Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chacala to Bandaras Bay

A short sail from Chacala to Punta de Mita put us in the northern corner of the enormous Banderas Bay. The “Bay of Flags” is a deep, 23 mile wide indentation into mainland Mexico’s “Gold Coast” and is the site of the towns of Punta de MIta, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta. It is a vacation destination for travelers from the world over. Much of the area is developed with modern resorts, golf courses and high-rise hotels. Fortunately, the charm and flavor or authentic Mexico can still be found in many areas.

After two days anchored off Punta de MIta, hoping to find some of the ridable surf that it is noted for, we sailed another nine miles further into Bandaras Bay and anchored off the new marina at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. We’ve been hearing reports from other cruisers that this area ranked among their favorites and it was easy to see why. The area features a brand new, modern marina adjacent a charming, small town that is the home for many American and Canadian expatriates. The town square, eclectic architecture and cobble stone covered streets add to the visual appeal. Dozens of
eateries, from simple to sophisticated, many with live music, are found within a short distance of the marina.

Having been invited to participate in a large Christmas dinner with a number of other cruisers, we secured a marina slip for “Blue Rodeo” on December 21st and quickly reconnected with folks that we have been bumping into on our trip down the coast. New boats arrived over the next few days and soon the docks were jumping with energy as people attended to boat chores and prepared for the holidays.

Before we knew it, it was Christmas day and our group of 60 converged on the marina’s Sky Bar patio. We shared a great feast and finished the evening with a “secret Santa” gift exchange. We thought warmly of our family and friends back home while sharing the company of our many new friends.

While in the La Cruz marina, we hired some hard working, local men to polish and wax “Blue Rodeo’s” hull and a local canvas worker to sew dinghy chaps (covers to protect the hypalon fabric tubes of our inflatable boat). We also made several trips into down town Puerto Vallarta to sight see and purchase provisions. The city offers most of the shopping opportunities found in the large cities north of the boarder including a Costco and Home Depot. We used local busses primarily for transportation and the rides often felt like a Disneyland “E-ticket” ride. The shock absorbers were long-gone on many of the busses and passengers were sent bouncing into the air as the drivers careened through the traffic hitting pot holes and speed bumps.

Our time in La Cruz was most enjoyable with a full social schedule and daily trips into town. We ushered-in the new year with a dozen others at a hillside restaurant overlooking the bay. While the food and service were a bit disappointing, we all enjoyed the company and fireworks clearly visible at many areas around to bay.

With our dinghy chaps finally completed, we will give “Blue Rodeo” a much deserved fresh water bath today and sail back up to Punta de Mita in search of a few waves before we continue down the coast to Zihuatenajo

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