Sailing Nakamal

Tenacatita Bay, Jalisco, MX



Was there a cold snap in Hades a couple weeks ago???? I ask because for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years Nakamal left the dock in La Cruz and voyaged more than a few miles away so I’m thinking there must have been some big cosmic event.

Friday 7 April 2017 at 7:30 am (literally the crack of dawn in these parts, thanks to time zone idiosyncrasies combined with daylight savings time) we left our slip and began the trip to go about a 100 miles south.


Rockin’ n Rollin’ (click for video).

The voyage was fairly uneventful with little to no wind until mid-afternoon when we finally put the sails up to take advantage of the 12-15 knots for a few hours. Back on diesel power around 7 pm, then a light dinner and motoring through the night. Not a rough night but slow rolling waves on the starboard quarter kept us rockin’ ‘n rollin’ all night.


“Boat bite” – inside of my right forearm, no idea how this happened.

The two exciting parts of the night took place on my watches – first around 3 or 4 am – an uncharted set of lights kept looming ahead of us – turned out to be a giant tanker without his electronic ID system turned on so I couldn’t ID him on the chart plotter. We passed port-to-port (left side to left side, just like cars on the US roads) less than a mile apart. Then at 6 am a group of dolphins swam with us for awhile, one who liked to jump just in front of Nakamal. I never get tired of seeing that.


Sunrise arrival at Tenacatita Bay

We arrived Saturday morning 8 April at the mouth of Tenacatita Bay, and made our way to the very back of the large area, dropping the anchor in mid-morning.  Very quiet beach – at the northern end is a small campground and beach restaurant, at the southern end is an all-inclusive hotel. In between, about a mile of white sand. And that’s all.

(But it’s also all you need.)


Who could ask for anything more?

I’m told that this particular anchorage is very popular “in season” with up to 30-40 boats – some of them for the entire winter. The majority of cruisers have started migrating north to their summer ports, so the only boats at Tenacatita were transiting, most from points south on their way to San Carlos or La Paz and a couple – ourselves and S/V Wings – who are taking time out of La Cruz to play down south for awhile. The most boats we saw at one time was 12.


Nakamal at anchor in Tenacatita.

(Side note about Fred and Judy on Wings – they have lived on their Serendipity 43 for 35 years. They left from the Seattle area and have sailed around the world with extended stays in some places to live and work. Wings is a race boat – they are pretty darn good racers, and very enthusiastic about it. La Cruz is their chosen retirement home. Read more at


We won’t run out of milk or toilet paper for awhile.

Our original plan was to spend a couple nights in Tenacatita, then venture around the corner just a few miles to Barra de Navidad to meet up with Wings. But they had an itch to leave the ‘lagoon’ and get to cleaner water in order to run the water maker so Wings came up to join us on Monday. Which put me in a spot – despite spending 2300 pesos (~$123) to provision, we only had enough fresh food for a few more days (but seven liters of boxed milk. The Chief Provisioning Officer wasn’t on the ball).

Since it was Semana Santa (Holy Week, the week before Easter) – a big family holiday week in Mexico – the campground was full, the hotel was full and we just knew that the one available town with supplies would also be full and probably shopped out. Once settled in we didn’t want to leave Tenacatita early so I started making plans to raid my “emergency food bin” which has canned meat, canned chicken, canned vegetables – can you say “sodium content”? Judy didn’t want us to resort to canned food so she put together a care package of fresh produce from her recent shopping for us. Cruisers take care of cruisers!


Daily entertainment – watching other crews timing the beach landing.

We practiced our dinghy landing skills every day. John got pretty good at reading the waves and getting us to the beach safe and dry. There is a group of 6-8 dolphins, including a baby, that swim around the bay every day in late morning and mid-afternoon, sometimes as close as 15 feet away from our boat. One day they were really frisky, jumping completely out of the water like they were on a trampoline.


Dolphins at play (click for video)

Monday we went up the estuary looking for wildlife, but the wildest it got was when John steered too close to the edge and I got knocked backwards by branches. Sorry, no pictures of that particular debacle.



Captain John steers us through the jungle, looking for crocodiles (none seen).


Jungle light




My what a big beak you have

A couple of days the crews of Wings and Nakamal walked the beach, watched some of the hotel guests try to kayak past the surf and had lunch at the one public restaurant on the beach. Called “La Vena”, the food was tasty with lots of fresh fish choices. Nothing like a three-hour lunch with people you enjoy, on a pretty beach with good food and cold beers.


Sarandeado – fish is butterflied and the backbone was even cooked up and put on the plate.

A local favorite dish is “Rollo de Mar” – a fish filet stuffed with something, rolled up, breaded and deep-fried then covered in a sauce. At La Vena, they stuff it with a bacon-shrimp mixture and the sauce is almond cream. It quickly became one of John’s favorite meals so far in Mexico. He will try it at other places, but the bar has been set pretty high. One day I ordered the Pescado Sarendeado – another popular beach restaurant dish that is different everywhere. It’s the whole fish, seasoned and grilled over open flame – preferably wood. We’ve yet to have a bad one which may have a lot to do with being on the beach, seeing palms, blue water and happy people all around.


Wings and Nakamal at anchor for a day of snorkeling.

Another day we took the boats over to the first bay for some snorkeling. The water is still a little cold – it does come down from Alaska after all – so we stuffed ourselves into our wetsuits. Judy says everybody in a wetsuit looks like a TeleTubby. I can’t disagree. Thanks to our ability to travel to different places in the past we have snorkeled in some pretty amazing spots and are having a hard time finding anything similar along the Pacific Coast. But it’s good to get in the water and swim around, even if getting from the water back into the dinghy requires acrobatic skills and strength. If anybody has a fool-proof dinghy ladder let me know.


Some of the fish we saw


I see this one a lot – John underwater


Snorkeling friends

The hotel at the other end is an all-inclusive resort that offers day passes for 600 pesos per person (~$30). For that you get use of all the facilities, food and drinks from 9 am until 5 or 6 pm. John and I took advantage of that on Saturday. Most food was buffet style so good to mediocre, but it was relaxing to sit on the beach with my kindle and a running stream of cold drinks.


Easter Dinner

Sunday Fred and Judy joined us aboard Nakamal for Easter dinner, and Monday 17 April we took off for the next port of call – Barra de Navidad. It’s “just around the corner” from Tenacatita – about 45 minutes by car, or 4 hours by sailboat. Sailing is not the life to choose if you are in a hurry….


Moonrise over La Manzanilla in Tenacatita Bay



(Not Nakamal but still lovely)

This entry was published on April 19, 2017 at 6:01 pm and is filed under Mexico. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Tenacatita Bay, Jalisco, MX

  1. Leticia Fagg on said:

    Looks like it has been worthwhile becoming unglued for a while. Leticia

    On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 11:01 AM, Sailing Nakamal wrote:

    > elinorec posted: ” Was there a cold snap in Hades a couple weeks ago???? > I ask because for the first time in nearly 1-1/2 years Nakamal left the > dock in La Cruz and voyaged more than a few miles away so I’m thinking > there must have been some big cosmic event. Fri” >


  2. Juanita on said:

    Nothing like finding this after all this time! Enjoyed!


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