Update #11 – Tenacatita – The Jungle Cruise

Tenacatita [19 18.079N, 104 49.953W] 

Greetings all!

Before I begin today’s update, a quick reminder on some important notes:

· When emailing me, do NOT include my own blog update in your response (four people made this mistake yesterday!). I often need to do internet via my Fleet 77, which is reliable, and I love it – but, it is EXPENSIVE to use. Emails with text are fine, but it kills me when I receive emails with pictures (such as my own blogs). My email address is: kenw @ seanet.com

· If you want to stop receiving these emails, look at the bottom of this email. You should see a grey box. In it is a link you can click that will unsubscribe you from my blog.

· On the other hand, if you know someone who would like to start receiving my updates, go to my website: http://www.kensblog.com/and look for the link that says “Register to receive Ken’s Blog updates via email”.

This is a picture of us dropping anchor in the bay. I’m standing on the bow, preparing to drop anchor while Roberta is driving. You can’t tell it in this picture, but we were experimenting with some little wireless headsets that we bought. While I’m standing on the bow, Roberta and I are debating the best location to drop the anchor (which is usually a vigorous debate), and she is feeding me information about depth. I also have her reporting every 25’ on how much anchor chain we have out. We’ve experimented with walkie-talkies in the past, and this is the first system we really thought worked well. It’s the TD900, by Eartec. It’s full-duplex, meaning it works like a telephone – there’s no buttons to press. We just talk naturally.

While we were in Puerto Vallarta we had dinner with Steven and Carol Argosy, Nordhavn 62 owners. During dinner they mentioned that we should check out the “Jungle Cruise” in Tenacatita. They described it as an hour long passage through a shallow narrow canal that culminated at a beach with several decent restaurants. This sounded like a perfect Ken/Roberta adventure. We had Steven show us on Google Earth where the shallow parts were. Steven cautioned us that we would be certain we were on the wrong path, and that passage was impossible, but that we should just keep going.

Here you see the anchorage at Tenacatita, and the narrow entrance to the “jungle cruise”


The entrance to the river was easier than it appeared. There were breaking waves, but fairly small ones. The bigger problem was that we needed to get into the water to walk the boat across the sand bar. I had overheard on the radio someone describing receiving a stingray bite the day before. Apparently the stingrays like to lurk on the sand in the shallow water, and a bite can be quite painful. I hadn’t brought shoes, and Dean had, so I was quite happy to delegate this duty. 

Note the depth – about 9 inches!

Only about the first half mile of the river was particularly shallow. We had to move very slow, and watch for the “deep” water (by which I mean anything over about 12” deep).

As we continued, the river was continually narrowing. The depths were running from 3′ to about 10′

For about another mile, the river continued to be perhaps 20’ wide, twisting through high dense vegetation. We assumed that this would continue for several more miles, when suddenly it started becoming much more narrow.

I’m not accustomed to thinking of our 15’ AB Inflatable tender as large, but it suddenly felt much too wide. We were constantly rubbing one side or the other against the brush. I was worried that we would hit one of the many protruding branches, pop a tube, and be literally “up the creek.” We had decided that Roberta would drive us up the river, and I would drive us back down. Roberta was doing an exceptional job of navigating the narrow passage. However, even the slightest error meant bouncing off of the trees, and getting wacked on the head by a branch. This was terrific practice in tendering skills. With only a foot, or less, of clearance on each side, we needed to learn quickly.

It was exactly like being on a jungle cruise at Disneyland, except that we kept reminding ourselves that this was a real jungle. There was more than one comparison to the movie African Queen where Humphrey Bogart has to push his, and Katherine Hepburn’s, boat through a similar river, only to find his body covered with leeches when re-entering the boat. We also wondered if there were crocodiles and snakes in the water. None of this conversation was particularly calming.

Here we seen Dan reacting to a brief encounter with a low hanging branch, while awaiting the next encounter.

For perhaps two miles, we battled through the incredibly narrow river, with vegetation so thick that we couldn’t see the sky.

Shelby, our dog, thought this was all great fun

Ultimately, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a large lagoon. At the end of the lagoon was a “tender parking lot”.

After parking the tender, we walked another 100 feet, and discovered the promised beach and restaurants!

This had been planned as our last day in Tenacatita, but we were having serious fun! Conversation over lunch focused on “Why do we want to leave here so soon?” We do need to get rolling farther south, but perhaps an extra day wouldn’t hurt….

Ken and Dean pushing the boat TOWARDS the approaching waves

On the way back I did indeed drive the tender, and after a disastrous start, which provided much amusement, I made it fine through the jungle. I then decided to brave the sting rays, and jumped into the water to help Dean bring the tender across the sand bar. I was hoping that my hat would frighten away any lurking critters, but it did not work. We did see a couple stingrays, but avoided step on any.

Before closing out for today, I received an email asking me to do a bit of reporting on what immigration issues we’ve had traveling with a dog.

Shelby has cruised with us in France, Portugal and Spain, without problem. We had all the proper paperwork on entering France, but on all occasions they’ve just waved her through. She has been to Italy without incident, and I can’t imagine troubles in most of southern Europe (Croatia, Greece, Sardinia, Corsica). England is a problem, and it is unlikely we’ll ever take her there. I don’t know about the other countries in Northern Europe, as I have a strong warm-water bias. We’ve also cruised with her in Bermuda and the Bahamas, without problem (beyond having her shots and papers in order). She has cruised in and out of Canada many times.

My current focus is on Polynesia and Hawaii. We’ve been planning to go to Hawaii rather than Polynesia, because we knew we could get Shelby into the country with a short 5-day quarantine. I have had a hard time receiving a response from Polynesia, but then just received this disheartening response this morning. We had hoped that once Shelby had been admitted to Hawaii and spent time there, we could then go to Polynesia, and not have a problem. It now appears that Polynesia would insist on a 30 day quarantine, which is more than an older dog like Shelby could take. Hopefully there is a workaround.

As always, thank you! And, happy cruising. But, don’t stop reading. Excerpts from emails I’ve received appear below. My responses are preceded by +++

Ken Williams

Sans Souci, Nordhavn68.com

PS I may not send an email for a couple days, until we get someplace new…


NOTE: Following is email I’ve received over the past couple of days. All comments are opinions. Verify anything you read, whether I say it or someone else says it, before deciding if it applies to your boat.

Hi Ken.
Love your blogs. I’m sitting here in my income tax office daydreaming reading your adventures. I had a friend, Ron, go on the FUBAR, that’s how I got your info. Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is to warn you about running only one engine. You need to have a way to lock your prop on the engine not being used. I don’t know if it’s a problem for you, but on my boat when I do that, the not running engine spins from the force of the water, which turns the water pump, which can push water into your exhaust and back into your engine. Just something to check out. I didn’t know it until too late. Take care and have a safe trip.

Don H

+++ Thank you Don. I’ve been researching “Shaft Locks.” I want to swap daily between engines, so I’d like to find something which is as simple as possible. Messing with the shafts while out in the middle of the Pacific sounds tricky, and potentially dangerous. Whatever I buy needs to be simple and reliable.


You mention 2 kinds of boaters: Those that have gone aground and those that will go aground; well, there’s third kind of boater – Liar.. In the NW there are 3 kinds: Those that have hit a rock, those that will hit a rock, and LIARS…

Best to you,
Roberta, Dean and Ingrid, rb

PS Where you find those two young chicks to hang on your flopper stoppers… 😉

+++ Thank you!


Ken I would like to say thanks you again. The pictures of the sea turtles lifted our spirits here in the frigid cold of Boston, our sail boat is named Honu: Hawaiian for Sea Turtle.

Thanks again

Mark T

+++ I wish I could have gotten better pictures of the sea turtles, but it was like a minefield, with hundreds of them around us. They couldn’t move fast, and I didn’t want to hit one, so I was wary about getting too close. We did see some local fisherman who seemed to be “harvesting” the turtles. I hope not :{


Excerpts from an email from another twin engine Nordhavn owner…

“…Thanks for your work on twin engine fuel usage it is really helpful document. I have been contemplating the issue myself for some time and my thoughts are;

– I guess we will not really know the effects of twin versus single for different operating speeds and conditions until we have conducted a well designed program of trials.

– I suspect operating on the optimum single engine, depending on the wind/tide drift on the boat, could even reduce the amount of rudder the auto pilot needs to apply to keep the boat on course. Conversely operating on the wrong engine is likely to increase the rudder correction required.

– I am sure it is necessary to lock the shaft of the idol unit to avoid transmission damage and to reduce the resistance from the stationary prop.

– The working engine would be able to operate at near its optimum RPM

I have purchased a s/s collar of the same diameter as the shaft, attaching it is an easy operation; I now need to figure out the best way of attaching a removable restraining arm to the collar. The arm needs to be designed to sit against a suitable area of the bilge well, or better still, sits into a sacrificial harness plate(possibly in wood) that sits in the bilge well. The sacrificial plate is a safety precaution, in the event of anyone attempting to start the engine with the restraining device in place. Ideally the collar and harness would be permanently attached to shaft and well, with the arm being put into place when the shaft needed to be held. I have a concern as to how easy it may be to put the lock in place and suspect the boat would have to be virtually stationary.

I am no expert and I do not know if I have been able to convey my thoughts, but I guess step one is a trial to see if we get a result that makes a difference and makes the design of a shaft lock a worthwhile investment in time. I will keep you informed of my progress and any data I can obtain during trials thanks again for your thoughts and your co-ordinating input.

Our good wishes for the remainder of your cruise

Hazel and John H

+++ Yes. Let me know what you find on shaft locks! And enjoy your new boat!


Thank you for keeping us in the loop! Diane and I have just had our offer accepted on a N-62. We have alot to learn. Your emails are of great value to us.
Thank you again,

Mark G.

+++ You are going to really enjoy your new boat. The Nordhavn 62 is an amazing boat. Spectacularly seaworthy, and beautiful. We get very nostalgic whenever we see an N62, and miss ours….


Hi Ken-
Your write up on twin engine economy is very good. The discussions of overheated transmissions / locking shafts/ etc. is right on. On our boat we have CAT 3208TA’s (375 hp). CAT and TwinDisc were adamant on not running in single mode, unless idle shaft was locked. They felt a poor second choice was to run one engine at 1800-1900 rpm and switch engines every 6-8 hours (we’d have to run at 1900 to equal 2 x 1200). We found that running both engines at 1200 – 1300 rpm was very economical (1.2-1.5 mpg @ 8.5 – 9kn)), but we ran them up to 1500 – 1600 for 10 minutes every 4 hours, per CAT recommendations to heat them up. We found our alternators did not really start charging until 1100-1200+. Single engine running is also an issue if you have intelligent battery combiners to charge different battery banks off each engine (we have house + engine off 1 engine and inverter + electronic controls off the other). I don’t like having all batteries combined in case anything goes bad. Not running the genset equals about ¾ gph for us. If one were really focused on slow engine speeds, going for a larger engine pulley or smaller alternator pulley would be worthwhile. Check on the alternator rpm – output, measure your pulleys and do the math.

Glad you like Navidad!
Good luck,

+++ My guess is that we’ll only do one extremely long passage (>2,000 miles) in the life of the boat. At the end of the Atlantic Rally I said to Roberta “That’s it for me. I’ve done the macho thing. From here-on out, we’re hiring delivery crew for any voyage of more than five days”. There are some people who really long passages, and I’m one, but only to an extent. This said, I would like to cross the Pacific, but don’t want to do it alone. We’re trying to find one or more other boats to travel with us. If we do find at least one other boat that wants to make the passage, “I’m in”.


Ken, I have followed your adventures for the past several years especially during the Atlantic Crossing. I really looked forward to your updates each morning.

I was reading your update about crossing to Hawaii and your concern about fuel economy and a thought came to me. One of the Columbia River Yacht Club member’s had a boat built in China then brought it across the Pacific on its bottom. They came the Northern route thru Japan, along Russia and cleared into US Customs at Dutch Harbor, AK. They ran on one engine for six hours then switched to the other engine for six hours, shutting the non-burdened engine off. He has hydraulic pumps on each engine which supplied the stabilizers. The gentlemen’s name is Ron Stephens and boat name is Silver Wings, I believe he is in Barra currently. You might talk to him about the experience.

Enjoy your cruise.
Weldon B

+++ Oops. I did have an email from a friend of Ron’s (Larry) who is traveling on Silver Wings, inviting us by for a tour. Somehow, I forgot. I’ll email to see which way they are headed, and see if we’ll get another chance.

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