Apr 22, 2013

Bahia Chamela and Isla Pajarera

The first condition of understanding a 
Foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling 


Left of the lagoon's outlet
We have gone 109 miles from Punta de Mita to anchor in this fairly large bay.  Although not very far, it gives us a very small taste of the beginning of the route many take out of here heading out to the South Pacific.  We have been following our friends’ various progressions on their way across the Pacific called “The Puddle Jump”.  We are reminded by a 93 year old ex-cruiser (cruised for 65-70 years) that “She is no puddle” and that it is definitely more than a “jump”.

Lagoon had four foot high outflow 2 weeks ago - now dry!
Right of the lagoon's outlet
We already know of two boats not making their planned crossings this year due to shroud (lines on each side of the mast holding it in place) failure, another one is fixing their mainsail while underway at 1/3 of the way there, and a fourth one with a bent whisker pole (pole that holds out your jib when sailing downwind).  This crossing is hard on gear and people.  One has to have backup plans for many possibilities the seas may bring to them. 

The one night we spent getting here would represent approximately only 1/30th of an actual crossing to the Marquises.   Although we may one day do it ourselves, we are content to live that dream vicariously by listening to our friends via radio each night or reading their updated blogs. 

Two pens in the background where they grow black pearls
Unfortunately Chamela’s population, somewhat like the majority of the people in Matanchén Bay who are used to catering to Mexican tourists, are not warm to Americans.  We do not spend much time here and head only a few miles south to one of the islands in the bay.  Pajarera or Aviary Island is part of a National Park System and left mostly untouched by growth and civilization.  We watched about 6-8 types (to our untrained eyes) of birds fly, nest, land, roost, preen, sing, fight for territory, warm themselves up, or hunt from giant multi-armed cacti who have become white at the tips from all the guano they drop.  The cacti are already top heavy from so many arms reaching towards the sky from a lone trunk; adding dozens of large birds on them seem to defy the laws of gravity and we do notice a few cacti toppled over.  When we glide near the island in our kayaks, we can spot many birds within the leafless tree branches, once back at our sailboat, only 300 feet away, they’ve all disappeared, blending so well within their environment.

On our way to Pajarera Island - beautiful blue waters - Looking at Isla Novilla
The surf comes from nearly every direction.  The wind is like a vortex of various angles and speeds.  It is difficult to judge how to best reach the rocky beach without wiping out.  The water is clear to 20 feet; the island is surrounded by lacy white foam lined by the very dark island rocks on one side, and aquamarine water on the other.  It is the first time since we have left the Sea of Cortez (back in Dec 2012) that we see nice water. 

Rock archway SW of Isla Pajarera
Find the right passage to get out of here...
The area must be influenced by major ocean currents for although we have gone 100 miles south, the water temperature went from 83.3° to 71.2°; keeping the mornings much cooler and heavy with dew covering everything. 

Although we can see some homes on the mainland from this island based anchorage, it feels remote and tranquil.  We have seen no pangas or fishermen or tourists for the time we were there.  What a change from the hubbub of Banderas Bay for 3+ months!  We have not yet found good beach-combing on the mainland side; the Sea of Cortez spoiled us…

Swell, small landing, kayaks, rough landscape covered with cacti
Cactus covered rocks - very safe environment for birds
As dusk envelops us, the many bird calls and songs slowly wane and are replaced by the chirping of crickets.  The sunset colors of the few high clouds to the SW evaporate into constellations, stars, and beautiful dark sky.  The water below turns from aquamarine to black with constant movement highlighted by the bioluminescence. 

We just heard the news that our new grandson has arrived.  Liam is welcomed into this world.  From the plans of the three kids, this should be our last grandchild.  Nikki turned 10 in April and Marie-France is also older…

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