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Thursday, February 21, 2008

La India

Bahias de Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico

We had a nice slow sail yesterday from Puerto Angel to our current anchorage in La India, passing some of the anchorages SW of here at mid-day, the height of tour boat activity. This is a very small anchorage tucked behind a reef with swell breaking over it. John wasn't really happy with the set of our main anchor, thinking that it might have ended up in rock. So before setting a stern anchor we picked everything up and motored the short distance out into the larger bay of Chachacual where we had seen a charter sailboat anchor for an hour. This didn't feel any better and a panga tour boat operator told us the spot we were looking at was shallow and rocky, and that La India was better! So back we went to La India, anchoring a little closer to the sandy beach this time. All this because the water was too cloudy to see the bottom in 20 ft.

We couldn't have timed this visit better as the weather is very settled and there is nothing going on in the Gulf of Tehuantepec (to be referred to as the T'pec from now on). We didn't quite get our stern anchor set to have our bow directly facing the swell coming over the reef so we put out the rocker stopper last night and are very comfortable. The water was murky green with a few jelly fish when we came in but by late afternoon the jellies seemed to be gone and we had a short swim to the beach and back.

This morning we took a dinghy ride retracing our steps back to Puerto Sacraficios, a large bay with sandy beaches and a roped off rocky coral area for snorkeling just in front of the beach palapa restaurants. We arrived before any of the tour boats and had a nice snorkel in clear water free of jelly fish. We didn't see anything outstanding in the way of fish but it was very interesting to see so much coral, and it appeared to be a good fish nursery. There's another roped off coral area around the corner (heading back towards La India) at Jicaral, but at low tide this was very shallow and full of small mauve jelly fish with tentacles so we confined our exploration to a beach walk.

Both the NE beach at Sacraficios and the one here at Chachacual have obvious turtle tracks leading to and from nests. We didn't disturb them to verify the presence of eggs but the large dug out pits are quite evident. Most of the beaches here are a fine yellow sand and are quite steep with sharply breaking surf. Behind the beaches the vegetation is too thick to be passable, and tinder box dry with a sprinkling of (organ?) cactus. We've seen kingfisher, osprey, both turkey and black vultures, some kind of an eagle or hawk not in our Western Birds book, and a beautiful bird pictured on the National Park signs which we'll have to identify later.

We hate to go into the marina after only scratching the surface of all the little bays here, but John is anxious to get our inland trip behind us. We'll see how we feel about moving tomorrow!

Linda and John

{GMST}15|42.602|N|096|11.856|W|February 2008|La India{GEND}

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Zihuatanejo to Puerto Angel

We had an uneventful passage after departing Zihua Sunday morning. We were having a great mix of good sailing with a little motoring during the transitions from sea to land breezes and back again, but with a knot of favorable current we were topping the average speed that John had used for trip planning. At that rate we would arrive in Huatulco well before sunrise Wednesday, and we don't like going into new places in the dark if we can help it. The next best anchorage appeared to be Puerto Angel but we had to put the pedal to the metal to get there before dark. I just hate it when we get stuck between those kinds of choices. So we essentially wasted a lovely day of sailing yesterday by cranking out the miles with the sails up wing and wing and the engine at full throttle. But we managed to get the anchor down at 6:30 PM, in time for showers and dinner before hitting the sack for a full night's sleep.

We saw whales off in the distance the first morning and, just when I thought we'd never see another one, I caught sight of a couple as we approached Puerto Angel. A boobie joined us our second night out and we let him stay on the bow pulpit since he was so pretty. He had a beautiful blue and purple beak but with bright red feet, so maybe he was a juvenile blue-footed boobie. He took off just after sunrise and we hope he found some other boobies to show him around his new neighborhood. The moon was almost full so we couldn't see the stars or bio luminescence clearly, but after it set we had a good show with the Southern Cross in plain sight, a few shooting stars, and dolphin torpedo streaks through our wake. John got to see the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle thanks to Jerry on Destarte, who gave out the info over the evening SSB net (I was off watch and sleeping). And finally, as we approached Puerto Angel we saw scores of shearwaters (sea birds) and tens of turtles, including a pair doing the baby making mambo. After we anchored John was putting the swim ladder over the side for a sunset bath when he noticed all the jelly fish in the water. Now we know why there are so many turtles in the area.

We spoke with Wingstar in the anchorage and found out that the Capitania de Puerto requires all boats to check-in. Since they couldn't recommend anything special to see or do ashore, we decided to depart this morning before the Capitania noticed we were there. The cool thing about the beaches in Puerto Angel is that they are steep sand similar to what we remember from Maruata. The panga fishermen do the same landing drill of running straight at the beach at full speed, slamming the boat onto the sand, and killing the motor after the boat stops 30-40 ft up the beach. Very exciting to watch! It's a pretty place but I woke up in the middle of the night and had to bury my nose in the sheets from the horrible smell of burning plastic, and there were plumes of black smoke as we left this morning. It's good for the turtles that they collect and burn their plastic garbage, but maybe not so good for the people living there.

The water is still thick with jellyfish and several of the smallest turtles we've seen as we make our way towards Huatulco this morning. Not sure yet where we'll end up, but we may anchor out for a couple of nights before heading into Marina Chahue. Oh, I almost forgot - it sure feels weird to be heading in an easterly, rather than southerly direction. Yesterday morning the sun rose directly in front of the bow!

Linda and John

{GMST}15|39.888|N|096|29.633|W|February 2008|Puerto Angel{GEND}

Sunday, February 17, 2008


A week was barely enough to scratch the surface of all Zihua has to offer but on the other hand, any more time there might have killed us. Needless to say we had forgotten what a great place it is, especially if you love to shop and eat out. The bay is still not the greatest for swimming due to the murky water, and you can't stay for more than a week without keeping a close eye on your chain and bottom paint or you'll be in for a rude shock. Everyone we've talked to is amazed by how much and how rapid the growth is here.

And I'm not talking about hotels and condos, although I'm sure there's been some of that too. But on the whole it feels just the same as it did in 2004-05 and all our favorite places are still here. Tacos at Carnitas Uruapan in the mercado, empenadas con crema at the panaderia, al pastor at Los Braseros, gelato across from the basketball court, pozole at Santa Prisca, internet at Pinovery, and "DaveFest" (a birthday party for Dave on Sweet Lorraine) at Las Gatas.

Thanks to suggestions from friends, new discoveries this visit include: sunset drinks at Soltaventa overlooking the bay, an outstanding Chinese meal at Mi Chayita, and meeting for drinks at the corner bar next to the Black Bull club. Literally on the corner, with a few stools on both sides, we often had the sidewalk filled with friends enjoying Pacificos, margaritas, and micheladas lesbianas (beer, lime, Worcestershire and tobasco sauce, and Clamato juice) all served up by the adorable Fabiola. After more drinking and late nights out than we've done all winter, we had to move our departure day from Saturday to Sunday just to recover!

We enjoyed a gourmet pizza dinner on Flying Free with good friends, Steve and Lisa, whom we hadn't seen since last June. They had just returned from an inland car trip to Morelia with Don and Peggy on Interlude so we got to see their Monarch butterfly pictures and video (not as boring as it sounds!). They elected to take a four mile rutted dirt road with a guide and horses to an off the beaten track viewing location. They were already at high altitude and this added more than a couple of thousand feet, but Steve and Don hate horses and insisted on walking. The extreme altitude almost got both of them so if you decide to do this, be sure to get a horse.

Lisa is my shopping guru and she had taken a "shopping tour" of Zihua with Cheryl on Lazy Days. After looking at some of the beautiful souvenirs she'd chosen I had her give me an abbreviated tour for the things I especially liked. John returned with me later to help make the final selection since this was more than we usually spend on trinkets. We bought an exquisitely painted gourd, and two small lacquer bowls with colorful scenes painted on them. Since the gourd is likely to stay safely stored until it can be displayed in a house some day, we'll have to post a picture of it for all to enjoy!

John played two more rounds of Texas Hold 'Em Friday night, and once again the pots stayed on Southern Belle. Saturday he rewired the cockpit speakers, we made one last trip into town, and unfortunately we had to skip the evening out at the wrestling match with the Summer in the Sea gang. It's a good thing we didn't join them since they didn't get back to the boats until 1 AM, but after their rave reviews (funniest thing they've ever seen) it sounds like that's a must see for next time.

We left this morning for Huatulco, where we should arrive some time on Wednesday. The water temperature is a chilly 73 degrees, but we expect the days to be increasingly warmer as we head south to new places.

Linda and John

Monday, February 11, 2008

Arrived Zihuatanejo Bay

195 nautical miles in 38 hrs, sailed 90 miles. Caught 44 inch male dorado.

{GMST}17|38.182|N|101|33.216|W|February 2008|Zihuatanejo{GEND}

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hasta Luego Santiago Bay

We are currently underway for Zihuatanejo and, as John said this morning on his last Amigo net as net manager/controller, leaving our friends behind in Santiago Bay was one of the hardest things we've ever had to do. Besides Stan and MJ, our very best buddy boaters who are now our dearest CLODs*, there happened to be a convergence of several summer in the Sea boats and other old and new friends who won't be sailing farther south this year. This made it especially hard to sail out of the anchorage yesterday without tears. Thank you to everyone who stopped by or got on the radio to give us your well wishes and encouragement. You helped put the emphasis on the excitement of beginning a new journey rather than the sadness of leaving good friends.

Our final week in the charming town of Santiago Bay was another fun filled one, with more good food (ice cream and pizza right out of the SolCasa freezer!), darts, futbol (another Picudos win!), and power shopping for provisions. Stan and MJ's van really got a workout hauling people and groceries, at one point dragging the exhaust tube over topes (speed bumps) while hauling a load of nine people back to the beach. We paid a visit to a botanero in Santiago Bay where the singers were tone deaf (but enthusiastic), and we speculated that the waitresses were moon (day?) lighting as private entertainment on the side. They didn't have a hard liquor license so I drank my first Coronas in years, and the botanas (snacks) included a lukewarm and very thin fish soup, fish ceviche, and that was all. We had a great time soaking up the local color, but next time I'd go back to Bar Social in Manzanillo for the food! Stan and MJ took us on a road trip north to Barra de Navidad on Monday where we picked up our mail from Adios, stopped to talk to cruising friends at almost every block, and ate lunch out with some of the gang. Southern Belle hosted another game of Texas Hold 'Em (my first) where I actually came in fourth out of ten players, and our host, George, finally won the pot. Ziggy went after a Tarantula Hawk wasp one afternoon, John couldn't catch him in time, and Z. got stung right under his chin. He was obviously uncomfortable for the rest of the day but didn't have any respiratory problems from it. And finally, Nakia organized a happy hour get together at the El Rey ramada on the beach which turned into an impromptu birthday party for me. People from 20 or so boats attended, there were cakes, ron ponch, and even presents; it made for the perfect bon voyage party too.

We can't thank Stan and MJ enough for the "mi casa es su casa" offer they extended us. The miles they put on the van, the bottomless beer bottles, the wireless, the Skype phone, the grocery shopping and touring, the walks, the dart games, the laundry service, and of course, best of all, the warm friendship they share with us, are what make it especially difficult to leave Mexico. And it was especially reassuring to find that this is one of those simpatico relationships that extends beyond sailing onto land. Thanks you two, and you'll be hearing a "codigo azul" from us again one of these days!

Linda and John

*Cruisers Living On Dirt

Thursday, February 07, 2008


The spot where a tarantula hawk (wasp) stung Ziggy (2/7/2008)

Ziggy's double chin after the wasp sting (2/2/2008)

Not feeling very good

The new sissy bar for another solar panel

Ziggy at six months old

Ziggy in his harness in front of his crate (December)

Foggy passage from Mazatlan to Chacala in November

Friday, February 01, 2008

Santiago Bay

Well, we've been anchored here in Santiago Bay since January 21 so I'm going to write a very condensed version of what we've been up to. We're keeping our computer at SolCasa (our friend's house) and there just hasn't been much of an opportunity to sit down and write.

We play darts with Stan and MJ at SolCasa in the afternoons.

We go for walks in the hills and on the beach to collect beach glass for SolCasa's outdoor planters.

We eat: pollo rostizada and pizza para llevar; fish tacos and ceviche at La Suerte; tacos de adobada (with the best homemade corn tortillas I've ever eaten) and chachitas (like an empanada) de frijoles at Los Gordos; tortas (toasted sandwiches) at La Casita; and the best appetizers at Bar Social, a historic botanero in Manzanillo, where little plates of food (guacamole, ceviche, yummy potato salad, and jicama) are free with your drinks. If you go to Bar Social, wait until after 2 PM when it should be livelier. We were starving and went in when they opened at Noon, and were the only customers. Oh, and today we had John's famous vegetable curry over rice.

Sunday afternoons are reserved for futbol (soccer) games. Manzanillo has two divisions that rotate weekends so you can see a game played every weekend. Last weekend we saw the Manzanillo Picudos (swords/stingers) beat the Autlan Caneros del Grullo (cane growers) 2-1. Tickets were 20 pesos, beers were 15, and three delicious tacos de carnitas were 21. The stands were in the shade, and it was a great way to spend an afternoon (especially listening to the fans calling the referees, "pendejo" and "cabron" - not nice words in front of the kiddies...). After the futbol game we went to El Caribe, a sunset beach bar, to have a drink while we watched the Queen Victoria (Cunard) cruise ship depart after her maiden stop in Manzanillo.

We give SolCasa a call on the VHF and our driver (Stan) picks us up at our favorite dinghy landing - up the estuary and just inside the pedestrian bridge at La Boquita, where we park it right where the cars park. This is nice because we don't have to land or launch in surf, and there's usually no problem with meeting other boats going up the estuary in the morning. But when we go back at the end of the day, MJ goes with us and walks out to the end of the point to watch for incoming pangas and breaking swell if the tide's going out. One time she signalled that there was an incoming panga and we turned tail and hustled the dink back into a wider area where we could pull off to the side to let him pass. They come in at full speed and throw quite a wake, so it's best to stay out of their way. We've also timed the swell sets badly but, thanks to MJ's signals and John's skillful driving, we haven't had a wave break over the bow yet.

Stan and MJ have been great about taking us to Wal Mart, Soriana, and Mega in search of esoteric items like pretzels (Wal Mart) and roach motels (never found any so they gave us theirs). They've also shared the location (Super Comacho) for the best teleros in Santiago. These are the rectangular rolls used for tortas, and are great for sandwiches on the boat. We've done most of our provisioning already, and will make one more trip to try to fill every bin on Nakia before we leave.

We're waiting for mail from the States to arrive with Jayne on Adios in Barra de Navidad, and then we'll leave for Zihuatanejo. We'll miss hanging out with Stan and MJ in SolCasa, but we have to get moving south!

Linda and John

{GMST}19|06.358|N|104|23.671|W|February 2008|Santiago Bay{GEND}