Don’t Tip the Canoe!

After leaving Punta Mita, we headed over to Yelapa just across Banderas Bay.  Yelapa is an absolutely beautiful bay with steep, green hillsides.  The anchorage is also steep-to underwater, so some enterprising locals have set up moorings that you can tie up to.  The “mooring ball” was just an empty water jug, but the mooring was solid and kept us in place.  We got a visit from one of the locals in a panga to charge us a fee of about $15/night for use of the mooring.

There is no way into Yelapa other than by boat, as there are no roads (and no cars) into the town.  There are winding, cobblestone streets throughout the town that are a bit of a maze.  But, we did find a delicious restaurant called Tacos Y Mas the first night we arrived.  We ran into a couple other boats we had met earlier in La Cruz and invited them to join us for some delicious al pastor tacos.

Our plan for the next day was to hike to one of the waterfalls that we were told were outside of town.  Unfortunately, Mike & I both came down with a horrible cold/flu type thing and were laid up in bed for the next two days.  Ugh.  So, we missed out on the waterfall. Oh well.

We needed to keep moving south, so as soon as the weather forecast looked good, we took off on an overnight passage to Tenacatita.  We had pretty consistent winds in the 15-20 kt range all night that gave us a beautiful downwind sail.  On my watch I got the privilege of seeing an amazing moonrise when the moon looked like a giant orange ball of fire rising up over the mountains.  Just awesome!

We arrived in Tenacatita and were a bit surprised to find about 15 boats there, but it is a pretty large anchorage.  We had read that there was an estuary you can enter just off the anchorage that will take you about 2 1/2 miles through the mangroves up to a lagoon.

We decided to check out the estuary by paddle, so we blew up our inflatable canoe and took off toward the estuary entrance.  We could tell that the tide was going out, so it was going to be an upstream paddle on the way in, but we thought it would be better to have the more difficult paddle first and then coast back.

What we didn’t anticipate was that at the mouth of the estuary the bar gets really shallow.  That shallow water accelerated the flow of the current to the point where we were fighting about a 4 kt current.  Despite our frantic paddling, we weren’t able to get through that.  So, we beached the canoe and walked it across the bar to a point where the estuary was deeper and the current not quite as fast.

The upstream paddle was definitely a challenge and a serious workout for the arms, but we were able to manage it ok.  Just a few blisters on the hands…  But, on the return trip, we were able to float back just using the paddles to steer around the bends.

The estuary was beautiful.  The mangroves lined the sides of the estuary and were home to tons of red mangrove crabs and all different types of birds – herons, egrets, etc.  It really was perfect to paddle instead of using the dinghy with the motor.  The silence in the estuary except the sounds of the birds, the wind blowing through the mangroves and the scratching of the crabs through the mangroves really did give us a sense of being part of nature.

We were told that there were some crocodiles in the estuary.  One of the other boats we met in the anchorage told us they saw some baby crocodiles on their trip through.  We were on the lookout, but unfortunately never saw any.  I’m sure they were hiding somewhere in the mangroves.  I figured they wouldn’t bother us, but I certainly didn’t want to take an chances of tipping the canoe and going for a swim!

Tenacatita was awesome, but we needed to keep moving. After a couple of days, we headed south again to Barra de Navidad!  More on that next time…

~katie

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