It’s bittersweet, but it was time to go. There are so many more places we want to explore in the world. I am excited to see what is around the next bend but also sad to leave this awesome place. We had way too much fun here, it was a dream come true to share our adventure with all of our Flathead Lake sailing friends. It couldn’t be any more special. March 7, we went out for a fancy good-bye dinner with our Flathead Aunt and Uncle. Only locals would know about this gem of a little restaurant. There were maybe 10 tables in the whole place. We sat on the porch watching the sun set, eating fancy food, and drinking good wine. Fabulous!
March 8, final preparations! We finished stowing everything, topped off fuel, checked out with the port captain, and moved from the dock to the anchorage. We put up our jacklines, made sure all of our safety gear was in its correct location and functional, and we were ready for an early morning start.
March 9, 7:00am it was time to leave Banderas Bay and head south down the Mexican Pacific Coast! The sunrise over the city was spectacular. We waved good bye, was anyone watching? We were heading to Punta Ipala where we could drop the anchor and sleep for the night. It was what we call a “stop over” It breaks up the trip to avoid an overnight passage but there is nothing special to see or do there. It was located just outside Banderas Bay, about a 50 mile trip. A lone Humpback waved goodbye as we left the bay. Outside the bay we turned left toward Punta Ipala and we started seeing sea turtles. I started a tally in the logbook, we counted 10 along the way. Yay for turtles!
One of my favorite memories is helping to guide newly hatched turtles down the beach toward the ocean while we were on vacation with the whole family at the beach in North Carolina. A turtle nest hatched while we were there and we each used a flashlight to guide the babies one by one down to the water where the volunteers scooped them into a cooler and swam them out past the breakers. Good luck little guys! Something like 1:1000 make it to adulthood, most become fish food or bird food.
The next day, we pulled up anchor with the sun and headed out. We saw hundreds of turtles! I stopped the tally at twenty and decided to extrapolate, one turtle every 2 minutes times 11 hours. That is a lot of turtles! And that was just what we could see in our path. Maybe all of this turtle conservation is working?
We pulled into Bahia Chamela, a large protected bay, just before the sun was setting. There were quite a few boats here, maybe 20. Our friends on Pasargada were there! They are fellow Coho Hoho rally members who had started their cruise from Seattle a little before us and came across the mouth of the Sea of Cortez to explore the south part of the Mexican Pacific coast. Now they were heading back north to explore the Sea of Cortez for the rest of the season. We traded “gotta sees” over sundowners and made plans to go snorkeling in the morning.
The best snorkeling area was along the protected bay of the little island on the south side of Chamela. It was about a 4 mile dinghy ride. On the north side of that little island were some sea caves that, of course, I wanted to check out on the way. The seas were up that morning making a bumpy ride and making it hard to get very close to the caves, darn! Sea caves are difficult to explore! We went around to the other side of the island and thankfully it was flat calm, crystal clear, and warm. The snorkeling was good with colorful little fish in amongst the dark rocks. It always amazes me that this whole other world is here under the water but I can’t see it until I don my mask and look. We explored the beach as well, sugar soft sand, interesting rock formations, and an old palapa. Was it used for parties or tourists after snorkeling? It appeared that it was really nice at one time in the past. It was great to spend some time with our friends. Now, another good bye, we likely won’t see them again as they go north and we continue south.
March 12, just one hour away is Paraiso with great kayaking according to the guide book but not good for overnight anchoring. We planned to kayak, have lunch, and continue on to Tenacatita (fun to say!). We were on our way at 8:30 and ready to kayak by 10. It was unbelievable! Giant rocks shot up out of the water with little pools of still water in between. We explored blow holes, caves, and crevices. Awesome! The ocean swell back at the boat was about four to five feet. Sacagawea was dancing up a storm, teeter tottering up and down when she faced the swell then rock and rolling when she was side-to the swell. I put on quite the circus show as I tried to get out of the kayak and back aboard. Under normal conditions I can just reach my knee onto the step to get aboard. It is too high (or am I too short?) for me to reach my foot up to the step. With the waves, I had to balance on the kayak then time my knee to reach the step as Sacagawea started down the wave while the kayak was still on top of the wave. Bill made it look easy. We could see why this would not be a good overnight anchorage but it was well worth the effort for the kayak! After lunch, we went on to Tenacatita arriving at 4pm and were welcomed by little rays doing full back flips out of the water. Hi guys!!! We planned to stay here for three nights. Put up the hammock!
The next day we did one of the “gotta sees” from Pasargada. Take a dinghy trip through the mangrove river in Tenacatita to the end then walked over to the beach. We could see the river mouth opening because there were white water breakers marking it. Yikes! We waited until high tide and ventured out toward the white water. Our new theme song sung to the tune of “Hi Ho the Dairy Oh” is: “Adventuring we go! Adventuring we go! Hi ho we’re crazy-o, adventuring we go!” We watched the sets of breakers and couldn’t time a smooth one so we decided to rev the dinghy quickly on the back of one roller through to the little beach on the other side and portage it around the corner to the calm water. I held on to the painter ready to leap like a cat AFTER we touched the sand and pull Pomp away from the next wave. It worked! We are getting good!
The mangrove river was beautiful and once we got to the part that was a tunnel of shade, heavenly! After about an hour, the river opened onto a lagoon and we could see a beach with a panga on the other side. We headed over and pulled up Pomp. A short walk along a sandy trail brought us to the beach lined with palapa restaurants. Lunch and beer awaited! The guide book described a snorkeling area called “The Aquarium” located at the end of the beach on the other side of the rock formation. We liked the name and definitely wanted to check it out. It must be a good snorkeling spot if it is called “The Aquarium”! We started hiking toward the rock formations about a mile away. When we got close we could see other people hiking over the rocks and we followed. Wow! It was a little lagoon of volcanic rock, like an aquarium! We found a little hidey-hole in the rock cliff to change into our snorkeling gear. We eased into the cool water, about 75 degrees (we have become cold water wimps since leaving the PNW). It was really good snorkeling! Bill and I always hold hands when we snorkel and I love it! We can share all of the cool things we are seeing, “Oh, coooo, ook a a! Uh el oh un” (Translation of thru-snorkel language: “Oh, cool! Look at that, a yellow one!”) Also, we never worry about losing track of each other.
Back at the beach, we changed out of snorkeling gear and headed for lunch. Shrimp and beer on the beach, life is good! We made it back down the river, through the opening and breaking waves safely, flopped into the hammock and didn’t do another thing all day! That trend continued the next day, mixing in some chores with hammock time. It felt good to slow down. Tomorrow we would head out again.
As we swung in the hammock watching a beautiful sunset we received a text from our friends on Radiance that made our hearts drop. A message to our friend Kelly confirmed- our friend Bill on The Cat had gone missing at sea. His boat and loyal dog Stogie had washed up on the beach near Marina Puerto Escondido without Bill. There was no evidence of any foul play, his wallet was easily found aboard with all contents intact, and Stogie was in fine shape. Bill had been crossing the Sea of Cortez from where we had last seen him in San Carlos to haul his boat out and head back to California to do some work and see his daughter. Someone who was supposed to join him to crew across had dropped out at the last minute, so he opted to make the crossing solo. A search was on for him- he was a diver and comfortable in the water… We tried to prop up Kelly on the phone as best we could, then sat and cried quietly, looking at the wind chime he had made us for Christmas.