After fulfilling our butterfly fantasy, we tore ourselves away from lovely Barra de Navidad and headed south again. We had regretted not seeing the butterflies last year, and have resolved to not have any more regrets. That is in part, why we are continuing south (well that and we are really enjoying it). How terrible would it be to have gone home, and regret not continuing on after all the work we have put into the boat.
If possible, after spending time in a marina, we like to spend a night at anchor before starting on an offshore passage to regain our sea legs. We motor-sailed the 25 miles down to Manzanillo and anchored in Bahia Santiago to spend one night at anchor before tackling the 190-mile passage to Zihuatanejo. It was a lovely anchorage, and we enjoyed the sunset and a few cocktails. The next morning the sky was overcast and there was an uncharacteristic early morning breeze. We looked at each other, and said “Do you still want to go? Naw, let’s wait another day…” This is one of the great things about cruising – you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. We spent the day listening to books on tape and relaxing. As it turns out it was the right move. The overcast sky and breeze in the anchorage translated to thunderstorms and squalls packing 30-40 knots offshore. The morning radio net the next day was full of tales from boats caught offshore.
We arrived in Zihuatanejo about midnight the following day. We typically don’t enter harbors at night, but he entrance is wide, and the city lights provide plenty of light. Morning found us anchored in a fleet of about twenty boats. We rowed ashore (well we went ashore first with the inflatable, which just like last time we were here lost air, and we were lucky to make it back to the boat with Dan operating the pump as fast as he could – it is now in a dumpster) and spent my birthday visiting the Mercado, having a nice lunch and purchasing a beautiful hand-woven wool rug.
We had regretted not buying one last time we were here…no more! The next day dawned cloudy and blustery, and by midday we had a steady 20 knots in the anchorage. Boats were dragging and re-anchoring – not very comforting to hear on the radio that the boat in front of us has only 70 ft of scope out and the woman who is alone on boat (apparently hubby had to fly home for a few days) has no idea how to let out anymore… Fortunately a good Samaritan went over and helped her (scope refers to the length of anchor chain or rode – typically you
want a minimum ratio of 6:1 or 7:1, with the first number referring to length of anchor rode and second number referring to depth of water. We were anchored in 25 ft of water and had 180 ft of chain out). When the wind climbed to 25 knots, a big ketch on the south side of the bay broke free from its mooring and began drifting ashore. Cruisers in dinghies raced over, but the 50-ft boat driven by the wind and waves was no match for the under-powered dinghies and she was soon hard aground. Local pangueros and even the new fireboat all tried to pull her off, but to no avail. By sunset the masts had fallen, and by morning all that remained was the hull. A good reminder to always make sure your anchor/mooring gear is in good shape…
While in Zihua we met three other boats preparing to make the 350-mile jump to Huatulco. Huatulco is the jump-off point for crossing the infamous Gulf of Tehuantepec, which is the body of water on the Pacific side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The mountains end here, leaving a large, low lying gap which allows unhindered wind passage from the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific. Gale force winds often blow for days, extending hundreds of miles out to sea. Our plan will be to keep “one foot on the beach”. We will wait for a lull in the winds then go like hell along the coast, remaining in 30 to 45 ft of water until we reach Puerto Chiapas, the last port in Mexico, only 15 miles from the Guatemalan border.
The A-Team (Anjuli, Adagio, Adios, and Avant) got under way with a perfect forecast for following winds in the 15-20 knot range. Shortly after getting underway another boat appeared on the horizon. They hailed us on the VHF and we found they were another Portland boat, the 46-ft Elizabeth. After chatting about our trips down the coast we exchanged names – turns out Elizabeth was crewed by Charlie Hales, former Portland mayor and his wife. It is indeed a small world!
After a perfect 3-day passage which involved lots of sailing, we all reached Marina Chahue in Huatulco where we will wait for a weather window…