A sea turtle drifts by.
Mom enjoys a brilliant sail.
Villas on Playa La Boquita in Santiago Bay.
Playa La Boquita.
Black and brown patterned sand yields gold in bright sunlight.
Looking out at the anchorage.
A tuba player could be heard
every afternoon throughout
Umbrellas line the shores of the estuary.
A footbridge crossed to Las Palmas resort.
Manicured lawns bring a special kind of serenity.
Canoes wait for passengers.
A panga in the mangroves.
81 is the new 18.
Mark talks "bike shop" with the locals.
The Santiago Flea Market offers tourist souvenirs.
Horseback riding on the beach.
A frigate bird takes a close
look at us.
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.
lawns and shrubbery
offered a feeling of
utter peace and
tranquility. We could
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
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
Find Santiago (Manzanillo) on Mexico Maps
Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!