Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Zihuatanejo and the Sailfest

Friday, 10 Feb 2012 At anchor: Zihuatanejo
RAIN! Yes it is actually raining, a very rare event during our travels in Mexico over the past 12 years. When we arrived here last weekend we could see heavy cumulus building over the mountains inland and gradually it became overcast. We had a few sprinkles last night and now it is a continuous light rain, and really, quite pleasant. It has cooled things down, cleaned the air and Gosling’s decks. Thankfully it held up until today’s Parade of Sail was over.
We had an uneventful powerboat ride from Manzanillo in company with Mangareva and Nauti Moments. The sea was calm and we had light winds all the way. As we passed through the bay off Lazaro Cardenas we saw hundreds of turtles on the surface, many with birds perched on their backs. We arrived at Isla Grande and anchored for 2 days and managed a few chores and a bit of overdue clean up. On Saturday we all left the anchorage and made our way to Zihuatanejo and joined the 23 other boats getting ready for the Sailfest. We heard on the morning net from Full and Bye that there had been a whale birth in Santiago Bay the previous day and a crocodile sighting in Zihuatanejo Bay. Fran was not impressed by the latter.
Booby on a Turtle

Phil (Manasea) left on Sunday morning heading back north to Barra after sailing down to Acapulco. He gave us some very good advice on where and where not to go while there. Kirk (Freedom Kirkland) is here with his friend Perry, who we had met last year. Both have been having too good a time so far, helping out with the Sailfest organization, taking advantage of the local nightclub scene and getting some great donations for the raffle.
friends at the Concert for the kids

After arriving we wasted no time joining the support team for the event and helping out where we could. Fran volunteered to sit at the event sign-up desk for an afternoon while J-G walked Rosie along the beach. It was a genuine treat to meet up again with our friend, Julia Sumner, who we had met 3 years ago. Julia is one of the principle photographers for the event so we will be in a lot of her shots.
Us and Julia

We also re-acquainted with Art, J-G's "almost a twin" who we had also met 3 years ago. Believe it or not he lives just a few miles away from us in Brentwood Bay, just outside of Victoria.
The almost twins, J-G and Art.

On Monday our friends, from Kelowna, Von and Jacquie arrived. They will be coming to Acapulco with us after we leave Zihuatanejo in a few days. They brought with them a bunch of parts we had ordered, including hinges for the toilet seat in the aft head, a few tools and a new impeller for the aft shower pump. They also brought a supply of dark chocolate for Fran. She is now in heaven. Her toilet seat takes a slight back seat to the chocolate but it is easy to make her happy.....
On Tuesday night we attended a concert of local musicians at a restaurant venue. The talent this year was outstanding. These same artists and more contribute to make a CD which will be sold at next year’s event. On Wednesday Gosling was the committee boat for the pursuit race. This is a nice variation on races with boat ratings where the time allowance is taken at the start of the race providing a staggered start and a closer and more exciting finish. Today we had the Parade of Sail where all the boats take on guests who pay for the privilege of boarding the boats and sailing with them around the harbour and over to Ixtapa and back, a 3-4 hour outing. There wasn’t much sailing done due to light winds and a few showers threatened to put a damper on the event but everyone enjoyed themselves. We had Von and Jacquie and a very nice couple, Joe and Nancy, from New York City. It must be noted that all proceeds for the event go to building and maintaining schools for local native children.
Jacquie and Von

Joe and Nancy from NYC

One of our main aims here was to use the golf certificate that we had obtained at the Loretofest last year. We had suspected that it would be difficult from the start and we were correct. It took many phone calls to the manager of the course, several calls from him to his superiors in Mexico City and a personal visit to the club to get the certificates redeemed. It seems that the certificates were issued by the manager on the Loreto, Fonatur Golf facility on 3 other golf clubs in their chain but without his informing Mexico City or the other facilities that he had done this, and to top it off, he no ;longer works for the company. Well, it took 3 days of negotiations but we were finally given the OK to play on Thursday. Thankfully it was a cloudy day otherwise the heat would have been oppressive. Fran, J-G and Kirk played 18 holes in 3 ½ hrs (good carts). The crocodiles in the water obstacles here pose an additional incentive to keep playing without looking for that lost ball...
Different kind of water hazard

One of the lesser acknowledged features of the Sailfest is the assistance of a couple of local men with dinghy landings and launches. They come right out in the water to steady up the dinghies and drag them to shore before you disembark and similarly on the way out. It sure makes things easy for the cruisers. We pay 10 pesos (approx 80 cents) each time so these guys are making their annual wage in the week of the event. It is a wonderful service so the cruisers have no problem with paying the fee.
We have heard that Fonatur has taken a special interest in this location. They have an office just beside the Port Captain’s office and have taken on the role of managing the port. This is not sitting well with the locals who see this as a threat to the status quo. There are rumours that the fishing fleet will be barred from their traditional landing places on the beach and that there are plans for a major re-organisation of the harbour, much to the detriment to the existing occupants who fear rising prices for basic services. It will be interesting to see what happens here in the next few years. It is also odd to see that Fonatur has expanded its mandate to include port operations and golf.
Saturday, 11 Jan 2012, Anchored at Zihuatanejo
It is still raining on and off. This weather has a few advantages; it is definitely a bit cooler and it cleans the salt off our uppers. Also it has given us the confirmation that we have found and plugged the leaks that we had in the aft cabin.
We have just returned from shopping at the municipal market, a large covered market where you can but all sorts of fresh veggies, fruit, meat and fish. The strawberries and blackberries are in season. It is strange to see the latter here but they must come from the higher elevations. We have discovered a new fruit. Mamae tastes close to papaya but looks more like a melon. We also visited the local museum and saw how rich in history this area is. Had we had more time here we would have made the trip to Petatlan a temple site that was discovered recently. They have uncovered a playing field where warriors played a sort of soccer come basketball. The object was to get a stone ball though a vertically mounted stone hoop without using hands. The winner got the privilege to be sacrificed ..... There is also a lot of history about the Spanish conquest here too. Expeditions departed here for the Far East and Cortez is said to have built a few ships in the bay.
Last night we ate at a very nice restaurant close to Julia’s place. Their menu included tuna, something we haven’t seen too much of in Mexico. Later in the evening there were strange sounds coming from the creek beside the restaurant. The owner explained it was crocodiles mating..... No, crocodile was not on the menu.
1200, Monday, 13 Feb 2012. Alongside Marina Ixtapa
We arrived at the marina about noon yesterday after leaving the bay and saying farewell to all those we met at the Sailfest. Our departure was well timed. There were several thefts on boats last night, including a break-in on one boat. Various electronics and cash seem to have been the targets.
We are here with Kirk, Impulse, Nauti Moments, Amnesia , Hoorah and waiting for us here was Chanty V who we had left at Las Hadas. We had a wonderful dinner at a marina restaurant last night and were entertained by a great group featuring a female lead singer from Vancouver.
Jacquie and von have arrived and are settled in to the V-berth. The plan is to leave early tomorrow morning and get into Papanoa by mid-day, then leave at dusk for Acapulco and reach there by mid-morning so that we can have 2 full days there.
0600, Tuesday, 14 Feb 2012 At Sea, heading for Papanoa
We have just departed the Ixtapa marina in company with Nauti-Moments. Departing in the dark was a different experience to what we are used to. All went well and kirk gave us a hand with lines on our departure. We were sad to bid him farewell and hope to see him again in the near future. He has his mom aboard for the next week.
Just before dusk last night on of the local inhabitants made an appearance. An 8 ft+ crocodile swam by the stern of the boat. Not a place to swim or clean boat bottoms....
Got to publish this blog so updates will be after Acapulco.

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