The Secret Anchorage

The possibilities are endless on what you might see while traveling by boat along Mexico’s Happy Coastline. Heading south from Chamela we see extravagant houses built into rocky cliffs. Sandy beaches adorned with palm trees. Whales and dolphins that swim up to say hello. Scanning the shoreline we see more beautiful . . . ScREeCH!

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Stop the boat! Our eyes become fixed on a decorated cement bowl sitting on the edge of the cliff face. Further inspection through the binocs (binoculars) gives perspective to the massively sized bowl with a small delicate ladder leading up the side.

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The ride to our next destination is slow, so there is plenty of time to contemplate. What might that be used for? What was its intended purpose? And for goodness sake man, why the ladder! Our minds starts wondering. A forgotten ruin from the Pre-Columbian era? A ceremonial place where people were sacrificed? A symbol to the gods? Maybe it’s a commemorative piece of art, or used in growing crops? Clearly the ladder is there to give access to viewing inside the bowl. We don’t have Internet so one must develop some sort of imagination. The sailing guide book doesn’t say much. Just that it has a name, Copa de Sol (Cup of Sun).

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Fifty boats greeted us in the Tenicatita anchorage. We anchored near Cake and took a seat in Maluhia’s cockpit to watch our friends John and Dave entering the anchorage on Valhalla. A popular past-time by many is to deliberately but discretely observe those anchoring around you.

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Everyone has their own method for anchoring. From dramatically speeding through the anchorage and dropping the anchor while the boat is still moving forward, allowing it to catch and swing the entire boat around; to choosing a spot, letting the anchor fall and backing it down. The main concern during anchoring among crowds is how your boat will sit and swing in relationship to your new neighbors, after letting out the appropriate amount of scope (length of chain).

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If you haven’t noticed it in our pictures by now, more interesting with Valhalla is that the captain (John) lost his eye sight in his thirties to a progressive macular degeneration. Which puts an entirely different perspective on cruising and sailing for that matter. John is blind but had been a sailor prior, and couldn’t give up on his passion.

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Getting to know John you wouldn’t know he lost his eye sight. In fact we often forget. Sometimes this leads to unintentional injury of our friend who might run into a palm tree during one of our walks, fall through a hatch or walk off the dock into the water. Our friend Dave was now his crew, John’s eyes for this sailing trip South.

The Tenicatita anchorage is so popular among cruisers that a self appointed mayor had been named with duties that include organizing beach games and a Friday night dinghy raft up.

We did not stay long in this anchorage. Surf camp was unofficially halted after showing its ugly side. Some participants were injured due to rocks and slippery boards. Instead of camp or dinghy raft ups we made our own fun with a very friendly eight man game of Liars Dice aboard Sequoyah.

The dumbed down version of the game as we knew it, actually came in a box under the name Perudo with official game rules. The boxed version even includes fancy colored plastic cups. A step up from our red solo cups.

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Our next stop South was Cuastecomate or the “Secret Anchorage.” Not sure how secret it is since everyone follows the SAME guide book! It is more exclusive than secret since a limited number of boats can fit here. We squeezed Maluhia into the mix and enjoyed this slice of Mexico so much we stayed a week.

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The community is very small tucked into a secluded bay with the main attraction being the beach, its palapas, and a hotel. During our visit, the community was in repair mode utilizing money from the government for beautification of the streets and buildings.

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The only store in the secret anchorage called Articles for The Beach. They sell beer, soda, and chips.

With fresh vegetables once again running low, we coordinated a taxi ride to the nearest town with more substance, called San Patricio or Melaque. Upon recommendation we found the three most important items every cruiser needs in a town in Mexico, a bank, the freshest grocery, and coffee.

The freshest grocery was at the Hawaiian Store which sold some familiar American Cost-Co items to make us feel at home. The best coffee beans we were told came from La Taza Negra. Finding both these places without the ease of a vehicle involved a half day walking exclusion wandering the streets of Melaque.

 La Taza Negra is owned by a young family with two children and the coffee? These beans were the best we had since La Paz! Alexa and Ben sell beans from Oxaca and Chiapas in almost every supermarket in town. Our only regret was not knowing the gem we had in our hands at the time. We should have bought two large bags!

Ben originally from Kansas City, MO., had romanticized about life on the water with his family. We invited the whole family to come to Cuestacamate to see our boats. Over drinks under a beach palapa, we sat down to discuss what boat life is really like.

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As we approached our dinghy at the end of the day. A man came running out towards us from one of the palapas carrying a huge bag of oysters. My mind was not in Spanish mode and I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying.

“They are dead?” I asked in Spanish.

Nope, nope that was not it. We established they were good oysters, and it was then I realized they needed to go back into the water. We agreed to put them in the water but weren’t sure the details.

We drove the dinghy towards a float outside the surf break and glanced back at the guy on the beach waving his hands wildly once again. Not that bouy! We headed towards another smaller float.

I pulled on the float and it wouldn’t budge. What was I doing exactly? Shouldn’t their be another line to tie this oyster bag to? I grabbed the float and tied the end of the bag to it. As I dropped the oyster bag the float sank out of view. The guy on the beach seemed happy but had he known what I’d done?

After some contemplation I realized I should have just dropped the bag into the water. The float with the line on it was probably a leader line for the diver to pull himself to the bottom in order to feel for the bag. I just messed up everything by tying a knot in the bag attached to the float!

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I couldn’t worry too much. We were planning on leaving soon. But not before a rainstorm brought lightning and 25 knot winds into the anchorage. We were able to collect 5 gallons of water off our decks during the storm. It was nice to refill our water tanks and use the water for dishes, and washing. But I’ll admit we were monitoring Maluhia and our neighboring boats with some intent during the short lived storm.

We enjoyed our time in Cuastecomate. It ranks high as one of the best places we stopped on Mexico’s Costa Alegre. But, then there was Barra de Navidad . . .

Categories: Amigos, Anchoring, Buddy boating, Community, Cruising, Culture, Living aboard, Mexico, Passage Making, Sailing, Weather, Whales | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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