Anchorage in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

Late January, 2011 - We left Zihuatanejo and took our time returning north to Manzanillo.

This 200 mile stretch of coastline is very remote, and for four days of motoring and three

nights at anchor we saw only a handful of boats: tankers on the horizon by day and fellow

cruisers tucked in beside us by night.  As the guidebooks warn, the three anchorages along

here are very rolly, as they are open to the full brunt of the Pacific Ocean's waves coming to

shore from thousands of miles out.  Despite our best efforts to keep the bow of the boat into

the waves by setting a stern anchor in addition to our bow anchor, we found that the

crosswinds on the beam of the boat were so powerful overnight that our anchoring gear

strained and groaned in too much discomfort to make it worthwhile.

Heaving a big sigh, we let the boat swing freely each

night and, as expected, it chose to angle itself

beam-to against the swell, setting up a terrific side-

to-side roll that kept us rolling in our bunk all night.

One by one we found the various round and

cylindrical items throughout the boat that rolled back

and forth with a thud or clank on each side.  A

canister in a locker here, a beer can in the fridge

there, a broom handle over there.  Quieting

these relentless noises made for a lot of

detective work in the wee hours of the night.

The up-side of all this sleeplessness,

however, was that we were awake before

dawn each day, and we saw some stunning


Mexico's wind gods like to play with cruising

sailors, and they offer little but whispering

zephyrs each day along this coast.  At night

they howl ferociously, however.  Hour after hour

they shake the rigging like prisoners rattling their cell bars.  But at the first hint of sunlight

everything stops.  Just like that.  Acting like guilty children, as if nothing happened, they offer

the merest exhales once again, laughing silently as we curse yet another day of motoring.

Preferring to travel in daylight, we motored pretty much the entire way.  We were frustrated to

be cruising in a built-to-sail motorboat.  Again, however, there was a silver lining.  This coast

is loaded with turtles, and the calm seas gave us a chance to get a really good look at a few

as they drifted past our hull.

Ever the adventurer, my mom had been eagerly awaiting a chance escape the steady

procession of New England blizzards to try the cruising lifestyle on her daughter's boat.  We

swept her up in Manzanillo and took a sail to neighboring Santiago bay.  To our amazement,

the capricious winds blew perfectly that afternoon, and we had a glorious romp across the

wide bay.  Manzanillo's expansive bay is perfect for daysailing, and we took full advantage.

Once the anchor was down around the corner off Playa La Boquita in

Santiago Bay, we took the dinghy ashore to check out the beach.  The

beach is almost four miles long, and is quite wide, fairly flat and stroked

endlessly by large, fluffy waves.  About a third of the beach is lined by

beautiful villas that belong to the huge gated community Club Santiago.

Each home is more lovely than the last, and the cruisers gaze at

the large flower filled balconies and picture windows with as

much admiration (and possibly envy) as the vacationers do

looking out at the yachts swinging in the bay.

The beach is filled with a

mixture of brown and black

sand that makes fantastic

patterns as the waves wash

in and out.  From certain

angles the sand glittered

brilliant gold too, making it

seem as though a little bit of

panning might help out the

cruising kitty.  Our eyes

were cast down at the

patterns at our feet as

much as they scanned the

colorful views around us.

From the boat we had

heard the oom-pah of a

tuba, and once ashore

we had to go find the

source.  It didn't take

long.  A tuba player and

his little band were

walking up and down

the line of umbrellas at

the public access end of

the beach, offering

songs to anyone willing to part with

a few pesos.

At the furthest west end of the

beach we discovered a little estuary,

and we followed it slightly inland.  A

small bridge took us

over the water, where

a beautiful resort, Las

Palmas, was waiting

on the other side.

Perfectly manicured

lawns and shrubbery

offered a feeling of

utter peace and

tranquility.  We could

easily imagine

overworked executives

coming here to escape

the responsibilities of a

stressed life.  The only

sounds were birds

chirping in the trees;

the rustle of the palm

leaves were like a

chorus of librarians whispering "shhh."

Even the pound of the surf and

excitement of the rugged sandy beach

just over the little footbridge seemed a

world away.

Canoes were ready for guests by the

shore, and a panga that could host a

guided tour was hidden in the


Spirits sky high, we returned to the boat

where we found, to our utter shock, the

water was crystal clear.  Our

guidebooks have lauded the crystalline waters of many anchorages throughout our stay on

the Pacific coast of Mexico, but this year those waters have eluded us.  Wave after wave of

burgundy, yellow and forest green colored "red tide" has filled every bay, cove and even

the open ocean, making it impossible to see more than a few feet into the water.  Suddenly

being able to see clearly 20 feet below the boat had us all jumping into our swimsuits in

one motion.  Mark was over the side with a woosh, and mom was right behind.  What a role

model she is, announcing "81 is the new 18" and taking to the water like a 10-

year-old.  The aqua-cize classes have paid off in spades, and she demonstrated

her moves, making light of the very strong current that threatened to whisk us all

away from the boat if we weren't careful.

On another day we wandered into Santiago itself where a large enclosed public

market offers everything from fresh produce to sweet smelling straw baskets to

freshly filleted fish.  The streets around the market are filled with little shops, and

Mark found friends at the local bike shop, trying in his best Spanish to explain that

he used to have a bike shop in his garage too.

Every Saturday the town hosts a large flea market.  This turned out

to be more of a tourist-oriented enterprise than we expected, but it

was fun to wander among all the brightly painted ceramics and

beautifully carved wood pieces.  Pale sunburned gringos lined up on

one side of the flea market to find souvenirs for loved ones at home

while a few locals roamed on the other side, sifting through the

bargain clothing offerings to find more practical fare.

Taking the dinghy along La

Boquita beach, we saw groups

of horseback riders along the

water's edge.  Following their

tracks in the sand later it

seemed they paralleled the

weaving water line perfectly,

never getting their hooves wet.

At one end of the anchorage lies San Luciano a 300'

long steel cargo ship that sank in a 1959 hurricane.

What remains is just a skeleton, but the birds love the

remnants of the masts that stick up above the waves.

We have watched frigate birds soaring high over our

boat, masters of the sky, and at times of the smaller

birds nearby.  Now we had a chance to see the face of

one up close.

Back on the beach on my birthday, we asked both fellow

cruisers and land dwellers where a good spot would be to

celebrate turning 51.  Everyone pointed to The Oasis, and

we spent a lovely afternoon perched on their balcony looking

out over the pounding surf.

To one side of the view, the boats in the anchorage stood

out in brilliant white relief against the towering dark mountain

behind them.  On the other side we could see the little white

villas on the backside of Las Hadas resort.  It was a perfect

birthday moment, and I couldn't help myself as I said to

Mark, "It's like we're living in the pages of some glossy

magazine called Perfect Vacation Hideaways."  With that in

mind, we decided we would stay in the Manzanillo area a

little longer.

Find Santiago (Manzanillo) on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!
















































Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Las Hadas Anchorage – Charming!

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Beach chairs lined up at Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Overlooking the anchorage from Las Hadas.

Las Hadas Resort and Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The anchorage forms a backdrop for the pool.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The beach where Bo Derek

memorably ran in slow motion.

Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Groovy with beach and palms.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Moorish architecture with gargoyles.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The arch at the main entrance.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A rock wall of arches.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Hibiscus flowers in a stairwell.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The laundromat were a single

load of washing and 28 minute

dry cycle will set you back


Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The stunning royal blue pool.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The anchorage at dawn.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A tiny travel trailer tucked between the boat trailers.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Another view of Groovy.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico El Velero sculpture, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

El Velero (sailboat) sculpture.

Downtown Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Downtown Manzanillo harbor.

Sailfish sculpture, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Sailfish sculpture, locally

nicknamed "the shrimp."

Old town Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Festive pinatas are strung between

buildings for Christmas.

Getting propane is not easy in Manzanillo

Our propane bottle will be filled at last.

Las Hadas Beach and Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Beach and anchorage at Las Hadas.

Villas next to Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Villas next to Las Hadas.

Getting diesel in Manzanillo isn't easy either.

Obtaining diesel requires a little effort.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico (2)

Early December, 2010 - We were so enchanted by our beautiful

surroundings at Las Hadas resort in Manzanillo that we barely

noticed the days drifting into each other.  Ten days disappeared in

the blink of an eye.

The resort is a photographer's paradise, and I couldn't stop

the camera from clicking each time we took a walk around the

grounds.  "Don't you have a picture of that already?" Mark

would ask me.  "Yes, but it's so beautiful I can't help it!"

For one thing, proud boat owners

that we are, Groovy kept

sneaking into a lot of the shots.

There are arches

of all kinds

throughout the

property, and

some of the turrets

are decorated with

Medieval looking

gargoyles crawling

up the sides.

The resort is built

on many levels,

and it is easy to

get happily lost.

One day we

came across a rock wall

of arches with a rock

stairway going down to

the footpath below.

Las Hadas Resort is

lovingly maintained.

Fresh hibiscus flowers

decorated many nooks

and crannies.

It is a relaxing and

charming fantasy land

where the workaday

world quickly vanishes.

We had certain chores to attend to, however, which

kept us tethered to reality in between lazy afternoons

spent in the pool.  Day by day we ticked our items off

the list.  The first and most critical chore was to tidy

up the boat.  A month of passage making had buried

certain key living spaces in the cabin.  How nice it

was, after a few hours of digging and stowing, to get

our v-berth back.

Next was to do the mountain of laundry that had

piled up.  Long pants, long sleeved shirts,

sweatshirts, and fleece jackets were all begging to be

stored away in some deep locker somewhere.

All those clothes filled three large laundry bags to overflowing.  Doing laundry on a boat at

anchor is not always so easy, however.  I had done some smaller items by hand, but leaving

them out on the clothesline until they dried resulted in clothes that smelled like salt air.  That

would never work for the long term storage of all our winter clothing.

The resort has a "lavenderia" (laundromat) on the premises, with (cold water only)

washers and dryers that looked like they could do the job.  However, a single wash load

cost 60 pesos (about $5.25), as did a single load in the dryer.  Not letting ourselves get

discouraged, we tossed the three huge bags of clothes as well as our detergent and

softener into the dinghy and motored ashore.  Heaving them onto the dock and lugging

them up to the laundromat, we were grateful it wasn't too long a walk.

It was only when we stuffed the machines to the gills

that we realized we really had about five loads of

laundry.  Re-stuffing them into three loads, we

returned to the little store several times to buy yet

more 60 peso tokens for the machines, as we soon

discovered the dryers ran for just 28 minutes.  Some

420 pesos later (about $37), our clothes were

marginally clean and ready to be stored away.

Later we learned that there is a Lavenderia just two

miles from the resort where for half that cost we could

have had our laundry washed and folded for us.

However, it is still not so simple, as the cab ride is a

few dollars, and you would need to make two trips,

one to drop off the clothes and another to pick them

up.  The bus might have been an option, but those

were really big bags...  Bottom line: "sail naked"

started to sound like a really good idea.

It was while cooling off in the pool and pondering

how many beachside beers that laundry could have

gotten us (about 37), that I got talking with another

tourist who was enjoying the pool with his family.

We compared notes on how we ended up in the

same pool, having both come here from San Diego.

It turned out he had traveled here on a cruise ship

that was currently parked across the bay in

downtown Manzanillo.  When the

ship arrived in port for the day, he

got off with his family and hailed a

cab, asking to be taken to a

beautiful resort with a pool and a

beach for the kids.  For $40 the

resort gave them access to all the

amenities, letting them put the

entrance fee money

towards drinks and

food as well.

He was amazed that

we had sailed to this

resort on our own little

boat, but I was

equally impressed

that he managed to

ferret out this idyllic

location on his own

when Carnival Cruise

Lines anchored for

just a few hours.

"You're living the life,"

he said with a big smile.  "Yes, but there's another side to cruising..." I

said, telling him our laundry story.  He nodded and laughed, but then

dropped a beautiful pearl of wisdom: "That's just the price you paid to be

able to enjoy this pool this afternoon."

He is so right.  The scary overnight sailing, the challenges of

taking care of basic necessities while living at anchor, the

discomforts of living in a small home that bounces around on

the waves, those are the price of limitless idyllic days living

anchored next to an exquisite resort.

We had more of those

small prices to pay as

we marched down our

"to do" list.  Getting one

of our propane tanks

filled was on the

agenda, but as we

asked around the resort and marina, it seemed like a task that would have to wait for

another port.  Propane is not easy to find in Manzanillo.

We had noticed a tiny travel trailer parked among the boat trailers at the marina, but

weren't sure whether it was occupied or simply in storage.  When a couple came up to

our boat in an inflatable dinghy and said they weren't from a boat but were from a

trailer, we got our answer.  He was Cuban and she was Mexican, and they had

traveled all over Mexico and the US for months at a time in their 13' travel trailer.

He knew something of boats,

having rowed a raft for four

days from Cuba to Key West in

the 1970's.  He and four friends had trained for six months to be

physically ready for the trip, running, swimming and conditioning their

bodies to survive in the harsh tropical marine environment without

drinking water.  They rowed their raft, made largely of truck inner

tubes, for four sleepless days and nights, keeping a bearing of 5

degrees until they reached Florida.

Tragically, they lost a good friend to the sea when a storm

struck, and that sad memory has never faded.  The survivors

thrived, however, and our new friend lived the American dream

to the fullest, building up a construction business to a size

where he could sell it and retire at age 42.  His RV for winter

travel in Mexico is perfect for rough, small roads and for tucking

inconspicuously out of the way overnight.  Speaking perfect

Spanish, even with a Cuban accent which gets him labeled as a

Gringo, makes his travels here so much easier.

They needed propane for their trailer too, so we were soon off on an adventure

to fill our tanks.  It turned out that the only place to get propane in Manzanillo

was beyond the downtown port in an industrial area, an hour's drive through city

traffic from Las Hadas.  It became an all day project, but gave us a chance to

see another side of Manzanillo.

The city is proud of its maritime roots, and we passed a sculpture called

"El Velero" ("Sailboat").

The heart of the waterfront

downtown is a large harbor

filled with pangas and

sport fishing boats.  There

is a big park and malecón

(boardwalk) lined with

white painted wrought iron

benches.  At the center stood a huge

blue sculpture of a sailfish.  The Port

Captain later told us that the locals have

nicknamed the sculpture "The Shrimp"

because they think it resembles a

shrimp more than a sailfish.

Christmas decorations and festivities had

already started, and as we drove through the

tiny streets of the neighborhoods in the "old

town" area, we saw rows of piñata strung up

between the homes.

Finally we arrived at Global Gas, where for about 38

pesos ($3.30) we got our 2.5 gallon tank filled.  Thank

goodness for our friends being willing to drive us there,

as the cab fare would have been 250 pesos ($22)

each way.

Getting 30 gallons of diesel was the final big project on our "to do" list,

and is something you'd think would be easy at a marina with a fuel

dock.  Not so.  The fuel dock is just 60' long, requiring big boats to

back into the dock and drop an anchor off the bow to keep the boat

perpendicular to it.  Large rocks clearly visible under the water around

the dock add a white knuckle element to the process.  We thought

long and hard about this maneuver and decided in the end to borrow a

boating friend's jerry jugs and make three dinghy trips back and forth to the fuel dock


Pouring diesel from a 50 lb. can into a 1-inch hole under the jump seat while the boat

pitches and rolls in the wake of crazy water skiers is a delicate process.  Fortunately,

our friend had a very cool siphoning device for use with the jerry jugs that slurped the

diesel out of the can and into the tanks.  In no time the project was done, and Groovy

was ready to take us to new places.

Most boats

arriving in


were headed

south to

Zihuatanejo for

Christmas.  We had planned to make Manzanillo our

southernmost turnaround point.  However, the wonderful

tales of fun and frolics in Zihuatanejo that we heard

from all the experienced Mexican cruisers around us

eventually persuaded us to make the trek another 180

miles south to "Z-town" before venturing north.

On our way, we stopped at gorgeous Ixtapa Island ("Isla Ixtapa").

Find Manzanillo on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!

















































































































More Blog Posts From Our Mexico Cruise

Never miss a post — it’s free!

Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Las Hadas – Turrets and Fairies

A paceline of birds commutes home.

A paceline of birds commutes home.

Three little musketeers alight on our lifelines.

Three little musketeers alight on our lifelines.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A picture perfect anchorage.

Las Hadas Marina, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Moorish style whitewashed buildings give the area a

Mediterranean feeling.

Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Beach chairs lined up at the resort.

Las Hadas Resort Beach, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The resort's pools are all royal blue.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

Mark plays Dudley Moore...

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

...and Brian Keith.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Bo Derek's movie

A newspaper article featuring nude

shots of Bo Derek is discreetly placed

behind a wide column.

Bo Derek's room in the movie

Bo's room --

should we knock?

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

The resort is a castle worthy of

any princess.

Las Hadas Resort and Barcelo Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Barcelo Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

There was a band playing in this thatch roofed,

open air dance hall 24/7.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico

Groovy sits among flowers.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Cobblestone streets and paths run all

through the resort.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The anchorage off Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas Resort golf course, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The resort features a world class golf course.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A banyan tree spreads its roots wide.

Christmas trees for sale at Comercial Mexicana in Manzanillo, Mexico

Live Christmas trees for sale at the

supermarket bring memories of the north.

Guadalajara's Chivas Soccer Team's car

The Chivas team car.

Soccer star from the Guadalajara soccer team

This soccer star has

the cutest smile, but

he got dead serious

as soon as the

camera came out.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A snowy egret with impossibly

bright yellow feet.

Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico (1)

Early December, 2010 - We left Bahía Chamela for an

easy daysail south.  There was no wind, so we motored

all 55 miles.  As we took our final turn towards our

anchorage in Manzanillo, throngs of birds flew past in

small lines, like cyclists in pacelines, evenly spaced as

they coasted on the wind currents.  They seemed to be

commuting home to a large outlying rock island after a

day of foraging on the mainland.

Once we dropped our anchor, another trio of little birds landed

on our lifelines to greet us and check us in.

Our charming hosts were the perfect introduction to the

delights in store for us in Manzanillo.  We were anchored in a

small cove next to the stunning Las Hadas Resort.

Plying these same waters in the 1500's, Spanish sailors thought

they saw fairies dancing in the flat calm water by the light of the

harvest full moon in autumn.  Four hundred years later, the

Bolivian billionaire tin baron Don Antenor Patiño was searching

the world for the perfect locale for his personal hideaway, and he

found just the right spot overlooking a cove at the northern end

of the industrial port of Manzanillo.

He hired the famous Spanish architect José Luis Ezquerra to design

a unique, fairytale castle-like resort, complete with turrets and

towers worthy of Rapunzel.  What emerged from the drawing board

onto the hills surrounding this small cove is a fanciful collection of

Moorish style buildings that cascade in a tumble of whitewashed

spires, arches and balconies down to the water's edge.

Patiño named the resort "Las Hadas" or "The Fairies."  Under

construction for ten years, in March 1974, he finally flung the

doors open wide to the wealthiest of the world, throwing a huge

party for 300 jet-setting guests.

Since the days of the Spanish explorers, scientists have thought It's

possible that the optical illusion of fairies dancing on the water by

moonlight was actually the bright blue sparkles of bioluminescence.

These miniscule firefly-like creatures of the sea emit light when

disturbed, for instance by an oar or by waves slapping the hull.  We

have found that they are so bright here they linger near our boat

until well after dawn, looking very much like quarter-inch sized royal blue glitter.

As we took in the picturesque views around us with eager eyes, we

found ourselves shedding the last of our layers.  Finally we were

going to start living in bathing suits, which is what we had intended

when we first bought Groovy eleven months ago.  "THIS is why we

went cruising," we said to each other happily.

The movie "10" was filmed at this resort in 1979.  The area hadn't

been known to many besides Mexican vacationers until that point,

but Bo Derek and her beaded hair quickly put this place on the

international map.  Now Las Hadas and other resorts on the bay

attract visitors from all over the world.

Cruisers anchored off the resort are allowed to enjoy all the resort's

amenities. We launched the kayak as fast as we could, our fingers

fumbling the lines in our excitement to get going.  The royal blue

swimming pools beckoned, and it wasn't long before we dove in.

Our first night in the anchorage we found "10" in our DVD collection

and watched it once again.  What a hoot to see shots filmed in

places we had just been that day.  A very drunken Dudley Moore

struggles to get across the rope bridge that spans the pool, and the

next day Mark goofed around swinging from side to side on it, doing

Dudley Moore impressions.

"Another double, Don," Dudley slurs to Brian Keith, the bartender,

joking that it will be hard to say that phrase later in the evening.

Mark snuck behind the bar (which is not quite the same as it was in

the movie) to offer up double brandies.

Bo Derek was the big star, of

course, rating an "11" from Dudley's character when he was asked what he thought of

her on a scale of one to ten.  Mark hunted all over the resort to find her.  Apparently she

had visited a few years back during the 30th anniversary of the film, and she was still

very lovely, even at 50-something.  We found a local newspaper article about her in a

one-room museum about the resort's history.  Who knew that she posed nude?  Of

course, the framed clipping is hung behind a large column, so it is tricky to get an up-

close look at it -- or perhaps it is concealed behind the column so you can take your

time to read the whole article (in Spanish) without anyone noticing just how long you've

been standing there.

The concierge told us the suite where Bo and Dudley

tried to make sparks fly (to the strains of Ravel's Bolero,

restarted several times so she could get her timing just

right), was #420.  We hunted up and down the steep

cobbled pathways and finally found her door.

The movie is just a tiny hat-trick in this resort's

sweeping aura of magic, however.  Perched at crazy

angles and on many levels up the sharp sides of a hill,

each room, doorway, patio and turret enjoys

spectacular views of the beach and bay below.

We took a bus into town and returned on

foot, traversing the crazy vertical streets

through this resort and others twice.  The

whole area is a photographer's dream,

and as we walked back I stopped

repeatedly to take photos while Mark

waited patiently.

The cobblestone streets crawl straight up and plunge straight

down, twisting around impossible corners.  Bouncing along in

a half-length schoolbus, we felt like we were in the Caribbean

again.  The windows brushed the thick tree growth on the

sides of the roads and the vast blue views of the bay teased

us between tree limbs and cobblestone walls.

Once on foot and looking down at the road, we

noticed the streets have smooth stones spaced for

car tires and rougher stones in between, giving

them a striped appearance.

Las Hadas Resort has been rated one of the top 100 golf courses

in the world, and as you descend the backside of the hill towards

town, the vivid green, palm tree studded course comes into view.

We don't play, but if we did this looks like it would be a

magnificent course.

Manzanillo is at a latitude similar to Hawaii's (a little south,

actually) and enjoys tropical vegetation.  How strange to see

30 foot rubber trees, ficus trees and other houseplants that

we have struggled at times to grow in pots.  What a surprise

to find what looked like a banyan tree, with exposed roots

sprawled twenty feet wide and hanging straight down from the tree limbs.

In town we discovered trees of another sort.  Christmas just isn't

complete without a live spruce tree, I guess, whether you live in a

snowbound climate or not.  And sure enough, the supermarket

had a large display of live Christmas trees for sale.  We buried our

noses in them for a moment, letting their scent take us two

thousand miles north.

As the days passed, we discovered we were sharing the resort

with the members of a professional sports team.  At a distance,

we had seen groups of young men jogging, walking and relaxing

in matching red sports shirts.  Then we came across the team car.

The words "cycling team" on the side got us all excited, but when we cornered a team member we

discovered that the team owners have teams in many sports, not just cycling.  The team in residence

at the resort was Guadalajara's Chivas Soccer Team.  They were staying for a month of pre-season

training.  In subsequent days we got a big kick out of watching them doing sit-ups on the beach,

running the steep roads around the resort, and filling a long line of lounge chairs at the pool.

There were others in residence in the bay as well.  An egret hung

out every day on the rocks, walking along the shore with sure-

footed bright yellow feet.

More dramatic was the school of rays that came in for a while.  We

had seen these rays from a long way off between Bahia Santa

Maria and Magdalena Bay as we sailed down the south end of the

Baja coast.  We had been mesmerized by their repeated leaps out

of the water in seeming frenzied ebullience.

This school came in pretty close to the Las Hadas anchorage day after day, swimming

freely between the boats.  First a patch of churning water would appear, with a hundred

pointed fins stirring the surface from below.  Then all of a sudden the water would erupt

with jumping rays.  They would fling themselves into the air, executing front flips, back flips

and belly smacks.  Apparently not all that much is known about why the rays do this,

however we sure had fun watching their antics.

Their almost daily show, the tranquil,

picturesque anchorage, and the beautiful resort

just a quick dinghy ride away kept us in

Manzanillo for well over a week.

Find Manzanillo on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!










































































































More Blog Posts From Our Mexico Cruise

Never miss a post — it’s free!

Costalegre: Chamela Bay – Recovery after a Wild Crossing

Bougainvillea and coconut palms in Chamela Bay anchorage (Bahia de Chamela), Mexico

Bougainvillea and coconut palms in

Chamela Bay.

A panga on the beach in Chamela Bay (Bahia de Chamela), Mexico

A panga on the beach in Chamela Bay .

The teapot was our only casualty on

our rocky ride.

A flying fish met his demise in our cockpit.

A sea turtle passes by.

Strange insects remind us

we're nearing the tropics.

Chamela Bay (Bahia de Chamela) anchorage, Mexico

Chamela Bay is lined with beach villas tucked behind the palms.

Homes along the beach at Chamela Bay (Bahia de Chamela) Palapa restaurants in Bahia de Chamela (Chamela Bay).

Lots of palapa restaurants hug the north end of the bay.

Lots of pangas on the beach in Chamela Bay.

The beach was littered with pangas.

Beautiful long sweeping beach in Bahia de Chamela (Chamela Bay).

Chamela Bay offers a very long beach for strolling.

Chamela Bay anchorage, Mexico Panga in Chamela Bay.

Chamela Bay.

Punta Perula Trailer Park in Bahia de Chamela (Chamela Bay).

Punta Perula Trailer Park

Beachfront sites at Punta Perula Trailer Park in Chamela Bay.

Beachfront sites stand vacant.

Bahia de Chamela boondocker on the beach.

No one bothered this fellow boondocking next to the park.

Playing in the waves at Chamela Bay.

Romping in the waves.

Groovy in the Chamela Bay anchorage, Mexico

Groovy waits patiently for our return.

Chamela Bay anchorage, Mexico

A sand piper takes wing.

Las Guera restaurant in Chamela Bay.

Restaurant Las Gueras on the beach.

Beers on the beach - Bahia de Chamela. Beers under a beach umbrella at Bahia de Chamela. Fishermen unload their catch in Chamela Bay.

Fishermen unload their catch...

Towing a panga up on the beach at Bahia de Chamela

...then tow their panga high up on the beach.

Kids on a boat in Chamela Bay.

A boatload of kids calls out "Good Morning" to us visiting boaters.

Christmas in Chamela Bay, Mexico

A Christmas crèche is set up under a tree

in the town center.

Band stand in Perula (Bahia de Chamela)

The town's band stand.

Fresh produce (Chamela Bay / Perula)

Fresh produce was available at many small markets.

Perula (Bahia de Chamela) Mexico Perula (Chamela Bay) Mexico

A girl hitches a ride from Mom.

La Campesina in Perula, Chamela Bay, Mexico

We grab a bite at La


La Campesina in Perula, Chamela Bay anchorage, Mexico

Chamela Bay, Jalisco, Mexico

Late November, 2010 - We left Cabo San Lucas on a Sunday, knowing we wouldn't

get to our destination until at least Tuesday morning, sailing straight through two

nights and possibly a third.  Our destination was the Costa Alegre on mainland

Mexico, 330 miles away, across the bottom of the Sea of Cortez.  To date, the

furthest we had been from the coast at night was 50 miles.  On this passage we

would be spending the middle 24 hours more than 100 miles from shore.

Ours was not the common route.  After traveling down the Baja peninsula, most

cruisers go around the corner to La Paz or cross the Sea of Cortez to the mainland in

a single overnight passage to Mazatlán before harbor hopping south along the

mainland.  We wanted to get to the warm, tropical climate right away, however, so we

decided to cut to the chase and sail directly there.  The forecast was for mild winds

and mild seas.

When Cabo was 30 miles

behind us, the radio crackled

with the voices of two boats

we knew deciding to turn

around because the winds

were so high as they sailed

towards Mazatlan.  We didn't have much wind, but the swell was

increasing dramatically.  I went below to triple-check the weather

forecasts I had downloaded on the computer.  At that moment a large

wave gave the boat a big shove, confusing the autopilot so much that

the boat did a spontaneous 360 degree turn.  Suddenly the radio came

to life again, this time with two boats discussing a weather forecast they

had heard on their single side-band radios.  "This is no time to be

crossing the Sea of Cortez,"  one boat said.  "I did it once in conditions

like this but it was a nightmare."  "Yeah, the next good weather window

won't be until Friday."

Unnerved, we decided to forge ahead anyways.  Turning around would have put us in back in Cabo well after dark, and

nothing I had seen in the forecast seemed all that foreboding.  As it turned out, the wind never did pick up much over the next

55 hours, but the swell threw the boat all over the ocean.  It was as though the sea gods were playing volleyball, and a

thousand hands were reaching up and tossing us back and forth.  The boat lurched and heaved, rising up and falling over as

one wave after another rolled under it, each coming from a slightly different direction.  During the daytime it wasn't frightening,

but the two nights were very long and disturbing.  I have never been so grateful to see the moon.  It was like a great white

round friend in the sky, shining a bright path towards us throughout each entire night.

For all the pitching and rolling, the only casualty besides our own bruised bodies

and strained emotions was the stainless steel teapot.  I had just filled it and put it

on the stove to make some coffee when a particularly large wave lifted the boat

and hurled it several boat lengths to one side, sending the teapot into a swan dive.

It landed on the stairs, denting the side.

Two flying fish sustained worse injuries.  These little guys have fins that they use

like wings, and they jump out of the water and flap their fins like mad, flying 50

yards at a time just above the surface of the water.  In the dead of night two of

them did their flying stunt only to find themselves unexpectedly lying in our cockpit.

In the morning we found a little trail of blood droplets showing their sad path as

they ricocheted to their deaths at the base of the wheel.

But the heart-stopping

moments of the long

nights were soon forgotten as we finally approached the mainland.

Not having seen a single boat since leaving Cabo, our big "Land Ho!"

moment was obscured by a thick layer of fog.  We noticed the air was

much warmer and thicker as we sailed into the tropics.  We passed

quite a few sea turtles and noticed there were unfamiliar bugs landing

on the boat.

The Costa Alegre is a quiet 100 mile

stretch of the mainland coast that is

filled with pretty anchorages, bays and

palm fringed beaches.  We were aiming

for Manzanillo, the city at the

southernmost end of this region, but

our pace would have put us there in the

dark, so we stopped at Chamela at the

northern end instead.  Scanning the

horizon, we saw lots of little beach

bungalows peaking out from behind the

cover of coconut palm trees.

A few homes were lovely villas and estates, and at the north end of

the bay was a cluster of beachfront restaurants.

We quickly launched the kayak and took a walk along the

beach.  A large fleet of pangas sat high on the beach,

but no one was around.

The restaurants had tables and seating

for a huge crowd, but we saw only one

pair of Gringos and one Mexican couple

at any of them.  This gave the bay a

wonderfully remote air, but it was eerie to

see a party set up with no one attending.

We came across the Punta Perula Trailer Park, and wandered in, taking photos of

the fantastic vacant RV sites that overlook the ocean.  "Can I help you?" a woman

asked, coming out of a motorhome.  As we chatted we discovered that this was

her fourth winter at the park, and that it is always full by this time of year.

However, only two sites were taken.  She had been emailing all of her RVing

friends -- friends who had been coming to Mexico with her for the past ten winters

-- and they had all been scared off by the bad press about Mexico.  Apparently

Arizona was bursting at the seams with RVers who decided not to go south of the

border this year.

What a shame.  Smearing Mexico in the media may be helping

the US and Canadian economies by keeping tourist dollars at

home, but travelers are losing out on some really good times

and good deals further south.  This beachfront park, one of

several on this bay, is lovely and costs just $350 a month.

Of course, that is more than some RVers wish to pay, and

we had to admire a young fellow in a van boondocking on his

own private stretch of beach next to the park.  He said he

had never been bothered in all his boondocking travels along

the Baja peninsula and mainland Mexican coast.  But a

quarter mile further on we met couple in a beautiful Class A

motorhome who had gotten a knock on their door from the

police in the wee hours when they boondocked overlooking

this beach.  Fortunately, friends they had made in town had

room in their backyard for a motorhome where they could

stay.  Ulltimately, these friends installed full hookups, paid for

by the RVers, so they could stay all winter and return in the future.

Having been among sailors for the past ten months, I

was happily reminded what amazing travelers RVers

are.  While we were proud of sailing down the coast

to get to this beach, hearing the RVers compare

notes with each other about driving through Mazatlán

versus Guadalajara to get here, we realized how

much more of Mexico they have seen.  They all said

they felt safer this year than any year prior on their

drive south because of the increased police

presence.  We will seek out coastal RV parks in the

future to get the lay of the land, and to get a quick fix

sitting around in camp chairs.

Back on the beach, the little bars at the north end were

beckoning.  For the first time in months we could feel

ourselves beginning to unwind.  Boat preparations and

projects behind us, and the bulk of our big sail south

completed, we could return to being our natural selves,

exploring the world around us.

As we sat staring out at the water a group of

fishermen landed their panga.  They

unloaded the day's catch into a rusty old

truck without headlights.  Then they hooked

the boat up to the truck and towed it up to

higher ground.  After the boat dug into the

sand and refused to budge, they filled two

plastic liter bottles with water, put them

under the boat, and tow-rolled it the rest of

the way in.

We continued to relax, not ready to sail again

right away, letting the days tumble seamlessly

into each other.  One morning we sat in the

dinghy chatting with other boaters in the

anchorage when a boat loaded with children flew

past.  As they went by the kids suddenly all

called out in unison, "Good Morning!"  Their

smiles were infectious, and we waved back

enthusiastically, "Buenos Dias!"

Another day we wandered

into the little town of

Perula, following the

narrow paved road that

runs parallel to the beach.

Christmas preparations

were already underway,

and a nativity crêche was

set up under a tree in the

town center.

A bandstand looked ready

for an outdoor concert,

surrounded by attractive

plantings, green grass and park


We passed several small grocery stores with fresh produce for sale.

Other stores were selling all kinds of things, from tire repair to

hardware.  The pace was slow and nourishing.

We found ourselves at another outdoor eatery -- who can

resist dollar beers and quesadillas?  Even for Thanksgiving

dinner!  It was such a pleasant atmosphere in this bay, we

could have stayed longer.

But we eventually pried ourselves away, heading to the

southern end of the Costa Alegre and our planned

turnaround point, Manzanillo.  Once there, we could begin

our official "cruise," harbor hopping north for eight months

at a snail's pace.

Find Chamela on Mexico Maps

Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!