Sunday, March 29, 2015

Acapulco


Our departure from Zihuatenajo was followed by two night arrivals into unfamiliar ports.  We typically try to avoid this for obvious safety reasons.  Our original intention was to head straight to Acapulco from Zihuatenajo.  This would be an overnight sail.  If we could have actually sailed we would have kept going, however, the wind died around 6pm so we decided to head in to Papanoa instead of motoring through the night.  Luckily we knew three other boats that we had met in Zihuatenajo would be in Papanoa to direct us in.  The entrance was pretty straightforward but the anchorage area behind the breakwater was pretty tight with four sailboats and the local pangas.  We dropped the hook in the only spot we could and hit the hay for a good night’s sleep.

We woke up with the sunrise the next day to begin our 70 mile journey to Acapulco.  It was likely that we would arrive again at night.  We were hoping for some good wind to pick up some speed and hopefully get in earlier.  What we got instead was a 5-7 foot short choppy swell with about 12 knots of wind and a knot of current against us.  We pushed along and had a comfortable downwind ride with our main down and genoa up.  We sailed right into Acapulco harbor with a dolphin escort and dropped the hook at 10pm.  Luckily Acapulco has a nice wide open entrance to navigate through.  We were surrounded by the city lights in the “bowl of diamonds.”

The next day we set out to explore the city and were quite disappointed.  We felt like we had traveled backwards and ended up in Ensenada again.  The city was dirty, dirty, dirty.  Everywhere we looked there was a truck full of heavily armed police or military officials.  As with most big cities, Acapulco is known for their crime. 

The highlight of our time in Acapulco was seeing the cliff divers.  We arrived at the dive site for the one o’clock show.  For 40 pesos each we were able to watch six men with a death wish dive off the side of a cliff into a small crevice of water with surging waves.  There are prayer alters at the top of the cliff in the staging area.  Each diver climbs the side of the cliff with no climbing gear whatsoever, then kneels at the altar before making their plunge off the cliff.  Seeing all of the divers walk away unscathed after their dive really gives me confidence in the power of a prayer. : )


La Quebrada cliff diving site
Divers climbing up the cliff to their dive platform.



Getting ready for their big jump.






Hey girls, come get you picture taken with five guys in Speedos!

Yet another use for cardboard.

This fort was built to keep pirates out of Acapulco Bay.


The anchorage

A typical taxi in Acapulco.

I want that job.
Hey Katelyn, turn around and enjoy the view...











Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Random Thoughts From Sea


I am not a sailor.  Growing up, the nearest body of water was my backyard swimming pool.  My parents were not members of a yacht club.  They were on a bowling league.  I grew up in Arizona.  Enough said.  I have the utmost respect for sailors who have spent years on the water in places like San Francisco where the wind is consistent and conditions offer a constant challenge. 

We took possession of Ohana on a sunny day in February in Seattle.  We were ready to move the boat from Seattle to Everett, then to La Conner the following day.  The boat broker asked me about the weather conditions.  Were we supposed to check the weather?  I have learned a lot since then…

I am still constantly learning something new on the water.  That is why I enjoy sailing.  My favorite point of sail is a close reach when I can trim the sails just right and Ohana glides effortlessly through the water.  Most of our Mexico sailing has been downwind though.  This has been a bit of a challenge.  We have a ginormous main sail that blocks the wind from properly filling the jib.  Therefore, the jib slaps and flogs around sending earthquake tremors running through our rigging.  Running wing and wing is just too hard to maintain, especially if there is anything over a three foot swell involved.  I have asked advice from many more experienced sailors.  “Pole out the jib,” I have been told.  Our pole is more like an accessory to the toe rail than a functioning piece of equipment.  Maybe someday we can experiment with this option.  “Fall off 20 degrees,” was another piece of advice.  That I have used many times.  However, it can be almost as frustrating as wing and wing with large swell.  Our autopilot has a hard time holding this course and keeping both sails full. 

So here we are on our way to Acapulco.  We need to run a course straight downwind.  The seas are from behind at 5-6 feet with short intervals between.  Falling off 20 degrees makes for an uncomfortable ride.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just have a headsail up?   I make an executive decision (with Captain Jake’s consent of course) to drop the main sail.  I can’t deal with two sails anymore.  With the main sail down and the jib full, I set the autopilot on a course dead downwind.  What is that noise?  I think angels are singing.  This is heaven.  We are gliding along at 5 knots on a direct course to our destination.  The seas are following behind nicely and everyone is comfortable.  Even the dolphins seem happy as they glide alongside Ohana’s bow.   Now instead of sitting in the cockpit stewing over the next ten hours of rough sailing, I am laying prone on the bow enjoying the dolphin show. 

Maybe I can be a sailor after all… 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Zihua Guitar Fest


There have been a few times in our cruising life that have made me step back and say, "Wow! I can't believe we are here at this moment doing this."  The Zihuatanejo International Guitar Fest was one of those moments.  Not only was it amazing to be here for the fest, but it was amazing to share it with my parents. 

The Zihuafest had several different artists from all over the world all showing their unbelievable talent on several different types and styles of guitar.  We saw artists from Pakistan, Cuba, France, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Spain, and the US.  Over a thousand people gathered on the beach with the sun setting over the main anchorage.  It was a spectacular thing to see and experience.  There were shows every night for 7 nights in a row.  All of the shows where only $7 per person.  Where else can you see such talent for so little?  Harold at the Oceano, if you are reading this, put it on your bucket list and go. 










Good Bye Z-town!


After spending 3 weeks in one spot, I feel like we have really learned the lay of the land.  We know where to find sink drain plugs, yeast, the best gelato, and the cheapest beer.  Zihuatenejo has really grown on us.  We know all the local stray dogs' names. We know where to get the freshest meats, veggies, and cheese.  Although, I am seriously going vegetarian with a lot of dishes after seeing entire cows being butchered, axed, and mutilated in all kinds of interesting ways in front of me.  Speaking of food, I have yet to find tacos as good as Zia's.  When you order a taco here, it can be anything from a fried taquito to something resembling an empanada.  I've just excepted this fact and now order enchiladas. 

Our long awaited visit from Grandma and Grandpa from Arizona finally came and went.. The girls worked hard for 2 weeks getting caught up on school work and we had scouted out some great spots to take our guests.  Their week long visit was filled with snorkeling, sailing, music, and mucho food and cerveza. 

My parents booked a room at the Real de la Palma hotel located about a block off of La Playa Ropa.  I cannot say enough good things about this hotel.  The property is immaculate.  They have beautiful, lush landscaping with a huge mango tree, bougainvillas, and pineapple plants.  The rooms are simple and clean and they have a wonderful pool.  We ate at their restaurant several times.  Sylvester (aka Sly) makes an amazing margarita and they have amazing sweet and sour chicken and pad thai - a welcome break from Mexican food.  The owners, Carlos and Elsa, were so very accommodating.  My parents left in a cab to the airport and they said that we were more than welcome to come back and use the pool before we sailed away.  They even offered to let us use their phone to call home for free.  This hotel is truly a gem and a perfect example of Mexican hospitality. 


    




One of the highlights of the Zihua area was taking the dinghy over to Playa Las Gatas for snorkeling and lounging on the beach. 






Mom and Dad had a great time snorkeling for the first time.



At times, things did get a bit out of control...

















I fell asleep on a lounge chair at the beach and woke up to this on my lap, thanks to Jake and a 20 peso tip.



My favorite churro man.





Mom convinced Dad to let her to parasailing on Playa La Ropa.  She landed safely...








She took a great picture of Ohana from the sky.


And this is what we look like after a week of company in Mexico...


We are loaded on provisions - thank you Mom & Dad - and ready to go.  We will be taking off tomorrow and heading to Acapulco.  If weather and wind are good, we may continue further south.  We are excited to put some miles under our keel on our way to El Salvador.