May 14, 2001
Bahia Tenacatita, Jalisco, Mexico -19° 17.9’ N; 104° 50.3’ W  

This Cove is Magic
By Lois Joy            

As we wended our way through the larger part of Bahia Tenacatita, keeping the twelve-foot Roca Central on our port, we turned to tuck in behind Punta Chubasco, a high cliff with jutting rocks that would protect us from a northwest wind, the prevailing winds for this time of year.   Three vessels--two sailing and one power--were already anchored in the cove.  Two sets of dolphins followed us as we slowed to anchor.   “Look there,” Gunter pointed from the helm.  “And over there as well!” I yelled back from the bow. Look at that pelican swooping in to catch that jumping fish.”  We found it difficult to focus on the anchoring.

Our Magic Cove

After we managed to set our anchor, despite the teeming life all around us, we spent much of the remainder of the afternoon and early evening on deck taking it all in. The dolphins swam from one vessel to another as they played and leaped in pairs.   A brown and white pelican caught a good-sized fish for her evening meal, right near the stern of Pacific Bliss.   As Gunter dove down to check the knot meter (which wasn’t working again) he found that the bay was packed with algae-not good visibility for snorkeling, but great for the wildlife here.

We watched the surf pound against the shoreline, massive breaking waves churning white froth.  There would be no dinghy landing this day!   The sound was awesome and overwhelming.   It would pound us to sleep this night, eventually dulling our senses with its deafening regularity.  The music from the hotel across the bay came in faintly; it was drowned out by the nature’s decibels.

Our anchoring spot was close to the reefs at the entrance to Boca de Rio Las Iguanas, the beginning of the Jungle River Trip called out as a “must do” in all three of our guidebooks covering this area.  This is what it says:

“Larger dinghies may need help getting over the bar, but inside depths are 4’ to 15’ in the main channel…as long as you’re out before dark, you really can’t get lost…after fording the outer bar, enter by curving around the palmy sandspit with sandspit, where a pet crocodile is rumored to live…about two miles upstream…there is a short walk over sand to the palapa cantinas, a handy place for seafood lunch and a siesta.  Retrace your route and get out before the no-see-ums arrive.”

We wondered if the surf could possibly die down sufficiently for us to take the first step of those instructions, let alone the rest!  And then, of course, there are the rumors of those who have attempted the jungle ride.  Cruisers we had met in Barillas Marina in El Salvador had succeeded, whereas two couples we met in Barro Navidad said that they “turtled”, cruiser talk for overturning one’s dinghy completely.  Well, that takes care of the “what to bring” section of the guidebook:

“Sun protection, camera and fast film, binoculars, bird book, bug repellent, drinking water, oars, anchor, cooler with food or pesos for lunch.” 

The Reefs at Tenacatita

Yes, if you do not overturn your dinghy it might be handy to have all these things, and if the palapas serving food are still there and open it might be nice to have pesos.

Yes, we have become skeptical, but also more flexible and safety-conscious.  Having come halfway along the Mexican coast, we can now taste California and home. And with our injuries healing, we want to make sure we get back to San Diego healthy and happy.

Gunter and I realized today that we are really content and at peace. We are centered again. The R&R surrounded by the luxury of a five-star resort in Barro Navidad had been good for us. 

We are ready for another adventure, but we are also content to just sit on Pacific Bliss, contemplating this cove of magic.   As the sun set, turning the sea into a path of gold and the hills on shore a mystical blue/purple haze, we looked at each other in wonder. “Tomorrow is another day.”

A Mystical Night Falls on the Shores of Tenacatita

Aftermath: The next day, Tuesday, the surf rolled in higher than ever. The weather forecast on the Amigo net predicted up to 15-knot variable winds, increasing Thursday through Saturday to 25 to 30 knots NNW at Cabo Corriente.  This is the cape we must round on the way into Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta, our next destination. It is another one of those Capes that mariners dread, with dangerous, confused seas that can easily cause additional gusts of 10 to 15 knots.   NNW is the direction we must head to round the Cape. So with the wind on our nose, we could perhaps make 5 knots, making the apparent wind speed 30-35 knots.    Needless to say, right after the net we were saying our good-byes via VHF and we were “outa there.”  We had a two day weather window, and we planned to take advantage of it.







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