Our pilot book suggested Chacala would be a fun place to stop, so that’s where we headed the next day. It didn’t look like fun when we got there, judging by how the three boats already there were bouncing around. But this was the best out of the two places we looked at to stop for the night. Anyway, an hour of hunting around for an anchorage was enough, thanks very much. So, we parked Jamala between the two larger boats there but closer to the beach. Unfortunately, the combination of wind, swell and incessant roll made it impossible to get the outboard on the dinghy. We could have launched the paddleboards but couldn’t be bothered faffing around getting three people on two boards. So instead, we spent the afternoon watching the holidaymakers on the beach drinking cocktails watching us drinking beer. Then, the following day we headed over to Isla La Pena.

Isla La Pena

This is a great little stop. Yes, there’s a hive of activity from the whale watching and tour boats bringing people over to the island. But, they clear off late afternoon, and the location morphs into a peaceful tiny outcrop surrounded by nothing other than water and whales.

Isla La Pena

Isla La Pena

Landing here is also tricky, but it’s also not necessary. The real action is out to sea. The whales appear all around the island, but the anchorage at the south of Isla La Pena is as good as any place to spot them.

One night was enough, though – we didn’t really want to see the tour boats droning around again the next day. So, before the masses appeared, we lifted our anchor and continued south and back to the mainland.

Punta de Mita

With its high-end hotels (the Four Seasons is nearby) and restaurants at the higher end of expensive, some may regard Punta de Mita as a Gringos Paradise. But, no matter how others perceive it, we thought it had charm, and we liked it, despite the prices being more high-end hotel range than suited to budget-conscious salty sailors.

But, as far as anchoring goes, it’s great. Fortunately, there isn’t a lot of swell here. So, getting the dinghy off the davits and the outboard on the dinghy was easy.

After checking the height of the tide, we headed ashore, finding a place to land to the left of the panga harbour. And after dragging the dinghy a little way up the shingle and tying our painter to a rock, we headed along the beach to find a way out to the main road and an ATM. Funds were running low.

Panga Harbour

Panga Harbour

The Main Street is dominated by restaurants and supplemented by shops and stalls selling souvenirs at bloated prices to tourists staying at the nearby hotels. Joy wanted to buy a blanket similar to the one we bought at Mazatlan for 170 pesos. The shop owner wanted 450 and wasn’t for budging that much on the price. He must have given it more thought overnight, though. They parted with it for 250 pesos the next day. Next, we bought a table cloth from one of the street vendors for what we thought was a reasonable price. He must have thought so too. He kissed the money before slipping it into his pocket.

Strong beer and drunken punters

After reloading my wallet with pesos, we went to a Lobster restaurant for drinks, as you do. We tried a selection of their locally brewed bottled beer, which I am sure had an alcohol content more than twice that advertised on the label. The result was three tipsy people heading back to Jamala in the dark. Surreptitiously, we were after their wifi password so that we could connect to it from the boat. We got the password but couldn’t reach the wifi from the anchorage. Ah well.

We thought it worth another trip ashore to walk around the town and along the public beach the next day.

Halfway along the public beach is a small massage tent. We spotted it on the way along the beach and stopped on the way back. I hadn’t had a deep tissue massage for a few years, so Maria encouraged me to stump up some cash for a half-hour pummelling to remove any knots.

The beach

The beach

While relaxing on the massage table, I heard a loud American accent asking, “Are you, Mercedes?”

“Sorry?” Maria replied

“I’m looking for Mercedes for a massage.”

I was waiting for the fireworks to start, but one of the staff went over to this guy just in time to stave off an Anglo-American diplomatic incident.

Despite insisting he wanted to be massaged by a woman and shouting, “How much is it – two dollars?” they allowed him to flop his fat carcass on the massage table next to mine. Fortunately, I couldn’t see anything because the masseur squeezed my head into a small hole, looking down at the sand. Unfortunately, his pink hairy form was the first thing I saw when I swivelled off the table (clearly in the wrong direction). I wouldn’t be surprised if he later asked for a happy ending.

And that sealed the lid on our visit to Chacala. The next day, we set off to La Cruz.