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Sunday, December 19, 2004

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December 19, 2004
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

We left Tenacatita bay on the 14th at 1000. It's 220 nm from Tenacatita to Zihuatanejo so we expected to take two nights. We planned on taking it slow, motoring at reduced RPM and sailing whenever the wind would drive us at 2.5 kt or more. The first day and night were mostly uneventful. We had a nice afternoon sail on the first day, close reaching in the sea breeze, and then motored most of the first night. Dawn on the second day revealed an overcast sky, part of the 'Pineapple Express' our weather man has been talking about for days. The sea breeze never really filled in until around 1300. Even at that it was pretty light but I decided to set the spinnaker anyway. There wasn't enough wind for the main, so I dropped it and we sailed quietly along with only the spinnaker to drive us. Linda was below sleeping and I was looking forward to my off watch so I could enjoy snoozing in the quiet calm too. I went off watch at 1500 and immediately laid down for a nap. Of course 10 minutes later the boat heeled over in a gust and I decided to take the spinnaker down. We dropped the spinnaker without incident, hoisted the main and rolled out the jib. The main had a reef in it from when we were motoring so I shook it out and we were sailing along at about 4 kts. That's when the real fun began. Looking ahead I could see a line of big black clouds which looked like they were dropping a lot of rain. I remarked to Linda that it looked like a squall, not that I really know what a squall looks like, but that's what I imagine they look like. Anyway within 10 minutes the wind went from 8 kts to 25 and it was time for more sail changes! Roll up the jib, reef the main, set the staysail and we were sailing at 6 kts on a close reach! The worst thing is we were on a lee shore, just 7 miles to leeward and the coast was waiting to swallow us whole. Fortunately we were able to make some distance off shore and sailed along happily enough, watching the waves grow and grow. Three hours later, the sun was going down, the waves were 6-7 feet and the boat was soaked. Thankfully the wind was starting to die down, however all it did was change direction on us. Right after the squall blew itself out we were saturated by the scent of wet earth in the air. This was pretty strange considering it had been blowing directly on-shore for the last 3 hours. Sure enough, within 30 minutes the wind was blowing directly offshore at 20-25, the bad part being that the waves still hadn't had a chance to die down from the squall so the new wind, blowing directly against the waves, made them even higher and steeper! Time to soak down the other side of the boat! We sailed almost all night and pulled into Zihuatanejo bay at around 10 am, just as planned, well almost.

We finally managed to leave the pack behind and arrived at Zihua by ourselves. That's not to say that there are no other boats here. There are 15 in the general area, but at least we didn't arrive within a few hours of them. Most of the boats from Tenacatita decided to spend Christmas and New Years at Barra de Navidad, an expensive ($1.50 USD per foot!) marina/resort so we may not be seeing them for awhile.

We spent our first day walking around town looking at things and found the two most important places - the tortillaria and the bakery (panaderia). Of course there are more than one of each, and in fact we don't really even need to go to the specific shop as we found out when we went to the greatest place in town - the public market! We spent our second day walking around this wonderful place with its close set stalls and narrow aisles. You can find whatever you need from pork to power tools, from cucumbers to Christmas lights, from freshly made cheese to freshly made shoes, all within a single building on one city block. We ate lunch at one of the 'Fondas' (small food stands in one section of the market) and then loaded our bag full of fresh provisions to take back to the boat.

If there's any down side to Zihuatanejo it's the anchorage. It's calm enough but, as usual, the city sewers empty into the bay and many of the cruisers said the anchorage is not safe to swim in. Oh well, a clean clear spot to anchor is only a mile or two away and with a gelato shop within 100 yds of where we park our dinghy I don't mind having to use a little outboard gas to go for a swim.