San Blas, Nayarit (21 30 80N 105 14 29W); Capitol of the Jejene (no-see-ums; read: Bitey!)
Environmental conditions: Chilly-ish on the crossing; lovely in San Blas (but buggy!)
Fridge temp: Perfect
Battery state: 13.2V (i.e., back to perfect)
Euchre score: DNP (Huh?)
Took our time waking up in Los Frailes, finally weighed anchor at 0845, and looked forward to a long, ~50 hour crossing to the mainland. It was breezy right off the bat and a pretty rowdy sea state (we were headed east and the wind chop was coming from the north, which was no bueno), but we managed to find a relatively comfortable, deep angle to the wind and seas, and we were off under a double reefed main and full genny. The Advance Team, for once, lagged behind, and took off a couple of hours after us, waiting out the blow.
Things mellowed midday of the first day, so we shook out one reef in the main, and settled in for a comfy overnight after yet another gorgeous sunset. Once the moon set, the stars were crazy, blanketing the entire sky. So many shooting stars and constellations — made us wish we knew how to use a sextant! It got chilly overnight, and once again, we were wearing fleece and jackets. What the…? This was seen as a hardship, so Capt. Rand coined a new phrase, “When the going gets tough, the tough get out the chocolate covered almonds!” We ate a few of those along the way, despite the not-so-tough conditions. One curiosity though, we had no AIS — we couldn’t detect a single boat, not even SNL. Need to troubleshoot.
We sailed for 24+ hours straight at a pretty good clip. We knew we’d need to slow down if we wanted to make Isla Isabela in the daylight, but we were having so much fun! FL was sailing herself without regard for sail trim or wind shifts! Ultimately, recognizing the timing of things, we decided to make for San Blas, Nayarit, instead of Isla Isabela. We’ll hit that pretty island on the way back north in the spring. We also needed to make a bunch of water, top off the battery bank (since we’d been seeing low sun days and the solar couldn’t keep up), and charge our toothbrushes, so we fired up starboard.
Rand made a fabulous dinner of bonito over grains with canned green beans. A little bit of traffic as we got closer to the mainland. A big pleasure boat looked as if it would take SNL out — at least on radar and AIS (we finally picked up SNL on AIS about 0230 on the 5th), but they passed well in front of her. Lots of shrimping boats, too, with pretty indecipherable light configurations and swervy driving. Luckily, no harm, no foul.
Around 0800 on the 6th, as we were entering the big bay of San Blas, we got in a nice little sail, seeing up to 18 kts apparent. Once inside, we puttered our way up the estuary, which was quite shallow in spots, so shallow that we managed to mush a keel into the muddy bottom (some call this “running aground,” but this didn’t really count), but quickly backed off the sand bar and found a deeper part of the channel to make our way out. Doh!
The Advance Team was settled in well before us, in the smaller inner Bahía Matanchén, and we passed nearby and dropped the hook about a mile offshore to avoid the jejenes we’d heard San Blas were famous for, and then it was nap time. The water was murky because of two estuarine outlets, but it was warm and swimmable, and the anchorage was so quiet, with a few other cruisers already enjoying the tranquility of the bay. A bit later, Helen and Tom aboard S/V Catatude rolled in as well. It was a nice little reunion of sorts. We’d first met them in Ensenada on one of the WCM rallies. We look forward to connecting with them throughout the season.
The following morning, after getting caught up on sleep, we ventured into shore with Thad and Kristin for breakfast at Barro’s place, Playa Hermosas, with Helen and Tom (S/V Catatude), Jim and Jean (S/V Kanga), and Christine and Gary (S/V Tigress II). It was a lovely little gathering. Then off on the Jungle Tour up one of the estuaries to a freshwater spring (La Tovara).
The photos speak for themselves, but we’ll just say that it was muy magnifico! A cool breeze, mangroves, crocodiles, birds, NO biting bugs (!), freshwater lilies, an old movie set deep in the estuary, swimming at La Tovara (fenced off from any errant crocs), a rope swing, a cold Pacifico (or two or four), and we enjoyed it all at the hands of the best tour guide and panga driver ever, Victor. After the best Jungle Tour, we moseyed around town and enjoyed freshly made chile rellenos and avocados with Christine and Gary, who were wandering around town as well. Kristin and Jody made fast friends with Silvio and had a photo taken in front of the historic church.
All in all, it a fabulous stay at San Blas, but for the bugs — what is said about San Blas being notorious for no-see-ums is absolutely the truth — so we headed out to Chacala the following morning.