To The Gold Coast

Shortly after our family flew out of Puerto Vallarta, we headed around the notorious Cabo Correntes (Cape of Currents) and down the Gold Coast, first stop: Chamela, 100 miles.  Actually with two knots of current against us it was more like 125 miles but we had a strong (25 knots)  wind with us.  Of course the wind against current made for some very steep waves which were more palatable because we went at night and couldn’t see how nasty they were.  But we chose to go with a strong breeze so we could sail the whole way (we’re still on our 2nd tank of fuel since leaving San Diego in October).  Vanna did a great job steering in those challenging conditions and we arrived at sunrise to a gorgeous anchorage–Chamela– open to the south but well protected from the prevailing NW winds.  We could see our anchor and chain under the boat again which was nice after the low vis at Banderas Bay.  Our boat actually became the center of the marine food chain.  Small fingerlings hung out around us en masse being chased by Bone Fish that struck at lighting fast speeds while several large Yellow Fin Tuna hung out below.  Fish were constantly bumping the hull which was unnerving when you’re below decks.

Ashore there is a place where the estuary connects with the bay that we entered for landing the dinghy.  I took quite a few dings to the prop before I was able to locate the very narrow “ditch” that is the sweet spot in the entrance.  But the town of Perula a short walk down the beach was worth the effort.  Very small but had everything we needed including a “has-everything” hardware store.  The dollar is now exchanging at 18.1 so we’re getting a lot of bang for the buck.  Incredible breakfasts for $2.  Dinners usually about $8.

From Perula, we went a little south to the National Park at Los Novillos Islands.  Totally wild and beautiful but pretty much exposed to the open ocean so after snorkeling the next day we sailed on to the fabled Tenacatita.

Tenacatita is a huge, fairly protected bay with an outer anchorage called Playa and an inner anchorage called Bahia.  Playa has an area we frequented called the Aquarium which as you can imagine has lots of fish and some well developed coral formations.  The beach here is about 1.5 miles long and beautiful.  Until 2007 it had a thriving community with many restaurants, shops and homes.  One day a developer came in with bull dozers and his security force dressed to resemble Federales.  The people were chased out and everything leveled in short order.  Many of the people bought property here years ago and have deeds but the developer is evidently a friend of the governor and I’m not sure how title security works down here.  The whole mess is in legal limbo now so nothing is happening.  But as we talked to some of the displaced locals, their sad story made us feel for them.  Would definitely  do my home work before considering real estate investment in Mexico.

We moved over to Bahia Tenacatita after a few days.  It’s one of the most popular spots on the coast.  Usually 30 boats or so anchored off the lagoon entrance.  But we know almost all of them so it was great fun to catch up.  Some folks anchor here for the entire winter because of the idyllic conditions.  This whole coast is very mellow during the winter because at Cabo Correntes, the coastline turns more east/west and you’re basically in the lee of the stronger NW winds that blow down from the Sea of Cortes.  It gets a little warmer–mid to high 80s daytime and low 70s at night but shade and a little breeze makes all the difference.  The water is about 84 degrees, swimming is very pleasant.  The Bahia is adjacent to an entrance to the mangroves that have had a 2.5 mile channel hacked out to provide a “jungle tour” which basically takes you parallel to the beach to the back side of Playa Tenacatita.  Hurricane Patricia spewed debris in the channel this past October but local volunteers have been out there with chain saws and machetes cleaning it up.  It took us a couple hours each way but we made it through.  Lucy was on croc watch the whole time.

After about 5 days, we decided to keep heading south (really, east) and sailed in perfect conditions the 30 miles down to Cuastecomate–another little Bahia with a sandy beach and small settlement featuring palapa restaurants on the sand.   David and Grant on Jean Butler arrived first and were greeted by a rather large crocodile swimming around the anchorage.  We tried not to think about that as we snorkeled the reef just inside the entrance.  The reef should be called Balloon Fish Reef as we saw huge colonies of them every where.  The visibility was about 100′, the best so far.

We were anxious to check out Barra de Navidad so we only spent a couple days at Cuastecomate.  “Barra has a lot going for it.  A quaint little town that is fairly authentic, a protected lagoon that you can anchor in away from ocean swells, and a marina at the resort that is totally well done.  We spent the first five days at the marina (with full resort privileges) and are preparing to move out to the anchorage today.  The town’s Carnaval starts tomorrow and runs through next Tuesday.  Should be a blast.  After that we’ll keep heading south for a while before turning around and returning to PV for the final on my implant.  Then up to the Sea of Cortes for the spring.  We’ll probably haul the boat out for  storage in Guaymas during the hurricane season.  Since it’s unbearably hot (up to 115) in July-Sept, we may opt out and head north for a while–possibly making it to Bainbridge Island.  Too bad for those who thought they were safe from the Carmanah crew.

mini van

The family transport while in La Cruz–put some pretty hard miles on this van but Linda did a great job at the wheel.


sunset anchor at perula

The Anchorage at Chamela was just a little rolly but absolutely gorgeous and the water crystal clear.  We could swim from the boat everyday.


perula pano

After a semi successful (normal) beach landing—morning beach walk with Lucy at Bahia Chamela near the town of Perula.


Lucy's panga

Lucy finding some shade in an appropriately named panga


cantina perula

Jeff spotted the satellite dish so we talked the owner into putting the Seahawks on at this rather rustic cantina. They lost to the Panther after the worst 1st half ever.


seahawks at perula

The Seahawks on the little screen behind security bars in this rather rustic cantina. I recommend at least five beers before braving the bano here.  We did have a blast though.


perula construction

Formula for Mexican construction project: 1) drop load of sand and gravel. 2) add a pallet of cement bags 3) bring in small cement mixer. 4)add a bunch of guys with 5 gallon buckets. Start the bucket brigade and you have a building take shape.


rocker stopper in aquarium2

Carmanah in anchor mode at “The Aquarium” in Tenacatita. All the shade possible and the “rocker-stopper” suspended from the spinnaker pole–makes a huge difference when there is swell–keeps my internal organs from sloshing back and forth at night.


what's left

All that’s left of the once thriving community at Tenacatita’s outer bay. A buddy of the governor/rich developer came in and bull-dozed every thing one morning.


cuastecomte happy hour

We arrived at the Cuastecomate anchorage to find our fellow cruisers already establishing a beach head.


david croc

This croc was the welcome committee at Bahia Cuastecomate as Jean Butler arrived.


hodges dingy launch

Mexico veterans Jim & Crissie Hodges from Bainbridge Island performing a perfect beach launch between wave sets.


spin pole swing

On William’s birthday, Morgan rigged a spinnaker pole rope swing so everyone could take a celebratory swing off Agamere.  Really fun.


jeff_lucy jungle tour

Lucy staying comfy while on croc watch during the jungle tour.

dave_grant jungle cruise

We met Grant & David negotiating a narrow spot in the 2.5 mile jungle cruise.


swamp crab

We saw hundreds of these exotic crabs as we motored our dinghy through the “jungle cruise” at Tenacatita


paddle board w_simi

In the swell of open water, my Costco stand-up paddle board is very unstable (sucks)—thought it was just me until I borrowed this board from Jean Butler. paddles like a dream even with an unruly  stow away (Simi from Agamere) aboard.


kids beach fire

The “rat pack” tending this soon to be substantial beach fire at Bahia Tenacatita


Jeffs croc

This croc getting eye contact at La Manzanilla estuary across the bay from Bahia


barra marina from lobby

View of the Barra marina from the resort lobby. The lagoon anchorage is beyond. The only non-swell anchorage on the Gold Coast.


barra waterfront

The lagoon side of Barra de Navidad town.


donna french pastery

At Barra, the French Baker comes to our slip with excellent fresh items each morning. Lucy thinks he’s OK too.


lucy haircut

Beat the heat with a $9 hair cut–good and short. Not real happy now but Lucy stays cooler with frequent trims.  At 1/7th the cost of home, she can afford it.


barra resort

The resort at Barra de Navidad has a nice marina and the upland buildings are gorgeous.


lucy relax

Lucy waiting for the movie to start–obviously having difficulty relaxing. We now have 350 movies on our little external hard drive–can’t have too many.


swimup bar

Roughing It. The swim-up bar was our afternoon treat each day at Barra de Navidad marina. Makes the 90 degree air temps feel just right.


sunset at barra

The Green Flash! The perfect place at the entrance to Barra to hunt for the elusive green flash at sunset.

4 thoughts on “To The Gold Coast

  1. Kurt & Nancy

    Boy, we’re jealous!! This was our favorite part of Mexico. We spent 3 seasons along this stretch and never got tired of it. Try pulling a line behind your dinghy on the jungle ride in Tenacatita. There used to be plenty of Snook in there and they’re great eating!


  2. Steve & Joni

    Your blog posts have cushioned the blow of returning home to be a taxpayer again… but we’re heading back soon. We’ll be in La Paz mid-April to pick up Tandem and head north to San Carlos. Should be there by 2nd week in May. Hope we see you along the way!



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