525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year? So go the lyrics to a song I like from the musical Rent. As cruisers, we measure our time in nautical miles (NM), as in how long will it take us to travel x number of nautical miles, from point a to point b? We log these miles and track our lat/long, speed, wind, and fuel. What happens in between these miles is what we’ll likely remember the most.
Zihuatanejo to Isla Grande, 10 NM
I am a patient watcher of the sea. I can stare at the water so intently, as if anticipating a mermaid or loch ness monster to suddenly emerge and startle me from my perch. My steadfast gaze comes with rewards. Without it, I may have missed the mysterious dance of the rays while underway to Isla Grande. Off the port hull, I saw them leap from the water. I’ve seen lots of rays jump, but this was a different. It was a group of them, leaping 6 feet out of the water and then bellyflopping -Slap/Splash! and repeat over and over. I marveled- what is this? next- – they seemed to follow us into the anchorage with a repeat performance! And then they were gone and all was quiet. I have not seen them before or since like this, but I’ll keep watching.
We stayed a few days at Isla Grande reviewing the weather for the best time to leave. While waiting, we cleaned the bottom of the boat-again. Frustrated with our recent anti-fouling bottom paint! At least it is a good workout, cleaning the bottom. I go around the waterline with snorkel and Michael dives with the hookah to get the bottom and sail drives, together it takes us about 3 hours. Then rest, read, review the weather, cook, watch a movie, plan, depart, 0430 Thursday.
We planned to stopover at Caleta de Campos to break up the passage, but the swell was big and our anchor dragged. Onward to Manzanillo, 114 NM. Unfortunately the weather was not as predicted, again. We were safe alright, but damn uncomfortable, with wind on the nose, and waves crashing, our hulls taking the wave and bashing down the other side. WAAP (that’s the sound of the wave banging over the front cross bar) AHHH (that’s Me screaming). I wish I could share the noise the water makes crashing over the ledge under our hulls in these conditions, quite close to our bunk. Try sleeping off watch with that! It’s rare we have breakage while underway, but this trip took out one of the last red wine glasses. It really is the noise that stirs up the anxiety, terse language and shrills.
In reality, the boat is fine, just pushing onward & resolute to our destination. On watch, 0230 am, the seas calmed and I did too. Dolphins even visited, playing in the bow wake, offering encouragement. Anchored at lovely Bahia Santiago, 191 NM, 36 hours later, 1654 pm Friday.
There is a beautiful long beach here, which we admired from the boat, but never stepped ashore. The breaking waves were just enough to dampen our bravery. Our dinghy is great to drive and haul freight, but it’s heavy to land and bring ashore. It has us considering other options for our tender. At any rate, it was a relaxing view and we enjoyed a few days there. Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, all alone at anchor, had us feeling nostalgic, a wee homesick, and hungry for corned beef. Michael made delicious clam sauce & pasta and we soothed our melancholy with a rendering of Danny Boy and chilled Reservado.
Bahia Manzanillo/Las Hadas Resort (4 NM)
It was crowded on arrival and we anchored in close, a bit too close to the rip-rap come morning. We re-anchored in a safer zone when a boat departed. Wow – it’s as pretty as the pictures and the anchorage is calm except for the occasional speed boat and jet ski! Here we did go ashore, paying 250 pesos per day to park at the dinghy dock, but easy access to the marina walk with restaurants and the resort pools. (no swimming without another fee). We visited el centro of Manzanillo, by the fisherman’s wharf, stopping at the mercado on Cinco de Mayo. We spent a restful week, dining out some, watching the action around the bay, boats coming and going. The beach was closed for a couple of days due to sea urchins! Hopefully, they cleared out in time for semana santa, a busy time for all resorts and beaches in Mexico. We departed 2 days before the vacationers all descended on Las Hadas. By the time we left, we were the only boat at anchor, most anticipating what was to come during holy week.
Ensenada Carrizal (6NM)
So happy to stop here, an anchorage reminiscent of the ones we found most in the Sea of Cortez last year with rugged rocks and desert landscape. Going ashore is not an option, too rocky and steep for any tender. Quiet & desolate it seems; yet, there are frequent container ships going by in the distance, passing through the busy Manzanillo harbor or perhaps all the way from the Panama Canal. We wonder as we watch them go.
We were happy here, swimming, paddle boarding, bird watching and Michael thinks the best snorkeling he’s seen in Mexico with clear water, beautiful coral & interesting fish. I admit I am a relative newbie to snorkeling. One day everything was perfect. My mask didn’t leak or fog, my toes didn’t cramp in the fins, the water was clear, and I was calm, swimming in the underwater wonderland. I was almost in a meditative state. That is until Michael pointed out the moray and I almost choked on a cup of water in retreat. I calmly cleared my mask and went below again for another glimpse of him.
Boat work continues. We cleaned the bottom- again – after 2 weeks it was looking swampy. Michael has been checking off the maintenance list. One day while servicing all winches, he was surprised by a visitor rowing over from a boat that had come in the night before at sunset, didn’t catch the name of the vessel. Turns out it was Serafina! Serafina was anchored next to Footloose at the police dock in San Diego where we left from on the Baja Ha Ha, 17 months and so many nautical miles ago. They joined us later for happy hour. While exchanging stories and plans, we spotted whales diving in the near distance right before sundown. A delight to catch up with Eliza & Ted and their crew “C”!
Much to do and see along the way. Some things are routine (a few annoyingly so); Other things surprise, startle, and even scare you. And somewhere in between, there’s this quiet peace and pleasure of cruising along, logging your miles. Next stop, Barra de Navidad, 20 NM.