Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zihuatanejo to Bahia Santiago February 23rd- March 7th 2012

Goodbye Zihuatanejo:

The highlight of our last week in Zihuatanejo is a visit with Kristine and the girls (Mel’s daughter and our 2 granddaughters, Katie and Mary). They are in Ixtapa at Club Med for their annual vacation with Kristine’s friend Jen and her family. We have a nice lunch on the beach and have the girls over for a sleep-over on Mazu.
We then motored to the marina in Ixtapa to spend a few days getting the boat and us ready for our return trip north.  Mel and I both come down with bad colds so we postpone our departure for a few days. Soon enough we are better and it is time to go. I head to the grocery store to provision (bus there, taxi home) and we are ready to leave.

We head out of Ixtapa Marina in the morning on February 23rd, heading for Bahia Santiago (near Manzanillo) where we hope to meet up with our friends Ned and Carol on Franny B and Larry and Danice on Ladara Star. There is no wind to start so we are motoring. Soon we hear a call on the VHF from our friends on Camelot. They are passing by us heading south on their way to South America. We are sorry that we did not get to see them, but we had a nice chat on the VHF. They let us know that the wind will be picking up as we head north.

We soon are able to raise our sails and turn off the noisy engine, ahhhhh, this is what it is all about, the sails set right the sound of the boat through the water, and just the sailing silence that we enjoy so much.

Just as we were settled back in with the lines stowed and ready to relax, we hear a Mexican voice on the radio hailing the sailing vessel at coordinates that are close to us. This is all in Spanish mind you, and then I hear him again, this time in broken English, again calling for the sailing vessel. Mel says, “well there is a big grey ship over on our starboard side, could it be the Navy?”  I get on the VHF and yes, it is the navy requesting to board our vessel. Down come the sails, on with the motor as we slow to await their launch to arrive.

A panga type boat comes and makes several circles around us taking pictures. There are about 8 seamen and an officer. They are all armed. They then pull up and the officer and one armed seaman climb up onto the boat. Now mind you the seas are not calm and we are rolling and pitching all over. But they get on and do not bump into Mazu.

The officer asks if we speak Spanish, I say very little, he says he speaks very little English. He has a clip board and starts to request information. We had heard from other cruisers what most likely they were going to ask for so I had it all ready. They wanted to see our boat documentation and our passports. He then asked if we had any guns. No we said. He then wanted to look down below. I went with him. He had me open various closets and storage areas. He would just look in and say ok. He again asked if we had any guns. I said no.  He then said that the sea can be very dangerous and if we needed any help to call on the radio for the Navy and they will come. He then apologized for the dirty shoe print on the deck and said good-bye.  That was it and back to their ship they went.

By this time the seas were building, it was going to be dark soon and the winds had changed direction so we decided that we would just motor (we were still not fully recovered from our colds and did not have the energy to sail). We did not know that this would prove to be a really good choice.

As the sun went down the seas and winds continued to build. We were heading directly into the seas and were being bashed about. Water was splashing over the bow and sometimes even into the cock pit. The wind was a constant 25-28 knots with gusts up to 35 knots. We continued in this way all night and into the morning before it settled some. We were very happy to see the calm anchorage of Santiago. We set the hook and promptly took a long nap.  I have to say this was the worse 24 hours I have had on a boat. I was never afraid, just sick, and very uncomfortable. As always we are sure to clip ourselves in when we are on watch and wear our lifejackets.

Bummer in Santiago:
Franny B is in the bay and we have a great visit with them that evening. We make plans to go to the Saturday market the next morning. Here we are able to purchase all kinds of produce, gifts, kitchen items, clothes, you name it. Ned and Carol and I have a great day.

When I get back we see Ladara Star in the anchorage, it is good to see them. It is such a small world. Larry is a retired dentist from Springfield just like Mel. It is funny that we meet them here in Mexico. We look forward to spending time with them here. We all enjoy beers and a meal on the beach palapa restaurant. We enjoy the “battle of the bands” as there are several small traveling bands that play for tips, going from restaurant to restaurant. You will hear the tuba’s play all day and into the night.
Well our quiet happy time is short lived.

When we got up on Sunday morning, Mel discovers that our dinghy with motor and all are gone! We have help to make a search. Carol walks the beach and Mel and I raise anchor and search the rest of the bay and out in the sea. About a mile or so from our anchor spot we find the remains of the dinghy towing bridle floating in the water, it has been cut. We are now sure that it was stolen and for sure not to be seen again by us.

Later that day we bum a ride with Larry and Danice and go to shore. Word travels fast and many know of the theft. Even the waiter, Don Jose is very upset about it. When he learns that it was our dinghy he calls the police and gets them to the restaurant to talk with us. They suggested that we make a report at the station in Manzinillo. Don Jose offers to take us the next morning as it is his day off. So we make plans to meet him in the morning at the restaurant.

We meet Don Jose at 8 a.m. and drive to the main police station. Here we “sign in”, and wait. When it is finally our turn, the officer will only let Don Jose and Mel it. So I wait outside. Soon they come back out. It seems the officer cannot take his report as he does not speak English and Mel does not speak Spanish. Don Jose calls a friend who agrees to come and help us. Well after 5 hours we have a police report, and a promise from the officer that they will investigate. The next day I am reading the report and discover that he wrote our phone number down incorrectly. We have a friend call the station but to change it we must return to the main office. Forget it.

One thing Mel knows how to do it is how to get parts to where ever he is. We soon find a shop where he can order us in a replacement motor (the same one we had). Ned can bring down misc. parts we need when he flys home for a week so that is taken care of.  We decide that our best bet is to wait to purchase a replacement dinghy in Puerto Vallarta. So while we are staying longer in Bahia Santiago it is a good chance to relax and do lots of kayaking and exploring.


I have decided to go with Larry and Danice on an inland trip to Colima to see the volcano and the ruins. We are picked up at the beach restaurant and in a 10 passenger van we take off with our guide, Danny.

Colima is about 2 hours from Santiago/Manzanillo. Colima is the capital of the state of Colima. There is a VERY pretty square, and we tour a nice small museum. We then head out to see the still active volcano. The guide takes us to a great spot to get a great picture of it. As it would take too long we do not go up to the top.

Our next stop is the newly discovered Aztec era ruins. The story is they were expanding the main highway out of Colima a few years ago, when the ruins were discovered.
It was a fun, long and very interesting day.

We will leave Bahia Santiago and head to Barra de Navidad on March 8th as we continue to make our way north.

1 comment:

SharonMV said...

Hi Elaine & Mel!
Sorry I haven't posted here or e-mailed for some time. I've been riding the rough seas, metaphorically speaking. I'm now catching up on all your blog posts. The day of the Mexican naval visit must have been trying with the rolling seas and the inspection. I'll catch up on the other entries and will be in touch soon.
Love, Sharon