Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bahia Chamela to Bahia Tenacatita February 14 – 18

The weather in Bahia Chamela remained a bit overcast during our visit, but we managed a couple of trips to the beach for lunch.  With each trip we improved our surf landing skills, but we are still struggling a bit with surf departures – and are not confident that we can avoid getting soaked one direction or the other.  We also had a couple of strolls through the little beach-side town of Perula.  Perula is one of those towns strung along a stretch of dusty highway that cause a traveler, when viewing it from the window of a bus, to wonder “who lives here and what do they do for a living?”.  The answer becomes clearer when you visit Perula by foot.  Along the highway are a number of abarotes (groceries) and tiendas (general purpose stores) and one very good pollo asada (grilled chicken) stand.  There is also an estetica (beautician’s shop), which, even though Molly has been agonizing (boringly) over what to do about her “sailor’s hair”, she was just not up to trying.  And of course there is the requisite “beach infrastructure” – small hotels and a couple of camper trailer parks.

Our trip from Chamela to Tenacatita started as a Valentine’s Day trip to an anchorage 8 miles south in a tiny cove called “Paraiso”.  We thought “Paradise Cove” would be a fitting place to spend our Valentine’s Day.  However, as we approached Paraiso, we peaked around the corner and the anchorage looked really rolly due to the high swells, even in the morning’s very low winds.  Our imaginations led us to wonder what a night in “Paradise” would be like if the winds picked up (as they often due in the afternoon and evening) – and with the memories of our nights at Yelapa fresh in our minds, we decided to press on another 20-ish miles to Bahia Tenacatita and forego the romance of a rolly anchorage. 
The trip to Tenacatita was uneventful but productive.  We motored, which had the triple purpose of (a) keeping us moving in a 5 knot breeze; (b) replenishing our batteries, which were quite low (solar power is great . . . until you spend several days anchored in the rain); and (c) making water, which requires a lot of power and is best done when the engine is running if the batteries are low due to lack of sun.  We were treated to a whale show as we were chickening out of a night in Paradise Cove, where we saw four or perhaps more whales – they don’t stay in one place to be counted -- cavorting.  We were finally able to sail around 15.30 (batteries topped, water made, winds finally at 12 knots), and we arrived in Tenacatita in time to anchor and have a Valentine’s Day beer by 18.00. 

The weather in Tenacatita was also a bit overcast, but not rainy.  The anchorage at Tenacatita is more remote than the anchorage in Chamela, and by times the surf landings are more difficult.  We of course managed to time ourselves perfectly on occasion and one particular departure was so spectacularly soggy it caused several cruisers to give us unsolicited advice on dinghy departures (we have been wondering if we should actually charge for some of this entertainment . . .)! 
There is an estuary off of the bay to the village of Tenacatita, and after Bryce figured out how to get us over a sand bar between us and the estuary, we took a dinghy tour about an hour back into the jungle. 

The atmosphere was very "Africa Queen" - lots of mangrove trees and jumping fish - and the occasionl speeding fisherman.

We were entertained by a flock of five white herons (we think that’s what they were – anyone know?) and several other birds that were more difficult to photograph. 

Alas, we did not see any crocodiles, even though they were seen by a commercial trip that went up the estuary the day before. 

The biggest nature thrill, however, was in reponse to a shout-out on the radio one morning.  A call to the Tenacatita fleet reported that one of the other boaters, while rooting around in his boat's bilge, had heard whale calls.  Sure enough, when we lifted the cabin sole and put our heads in the bilge (fortunately we have a relatively clean bilge!) we could hear whale music.  It was spectacular.  No one actually saw whales in the bay that morning, so we must have been hearing sounds from quite some distance - but they were clearly whale songs; very beautiful and wild. 

On an interesting, non-natural world point, Bahia Tenacatita is also the home of an all-inclusive resort named Hotel Blue Bay.  We walked to the resort one day to ask about the cost of a day pass which proved to be too expensive, but gave us a chance to download and send some e-mails.  We were interested in the fact that most of the signs about activities around the resort were in Cyrillic – and even those that were not were in a language that we couldn’t identify.  Clearly the marketers at Hotel Blue Bay have an in with the tourist industry in – Russia -- some other place in Eastern Europe? 

Later that day our question was answered.  We were entertained by a film / video crew shooting along the beach and at the little palapa restaurant near the anchorage – including using one of the local waitresses as a cast member.  The story line wasn’t clear, but the main actor looked like an American soap opera doctor and the main actress seemed spectacularly uninterested in him (and everything else around her).  When we asked one of the production crew what they were doing, we learned they were shooting Paradise Beach – a very popular reality TV show in . . . Hungary!  And it was confirmed that Hotel Blue Bay was indeed a popular destination for Russians and Hungarians.  How international!  For those of you not planning on visiting Hungary in time to catch this episode of Paradise Beach, here’s a bit of what you’re missing:

Several boats we knew from other anchorages or marinas (Cuba Libre, Buena Vida and Damiana) were at Tenacatita with us, which was fun.  Seeing them made us feel part of the cruiser community – even if we’re still “freshmen” members.  And, we were there for the “Mayor’s Raft-up” – a cruiser’s event not to be missed.  Apparently every Friday during the sailing season someone from the crew of a boat in the anchorage takes on the exalted position of “Mayor of Bahia Tenacatita” (it seems to be a self-appointed position) and sponsors a dinghy raft-up.  This sponsorship requires the “Mayor” to anchor his/her dinghy near a very calm area of shore known (for reasons we have not been able to discern) as “Good Dog Beach” and invite all other dinghies in the anchorage to tie up together (raft-up) and bring drinks, an appetizer to share, books and CDs to swap – and a story to tell. 

So we spent Friday evening listening to the “how I named my boat and where I’ve been with her” stories of about 15 boats, eating a pot-luck assortment of food (and being very sorry we arrived too late for the brownies – there were only 12, apparently . . . ) and swapping books.  Molly has already finished 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith which we got in trade for Travels of a Female Nomad by Rita Goldman Gelman – and insists that we got the better of the trade.  Interestingly, tucked into that book was a CD of The Scorpion King III in Spanish.  We can’t wait.  
Having made it to the weekly social highlight of Bahia Tenacatita, and in order to depart in time to meet our friends and former crew Frank Chan and Irene deBruijn Chan in Puerto Vallarta for part of their honeymoon (everyone needs a friend or two to meet on one’s honeymoon, don’t you think?), we departed Bahia Tenacatita on the 18th.  Our trip was made safer because of the weather reports gathered and shared by Roy and Marlene from Damiana, for which we are grateful.  But it wasn’t actually the weather that made that trip challenging.  That story is to come! 

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