Saturday, February 5, 2011

Manzanillo to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo Jan. 28 - Feb. 4 2011

From Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo (Z-Town) is nearly 200 miles this stretch is relatively remote and isolated. The anchorages along the way lack protection and can be very "rolley" which does not allow for a good nights sleep. For these reasons many cruisers decide to sail through the night to get to Z-Town.

This too is what we have decided to do. We have talked to another boat in our anchorage here in Bahia Las Hadas and there are several boats leaving that will also sail through the night. We therefore all plan to buddy boat down. When you buddy boat you are able to keep in contact with the other boats. This is helpful as we all can look out for each other.

Mel and I stand 4 hour watches. As I like my sleep in the middle of the night I take the 9pm to 1am watch for my night watch. Let me explain a bit about sailing/motoring the boat at night. No we do not have headlights to see forward. What we do have is a chartplotter, radar and AIS systems. A chartplotter is a screen that I have at the helm of the boat displaying the chart on it. The chart also shows our boat moving along. I can overlay the radar screen onto this same screen. Radar will show a "blob" of purple if there is something within its range so you can avoid it. The size of the blob helps you determin what it is. The AIS system is carried by all large boats and now many small motor and sailing vessels. With this device you send, and receive a signal. This signal is then displayed on your chartplotter screen as a triangle where the vessel is located. You can then hover your curser over the triangle and it will display the data on that ship, name, speed, how close it is to you, direction it is going etc. Then you can avoid getting into its path. And remember they can then see me too. If I need or want I can also call the ship on our VHF radio to talk with them and be sure that they see me and I can give them our position.

So with all this information you are able to set your course and watch for other boats and/or land in your way. Our boat also has autopilot so the boat can steer its self. This means your hands are free and you can read, go down and make a quick snack etc. while monetoring your screen and of course looking all around your boat regularly.

Along this trip we had very little wind so we motored all the way. We were lucky enough to see many sea turtles. They look like big helments floating on the water. We also were treated to dolphins and whales. And, drum roll please, I caught a 30" Dorado, (see picture)!

We arrived at our first destination Isla Grande early afternoon on Saturday (the 29th) after 31 hours of motoring. We anchor do a few chores and take a long nap.

Isla Grande is a small island that is used as a island getaway by Ixtapa and Z-town residents and tourists alike. The soft sand beach is lined with many palapa resturants serving cold beer and fresh caught seafood. We dingy over and enjoy the servings of the nearest palapa. We spend a couple of days here before we head to Z-Town.

We arrive in Z-Town on the first day of Sail-Fest, an annual five-day festival hosted by a group of volunteers with a goal to rais money and awareness for the education of children in the area. There are boat races, concerts (small), a boat parade and beach games. We sign up to be a host boat for the parade. Sail-fest then sells the boat rides to people as a fundraiser.

We have 4 fun Canadians on our boat, Keith, Joy, Diane, and Audrey. We have a fun day in the Parade. For the parade the boats follow the Port Capt. first, around the Z-Town bay then over to Ixtapa. Here he stops and as all the boats pass him they salute and wave there flag. As we had so many Canadian's I get out my Canada flag and we wave both the US and Canada Flag. The rest of the day we went to Isl. Grande for lunch. See picture above.

Zihuatanejo, is a wonderful place... The pre-hispanic history of Z-Town began with the Cuitlatec people. These people were known for growing agiculture and for production of cotton blankets and carved scallp shells. In the 1400's after an invasion by the Aztec's much of the area in Zihuatanejo were abandoned by the Cuitlatec. In the 1500's the Spanish conquistabors arrived and began exploring and eventually colonizing the area.
Mel and I have really fell in love with this town. The food is great, the people are very nice, the town is clean and the music and entertainment is outstanding. We plan on staying here for a few weeks. We hope to see even more. We will be seeing Mel's daughter and family here next week. We are looking forward to that....

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