Friday, January 27, 2012

Zihuatanejo to Acapulco

January 8th to January 17th.

We arrive back in Ixtapa after a month home for Christmas. It was a great time. I really enjoyed spending time with Spencer, Matt and Sherry and the kids. We spent Christmas day in Sunriver.

We made arrangements to have our friend Mark and Emily from the boat Groovy come today to help us with the reattachment of the gooseneck. Boy were we glad for the help. Mel and Mark with just a few improvisations had us all back ship/shape. We made tentative plans to sail south together to Hutulco via Acapulco.

 Our friend Joaquin came by the boat too. We met him here last year while in the restaurant where he works in Ixtapa. He lived in Tillamook Oregon for 8 years. We have been emailing him off and on and while in Oregon we offered to bring him parts or equipment that would fit in our luggage. He asked for a fish finder for his boat. Joaquin also provides tourist fishing trips or inland tours.  And as you will read later we are glad that he is here. We make arraignments for an inland tour when we return in February.

Our dock hand Brian did an excellent job and Mazu looked great. We went our early the next morning to anchor for the morning for him to clean the bottom of the boat. (no doing it in the marina because of the resident crocs!) He did the final washing of the boat and all that was left was to provision for the trip.

The next morning we took the bus (9 pesos) to the Bodega Mercado and filled up the cupboards, freezer and fridge. Paid our bill at the marina and set out for Zihuatanejo. We plan to anchor here for a couple of days and leave with Groovy on Friday morning.

We anchor in front of town and dink in for drinks and dinner and to watch the basketball game, there seems to always be a game or something going on in the square. We have one the street burgers, and they are good.

On Thursday I hitch a ride in with Groovy. She is going to the dentist. She noticed something wrong and thought she lost a filling. Mel did a little exam, and yes she had so she was going in to get it filled. I needed to make change at the bank and top off my produce supply at the central market. Every town has one, an open building, no walls just booths of various items, produce, meat, poultry, fish, house wares, clothes, you name it. The prices are usually very good. I buy produce and some fish and shrimp.

Friday: I did not sleep good last night. I noticed that the temp. on the fridge was high, and in the morning was even higher, not good, not good at all.  After some diagnosis and phone calls to our friend Bob Ridenour we decide it needs Freon. Sounds easy right? But this is Mexico. We need to find the adapter and hose that will take the Freon from the can into the system. 

So off to the taxi stand. The best place to get what you need. I ask a few drivers if the speak good English and be willing to help us find what we need and interpret.  We are in luck and find one. He takes us to an air-conditioning supply store. They have the Freon and part of the adapter that we need. We try a few other places but need to go back to the boat to measure so we can have a hose made.  We pay the driver and thank him for his help.

Back to the boat and Mel is assured he now knows what he needs. We first hope to find a charging kit in an automotive shop, if not we now know what we need to have a hose/adapter made. I call our friend Joaquin, and as luck would have it he is in Zihu and has the time to help us.  After a few tries at various stores looking for a kit, we end up at the hose shop getting the part made.  I asked Joaquin if this was usual, to go to several places to get on thing done, he said always. So what would have taken us maybe an hour at home to complete took us all day. But luckily it seems that it is working. We put off our departure for a day just to make sure all is working.

Zihuatanejo, Papanoa,  Acapulco:

We raise anchor early in the morning heading 37 miles to Papanoa for the night.  We have a lovely day and sail for over 3 hours. Papanoa is a small bay with break water.  A small naval base and shrimp and fishing pangas are located here.  Various houses and shacks are along the shore. We are here for a short rest to leave for the 77 mile trip to Acapulco.

We leave Papanoa at 1 am. We hope to sail part of the way but motor to begin with. Luckily Mel has the first watch. We arrive in Acapulco at about noon on Sunday. WOW it is a huge city. I would say the largest we have seen while cruising in Mexico. 

A sailboat race is about to start so we have to weave in and out of the fancy race boats. We finally are able to secure dock space at La Marina Acapulco. The office is closed by we are assisted by the guards. It is here we decide we need to be as the fridge temp. is again going up. Here we go again.

We look online and find the address to an Auto Zone where we know we can get more Freon. It takes a while but we are soon back at the boat adding more to the system.  On the good side we find an excellent grocery store, just across the street. It is brand new and has gringo items like cheddar cheese, sausage, cinnamon rolls, and steaks that look like steaks.

On Monday we decide we should see if we can find someone to look at this fridge system. No one at the boat yard speaks much English but we are finally able to find someone who will call someone and they will meet us here in 20 mins. And he does.  We get a diagnosis; he takes me to buy the gauges we need to measure the Freon pressure and more Freon. We are good to go.

Clava distas (Cliff divers)

Our friends Groovy are going to stay a few more days, we decided to head out on Tuesday night. But first we want to see the famous cliff divers. We take Mazu around to the cove where they dive. We are surprised to find that we are able to motor up pretty close. Prior to the dives one of the divers swims out to any boats in the area (there are about 3) to tell them the divers names, and the heights of which they will dive. The also ask for tips as this is how they are paid. It was so exciting to see it up close like that. I remember seeing the divers on TV as a kid, on the Wide World of Sports. There were 6 divers that day. They also dive at night with torches.  We then take a cruise over around Acapulco bay to Marges Bay to meet with Groovy.  It is a very pretty anchorage with some lovely beach front hotels. We leave at midnight for Huatulco. 

Manzanillo to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo

We arrive in Manzanillo for a short stop to rest prior to the longer leg to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. We anchor in Las Hadas bay. It is called that because of the beautiful resort here. Las Hadas means fairies. The resort is all painted white with beautiful architecture and is very stunning when you approach. We do take the dink to the marina to get rid of garbage, stretch our legs and to have a meal off the boat. An early evening and then back to the boat.

We leave November 29th at first light for the 30 hour (give or take) sail to Zihuatenejo. Our plan is to stay about 10 miles off shore, but with it a couple of hours we have run into a long line fishing operation. This type of fishing involves one or more panga boats. They set up these long fishing lines onto floats. The floats can be just about anything, foam, plastic bottles etc. These float lines are then strung along the currents and can be up to 5 miles long. On these other lines are tied with weight and hooks and bait. At the end of the lines there is usually a float with a small flag pole. This, if you are lucky is what you will see to warn you that the line is there. We then slow down; I go to the bow with binoculars and search for the connecting floats. We then slowly follow the line until we see the end flag. You can then turn and continue in the direction you want. Also if you are lucky one of the pangas will see you approach and quickly motor up to warn you. This is what happened to us. The fishermen will then point you in the right direction to get around their lines. After about 2 hours of dodging lines and not getting anywhere we decide to go our 20 miles from shore, in the shipping lanes. We figure it will be easier to see the cargo ships that the fishing lines. There we find no more long-lines and we are then able to make good time as we head south.
The night watch was busy watching for cargo ships. I did see one sail boat pass us by. She showed up on the radar well in advance so I could change course out its way. While I did not see any fishing boats this far out I could on occasion hear their chatter on the VHF radio, so they were out there somewhere.
As we were having trouble with the gooseneck connection of our boom to our mast (discovered on our crossing from La Paz) we had to motor the entire way. But there was not much wind anyway. But because of this we had decided to go straight to the marina in Ixtapa so we will have a calm place to remove it to take back home with us.
We arrive safe and sound in the Ixtapa marina at about 12pm on Wednesday November 30th. We have a flight home to Oregon on December 6th. We spend the time getting the boat ready, and removing the gooseneck to take home for repairs. We also take trips to Zihu to eat and walk around. The marina is quiet as we arrive early in the season, very few cruisers are here.
We meet Brian on the dock, a local Mexican who works on a boat near ours. We make arrangements for him to watch our boat while we are gone.