Heidi & Kirk at Secret Beach, Jalisco

Crazy times we’re living in. How are things where you are? Things are changing by the day or by the hour in Mexico. The government is finally getting serious about this pandemic. The country is basically on “shelter-in-place” orders now, just in time to STOP the revelers of Semana Santa (Easter Week) from a mass ascension on the beaches of Mexico.

Marinas in Manzanillo - from RED Manzanillo
While this may seem extreme to people in the "gun-happy" USA, in Mexico armed military on the beaches or streets is just part of daily life. In normal times, they ride around in the back of pickup trucks in towns. Interestingly, it actually tends to make people feel safer.
Photo: RED Manzanillo

Photos of the military walking the beaches in Manzanillo (an hour south of us) with machine guns, keeping people off the beach are cropping up online. And we have heard of people being turned around at the border between the states of Jalisco and Nayarit, just north of the Puerto Vallarta Airport, presumably to keep the Semana Santa revelers away.

In our last blog post, we were planning to head out on the hook, to anchor out in a remote location and ride this pandemic out. However, the status of ports and port captain decisions are also changing by the hour. Here in Barra de Navidad, boats are allowed to leave if they have a reservation at another marina or for seasonal haulouts. But they are instructed to go straight there and not stop elsewhere other than anchoring en route. So we are not allowed to just leave and go anchor out somewhere at this point in time.

It’s basically left up to each individual Port Captain to interpret the rules as they see fit. One thing we’ve also heard is that the Mexican Navy has been called in to help maintain order in ports along the coast. Since the Mexican Navy acts much the same as our US Coast Guard, the government here doesn’t want them having to potentially be called out to help a cruising boat in distress. Remember we have the Mexican Navy to thank for pulling us off the rocks after Hurricane Newton. So as a guest in this country, we are more than happy to comply with their rules.

We’ve heard lots of different stories up and down the coast of Mexico as to what’s open or closed. We’ve read that all of Baja California has been shut down with strict sequestering, only one person allowed in a car at a time, no walking on the Malecon, only going from home to grocery store and back allowed. So if we had opted to sail up to the Sea of Cortez as we had originally hoped, there’s no way to know what the situation would be when we arrived. And they don't grow a lot of food in arid Baja, so we're glad to be "stuck" in a large agricultural area.

Click images to view larger...

Due to all of these new regulations changing daily, we are trying to do as much as we can outside, in anticipation of tighter lockdowns soon. We've heard from cruising friends in the South Pacific and in San Diego, no swimming, no paddleboarding, no kayaking, no leaving your boat. This is especially hard when you're living in 200 square feet of space. But we realize everyone is making sacrifices right now...

Last week we took several hikes exploring around the resort grounds, including checking out a shipwreck that we could see from Google Earth. In addition to the hotel and golf course, the resort has miles of roads and trails to future development sites. The terrain around here is somewhat arid with saguaro and prickly pear cactus on the hillsides, mixed with palm trees, and bougainvillea shrubs (likely not so native here.)

Our first “short” five-mile round-trip hike took us through the resort, past the golf course to Playa el Coco and Secret Beach. We liked it so much we went there again two days later.

Here are a few videos of the waves: Heidi at Secret Beach and Secret Beach White Water (This is right around the corner from the ship wreck, and you can see why the sign says swim at your own risk, these waves reminded us of rafting Lava Falls on the Grand Canyon!)

Yesterday we took a longer seven-mile round-trip hike to the lighthouse to look down on the shipwreck below. What would we do without Google maps to help determine the correct trail to get to the lighthouse?! What look like roads on this map are actually mostly trails of where they intend to eventually put roads if they ever continue this large master plan development... apparently it's being held up in a family dispute.

On our hikes, we have walked from the Marina through the village of Colomilla, and along the road towards the golf course and beach. That road from the Marina to Colomilla is now closed, so if we want to hike to the beach again we may have to bush-whack over the top of the hill.
The bulk carrier Los Llanitos ran aground on these rocks during 2015 Hurricane Patricia.

According to news sources: the 223-meter, Mexican-flagged bulk carrier (fuel tanker) Los Llanitos (“Yan-itos”) ran aground along the rocky Pacific coastline just south of Barra de Navidad, Jalisco on October 23rd, 2015 while attempting to ride out category 5 Hurricane Patricia, which packed 200mph winds and 30’ seas. After the storm, the crew was helicoptered off the ship, and a salvage effort removed of over 3,000 gallons of oil and over 132,000 gallons of diesel and other contaminants aboard the ship.

Los Llanitos has remained on the rocks, slowly breaking apart for the past 4.5 years. Reportedly PROFEPA, (the Mexican EPA) visits it twice a week to assess the situation while it is still trying to decide if it’s more environmentally friendly to disassemble it in place, piece by piece or sink it to form an artificial reef. As recently as last summer, there have been reports of oil still leaking out of it.

Los Llanitos atrial view courtesy of Google Earth. With the power of the waves on this coast 24/7/365 (see wave video links above!), it's easy to see how it quickly broke apart.

Interestingly, Los Llanitos was ordered out to sea (as many large ships are) into the face of a hurricane to ride it out there, which oftentimes is better than the ship being smashed against the dock in such a storm. However, the captain was 11 hours late in leaving the port and headed north instead of south as he’d been directed to do. Sobering to see this behemoth crashed onto the rocks from the lighthouse above.

Wildlife along our hikes have included many birds like "Boom" chachalacas, turkey vultures, pelicans, frigate birds, swallows, and great kiskadees, plus blue-bellied spiny lizards, large white morpho butterflies, and lots of termite nests too. Next hike we plan to explore other trails, wearing long pants and hiking boots as some of the roads or trails are pretty overgrown and thorny.

We have heard lots of woodpeckers hammering away and see evidence of them in the coconut palm trunks, but have yet to see an actual woodpecker here.

Video: A "blizzard of Swallows" catching bugs (hopefully mosquitos!)

Video: Mexican Net Fishing in the Marina

So as of today the Hotel and Resort at Marina de Navidad is closed. What does this mean for us? The lovely long hikes we’ve been taking every-other morning will now be much longer over the top of the hill, unless we dinghy into Colomilla.

It’s all in the name of health-safety for everyone and we don’t mind a bit. But it is making us feel more secluded now that things are officially closed. Most of the cruisers are leaving their boats here and flying back to the US or Canada this week if their flights aren’t canceled. There is a small handful of us staying put, for now, maybe 15-20 people total. The marina staff and hotel security guards and grounds staff will remain working. But otherwise, it’s very quiet around here.

The hotel grounds, trails, and beaches here are still open for our use, but the swimming pools, restaurants and beaches are all closed. The water taxis are still running between the hotel and the town of Barra de Navidad for now. And of course, we have our inflatable kayaks that we’ll be making use of soon to kayak around the lagoon for more exercise until we hear otherwise.

This sweet wall art is on the side of a house in the village of Colomilla.
As of yesterday, the main entrance gate to the hotel and marina, on the state line between Jalisco and Colima has been locked shut. This is how we used to walk to get to the little village of Colomilla for laundry and produce, and beyond for our hikes. For the forseable future, we'll now have to dinghy around the state line and tie up at a restaurant in Colomilla.

Alex, the owner of our favorite Hawaii Super Store in Malaque has offered to make weekly deliveries of groceries to those of us who are still in the marina. And he has generously offered to pick up things for us on his weekly Costco runs to Guadalajara as well. So as far as food and toilet paper go, we are well stocked. And we are staying put where we are for the next several months. We are safe, comfortable and all is good for now.

Come June, we’ll re-assess the COVID-19 situation vs. the impending Hurricane season and see where things stand. We’d rather be in Marina Vallarta for Hurricane season as we feel it’s more protected there and the docks are stronger. But we know people who’ve ridden out hurricanes here in Barra and been ok. Of course, we really don’t want to experience another hurricane at all if we don’t have to! But we’ve selected a good slip here in Barra with three pilings we can tie to if need be. The main determination will be pandemic related first if it’s safe to return to PV by late June, we hope to do that.

Money laundering... we wash all our money with bleach water and hang it to dry.

In the meantime, we’ll shelter in place in paraíso (paradise!), keep hiking in nature as we can, keep eating healthy food, washing our hands and money, and getting lots of sleep, Tosh and Tikka included... Oh, and Zooming with friends and family, let us know if you'd like to Zoom!

LOVE and HUGS to all of you from Mexico. Stay safe and WELL.

17 Comments

  1. Roderick NASH on April 6, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Rod here;Good to see you remember the waves of Lava Falls! Good to hear of your plans for storms and the virus. That’s clever to take the dinghy around the close road. Karleen and i are going to drive north in a few weeks to her home on Lopez Island. We’ll tale a Washington licensed car so we don’t look like tourists (who are not welcomed). I’ve got a slip in Fisherman Bay for the season; Steve Ward too . Canadian border is closed to recreational boats which cuts out a lot of cruising options, but that could change. Hugs to you both.

    • admin-heidi on April 6, 2020 at 6:08 pm

      Safe travels Rod & Karleen, we wish you the best in boating around the San Juans. Hadn’t even thought about the Canadian border being closed to boaters! That might make for an interesting summer in the Salish Sea. xo

  2. Mark Gilbert on April 6, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you, Kirk & Heidi! I love everything you write, and being able to share your adventures and misadventures has been a real treat all along. Your blog is beautifully done – fantastic reporting and well-considered photos. Glad to appear you’re staying healthy, and apparently sane, in these crazy times. I’ll look forward to your next post. In the meantime, all best wishes from Mark at EBM in Seattle. Cheers!

    • admin-heidi on April 6, 2020 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks Mark, so glad you’re enjoying our adventures… and hopefully not too many miss-adventures! 🙂 Hello to everyone at EBM from us. Stay well.

  3. Deborah on April 6, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks for the update. I’m glad to hear you’re safe and well. Hugs to both of you, and Tosh and Tikka.

  4. Jon Raney on April 6, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    Glad to hear that you guys are in a good place. We are still in Marina La Cruz and expect to be here for a while. It is hard to see how the virus threat will abate much until a vaccine is developed and widly administered which looks to me like 12 to 18 months minimum so we will likely have to make a move by June. We have reservations at Cabralez yard inPuerto Penesco and we’re planni g to do a major re-rig/refit this summer but if the Canadian border loosens up The Island might be a better option. What interesting times, eh? Best to you both and the kitties from Jon, Marie, and Zoe

  5. Val on April 6, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Great writing as always Heidi. Sounds eery but you guys are so good at making the best of things. Take care both of you and hope to see you via Zoom or, better yet, in person sometime soon.

  6. sv Elizabeth Jean on April 6, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Great stuff you too. The maps of your hikes and dinghy rides help paint your picture.

    • Heidi & Kirk on April 7, 2020 at 2:42 am

      Thanks Eric & Lal, so happy you liked the maps! I’m a map-aholic, so I always like to add maps where I think it would be helpful. 🙂 xo

  7. Teresa Sicade on April 6, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Great blog post – thanks for keeping us all posted on your status. Ours up here is much the same, except we’re not supposed to leave our neighborhood (if the park you want to walk at requires driving, tough, stay home). And this week they’re asking we don’t even make the grocery store trip. Acck, can’t wait for this to end.

    On a happier note, so glad you found secret beach – I love that walk and that beach. This is one of my very favorite pix that Rob took on that beach:

    http://www.svyohelah.com/piwigo/picture.php?/2485/category/79

    Xoxo,
    Teresa

    • admin-heidi on April 7, 2020 at 2:44 am

      Thanks so much Teresa, hopefully this will all be behind us soon… just think where we were a year ago?! xo

  8. derry h evans on April 6, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Ahoy there you sea-legged adventurers from our land-locked shelter in place. Looks like you will now find yourself depending solely on those sea legs. Jo G and I love your Blogs and the constant mix of beauty and challenge as you continue your “Sail Away” adventures.
    Love to you two and the four-leggers, keep safe, and “Semper-Fi”!
    As Aye, Derry & Jo G

  9. Elizabeth Baggs on April 6, 2020 at 10:48 pm

    Love the money laundering and the rest of your wonderful report! Interesting to have an inside view of conditions in our beloved and much missed Mexico. We’re in St. Petersburg on the west coast of Florida but in May will creep around to the east coast to skeedadle before hurricane season and get closer to family in Maryland. Interesting times. Stay safe!
    Elizabeth & Alan sv Vivacia

    • Heidi & Kirk on April 7, 2020 at 1:59 pm

      So nice to hear from you Elizabeth & Alan! We were just talking about you guys the other day and wondering where you are. Stay safe from the virus and the hurricanes. Hoping our wakes cross again one of these days. xo

  10. Greg Boehme on April 7, 2020 at 4:25 am

    Long time no see, and fun to check out your blog! Seems like are doing really well in the current situation. The TROPICS had been very busy (21 years now) but that may be over…we’ll see. Currently “yacht distancing” at anchor in Port Ludlow in sunny early Spring conditions. Keep up the good work and “rock on” as Frosty would say… as you probably know they recently acquired a cool house in “Paradisio”

    • admin-heidi on April 7, 2020 at 1:58 pm

      Great to hear from you, Greg! Here’s hoping the Tropics can do a Zoom Concert or something online to keep your gigs going. Would be great to hear you guys play! Stay well our friend. xo

  11. Judy Meaney on April 9, 2020 at 2:31 am

    We saw that freighter when we were in Barra right after Patricia. They were still doing daily helicopter runs getting stuff off the boat. Interesting sight to see! GREAT blog post! I’m glad you are still able to get out for your walks. Love all your photos! Miss you guys!

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