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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Inland trip to Colima and Comala

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The crew of Slappey kept (deliberately) missing weather windows to head back north, even though waves of boats were leaving with each one. As such, we decided to take a little bus trip inland to the capital of the State of Colima. It was only a 2 hour trip, on a very nice long-distance bus, as nice as any train or even airplane could be these days. We passed the port city of Manzanillo, and climbed a bit in elevation to Colima, with a very nice view of the two volcanoes which sit outside of Colima, one of which is quite active these days. You can see some plumes of smoke belching from it in the photos. Colima is not really a tourist town, but it is surrounded by ‘places of interest,’ such as the little magical pueblo of Comala. We spent a day walking around Comala, and visited the former hacienda of Nogueras. It was historically a sugar cane plantation, owned by the family of the famous Colima artist and designer  Alejandro Rangel Hildalgo. He lived with his family on the hacienda, and later kept his studio there. It is now a beautifully restored museum run by the University of Colima. We really liked the art and furniture of Hildalgo, and noticed that someone from Disney and Pixar probably liked him, too, as modern-day animated people look just like he painted them years ago. If you Google him, you can see his art, including his series of Christmas cards for Unicef that may look familiar. He also collected some tomb pottery from the area, and a great display of that pottery is in the museum. Our hotel in Colima was an historic building, and our furniture was designed by Hidalgo. All in all, a great little outing. When we returned, though, the deluge began. We had a (very uncharacteristic) March tropical rainstorm which dumped 14 inches of rain on us in about 48 hours. No…not 1.4 inches (which would still be impressive,) but 14 inches. Slappey stayed dry, we stayed dry, but it was not for the faint of heart. It also featured thunder and lightening and higher winds. Eegads!

El Fuego Volcano, with a puff of smoke

El Fuego Volcano, with a puff of smoke

pretty building in the center of Colima

pretty building in the center of Colima

inside, with mural

inside, with mural

on the square, Colima

on the square, Colima

view from the hotel balcony outside our room

view from the hotel balcony outside our room

unusual tree and lush foliage on our walk around Colama

unusual tree and lush foliage on our walk around Comala

there were horses all over Comala, often just tied up outside of homes

there were horses all over Comala, often just tied up outside of homes

a bit closer to the Volcano

a bit closer to the Volcano

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Nogueras, outside of Comala

Nogueras, outside of Comala

part of the museum

part of the museum

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aquaduct on the property; not sure if it still serves a purpose

aquaduct on the property; not sure if it still serves a purpose

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back on the square in Colima

back on the square in Colima

in the Mercado Obregon, Colima

in the Mercado Obregon, Colima

what happens to paradise after 14 inches of rain

what happens to paradise after 14 inches of rain

 

 

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Nuevo Vallarta to Barra de Navidad

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We pulled out of Paradise Village at first light for a long daytime passage around Cabo Corrientes to Ipala, which our guide books told us to skip. At this point, I’ll endure almost anything to avoid another all-nighter, so Ipala it was. We were the only boat, other than several moored fishing pangas, so we found the holding that was forecast to be iffy. Though “blobby,” the water was not really uncomfortable for a short overnight. We’d do it again, but only in very fair weather. Next was another long daytime passage into Bahia Chamela.  We spent five relaxing days at anchor there, in front of the beach. I finally stopped worrying about the sound of pounding surf so close to the boat, and we also got some practice with dinghy surf landings. These have to be timed just right to avoid a big wave flipping your dinghy, or you, upside down. We looked inelegant, I’m sure, but only got a bit wet, and managed to pull the dinghy ashore without too much drama. Chamela was small, and ramshackle, but we did find a Telcel store on the square and were able to recharge our Banda Ancha internet stick. This is important for access to the best weather information. We can get something via SSB radio if need be, but you always want to know more than a mere grib file can give you, so best keep your Telcel stick up to date. We have been able to access (3G) internet from almost everywhere here…even remote anchorages.

After Chamela, we went around to little Paraiso cove, and were thoroughly charmed by the place. There is a small private hotel on the little crescent beach, so you cannot go ashore there, but can swim in the crystal clear water around the boat, and just take in the beauty of the place. It is very small, with room for only 2 or 3 boats if they are anchored bow and stern, as we were. We could have kayaked around and done some snorkeling around the rocks, but the swell made that look like a bad idea. The hotel is small and very quiet; we saw only 5 or 6 people at a time walking around there, or swimming from the beach. We also made water here for the first time. Our little Survivor 40-E watermaker came with the boat, and though it only makes around 1.3 gallons per hour of water, it uses very little energy, so we could run it all day for peanuts. The new solar controllers are working very well, and we are keeping up nicely, so far, with our energy needs.

After Paraiso, we made a short hop to Cuastecomate, which is a small beach resort around the northern side of Bahia Navidad. Where Paraiso was quiet and understated, Cuastecomate was loud and raucous! The music was mostly very traditional, though. I’m taken with how often we hear traditional Mexican music around the area. We got some more surf-landing practice, and had a nice seafood dinner at a palapa on the beach there.

After much dithering about plans….Tenacatita, La Manzanilla, all the way to Las Hadas, Barra de Navidad??? We heard of impending stronger winds and swell from an untoward direction, and opted for Barra de Navidad. The anchorage and hotel are accessed through a winding, narrow, shallow channel, and many people go aground trying to get inside. Tide was up for us, so we didn’t suffer through that, and decided to go into the very picturesque Marina de la Navidad, which lies at the base of a dramatic hill, covered in a beautiful hotel with red-tiled roof. Beyond the hotel, further into the channel, is a large lagoon where many boats opt to anchor. It is very shallow as well, with patchy shoals.  It is also reported that holding is untrustworthy on windy days, so we skipped it. That was probably a bit chicken-hearted…I’m guessing it would do just fine, so perhaps next time we’ll opt for the lagoon. The small town of Barra de Navidad is across the channel entrance from the hotel, so we take a water taxi across when we want to go into town. The taxis are very fast pangas; I loved speeding around in the water taxis.  We are really enjoying it here…..the hotel amenities, the beauty of the place, and the little towns of Barra, and Melaque, (which lies further around the bay and can be accessed by a bus.) We are not alone here, but I can tell the hustle bustle of the cruising season is winding down.  Boats leave to head north with each southerly weather pattern, so we are definitely here at the tail end of the season.  We have not been too late for one of Barra’s most famous cruising amenities though. The French Baker still makes marina rounds in his little boat, and delivers wonderful croissants, baguettes, and pies directly to your boat. In fact, we were met by his little boat at the fuel dock on our way into the marina! It’s all very civilized.

A few more days here, and we will also head north, to begin our trek back towards the Sea of Cortez, where we’ll spend our Summer cruising season. We plan to get across the Sea to La Paz some time in April, so here’s hoping for fair winds and comfortable seas.

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The beach at Chamela; note the surf line

the beach at Paraiso

the beach at Paraiso

a porthole view at Paraiso

a porthole view at Paraiso

Paraiso

Paraiso

a cliffside guano composition I called 'monkey man'

a cliffside guano composition I called ‘monkey man’

more Paraiso..if only the pictures could do it justice

more Paraiso..if only the pictures could do it justice

Slappey at the anchorage in Cuastecomate

Slappey at the anchorage in Cuastecomate

palapas on the beach, Cuastecomate

palapas on the beach, Cuastecomate

John packs up the portaslappey (our dinghy)

John packs up the portaslappey (our dinghy)

first visit from the French Baker, at the fuel dock

first visit from the French Baker, at the fuel dock

the Banyan tree in Barra town

the Banyan tree in Barra town

restaurant by the Banyan tree

restaurant by the Banyan tree

courtyard in Barra; I just liked the colors here

courtyard in Barra; I just liked the colors here

Slappey in front of the hotel

Slappey in front of the hotel

John's ingenious weatherproof wifi antenna; an alpha dongle encased in casting resin

John’s ingenious weatherproof wifi antenna; an alfa dongle encased in casting resin

a palapa restaurant in Colimilla, beyond the hotel on the lagoon

a palapa restaurant in Colimilla, beyond the hotel on the lagoon

skilled thatching on the roof of that palapa

skilled thatching on the roof of that palapa

behind the hotel, as we walked to Colimilla

behind the hotel, as we walked to Colimilla

approaching the back gate of the Grand Bay hotel, Barra de Navidad

approaching the back gate of the Grand Bay hotel, Barra de Navidad

shady, inviting corner at the hotel; it's hot-hot-hot here!

shady, inviting corner at the hotel; it’s hot-hot-hot here!

looking down onto the pool area of the hotel, entrance channel in the background

looking down onto the pool area of the hotel, entrance channel in the background

looking across the entrance channel to the water taxi docks in Barra

looking across the entrance channel to the water taxi docks in Barra

the view from breakfast this morning, Barra de Navidad

the view from breakfast this morning, Barra de Navidad