A Visit With The Mexican Navy

Well we’re certainly overdue on logs. I didn’t realize it had been an entire month since I had last updated the site. When I last wrote we were on our way into Banderas Bay, which is where Puerto Vallarta is. We stayed in a town north of PV called La Cruz and rode the local bus into PV, which cost 14 pesos ($1.40 US) for an hour bus trip. After a few days of being tourists and doing chores we headed south again around Cabo Corrientes (corrientes is currents in Spanish), towards the Mexican “Gold Coast”. We didn’t have time for too many stops on the way south, as we were still hurrying to get to Zihua before my sister did, but we did manage a few days in Tenacatita (fabulous but buggy), and a few days in Manzanillo. On our way back north after Sail Fest we’ll linger and take our time in those great places and others along the coast.
One of the most interesting hours we’ve spent since we started cruising was our little visit with the Mexican Navy south of Manzanillo one day. Seems the new President is very interested in convincing the US that they’re getting tough on drugs and drug runners, so they’re boarding lots and lots of boats. Of course we didn’t know about the new President’s initiative when they found us, so it definitely caused me much anxiety during the boarding.


We were motoring south in no wind about 11:00 am, having left Manzanillo at 4:30 am to time our arrival into Zihau during daylight the next day. A navy ship (about 150′) was headed north passing us on our port side, when suddenly they turned and started motoring parallel to us. We heard them give our lat/lon coordinates on the VHF, then they circled behind us close enough to see our boat name. Suddenly a high speed patrol boat approached from shore and came up behind us, hailing us on the VHF (of course in Spanish and very broken English). We understood that they wanted us to stop, but they wouldn’t come any closer until we shut off our engine. Then they asked us how many people on board and if we had any weapons (NO!). Then we waited. And waited. Finally they came back on the radio to apologize and say it wouldn’t be too much longer (at least that’s what we think they said). Then they moved up to board with four guys on the bow with machine guns, but then backed off. We were told later that was to see if we were going to panic or try to run. Then a guy with a clipboard came onboard and looked over all our paperwork and went on their way.


It all would have been a complete non-event, except that we had forgotten to check out of Manzanillo because we left at 4:30 am and were very tired. The rules for checking in and out of towns is very loose right now, since they just changed the laws last year and you’re no longer required to check in and pay a fee at every port. But you are expected to check in and out where there is a Port Capitan, and we had checked in at Manzanillo (although by radio, so we’re not even sure they knew who we really were). But sitting there adrift in the middle of the ocean and waiting for 30 minutes with four guys on the bow of their patrol boat holding machine guns can really make you find things to worry about. All was well with our paperwork, though, and they left waving goodbye.

We arrived mid day the next day into Zihuatanejo, and it is all we had hoped it would be. We think this is the perfect little Mexican town – not too small and not too big (<100,000 folks). The people are very friendly and the town has everything we need without the big city feel. The bay is beautiful and well protected, and has room for lots and lots of boats. The snorkeling is good over at Playa Las Gatas, and there is a nice sea breeze during the day to keep it somewhat comfortable and a decent land breeze at night. The town has all the shops you need, but as we’ve learned, buying things in Mexico is tough. The rule is “if you see it and you want it, buy it then” because it most likely won’t be there when you go back. True story, and it doesn’t take too many times to learn that lesson.

Leslie and Fred came down on the 27th and stayed a week, which went by way too quick. They brought lots and lots of stuff that we had shipped to their house before they left (THANKS), and we also had a nice little Christmas gift exchange with them. I got to spend some quality time with my sis hanging out in town and on a little dinghy tour of the bay. We had a nice day snorkeling at Las Gatas, and they even took a Scuba resort course and went on a dive with us. But all too soon they were off to the airport heading back home to one nasty Seattle winter. For us, truthfully, we’d love to see some rain and get the salt washed off the boat. We’ve seen about 10 minutes of rain total since we left Vancouver Island in August.

Now we’re going to start focusing our energy on Sail Fest. I’ll write more in the next log about that.

Today on Yohelah we’re resting for a few days before it’s time to begin the philanthropic portion of the cruise……

Zihuatanejo is here

Photos of Mexico 2006 Are here