Looking skyward from our dinghy, I watch dozens of dark brown frigate birds whirl overhead in continually shrinking circles. They soon begin to dive all around the small cove, hitting the water with a splash, setting the blue-green sea into a boiling commotion. FISH!! The assault is on, and I gun our little boat towards Yahtzee in a hurry to be apart of it.
Grabbing a rod and following the lead of local fisherman pouring off the beach to join the birds in the feeding frenzy, I drive a few boat lengths and cast, then troll slowly. In a flash, my right arm is jerked back and I put the engine in neutral with my left. Pulling back sharply with both hands, the rod bends hard, the hook is set, and the fight begins. Not wanting to lose the prize, I play it in, let it try to run, and then reel in some more. Slowly but surely, it comes to the surface and I pull the silver and yellow beauty into the dinghy. It’s Thanksgiving Day, and my immediate thought is: “Well, our dinner plans just changed!”
Our traditional chicken dinner (couldn’t find a turkey) with as many trimmings as we can assemble gets postponed a day and we quickly alter our menu. Instead, we head to the beach at Isla Ixtapa (aka Isla Grande) and take our catch to a waterside restaurant where it is filleted and grilled to our liking and then served with fresh tortillas, salad, rice, beans, and, of course, cold beverages to wash it all down. To be sure, it’s a Thanksgiving we’ll never forget.
No Hurry, No Worry
We’d been anchored at Isla Ixtapa for nearly two weeks at that point and weren’t in a hurry to do much else or move much farther — and by much farther I mean 8 miles to Bahia Zihuatanejo. Alas, we headed south and dropped the hook off the main part of the city to begin exploring. Other cruisers gush about Zihuatanejo, and we quickly found out why. Just up from the main beach are blocks of shops, restaurants, and bars with only a few roads accesible to cars. The rest of the streets — lined with colorful flags, flowers, and art — are pedestrian only, which makes the neighborhood easy to navigate, especially with a 5 and 7 year old. As with other places we’ve visited in Mexico recently, Covid-19 precautions are in place and people are wearing masks. What I imagine would be a bustling epicenter of tourist activity in non-pandemic times was largely devoid of crowds.
Apart from town, the bay is ringed with beaches on three sides and we figured it wise to explore each and every one. Accordingly, we moved Yahtzee about a mile south and anchored off the beach at Playa la Ropa. This is the quintessential palm tree lined Mexican beach with clear blue water, soft sand, and numerous waterfront restaurants. At nearby Playa las Gatas we snorkeled over a reef and walked out to a point to see if the surf was running. It wasn’t. But not to worry. We got word soon after from our good friends on the J/120 SUR who we cruised with last season that they were bound for Isla Ixtapa from points farther north and were ready to ride some waves.
We bid Bahia Zihuatanejo farewell with a promise to return and headed north to our lovely nook at Isla Ixtapa to rendezvous with SUR. Meeting up with cruising friends after a long pause is always a joyous occasion and this one was no exception. We picked up right where we left off in February and made plans to find some surf. Indeed, we did.
Just north of Isla Ixtapa at Playa Linda we found breaking waves in deep-ish water where Rio Ixtapa dumps out into the Pacific Ocean. The first day, we were the only surfers out in the lineup and it seemed like a dream come true. Our crews spent hours each day playing in the waves and sun, and were thoroughly tired when we retreated back to the anchorage at Isla Ixtapa at days end. With our surf appetite whetted but not fully satisfied, we moved north to a well known surf hotspot on the Pacific coast — Troncones. There are several good surfing locations in this area and we found our honey hole with a solid breaking wave and mostly sand bottom. Anchoring out off the sets, the beauty of the area was in full effect; rolling waves, sand beach, and swaying palm trees, all backed by tall green mountains. Truly the things dreams are made of.
From fishing for Thanksgiving dinner to surfing with friends, lazing away multiple days in a single anchorage and exploring a new city, our weeks spent around Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo have been idyllic. As is always the case, particularly as 2020 comes to a rapid close, our crew remains forever grateful for this life we live. Yes, there are challenges and a few bumps along the way, but the overarching sentiment is that there’s still no place like home aboard Yahtzee, no matter where we happen to roam.
Lots More Pics…