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La Cruz to Barra de Navidad and back, the trilogy. Back to adventures! Part 3 of 3

If you missed part 1 click here.

If you missed part 2 click here.

Now for Part 3. Back to adventures!!!

With a few days back together as a family and a few days before we started to head north again, we decided to fit in a Colima Volcano tour. Christian had energy for an adventure!!! Our good friend Edgard, whom we met in Barra last year, offered to be our tour guide. He leads tours for his business there, so it was only fitting to hire him.
March 21st, 2017: The day started early. Unfortunately Nina was sick, so she stayed in Barra under our friend’s supervision. Edgard picked us up at 8:30 am from the Hotel Sands (his family’s business), which is where we normally tie up our dinghy when we go to town anyway. The drive to the town of Colima was about 2 hours. We drove to a quaint town called Comala, then up another hour(ish) toward the 12,533 ft Volcán de Colima.  If you have more than a day, we recommend staying a night or two at El Litchi Hostal Colima and hiking its neighbor, Nevado de Colima (14,015ft), to get more of an adventure out of it. We didn’t and wished we had. 

We stopped for produce along the way and found our way to the first of many Coffee plantations/cafes. I indulged in coffee for the first time in 10 days! Watch out here I come!!!! Christian stayed strong and refrained.  An americano was $20 pesos. 1 dollar coffee! How could you pass that up? 

Further up the road we stopped at Laguna la Maria. We’d planned on going for a swim, but after seeing the silty brown color we were hesitant. Then a local came up to us to tell us why no one was swimming. Apparently a “devil lady”, Maria, haunted the lake. The myth is that many years ago, Maria asked her parents to go out with her friends. When her parents said no, she snuck out and drowned there and was never found. Ever since, people who swim have been known to disappear as well. Pretty creepy story. Supposably divers have gone down without finding the bottom. Some theories are of tunnels that have a vacuum effect. We may never know… Needless to say, we didn’t go swimming.

Taj with his Teeny Tiny Optics.

We drove further up the road to place called Laguna Verde. It was basically the end of the road for us. To mark the finally spot, another coffee plantation! Yay, a double dose day! The volcano was in the distance, but still magnificent. The cloud cover started to form by the time we got there, though we could still appreciate most of it’s magnitude.  

We had a pretty quick turn around, as we were doing all of this in one day. We stopped in Comala again on our way back down to eat a late lunch and buy a couple souvenirs. What a great day. If you’re down near Barra de Navidad or Melaque (San Patricio), give Edgard an email (ramseszava@hotmail.com) and tell him we sent you!🌋
A few days later we started making our way north again to La Cruz. We love Barra de Navidad. Our 3.5 weeks there flew by, but it was time to get moving again. First stopping at “Secret Cove” , then Tenacatita again, and lastly Bahia Chamela again before rounding Cabo Corrientes to Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area).

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We went to Secret Cove with our boat friends on Scavenger and Luna Azul. Christian and the men from the two other boats got some surf in. I was happy just to be out anchored somewhere new. Last year there was a 8-10 ft crocodile who was sighted many times there without any incident of hurting people. No one reported seeing him this year, so we swam. Taj jumped off the bow polepit for the first time! Ellamae helped scrub the waterline on the boat. We spent time picking urchin out of Scotty’s foot. Tip: hot vinegar soak alternating with dripping melting beeswax on each spine. It’s a good thing we have a lot of beeswax on our boat. This has come in handy a few times already.
Tenacatita, always guarantees a good time. We did the mangrove tour again. This time with people from SV Easy, SV Cat2fold,SV Luna Azul, SV Scavenger, and SV Wings! Gathered Coconuts to drink while we played on the beach. Nina had a boat friend sleepover, we went spear fishing, and did yoga in the beach. Sv Empyrean and Mango Mango arrived for the party too!
The sail up to Chamela was nice. A sail off the hook and back on the hook day (meaning sailing off the anchor without starting the engine and then setting the anchor using only sail power). Love those no engine days. We did see some gusts of wind in the low 20’s, but our boat handled it well. We arrived before dark. Buddy Boating up the coast with us was Empyrean, Cat2fold, Mango Mango. Mango Mango kept heading north to round Cabo Corrientes while the rest of us spent a few days having fun in Bahia Chamela. We went to the bat cave again thanks to Cat2fold shuttling us on his boat. Some more swimming of course. And finally, we got to go see Brian and Cat2fold sing and play guitar at Scuba Jazz Cafe. He plays there regularly during the season on Friday nights. Scuba Jazz is a must if you’re cruising through Punta Perula.
Next was our epic sail up the coast around Cabo Corrientes to La Cruz. It could have only been more perfect if it was blowing a southerly.
Once back in La Cruz, we had a few items on our list to check off before finally heading back North, into the Sea of Cortez: Go see the Lyme doctor, get braces put on Nina, stock up at Costco and surf. The Lyme disease doctor in PV is amazing!!!! If you know anyone with Lyme, send them to Puerto Vallarta! He supported Christian’s naturopathic treatment options, and will help with more medical treatment if and when we want to seek it. He spent over an hour discussing Christian’s lab results. Nina had her braces placed, painlessly in the sense of ease in getting X-rays and appointments, but not so painlessly for her. See her post about it here. We love how affordable dental care is in Mexico.

Of course we went surfing and a lot more this time around. Christian had more energy and we had to get as much in as possible before heading up into the Sea of Cortez, where there is no surf to be had. It’s been a huge relief to have Christian’s energy coming back.

The Shawnigan Plan update:

We originally “planned” to keep heading south this year, with hopes to make it as far as Ecuador. With Christian’s illnesses, we decided that sticking around Mexico was a safer plan. So instead of South, the new plan is sail back North and into the Sea of Cortez again, but this time going further north into Bahia de Los Angeles (Bay of LA) and then up to Puerto Peñasco (rocky point). Then, come fall, we’ll make our way south.backstay hand stands #shipshapethe SV Pickles kids! And Riki Tiki Tavi kids

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La Cruz to Barra de Navidad and back, the trilogy. Part 1 of 3. 

After our 2 months in La Cruz (Dec 17-Feb 20) working with Christian’s various illnesses, we did one last lab test for him and left to head toward Barra de Navidad. Christian was finally feeling well enough to depart the Puerto Vallarta area and venture down the coast of Mexico to places that we sailed to last year. We felt safe leaving the populated area knowing that if Christian began to feel really sick again, it was an easy bus ride back to Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo. The sail was familiar and included only one overnight. We felt confident that Christian’s energy would hold strong for the sail. We needed to get our sailing fix!

Although Christian was diagnosed and treated for Salmonella Typhoid, Rickettsia,  and antibiotic resistant E-Coli, he was still feeling ill. We weren’t sure whether it was just because his body had been through so much in the last 4 months or if we were missing something. In our “guts” we felt like we were missing something. The day we left to start sailing toward Barra de Navidad, February 20th, Christian went to have his blood drawn to test for Lyme Disease at the Lyme Disease specialist in Puerto Vallarta. A week prior, we went to see the Lyme Disease specialist ($30 for an hour consult!)  as something to rule out. We were skeptical that he had it, but we were on the “leave no stone unturned” path. The lab results would not return for a few weeks, we would be getting them sent by email, so sailing south while we waited made sense. Yes, Mexican doctors will send you results via email, they’ll even text you on their personal cell phones! The test for Lyme and other tick borne parasites was $250. This apparently is a universal fee throughout labs in the US and Mexico because the test is quite extensive and 95% accurate. We were lucky to be able to have it drawn in Puerto Vallarta and sent to Mexico City for testing.

Meanwhile, we remained hopeful that health was ensuing after so much time. We set sail as soon as Christian retuned from his lab draw appointment. The overnight sail from La Cruz to Bahia Chamela usually takes around 20 hours with good wind the whole way, so leaving in the afternoon was perfect to get us there first thing in the morning. The sail was great! For a few hours that night with downwind speeds reached ~30-35 knots, we had a double reefed main and furled jib to 70%.  The bioluminescence was brilliant.  Dolphins swimming and playing around the boat, hearing their breaths and seeing floresence glow as they move through the water. We arrived in the anchorage off of Punta Pérula in Bahia Chamela at 0400. It only took us 16 hours! 

Bahia Chamela was such a nice breath of fresh air after being confined to Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area) for over 2 months. We handled the overnight well, but it had been a while since we had done it together. We were not in a groove and both of us didn’t sleep much. The next day (our first day in Chamela Bay) was exhausting and homeschooling was a challenge. Note to self, do not attempt to homeschool after a sleepless passage! After a nap, we pulled up anchor and went to the furthest anchorage south in Bahia Chamela to try to catch some surf. S/V Cat2fold and S/V Full Monty joined us as well. We caught some waves and potlucked on Shawnigan. The next day we went to a bat cave before heading to another anchorage nearby.  There was a bit of wind and the water was pretty stirred up. The snorkeling we were hoping for was not happening.

S/V Full Monty 

Brian from SV Cat2fold.

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After 2 nights in Bahia Chamela, we set sail for Bahia Tenacatita. A nice day trip, downwind. No complaints from the Shawnigan crew. We stayed at “La Vena” anchorage, although most cruisers call it Tenacatita. We spent many days here last year. We did the mangrove dinghy adventure again with a S/V Full Monty, Mango, and Sea Glass. No crocodile sightings this time around, but it was fun none the less.  We enjoyed the company of SV Empyrean again as well as SV Mango Mango. We even managed to organize a dinghy raft up potluck.SV Full Monty and SV Mango weaving through the mangroves. 

A few days of playing and sailing , the action started to take its toll on Christian. He was being really careful with his diet, not eating sugar, dairy, and not drinking alcohol, but his fatigue and reoccurring symptoms were surfacing again. The sail down from Tenacatita to Barra de Navidad was thankfully painless and did not require a lot of energy. Along the way, we remembered about a friend of ours who recently went to a holistic center in the mountains near Barra de Navidad. He had been pretty sick with a lot of vague symptoms and came back healed! With going through all of the western medical treatment for Christian and having him still struggling, we decided to have him go the natural route while I stayed with the kids in Barra. As soon as we anchored, he called the center and planned to be there within 2 days for a 10 day treatment. (The experience at Centro Naturista DAR could be its own post, so I’ll save the details for part 2.) 

Shawnigan was safely anchored in the Barra Lagoon while Christian was away. I had many fellow boat neighbors to help us if we needed it.  There were a few other kids boats as well for most of that time to help keep the kids company. 

I feel like I’m repeating myself a little from our last year’s experience in Barra. We did a lot of the same things, but with different sailors. We did our schooling, which was usually done by lunchtime. After that, we’d go swim with our boat friends that were in the Marina at the Grand Bay resort. The kids always have a good time there, because the pool area is huge and the slides at the pool are fun.  Sometimes we’d go to town for “El Reconcito” for Papas Rellena ( stuffed potato) or get Rosa’s 10 peso Tamales for dinner. Rosa selling her Tamales. She remembered Taj from last year. 

We met up with some of the local friends that we made last year and went to the beach with them and had sunset potlucks. We did some hiking and kayaking and bird watching too. Sunset dinner potluck at our friend’s beach house. 

Don’s service with a smile, pouring rounds of tequila shots is what he does best 🙂


Ellamae doing school 

Spoonbills and Ibis

Taj and Zoey playing onboard Empyrean.

Taj looking up the birds in the bird guide. 

SV Carumba boys with Ellamae and Nina.

Hike up to “shipwreck lookout” looking down on the ship that crashed during 2015’s Hurricane Patricia.

Sunrise reading.

Hike with SV Empyrean to the secret beach.


2.5 weeks and no test results yet for the Lyme disease. We waited it out in Barra longer. Meanwhile treatment for Christian at the Centro Naturista seemed to be working well. It was time for him to come back to the boat. On Christian’s 10th day at the Centro Naturista, the kids and I took a bus ride up to the mountains to the town of El Grullo to see the center, have lunch with him and pick him up. It was a super windy road as we all got car sick. No one threw up, but we were sure close. The bus takes you to Autlán, which is where the singer, Carlos Santana, is from. From there we took a taxi to El Grullo. Dinghy to the Hotel Sands with the Grand Bay resort in the background.

Taj at the coffee shop across from the bus station in Melaque (San Patricio). 

Sunrise in Barra de Navidad.

Full Monty departs heading toward Panama 🇵🇦. Happy for them, but sad to part ways.
That’s is it for part 1 of a 3 part post.