Sunday, 29 January 2012

tenacatita: a study in contrasts

I swear, we were traveling down Whale Avenue on the way to Tenacatita. Whales kept popping up here and there, everywhere. There were 30 nautical miles between Isla Cocinas and Tenacatita, and not a heck of a lot of wind. 
Sea turtles, yes. Whales, yes. Wind? No.

What Rick calls the whale's "footprint"
Moments after she dove under and
we altered course
When it was my turn to be off the helm, I went up on deck. There, the breeze was cooler. From that vantage point, I pointed out whatever wildlife I could see to Rick. And then, there was that whale. I turned my head toward the bow and barely had the time to yell, “Whale! WHALE! Go to starboard! STARBOARD! We missed the whale by less than 20 feet. She swam right across our bow, heading toward our port side. She dove under just as Rick altered course, flashing us her tail as she went down. We both looked at each other round-eyed, hearts racing. That was close!

The Aquarium
And that was our excitement on this leg of the voyage. The Aquarium was the first anchorage we dropped the hook in once we arrived in Bahia Tenacatita. It didn’t appear to be anything like what our cruising guide was describing. Palapa restaurants, colourful parasols, tiendas… Nope. None of that. It looked abandoned, it was almost creepy. A ghost town. We later heard this was due to the land wars that started a few years ago. Someone said they owned the land, the business owners said they did and a big court battle ensued. Eventually, the business owners got ousted, and the Federal Police Guard has taken control of the area. You can read more about it here.  We did go snorkelling there, but soon, we felt the desire to go elsewhere.  The energy ashore just didn't feel right. 

How many sting rays do you see?
Guineafowl Puffer fish chilling out in the north anchorage
Can you tell me what fish this is?
I actually don't know. (We need a good
fish book.)
Captain Hook's nemesis
The main (north) anchorage had more boats, some pretty good reefs for snorkelling and when we arrived, we were warmly greeted by cruising friends from up north. It felt good to anchor here. We socialized with Lionel and Barb from Sea Whisper and headed to La Manzanilla with them the next day to check out the crocodile sanctuary and do some much needed provisioning in the little town. Since then, we’ve worked on the boat, hand-washed laundry, polished stainless steel (at long last), and scraped the hull (again). We also participated in afternoon group swims organized by SV Harmony. We'd finish off the day by drinking Pacificos under a palapa near the beach. (Yes, I now drink Pacifico. I’m no longer a beer snob… Shocking, I know.) This anchorage was a big change from our first stop in the bay.

A fish in another life. No wait, a dolphin - Yeah, that's it

The Sea Whisper crew
in La Manzanilla
We went up the lush mangrove-lined Estero Verde with Lionel. We expected to see more wildlife... Still, there were a variety of birds, a racoon and crabs on trees. Yes, tree-climbing crabs. Really.

He held still long enough
for me to snap a photo,
he was one of the few
Other wildlife we came across: Cruisers
 and travelers exploring the estuary. Among
them were SV Luna Azul and SV Nanna -
 a Dutch crew and a Swedish/French crew
who'd been voyaging for years. They
made us want to go all over the world
The estuary
See? Told you so...
Interestingly, I don't have many photos of the North Anchorage proper. We had an enjoyable stay there, Yet, after a few days, we were ready to move on. 


  1. So my mom's first husband sailed all over the world for years, and he said that it wasn't the big waves or the storms that scared him out on the ocean. It was the whales! I thought that was pretty wild.

    I've been enjoying your blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Ha! Well I understand that, we love them whales, just not too close to Nyon... I'm glad you're enjoying the blog, Thanks!

  3. We have been wintering in Tenacatita for the past 30 yrs. Last year while out fishing in a 14 ft alum boat ,we had a whale mother & yearling come from under and lift the front of the skiff right out of the water . Very exciting!
    On another note, the guards on the beach are private security from the Rodenas Corp. who brutally ousted the local people and tourists in Aug. 2010.
    Your right about the court battle as it continues and we are hopeful the land will be returned to the rightful owners "the people".Here is a video of an event we put on last year.
    Enjoyed your blog.

  4. Wow, while I'd love to experience all those whales I think I'd also be scared as hell! Kinda like a game of Frogger .. enjoying your blog!



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