Early November, 2012 – After the thrill of crossing the dreaded Gulf of Tehuantepec, it was a relief to wake up to a stunning sunrise in calm, picturesque Tangolunda Bay. As we watched that sunrise, it felt like our cruising season had begun at last.
Las Bahías de Huatulco is made up of seven bays tucked into a ten mile stretch of coast, an ideal little cruising ground. Tangolunda Bay is at the southern end, and it’s the “party bay,” rimmed by ten or so high-end resorts. They all slowly came to life as the day progressed.
The air temperature here was just a little bit cooler and drier than Puerto Chiapas, but the water was still warm and clear. In no time we had donned masks, snorkels and fins and begun paddling around the boat.
Of course, in the cruising life you are never far from boat maintenance work, and before we could check out the colorful fish swimming around the rocks nearby, we had to clean the bottom of the boat!
Terry cloth towels in hand, we swished and swiped the bottom of the hull, creating great swirling clouds in the water as the resident algae was brushed away.
An hour later, with that chore finally out of the way (phew!), we swam off to visit the angel fish and other critters hiding underwater in the rocks near the shore.
Large blue angel fish, each sporting a yellow vertical stripe and yellow tail, were the prize sightings, but there were lots of smaller, plainer fish too. What I liked, though, were the waves of warm and cool water that caressed our bodies as we swam. The cooler waters of the approaching winter were starting to sweep in, but bathwater warm pools of summer still enveloped us here and there.
Above water, the vacationers at the resorts zoomed past on jet skis, in sailing catamarans and on banana boats. All were Mexican, and all seemed to hail from Oaxaca City. This is the perfect weekend getaway place for them, as it is just an hour’s flight.
The long 8-hour drive over the speed-bump ridden mountain roads from Oaxaca will soon be replaced by a freeway that will get the tourists here in just three hours by car. The jet skis will be swarming in droves then!!
Several dads with kids sitting in their laps paddled and drifted by us in kayaks and sailboats. Each was curious about where we were from and what life afloat was like. “Do you have a kitchen on your boat?” One kayaker asked. Another guy on a catamaran called out, “I’m going to be doing what you’re doing in a few years!”
For us, this was the ideal place to relax for a while and regroup. We took the kayak out and paddled around the bay one afternoon. As we passed the resorts on shore, it seemed each one had its own flavor.
There’s the romantic getaway, Camino Real Zaashila, tucked into the far corner of the beach. At the opposite end of the beach, swank Quinta Real dominates the scene with its two big exotic looking domes. I suspect vacationers there enjoy the beach “sand free,” from a distance, with room service on their balconies! In the middle there’s the party hardy resorts, Barceló and Dreams, where loud music plays at the water’s edge, kids splash in the waves, and undoubtedly Margaritas flow freely.
It seems that vacationers of every kind can find their tropical paradise here. When we got back to the boat, the afternoon entertainment had begun poolside at the Las Brisas resort next to us. A woman on a loudspeaker was conducting a contest among the kids to see who could recognize the most Disney movie and cartoon theme songs.
Snippets of Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid wafted past us while we imagined a very lively scene at the resort’s swimming pool which was hidden from us by a row of bushes.
How funny it was to hear this very American contest all afternoon after they had played hours of Mexican music over their sound system all morning. Needless to say, we knew all the answers, but not all the kids did!!
One evening a lucky couple got married on the beach right in front of our boat. Suddenly the black night sky was split by a huge colorful explosion above us. After yelling, “No no, not on our boat!” as we panicked that falling embers would land on us, we ran for our cameras to catch the fireworks show.
It didn’t last long — the couple had ordered only three fireworks — but Mark got a terrific shot of one of them.
Our days and nights melted into the sweet oblivion of doing nothing but basking in this beautiful setting. This was the life!! I think most cruisers take off on their voyages with something like this in mind. But boatloads of boat work, endless challenging passages, and the frequent cranky moods of Mother Nature all stand like steep hurdles blocking the way between cruisers and the heavenly, bucolic days they seek. We savored each hour of each day as the happy blessing that it was.
This season, unlike the previous two, we don’t plan to travel a long distance, so there is nothing prodding us to move on or do anything in particular. Perhaps we have finally “slowed down” in our cruising lifestyle the way we did in our RVing lifestyle.
Our “to-do” list of chores for the boat got pushed aside to the far corner of the nav station desk (I think I even flipped it over for a few days so I didn’t have to look at it!). “Having fun” became the top priority for a while. Mark’s guitar came out, our cameras went into overdrive as we tried to capture happy vacationers having a ball all around us, and we spent many hours in the cockpit scanning the scene saying to each other, “What a totally cool life!”
But Mother Nature’s mood swings finally caught up with us and forced us to raise the anchor. Tangolunda Bay is wide open to the swell coming in from the Pacific, and after a few very calm nights, the Pacific began to roll and Groovy rolled right along with it.
A few rolls overnight isn’t bad, but when the boat starts swinging and jerking like a bucking bronco, tossing its occupants and their stuff around like ping-pong balls all night long while the hull creaks and groans in noisy agony, it’s time to seek new shelter!
After a beautiful sunrise one morning, we headed out on a daysail. What fun it was to sail whichever way the wind was best, not trying to reach a particular destination. After a few hours, we ultimately pointed the bow towards Marina Chahué in the next bay over from Tangolunda, where sweet nights of flat calm awaited us.