Haultulco at the dock.

Well with Christmas over we hit the dock, (figuratively not literally) looking to take on food and water and give Maiatla a much needed bath. We were surprised to find a couple of cruising Canadian couples already here, one permanently the other, like us waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf of Thuantepec. Amber and Jeff with their two young children of Rock Star were from Vancouver and were into their 3 season of meandering down the coast. They have been here three weeks already but the weather for a crossing had not been co-operating so here they have been stuck. Chris and Gerry of Misty Michael, a 50 foot aluminum trawler they had built in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island. They have been living down her here for the past seven years. Apparently they were not too impressed with Central American and returned to settle down here. As most cruiser who have “swallowed the anchor” they have developed a tight social circle of friends, and are entrenched in the local community. There nice people would prove to be very helpful in helping us find our way around town. We also met a couple of other cruisers from Victoria, Neil and Peggy aboard Night Sky and Jeff and Judy of Island Mistress out of South Dakoda. A grand bunch that we would while away the evenings playing Mexican train dominoes either up at the marina outside bar or aboard one boat or another.

 

I checked the weather and since the gulf was still blowing gale force or better and predicted to do so for the next week we decided to rent a car and make a road trip to Oaxaca and the Mayan temple ruins there.  It was only 250 kilometers away but the road was reported to be very poor and winding. Well we should have listened to our inside voice and another cruiser, telling us not to do it.  The drive was definitely and eye opener as we were treated to grand vistas and a just a peek into Mexican rural life. We were amazed to see that some of the Indians had built terraced homes on the cliff tops with shear drops just outside their back doors with corn fields planted on hillsides that would give a mountain goat pause. I could hardly imagine how they would water the rather dry looking stalks and I would love to have seen how they would harvest the crop when the time came.

 

The heat of the interior was oppressive but thankfully the car had air-conditioning. We would pull off the side of the road, jump out, Jan and Marina would snap a few pics before bolting back the comfort of the tiny compact with air cranked to the maximum.  We passed through several small villages and one larger town with its main street full of venders selling anything and everything eatable or used to farm or run a house hold. We stopped to sample (at Marina’s insistence) roasted crickets laced with chili which had me scrambling to find my water bottle.

 

One of the highlights of the trip was being stopped in the jungle on a sharp curve by a two meter long Boa Constrictor that decided to slither across the road. Out came the cameras but surprisingly everyone stayed in the car while the creature took its merry time re-enter the bush. Well we never did make it to Oaxaca City. After hours of twisting and turning and grinding gears up steep mountain roads, we decided to abort our trip when we came across a sign. “Oaxaca 100 kilometers”. We had already spent six hours covering just 150 kilometers and by all accounts, the road was getting worse so after making a very careful “three point turn” on the cliff side we headed back.  We were disappointed but the better part of valor is discretion so I think a slow retreat was in order.

 

After our little road trip we spent the better part of the week waiting for weather and playing tourist around Haultuco. The entire city was built as a resort community so it is very well laid out and getting around made easy by the scores of taxis racing about. For 25 paseos (About $2) a cabbie will happily take you anywhere in town.  It’s probably Mexico’s best kept secret as it is nearly a perfect tourist resort with lots of great beaches, restaurants and things to do and the beat part ids the venders that are genially happy to see you come and don’t use the hard sell. They often wish you a good day as you decline to buy their wares, a pleasant change from most of Mexico. By the second week in port we had come to the conclusion that Marina was running out of time. The weather was not co-operating for crossing the Gulf so I had to make a decision to either cross under less favorable conditions so marina could accompany us, or wait. Wait it would be. (back to the discretion thing again) . So on January the 11th we put a rather disappointed but otherwise happy Marina on her flight home. We would come to miss her.

Oh did I mention that we had a mouse onboard? One day we found a half-eaten banana, then droppings on the counter-top. We bought a sticky pad and set a trap and baited it with a piece of banana. Marina (who absolutely freaks out at the mere thought of a mouse) woke me up at 3 am to say we had a hit, sure enough the guy was stuck to our trap and stuck good. He was big for a mouse, I mean a rat size mouse, sticky pad was almost too small for him. Any I put him in a plastic bag and tied a piece of chain to it and sent him swimming.

 

Next day I asked Marina to help me take up the trash, she readily agreed so I handed her on small gray bag which she clutched and swung like a purse as she sauntered up the dock. After she tossed her bag into the trash can I asked her if she was going to say goodbye? Goodbye to who she queried with a perplexed look upon her face. The mouse that you just dropped off, I replied with a big smirk. Needless to say how freaked out Marina was at having handled our little furry friend from the night before.

 

Well it was just Jan and I now so we had another decision to make. To grab the first weather window and head south or stay and play for a while. Since Jan was having some back pain and we really wanted some time alone to just chill out, we decided to head out and explore and dive along the coast and perhaps I would actually get a chance to do some writing. Not sure how it came about but before we knew it we had invited Melissa, our daughter to join us for a couple of weeks and as soon as she had her flight book, a good weather window opened up for the crossing. No matter, El Salvador wasn’t going anywhere and another weather window would surly open up after Melissa leaves. So it’s off to have fun in the sun, drink wine and be naked……most of the time.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Friday, January 03, 2014

Hi guys we have a bit of a change of plans. the weather is not co-operating in the Gulf- Storm force for the next couple of days and the window we were hoping to catch is shrinking so we won’t chance it so we are staying put in Huatulco until the next good opportunity arises, which may not be for a week or two… or longer. The Gulf is a nasty place so we will wait it out as long as it takes to get across safely. That means Marina will be flying home from here in the next few days. Jan and I will leave the marina dock and try and find a quiet anchorage to hang out in until we can leave safely. All in all this is a pretty nice place to be stuck in, the weather is nice (cooling down still) and the people are great and snorkeling good. The boat is ready to go so we wait.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Spent xmas eve on the beach at a nice palpa eating roast chicken, fish tacos and drinking margaritas and Pina coladadas out of hollowed out Pineapples. A big surf pounded in making for another wet dinghy landing. A waiter from one of the beach front restaurants ran into the water to take our line and to pull the dink ashore. As usual Jan and marina got a bit wetter then they wanted. Lots of Mexican tourist on holidays arrived and departed by pangas and motor cats, most getting wetter than perhaps they had planned also. Mostly families with young children who appeared to be new to the beach scene as they appeared to be intimidated by the foaming water. It was a nice evening on the beach with waves often racing up the sands to washer around the legs of some of the dinning tables. 

Jan did not sleep well last night, a bit rollier than the previous nights, may have to up anchor and find quieter waters for a few days so Jan can rest up before we make the push to cross the Gulf.

Can’t get internet cell service in this bay nor can I make a connection through the ham radio. Would like to send out the xmas emails we wrote and to tell the kids that we are alright. But more importantly I need a weather report which I can’t get either. May have to hike into town , or at least to the top of the nearby mountain with my cell and laptop.

December 24, 2013.

December 24, 2013.

Well we departed Puerto Escondido at first light. It was a rough windy night, should have left at 3am when the wind started to get up but I thought that Jan and Marina were still asleep so I decided to hold off. As it was, Jan and Marina were both wide awake. Jan wanted to get underway but she thought that I was asleep so she decided to let me be. So we all quietly suffered in silence till day break.  Once underway we hoisted sail and paralleled the shore, about 3 miles off, sailing fast and hard on the wind. This stretch of the coast is just one long tan colored beach that runs almost unbroken for 30 miles. Every once in a while a small group of huts or houses would be tucked into a tiny cove but otherwise, it was  deserted sand dunes lined with palms and scrub. We hadn’t been underway more than an hour when we spotted the first Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Before we knew it we were surrounded by not dozens but, hundreds of coffee table size turtles just lounging on the surface. There were so many turtles that we had to steer around some, but as careful as we were we still managed to side-swipe several. Fortunately the wind had died some so we were sailing slowly through their midst. We left more than a few turtles looking shocked and confused as they were left spinning in our wake after being clipped by Maiatla. I even donned my snorkeling gear and dove in to get some pics and video. By the end of the day we could easily claim to have seen thousands of turtles. All presumably, waiting for the moon to tell them to head to shore to lay their eggs, way cool.

Once we rounded the point at Puerto Angle, the turtles vanished. Puerto Angle is a small Mexican resort town full of banana boats and fishing pangas and two story hotels with beach bars. You would look long and hard to find and English speaking white face here. Not that we wanted to see any.

We passed up the harbor and went around the cliffs to a secluded bay that cut deep into a hill side. It looked like a good place to anchor for a few days and do some snorkeling but as we learned the first night, two sets of swells from different directions roll straight in here making for the roughest night at anchor we have had yet. Again no sleep for anyone. In the morning, Marina and I took our high-speed dink and raced back to Puerto Angle, about 3 miles away, to see if we could find a spot in the busy, but tight anchorage for us, so we could get caught up on some rest. But no luck, it was packed and the swell was likewise causing all the boats there to dance about. After a quick snorkel to cool off, we returned to the boat where Jan was still trying, mostly in vain to get some sleep. We quickly up anchored and were off looking for a bay to tuck into to get away from the swell and find some peaceful sleep.

 

 The wind filled back in at about 15 knots and the waves quickly grew making for a rough ride as they would crash against the nearby rocks and rebound back out creating a nasty cross chop. I was eager to find shelter so for the next 15 miles I attempted to enter every little bay and cove that looked promising, but as I had no detail charts and the tiny bays often had rocks above and below the surface which made us all more than just a little nervous. I have two depth sounders aboard, one of which shows the bottoms profile and composition, rocks or sand so I was able to anticipate what lay just ahead. But I was still on edge most of the time. 

One bay that looked promising had an ominous sounding name, Puerto Scaraficos. As we weaved through close standing rock fingers with white water crashing over them, Jan suddenly decide to leave her station watching the depth sounders to disappear below. “Where you going” I asked, think it odd that she would leave me at such a critical moment. “ To throw up” she said before vanishing. Well that was Jan’s way of saying that she did not care particularly for this anchorage and that somewhere else might be better suited to our needs. I carefully turned us around between three pillars of rocks that were just a few boat lengths away and beat a hasty retreat back to sea.

And hour later we final dropped our bow and stern hooks in small heart shaped bay, called Bahias Maguey and Organ, just a couple miles west of Huatulco Mexico. The lobe called Maguey contains several thatch hut restaurants and bars. The lobe called Oragn is around the corner and a mile away and is where we now live. A quiet tranquil bay that we have all to ourselves. The water is so clear that I can see the fish darting around the bottom 30 feet below the boat. We have steep rock cliffs 100 feet on either side with a beautiful crescent shape beach just off our stern.  Just before dark we went for a short walk through the jungle that lays just beyond the beach . The canopy was full of chirping and squalling birds and the underbrush was twinkling with glowing fireflies and to our delight, no mosquitoes. Back on the beach we swan in the gentle surf to cool off then later back at the boat, we skinny-dipped and marveled at the bio-luminescence that caused our bodies to glow as if coved in pixie dust. We showered then ate. After a rousing game of Mexican train Dominoes we went to bed to sleep like the dead.

We will spend the next few days here, exploring and getting ready to cross the dreaded Gulf of Tehuanteepec, the start of which just lays around the corner. We will have to wait here for a good weather window to make the 275 mile crossing to Guatemala. Today its blowing over 50 knots in the gulf, but it is predicted to died down over the next few days. So we will wait and spend xmas here. It may not be paradise, but I think I can see it from here.

Ship board fire!

Notes:  12/19/13 motored sailed and partly sailed form 145 miles from Acapulco to Punta Galera, and anchored for the night. Jan had a tough couple of days, caught a few tuna on the way down and one small Dorado but through them all back as it wasn’t the type of tuna we like. Caught a big Jack and gave it to a passing fishermen in a panga.. it was rough when we anchored for the night but it calmed down and I snubbed the boat so she would turn mead into the waves. Very hot, not much wind. out of the SSW 7-9 knots. Lots of sea turtles. Beautiful beach, bio-illuminencesess in surf, spectacular. Night time temps seem to be dropping, early morning wind blowing in the cabin feels cold, need a sheet to keep covered. Big difference from sweating all night.

 Saturday, December 21, 2013. 

 Best day of sailing yet, left Galera by 8 am, motored for a couple of hours till wind filled in the we were able to sail at 5-6 knots. fished all the way but caught nothing. Lots of manta and sting rays jumping, one almost landed on the deck. By 3 pm were off Puerto Escondido, nice town, anchored next to a navel vessel. They left shorty afterward, no internet service. Had a swim, water smells dirty, fishy. Quiet, no tubas on shore. Rolly anchorage, will leave early at this rate, had a fire as we came in to anchored. Electrical short in the steering column. Smell of pot came thick to us from shore. Music went on til 3 am. Set mizzen sail to spin the boat the big so stern to the big swells. Fireworks ashore. Rocky bottom, deep, got hook to hold but dragged over rock for a ways. 

Just a short one for now, too tired to write. Last three days after leaving Acapulco have been long and hot, but seems to be cooling down a bit- sorry to hear about the snow. The only ice we have here is in our drinks.

 We are now anchored in Puerto Escondido right down town. N15,51. 43—W97,03.75

 

 Big Mexican town, but nice, had a swim at dusk, anchorage rolly and the water smelled like fish. The thick smell of pot also drifting off th shore. Will be leaving at first. Caught some big fish today and gave one away to a panga fisherman. We had the best sailing day yet, 15 knots from the west northwest, putting us on a nice reach/run sailed flat at 6 knots, nice cooling breeze today for a change. Been working on burning up the miles, not far now from the infamous Gulf of Teahuantepec, will be blowing 50 knots there by Monday, so will be waiting for a weather window for the crossing.

 

Oh its 8 pm and the sun has been gone for an hour and a half, it’s now only 81 degrees outside. A bit warmer in the boat, not much of a night breeze. Saw lots of Rays, both Manta and sting leaping out of the water today, one the size of an easy chair almost landed on the foredeck.

 

Oh I almost forgot, just as we were anchoring next to a Mexican Navy gunboat at Escondidto, smoke began pouring out of the steering pedestal. The anchor was barley down when the fire broke out. Jan was at the helm at the time doing the driving, I was on deck doing my anchor thing when she called to me to let me know we were burning. I first assumed that it was an electrical fire so I ran down below to turn off all the electrical systems and disconnect the batteries.

 As soon as I killed the power the smoke began to dissipate. We have a 12-cigarette lighter type plug mounted in the steering column which apparently shorted out, burning up some wiring.  Jan and I spent the next hour or so with the column all torn apart replacing burnt wires. Don’t think the navy even noticed despite being only 20 meters away.

 

So that’s it for now, will be putting together a better email soon . Andy , Jan and Marina.

Thursday, December 19, 2013.

Thursday, December 19, 2013.

Well we departed Acapulco just before noon after 3 Mexican bus rides to clear out with the port Captain and picking up some fresh veggies form the local market.   A rather  interesting departure and a bit comical an reminiscent of a scene from the “Movie Captain Ron”.  I left behind a rather upset local merchant who did some repair work on our canvas but was unable to complete the repairs because he didn’t the materials but he demanded to be paid for the full job anyway. I thought have to pull out the bear mace just as we were casting off, the merchant with a pair of goon type jumped into a little skiff and began rowing towards us. Fortunately they were head to another nearby boat and not attempting to board us. It was a tense moment but all thought of peril vanished as our friend Marina returned from a garbage run from down the dock, and as she did, a love sick Mexican out marina’s name,  called out her name, pleading that she not leave. Awe the life of a roving sailor. Broken hearts in every port. 

As we motored out of the harbor I called the port captain to report that we were underway. Now I’m not too sure what happened as  the language barrier is still a bit of a problem but I was either ordered back, to the dock at the marina, (Thoughts that the merchant may have filed a grievance with the authorities crossed my mind) or her was giving me directions on how to find the marina, not sure which. Anyway no navy gunboat rushed out to head me off so I suspect that we are ok but If my boat gets impounded in the next port I would suspect I would know why.

Outside the harbor the wind filled in from the west at 8 to 10 knots. We up all sail and are nicely sailing on a tight reach, parallel to the coast with our next stop about 175 miles away. The fishing rods are out so maybe we will catch diner.

That’s if for now. Take care all.

December 19, 2013

December 19, 2013

Hi guys , nice to hear from you. wow you are moving fast also. Well we have been 3 days in Acapulco and we have had enough of marina life. it’s really hot at the dock as the wind.. when there is wind blows off the hot rocks on shore. We are at La Marina Acapulco getting our dodger re-stitched. DON’T STAY HERE. They advertise a full service marina, with pool, cruisers service center, and will handle all paperwork. They don’t do paperwork, they don’t have showers for cruisers, they cruisers lounge is locked and they refused us entry to the pool as it was for MEMBERS ONLY. I raised shit after getting caught sneaking into the pool a few times, they were gracious enough to allow us, just us to use the pool.  Surprised how clean the harbour is, but I’m not comfortable swimming here even though the locals do.

That side, it does have nice docks and the workers are very eager and helpful. Not sure what the other marina is like but I would give it a try first.  Anyway , its now 8 am and I’m heading to the port captains to clear in and out, ( I thought the marina did my paperwork) then we are off. Oh Jan wants to know if you remember what that stomach medicine was the masseuse in San Blas recommended?

no problems but just in case. 

Take care and marry xmas. Andy & Jan