Though I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, it has been difficult to put words together for the blog. With all that has been going on in the world, writing about cruising in Mexico on a sailboat just hasn’t seemed appropriate. That said, I know people are wondering what we’ve been doing aboard Yahtzee over the past few months. Also, hurricane season is now upon us so we’ve had to make decisions about what’s on tap for the summer and fall. Here’s the rundown on what our hearty crew has been up to.
While working on Yahtzee in Mazatlán in March, Covid-19 was ramping up and cruisers throughout Mexico (and the world) were scrambling to figure out what to do next. Our plan for the spring and summer had been to sail north to the Sea of Cortez (SOC), but that changed. Boats from the mainland side of Mexico were flocking in droves towards the Sea while restrictions on the Baja peninsula were being put in place, and it just didn’t strike us as the place we wanted be.
With everyone and their uncle heading towards the SOC, we decided to go against the grain and sail south instead. Boy are we glad we did. Wanting to be around few other boats and away from large cities, we pointed Yahtzee’s bow back to a place we’d loved but only explored a small portion of during the winter—Bahia Chamela on the Gold Coast south of Banderas Bay. A big plus to this plan, too, was being able to join up with our friends on Arrow and, for the first month, a fellow Alaskan family on SV Apsara. We’d come to call ourselves the “Quaranteam”.
After a stop on Isla Isabel, we sailed into Bahia Chamela in early April and didn’t realize at the time that we’d be spending over two months cruising in basically a 5-by-8 mile rectangle of coast. Fortunately, we chose the perfect spot to be. The bay has about a dozen uninhabited islands of varying sizes and five anchorages that we rotated through based on weather and swell and where our Quaranteam wanted to hang out. Sometimes we’d sit in one spot for a week or more and it was immensely satisfying to slow down and take the time to just chill out, swim, fish, SUP, do schoolwork with the boys, work, and get a few things done on the boat.
At the top of the bay is the small beachside town of Punta Perula where we went every week or ten days to restock on food, water, and, of course, brewskis. For the first five or six weeks when everything but stores were closed, we’d only send one adult per boat into town and the kids congregated on a boat to play.
We met a really nice couple in Perula that live on an estuary and they graciously let our crews park dinghies by their house while getting the essentials nearby. They also helped us get propane, gas and diesel, and they had a friend who sells engines which allowed us to finally get a new outboard!
Throughout our time in the bay, we came across very few other cruisers—most of which were transiting north—and we were never approached by the Mexican Navy or police. When we did see police in Perula, they simply waved with a smile and “Hola!”. Beaches were closed for a stretch of time, and we made the best of it by having dinghy raft ups off an epic surf break (surfing was fine as long as we didn’t go on the beach). Which meant surfing, lots of surfing! If the coronavirus has done anything, it has definitely turned the Yahtzee crew into a full fledged surf-crazy family.
One of the pluses of being in Bahia Chamela while most of Mexico was shuttered was that we were only 30-miles north of the town and marina at Barra de Navidad. The marina at Grand Isla Navidad Resort in Barra is a designated hurricane hole and we wanted to be nearby as the storm season dawned.
Now that tropical depressions are starting to pop up out in the Pacific, we’ve secured a slip at the marina and are shutting down Yahtzee for the summer and into the fall. Fortunately, the beach in Barra is open for surfing, the pool is open at the resort and there is a tight knit community of cruisers and friends here to socialize with.
November marks the end of hurricane season, which means that we have time to visit family, knock out a few boat projects and formulate a new plan over the summer before we set sail once again in the fall. Life certainly has its twists and turns, and all we can do is make the best of where we and who we’re with.