Cruising  ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~  February 2009

Costa Dorada, Part II ~ Waaay too much fun



February along the Costa Dorada on the Mexican coastline was clear, warm but not hot, purrrrfect weather. Daytime temperatures were in the low to mid-80s and the nights cooled off nicely. The water was changing – one day or for a few days it might be crystalline clear, then a few days of cloudy water, back to clear, etc. - but the water was still very nice temperature-wise. 



                                     Squeak & Toes think the cruising life is just purrrrfect, toooooo


The Cat’s Meow mosey’d on down the coast a very few miles to Barra de Navidad, a very friendly and interesting village. “Barra”, as the cruisers call it, is a vacation spot for Mexicans who want to get away from the big cities inland, and for a number of norteamericanos, many of whom are from Canada. There is a big fancy marina, but most of the cruising boats anchor in a VERY shallow lagoon, which is accessed by carefully (VERY carefully) using the narrow channel that leads from the ocean to the lagoon. Many a cruiser has found him/herself aground in mud, and almost every day a bunch of captains leap into their dinghies to push someone out of the mud and back into the channel. Another thing about this particular lagoon is that it is often windy, with winds in the 20-25+ knot range for two to four days at a time. And, since it is so shallow (nine to 11 feet!), the winds often move boats around. The captains will respond to a call of “boat on the move” on the VHF radio and stop, move, re-anchor boats…..all in those hefty winds. Aaaahh yes, it can be an exciting place! One of the many nice things about the lagoon at Barra is the water taxi, which can be called on the VHF, and costs less than $2.50US for a round-trip ride from your boat to the village. When it is windy and wet getting to & from the village, this service is really appreciated!! Another great service here is the French Baker – wow….now THIS is nice…. This gentleman from France fell in love with a Mexican lady, has two children and two cats, and a very nice bakery in the village. During the cruising season, approximately December through April, he brings his baked goods out to the marina and the lagoon boats, every morning!! YUM! One can gain a few pounds eating those delicious breads, croissants (chocolate and almond ones…oooohhhh…), pies, etc. 


                                                               Boats anchored in the Barra de Navidad lagoon                                      Martin & Irwin help Terry of Mija re-anchor                                                                               Mija back where she should be    




                                                                                                                                                                   “Zee French baker at your service”


Cruisers like Barra because of the quaintness of the village and the people there. The Sands Hotel welcomes people from the boats and allows us to tie-up our dinghies with no fee, and to use their pool and restaurant. It is soooo nice to walk all over the village, finding the fresh produce and other groceries and of course parts for the boats, all in the heat, and then to be able to sit down and have a “cold one” and maybe even slip into the pool at the Sands. One fine Sunday afternoon, it just sorta came to be that there were a number of talented cruising musicians in Barra, who got together and jammed – jazz and blues!! – for the entire afternoon at the Sands. The hotel welcomed anyone to watch, provided free snacks, and it was one helluva great afternoon! Of course, the hotel benefits from the cruiser’s patronage, and we appreciate the hotel’s support. 



                         The Sands Hotel pool & pool-side bar                                                                             Church in Barra de Navidad                                                                                   New interior of the church, Barra                                     



February is the “heart” month, right? Another time to think about love, friends, family……

Tom S. is a really good guy who lives on his boat in La Paz, and he has a very informational website called the Baja Insider, which provides news and information about the Baja peninsula. We have known Tom for quite a few years…but we never expected to find him over here on the mainland. He hailed us one day on the VHF radio and invited us to his wedding a few days away!! WOW. We didn’t even know Tom had a lady friend…. This was a really cool wedding. The wedding was held at the Sands Hotel, attended by cruisers who were in the Barra area that have known Tom and/or his long-time friend and now wife, Katrina. Tom is about 6’5” while Kat doesn’t break into the five-foot range. They had an interesting wedding, and we hope it is the beginning of a long and happy life together.



                Katrina being escorted down the “aisle”                                                                                    Tom and Kat pledge everlasting love                                     




Katrina works aboard a very beautiful yacht. We were lucky enough to get a private tour of the ship when we went by to give Tom & Kat some photos of their wedding.

Oooops……did we mention that we traded “straight across” for our boats?? 


Martin’s new boat……   Ha ha! 


After some good times in Barra, we took TCM down the coast just a few more miles to the large bay of Manzanillo. Manzanillo is a very busy, large city, and a major port. We parked The Cat’s Meow in the much quieter, calmer, cleaner southern portion of the bay, quite a distance from the hussle & bustle of the city. We were near the village of Santiago and a few of the other beach towns. Palapa restaurants on the beach, party boats & banana boats and unfortunately some jet skis share the area, but most of the time it is very tranquilo.



                                       Beach & anchorage at Santiago bay


However, just after putting the hook down, friends on Sea Chantey called from the neighboring cove, saying that the water was wonderful, visibility grand, and that we should get on over there! So, we did. We pulled up the anchor and moved to Carizal cove, where we immediately put on dive gear and got in the water. This was the first SCUBA dive for Robin in about 18 months, but she had no trouble re-adjusting – this was a shallow but marvelous dive. The corals were so colorful, and they were everywhere, with so many fish one could hardly see the corals! It was grand! It felt so good, we planned to dive again the next day…..but, the “jellies” came in the next morning, by the gajillions, so there was no more diving. Boo.  We returned to Santiago where there at least were not flotillas of jelly fish.


We did however have a chance that same afternoon to be part of a surprise birthday party to honor Kathy, admiral of the nice motor vessel Spirit Quest. The folks aboard Sea Chantey planned it all, and a good time was had by all, too!



                                                                Kathy & Doug at her surprise birthday bash                                                                 Alice? If ya know what we mean…..THIS is Alice (the yellow one)


Finally, after not seeing each other for about two years (and a little more…), Jaye & Irwin of the sailing vessel Winsome were finally in the same place as we were, and we were soooo glad to see each other!! Of course, we hugged and smiled and ate food together! Martin and Irwin worked on boat problems and projects together (for both boats!) while Robin & Jaye caught up, did a lot of hugging, and just enjoyed being together again.



                             Jaye & Irwin, some good friends of ours                                                                         Winsome, under sail                                                                                                           Dining on Winsome


While in the Santiago area, we also spent time with ex-cruisers (Sol Mate) MJ and Stan, who have been working on remodeling their “project house” in Santiago. These two are very helpful to the cruisers who come into this area, as they know where and how to find just about anything for boats and for cruisers, assist us in getting to some of the places and in learning “the ropes” about the area. We enjoyed going to the local soccer games on Sunday afternoons, to the farmer’s market on Saturdays, finding the great bread store, and having a fun afternoon at their home with a whole bunch of other cruising folks.  One afternoon found a whole bunch of cruisers at a local “botanero”, a kind of a restaurant, having waaaay toooo much fun!



                                   Stan & MJ’s house                                                                           Cruiser’s get-together photo at that house                                                                                          Stan the Man



                                       Farmer’s market, Santiago                                                                                     Buying fish at the fish market                                                                          A funnn afternoon at a botanero


We had been enjoying many (!!) good times on Sea Chantey, Spirit Quest, and Wirewalker – almost every day or night we were on one or the other boat for appetizers, drinks, and/or dinner. Finally, Robin had a chance to invite all of those folks to TCM for a night of “salads and deserts” – kind of a variation on the normal pot-luck. Everyone brought a salad or a desert and we enjoyed them all over The Cat’s Meow!


                                                                                      Salads & deserts on The Cat’s Meow…..what else does one need??


Whew! Well, I guess we finally have worked our way through the month of February! It was a busy one, and a really fun one, with lots of good places, good times, and great people. Please, come back to see what else we have done here, Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style…….