Jungle River Dinghy Trip
In any case, we got up on Friday bound and determined to take the dinghy up the river.
The trip had gotten a write-up in the Raines' cruising book, and there wasn't a lot else
to do in Ten bay (apart lazing around and drinking!). So, at about 9:00 a.m.
we saddled up the dinghy and attempted the bar crossing.
It wasn't too bad getting over the rocks, but right at the mouth of the river the
current was pretty strong. I had to get in the chest deep water and pull
the dinghy a few inches at a time. We did that for about 10 minutes, awkardly, until
we had gone about 10 yards so that I could jump in the boat,
gun the motor, and finally get it headed upstream. Once we got past the mouth,
it was ok, and even tho the tide was falling and the river (actually a long estuary)
was flowing out, it turned out to be a pretty nice trip.
As we were putting along going upriver, feeling a lot like Bogart and Hepburn in "The African Queen",
another dinghy came by, and the driver told us that it was farther than we thought to the end. He
said that even if we went fast, it would take us the better part of two hours to get there,
particularly as we would have to slow down to navigate the mangrove canopy. Then he bid us
adieu, put his dinghy upto speed, and on plane, and disappeared around the next bend in
After that we gained a lot more confidence, and I must say it was fun getting the dinghy
up to speed and planing on the otherwise flat river, as each bend would bring some
new scenery into view. By sticking to the outside of corners,
I was able to avoid the worst of the sand banks that naturally build up on the insides.
Only once or twice did the propeller find sand and spit mud out behind the boat; the rest
of the time we tooled right along, until we finally got to the mangrove canopy.
The mangrove canopy was really neat. It was about a mile and half of going UNDER the trees. The
corners were sometimes sharp, and the river narrowed to just a feet wider than the dinghy.
Actually that's not accurate. The river was probably still 40-50 feet wide, but the mangroves
were so thick that there was only a narrow passage thru them. We noticed as we were going
along that many of the trees had been cut back, apparently with a chainsaw, to clear the
passage. Also as we were moving along, occasionaly, like twice, a panga with a local
driver and 6-8 obvious tourists (wearing lifevests!) would come down the river at which
point we would have to pull over to the side and let the panga pass us. So we guessed
that the panga drivers, who get about $15/person for the trip from the tourists
at the hotel on the other side of the bay, probably did the cutting and kept the river clear
so that they could continue providing their tours.
When we finally made it out of the canopy, we found ourselves in the big lagoon (Boca de Iguana),
and around the bend, found a nice little beach with a dinghy dock and a sign welcoming us to Tenacatita
Village. We had come about 5 miles up the river and were now at the next bay north from where we
were anchored. The beach was absolutely beautiful here, and there were many nice restaurants
and bars to choose from. We went for a swim in the ocean and had a very nice lunch.
After about whiling away some 3 hours in Tenacatita Village, we took the dinghy back down the river.
Of course, now it was a rising tide and the water was coming in, but it wasn't really
a problem, and in no time (about another hour) we found ourselves at the sand bar
at the mouth of the river again. This time, however, it wasn't even challenging.
We just drove the dinghy right out of the river into the bay. I had to raise the
motor and paddle for a few minutes at the shallowest point, but by 3:30 pm we were back
on Rhapsody. It was a great little adventure.
On Saturday, our last full day in Tenacatita, we planned to take the dinghy the 2-3 miles
accros the bay to the town of La Manzanilla, which we did. It was a fairly long, somewhat
exposed trip in the little boat, and when we got there, we discovered that there were
really no good places to land on shore. From what we could see, it looked like there
were 2-3 foot breakers everywhere, and after our first experience with smaller waves,
we did not want to take the chance of tumping the dinghy when coming back out.
So discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to forego landing, and returned,
once again, to Rhapsody, where we spent the rest of the day lazing around, reading,
and so forth.
We took our time getting up on the next day, had a nice late brunch, and
left Tenacatita Sunday afternoon, at about 1:30 pm.