Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tenacatita February 3

We had long awaited our arrival to Tenacatita due to so many friends telling us about their experience here last year.  Some stayed at this anchorage up to 6 weeks; the comfortable weather, warm water, snorkeling, calm anchorage, number of kid boats, estuary tour, etc., etc., kept them here.   

We arrived and anchored alongside 15 other boats and enjoyed a calm, restful sleep that night. 
The next day we went ashore to explore the much-talked-about estuary.  We heard the dinghy ride to shore was a bit precarious with the pounding surf breaking on shore so we timed our arrival to coincide with the flood tide, using it to carry us into the estuary, which was fed by the water in the bay.  As we approached, with the waves crashing over the shoals at the mouth of the estuary, we wondered if we would make it “in” without being “swamped” but thanks to Doug’s handling of the dinghy and engine, we made it through and glided into the calmer waters.   

Once inside we quickly became aware of the smooth waters and how quiet and serene the environment was. Henry and Chandler pointed out egrets, flora and fauna, algae, fish and more.  Unfortunately we didn't see any crocodiles, as we thought we might.  All-in-all Mother Nature and the wildlife gave us spectacular surroundings to enjoy.   


A panga of fishermen or two passed us as they headed for the bay but as we cruised further into the estuary we were the only explorers of this majestic water way.  Mangroves surrounded us, their roots reaching up out of the water and spreading into bushes above our heads.  At points they created a tunnel for us to travel through.   

About an hour into our ride the estuary emptied into a small lagoon.  Tahitian looking huts sat off to one side and mangroves to the other.  We heard someone had executed their right to the land, thereby chasing out the local shop keepers and palapa restaurateurs, so we knew, somewhat, what to expect when we pulled up to the dock where previous years cruisers were able to disembark to buy supplies and enjoy a day at the beach.  Sure enough, 4 heavily armed guards dressed in black stood at the end of the dock where the huts were located.  As we approached, Chandler asked them if we could get off the dinghy to walk the beach.  The guards were very polite but declined our request and said we would have to dinghy to the other side of the lagoon and walk the road to the now-deserted beach.  Everyone smiled and waved as we left the dock.

We dinghyed back through the thick mangrove bushes and arrived at the beach where our boat was anchored.  By then many other dinghy and panga tours were underway. We were glad to have enjoyed the estuary when it was quiet and undisturbed.  

Tenacatita beach is a long stretch of white sand and the kids immediately took to it with glee.  Tag was the immediate game of choice.

Doug and I decided to go back to the boat to get some beach toys. Little did we know the trip would be a heart-stopping one.  We saw a few other cruisers navigate the crashing surf in their dinghys and tried to figure out how we, too, would get over the 4 foot waves to arrive at our boat without being swamped.  Doug, being the surfer that he is, recognized that the waves were coming in “sets” so we watched for a while, studying the wave flow and timed our exit accordingly.  It looked like after a set we would have about 15 to 18 seconds to motor across the wave line and get beyond the pounding surf.  After a large set of three waves passed, we jumped in the dinghy, started the engine, and headed in.  An unexpected additional set of waves approached but we were already committed and kept going.  As we flew over the first wave Doug shouted commands to me to help keep us upright and moving forward.  “Ann, get to the front, stand up, get back now, sit down!”  My heart was a flutter.  We got past that wave and thought we had cleared the teeth of the monster when another wave, bigger and far mightier, started to build in front of our eyes.  It didn’t look good.  As we headed up the face of the wave it felt like we were climbing up to the sky. The white foam of the curling wave stayed right under the bow of the dinghy. It felt like we held that position for a long time.  Although Doug may have given me commands to “stand, sit, move” again I didn’t hear a thing. I was concentrating too hard on the massive wave.  I instinctively stood up at the bow as we road the wave higher and higher upward; I was hoping my weight on the bow would force the dinghy over the wave.  Finally the dinghy did indeed slide down the back side of the wave; we were almost lifted out of the boat as gravity thrust the dinghy back down into the water with a resounding slap.  From there we were clear and laughed (and I almost cried out of pure exhilaration and fright) as we headed speedily for HanaCrew.  We felt duly accomplished.

After that the rest of our stay in Tenacatita was fairly uneventful.  We didn’t run into many other kid boats but we did have a wonderful dinghy-up pot-luck dinner headed by “the Mayor”, a gentleman who with his wife who have visited Tenacatita for 10+ years.  Twenty boats dinghyed to a designated spot in the bay, each bringing a dish to share.  The Mayor’s daughter, son-in-law, and two young grandchildren were visiting.  It was his granddaughter’s 3rd b-day so as each cruiser introduced him/herself the Mayor asked them to share a birthing story.  Happy, love-filled, and sometimes humorous tales were told and we all enjoyed each others cooking for a an hour or two sitting in our dinghies eating and chatting, as cruisers do so well.

Heading to the dinghy tie up pot luck


Enjoying the potluck dinner where people sat in their dinghy's while food was passed between them all

Henry had fun playing with the Mayor's grandson
Chandler and her friend, Maia, shared a sweatshirt when the sun started to go down
Sunset over Tenacatita Bay

We departed Tenacatita the next day.  Surprising to us we only stayed 3 days but there didn’t seem to be a reason to stay beyond that so we headed south to Barre de Navidad.

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