Saturday, February 25, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Just one of the hundreds of fruit and veggie stands in and around the Central Market.
Just one of dozens of charming hotels.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Thefts happen here in Mexico, just like everywhere else. It's not a common occurance, but every month or so, you will hear through the SSB radio nets of a cruiser being robbed. Almost always, the boat is anchored in a city (most often on the mainland). Usually the theft is of items left unsecured on deck or of a dinghy left floating behind the boat at night. These thieves never set foot on the cruiser's boat, they take what they can while staying on their own boat. They don't want a confrontation and usually work in stealth in the cover of night.
What makes these thefts in Zihuatanejo so unsettling to me is that the locked boats were boarded and broken into in broad daylight in a crowded anchorage. Most upsetting of all, on one of the boats a knife was taken from the galley and carried around the boat while they were checking to see if anyone was home. Thankfully, no one was. I've heard of boats being boarded two other times in Mexico this year. Both happened during the day, when the boats had obviously been under surveillance and the crew was known to be off the boat. I have just never heard of thefts against cruisers in Mexico involving the use of weapons and potential confrontation.
Reports were made to the Mexican Navy and the Port Captain. Both agencies appear very concerned. The Mexican Navy has begun patrolling the harbor and anchorage and have been a presence since the incident. Thankfully, we have Rudy on board. He may be a marshmallow inside, but he's scary looking on the outside, especially in a culture like this which tends to fear dogs. He's big, has big teeth and a big bark. It's nice to have a little extra insurance.
Monday, February 13, 2012
JaM took ten passengers for the Boat Parade. They were all friends and so we had a very nice time. The night before had been stormy with rain, lightning, and winds to 20+ knots. Thankfully that all blew over by morning and we only saw sprinkles of rain and heavy clouds.
We are exhausted! We dropped anchor in Zihua less than a week ago and already we have participated in the Sailfest race, gone to a fantastic benefit concert, taken part in the Boat Parade with ten paying guests on board, gone out to dinner with George and Barb who were our crew for the race, attended the Kid's Day Beach Party and the Wrap Up Party. We've barely had time to check out the town of Zihuatanejo but from the little we've seen, it is well worth exploring. Zihuatanejo is absolutely a charming town with lots to see, lots of good food, and lots to do.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
However, I was still scared. I hadn't even seen a real race! We don't know the rules and how the whole thing works. Of course, the chief thing I needed to remember was that this "race" was more about making money than acutally proving your sailing skills. We began frantically preparing the boat for departure. Then, the call came out over the race channel that they had more paying "crew" who wanted to participate in the race. Landlubbers in Zihua can pay to be placed on the boats. I hadn'r realized before then how the race made money. Oh! The dishes! The bathroom! All three of us kicked it into high gear then. And here come the "crew"!
Thankfully our crew turned out to be a very nice couple (Barb and George) from Minneapolis. And best of all, George had crewed in sailboat races before. With our crew on board, we had our anchor pulled in minutes, motored through the anchored sailboats and then raised the sails. The race had 8 boats entered and we began circling behind the start line. The start times were staggered and the boats had an order to leave in. And then the horn sounded and the first boat approached the line.
Of course, there was very little wind, about 5-6 knots. The race course consisted of a 3.5 mile trip around Roca Negra (Black Rock) which is just outside Bahia Zihuatanejo. Roca Negra is a 40 foot high chunk of rock that rises steeply from the sea. The first half of the race was into the wind, the second half was running with the wind. Prizes for the race were to be given to the 1st, 2nd and 10th place boat.
Just a Minute was the last boat to start the race. Of the eight boats, three total were catamarans, one of which was another Lagoon 380. I'm happy to say that we did just fine.
At this time, I don't have a clue who won the race since the winner is determined in a formula that takes into account the boat's handicap and the time they take to complete the course. However, I do know this, we were the third boat to cross the finish line. I consider that a major victory. I think this race has finally made Patrick and I realize that we actually DO know how to sail our boat, pretty darn well.
Enjoying the shade under the spinnaker. This is our light air spinnaker which is .5 ounce. Our other spinnaker is 1.5 oz. We've never flown the light one, or even seen it out of the bag. It was the perfect sail for the super-light winds we had.
The winds were so light that our speed ranged from 1.0 knot to the high of 4.4 knots per hour. We were usually traveling around 2.0 knots. At one point in the race, Jack jumped off the bow and swam to the back swim steps. We were threatened by the Committe Boat with a penalty for having someone "push" the boat!
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
We've ventured off our known path in the last few days and moved further down the coast than we've been to date. Most of the cruisers who ply the Pacific coastal waters of Mexico stay within the Mazatlan to Manzanillo area. Quite a bit fewer of the boats head down to Zihuatanejo and even less beyond that point, unless they are intent on heading to Central America.
As I've mentioned before, the Pacific Coast cruising is just a world apart from cruising in the Baja. The big differences are ocean swell, large towns, and the huge population of vactioners intent on having fun with jet skis, parasails, charter fishing, water skis, beach-side restaurants, music, boogie boards, surf boards and the like. It's one big party scene.
I didn't use to care for it much, but this trip down the coast has shown me some of the charm that I missed last time. The weather makes the difference. On our first excursion to Manzanillo, the weather was unsettled with lots of squalls, lots of torrential rain, lots of near death experiences. This season on the Mexican Riviera, the weather has been charming. There are still lots of clouds this year, but there has been little rain, and only mild land and sea breezes which are just pleasant. There's been no drama this year, and I really appreciate that. It's amazing how calm the Pacific Ocean can be.
South of Manzanillo,we stayed in three small anchorages which are just little indents on the side of the ocean. These stops allowed us to break up the 180 mile trip so we didn't need to make an overnighter. Not one of them offered much protection from the ocean swell or wind, yet each one was comfortable thanks to the mild conditions. Cabeza Negra was the least remarkable, Maruata offered the best protection, and Caleta Campos was absolutely a lovely town with an excellent beach for boogie boarding. All have big enough swell so we didn't even try to launch the dinghy into shore. Instead we just swam in to enjoy the restaurants, boogie boarding and beach vacation fun.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
We came down to Santiago two days ago on the afternoon's sea breezes. It wasn't enough to push us along without an engine running too, but that just means the seas were relatively flat, and the going was easy. Yesterday we provisioned up and today we will set sail for points further south. We are headed another 180 miles south to Zihuatanejo in time for their sailing festival. Zihuatanejo is a name has always hung in the back of my mind as an exotic destination and refuge, ever since watching the old movie, Shawshank Redemption. I can hear Tim Robbins' voice saying the name in my head even today, years later. Zihuatanejo will be our furthest south port this year and then we will turn around and head north again.