With the holidays  behind us it was time to make tracks south. " Go south 'till the butter melts" are words to live by. Neither one of us on
Sailsoon are interested in cruising cold waters with a chill in the air. We're continuing our search for paradise. Every step along the way will
add a piece to that puzzle.

Jan. 5th. 2008 was as good a day as any to pull up the hook and set our GPS way point to head south. The weather forecast for rounding
Cabo Corrientes was a good as one can expect. We installed our "nerves of steel" to round the cape and set sail at 4:00 PM that afternoon.
Until about mid-night we had an unfavorable current and large, confused seas. This is called "the washing machine effect" because it's like
transiting in the agitation cycle. Mother natured settled down in the early morning hours, allowing us to take turns getting some rest.   A
special treat was sighting the southern cross in the dark skies (thank you John of s/v Nakia for the advisory).  We arrived at Bahia
Chamela, 100 miles south, in the early afternoon of the next day.

One week later we left Bahia Chamela en route for Bahia Tenacatita. Since this passage was only 30 miles we were able to leave
mid-morning and keep our eyes open for marine life. The viewings were not disappointing! Whales, dolphins and turtles kept us
entertained! It appears, at least to us, that the turtle protection program is working. There were hundreds of them! We originally anchored
in the outer "aquarium" area but moved to the inner anchorage the next day when we heard that our friends from s/v Capriccio were
waiting there for us with cold beer. We couldn't resist their company or invite!

Another week went by...where does the time go? The butter isn't melting in these mid 70 temps. so it's time to move on. Barra de Navidad
is a half days run. Anchoring can be taken in the lagoon. Lagoon....ah, flat calm waters for a restful nights sleep. No worries of the boat
dragging, no rolling from port to starboard and back while in bed, ease of food preparation while in the galley...the benefits were  going to
be endless. All we had to do was go through that very narrow, shallow entrance without grounding the boat. Now we had to weigh our
options. Should we enter at low tide? If we do that and ground, at least we should be able to get off on a rising tide. But what if it's too
low? Ah, then we're sure to ground! We could wait until high tide but if we ground then, we'll have to be pulled off by other boats. We
chose the option of going in at low tide. We approached the area right behind s/v Adios. We spotted the off-shore marker and lined it up
with the entrance buoy marker. Then we made a straight shot for the lagoon. Once inside the entrance we stayed centered of the marker
buoys, passed the fuel dock to starboard and found a place to park. Phew! We made it IN. Sailsoon draws 5.5' and the shallowest depth
we saw was 9'. We anchored in 8' of water in this shallow lagoon.
Barra de Navidad wasn't the peaceful lagoon we had planned on, though. The winds came up every day about noon and blew upwards to
28 knots until dark, causing a huge wind chop on the water. The bottom is mud, meaning that the normal 5 to 1 scope isn't enough. Most
boats had 100' to 125' of chain out in less than 10' of water. Boats drag into each other, depending on their anchor type. We had a boat
drag down on us. The owners were on shore and had no idea that it was happening. Several cruisers from the anchorage came
immediately  to assist us in separating the boats. Thank You!  No damage occurred to either boat; we moved and re-set our hook in an area
a bit south. (as a side note, an average of 4 boats a week end up grounding either coming in or out of the lagoon. One crew we spoke with
said they had gone in and out at least 11 times..the 12th time they grounded!)

Feb. 7th.: We followed our GPS tracks and left Barra de Navidad. We made it OUT without grounding, too! John's such a good captain.
We travelled through the day to Bahia Santiago, Manzanillo. As with the previous passages, the seas were kind and offered frequent views
of turtles. The weather was getting warmer; temps were now in the low 80's. However, we were starting to see red tide more often.  The
water, although warm, had poor visibility and was uninviting many days. We only stayed for 3 days.

We started our final southerly leg of the season on Sunday, Feb. 10th.  Bahia Zihuatenejo was just under 200 miles south. We decided on a
moments notice to join s/v Sweet Lorraine and s/v Southern Belle and buddy boat for the trip.  We had pleasant , light S and SW  winds
most of the way and small, long period swells. On the second day out, all 3 of us were circled several times by a Mexican Army helicopter
just above the tops of our masts. An hour later we were circled by a Mexican Navy Speed Boat. They slowed as they approached each of
our boats but didn't hail us on VHF 16 or indicate that we should slow down to allow for boarding. Eventually they  left us and  made their
way north. We all stopped at Isla Ixtapa at the end of the second day and moved on to Bahia Zihuatanejo for some fun early the next

Cruising the Mexican Pacific Coast was a completely different experience from those in the Sea of Cortez. Both were very good but
we thought we'd point out some major differences on the mainland:

The weather was consistently pleasant with normal land and sea breezes. The weather is mostly "settled"
Trash disposal wasn't an issue. The anchorages are close enough  to each other so that sorting isn't necessary and disposal barrels
are frequent.
Boat Supplies (Chandlers)
Provisioning is always available; produce is fresh and food is cheap. Garafones  (5 gal. Containers) of water can be bought for $2.00
or less.
Fresh showers with hot water are available at most bays, laundromats and restaraunt/bars
Laundry services and/or self service facilities abound
Bus service; good, inexpensive, extensive and frequent (bus drivers...ummmm, sometimes race jockeys..close your eyes)
Restaurants, bars, museums, shopping, music events and places similar to those found in the U.S. (Home Depot's, Sam's Club's,
Costco's, McDonalds, Auto Zone, WalMart...most of the big players are here)
Beach water quality is disappointing. Most of the season we experienced red tide blooms and less than desirable water cleanliness.
We can't say for sure what was floating in/on it but swimming was not on our daily agenda....unfortunately.
We spent a lot more money and did a lot of socializing
Leg 12_Part 4 - Banderas Bay to Zihuatanejo
Shallow depths
inside the lagoon can
cause big trouble.
This boat was on it's
side for almost 24
hours before it could
get off the bar!
Southern Belle's George points the way from Isla Ixtapa
to Bahia Zihuatanejo. Josh supervises on the bow.