Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Whale of a Tail

Though we’d sailed south along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, and across the mouth of the Sea of Cortez to get to Mexico’s mainland, we tend to think our Mexico season begins here in La Cruz.  Here, all seems right with the world, for it is here that we began our first of four seasons in Mexico; here is where we left for two years sailing to the South Pacific, and it is here that most days greet and depart with an amazing sky show.

And it is here that we reunite with many friends from all over the world to share and enjoy the many great things that make La Cruz so special.  Like Thanksgiving, which was celebrated at a nearby home with 130 guests, six turkeys, four hams, and all the trimmings.

When you are away from family at Thanksgiving it’s great to share this time with people who are as close to family as you can get, like buddies David and Jan Goodhead.

We joined several friends for a day out on Banderas Bay, whale watching.  So why would people who live and sail in the Pacific pay to go out on the water in what some would call a cattle boat?

Well, for one thing, when you don’t have to operate the boat, there’s a bunch more time for actually watching the whales.  Also, when not operating a boat, there’s no excuse not to accept a glass from the trays of margaritas that seem to magically appear at just the right moment.  But we were here to watch whales, and they did not disappoint.  

And speaking of magic, there’s nothing quite as awesome as watching a whale slowly roll into a deep dive…

… when the tail gracefully lifts clear of the water …

… and seems to give a gentle wave to anyone watching …

… before slowly sinking out of sight.

We watched the same show over and over until finally it was time to wave goodbye for the last time as our cattle boat returned to the dock in Nuevo Vallarta.

We could have watched these whales forever, but had to make a flight back to San Diego for a Christmas reunion with all the Rogers clan.  Amazing to think John’s parents created this much trouble!

Of course that included a visit with the grand children who have now officially passed up their gramma in the height category

And a chance for three brothers, 
now the elders, 
to prop each other upright for a portrait.

Like all trips home, this one was over too soon, but La Cruz was there to welcome us back with more of it’s amazing sky shows.

We took our dinghy out of the marina for a chance to see the sunset, and enjoy the colors on the water…

…where for a moment we thought we might be run over by a sailboat, but it turned out to be Pinocchio arriving at La Cruz, sailed by David and Susan, who are Richmond Yacht Club dock-mates and friends with our old and best friends, and official Moo-Crew mates Jeff and Annie Cook.

They swung around for a quick chat and some snaps in the golden light of sunset.

Pinocchio left and we returned to the marina, but the sky show wasn’t over.

We just kept staring at the sky and snapping pictures…

… all the way to Moonshadow’s berth.

Jan and David have a beautiful power boat tied in the slip next to Moonshadow in the marina at La Cruz.  

After the fun we had whale watching before, they offered to take us out for another trip in search of whales in Banderas Bay… 

… which turned out to be one of the most amazing displays put on by whales we’ve ever seen.

Whale watching is usually one of those things where you’re better off not trying to take photographs, because when you get home and look, all you have is some splashy water.  But this was different…

There was the usual whale tail display, 
which is typically the best you can hope for.

We never get tired of seeing this much of a whale above the surface of the water.

We even began to recognize the different whales by the markings on their tails.

But these whales were up to something.

This whale was slapping the water with his tail and it went on for 20 minutes


Tail slapping is a mating behavior by males meant to attract females and establish dominance over the other males.

Another mating behavior for both attraction and macho display is slapping with pectoral fins.


And when that doesn’t work, they pull out the big guns: Breaching

Breaching is when a whale tries to imitate a Trident missile launch.  Once airborne, they twirl around in the air…

… all to make the biggest splash they can.  They certainly got our attention.


In the end, the successful male attracts a female…

… and then they get down to business.  
Fortunately this is done below the surface 
or our blog would quickly become X-rated!

When the happy couple finally waved goodbye, we all wanted a cigarette.

Our friends in La Cruz include live aboard cruisers, Mexicans, ex-pat full time residents, musicians, and world travelers who’ve made La Cruz a repeat stop. Some own property down here, some rent, and some like Canadians, Chris and Cindy Bouchard, own businesses in La Cruz.  They have a beach front boutique hotel, Villa Amor del Mar, where visitors quickly become family and part of gatherings Chris and Cindy put on for their friends.  One such gathering was New Year's Eve...

We’ve learned that when the musical instruments come out at Chris and Cindy’s place, something special is about to happen.  This evening, it started with Chris and his friend Sergio, a local chef there to cater the dinner, began to jam on their guitars…

After a few songs, we heard a beautiful female voice which turned out to be Araceli, Sergio's wife, passionately singing a Mexican love song.  Read more about Sergio and Araceli here.

… then it turned out that Aaron Pollock, one of the hotel guests, could play too.  But Aaron didn’t just play, he killed it!  And Aaron isn’t just some guy with a guitar, he is an accomplished musician, singer and song writer with a budding musical career.

After a while Geo Ulrich showed up with his wife Fernanda.  Geo is a professional musician who we first met playing in Philo’s Bar in La Cruz back in 2013.  Check out this music video of Geo's group DuendeGeo and Aaron had never met but when they began playing it was something very special.

The rich, varied and ubiquitous music scene in La Cruz is one of the things we really love about this little village, but at the other end of the La Cruz spectrum is the simple beauty of the place.  

A quiet morning walk is capable of giving an array of beautiful scenes, just begging to be photographed.


Hard as it was to do, we bid farewell to La Cruz and cast off for points south.  On the way to Tenacatita we stopped at Isla Pasavera, near Chamela.

An anchorage safe only in settled weather, this is a jewel with views in every direction.

We were reminded of a similar scene in Fiji where pangas served as the school bus bringing boatloads of students home to the village…

… and wondered if that’s what we were seeing here in Chamela’s coastal waters.

After two nights in this delightful anchorage, we continued on to Tenacatita, a day’s sail south.  As the Mexican shoreline slid by, we saw more whales breaching inshore of us.  

As one whale was splashing down, another was launching upwards.

This scene was repeated at least a dozen times


We arrived at Tenacatita mid afternoon, in time to see some beautiful cumulus clouds building over the mainland 

And also just in time for the Mayor’s raft-up.  A long time tradition on Fridays in Tenacatita, cruisers bring some nibbles to share, drinks, maybe a story to tell or some musical instruments, and while away the last hour of daylight among friends.

Like La Cruz, more often than not, the post sunset sky comes alive in Tenacatita.

As with many of the anchorages we filmed in the South Pacific, we sent our drone aloft to capture some aerial views of the surroundings.  The beach here can produce a nice little wave for surfing, or acres of smooth sand for Bocci Ball games.

A winding lagoon can be navigated by dinghy along what’s called the jungle cruise to a beach at the far end.  Where the lagoon empties into Tenacatita’s anchorage, locals have recently created a rock jetty to make panga entry deeper and easier.  It’s a work in progress as the jetty channel shoals up so much it is sometimes the best surf spot.

Tenacatita’s anchorage provides great protection in all but strong southerlies.

Speaking of the jungle cruise, it’s open now.

That wasn’t the case three years ago when hurricane Patricia with 200 mph winds paid a visit.  Several of the men aboard the cruising yachts (including Moonshadow) volunteered to help with the huge job of clearing away fallen trees and brush in the mangrove.  With machetes and chainsaws going at it full tilt, it’s amazing we all still have our fingers.

Today, along the lagoon path through the mangrove, new growth has almost taken over the tall trees that were ravaged by the hurricane...

... and the places where the crew placed all the cut branches three years ago are nearly covered.

Some of the places where the mangrove created a tunnel have almost returned to how it was before.

It looks like there would be crocodiles here, 
and there are.

The view of the fleet from the worlds best Bocci Ball court.

Tenacatita can turn on the magic machine when the sunset colors come alive.

Another Friday means another Mayor’s raft-up.  

So who’s this “Mayor”?  There have been others before him, but the current Mayor is Robert Gleser, who has been Mayor for something like 15 years.  Robert and his wife of 48 years Virginia are the happiest hippies you’ll ever meet, with many rich life experiences to share and a genuinely positive view of life.  Great people, without whom Tenacatita wouldn’t be the same.

At this latitude, there always seems to be some clouds passing through the sky above so sunsets become better after the sun has dropped below the horizon.  Just when you think you’ve seen the best ever, along comes one even better.

Wait, we’re not done with marine mammals.  Readers of our blog may remember a post from 2016 when the dolphin in Tenacatita were swimming all around Moonshadow and playing with our anchor chain.  Well they seem to like it in Tenacatita because they keep returning.  This year we saw three of them playing hide and seek with Jeanette and Neill aboard their trimaran Shazam.



Most mornings start off dead calm.  
Perfect for paddle boards.

This is how to snorkel without getting wet.

Most will remember the lunar eclipse.  With a little help from Photoshop, this is how we remember it from aboard Moonshadow in lovely Tenacatita.

Composite photo:  night sky by Steve Dashew, eclipse and Tenacatita Bay by John Rogers

Another Friday Raft-up.  We attended five this year.

We will be pulling up the anchor soon to leave Tenacatita for parts further south, but it won’t be easy.

Besides it being hard to leave our friends and this beautiful place…

… we think our anchor chain is full of barnacles!

That is what our Aussie friends call 
champagne problems.