A Sailing Trip On The Mexican Coast

2-19 I was up at 8 for breakfast. After packing I was of at 9:30 to drive to Barra. The highways were great, but so were the tolls $40 for 150 miles. At 3pm, I was very hot and found a very nice water park for $4. So I stopped and swam for a hour and a half.

At 5:00 I got to Barra and called Anamchara on my marine radio and on the second attempt there they were. I left the car a nice hotel off by itself and headed off with Pete and Tristan to the boat. The boat was in the marina across the bay from Barra. Dinner was at a nice small restaurant in Barra. You get a water taxi for $1 to go back and forth.

2-20 Up at 8 to listen to the single sideband net. They get all their news and weather from the net, which extends from LA to Panama. Then it is off to the pools. The pools are on several levels and joined by water slides. What fun. The kids and I played most all day. Haylee met a friend Loran who she played with all day. It was Haylee's birthday and so dinner was special at the Italian restaurant with Jack and Annie, as well as Loran.

Feb 21
Up at 8. After breakfast Pete and I headed over to town to check out of the port. After filling out the paperwork, we had to pay for it at a bank. However there aws no bank at that town, so we took a bus trip to the next town. While there we bought groceries and stopped to talk to a fellow from Kalispell, who was staying at a trailer court there. Then back to Barra to prove we had paid and finalize the checkout process. You have to do that at every major port. It is the same thing while checking in. You have to be very patient to travel in Mexico.
Then we hit the pool for the rest of the day. Dinner in town followed by some shopping.

Feb 22
We left Barra and motored to Tenacatita. At the far end of the bay, is a small river here that flows in from a mangrove swamp.
We went a shore and surfed for a while. Then we saw a bunch of kids playing by the river and so we went over to meet them.
Many were from the Seattle area. They were building beach forts and swimming.
We joined in with the fun. Supper was in the boat. We invited Loran over since they had now arrived in our area. Later we watched a movie.

Feb 23
Up at 8 and did chores and school work until about 11. Then we headed on up the Jungle Cruse-a 4-mile trip up a small river through Mangroves.
There were egrets, pelicans, and many other birds on the trees alone the way.
Sometimes the river was so narrow that the branches of the mangrove trees brushed us.
This was a problem since there were many small crabs hanging on the branches and would pinch if they fell on you.

After an hour or so we got to an area where we could walk about 100 years to the beach. There was a beautiful breach with Palapas (little restaurants under tents that serve beer and Mexican food-usually very good and not expensive), and people surfing. We met a family from Winnipeg that they had met before. The kids and I went buggy boarding and I spent a while teaching their little girl, Nonick, to surf. She did well. Then we all had lunch on the shore with the family.

After dinner Pete Tristan and I went snorkeling in a beautiful coral reef pond. We saw manta rays, and many small beautifully colored fish. We snorkeled over many the reefs for more than an hour. I could not get over how beautiful all those little colored fish where. Many had bright fluorescent colors. On the way out, I got in too shallow water and a wave wash we over the coral I got scratches all over my tummy, but it was definitely worth it. After some more surfing we dinghied back through the mangroves and out to the boat.

Feb 24
Off for breakfast at La Manzanilla. We took the boat and motored south about 2 miles. Then we dinghied into this beautiful little village. We had breakfast with Nonick's family whose niece runs the restaurant. The children played with a young Mexican girl who spoke English. After breakfast we went to the crocodiles Preserve and saw many crocodiles.
Then we were off for the north. We sailed most of the day with nice winds. Later, however the winds got wilder and we were happy to see port at The Bay of Chemela. There is a many mile long beach and two beautiful islands.

Feb 25
Up at 8 to listen to the Amigo net and weather. The weather could turn bad in a day or so and so we headed for the gorgeous beach on the south side of Colorado Island. There we swan and snorkeled in extremely clear warm water. Again there was coral and all kinds of fish beautifully colored or very oddly shaped. Later I climbed this cactus cover island and took pictures of the surf on the windward side. That a magnificent island. Pete said they felt it was the best they had seen in Mexico.


Later it clouded up and the wind came up, but we were well sun baked, or waterlogged and happy to go back to the boat. Later the Boy's went to town to get groceries and 10 gals of water. Even these very small towns have fruit, eggs, some bread, some cooked meat, and potable water. Going back out into to surf, can be very exciting. You have to watch for a calm period, run the dinghy out, start the motor and gun it. Once 10-15 ft out you are fine, but if you hit it wrong, anything can happen. Once in this vary spot, one of Pete's friend's lost this weeks shopping after overturning. We got almost out and a huge wave came and we got all wet. Groceries were fine though except for 2 eggs (they come only in plastic bags).
During dinner we were visited by 4 dolphins who bobbed around our boat for an hour or more.

Feb 26
We are still here and waiting for the winds to go down. Don says tomorrow. Pete and I go to shore for water and food. Then I write in this journal. As I write, sitting in the cockpit, there are dolphins swimming by and a huge pelican sitting in the water near me. Later we all go ashore and have pizza. A lady in one of the strores will make it to take out. She is good and we have American style Pizza.

The weather forecaster was right. It rained all night and was overcast this morning. A good time for catch up and school work. Later in the day we went to shore and raced on the beach and had dinner. The choice is the same a all the palapas, Fish, Shrimp, or salad. This town lives on Sea foods. Cost for a nice meal of shrimp is 650 pesos ($6). In the evening, we watched a movie.

Feb 27

Beautiful morning, but Don the weather man says winds to 30 knots all day so we stay. We need gas for the generator, so Pete and I head off in the dinghy and along the shore for about 5 miles. It is kind of wavy over there, 3 ft breakers, but we manage to find a pretty good spot and get to shore dry. We walk the beach for a few blocks and find a vacant house. No it is not vacant, an old lady comes out. We explain in broken Spanish that we want gasolina. She understands and points to the main path and says, "No! quarto Kilometer," (then points to a smaller path, "uno kilometers". We are off. Something is following us in the dense undergrowth. We hope it is not a wild boar. She is right. In a few minutes we get to a highway. Two gringos carrying a gas can, well of course the first pickup stops and we climb in the back. Soon he stops and points to a tent and says "Gasolina". Sure enough they had several 10 gal cans of gas. He sucked on his hose and siphoned 2 gals into our can. $3 per gal was much better then walking another 10 km. Then it was off to find food. We found a meat dealer, cleaning up his charcoal grill. I had a piece of beef on taco shell. Try some of my really hot sauce. I shouldn't have but I did. When I left, my mouth was on fire and I quickly went and found an ice cream cone to cool it off. When we were ready to go back, we asked a pickup if we could ride uno kilo and we were off. When we got back the waves were much bigger than before. Still we managed a very dry departure thru the waves. However, it didn't make much difference since we were fighting 4 ft waves and each one sprayed us.

After showering and changing clothes I went to shore with the grandkids. We all had fun playing soccer and having a sand ball fight. Later I sat on the sand and watch all the Mexican children playing on the beach. They are all so cute. At 5:30, Pete came in to get us, and we looked over all the palapas. Really all there was was sea food and so we went to the boat for dinner. We watch the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" in the evening.

Feb 28
We are still here and waiting for the winds to go down. Don says tomorrow. Pete and I go to shore for water and food. Then I write in this journal. As I write, sitting in the cockpit, there are dolphins swimming by and a huge pelican sitting in the water near me. Later we all go ashore and have pizza. A lady in one of the strores will make it to take out. She is good and we have American style Pizza.
Mar 1
We are up at 4am. Since it is calm, we are going to make the most of our time. Winds will be wild by noon. We are guided by the Southern Cross, low in the south sky, but very visible. Now we know we are really south (19 deg to be exact). There are swells, but no chop. We watch 3 other boats on our radar. They are coming out after us. We have all waited to go and now is the time. We can see the waves fairly well by the light of a half moon. The sea stays calm until dawn as we motor alone. By 11 we have a 4 ft chop on the 10 ft swells, but we are almost there. By 12:30 we are safe in Ipala. Well sort of safe. We watch the serf crashing and throwing water 20ft above the rocks, about 300 ft in from us. That anchor had better hold. We go ashore to watch the waves. Dinner is early and we head to bed.

Mar 2
We are up at 4 am again to make a race to Porto Vallarta. This time there are clouds and no moon. We cannot see anything ahead of us. The radar and GPS keep us away from the shore, but we hope there isn't anything floating out there. At 6 am, two huge cruise ships pass us a few miles out. By noon we are in Porto Vallarta. We anchor and go in to visit for an hour with Hintz and Diana Irriger. They have a beautiful condo right on the shore. There is no room in the marina, so we anchor in a harbor just north of PV. Dinner in Philos, a nice restaurant with some American food.

Mar 3
Up at 8, and pack to go back to the mainland. I am off by taxi to PV, and then on the bus south. The area just south of PV is really beautiful. The road is cut out of a steep mountain side and runs right about the crashing surf.

We stopped in many small villages and even became a school bus picking up about 20 children for a while. At 5 pm I was back in Barra and back to my car.

Mar 4
Up at 8 to a beautiful morning. I take a walk around the hotel and see many interesting birds in the mangrove swamps around the hotel. Amoung them are egrets and flamingos. The manager of the hotel learns I do web pages and asks we out to breakfast to discuss me doing his web page. We talk until noon. Then I am off to Downtown Barra to shop and see the sand spit out from town.

Later I go over to Malaque and get a hotel for $25 a night. It is right in town on the beach. I go shopping and then have dinner a few yards form the crashing surf. Then I walk the beach and watch the little Mexican children playing in the sand. The beach is about a mile long. The panga drivers have a unique way of getting there boat up on the beach. They simply head straight in at full speed, and cut the motor and pull it up just as they hit the shore. Then the boat slides about 50 ft on up the sandy beach. Great for getting them out, really hard to put back in. These are heavy 25 ft boats with 100 hp motors.

In the evening, I walked the town, which was very alive with activity. Among other things, there was a big concert, by the church, which I think was a big Catholic celebration in honor of the up coming Easter season. Then back to my room. The breakers are so close to my room that they actually shake the building.

Back To Index

The Trip Back

Well, after the Polson group left and the backhoe showed no signs of coming in the next few months, I knew it was time to leave. The group at the base, now my family, thanked me, and thanked me in so many ways. Before I left, they laid hands on me and prayed for my safe trip, a useful future, and to come back! So I left with full confidence that the Lord was with me.

So when the generator failed in my car a few hours later, I was coincident that the Lord was only trying to add to my adventure. And so it was. After realizing the generator was gone and I had only a limited time to drive, I headed for the nearest town-the temp was 95 degs. The battery finally gave up at 5:30 right in the middle of an intersection-no power even to roll the windows up or lock the car. I got out and walked down the block looking for someone who knew English. Finally they lead me to a restaurant owner who knew some English. I showed him my car down the block and said, "Won't run". He yelled at the people in his restaurant and six men got up from their dinner and came out to push. They got me to a small service station and hooked up to a battery charger. Then someone called the auto electric repairman. "He come soon", I was told (I do know "soon" can mean a long time in Mexico). After a few minutes the restaurant owner came back with an ice-cold Coca Cola. He and his friends would not take any money for their services. After about 20 minutes the repairman did come. By then my battery was charged enough to start and follow him. He took me to his shop and in five minutes he had the generator out. He took it apart on his crowded, dirty work bench and showed me the diodes were bad. We had no common language, but both knew how a generator worked, so knew when we had found the problem. He didn't have those diodes, but had an old generator whose back was the same as mine generator. It was pretty dirty and rusty, but we thought it would work. It did and I was back on the road in a few hours for $45. Now I ask you, how many times can you blow a generator at 5:30 in the evening and be back on the road and drive two hundred miles that evening--not very often in the USA. I would rather break down in Mexico than the US.

I slept in the car in a rest area on the Toll Way. It was guarded and safe, though a little noisy since these rest areas are always right by a tollbooth, and the trucks are always going through their gears as they resume speed.

The next night I stayed at Chihuahua, a large US type city. It is fast and expensive, but on the way out of town I found an older motel with a sign out saying 150 pesos. He, however, had a special price for Americanos, 200 pesos. Still $18 is pretty cheep for a motel where the lower floor is a garage and the upper floor my room. The garage had a door on it closing everything in.

The next day I went through the border without any trouble, then on up to NW New Mexico where I hit a snowstorm. What a change.

The next day I visited Mesa Verdi and toured 600 year old Indian castles. It was most interesting.


Finally, after a nice stay in an American Motel, I drove north over 10,200 ft Lizard Head Pass and down into Telluride. The area had received a foot of snow in the last few days, but on my day, it was clear and warm. The sites of those 14,000 ft peaks all around me, were magnificent. Telluride is a beautiful little town, but very touristy and expensive.


From there I stopped at The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This new national park is really unusual. The canyon is only half as deep as the Grand Canyon, but less that one tenth as far across. Then you look at the river down there, it's almost straight down. No one rides rubber rafts through there.


From there I headed on home.

Back To Index