Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View
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Eric & Sherrell
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Posted on Sunday Jan 23, 2011
I've been lacking inspiration lately, however I'll endeavor to not bore. We enjoyed meeting new people in Barra, watching boats get stuck in the soft bottom (no damage ever occurs) and seeing familiar places again. We did the basics: felt sorry for the caged spider monkey who has been there since Sherrell first visited 15 years ago, swam in the pool, exchanged books at Beer Bob's (Bob passed away while we were gone), shopped for clothes at the market, astonished ourselves at the sheer number of gringos everywhere (especially Canadians, and yes Canadians are gringos too), had some Indo beer on tap (a rare find) thanks to Stan's detective work.
And it is always hard to leave Barra. The lagoon is better than being in a marina because it is so calm yet offers plenty of privacy. We did however manage to pry our anchor up out of the muck and sail up to Tenacatita.
We've never been here during the peak of the season like this and it was interesting to see all the boats (23 or so) here. The beach landing is pretty easy compared to later in the season when the south swells pound this shore. In fact were were surprised to see everyone landing directly on the beach, something that was impossible when we were here last.
The first boat we passed in the anchorage was Harmony, a boat that we met 4 years ago in Panama. We've exchanged a few emails in the past but there's nothing like a catching up in person. We also met the father of another boating couple we last saw 6 years ago. The sailing world is pretty small at times.
Turns out Robert from Harmony is the social director around here. They call him the mayor and he likes to get people to play nice together. We were planning on stopping here for a day or two just to clean the bottom and prop before making the push around cabo corrientes. We told Robert we weren't staying long and weren't going to put the dinghy down and join the crew on the beach. He hid his disgust well and offered us a ride. While we are not big on group activities, I joined in the boat-to-beach swim, which ended up with me on the beach wandering for ten minutes wondering where everyone was because I didn't have my glasses. And apparently it wasn't a race to the beach. And then I found myself playing volleyball while Sherrell walked the beach. We went with the flow and had good time.
I guess the crowds were a bit overwhelming for us and we didn't get to talk to Robert & Virgina much, but we did briefly meet a few new people and it was fun hanging out on the beach.
The weather has been SO cold here that we have been running the diesel heater almost every morning. Thankfully it still works after 5 years of no use. We had to buy a baby tee-shirt for Jezebel to wear to stop her from shivering during the COLD COLD night (in the 50's!). We'll post a picture when we have internet access....
Posted on Sunday Jan 16, 2011
Before we left Santiago, we helped the people from PATA (Personas Ayudendo Todo los Animales) do a sterilization clinic. They try to round up stray cats and dogs and also local people's animals and sterilize them for free. It was a fun to see PATA in action and help out with the animals.
We pried ourselves out of Santiago Bay and managed to motor upwind about 20 miles to Barra de Navidad. The anchorage is deep inside an estuary and the water is flat calm.
Not much has happened in the past 4 years since we were last here. A lot of the town has remained unchanged and there hasn't been a lot of growth either. There are a few changes, like the Canadian guy who calls himself "The French Baker". That guy has a his own panga now for pimping his goods to the cruisers who are anchored in the bay. His store/restaurant/bakery has had a huge upgrade too. I'm glad he's been able to make it work so well.
Well, we'll spend a little time here before moving on. It is so quiet and peaceful. Even the level of cruisers are down this year. Normally it is packed but there are only about 18-20 boats in here now, which is tolerable.
On our way from Santiago we shot some video of three whales doing their thing.
Posted on Tuesday Jan 4, 2011
I've always wanted to catch some video of Jordan's sun worship dance on top of the dodger and I finally was in the right place at the right time...oh yeah bump bump.
Posted on Saturday Dec 18, 2010
Here's some video footage shot during our various legs from Zihautanejo to Manzanillo where we stopped in the commercial port of Lazaro Cardenas (fantastic anchorage by the way) and Caleta de Campos.
Our new camera has been really nice for getting closeup photos, but shooting video on a boat is proving to be really really hard. I think the dolphin footage came out ok (it was pretty calm) and the whales were good because they were so close, but the sea was starting to build up and it was tough keeping the image stable.
Anyway here it is for you to enjoy without all the sleepless passages and crappy headwinds.
Posted on Tuesday Dec 14, 2010
The swell was up. We left our super calm yet pungent anchorage in Lazaro Cardenas for surf! Caleta de Campos is supposed to have a nice left break that peels. Since it was only about 35 miles away it seemed like a good roadstead anchorage to try for a couple of nights.
Our trip up was very calm, unusually calm. In fact I even wrote a java program while on the way up here. How geeky is THAT?
We did get to see turtles, dolphins and a strange sludge/slime barrier that we drove happily through. I'll post a video of the adventure when we get internet access again.
Stoked to see a ripping peeling left wave as we worked our way into the bight all I could see were close-outs. That bites.
So we are out of here in the morning. It is a beautiful little spot with a cool beach, but the surf is closing out everywhere. If we wanted to get to shore we'd have to swim it. I know this was a hot "secret" spot for waves, but it isn't working for this swell direction now. Bummer.
Posted on Monday Dec 13, 2010
In a typical fit of indecisiveness we changed our plans. We stopped at Isla Grande just outside of Zihuatanejo to clean the bottom of the boat. The idea was to depart again in the evening. However the wind was a headwind and we both felt like resting instead. So we settled in and had a beer. Not more than 5 minutes later the wind shifted favorably offshore and stayed there all night. Figures. We didn't feel like changing our plans again and going.
So we got up early in the morning and the offshore breeze was still blowing. We set sail and sailed along at 3 to 4 knots until it died at around 9am. Instead of doing the long passage, we decided to go somewhere new and unusual -- a commercial port.
Lazaro Cardenas pumps tons of products in and out of Mexico, including lots of oil. There is an old abandoned basin just inside the entrance surrounded by mangroves and out of the ocean swell.
We mananged to squeeze in between a procession of ships and anchor for the night. It's very calm an quiet with a nice odor of oil, yum.
We did see a large pod of spinner dolphins and got some video (no spins caught on film) and also there was a giant mama humpback and her baby doing tricks: breaking, fin slaps, spy hops and sounding. At one point it looked the momma whale was doing the back stroke with both fins rotating around and around! The calf of course kept trying to imitate her...sadly not much of that duo was captured on video either.
Posted on Monday Dec 6, 2010
We finally had a nice calm night passage. It took us about 26 hours to get from Acapulco's Bahia Marques to Zihuatanejo ("zee-WAT-en-ay-ho"). Before we left we took some photos from around the town and then on our passage I tried to take some video of some of the things we typically see.
Fish balls are a common occurrence in healthy marine zones. The water froths, fish leap and birds swoop. Often you'll spot a large predator in the water which usually is the cause for all the turmoil. There was a large fish ball off our starboard side so I got a short shot of it.
Also I got really lucky and caught two spinner dolphins leaping out of the water and spinning. The film is really jerky due to the boat's motion, but I put the clip at 1/3 speed and you can clearly see them leaping and spinning. A rare sight for land lubbers.
So now we are in Zihuatanejo! There are only 8 other boats here and 3 of them are leaving today. In the glory days of the '90s there would be almost 100 boats here for Christmas as this was the place to be. The town has great food and lots of artists and we look forward to going ashore and seeing how things have changed in the past 3 years.
Posted on Thursday Dec 2, 2010
Yesterday we had to rebuild our raw water pump because it had been leaking and I also noticed our fuel filter was allowing air to leak into the fuel supply. Luckily our fuel system is self bleeding or the air would have caused our engine to die -- probably at the worst possible time.
Lucky me, I had spares for everything that was broken (including a new racor bowl and drain plug). As I was tearing things apart I found both engine drive belts needed to be replaced too! Well I have a few belts too fortunately.
To prove the cliche "Cruising is doing boat maintenance in exotic places" wrong we decided to see what was here in Puerto Marques and the nearby Acapulco suburb, Diamante (Diamond). The beach here is nice with lots of friendly people and latino hipsters (even though we are outside of Acapulco by a few miles this place still has an urban flavor). We walked about 1.5 miles to the diamond town (a heavily yuppified area) and had a pleasant shock. They had built a new Walmart, Office Depot, Sam's Club, Costco, Mega Super and a mall with a multiplex cinema. We've been wanting to see the latest Harry Potter film but it wasn't playing in English in Huatulco. Low and behold, this cinema had 1 theater playing it in English at an 11:30am matinee! Holy crap!
For those of you surrounded by 10 million consumer options, you're probably wondering what the big deal is - but for us it was an amazing treat. While we impatiently waited for 11:30 am, we scored some delicious SOPES (de Rajas (grilled poblanos peppers and onions) y de Champinones) in the food court. Then we paid our $2.80 each and had the entire theater to ourselves.
In our opinion, this film was well done and finally stuck pretty closely to the book. And they really got creative with the tale of the Deathly Hallows -- brilliant stuff. Of course you've probably seen it and know this.
Anyway our heads are still reeling from the surprise sensory overload of seeing the film on the big screen. Then we did some shopping and found Dr. Pepper and real Ginger Ale! Truly a mind blowing day at Diamante.
And here's the thing: no one really even knows about this place. The guidebooks have the anchorage location wrong and from reading what both books have to say, it appears they've never really been here. The government is rebuilding the town waterfront with new beach restaurants and a public pier. It is going to be great when it's all done. On the other side of the cove, it's all natural jungle complete with the songs of various birds. The anchorage is very calm -- probably the best we've been to in southern Mexico and the provisioning is fantastic too. Not to mention English movies on the big screen! LIFE IS GOOD.
Posted on Tuesday Nov 30, 2010
Our 53 hour leg from Puerto Angel to Acapulco was filled with surprises. The biggest surprise was finding a large section of ocean filled with billions of jellyfish egg sacks and thousands of turtles floating nearby. Like a prehistoric scene these old reptiles were snacking on these ancient invertebrates. Well, actually the turtles seemed to all be sleeping and the jelly fish, they just sort of floated there too. It wasn't until our little boat started weaving in and out of this crowd that things got lively.
The groggy turtles would awake with a start to find themselves staring at a sailboat. With reptile like brilliance they responded with a variety of undignified moves, usually accomplishing little more than making splashes.
We have never seen so many turtles ever. They made a mile long road block of the ocean. Fortunately for us the sea was in a rare mood and was still and clear -- great for taking some photos. Here's a video compilation:
There were also a large variety of dolphins who performed leaps for us, some massive manta rays doing flips and jumps in the air. We even saw some pilot whales.
It wasn't all fun and games, however, as the second night spanked us. For about 12 hours we had unusually strong headwinds which built up into a nasty chop on top of the swell and funky steep current waves. It wasn't until the early morning hours that the winds backed off enough for our speed to "soar" over 3 knots - did I mention the adverse current? Needless to say, we are beat and the boat is covered with salt spray.
Now we are anchored in Bahia Marques just south of the main Acapulco bay. It is quieter here and has a lot less water traffic. A good night's sleep will definitely clear the fog out of our heads and help us forget the headwinds.
Posted on Tuesday Nov 23, 2010
One of the great glories of Huatulco has been the corn tamales (tamales de elote). They used to be everywhere. Old women would walk the streets of the town with large baskets of them on their heads selling them for 3 for 10 pesos (about $0.80).
Three years ago we had our favorite old lady we would buy from and they were to die for. Die! Time and progress has intervened. Our vendor has faded into obscurity and no one wants just a plain corn tamal anymore. Now all the tamales are filled with crap like chicken, shrimp, pineapple, strawberries, cheese.
Trying to find a plain corn tamal was futile. I went to the one official "tamaleria" (tamale store) and demanded tamales de elote. A woman at a nearby table overheard me and shouted out, "Hey he's pure Mexican! Where are the tamales de elote?! Hahaha!"
So we continued our search. Where are the old ladies? What's happening to this place? It turns out there is a specific "Tamal Time Slot" when vendors roam the streets selling tamales. It varies depending on whom you ask, but the general idea is 10am to 11am then again at 5pm to 6pm. By chance we were in town at 11am one day and found a bicycle cart vendor selling his Tamales! Joy! Tamales de Elote here we come. No go. He has stuffed his tamales full of all kinds of animal products or cheese. Crap! What's a vegan got to do these days for some real food?
He stood there looking confused, probably thinking, "How could these gueros not want chicken? Everybody wants chicken." So we gave him the spiel...no meat, no animal, no chicken, no fish, no shrimp, no cheese, no lard. What on Earth happened to the classic elote? He smiled and said something incomprehensible. It sounded like Tamales de Chepil.
We looked at each other. We know lots and lots of Spanish words, but he blew us away with that one. So we verified this Chepil wasn't an animal or some odd cheese product and he pulled one out and unwraped it. Sure enough. Green, leafy. Definitely plant like.
The flavor! Oh my! Chepil is a small leafy herb that has a light flavor that I found was a bit like spinach. The tamales were fantastic! We ate 4 of them. While not quite as good as elote, but we were hooked.
Today we decided for one last splurge. We rowed into the beach. Walked into town and proceeded to comb the streets for Tamales de Chepil. Nothing. Nada. We checked the time, hmmm after 11am. Damn. The tamales had evaporated into the void.
Sigh. So to make up for our disappointment we decided to one up the splurge from 4 tamales for 20 pesos to a full on lunch at the only vegetarian cafe in town (For those coming to visit Huatulco go behind the Super Che and you'll see a hotel with VEGETARIANO in neon). The chef there makes his own breads and he has talent! This place is priced right so for 107 pesos we had an all homemade veggie burger and curry vegetables (not traditional curry vegetables but still tasty).
I still want to know why everyone is too hip for tamales de elote.... And how do I get some more Tamales de Chepil?!
(FYI - some tamales are made with lard, others are cheaper and go with vegetable shortening--go cheap. Also in Spanish tamal is singular for English word tamale.)