We spent a week in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (which everybody calls La Cruz) catching up with good friends from California, working on Ayala, and exploring the area.
Mere minutes after we anchored, our wonderful friend Chris Neely on S/V Avocet picked us up in his dinghy to bring us to shore for tacos. With our anchor light not functional, we left our steaming light (mid-mast instead of mast-top) on.
The next morning, Chris came over to help send Charles up the mast – and using our single-speed self-tailing winch, Chris absolutely flew Charles up the mast. If there was an Olympic category for sending someone up the rigging, I’d suggest Chris compete for America. Fortunately, once aloft, the problem was a little time-consuming but not too complicated. Basically, loose wiring being tugged by the weight of 50 feet of electrical cable running down the mast. He got it functional again and came back down.
We took a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Puerto Vallarta with the Neelys, we were out running errands, a bus came by with “Vallarta” painted on the front, and we hopped on. It was a superb trip, the vibes in Puerto Vallarta are immaculate, especially on the Malecon and in the Zona Romantico.
Puerto Vallarta was colorful, well-lit, and there was public art everywhere we went. The Malecon is filled with engaging statues – many that have a participatory component, like hybrid sea monsters in imposing robes sitting in a circle creating a group seating spot, a ladder to nowhere that a surprising number of people climbed, and more. There was a cairn spot on the beach, with the top rock always improbably larger than the one below. A highlight was Lazaro Cardenas Park, a public works project to create a completely tiled park.
It’s still in process (and accepting donations), but the results are staggering. I cannot recommend visiting this park highly enough. I could have spent hours there, but the sun was setting and it was time to hit the beach. We wandered up and down the hills and the beach, enjoying the superbly appointed beach restaurants and the sun setting across the water, catching fireworks on the water. We got dinner and took a taxi back to La Cruz.
We caught up with our friend Shane on S/V Outrun and his lovely partner Karina. We met Shane back in Berkeley on O Dock, where we overlapped and occasionally traded project help. Shane left the Bay Area a few months before us and went down to San Diego to prepare for the Baja Ha-Ha. Cruising really connected us in fun ways, and we got to ask Shane for a couple of favors along the way (like he had an address in San Diego where we could get a few things sent). We almost managed to meet up at Avalon, but last-minute engine troubles prevented that rendezvous. Karina, a French Canadian new to sailing who chose the adventure and hopped on Outrun for the Baja Ha-Ha. Since then, we have gotten to see them a few times in Baja (especially La Paz, where we took a lovely beach day), and it was really nice to get dinner with them.
Chris and Marissa invited us over to Avocet for games – we played lots of games during our time together in Ventura, and I think Charles and I developed a bit of a reputation for picking up games quickly and being competitive. The Neelys had a puzzle/escape game called “Blackbrim: 1876,” which had made the round of a few other boats and been abandoned for being too frustrating, then passed to S/V Avocet from Chris’ brother Jon (S/V Prism) with the note that they would be seeing us next and maybe we could figure it out. The game has two stages, and we played them over two nights at the beginning and end of our trip. It was definitely frustrating, but we had a great time playing with the Neelys, and managed to solve all the puzzles with the help of Clio (boat cat). Marissa made a fantastic carrot ginger soup, and I brought over a new-to-me “no knead” crusty bread that is the perfect boat bread.
The Anchorage & La Cruz
The anchorage itself is beautiful, and seems to be a whale hotspot. We had grey whales visit almost daily – usually during the daytime, making for some wonderful whale watching, but sometimes they came at night, often not long after you got out of the dinghy, leading to an occasional feeling of a close shave.
There were almost 80 boats in the anchorage during our stay, and room for more. The town is heavily impacted by the cruiser community, and it’s a tiny town, so you end up running the same laps very quickly. Not many restaurants (although we did have some great mushroom tacos, ate a superb rack of ribs, and found a vegan ice cream spot), a single ATM, and few (but stocked) grocery stores.
Some of the restaurants have live music, but the place to “go out” is The Green Tomato. We got one drum evening (not my scene) and one salsa band (fantastic). We danced until way, way too late.
There are a few marine stores in town, including a phenomenal consignment store, which was the most picturesque and atmospheric marine store I have ever been to!
The Sunday market at the marina is deservedly well-known. Vendors and visitors come from afar. There’s food, groceries (arugula!! so hard to find), clothing, and lots of art. We got a beautiful piece of Huichol art, made by the lovely man holding it. I advise getting there early – like 7 a.m. – as it gets really crowded by mid-morning.
It’s a popular spot for cruisers, some people remain for years, but personally I think we are not likely to return to La Cruz as a destination other than as a quick stopover.
Notes for boaters:
- We anchored at 20°44.64′ N, 105°22.015′ W.
- Anchored in ~35 feet of water with ~180 feet of chain.
- It was a little over 1 nautical mile to the dinghy dock. Dinghy dock is stupid expensive – $100MX per day or landing depending on which dock attendant was there – and the only benefit is trash. Really made us miss La Paz where the dinghy dock was $30MX per day and there was also a great filtered water setup.
- The water is not especially good for drinking, according to testing done by other boaters, but
- The cruiser net offers a service of checking the transmission on your VHF radio and offering suggestions to improve it. Ayala crew checked in and were transmitting at 100%.
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