Early March, 2013 – We were loving Zihuatanejo‘s wonderful, relaxed, laid-back atmosphere, and we took many leisurely strolls along the waterfront. It was impossible to walk anywhere without snapping a few pics.
One afternoon a couple on inflatable kayaks paddled out to Groovy and we discovered they were future cruisers who were outfitting their Catalina 34 Aussie Rules for a voyage from Vancouver Island through Mexico to Australia two years from now.
We remember being in their shoes in San Diego and the Caribbean a few years back, longing to meet active cruisers who could tell us what the lifestyle was like. We welcomed Rose and Dave aboard, gave them a quick tour and had a lively conversation about cruising.
Dave is an Aussie who grew up sailing Down Under, and he and Rose fell in love when the two of them were fierce rivals in the sailboat racing circuit on Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. We could tell they were both itching to get out for a sail to cap off their Zihuatanejo vacation, so we invited them back to Groovy for a daysail with us a few days later.
The wind gods showed up on cue and gave us a wonderful, brisk ride. Dave was completely in his element as Groovy leaned into the waves, and he was ear-to-ear smiles at the helm. We are looking forward to following their voyage in a few years!!
It was time for our own voyage to continue, however, so after seeing them off, we pointed the bow north from Isla Ixtapa and made our way to Manzanillo 29 hours (190 miles) away. On the morning of our departure we sailed under beautiful, brooding clouds and sun rays.
The huge oil refinery at Lázaro Cardenas made quite an impressive sight as we slipped past a mile offshore.
Happy to put all that industry behind us, we watched a colorful sunset off our bow and settled in for one of our last overnight sails for the season.
A recent armed robbery aboard an anchored cruising catamaran in Caleta de Campos (halfway between Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo) made us cautious as we snuck past in the night. We detoured slightly further out to sea and passed without mishap.
This had been the first incident of its kind that we know of in Mexico, and it is being taken very seriously by the authorities. The catamaran’s owners were seasoned Mexico cruisers and were known for their fun Playboy antics at the Baja Ha-Ha cruisers rally in 2010 (near top of page). In contrast, armed attacks on cruisers are quite common in many Caribbean countries.
Next morning we caught the sunrise at about the same position on the horizon as the previous night’s sunset, but this time at the other end of the boat! As you can see, along this stretch of coast the direction of travel is predominantly east-west.
When we finally pulled into the sweet anchorage in front of the Las Hadas resort, it was like being given a second sunrise for the day.
Las Hadas is unique and utterly charming. Filled with fairy-tale turrets and gargoyles, arches and palm trees, it was a pleasure to sit in the cockpit and take in the view while Groovy gently swung this way and that.
The cove is very small, and condos and villas cover the hillsides, hugging the anchored boats in a close embrace.
The white-washed architecture, bright green palm trees and true blue sky combine to make a beautiful backdrop. What’s best is that all the properties that flank one side of the anchorage are filled with vibrant magenta bougainvillea flowers.
Standing out on the breakwater on the opposite side and looking back across the tiny cove, it seemed as though all our boats were anchored in a brilliant garden of palm trees and pink flowers.
Even though we have been here several times before, each time we arrive we are enchanted once again. The colors are so vivid, the buildings are so fanciful and the whole area is so lovingly maintained.
We wandered happily all over the resort, as excited to be walking its little cobbled paths today as we were the first time three years earlier.
The pretty archways, royal blue swimming pools and soaring palm trees inspire the imagination.
Out on the pier we found a toppled over sailboat with broken rigging that was in dire need of a bottom job. It was unclear how it came to be lying there. It looked very forlorn, with tall grasses growing around it.
A mystical air envelops this whole resort, and there is an element of fantasy to it all. The architecture is truly whimsical, with towers, sculptures, curving stone paths, and rotundas at every turn.
We needed to get through the resort to the main road to do some errands, but it was hard not to get sidetracked and wander off down all the inviting little pathways.
One morning we hustled ashore before the sun had risen to try to capture the Mediterranean looking cascade of villas in the morning light. We climbed high on the hill on the opposite side and found a tiny peek-a-boo lookout through some chainlink construction fencing where we could catch the view.
While we were in Manzanillo we began experimenting with various post-processing photo techniques. Mark downloaded PhotoMatix which creates intriguing effects. First you take three identical photos at different exposure settings and then you feed them through this software which takes the most vivid colors from each image and creates a composite merged “painting.”
Another technique is Nikon’s “color sketch,” a menu option within the camera that takes a photo and creates a colored sketch from it.
This was all great artsy fun, and we were loving our walks around this stunning little oasis. Every way we turned there was another beautiful image that begged for attention.
Unusual sculptures and accent pieces caught Mark’s eye, and then he was drawn to the colorful clay bowls sold by a pottery vendor on a folding table.
Meanwhile I wandered down to the beach and took portraits of the Groovy boat framed by palm fronds.
It was hard to call an end to all this, but we finally hauled up the anchor and made our way around the corner to Santiago Bay where every morning was kick-started with a spectacular sunrise.
Note: to see the location of Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo on a map, check the first image on Mexico Maps and another halfway down that page.