Log #62r Leaving Veleda in Barra de Navidad

April 2, 2018 in Log Series 60-69, Logs by Series, Series 62, The Logs

Log #62r Leaving Veleda in Barra de Navidad

Barra de Navidad, Colima, Mexico

April 2, 2018

 We arrived March 18 at Grand Isla Navidad, the luxury resort with Marina de La Navidad (19° 11.715′ N, 104° 40.901′ W) for a night to check out the marina where we will leave Veleda starting April 1st. The daily rate was expensive at $1.45 (US) a foot plus 16% tax per day, and so we stayed only one night, and next day went out to anchor (19° 11.440′ N, 104° 40.419′ W) in the inner Laguna Colimilla, a large but shallow lagoon with about twenty other boats at anchor. Mooring in the marina for the summer (April to October) will be much more economical.

We anchored in about nine feet of water with a three foot tidal range on a thick muddy seabed. Apparently this lagoon was scoured by Hurricane Jova in 2011, and there is an ill-defined area for the anchorage. We have seen several boats stuck on an uncharted sand bar entering or trying to leave the anchorage. However it is a calm secure anchorage with no wave action other than the local fishermen or water taxis.

There is a morning VHF net, for which we volunteered as net controllers a few times, which covers not only the anchorage, but also boats in the marina and as far away as Tenacatita, where we were a few days earlier. It is a very convenient anchorage, and many boats stay here at anchor for long periods of time. The water taxi service into Barra, which can be called on Channel 23, is fast (4 minutes to town) and frequent and cheap, costing only 30 Pesos (about $1.50 US) per person return from and back to the boat. Another delightful service at anchor or in the marina is the French Bakery which motors through the anchorage five days a week selling fresh baked goods. Judy has been pigging out on chocolate croissants and baguettes. I have enjoyed his bacon and cheese quiches. Mmmmm! We plan to be good and go on a diet when we get back to Elliot Lake.

We have met several other boats we’ve seen on our way down as this is one of the best places for cruisers south of La Cruz and Puerto Vallarta. Several boaters take annual contracts out at the marina and use their boats as floating condos, having full access to the luxury resort. I have thought about returning in early October, and just staying in the marina for another few weeks waiting until the end of hurricane season, enjoying the warm sunshine and the flavour of small town Mexico in condo Veleda.

               

We have made several water taxi trips into town. Barra is a small resort town on a sandy peninsula, with very economical hotels on the beach at less than $50.00 a night. There are several grocery stores of acceptable quality, a meat store with frozen meats only, and a fishmonger with fresh fish, clams, and delicious ceviche. It is a friendly vibrant local community, especially at night. There is good bus transportation and plentiful taxis available. Along the shorelines there are several Palapa Cantinas available as shown, with frigate birds flying overhead. 

We left Veleda at anchor for a couple of nights as we went inland by bus to Colima, and taxi to Comala where we stayed in a pleasant bed and breakfast to take a six hour Eco tour near Colima Volcano for bird watching. We enjoyed the walk near the slopes of the volcano, seeing the smoke rising from the summit, with Judy spotting 46 species, including seven first sightings.

 

 

We wandered through a deserted town that was vacated in 1913 due to eruption potential, with the people relocated to another town built specifically for them. The original town of about 500 has maybe 20 people still living in the area. It was sad to see the streets, adobe and concrete block houses abandoned, a school yard overgrown and a town plaza barren of foliage. It reminded me of the outports of Newfoundland which had to be closed and abandoned, except there, people were given resettlement money, not a new town.          

                                

                                                        Abandoned school                                        Deserted town square

Below is the church across from the town plaza in Comala.

Back on Veleda I was getting antsy to explore the coast, and so one day we weighed anchor and motored up the coast to check out potential anchorage off the beach in nearby Melaque, then went around a couple of headlands to anchor for lunch in Cuastecomate (19° 13.838′ N, 104° 43.921′ W), another small resort community with hotels and palapa cantinas lining the cove’s sandy shoreline. It was an OK anchorage that would be suitable for overnight in calm conditions. We returned to the anchorage in the lagoon in the afternoon for another few days, until we went back to the Marina on Easter Sunday April 1st to slip E25, an inner slip that should be well protected in storms or even hurricanes.

Palapa Cantinas at Cuastecomate

While at anchor we spent an interesting afternoon dinghying into the far inner part of the lagoon, bird watching. Judy was able to identify 23 different species, but no first sightings. The inner lagoon is very shallow to the extent that I pulled the motor up and rowed most of the way around the end of it.

While dinghying around the lagoon we visited a UK boat, Shantey, from Ipswich on the southeast coast of England. We reminisced on our time in Ipswich which we visited in Veleda in 1999 (see Log #12h October 1999), including Pin Mill which is the village for Arthur Ransom’s book “We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea”. Judy has read all of his “Swallows and Amazon” books about some children sailing in the English lake country. In this particular book, the children, on board a boat near Pin Mill, were swept out by the tide into the English Channel, and not able to sail against it they crossed over to Holland. Judy often says that her interest in sailing is attributable to these books read by her as a child.

Also while we were in Ipswich in 1999, we were hosted by the Ipswich Yacht Club. This was the first time we used scrubbing posts to clean the ship’s bottom. We went alongside the dock at high tide, and eased the lines as the tide went out until Veleda settled on a wooden grid. I had a line from the mast to shore to prevent Veleda tipping outwards. One line I was slow in slackening was so tight around the cleat as we descended that I had to cut the line. When the tide was out, we slogged through the mud at the base and used a power washer to clean the bottom and slap on a coat of antifouling before the tide started to rise. It was a muddy experience. (See Log #12i October 1999) We have done this a couple of times since, in Jersey on the Channel Islands, and again in Pauillac just below Bordeaux in France. Such tidal cleaning spots are no longer permitted in B.C., due to environmental pollution, but we noted several of them up in Alaska.

Unfortunately a few days later when Shantey tried to leave the anchorage, it grounded on a sandbar on a falling tide. We saw her canted over at a 30° angle, and dinghied over to see if we could help. They declined as they were too hard on the sandbar. They waited another six hours and motored back to the anchorage for the night to leave next day on a rising tide.

 The location of the marina in Barra de Navidad is considered a good hurricane hole, as it is well inside the entrance, tucked in to the resort marina, and behind the resort which itself is located extending up a high hill giving added coverage from anything out in the open water. We squared Veleda away for the summer storage in the water; however after we had rigged our lines and heavy hawsers to secure Veleda to the dock, a work crew arrived and indicated the slip was to have a major overhaul, so could we relocate across to the adjacent slip. This of course involved hauling all our lines from port to starboard as we were shifted in a dry move (ie. no engine power) 20 feet to the starboard slip.

We arranged with one of the local boat minders to take care of Veleda while we are away. This will involve keeping an eye on her for any chafing, or dangers from hurricanes. In addition, the boat minder will open Veleda up for a few days each month to air her out, will check the bilges, the lines, and once every second month will scrape the barnacles off the bottom. The sea is warm and conducive to heavy barnacle growth. At least this year we were able to leave the dinghy on the dinghy tow, rather than having to remove it and its heavy 15 hp outboard and hoist it up on the foredeck. Barnacles will be scraped off its bottom as well, only the bow of which is in the water. In the picture above you can see how Veleda is moored well inside the marina. In the background is the lagoon anchorage area.

April 4, we were picked up at the dock by the water taxi at 3:45 pm and boarded a taxi in town at 4:00 to go to the airport, a half hour’s drive from Barra. It was a moderate cost of 450 pesos (about $23.00 US). We checked with the resort, but their shuttle would have cost 1600 pesos, the cost of luxury resort living. We flew from Manzanillo leaving at 6:30 pm, to Mexico City, to JFK in New York, to arrive in Buffalo at 10:00 am next day. We were picked up by my son who lives in nearby Port Colburne, Ontario, where we had left our car last December.

After a few days in Port Colburne we went to Toronto to visit some friends and navy acquantainces before our 500 km drive up to Elliot Lake. It was as if the weather was haunting us, as when we left in December it was in a snow storm. On our way up to Elliot Lake in mid April, we were in a heavy snow storm for about 200 km of the trip, considering whether to abort our destination and hunker down in a wayside motel. However, we made it safely back, and found our apartment was just as we left it five months earlier. We have settled back into small town life up here in Elliot Lake. We go hiking two or three times a week. Judy goes bird watching and is involved in a quilting group while I go line dancing three times week, and tend bar at the local Royal Canadian Legion.

We have purchased a Grampian 30 sailboat for sailing the North Channel of Lake Huron, but have been delayed in launching it as the lake is still frozen over, on the first of May! Hopefully spring will be here before the end of May! Below is a picture of the North Channel Yacht Club where we will be keeping the boat, taken the last day of April. Previous years many boats would already be in the water, but this year none will be in before mid May.

This will be my last log this season. I will resume the logs next fall when we return to Veleda and continue our sail down the Mexican coast, along the west coast of Central America down to the Panama Canal. Whether we go through the canal next season or not will depend on many factors.