Mantenchen Bay to La Cruz: 12/21/13
Our departure (7:00am) was uneventful and the trip was very pleasant. We departed expecting to make it into the harbor as sunset but a longline encounter and strong currents near the entrance to Banderas Bay delayed us until dark.
Lots of whales in Banderas Bay but we did not get good pictures. Our camera with a good zoom is very slow and every time we saw a good whale shot it was gone by the time the camera focused and took the picture. Not sure there is a way to improve it.
Entering La Cruz at night, first time, after a day at sea is bad seamanship. The winds were settled and both our charts and radar agreed on the channel and entrance. All the background lights near most harbors make reading the markers a real challenge and this was no different. Carefully we picked our way through the anchored boats and buoys to find the well lit harbor entrance.
We had a slip assignment and talked to the harbor on the VHF radio to confirm. Down the fairway we went to the slip we were assigned only to find we could not fit next to the sailboat sharing the double slip. So, in the dark, with lots of boats sticking out of their slips into the fairway we backed up, got a new slip assignment and made the landing. With little wind this worked out in our favor and our digital short range radar actually showed the fairway and slips in detail. The older long range traditional pulse radar has a dead zone near the vessel that grows as the range grows. It’s blind within 30-75 feet of the boat. We have both and again, glad technology is making our journey safer and easier.
Hi Definition Radar on 300' Range in harbor (Slips next to us are empty and large yacht in front of us)
La Cruz de Haunacaxtle
One of the many things we are learning is there really is no “plan”. One of our favorite boat names belongs to a N57 “NO PLANS”. We expected to stay in La Cruz a few days then move to Paradise Village just east of Puerto Vallarta. Most people we met felt Paradise Village was the best choice in Banderas Bay. For us we felt more at home and comfortable in La Cruz. The harbor is run by a professional team, two great gentlemen, both named Jose, were on the docks at all hours ready to get a taxi, recommend a restaurant or anything else to be helpful. That was their job; they did not do maintenance work or have other obvious duties. Just be there to support the cruising community.
The marina provided wifi, a cruisers VIP lounge with much better wifi and a meeting room for seminars and movie night (First run movies on Thursday). Laundry service was available that brought the clean clothes back to the boat the next day. Multiple workers were all trying to get the washing, waxing and other work needed to maintain a boat in the tropics. Prices were very competitive and a fraction of the San Diego costs. Next to the marina there is a daily fish market and Sunday’s a very large open air market with plenty of local foods and unique items.
The lady in the red hat just out of the picture is a Mexican native who is in her 80’s. Thought I got her in the picture but the food caught center camera.
La Cruz has a very active community of winter gringos and there are several restaurants that bill themselves as “cruisers havens”. Pay a small fee and you get wifi, place to sit and “American” food. Hamburgers, hotdogs and mashed potatoes are popular. For us we want just the opposite. Don’t think we have eaten a traditional sandwich for at least 2 months, tortillas, tacos and fish are the main staples. Rice and beans are available with almost any meal. The portions are huge and the cost is low. We have yet to spend over $500 pesos for 2 dinners. Less than $40US in some very nice restaurants. Lunch is usually less than $300 pesos for two. $22US.
This restaurant is built on a cliff side overlooking the marina. The back wall is a “living wall” of ferns and plants. The owner met us at the door and saw we were well served. We celebrated a special birthday for Dennis of Sea Fox with his wife Julie. They have been cruising for 17 years and the experience they have shared has accelerated our learning curve.
We got very comfortable in La Cruz and found our way around the area by bus and occasionally taxi. Bus ride to Mega (very large grocery store and more), WalMart, or the next town (Bucerias) is $8 pesos ($0.65). Double if you catch the air conditioned bus. Days consisted of getting up with the sun, mopping the dew off the boat, (keeps it very clean), breakfast and then some errand or task. That takes us to lunch, walk into La Cruz for a 1 to 2 hour lunch, a nap and then time to make plans for dinner. Not much excitement for a blog but nice to avoid a schedule or a weekly planner.
Have not worn my watch since November and knowing the day of the week is augmented by looking at my weekly pill case and noticing which slots are empty. Young readers may not relate but bet my peers do.
This is not the cruising we expected and with our upcoming trip to Barra Navidad and anchorages in between more cruising and less marina living should liven up the blog.
Next Posting a trip to Punta Mita in Banderas Bay