Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Open letter to Yelapa

Yelapa Pier - It crunched our dinghy while we were not looking
Connie and I are in Yelapa and we just love the town.. and we will return.  However this place has a well deserved reputation as a tricky anchorage.  We had a hard time getting our two anchores placed and then later had a couple of dinghy incidents trying to keep it at the town pier while we went for a hike. On our return from the hike we found our dinghy damaged by the pier.  One of the locals had rescued it from beneath the structure and paddled it over to a beach for us.  Later we figured out who to tie it between two concrete bollard but clearly there is no good dinghy dock situation and the beaches are so steep that a beach landing would be complicated by our difficulty pulling the dinghy high enough up the slope to feel that it was safe.  So I wrote a letter and sent it to a couple of addresses I found for the town of Yelapa:

Anchoring in Yelapa


We certainly do like your town and have enjoyed our stay here.  We are boaters and stayed here three nights at anchor in our 42 ft sailboat. As you know, this bay has a reputation as a bad anchorage.  And there are plenty of cruisers blog sites that talk about their bad experiences anchoring here or using a mooring ball.  A bit of advice to you would be to provide a better experience for those of us on boats who wish to anchor or use a mooring buoy for the night.  Bandaras Bay has hundreds of cruising sail and power boats coming and going all season.  Look at the anchorage at LaCruz and you can see how many cruisers anchor there and spend their money in town.  You are not getting hardly any of this traffic... and dollars.

Here are a few points to consider:

There is no reserved anchoring area.  We had to squeeze into a slot near the beach pier putting out both bow and stern anchors. This can be difficult to do, especially in windy weather.   Other areas have mooring balls or floats and it is difficult to know if this is a ball in use or not so we must stay away from these if we are anchoring.

Having permanent mooring balls is a good idea but the ones we found here are not managed properly.  The rode is made of rope and us sailors in big sailboats do not trust rope moorings of unknown age.  If you had professional mooring buoys with chain and floats, properly spaced then you'd find that boats would want to moor their boats on these and would pay a nightly fee.  Also there is a lot of talk about the various people who come out in the pangas to collect the 100 to 200 pesos for the buoy.  Evidently some of the buoys are too close together and larger boats can bump into each other.  And the various owners of these buoys do not work together but instead compete with each other being rude to customers and each other.  Infighting like this does not draw tourists on boats.

Then there is the problem of getting ashore.  You can flag down a panga taxi to come take you to one of the two piers but if you are out on the town late there is no more panga taxi to take you back to the boat.  Panga taxi service should be available til midnight and some sort of signage should be on the piers to tell us how to call a taxi when needed.  Is there a VHF channel that is monitored? If so, then you need to get the word out.  In addition, many cruisers prefer to bring their own dinghy to land.  The two piers in the bay are not appropriate for dinghies.  If your town would invest in one floating dinghy dock then cruisers would be much more willing to come here, anchor or moor, then come into town to enjoy the shopping, hiking, restaurants, and night life.  We tried tying our dinghy to the side of the pier and came back to find it damaged by the rough seas.

One other thing that would be nice is to slow down the panga traffic.  These boats roar through the anchorage at full speed rocking the boats violently.  Yesterday, a good size fishing boat cut behind our anchored sailboat about 20 feet away and almost sunk my dinghy.  You could easily place "Slow - No Wake" buoys around the bay and encourage your boaters to slow it down a little.

To sum it up:
You could have a lot more boat traffic if you improved the anchoring and mooring situation.

1.  Mooring balls on chains and evenly spaced.
2.  An anchorage reserved for boats that want to anchor
3.  Water taxi service in the bay advertised with some signs at the piers
4.  A floating dinghy dock
5.  Slow down the boats, reduce the waves

And again, you have a lovely town and something very special here.  We will come back this way because we are willing to face the challenges of anchoring and getting ashore.

Scott Voltz


  1. Boo hoo for Connor and I. Tickets are over a thousand dollars for the two of us to travel over spring break (and Easter) while adhering to the guidelines that Craig has set for us. Until the next time, next year!

    Love, Daneen

  2. All good comments, Scott. But it could be this town doesn't want foreign boat traffic. That's another point of view to consider. Kirsten

  3. We spoke with some restaurant people here and they were asking us how they could attract more cruisers. The folks they get now stay in small B&Bs or just come over for the day from PV.