Banderas Bay is the farthest south we have traveled together as a family. Now, however, we are pointing the bow south looking to explore new places and find new adventures. Before we left La Cruz the kids and I flew to Los Angeles to get the kids a covid vaccine and I received a booster. Four weeks later Ashley and the kids again flew to L.A. for the kids’ second shot and Ashley received her booster. This gave us all a little more sense of security as we travel during this global pandemic. It also makes getting into and out of Central American and Caribbean countries much easier and less expensive. One of the highlights of our time in La Cruz was taking a group of future Marine Biologists sailing for the day. The local STEM University asked some of the sailors in the marina if we would be willing to take a group of students out sailing so they can get first-hand experience with being on the ocean. Eight amazing young people and their passionate professor joined us for a day of sailing around the bay. We discussed sailing and all the physics involved. We discussed the wildlife of the bay. We expressed our love for their country. They took turns driving and handling the sails. And we even stopped for a quick swim before heading home. Those young idealists have left a lasting impression on us and gave us so much hope for the future of the environmental movement here in Mexico.
Our first passage south was a 250 miles run down the coast. We left the marina in the morning and were greeted with an amazing show of humpback whales waving goodbye. As we left Banderas Bay the wind began to increase and did so all throughout the day reaching into the 30 knot range by mid afternoon. The seas picked up as well and just like that we were racing down the coast of Mexico. Ashley and I took turns at the helm all through the night as the waves increased in strength and tried tossing the boat around if we fell too far off course. It had been more than a year since Ashley and I were the only two adults aboard to share the night watches. Yet we eased into the rotation and the routine like it was just yesterday. There was almost zero moonlight so the night was dark, windy, and had large seas but that did not slow us down (in fact it really sped us up). Samadhi, the kids, Ashley and I had a wonderful passage and we were all very happy to be on the ocean again. We had dolphins playing in our bow wave 4 or 5 times throughout the days and it was great to see Alexander and Victoria excited about that again. We sailed into the bay near Chamela at 11pm on the second day and dropped our anchor in front of the small town. The next morning we moved south about 4 miles to a beautiful little island. Here we spent the day snorkeling in the clear, warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The next morning we all enjoyed a great breakfast in the cockpit at anchor next to our own little island that we had all to ourselves. We were surrounded by beautiful blue waters, breaking surf over rugged reefs, and to the east of us was the lush Mexican jungles and mountains. There was barely a sign of civilization in sight. We went for another swim and snorkeled some more on a different reef that was surrounded by thousands of different colored fish. We raised the anchor just after noon and sailed south to Tenacatita. We had another magnificent sail for the entire 40 mile run south. The winds were from the south so we tacked down the coast and arrived at our destination just before dark. We met some friends on the beach for a bonfire. Ashley and I discussed our upcoming plans with the parents of Tulum 5 while Victoria, Alexander, Ranger and the two kids from Tulum 5 ran around the beach laughing and playing and exploring. The next day was Victoria’s 11th birthday and she wanted to explore a lagoon nearby in the dinghy. So we braved the large, breaking wave entrance and made it into the lagoon. The narrow path through the mangroves was 2 miles long and full of the sounds, sights, and smells of a jungle cruise. We got up close to 2 crocodiles one of which was dead and the other not very large. The kids had fun and Victoria was pleased to have been able to go on such a wild adventure on her day.
The next leg south was a 36 mile run to Bahia Manzanillo. We left in the morning after breakfast and had a leisurely sail south. We had a dolphin escort for what seemed to by half of the trip. The kids were able to get in another full day of school as the seas were calm and we sailed for about 7 hours. When we arrived we found our friends on Tulum 5 and another family on Kyrie with 3 kids. We all got together and went out for dinner at an amazing little restaurant just above the small marina we all were anchored near. Manzanillo is a small little tourist area so we all just spent the next day taking it easy and having some down time. The kids did have a couple of battleship games over the radio. They have always talked about doing that but had never actually done it. They all had a blast and agreed to make this more of a routine when we are cruising together.
Our next leg was a longer run of 188 miles to Zihuatanejo. Seven boats in the little bay of Manzanillo all planned to head to Zihuatanejo and all decided that the weather looked great for the next few days. So when we woke up in the morning 2 boats were already gone and the other 3 were raising their anchors. I took Ranger into shore for his morning routine. When he and I returned we began the process for departure. By time we were moving our traveling flotilla anywhere from 2 to 4 hours ahead of us. We motored for the first hour or so which was fine because it gave our batteries a good charge. Our solar panels do not work as efficiently as usual when we are sailing south all day. The mast and the sails shade the panels all day and we are going downwind so our wind generator is not helping either. Therefore running the engine for an hour or so a day is becoming routine. Late in the morning the wind filled in and you could see all of the boats begin raising their sails. The wind filled in to Samadhi’s sweet spot and we soon had the spinnaker up and were sailing past our flotilla. By late afternoon we had caught and passed the last boat and the rest of the flotilla was so far behind us we could not even see them. As the night approached most of the fleet decided to stop and anchor. Ashley and I just could not put our sails down in such great conditions so we elected to sail through the night. Mother Nature did not disappoint us and the wind stayed true all night. We made excellent time and what could have been a two day and two night trip had us arrive to our destination by late afternoon on the second day. The first boat to arrive behind us showed up 7 hours after our anchor was down. Samadhi had her legs under her and put on an offshore sailing clinic.
We spent 3 days at Isla Ixtapa enjoying the small island off the mainland and the relatively calm anchorage. The other two kids boats eventually showed up and we had a great beach day playing in the sand and exploring the island. Zihuatanejo is just around the corner and we all sailed there after our final beach day. Zihuatanejo is a really great town with beautiful, lush, green hills all around. The town has an incredible market with straight from the farm, picked yesterday produce. There are beautiful walking trails throughout town. The Murphy crew all agree Zihuatanejo’s malecon is the best we have seen. It meanders along the beach around large rocks up and over massive boulders back along the sand and into town. It is simply beautiful. There is also a large community area with a sunken full-sized basketball court. Every night is seems there is some kind of community gathering. It is a wonderful place to visit and you quickly can be immersed into the community’s happenings. Oh, and there is a pickleball group that plays every morning and you all know I am there too.