Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Week in Tenacatita with the mayor and Chippy

We had a nice sail from Chemala to Tenacatita, mostly uneventful until we needed to gybe (which means we have to bring the sails from one side of the boat to the other with the wind on our tail - not always the easiest maneuver).  We observed Meridian, who was a short distance ahead, as they attempted to gybe their free-flying headsail. For a while it looked like Roger might be propelled off the bow of their boat into the water as Roger struggled with the big sail.  Finally, things were under control and they headed towards the anchorage.  Then it was our turn.  For a while we were headed further away from shore as we prepared for our gybe, which didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked, but in no time at all we were following on Meridian's heels.

Tenacatita is a wide open anchorage with room for many boats.  The bay stretches 2 1/2 miles from one side to the other.  The most popular and protected anchorage, this time of year, is the NW corner tucked in behind Chubasco.  This is where we anchored. 

Three years ago, when Michael and I visited Rob and Teresa Sicade aboard Yohelah, another Baba 40, one of the anchorages we visited was Tenacatita.  We were looking forward to seeing Tenacatita again and creating some new experiences.  On our previous visit, we took a 1 1/2 mile dinghy ride through the mangroves.  At the end of the estuary we were able to walk a short distance to an elegant beach filled with beachside palapas serving food and drink and a few tiendas where we could buy some basic provisions.  The estuary is still there, but all of the palapas and tiendas are gone.  We had heard that some rich guy decided that he owned all of the property abutting the beach and kicked out all of the palapas.  The end of the estuary is now manned by guards prohibiting entrance to that beach.  We decided to leave our pleasant memory intact and opted out of the estuary tour this time.

One lone palapa and an RV park are all that remains along with an all inclusive hotel, The Blue Hotel at the end of the beach.  Across the bay lies the quaint village of la Manzanilla, populated with restaurants and tiendas selling an assortment of provisions and souvenirs.

Monday I heard what sounded like a fog horn and poked my head up to check on the commotion.  At first glance I thought it was Roger letting someone know they were approaching a shallow area near their boat.  Then over the radio came an announcement by Roger, "Attention Tenacatita fleet, the mayor of Tenancatita has arrived."  I later learned that the "mayor" of Tenacatita is Robert Gleese on Harmony, along with first lady, Virginia.  The sound I had heard was Robert blowing on a conch shell.   We soon found out why Robert was elected mayor.  He was responsible for organizing many activities; one of which was the 1:00 p.m. swim to the beach most afternoons from the stern of Harmony.  Those who didn't swim, would take their dinghies to shore to join the shoreside activities which at times consists of a walk on the beach to the hotel and back, bocce ball and Mexican dominoes under one of the palapas with food and drink.  Fridays at 5:00 p.m. Robert hosts the Tenacatita dinghy raft-up where good food is passed around from dinghy to dinghy.  This is also a good time to share books and meet some of the other cruisers in the anchorage.

Getting to shore in Tenacatita requires a surf landing.  After our experience in Chemala I was prepared to be wet.  I had on my swimsuit and everything else was in a dry bag, including my prescription glasses.  We had watched the wave patterns for a long time on the boat and then again as we motored over to time our landing to catch the wave just at the right time.  Everything seemed to be going okay and then the next minute I was in the water looking at the bottom of the dinghy which had flipped over and the motor had stopped.  Michael and I quickly recovered in the shallow water and got the dinghy ashore.  We ran back out to grab our bags and shoes which were all floating.  About that time I realized I had lost my sunglasses and Michael had lost his prescription glasses.  We were looking for the glasses when some of the group appeared to let us know that one year there were nine pairs of glasses that were lost and only one recovered and that was because they saw the glasses as they went to the bottom and were able to grab them.  Oh well.  The big concern was getting the motor cleared of salt water and started again.

One of the nice things about the cruising community is the way everyone jumps in to help.  Three of the guys gave up their beers to help Michael start the motor to no avail.  Then Robert towed Michael and the dinghy back to the boat.  A happy ending to the story is that after 1 1/2 days of working on the motor and lots of moral support from others in the anchorage, the motor finally started.

Friday, we decided we weren't quite ready to leave Tenacatita yet, but we needed more provisions.  So, off across the bay to la Manzanilla on the dinghy along with Ann on Taking Flight.  I wasn't looking forward to a another surf landing, especially knowing we would have lots of bags of provisions, but on we went.  I am the worrier in our family and Ann said she is the worrier for her family.  Ann said if she wasn't worried then there really wasn't anything to be worried about.  Along the way Michael spotted a whale between us and the shore - to some it would be exciting - to me it was just another thing to worry about.  At any rate, we had a successful surf landing, a good shopping trip, lunch and a very successful launch and then a long trip back to the anchorage.

Our last day in the anchorage we had been reading about "Chippy" the friendly dolphin who is known to visit a few of the anchorages in the area.  Chippy got his hame because of the chip which is missing from his dorsal fin.  We had hardly put the cruising guide away when an announcement came over the radio that Chippy had been sited.  Sure enough, we looked out to see Chippy swimming around our boat.

So there you have it, how a week in Tenacatita can go by before you know it.

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