|We know what you're thinking.... "Man! Those guys sure are good at updating their website"! And I didn't even say butt. Anyway,
here is the promised second installment to the Southern Belle Sailing Mexico web site. This will come close to catching you up to
where we are these days. In this installment we cover the area between Mazatlan and Banderas Bay. Banderas Bay is where
Puerto Vallarta is located. Along this section of the gold coast we visited Isla Isabela, San Blas, Chacala, Rincon de Guayabitos,
Punta de Mita, Isla Marieta West, and La Cruz/Puerto Vallarta. We will provide details about each one of these lovely
destinations, and you can find corresponding pictures by clicking on the Photo Album button above. Remember, you can always look
at our previous entries by clicking on the archived Journal Entries above and the archived Photo Albums on the Photo Album page.
Isla Isabella was an awesome stop! We departed Mazatlan in the late afternoon for the trip to Isla Isabella, an island about 20
miles off the coast of Mexico, north of Puerto Vallarta, and just west of the small town of San Blas. It was approximately 12
hours to Isla Isabella, so we planned our sail so that we could arrive just after sunrise. We arrived on schedule and spent the
day exploring the island. It is a National Wildlife Preserve that is home to rare frigate and booby bird nests. And it is an
amazing sight, the trees are full of birds and nests. We hiked through the forest/jungle seeing frigate birds in all the trees, and
the blue- and green-footed boobies guarding their nests on the ridge tops. Whales also visited the island and we are able to
observe some whale play, numerous spouts, jumps, and lots of tale slapping. The island also has excellent snorkeling that we only
enjoyed briefly as there was a pretty good swell running, making the water choppy.
We left Isla Isabella the following day, and sailed toward San Blas, a quaint fishing town on the mainland. We fished the whole
way, and were unsuccessful in catching fish, but did manage to snag a booby bird or two. They apparently are the only animals
attracted to our lures. We've decided that boobies aren't the brightest birds in the bird world. Please know that no booby birds
were killed in the making of this documentary. We anchored in the San Blas estuary (a shallow river that runs through San Blas
and empties into the nearby bay). It was a very calm anchorage, although close to the mangroves so prone to mosquitoes and
no-seeums. San Blas is a very traditional Mexican village with a lovely square in the middle of town, one side of which houses the
Cathedral. We arrived on Sunday, which is the day that all the local families converge on the square for socializing and prayer in
the cathedral. We had a lovely dinner at a small sidewalk café and then let Joshua run with the local kids in the square. We made
the most of our time in San Blas, which included a hike to the old fort on Cerro San Basilio, a rocky hilltop overlooking the town.
The fort was built in the 1700s to protect the town from marauding pirates and Hottentots. We found a shortcut up to the fort
pointed out to us by the locals kids that included hiking through a steep jungley path. The fort was quite impressive with a great
view, Joshua dug the canons. Near the fort were the ruins of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Rosario and its bell tower,
immortalized in Longfellow's poem, The Bells of San Blas. The following day we hiked back past the fort to the San Cristobal
estuary where we took a 3-hour jungle river cruise on a panga. On advice of locals, we were the first to arrive at 7:00 a.m., so
that we could see the estuary undisturbed by the turistas and pangas. It was beautiful, we were able to see the mists rising off
the estuary, a beautiful sunrise, and countless birds. We also learned that it can be downright cold in the marsh. We were all
turning blue from cold until finally the sun rose high enough to warm us up. Then finally, Joshua's wish came true and the
crocodiles came out of hiding to take advantage of the warm sunshine. In total we sighted 15 crocodiles, from babies to big papas.
After our jungle cruise we feasted on smoked tuna fish from one of the sidewalk cafés near the estuary. To top off our visit to
San Blas we visited the locally renowned Capitania of the area, Norm Goldy and his wife Jan. We had a lovely visit with them the
morning we left, learning much about fishing, local lore, and life along the coast here. Joshua was most impressed with their
parrot Morgie and the beautiful classic Walt Disney children's book the Goldy's gifted to Joshua. Despite Norms' advice, Joshua
has declared we wants a parrot for a pet when we move back on land. This of course makes moving back ashore even less appealing.
Chacala Bay and Rincon de Guayabitos:
After 3 days we departed beautiful San Blas for Chacala Bay, 21 miles south. We spent one night in Chacala. a small tourist town
dominated by several hotels and numerous palapa restaurants on the beach. The following day we departed and sailed another 7
miles to Rincon de Guayabitos, another tourist area dominated by many hotels and palapa restaurants. Enroute we caught a Dorado
that was big enough to feed the crew some delicious spicy sushi rolls. This makes the fourth Dorado we have landed aboard
Southern Belle. Let's see.... at $400 worth of Mexican fishing licenses, so far that works out to be $100 per fish. What a deal!
We hope to improve this ratio as the year wears on. We only stayed one night in Guayabitos because this cove was very touristy
and noisy. In the future we will give this spot a pass. We hoped to catch up with our friends on Arctic Willow while we were
anchored in Guayabitos, as we knew they were visiting with family in a condo in town. Alas, we missed them. We later heard they
were preparing to swim out to our boat to visit the next day when we upped anchor and left to sail to Banderas Bay.
We made it around Punta de Mita and into Banderas Bay in the early afternoon. The weather was calm and warm so we decided to
visit the Marieta Islands which lie just inside the mouth of Banderas Bay. We anchored off of Marieta West along with two
other sailboats. The island has many caves that are cool to explore by kayak or dinghy. Most were too small, but a couple were
large enough to drive the dink right into the mouth of the cave. We found a small beach where we were able to land the dinghy.
The snorkeling off of this beach was phenomenal. The guide book said that overnight anchoring is not recommended at these
islands because wind shifts can put you on a lee shore. So rather than take a chance we raise anchor in the late afternoon and
headed for the more protected anchorage behind Punta de Mita.
We arrived at the anchorage behind Punta de Mita at sunset. We used the Wi-Fi method for choosing a spot to drop our anchor.
This method entails firing up the laptop computer and motoring around until you find a good wi-fi connection. We checked e-mails,
spent the night, and in the morning raised anchor and headed for La Cruz.
La Cruz is a small town about a 45 minute ride by bus from Puerto Vallarta (PV). La Cruz is the closest anchorage to PV. To stay
in PV proper you have to stay in one of the 3 marinas, which at this time were all completely full. No matter, La Cruz is a very
cool little town that had everything we needed. We even know some folks who live in La Cruz. Mike and Leah Danielson run the
North Sails loft in PV, and Leah used to race with Melinda in Long Beach back in the 90's. What is really cool is that they have a
little boy, Merrick, who is close to Joshua's age and we were able to arrange some kid play time. In addition to visiting with the
Danielsons, we also spent a little quality time at Philo's Restaurant and Bar, the local cruisers hangout. Philo is an expatriate
who has a neat spot in La Cruz. They serve food and drink, provide showers, have free Internet access, and in the evenings play
live music. We watched the Saints destroy The Eagles at this friendly venue.
We never did make it into PV to explore the town, except to visit the fuel dock for gas and diesel. While refueling, John and
Melinda walked over to Wal Mart to pick up some provisions. So in PV we saw the fuel dock and the Wal Mart. Gee, PV looked
alot like Long Beach. The next day we headed out of Banderas Bay to continue our southerly journey to Zihuatanejo. We will
provide more details and photographs in our next journal entry. Until then, Hasta La Vista!
George, Melinda, and Joshua
Crew of Southern Belle
|Mazatlan to Banderas Bay