Stray Cat

It’s great to have friends with boats. This summer we received two invitations to do some winter sailing on their boats in Mexico.

Our first stop in Mexico was Barra de Navidad to meet up with Barb and Derick on their 38 foot catamaran Stray Cat. The plan was to do a 2 week sail from Barra to Zihuantanejo. Not a great distance, but it promised warm water, beaches, and tacos! The weather back home was cold, snowy and disgusting. We did our best not to feel guilty for leaving everyone back home to freeze. Nope, not feeling it.

We had previously only been on cats when they were sitting at anchor, so being on one that was actually moving was going to be a novel experience. As it turned out, this area of the coast is notorious for lack of wind, so the best we managed was motor sailing.

Stray Cat was moored at the luxurious but mostly abandoned Grand Isla Navidad Resort. We had access to the swimming pools and all the facilities, which was a good thing since there is cocodrilos in the lagoon.

It wasn’t all play though, Derik was replacing two of his solar panels, and needed help lifting the beasts into place. Sweaty work at 30 degrees and over 80% humidity. Back to the pool to scrape my… um chest on the bottom of the pool coming off the water slide.

A quick panga ride across the lagoon took us to the town of Barra de Navidad. This was taco heaven. Our friends Sonny and Margie from Hoptoad were also at the marina, so we got together with them and a few of the other cruisers for a taco crawl. It was a gastronomic delight, we would stop at one of the small eateries for a couple of tacos and a beer, then move onto the next. Good fun!

After 3 days we left the dock to motor down to spend a night in the quiet anchorage of Carrizal Cove. It was a great place to jump off the boat and swim. Swim steps are going on the list for our next boat!

Next stop was the not so quite, but interesting anchorage of Bahia de Santiago. There was the usual tourist beach activities of jet skis and banana toys being towed close to us, so swimming was only possible very close to boat.

The beach was lined with palapas serving every kind of Mexican food, and we had a great meal on the beach on the second day. As with every tourist area in Mexico there is a constant stream of vendors offering their goods for sale. A simple no gracias was all that is required.

Eating on the beach at Bahia de Santiago

Mexicans are noisy, and they love to blow things up, if you must have quiet, don’t go to Mexico. Sunday was celebrations for Our Lady Guadalupe, and the fire crackers, if you can call them that, were exploding until dawn the next day and beyond. I call them fire crackers, but it was really more like anti aircraft fire. They shoot them in the air and they explode like fireworks, but without the colorful display. They don’t seem to able to get enough of this.

Next, we had an overnight motor/motor sail down to Zihuantanejo. We did two people on each watch, so that meant two overnight watches each. Everything was uneventful until the next morning. I was at the helm, and to cries of LONG LINE I put the wheel over hard to starboard and the engine out of gear. Too late, we had snagged a line on a rudder. We had a few tense moments before the line managed to slip off the tip. We weren’t quite done, there was one more line to cross, but it was too deep to catch us. All eyes watch as the line slowly drifted under the boat, and nobody breathed until it was safely astern. From all the chatter on the radio, some of the boats behind us weren’t so lucky, and one even had to be cut free.

Dinner and excellent music in Zihuantanejo

After a check in and a couple of nights in Zihua, we went to Isla Grande for the night. Once again beautiful water, but we had to swim close to the boat because of all the activity.

Street art
Zihua market
Parthenon built by the corrupt Mexico City chief of police.
A quick dip in the pool?

The next day was a motor back to Zihua. In front of Ixtapa it looked like there was enough wind for a slow sail, so an attempt at raising the main was made, but unfortunately it it only went about half way before it jammed solid. While bobbing along trying to release it, a humpback whale swam straight at the boat. I thought it was going swim between the pontoons, so I ran to the bow (holding on tightly) to watch it pass. It made a slight turn and ended up passing next to us so close I could have reached out and touched it’s tail.

Our favorite frappuccino shop!

Five days were spent anchored in the bay before our week in the fantastic condo we booked. It was great to have a couple pools in our complex since the harbor in Zihua is too polluted to swim, and we even hosted the crews of Stray Cat and Gillie at the pool. We learned not to do anything but sit by the pool between 11:00am and dusk, it was just too hot to move around. Zihua was an interesting place, with lots to do, but we looked forward to moving on to cooler climates.

Fish market

After a couple of days preparation, Derick and Barb headed south to continue this years journey to Panama, and a canal transit. Once again we were land lubbers.

Security before the Christmas parade

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