Tuesday, February 11, 2014

True North January 28 to February 8: Bahia Manzanillo

From Barra de Navidad it is a short 27 nm hop to our southernmost turn-around point: Las Hadas in Bahia Manzanillo was to be our southern terminus. Nice as Barra is, it is greatly freeing to be out on the open water again on clear, sunny days. Unfortunately, there was virtually no wind on this leg, so we motored the entire way.  It's hard to believe you can be out in the Pacific Ocean in conditions like Lake Washington on an August day!  However, we did catch a fish!  Unfortunately, we identified it as another skipjack, which is usually considered poor eating (as was our experience with our only other catch, another skipjack).  So we released the skipjack.
Anne lands the skipjack
As we neared Ensenada Carrizal, 20 nm miles from Barra and just outside the large Bahia Manzanillo, we spotted a whale breaching not far away. Once inside the small bay, there was only a small fishing panga. Soon, a humpback entered the bay, coming kind of close to us. The panga went right up to it while the whale lob-tailed, breached, spy-hopped and flipper-snapped. Great private show! It stayed for 10 minutes before leaving from the bay, panga close behind.
Humpback about to land on its back, Ensenada Carrizal
There is a large coral reef on the bay with some brilliantly colored tropical reef fish and we stayed the following morning to snorkel along the reef, hoping the whale would not return just then.

Our next stop - Bahia Santiago, the next bay past Carrazal, with a long golden sand beach that curves around to the point separating it from Bahia Manzanillo. We anchored at Playa Boquita and took the dinghy to shore to find the recommended ramada (the local name for palapa restaurant), El Rey. A few other ramadas operate near the dinghy landing but most of the beach is lined with large private homes all the way to the point.
Balloon vendor, Playa Boquita
One night was enough for Playa Boquita, so the next day we headed for our last stop in Bahia Manzanillo. Just around Punta Santiago is the Marina Las Hadas and anchorage, our goal and turn-around point, and a 20 minute bus ride from Manzanillo Centro. Hard to believe our southernmost point is here already! We anchored just outside the breakwater to the marina. Las Hadas Resort is striking with bright white Moorish style, arched buildings, small turrets, lovely palm trees, and a very distinctive three-story tower on top of the ridge.
True North in front of Las Hadas
A dinghy docking fee of 200 pesos/day (~$16) includes use of the beautiful tiled pool and towels.

"Our" pool at Las Hadas
Las Hadas is several miles outside of downtown Manzanillo.  Manzanillo itself has a very large commercial port - frequently a half dozen container ships are visible in the Bay, coming, going, and anchored. We took a couple of buses to get to Manzanillo Centro where the waterfront is filled with large ships and loading docks. A large blue sailfish sculpture in the waterfront park marks its place as the sailfish capital of the world.
The Manzanillo sailfish sculpture
We searched out the two mercados in the centro area, one filled with produce stalls and lunch counters on the top floor.
Manzanillo mercado
We stopped for barbacoa; however, the second mercado had only eating stalls and they appeared to be the far better choice. There isn't too much tourism in this working city.
Street scene, Manzanillo
Back at Las Hadas Resort, the sprawling, breezy lobby area had been filled with several large screens for watching the Superbowl: Seahawks vs Broncos! Superbowl Sundays are supposed to be ski days for us, but... On this occasion, we joined the others for what proved to be an exciting game, especially for us (former) Seattlites. Meanwhile, several Seattle boats had gone on to Zuihuatanejo to view the game together where they most likely raised the ceiling!

While in Las Hadas, we ran into Sea Otter and Antipodes and had several great get togethers with them.  One day, we all piled into Sea Otter and headed to the downtown Manzanillo anchorage and explored the town again.

Dinghy "dock", downtown Manzanillo
We used a dinghy dock at a restaurant, and then to be neighborly, had a round of margaritas at the restaurant when we returned.  After ordering, Julie went up to the bar to change her order to a "margarita tamarinda" instead of a "margarita normal".  Due to a curious misunderstanding, the bartender thought she said "camarone" instead of "tamarinda" and so we all had a delightful little shrimp on our margarita glass!
"Margarita Camarones", a new drink!
From Las Hadas, we headed back to Ensenada Carrizal for another day of snorkeling along with Sea Otter and Antipodes.

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