Loading Map

Friday, January 14, 2005

Life on the beach

January 13, 2005
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero Coast, Mexico (17o 38' N 101o 33' W)

Getting good exercise is really beginning to be a problem. With peak daytime temperatures around 90 degrees and humidity of 80-90% we don't really want to be working out in the middle of the day, so last Saturday we made an effort to get out early and take a hike through the jungle to the light house on the southern end of the entrance to Bahia Zihuatanejo. About 10 people from various boats made their way over to Playa Las Gatas (Cat Beach) where the hike was to begin. (Linda and I had scoped out this beach a few days earlier; it's very nice fine white sand protected by a reef 1/4 mile from the beach. The only problem is that the area between the reef and shore is only 1-4 feet deep.) The hike started out promising, through a palm jungle (watch out for more temporarily permanent power lines hung at eye level!) and followed a stone and concrete path up the hill. This was great, we said, we're finally going to get some real cardio exercise. Wrong! The hill topped out after less than 1/2 a mile and right after the top we were at our destination, the Light House. Oh well, the view was just as nice as if we had sweated for hours to get there.

We made our way back to the beach and went out for a swim/snorkel to get a _little_ more exercise. Conditions weren't that great but I did manage to see a sea turtle swimming through the murky water before we gave up and swam in.

Content with the knowledge that we had at least we _tried_ to exert ourselves, we retired to a beach side palapa restaurant and ordered cold beers and cokes. Of course our appetites were piqued from the anticipation of our strenuous work out so we also ordered lunch, Linda and I opting for the Shrimp Tacos. Now, we've been eating out a little more then we should, causing our budget to be hit harder then we'd like and these Shrimp Tacos were a hefty 90 pesos (about USD $8.75) but we figured, as we usually figure when faced with a menu in a nice restaurant, 'what the heck, we'll order something nice for a change'. Well, 'something nice' turned out to be one of the best meals we've had in Mexico! It's amazing how good fresh shrimp lightly sautéed in butter with onions and garlic can be. Worth every peso. No doubt they would have been positively scrumptious if we'd pounded 6 or 7 miles of hiking trail into dust under our boots before eating them.

Friends of ours recently proved that I'm not the only one capable of really screwing up in an inflatable dinghy. During an ill fated driving lesson these people (who will remain nameless) managed to put a 5 inch gash in the forward section of their rigid hull inflatable boat by impaling it on a panga propeller. Of course they enlisted my help in repairing the hole, showing another lapse of good judgment, after all I'm on my third try at repairing the gash in our dinghy. However we forged ahead, the myopic but experienced leading the totally blind, and glued on a patch using methods that seem to be effective judging by the week or so my current patch has lasted. The patch has been left to cure under a pair of heavy clamps for a couple days so you'll have to tune in later to see how it comes out...

I've discovered a new way of getting some exercise, cleaning NAKIA's bottom and anchor chain! The marine growth in Bahia Zihuatanejo is outrageous. I pulled up the chain recently to find 1/2 inch of fuzz growing on top of barnacles 1/8 of an inch in diameter. No doubt about it, we needed to do some scrubbing. So I cleaned the anchor chain off as best I could and we hauled up the anchor to head over to a section of the bay with cleaner water for diving on the hull. Big problem. NAKIA normally motors at about 5.5 nm per hour (5.5 kts). We were only able to go 2.8 kts without overheating the engine! What should have been a 30 minute trip turned into a 90 minute creep. As soon as I got into the water it was clear what was causing the engine to overheat, not only was there thousands of barnacles on the hull, there was about an inch of growth on the propeller blades. These blades need to be smooth and hydrodynamic to push water effectively, otherwise they will overload the engine and cause it to over heat. Working with a 1 inch putty knife I carefully cleaned the propeller and started on the hull. Two hours later I was tired and my hands looked like soggy pink prunes. I climbed out of the water to test my work. Thankfully the engine ran cool and we able to move at our normal cruising speed (in spite of only cleaning about 20% of the barnacles from the hull). At lease I have an exercise plan for a few more days; clean the rest of the hull. I have to get a bigger putty knife!

John and Linda