Saturday, January 28, 2012

Return to Vallarta; on to Huatulco

Sat. 1/28/12
Steve's back to Vallarta.

Fri. 2/03/12
I'm back. Time to crack a Modelo and get things in order. 

Sat. 2/04/12 Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta
 Dinghy to lunch w/Ian
Mon. 2/06/12 Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta
 Trisha & Derrick of Interabang bussed over from La Cruz to visit.  While Steve and Derrick worked on the leaky water tank, Trisha and I chatted up in the cabin.  She introduced me to the infamous Golfo de Tehuantepec.  Apparently that part of Mexico is so narrow and low that winds from the Gulf of Mexico aren’t slowed and come sand-blasting across creating a passage fraught with strong and erratic winds.  Yeah, whatever; the most sailing fun I’ve had was under similar conditions when we weathered Point Conception (12 foot waves rated as "steep" with 20-30 mph winds).  I told her as much and she’s like well, what if your sails rip and the motor fails and you’re bobbing & floundering and I’m like chai, there’s a story to write home about.  Of course, it’s not my boat.
Isthmus of Tehuantepec

<Wikipedia: "The Isthmus of Tehuantepec represents the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.  At its narrowest point, the isthmus is 200 km (120 mi) across from gulf to gulf.  The narrowness of the isthmus, and the gap in the Sierra Madre, allow the trade winds from the Gulf of Mexico to blow through to the Pacific. Normally, these winds are not particularly strong, but periodically, a surge of denser air originating from the North American continent will send strong winds through the Chivela Pass and out over the Gulf of Tehuantepec on the Pacific coast. This wind is known as the Tehuanepecer."

 We've hit a speed bump.  I’ve been on the boat now for nearly a week and Steve for two.  We have worked on repairing/replacing one of the macerators and the wind genny - no success with either.  Provisioning is a hassle since for any reasonable prices we have to take a half hour bus ride and can only buy as much as we can carry on the oftentimes crowded bus back so what we get is barely more than we consume in a couple days.  Thus far we’ve slowed down for these speed bumps, but the crew (me) is getting antsy as is, I suspect, Cap’n Casey.  On the one hand the boat ought to be ship-shape, safe and functioning, ideally made that way here in this now too familiar marina; on the other, sharing the working head, forsaking the wind genny and water-maker (the latter two never worked anyway) would allow us to get on the friggin' open water.  Now with the needed parts & pieces ordered - to be shipped to Zihuatanejo - just maybe we can get out of here.  Meanwhile, as Kimo is fond of saying, it is what it is.

Thu. 2/09/12
 Bus to La Cruz for lunch & sailing seminar.
Never drink a margarita larger than your head

La Cruz marina

Mon. 2/13/12 Bahia Banderas
  Lib II hadn’t been motored or sailed since November.  Early afternoon we took her out crossing Banderas Bay to La Cruz.  The water was funky so we didn’t swim.  We motored past Trisha & Derrick’s S/V Interabang, hollered, got no response and decided to practice tacking & gybing in the huge, low-trafficked bay.
Marina narrows
  Only a couple feet of clearance so it's slow and easy through the narrows that lead back to the marina.  I’m at the helm and it was suggested I try my hand at docking.  Glad, as it turned out, I didn't.  The tide is coming in and the wind is blowing in the same direction.  This, we learned, is the worst scenario; both elements push you towards the dock.
  Like having sex, entering a slip takes practice to find the sweet spot.  On my first try - oh, sorry, we’ll talk about the boat.  On our first try, despite intentionally under-shooting the mark we drifted uncontrollably into a collision-course with the dock.  The tide pushing us underwater and the wind on what’s above.  Steve slammed into reverse just before we added another divot to the soft two-by-four dock frame.
  Now bored slip-neighbors are gathering to watch, beers in hand.     
  We realized we had to approach against the wind and current so as to have some control; then we would be pushed back and could tweak our forward speed as needed.
  We motored farther inland to a just-big-enough waterway for an about-face.
  That accomplished, with Steve at the helm and me up front on lookout, neighbors were now hollering slurred, contradictory advice: “Pursch the port bow thrusterer, no the schtarberd one, hic”.  After a couple abortive attempts, we gauged the drift and docked inelegantly but undamaged, to the gawkers' dismay.

  Ian and Judy, our slip neighbors, bid us adieu and left for northern waters to winter.
  Not long after they left a new boat took the slip.  I helped guide them in as there was the same adverse wind and current that had messed with us.  I could tell they were French because they talked funny, so I pulled out my best accent, "Tres bon! Bon travail!".  Turns out Stephanie is from Quimper.  How 'bout that?

Tue. 2/14/12 Leave Nuevo Vallarta
Our plan is to get to the southern tip of Bahia Banderas late in the day, anchor out of Yelapa and tackle the reputedly “confused seas” off Cabo Corrientes in the daylight.

1420 20.41 x 105.17 Anchor aweigh and motored only long enough to leave the marina and get into Bahia Banderas.  With the bow aimed at Yalapa for the next couple hours, a command decision came down from the Captain that we were to plug on and round Cabo Corrientes.  On went the Iron Spinnaker as the new course was not at a friendly sailing angle.
2345 Having rounded Cabo Corrientes and holding a steady 6K with the main, Steve can finally relax and try for some sleep in these very rocky waters.  But not for long…

Wed. 2/15/12 Somewhere at sea heading for Chamela Bay
0100 Otto abruptly quit on me and I couldn’t steer manually - I mean the wheel was locked!  This, near the notorious Cabo Corrientes in the black of night, with whipping 20+ winds and volatile currents.  Total loss of control: Otto forced the rudder from its most extreme port position to maximum starboard and back again.  We went in circles, adrift, rocking like crazy.  After a long, scary, helpless interval (probably only five minutes) Otto2, the backup, was engaged and fortunately worked fine.
  <steve> "Very scary loss of directional control while I was napping.  I think a gust of wind on fully extended down-wind main overpowered the auto pilot and we were circling and adrift for several minutes until back-up 'auto' saved us."
  Steve later said it wasn’t the sudden change of direction that woke him but the noise of the errant sail.

1130 19.35 x 105.07 Set anchor among only three other sailboats in this sizable bay.  Exhausted from the ordeal and lack of sleep we tried to rest a few hours; I didn’t really sleep.  We had a snack & some beer so we’d spend fewer dineros when we hit shore.  There were no noticeable tie-ups so when we dinghied in to check out the scene we went straight for the sandy beach and let the little waves carry us in.
Liberation II in Chamela Bay
  None of the scant few restaurants on the beach were open so we did an hour of walking and decided there was nothing to do or see and headed back to Lib II.
“Point the nose out”, I repeated as a relatively small wave snuck up while we were still parallel to the beach.  Relatively small but enough to nearly flip us and fill the dinghy with a few gallons of sea water.  Dinghy shore-landings 101: Angle and timing.

Thu. 2/16/12 Chamela Bay Layover
  I wish these sailing people would enunciate a bit more clearly; for the longest time I made reference to the whisper pole and just this morning Steve corrected me when I referred to the boom bang.
1100 We’ve had our coffee and Steve is now to task at scraping the hull.  He free dives with a mask and stiff brush.  In the past I’ve seen him go under water for over two minutes but when you’re scrubbing and fighting off natural buoyancy it burns oxygen much faster, so his many little missions last only around 45 seconds.  Let’s see, 48 x 14 should take less than a month.  He’s focusing on the keel which he says has the most sea-grass and barnacle growth; more than an inch.  Just reported, “There must be ten thousand fish right under the boat”.  The frigate birds have been diving all around us the whole morning so the fish may be using us as a shield.
  While he’s on a break I decided to see for myself & popped over the side with mask, fins & scrub brush.  Yep, lots of growth.  My lung capacity is about half of Steve’s so I scrubbed areas of the hull closer to the water line.
  We hadn’t intended to go back ashore but a chat with a passing kayaker informed us there was actually a village back behind the beachfront.  This time we rowed the half mile in to avoid dragging the heavy 20hp outboard onto and off of the beach.

Advertise much?
  We did find the little village, wandered around and wound up at Restaurant Prieta on the beach for beers and a bite.
DIY fish tacos

Chamela Bay

Fri. 2/17/12 Bahia Chamela to Bahia de Navidad

0800 19.35 x 105.07 72F/82% Anchor up on this calm morning and gently motoring round the islands at the south end of Chamela Bay.  Prit’near into open waters 12K winds rose and 6’ swells rocked us from the starboard side.  By 1000 the swells had grown and wind was gusting to 20.  We considered reefing but were seduced by such good boat speed.

1220 19.11 x 104.50 77F/78% We had planned to stop at both Tenacatita and Barra, but they’re not that far apart and at the last minute decided against Tenacatita, gybing abruptly 50 degrees seaward.  40 minutes later, having passed Cabeza de Navidad and its dangerous outcroppings, we then gybed a whopping 80 degrees toward land and the Bahia de Navidad in which Barra is nestled.  Now with winds averaging 23K and more to our back, side-to-side swaying is much reduced.  Ah, this is heaven..."Short on money but I'm long on time; slowly sailin' in the sweet sunshine".  Rarely under 7.5K, with main and jib overflowing we matched our 9.3K all-time speed record!

1400 19.13 x 104.42 77F/78% Entering the “protection” of the bay the winds and choppy seas are barely diminished.  On our first attempt to anchor the chain caught a full fishing net.  We got free of it, not waiting to see if any escaped, and high-tailed it to deeper water.  Now, the main is centered but still fully deployed and these heavy winds are pushing us around like a schoolyard bully.  After several nerve-wracking circles trying to head dead into the wind so the main could be lowered, we just anchored any old place and quickly.  Time for a drink or three.

  Not having a great track record with dinghy shore-landings, this time I set out the things that could not stand a dip in the sea: cigs, camera, cell phone.  These were packed into a special water-proof bag and that within three separate zip-lock bags, into a big black garbage bag, twisted and tied and finally into a heavy sea-bag - it's a good thing they were!  Steve swam in; I rowed.  All lined up, nose to shore, I almost had it nailed when a rogue wave with my name on it struck.  The dinghy tossed up like a toy, the sea-bag launched into the air and I’m face planted in wet sand.  The dinghy weathered it better than I: once on my feet again I see she’s floundering there, feet away, upright and normal, just 20 pounds heavier with water and sand.

Philippe's Bracelet
Sat 2/18/12 71F, 77%.  Bahia de Navidad layover
  Slow getting going this clear and sunny morning and why not?  Ain’t no agenda.
  The towns of Bahia de Navidad are Melaque, where we anchored, and two miles south, Barra.  I especially wanted to visit Barra having heard rumors of cool shops, restaurants and, of course, the French baker on VHF who delivers hot croissants to your boat.

  We wandered ‘round Melaque, had a beer or two, but (I) really wanted to see Barra.  After half an hour of “The bus passes here, just wave it down” failed, we hailed a cab.  Damn!  Six bucks instead of $2.50 for two bus tickets.   Barra was cool.  French pastry & espresso, bought fishing gear; the place just hip enough to attract interesting people, like this guy:
Panaderia - French bakery, Barra
View from Barra

Leaving Bahia be Navidad
Sun. 2/19/12 Bahia de Navidad to Punta Cabeza Negra
0800 19.13 x 104.42 68F/67% Anchor up, circled for 20 minutes to tie reef #1 (Scaredy cats from our entry debacle).  0820 On our way.  1040 Tow generator deployed; when under sail we’ll see whether it feeds the batteries.

1200 19.00 x 104.25 76F/69% Motor/unreefed main/jib as we pass Manzanillo. 
 Solo spinnaker for a couple hours but mostly motoring this day.  1700 doused the spinnaker so we could beeline and reach Punta Cabeza Negra before dark; too little too late, as it turned out.

1730 WEE-HOO, I caught a fish - maybe 4#, 15”.  Surprisingly, Steve was a bit squeamish when I delegated him as head fish head remover.  While he fired up the on-deck grill, I completed the cleaning.  First I grilled the still-beating heart and with a splash of Cholula popped it down, something primal in me I guess.  Then the rest went on the fire and we ate it all in short order; no sides no condiments just the freshest fish possible.  Over-cooked and with no seasoning it wasn’t exactly delicious, but for us, manna from heaven.

Chef Esteban

2030 18.36 x 103.42 79F/66% Really dark heading into the small bay behind Punta Cabeza Negra.  We steered, as best we could judge, to the center and anchored as soon as we saw 35’ depth.  Racked up 79.2 nm today.  Still sated from our fish kill, we didn’t even mention dinner - just had a couple chatty drinks and enjoyed the incredibly bright stars before hitting the hay.

Mon. 2/20/12 Punta Cabeza Negra to Bahia de Maruata
  Overnight the boat lay into the wind but the waves were at our side.  That made for a rocky night - rocky enough, we assume, to have launched our now missing fender into the bay.

1000 18.36 x 103.42 75F/70% Sunny, mostly clear.  Eggs over easy, hash browns w/chorizo by Steve.

1120 81F/63% Depart.  Lots of sea turtles lazing on the surface.
1300 18.26 x 103.40 84F/62% Main & jib up, motor off, going 6K.  Whales!  Several of them spouting & breaching.  As the day progressed the wind slowed so we gybed to and fro to make use of any or all of the sails - to no avail, so at...

1630 18.15 x 103.31 86F/60% Motoring an 85 degree rhumb line to Maruata.
<steve> "Very sunny and hotter today.  I got too much sun on my back.  Bahia Maruata is today’s anchor.  Probably about a 60/40 sail/motor split (much better than yesterday’s 90/10 split).  Need to refuel in Zihuatanejo and empty jerry jugs into fuel tank tomorrow.  Also will call Jim Dixon tomorrow to make sure shipment is en route."
Approaching Maruata
Maruata at anchor
1830 18.16 x 103.20 84F/60% Anchor down.  Took a sunset swim from the boat.   The water was appreciably warmer than at my last dip.  Settled in to chat over guacamole and beers.  42nm today.
  In the dark of night hundreds of fish darting around triggered thousands of bioluminescent plankton.  Not your whole name, but if you write quickly you can pee a sparkly letter or fanciful design on the water’s surface, unless, of course, you're a girl.  An instructional video is available for $39.99.

Tue. 2/21/12 Bahia de Maruata to Caleta de Campos
  Slept in till about 0900.

  After the coffee & a cig or two we rowed the dinghy in to wander the small village, covering the few roads in all of 20 minutes.

 Met a cool RV couple with a lot of sailing experience.  I was envious of the guy’s six-pak of blues harps and his guitar.  I brought one harp but it’s rusty and crushed so several reeds fail.  Also met two girls from Bourguignon who’d arrived here by bus.  They were being entertained by a local seiner who would in turns net a dozen or so fish, run up, dump them into a little sand pit beside the girls and repeated until there were 40 or so.

 We assumed they were to become today’s ceviche (the fish, not the girls).  Steve and I, the only customers at El Choro, observed all this while sharing a huge, delicious Ceviche Camaron with orange slices & Indios.
el grande ceviche

black sand
 We rowed back and after a late morning swim around the boat, we were off.

1230 18.16 x 103.20 86F/62% Anchor up under a bright sky.
1400 89F/60% Huggin’ the coast.  Lots of whales spouting and breaching.  Winds barely reached 5K; not a single sail up the entire day.

1830 18.04 x 102.44 86F/60% Anchor down in Caleta de Campos at sunset, we’re one of three S/Vs at anchor.

 We rowed in after dark; our driest beach landing yet.  The little town’s roads are relatively well-paved and climb steeply from where they begin behind the beach, drop just as steeply then climb again.  Good workout.  Nearly everything was closed up but we did find a tiny tienda and got a couple beers for the walk.
  We explored over to the breakwater, sitting, small-talking when we happened to look around surprised to find a lovely young señorita from nowhere suddenly standing in the shadows a few yards away.  Our eyes had somewhat adjusted to the dark and could glimpse her long black linen dress, black tresses rolling off her shoulders.  She stood quietly, dog at her side.
  Steve and I mumbled an awkward “uh-hola!”  Polite conversation ensued and we all stepped closer while Luna, with one brown and one blue eye, scampered around and between us.  The Mexican girl’s complexion was quite fair and her English too, so I suspect she's part gringo.  Abby said she “watched” the house adjacent to the cement slab, a bridge to the breakwater, on which we stood.  As our chat ended and we headed back down the hill to the beach I convinced myself that she drifts around the breakwater on moonlit nights watching and waiting for her seafaring lover as she has for hundreds of years.  Alas, she hadn't realized I had returned.

  Where the hill met the beach was a nondescript hut with a few dangling lights and modest seating.  We were able to get a couple beers and presently watched loads of fish being delivered.  Fish thrown on ice, boys paid seemingly by a rough count and off they went, probably to sleep a bit and start fishing again in the morning.

Wed. 2/22/12 Caleta de Campos layover
  Up with the sun I got the coffee going, cleaned up the galley and crushed my beer can pipe as we were told to expect a cursory Mexican Coast Guard boarding some 20 miles south.  I’m all set to head out, Steve awakes and I’m like, “Anchor up, Cappy?”  And he’s like, “Nah we’re staying another day.”   And I’m like all quiet and bummed.  Cursing under my breath but making the best of it I took a late morning dip off the boat; Steve did a bit of hull scrubbing.
1130 Steve swam the 1/4 mile to shore and ran the southern arc of this small bay.
1215 Finished my morning cocktails and by whistling and sign language it was communicated that I should row and he’d swim to the same northern bay beach landing we used last night.  The swimmer met me waist-deep and with the painter guided the dinghy thru the surf, dryly.  With the change of clothes I brought he took the high road and I the low.  He climbed those steep roads in search of goods; I walked the beach with gastronomic intentions.  In short order I found Enramada Juanita.  Not the first time as the only customer in a palapa, I’ve learned that, yes, you wait forever but what you get will be really fresh because it’s being made from scratch.  Our ceviche the other day couldn’t have been fresher and the pescado I was eating was surely swimming earlier this morning.

   Steve found me just as I was finishing the second whole fish and proudly announced he’d found the rum we were in desperate need of.  Slipping it out of his backpack, the label was clear: “Tradicional Tequila”.  Doh!  Well it surely won’t go to waste and Juanita, the proprietor, made everything right by having rum delivered to her palapa and thence to our table.  How ‘bout that!

  I was inspecting a pile of coconuts off to the side and she asked if I’d like one.  In moments two arrived at the table, bottoms flattened by a deft machete swipe and tops opened with another deeper swipe.
la cuenta
 Big Juanita herself did the knife job and preparation which included spearmint in the milk and a nice chunk of the coconut’s meat on the side.  How could things get any better?  Well, by her suggesting we pour in some rum.  We’d already had beers and sampled the tequila and to get the right proportion of rum to milk required adding quite a bit.  Can’t recall rowing the dinghy back that sunny afternoon.
Beautiful Caleta de Campos
   <Added 9 gal. fuel from our jerry jugs.>

Thu. 2/23/12 Caleta de Campos to Ixtapa
0545 18.04 x 102.44 Anchor up, pitch dark, rocky swells.  Bad day for Steve – he slept a lot.  If I had had what he had, I’d’ve had a headache like he had.  Wait, I did but I don’t...
 en route to Ixtapa
  Long, uneventful motoring day.  Anchor down off Ixtapa around 1700.  (@17.40 x 101.39 for fellow OCDers).

Fri. 2/24/12 Ixtapa to Zihuatanejo
  A brief row over to Isla Grande for light lunch and it was decided to motor next door into Zihuatanejo to get the lay of the land before Monday’s expected shipment.
1430 Up anchor; 1630 back down 89F/61% We’re one of 17 S/Vs in the harbor and 30 M/Vs.  As one does to get a sense of sufficient anchoring distance from neighboring boats, we slowly weaved through the bay like a dog looking for a place to shit.  Just about to squat, we were welcomed with, “Yer kiddin’ me, right?”, hollered by a hands-on-hips dick-wad who apparently thought we were too close.  I heard him clearly but immediately sized him up as a jerk and pretended I didn’t and made him say it three times.  We moved without conversing.
 First thing in a new place I usually dive in.  Not here - the water had stuff in it; dirty-looking stuff.  Glad I didn’t go in because a little online research showed it to be way past the safe poop-content level: 1500 parts/million fecal coliforms.  Wouldn’t want to bump into a fecal coliform!  Got my fill of that in La Cruz.

Sat. 2/25/12 Zihuatanejo layover (check out
 Motor-dinghied to explore the bay.  Where’s the gas station?  Where even is the dinghy dock?  Went down a small channel deeper into Z-town that stank to high heaven: crap and corruption, shit-brown water, yet plenty of birds and our first alligator sighting maybe twenty feet from our li’l launch.  This is the nastiest thing ever described as a body-of-water.  It wouldn’t be a miracle to walk across it.  We 180ed and got the hell out, rounded into cleaner water and slid up on the sand in the bay proper, bone dry with the help of a tiny boy and one of the ever-present men there to help for a buck.
 We tried to register at the harbor master’s office but were told in Spanish, “You don’t speak Spanish?  You’re in Mexico!”  Uh, okay fine, asshole, we won’t register.  In a way I agree with him as I feel people in my country should be able to understand my language.  On the other hand, in the U.S. we freakin’ bend over backwards to absorb and accommodate foreign speakers.  Besides, our registration here is to their benefit as there are fees.
 It’s a cool town, larger and more commercial than we’ve seen since Cabo San Lucas, yet with really interesting stores: lots of tchotchke shops but also plenty of zappateria, panateria, zapoteca (Indian art), grocery, hardware, even a place that might repair my camera; really most of what you might need for provisioning, simple repairs or souvenirs within a mile of the sandy shore.
Zihuatanejo church

The dear girl's fourth visit to our table; we finally bought something

Algae canal
  Uncharacteristically, Steve was slow going and I was anxious to tool around town.  We got the important stuff - rum, juice, beer - and exchanged dollars for pesos.  Had a nice lunch and after a brief baño in the sea, jumped back into the dinghy.

Sun. 2/26/12 Zihuatanejo layover
modern caves

I wasn't about to question the 10-peso admission fee for this museum

Mexican Navy

Mon. 2/27/12 Zihuatanejo layover
 The new wind-genny and macerator arrived at the Harbor Master’s pier via a fellow in San Diego justifiably rumored to get things done.  Steve dinghied in to get the shipment.

 Now we need an electrician and a plumber as our best DIY efforts were in vain.  There is no fueling dock, so naturally no water or flushing services.  However we were able to get diesel delivered by panga in 50-liter jugs and siphon them into the tank.  12.5 pesos/liter, we got 200.  (Hilda, Ishmael y Esteban 755-5508, 581).
 Nayo, the local go-to guy showed up with Sergio, an electrician, and I gave him a cursory explanation of our four main concerns: windy-genny, fore head, solar panels & tow-genny, in that order.  They left me feeling that at least some of them would become operational and in a couple days we’d be sailing south with lots of free electricity.  Steve has threatened to disconnect the amp-eating freezer which houses my precious ice cubes so I have a real interest in fat and happy batteries.
 3rd day here.  A continuous parade of pangas pass by from sunrise to well after sunset (with no lights).  Most are going fishing but some are out with a half dozen tourists heading, I suppose, to the “cleaner” beaches on the south side of the bay.  There are also always a couple running errands like Nayo and Hilda did for us today.

Tue. 2/28/12 Zihuatanejo layover
 Sergio spent nearly the entire day on board working on various projects.  Mid-day the ever-vigilant Nayo swung by to check on his progress.  Nayo's family has a restaurant and he brought us a big bowl of their homemade ceviche which, along with some of our guac & chips, we shared with Sergio.
 I guess sea water is good for you; something Mother Nature devised for our health, since she made us pretty salty creatures to begin with.
 Taking her cue we have saline IVs, inhalers and such and I always feel better after a day swimming at the beach.  But enough is enough.  Now, although I feel clean and have had no reported BO, after nearly a fortnight without a fresh water rinse I’m encrusted and my trunks stand on their own.
 Yet another port - they’re blurring together.  Here, like Vallarta, where we’re staying for a length of time will perhaps remain in memory longer.  Otherwise it’s just another bay on the way; a little bigger or smaller, more lights or fewer, didn’t get laid - nothing significant to remember after so many of ‘em.
 Among the mundanities I’ve yacked about, I haven’t mentioned much about groceries.  They’re an ongoing hassle.  In Vallarta it took hours for the round trip bus ride and while shopping at the super-mercado with only four arms between us we could only buy so much.  Especially since bottled water and juice is bulky and at "a pint a pound’", it’s heavy.  Ultimately we hired a cab and bought in quantity.  Lots of fruit is locally grown and relatively cheap.  Club soda and half & half are nearly impossible to find.  Bread is fresh, delicious and cheap.  Little loaves the size for a BIG sandwich are 10-15 cents.  Coffee beans are expensive and not very flavorful.  Produce is priced in KGs, so eight bucks for avocados sounds high until you do the math.  Cheese is mostly bland and pricy.  Overall groceries may be cheaper here but not by much.

Wed. 2/29/12 Zihuatanejo layover
 Sergio’s final repairs.  The fore macerator seems fine - it only needed a nickel-sized rubber washer (damn you Kim); solar panels are providing juice after replacing the external wires; the brand new wind-genny is not spinning and whether the rewired tow-genny works remains to be tested.
1930 We rowed to shore, accepting Sergio’s invitation for light supper.  Before we caught a cab, I took a much needed fresh-water shower at a 10-peso public baño.
 Steve had been to Sergio’s house the day before to discuss parts ‘n pieces for the boat so trusting his steel-trap memory he had the cab drop us at the outskirts of town.  We walked down this dark and dingy avenue, custom made for a mugging.  Sure enough, he led us right to Sergio’s locked iron gate.  Inside, the house is a brightly painted living area/workshop with hundreds of spare parts neatly stacked in a kitchen-sized corner behind the sofa.
 We were treated to his wife’s handmade uh, well they were smaller than a tortilla and thicker, puffier and topped with some mashy stuff and cheese.  A couple salsas on the side, chips and cucumber water.  (Why can't I get a job as a food critic?)  Anyway, it was all good, fun and new for us.
 I especially had fun with Osiris, their four year old boy.  He knew as much English as I did Spanish, so sign language came in handy.  I had him get paper and pencil and we took turns drawing for each other.
 We were about to go get a cab but Sergio insisted on driving us back to the dinghy.  Osiris and I rode in the back of the bouncing pickup and we laughed and laughed.

Thu. 3/01/12 Zihuatanejo to Acapulco
 We had 50 liters of water (4 pesos/liter) delivered by Hilda, poured it in bottle-by-bottle then rowed in for a leisurely lunch and final provisioning.  Our intent is to leave mid-afternoon and sail overnight to reach Acapulco mid-morning.
1530 17.37 x 101.33 86F/61% Anchor up.
1700 17.25 x 101.24 90F/58% Main & jib up but still motoring.

 Steve’s more accomplished than I at everything on the boat so when the conversation turns to fishing I take a superior attitude (since I caught one) and say things like, “What kind, what size and at what time would you like one?”, as if I can pull them from the sea at will.  No sooner had I begun one of these fantasy braggings than the bungee indicator slid up and smacked the safety rail with a “bing”.  We had a hit!  Another tuna, this one 19.5” and maybe 5 pounds.  Big enough that we ate fish for a couple days.  Catching is no longer a mystery – it’s the cleaning, filleting and not over-cooking I need to improve upon.  This time I did the butchering on the polyethylene cutting board instead of getting blood all over the deck (duh!) and took time with a proper flexible knife to render a pound or so of boneless filets.

 I can't see how minutes-old fish could harm a body so next one I'm eating some of it sushi-style. Steve makes excellent rice for the base, we have soy sauce and there's some green stuff growing on the hull that might pass for seaweed.  I’ve heard that puffer fish is delicious and hope I catch one to serve Steve.
1900 Perfect half-moon with clear skies allows good on-deck visibility.
2000 17.18 x 101.21 Spinny down, main centered for motoring.  Steve takes 2100-0200 shift.

Fri. 3/02/12
0200 17.04 x 100.49 82F/72% My five-hour shift begins.
0500 16.59 x 100.35 82F/72%
0600 16.57 x 100.29 82F/73%
 Sea Turtle
0700 Steve’s shift.
1000 16.51 x 100.05 83F/71% Lots of sea turtles, 20-30 in a half hour, mostly floating motionlessly with little regard to our passing even within a few meters.
1100 16.51 x 99.59.999 Wee-hoo!  Kids, come watch the odometer roll over!
 Five miles to Acapulco.  With 3/4 tank if we top off here we can make Huatulco even, if necessary, without a breath of wind.
approaching Acapulco 
1200 Anchor down, we rowed the dinghy in to inquire about diesel and oil for the next oil change.  We were told that one can’t buy oil unless one has a club membership - well, la-dee-freakin’-dah!  To gas up we’d have to row back to the boat to get ship’s papers, row in again with them, row back and bring the boat in.  We noticed a couple motor yachts, music playing, hogging the fueling area with no apparent agenda and wondered whether we’d have to sit idle while they took their sweet time moving out.  Screw it - we’ll count on there being enough wind to minimize consumption and they can keep their stinkin’ gas.
 I took a baño in the bay, we ate rice, some of our tuna pan-fried in tomato and onions, bitched a while over beers then at...
1530 Anchor up and outta this inhospitable, over-rated, downright stuffy non-paradise.
And where’s the damn cliff divers?  Elvis would be outraged at our treatment.
 About my Acapulco Bay baño - there occurs a curious reaction between Dr. Bronner’s + sea water.  It creates a powdery white substance that takes some rubbing to remove.  I was streaked with it.

Leaving Acapulco - (another) abandoned hotel
1600 Motor off, spinny up.
1800 16.40 x 99.43 90F/58% Toying between 115 and 135 degrees to find optimum spinnakerage.
2100 I must have inadvertently hit the “track” button which instantly and automatically puts the boat on its most recently programmed course, probably around Santa Barbara.  Otto yanked the wheel from my hand and set it spinning to obey the order, sending the spinnaker to the opposite side, laying across and winding around the mast, spreaders and various halyards.  Twenty minutes of gentle prodding got it down and I really hope there is no damage; I haven’t budgeted for sail repairs.  Finished my watch while Steve slept, probably not soundly.
2400 16.24 x 99.17 83F/73% Bright half-moon shining across the water.  Steve’s watch begins.

Sat. 3/03/12
0200 Lots of porpoises darting around lit up by biolumes.
0300 Tartar Shoal calls for wide berth.
0400 16.17 x 98.53 No ships on radar all night.
0500 16.12 x 98.27 Only 280’ deep due to Tartar Shoal although 12 miles out!
0600 Back on course most direct.  John’s watch begins.
0700 16.09 x 98.34 83F/76% Sun just coming up & we’re headed straight toward it, which later, mercifully, will put me in the shade of the Bimini.  I’m brown as a berry so I don’t need any more sun.
0900 16.04 x 19.21 83F/75% Can’t see land but we’re not as far out as the shipping lanes; I’ve seen some whopping container ships pass on starboard.  First they’re a blip on radar, then come into sight, zip past and become a blip again.  They must be doing over 20k.
1000 Damn dinghy davit worked loose and its stainless support pole swung wildly.  Hard to work on it leaning out over the rocky sea but I was able to secure it temporarily until Cappy wakes up to help.
1100 Still headed nearly due east, still thankfully in the shade.
1300 15.58 x 97.56 89F/64% With the temperature rising and sun climbing past the protective Bimini, it’s getting hot!  Took a foot-cooler off the swim deck.  Water noticeably warmer, clearer, almost aqua.
1430 Finally some wind.  This is probably the most serious sailing we’ve done since the Sea of Cortez passage - two nights and days so far, so we catch a wink when we can.  While I was doing so I got a call for assistance: Cappy was raising the spinnaker as the wind had climbed into the teens for the first time today.
 On deck still groggy I took the dousing lines while Steve maneuvered our course to a favorable hoisting position.  [While releasing the kite from the sock or dousing it, I have learned to take the lowest stance, i.e. on the deck on my ass.  That way I can’t fall down and can lean way back to gauge my progress.]  Well, the wind grabbed that sucker so quickly and so forcefully I was not only yanked to my feet but slightly into the air and dragged to the port lifeline, my upper half stretched out over the water with just inches from the bitter end in my clenched fists.  Seconds later I’d’ve let go but Steve got there in time to help muscle it back under control.
 With the spinnaker up and doing an admirable 7k we could see last night’s damage: a 4” rip in the center and a smaller one farther up.
 We had planned to take a rest stop in Bahia Chacahua but we just couldn’t waste this good wind.  It is HOT and a bucket bath off the swim deck really helped.
1800 15.48 x 97.22 89F/58%  Sun falling, wind falling, spinny fallen; we’re motoring.  Chowed down on our tuna, Nayo’s ceviche, guacamole & rice.  Another bright, moonlit night.
2300 Steve’s watch

Sun. 3/04/12 Angel Puerto to la Crucecita (Huatulco)
0100 Final stretch of motoring.  7 mi. off shore.
0200 Tried jib but too much pinch – no help.
0300 Cutting closer as approach Huatulco.
0400 May get there before sunrise!  Only 13nm.
0500 Slowed down to under 3 kts to wait for sunrise (sailing with jib @ 3-3.5 kts).
 entering Bahia Santa Cruz
0700 Arrived hours earlier than expected.  Anchor down in Bahia Chahue outside marina.
 The last 3 days and nights have been a bit grueling having had no layovers.  Nappy time for Steve.
1100 15.45 x 96.07 87F/54% 369nm trip miles.  Docked smoothly in Chahue Marina, both sleep deprived and plum worn out.
 This marina is cheaper than Paradise Village, but sorely lacking amenities: one toilet, no mirror for shaving, and one dribbling outdoor shower.  That’s it – no pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant or bar.  And the dock water is non-potable.  The edge of a small town is a mile or so away and there’re no buses from the marina – fortunately we needed no provisions.  We will on our return but there’s a secret “marina car” – a beater someone drove down from British Columbia and just left.  Sheila knows where the keys are kept and when asked about a license and insurance, “Nah, this is Mexico”.

Huatulco marina

 No TV, no problem; no showers, we have the ocean; no internet, like, OMG!  Haven't been online for over a week; it's good to finally get a connection and stuff stuff onto the blog.  I hate not finishing what I star...
 Headed home in a few days, next leg may take us to or through the Panama Canal.

Mon. 3/05/12
 Propane tank #1 empty, switched to #2.
 Ride into town with Sheila to help with her air conditioner.
1630 Dock party.  <Wealth of knowledge.  Tom/Lauridonna (47’ Catalina), François (Vietnam boat person), Rick (no spinnaker), Blonde hotel, Sheila & friend, and Larry, the way his comical mind works>

Tue. 3/06/12
Closing notes…
 Sheila drove us to the little Huatulco airport.  They have limited service - we took the one daily flight to Mexico City.

 I flew home in a great inefficient 18-hour arc via LA and DC.
 On the long leg, LA to DC, I got an aisle seat in the middle section of the 2-3-2 configuration.  A big, friendly guy had the other aisle, “By the way, I’m Brian”, hand stretched across the empty middle seat.  Good - a quiet, spacious five hour flight with a movie.  It got better.  Big Brian moved, I assume, to a larger exit row seat so up went the arm rests and down went me across the three open seats.  I was lucky to find a blanket, not so much for warmth but because it feels good to sleep under at least a little cover.  I caught a few zees and spent the sunrise in the galley chatting with the crew over fresh coffee, listening to their passengers-from-hell stories.  Meanwhile some SOB took my blanket and sure enough the flight to Charleston was cold.
 But I got a warm welcome home when Gabrielle and Liam (with his freshly broken arm) surprised me with a ride home from the airport.
 Next passage probably late April…