Thursday, December 6, 2007


We wish all of our friends and family could enjoy this rustic little village before it becomes an overbuilt tourist attraction. It’s only about 50 miles north of bustling Puerto Vallarta making it inevitable that sooner or later big changes will come. We anchored bow and stern 250 feet off the sandy beach giving us a perfect view of the half dozen palapa restaurants tucked in under rows of palm trees. The hills around Chacala are thick with the intense green vegetation that one finds only in tropical locations. Although the water is not particularly clear it’s a pleasing green color and deliciously warm and inviting. The shore break is relatively mild and we had a good chance to practice our dinghy landings and so far nothing bad has happened, but stay tuned as we try our skills in more difficult locations. Other Ha-Ha participants have been arriving here so we’ve had a chance to renew earlier acquaintances and make some new ones. All hands agree this is a special place and we’re glad for the opportunity to spend a few days before moving on to Punta Mita where our soon to be finished condo is located. If all goes well we should be anchored in front of the condo around November 29.

Almost forgot! While enjoying an early afternoon beer in one of the Chacala palapas we noticed whales spouting not far off the anchorage so we quickly cleared up the bill and jumped into our dinghy for a closer view of these magnificent animals. (Check out the photos). What a treat…. We were cruising along no more than 125 feet away while four or maybe five humpback whales including what appeared to include juveniles cavorted with each other as they slowly made their way down the coast. Probably a once in a life time experience even for people like us who spend so much time on the water. Since we were low on fuel we could not stay as long as we wanted and headed back for Destiny otherwise you’d be reading about missing gringos out to sea in their little dinghy.

After four days we had to head to Punta Mita. Gilly had a bad infection in her elbow which needed professional treatment. Check out December 3rd's Lectronic Latitude...

To view larger pictures and captions, click on a photo... Also, check out the pictures of the whales..

Mazatlan to Chacala

Our next leg was a 140 mile overnight trip further south to a small anchorage off the village of Chacala. The weather forecast was good so we expected an uneventful trip. On the morning of November 24 we awoke to clear skies but as we were departing the marina black clouds appeared and soon the rain was coming down in buckets. As we approached the dreaded entrance to the harbor mentioned earlier, we soon saw what the guide books were talking about. Large swells coming in and breaking on the jetty but fortunately not yet across the entrance which is so narrow that turning back was not an option. John gunned the engine and Destiny bashed into the steep swells like a high performance Coast Guard vessel and we made out with our hearts pounding away like overworked jackhammers. It was sloppy in the relatively shallow water outside the harbor so we kept on heading out to sea as fast as possible. Once safely offshore we set a course straight for Chacala with Destiny rolling like crazy as we motor sailed with the large swells on our beam. The squalls let up during the day but as darkness approached they were back again with a vengeance accompanied but what appeared to be the whole Mexican shrimping fleet. We spent the night dodging the hard working fishermen and many times losing them to the rain squalls as they moved across our radar. Despite all of this we both managed to get reasonable sleep as we have confidence in each other and our equipment. At daybreak we found ourselves right on target 1.5 miles off Chacala.


The El Cid marina/hotel complex is a high end facility and we had access to the pool and other hotel amenities. The docks were clean and our neighbors were friendly so our 6 day stay was most enjoyable. Our next door neighbor, Tony, had a car and graciously agreed to show us around a city that he clearly enjoys. Mazatlan is known for shrimp so he took us to street vendor where we purchased 2 kilos of big shrimp (guess you’d call them prawns) and then on to a restaurant that cooked them for free and served $1.10 Pacifico beers. We met some other cruisers there and stuffed ourselves with all the shrimp we could eat. This is the kind of thing we’d heard about in Mexico but had not yet experienced. A few days later we took the bus to the Gigante supermarket where did some provisioning mostly for beer and to restock our seriously low wine cellar. In between we had Thanksgiving dinner at an annual affair held by the local cruising community. It was not all that we expected but we still had a good time. We enjoyed our stay in Mazatlan but it was not nearly long enough to see and do all the place has to offer so we’ll be back again at some point.

Cabo San Lucas to Los Frailes (The Friars) and Mazatlan

Before departing Cabo we needed to top off with diesel and water so we pulled up anchor and made our way into what must be the busiest Pemex fuel dock in all of Mexico. We managed to time our arrival with the return of sport fishing fleet from their daily expeditions out into the Pacific loaded with gringo fisherman. We found ourselves fighting for dock space during the local rush hour but somehow it all worked out and we got away without a scratch and ended up paying only $2.50 per gallon compared to the $4.25 we paid in San Diego for diesel. While heading back to the anchorage for one more night we realized that in all the commotion at the fuel dock we forgot to take on water. Neither one of us wanted to go through all of that again so we fired up the watermaker and made 44 gallons.

The next day was November 14 (our departure delayed due to Customs losing our paperwork) and so after 6 days we were happy to leave the hustle and bustle of Cabo with jet skis, speeding pangas and other craft creating constant noise and making Destiny into roller coaster. We motored about ¾ of the time in fine weather on our relatively short trip to Los Frailes. We arrived to find 10 other boats in a pristine and calm anchorage. We quickly sat back enjoyed the scenery and went into full “Cruiser Mode”. We would have stayed longer but we had a hard to get reservation for a slip at El Cid in Mazatlan so after only 2 days in Los Frailes we headed off on the 162 mile jaunt across the Sea of Cortez. We thoroughly enjoyed what was probably the best sail we’ve had since leaving San Francisco. We had 16-20 knots of wind on the beam all through the day and night and actually had to slow down the last few hours so that we would not arrive at Mazatlan before day break. Both our guide books told us there was a potentially dangerous entrance into the harbor that constantly silts up so we did not want to take any chances arriving in the dark with a large swell. Fortunately it calmed down just as we were arriving so our grand entrance was without any fanfare.