Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chiapas to Acapulco

10:30, Thursday, February 20, 2014. Enroute to Acapulco

We are almost halfway across the dreaded Tehuantepec, renowned for its 40-60 kt winds spilling over from the Caribbean. We have chosen well. It is absolutely flat calm and this weather window will last for the next 36 hours before piping up again. Before departing from Chiapas we checked every source we could find and they all agreed so we opted for a direct crossing, some 240 miles to the mainland coast just west of Huatulco. From there we will be another 36+ hours to Acapulco and our next fueling stop. Yes, under these conditions we are motoring, however, we did get about an hour of decent sailing in just after we left Chiapas yesterday afternoon. 
There are many large turtles resting on the surface all round us. Under these conditions they are easy to spot. They appear as lumps floating on the surface, sometimes with a bird perched on them. We can get quite close to them before they notice us and dive, in fact, we almost hit one a few minutes ago. 

Mexican aircraft carrier.

One of the advantages of being in Mexico is the cheaper cost of everything. Our fuel purchase yesterday was $3.67/gal (US) or 97 cents/li. We took on 278 li, not bad for a trip of 471.5 miles, 66 hours on the engine. 

Yesterday evening we met a couple of large power boats heading for Costa Rica. Anna Mae was surprised that a sailboat would actually call him and chat. I guess they have been shunned by many sailboats but we like big cruisers. Motor yachts have ice, an essential for sundowners, but we can’t complain; our new fridge always has 2 trays ready to go now. Anna Mae seemed quite appreciative of our suggestions for their trip down the coast.  

06:45, Saturday, 22 February 2014, At sea, enroute to Acapulco 

Another dawn at sea. The eastern horizon is brightening and, before I finish this entry the sun will have risen. We have another 24 hours to go till we reach Acapulco. We have made good time and have had to slow down so as not to arrive during darkness. We are under sail in a 10 kt offshore wind and doing just over 3 kts. We will not have this wind for long so we might as well take advantage of it while we can. Once the sun begins to heat up the surface it will die and eventually reverse to an onshore breeze and we will, inevitably have to crank up the iron spinnaker again. It is nice to have silence for a change with only the whistling of the wind in the rigging, the tune played by the shaft as it free-wheels in our wake and the other varied noises a sailboat makes.  

Otto (the autopilot) is still temperamental but is holding us on a steady course. He likes the overnight passages but is very cranky during the day. We think that the problem we have with him may be heat related and that a fan will provide a temporary solution. We have asked Ken and Carole to bring one.

The last 24 hours have been uneventful. There is lots of sea life, turtles galore, the odd manta ray flipping out of the water and the occasional pod of dolphins playing at the bow.

Flying fish casualty found on deck

Our crossing of the Tehuantepec was mostly a non-event, however, by 2200 last night the wind picked up, unexpectedly, from the west, on the nose, and blew up to 20 kts for about 8 hours. It was a rough ending to the crossing with the waves breaking over the bow and spray reaching the cockpit. In the morning we noticed tiny shrimp everywhere.

Flat Tehuantepec.
Inhibitions are thrown away when you are all by your lonesomes at sea. Like most cruising couples (and the common practice on most European boats) we tend to shed our clothing while at sea.  Haven’t told Ken and Carole that yet…. Just kidding, we’ll have our nauti bits covered while they are with us. 

Au naturelle - notice the white butt. We don't get out in the sun much...

Sunrise has just happened and navigation lights - switched off. The log will be annotated accordingly. Some old naval habits persist…

20:45, Sunday, 23 February 2014, At anchor Acapulco

What an incredible skyline at night! Acapulco has got to be the most beautiful night profile we have ever seen. The bay is surrounded by hills, most of which are inhabited with their house and street lights twinkling so the bay looks like a horizontal Christmas tree. This afternoon the bay was alive with high end sailboats with their colourful spinnakers and kevlar sails racing each other in the highly competitive Acapulco Yacht Club Sunday race series.

 Acapulco racers

Now it is Sunday night in Mexico and we can hear the sounds of people enjoying the last day of the weekend. There are live bands on the boardwalk, party boats returning from their sunset cruises and later there will, invariably, be fireworks at some of the shoreline resorts; it is nice to be back to Mexico.

 We arrived early this morning after a tiring night of battling the autopilot in a nasty 15-20 kt headwind. We anchored and slept till noon, then, it was time to launch the dinghy, refuel using the deck jugs (3 times back and forth), a quick walk to the nearest grocery store for a few essentials and then back to the boat. Our life has become very predictable!! 

 This has been another long passage for us but, incredibly, it was only ½ mile shorter than the last leg from Costa Rica to Chiapas at 471 miles but 20 hours more engine. We arrived with only 9.5 gallons in the tank and that was after we had used up our deck reserves. From here on the legs will be shorter.

 Tomorrow we leave for Zihuananejo, a 104 mile run. We expect to be in by Tuesday afternoon.

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