We arrived after a downwind sail from Acapulco. Our friend on Blue Jacket made it in 36 hours motoring. We made it in 3 days (May 6-9) sailing with our spinnaker the whole way, other than a 4 hour motor for our final approach. Quite nice overall. We saw a fair number of sea turtles, many of them casual and staying above surface as we came by, some diving as we approached. Often you can spot a sea turtle in the distance because they each seem to have a token bird riding on their back. Funny combo. The water was glassy and made for great turtle viewing.
When we hit a very calm time (and warm time of day), we pulled the sails down, lowered the front ladder and jumped in from the bow tube for a much needed refreshing! Even Intrepid jumped in from the bow tube (and got a whole pack of cookies for the bravery). Innocence was going to, but couldn’t bring herself to do it. She did come swimming though off the back swim step. I tried to swim with a turtle, there was one not too far in the distance, but as you swim toward it in the open ocean, it is more of a distance than you realize. While I would have made it, he would have been gone and we were under way, so didn’t have that kind of time. It’s surprising also how much the boat moves (or you move, there is no fixed reference point) out there. I would float, then suddenly be way in front of the boat, or off to the side, requiring a swim back. It made all the difference in my day, I was getting a bit muggy hot, but after about a 30 minute swim I was refreshed and good to go.
Huatulco is a large area with many national preserves. There are almost 30 bays over a 10 mile stretch. Lots of great places to tuck in and explore. We first arrived in Sacrifico Bay. A cute little bay with many rock outcroppings in it and palm tree palapas lining the shore. The reef was protected by a buoy line. We went snorkeling on the west side, with both Intrepid and Innocence also, but neither had gear with them. I bought all the kids junior snorkeling gear, but in the plastic packages you can’t try them on. They are too big for the kids faces and don’t make a seal. The reef was beautiful, but the water sometimes murky. We came across some large schools of yellow tailed fish, gorgeous little bright blue fish, some needle nose fish, parrot fish, etc. I tried out my new underwater camera too and got some great pictures I’ll try to include.
The next morning Intrepid earned his 10th sticker on the “Helper Chart” for doing things to help the big people out. He got to have his pick of a pair of new goggles and we went to dive on the other side of the reef. There was a pufferfish that was stuck with an air bubble in it’s tail section. It was floating at the surface upside down and couldn’t get down or right itself. The boys helped him even out his air pocket and he was able to swim off. What a nice experience for Intrepid!!
We went to town, which was tiny, and found two small markets. At the first we got some fresh baked bread rolls.
That evening we went down to explore the next few bays. Our friends on Blue Jacket were tucked into a cute little private bay. We joined them to explore the shore which was filled with hermit crabs, then made a campfire and roasted some marshmellows. Very nice evening, then we headed back at dusk to check in for the net of southbound cruisers, which occurs every evening at 7:30.
The net is a nice little network of people who have met along the way and they check in on the ham radio. We have check-ins from as far south as Costa Rica and we are the north most. The net is run by Blue Jacket and is relatively small. It’s also hard to hear often times. But it’s interesting when and what you can hear. We seem to have been named “Little Wanderers” on the net. Integrity also refers to Blue Jacket as “Blue Life Jacket.”
The following day Blue Jacket left it’s cute little cove Jicaral and we headed in. It was very protected, had a nice big reef for diving on, and a private beach. That is, a private beach in the off hours. At about 11 am a couple of pongas arrived and went to the beach to set up 5 umbrellas and chairs under them and one different umbrella where they had a table and drinks. We couldn’t figure out why they needed so much shade until the double decker catamaran arrived full of tourists to dive the reef and play on shore. We then realized it was the grown up version of a lemonade stand. They stayed for a few hours during the heat of the day when we didn’t want to be out anyway, then left. Before they left, they had a little ?show/competition of the guests jumping off of a high dive from the second story of the cat that the boys enjoyed watching. They left the beach impressively clean and nice and were overall minimal impact and made for good entertainment. Then once again we had our cute little private cove.
Vitality had her third birthday in Jicaral. We brought her up a baby puffer fish to play with in a bucket. She thought that was a great birthday present. We swam in the morning, but by noon there was a huge bloom of jellyfish. They were so thick you couldn’t see through water. There was just no way to get a picture of it, not for lack of trying! It was so amazing how many there were all of a sudden and apparently out of nowhere! Unfortunately it kept us out of the water, but it was so great to watch and a neat experience. We also brought up a clear pitcher full of water and watched the jelly’s swim. Another great birthday present for Vitality.
Because of all the jelly’s and the fact that we’ve explored this cove, we headed out the next morning to Mangillo, a really cute, tucked in bay with a beach and a dive area. On our arrival we went to the beach. Very nice, had a great time, but it was getting warm, so we went for a snorkel. It appeared that they were in the beginning of a jelly bloom so we headed out fast. As we began to snorkel the reef, the water became more and more murky. I began looking closer and sure enough, it was baby jelly’s as far deep as you could see. You couldn’t even see the reef sometimes because they were so thick. Maybe I imagined it, but I began feeling tingling on my back and in my face. The visibility wasn’t great with all the jelly’s, so we headed back in.
We left and rounded the cove to a huge and beautiful beach, again all to ourselves, in Chachacual. We could see turtle tracks on the beach and went to check it out. On landing at the beach, there were hundreds of huge hermit crabs. It was a long walk around the cove to the turtle tracks and we could see where two turtles had gone up and holes they had dug which appeared to be empty. We also saw what appeared to be raccoon tracks leading to dug out holes of crabs. Great beach to explore. Again, the same tourist boats would come to snorkel here, but leave it clean and nice within a few hours. We seemed to be free of jelly’s here and the reef was gorgeous with crystal clear waters. This time we were able to get Integrity in snorkeling also after watching our home videos of all the fish we’ve seen out there the day before. He loves fish and fishing, but isn’t such a fan of eating the fish. I’m thinking he’s more of a SCUBA/snorkeling kind of guy once he gets the feel for it.
After a few excellent days here, we headed to the Chahue marina in Huatulco. It was just over an hour of motoring down the coast, we saw tons of dolphins. While watching the dolphins, there was a funny white mark in the water, not swimming like a dolphin. As we came closer, we saw a HUGE manta ray!!! Coolest thing EVER!! Wing span was maybe 10 feet. Again I am reminded that every time I’m thinking we’ve seen a vast variety of sea creatures, another amazing encounter occurs. That was the only one we saw and not everyone on board was lucky enough to be out to see it, but it was awesome! We saw a feeding frenzy so turned into it and brought in a nice bonita for lunch.
The boys did and passed a challenge also. If they could swim around the boat without a life jacket, they wouldn't have to wear their life jackets while in the harbor and would get all the ice cream they could eat in one sitting. If they did it twice without stopping, they also got a free week of games on Uncle Loyal's iPad. Needless to say, they did it twice!! Very well done, wasn't totally flat, they were getting splashed in the face, etc.
Coming into the marina was interesting, this marina is tucked way in behind a rocky entrance. We could not have passed another boat our size coming out for sure and it would have been bumper to bumper with a monohull. There was no room to turn around, I was glad to have Courage as our helmsman as I wouldn’t have even made the entrance into the marina, let alone trying to negotiate inside the marina and dock. Fortunately our friends from Blue Jacket were out there and had “reserved” a spot for us, so the dock attendants were waving us in and down the pier so we didn’t have to do any crazy maneuvers.
Chris, a Canadian on Misty Michael, has been here for 5 years and has a car on shore. He
took us to refill propane, which was really great to get done!! then a tour of the town. So nice to have a local's tour! He showed us where to get some mosquito netting for over our hatches, where to get a good meal, where to get fresh fruits/veggies, nice surfing bays, where the archaeological ruins park is, etc. After our tour we set out to get the netting, some 12V fans to counter the humidity, some fresh rolls from the bakery, and a date lunch. We then hit a Super Che grocery store for a few items and I got a little 3 ring pool to put on the back swim step to clean and cool the kids. Very productive and fun/useful day. In the evening we met with a few groups of cruisers in the marina for snacks and socializing. There was another couple that came also who have lived here for a year on land. People seem to really like this community, say it's very safe. Any criminals are chased off fairly swiftly and it's not tolerated. Chris said the jail was pure concrete floor, no beds, no facilities, a dirty cardboard box to lay on if you're lucky. That's a deterrent.
With all the baby puffers and all the baby jelly’s and all of our birthdays, Huatulco has now been named the “Bay of the Birthdays.” Fitting place to celebrate Mother’s day also.
We are now awaiting fair sailing weather across the Teuhanepec Bay. Time it right, it's a nice 2 day passage, time it wrong, it can be a boat eater. This time of year it's not such big stuff, but the advisory told us to wait until at least today. There is the makings of a hurricane in the Pacific, but too high to affect us.