Sunday, January 26, 2014


Our Room at the Posada Real
Posada Real Pool Bar
Tuesday, I broke down and reserved a room at the Posada Real in Ixtapa.  I had completely lost my patience with being miserable while everyone around me was on vacation, so I decided to take a vacation, too.  The Posada Real isn’t one of the high-rise towers, but it doesn’t carry their $200-$300/night price tag, either.  It is a simple, four story hotel, but it has two gorgeous pools, a pool bar, and a beautiful beach.  Unlimited drinks and a nice breakfast buffet are included in the $100/night price.  Almost best of all, it has air conditioning and hot water.  We checked in about 3:30, took showers, and repaired to the pool, where we lay on chaises, drinking tropical drinks and reading.  When I got hot, I submerged in the infinity pool.  It felt like heaven.  When the pool bar closed, we got dressed and walked into Ixtapa for hamburgers.  That hamburger tasted fabulous, as did the curly cheese fries … not on my diet, but wonderful.  We even had ice cream for dessert. 

Scott went back to the boat after breakfast on Wednesday and I went to the office to use the internet to update my blog.  There is internet at the hotel, but only my phone would connect to it.  I also sent out inquiries to several marinas, asking about their monthly rates.  It would cost $1,048/month to leave the boat here.  Acapulco would probably cost at least as much, but I hoped that the marinas further south would be cheaper.  San Blas would be only $372/month, but that would involve back tracking at least a week and additional fuel costs.

I headed back to the hotel around 4:00 and spent another afternoon lying by the pool.  Scott arrived a little while later.  I caved in and agreed to go to Domino’s Pizza for dinner.  Scott insisted on getting the cheese stuffed crust with salami, pepperoni and ham.  We think they used Oaxaca cheese to stuff the crust.  The pizza was greasy and made me feel slightly ill.  At least it kept me from wanting more ice cream.  On the way home, we chatted with one of the guys hawking timeshares.  I had asked him where there was a bookstore that sold book in Spanish.  He gave me some very vague directions.  “Across from the Elektra, there is a place … (searching for word in English) … where people gather and then behind that there are some shops.  I don’t know the name of the street.  Maybe you should just take a taxi.”  Oddly, I had spent enough time in Zihuat to know exactly the place to which he was referring.

Once I knew that our insurance had been approved, I was able to tear myself away from the hotel.  We checked out on Thursday morning.  Suddenly, after paying $100/night to be cool, the $30 floor fan at Bodega Aurrera looked like a good value, even if we didn’t use it after Ixtapa.  I took the bus into Zihuatanejo.  Since Scott had stayed behind to look at the generator (I think that’s all he did.), I decided to go downtown and do a little shopping.  I got off the bus at the Elektra (a shop that sells electronics and appliances and also wires money), crossed the street to the covered market, and ducked down the narrow street that runs towards the beach.  Sure enough, I found a shop that sold books and religious articles.  At first, I was afraid they would only have religious books, but I managed to get a copy of the second book in Hunger Games trilogy.  As soon as I walked in, the owner came up to me, certain I was lost.  I assured her that I was exactly where I wanted to be and bought the book from her, while she continued to look confused.

Roundabout in Zihua
After leaving the bookstore, I went to several shoe stores and the Coppel department store, looking for shorts and a pair of sandals with some kind of arch support.  Winter is not the best time to buy shorts in Mexico.  The only ones I have seen have been extra-large and clearly intended for overweight gringos.  Fit gringos are just out of luck, I guess.  I considered mini-skirts, but the only ones I could find were clearly designed with younger women in mind.  Mexican shoes are all flat as a board, without the slightest bit of arch support or cushioning, and most have slick soles.  I cannot wear them and would kill myself trying to walk on the boat in them.  My foot troubles first began after standing at the helm in sea boots with no arch support for 15 days on my way back from Cabo to Los Angeles in 2001.  Now, I know better.  The leather on my Naot sandals is disintegrating and there are places where they are only held together by the stitching along the edges.  I would pay anything for another pair I could wear.

After bombing out on clothes and shoe shopping, I took another bus back up to the Bodega Aurrera and bought the biggest fan I could find and a couple of things for dinner.  I couldn’t buy much food because it all had to fit into my backpack so that I could carry the fan.  Then I had to carry everything up over the footbridge to the other side of the street to get a bus back to the marina.  First, I had to convince all the taxi drivers that I really wanted to take the bus and then I had to shake off the little boys who make a business out of carrying groceries over the bridge for old ladies.  They all stared at me as I popped the fan on top of my head and scurried up the stairs. 

The fan makes a big difference in the comfort level of the boat.  While, it only improves one cabin at a time, I can put it on the table in the dinette and cook without sweat dripping down my face.  It doesn’t really cool the boat, but it does make it much less stuffy and helps sweat to evaporate.  We can put it on the chart table, bungee cord it to the dash so it doesn’t topple off, and sit in the main salon.  Best of all, we can set it up in the aft cabin at night and sleep comfortably.  The author of my cruising guide mentioned that she could sell a case of 12” fans every time she makes this trip.  That is no doubt true, but a 22” fan is even better.  We tried to buy new fans for this trip, and indeed did buy every 12 volt fan that West Marine had in stock in California, but they are cheapo tiny 6” jobs with lousy brackets and switches.  They won’t stay on or stay aimed where you want them and only cool you if you are within 2 feet of them, anyway.  This one only works off 110 electricity, but we usually have a breeze when we are underway or at anchor.

When I got back from the store, we provided the insurance company with my bank account information so that we could pay for our insurance.  Scott had already paid the first insurance company (the one that required that we have three experienced crew [we don’t count, despite 30+ year experience each and Ingemar doesn’t count despite being a former Marines commander and licensed skipper]), so he needed to wait for them to refund his money before he could pay.  Since they were reluctant to wire the money to his account and a refund check wasn’t going to help us if they mailed it to Benicia, I had to advance the funds, which I was glad to do if it would get me out of Ixtapa.  We figured it would be Monday before we could get a binder in place, but miraculously received it by the evening.

Friday night, a thunder storm hit us just after dinner.  There was thunder and lightning and rain.  It was even rather windy here in marina, where there is seldom the slightest breeze.  We could hear all the boats in the Zihuat anchorage hailing each other and asking if they were alright.  Apparently, several of them drug anchor due to the squall.  We were fine, although I had to go out in the rain and close the hatches.

Saturday, Scott decided to have a technician look at the generator, but he couldn’t come until 4:00.  I went to pull something out of the freezer to eat for dinner and discovered that the freezer had died sometime while we were staying at the hotel.  It was about 80 degrees in there and everything inside was ruined.  Fortunately, we didn’t lose much besides some leftover ham, a package of hamburger and some lunch meat.  Unfortunately, this means we won’t be able to stock up on fresh meat anymore.  Once again, I was irritated with Scott’s apathy.  Despite the fact that I had received confirmation of a $529/month price for a slip in Huatulco and we now had our insurance in place, he was still making no move to leave Ixtapa.  Ever since I reinstalled the air conditioners, he had been saying he wanted to repack the spare parts under the bunk in the center cabin, but had not yet done so.  Tools and debris still covered the settee, table and floor in the main salon.  He just sat and played Mahjong on his computer for most of the day.
Ixtapa Is All Strip Malls

Finally, about 3:00, I decided to go for a walk and buy some beer.  When I got back, Scott had pulled the freezer and everything else out of the bin under the forward settee in the dinette.  Now, there was another pile of tools on the floor.  The freezer was working, although he had no idea why it had stopped or what he had done to start it again.  We can no longer trust it.  When the mechanic hadn’t shown up by 4:30, Scott went up to the office to check his email.  Of course, the mechanic showed up shortly thereafter.  Between the two of us, we managed to figure out how to start the generator so that he could diagnose the problem.  The coils were bad and needed to be replaced or rebuilt, but that would cost quite a bit of money and take another week.  This sent Scott into another tailspin.  He was quite determined to wait until the harbormaster spoke to her boss about getting us a better price for leaving the boat in Ixtapa, even though we would have to wait until Monday for an answer.  At that point, he really didn’t want to continue on to Huatulco.

This boat is a metaphor for Scott’s life.  He is stuck in his depression; much like the boat is stuck in Ixtapa.  No matter how much I do for either of them, it doesn’t result in forward motion.  There is really nothing preventing either of them from picking up and going forward.  Both of them look better than they have in decades, but Scott can’t seem to see how great that is.  He only sees his failure to find a job and the things that are still wrong with the boat.  Unfortunately, no life or boat is ever perfect.  I, however, am only stuck here because I choose to stay with Scott.  I am acutely aware that all I need to do to end this misery (for myself) is to throw my stuff in a duffel bag and take a cab to the airport.  I wrestle with this.  It is hard for me to give up on the idea of completing this voyage and even harder to think of leaving Scott to deal with his problems alone.

Bus Interior
Saturday, I continued my campaign of trying to enjoy Ixtapa.  I took a bus into town to visit the tourist market stalls.  The busses here can be quite a trip.  Many of them have names like “Playboy” or “Hot Wheels.”  Some of them are elaborately decorated inside, with curtains and seat covers, flashing LEDs and all kinds of décor around the driver’s seat.  One of them has a big sign saying, “Girlfriend wanted: must have feelings and not be allergic to what I do.”

The market was full of the usual cheap tourist junk, so it didn’t take me long to exhaust its entertainment potential.  I took a walk through the residential neighborhood inland from the town.  The jungle is quite thick where it hasn’t been cleared.  It was bizarre to see thick jungle juxtaposed against a Holiday Inn sign.  I wandered back into the east end of Ixtapa and found two things I had been seeking: cheap restaurants and the movie theater.  I walked back to the marina, although I did stop to have a Frappuccino and read for a bit.  I must have been sitting next to a lizard highway, because a couple of big ones went by while I was there.  Not as big, however, as the two foot iguana I saw a gardener gingerly carrying down the sidewalk a few days earlier.

By the time I got back, Scott was doing a little better.  He had decided that the least offensive alternative (yeah!) was to continue on to Huatulco and leave the boat there.  I convinced him to go out for dinner and a movie.  We ate grilled chicken at one of the restaurants I had discovered earlier.  For about $12, we got a whole grilled chicken with beans, rice, tortillas and salad.  I was the best meal we had had in Ixtapa, despite being the cheapest.  Unfortunately, we had to rush through it to get to the movie on time.  We went to see Escape Plan.  Scott was in luck.  It was in English with Spanish subtitles instead of being dubbed.  Arnold wouldn’t have been the same without his accent.

Comercial Mexicana in Zihua
Sunday, Scott put the floor boards back in while I went into Zihuatanejo to buy provisions.  I stopped in Ixtapa on the way to get cash at the bank.  I went to the Comercial Mexicana store because they have a better selection that the Bodega Aurrera and I wouldn’t have to carry my purchases up and over the foot bridge.  I couldn’t buy a lot of meat because we couldn’t trust the freezer, so I bought as much as I thought we could keep on ice and also stocked up on canned and otherwise packaged items.  Beans, prepared rice and shredded meat come in plastic bags in Mexico.  They are actually quite nice because you can put them straight into the microwave (when you are at the dock, anyway.)  I lugged all my purchases out to the bus stop on the main road, but had to wait for quite a while because the first Marina bus didn’t stop for me.  It was hot when I got back, so I put the groceries away, made myself a michelada, and read in the cockpit for a couple of hours until it was time to make dinner.  Dinner was barbecued beef chops, cut thin of course.  No piece of meat is ever more than half an inch thick in Mexico.  I crave a roast or even a pot roast, not to mention a nice thick, rare steak.

Monday, we got up and prepared to leave.  Scott wired the alternator from the generator to the house batteries so that we can charge them using the generator alternator or the engine alternator.  That way, we can sail and just run the generator motor to charge the batteries, even though the generator itself doesn’t work.  I stowed all the tools and items we had removed from cupboards when we pulled the air conditioners.  Finally, I deconstructed the shade structure while Scott went to the office to check out.  We pulled out of Ixtapa at 1:30.  Good riddance!

Rocas de Potosi
From the mouth of the Ixtapa channel, we followed the beach until we cleared all the rocks and islands and then headed towards Roca Negra, off Zihuatanejo, where there is a light.  From there, we made for Rocas de Potosi.  This series of flat topped, white rocks, 1.5 miles off shore, look like a herd of elephants wading through the water.  We also got a nice view of the hill Cole had climbed when he went hiking there (machete in hand) a couple of weeks earlier.  After clearing the rocks, we changed course and headed straight for Papanoa, another 30 miles or so down the coast.  It was heavenly to be out in the fresh breeze and actually not be hot.  The weather was perfect and the seas were calm.  Seldom have conditions on this trip been so benign.

We reached Papanoa about 8:30 in the evening, changed course again and headed off on a 70 mile leg to the mouth of the Boca Chica Channel into Acapulco.  The moon rose about 10:30.  It was past full, but still big and orange while low on the horizon and gave good light by which to sail.  I didn’t put on a long sleeved shirt until about 5:00 AM and never did change out of shorts.  We had dolphins with us at sunset, several times during the night and again at sunrise.  We were nearing Acapulco by the time the sun rose about 6:30 AM. 
Boca Chica Channel into Acapulco
Scott took the helm at 8:00 AM, just as we were about to enter the Boca Chica Channel.  We headed through the channel, around Punta Grifo, and continued curving around to the left until we reached La Marina.  We had intended to anchor, but the anchorage was so cluttered with mooring balls that we came across a side tie before we found a place to drop the hook.  Most of the mooring balls are rented by one of the marinas and come with dinghy landing privileges.  Acapulco is a big city with lots of high rises.  It looked rather strange and futuristic after all the small beach towns where we had been.  Mexican architecture can be rather far out when there is money to be spent.  For a big city harbor, the anchorage is fairly serene.  It is well protected, but there is rumored to be a breeze when the wind is out of the NW, which sounded good to me after sitting in that airless hole they call the Ixtapa Marina.  La Marina, where we landed is marked by a fake lighthouse, but not one of the standard Fonatur towers.  This one is more slender and isn’t topped by the usual vacant bar/restaurant.

La Marina in Acapulco

We rested until mid-afternoon and then went for a walk along the malecon to find a place to grab a beer.  There had been a lot of damage from the two hurricanes last fall and there wasn’t one remaining waterfront bar or restaurant.  La Marina had lost its docks, also, and had replaced them with a long, L-shaped dock to which boats were med-moored.  The outside of the bottom of the L was the only place we could have side tied, so we were lucky to have found a spot there.  Our tall stern and dinghy hanging from davits makes it impossible for us to climb onto the boat from the rear without moving the dinghy and letting down the swim ladder.  The cruise ship dock looked to be in good repair, but we didn’t see any cruise ships.  They may have been avoiding Acapulco because there was nothing for the passengers to do there.

Hurricane Damage in Acapulco
East Side of Acapulco
Since the malecon was a washout (oops, a pun!), we crossed the road and found a café on the zocalo where we had beer and some guacamole and chips, which came with a very hot green sauce that looked like thin guacamole, but must have been tomatillo and jalapeno.  After our snack, we wandered around the zocalo and ate popsicles.  Mexican popsicle (or paletas, as they are called in Mexico) are much better than the American variety.  They are rich and creamy and very flavorful.  The vanilla is to die for.  Once, I even got a vanilla one with raisins in it.  The zocalo in Acapulco is shaded by very large trees and is a cool place that would be tranquil if it weren’t for the stereo vendor blasting loud music.  After we made the rounds of the shops lining the zocalo, we walked back to the marina one block inland from the water, where things were in better repair.  The west end of Acapulco, where the cruise ship dock and most of the marinas are, is the older part of town.  The fancy, high-rise hotels are on the north and east sides of the bay.  We stopped at the grocery store across the street from the marina to get Scott some peanut butter and stock up on all the heavy items (beer and soft drinks) that I couldn’t carry back from Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa on the bus.  There is a foot bridge that across the road from the grocery store to the marina, but it no longer has stairs leading down to ground level, so we had to dash across the road.  It looks like the inland side was demolished to make room for a modern grocery store.  Maybe the hurricane took care of the other side.
Acapulco Harbor

The marina didn’t have good internet access, so I wasn’t able to post my blog or take care of some business that I wanted to handle.  I thought the price of $60/night was steep for a marina with no showers, but there appears to be somewhat of a slip shortage due to the hurricanes.  Our freezer had stopped working, again, so I cooked hamburger and the now UN-frozen French fries for dinner and made a salad.  We went to bed fairly early because we wanted to be up and away early in the morning.

We got up later than I had planned on Wednesday morning, but still managed to pull away from the dock at about 8:30 AM.  We headed out of the bay through Boca Grande and around the corner and past Puerto Marques (the next bay to the southeast of Acapulco) and Punta Diamante and headed along the coast towards Bahia Dulce.  Once again, the weather was lovely and the wind was actually neither dead behind us or on our nose, for a change.  We were able to roll out the headsail, although we were still running the motor to charge the batteries and make sure that we reached the anchorage before dark.

Unfortunately, the headsail only lasted until about noon, when the wind had returned to being on the nose.  The coast southeast of Acapulco is low, flat and sandy.  Beautiful beaches stretch out for hundreds of miles.  “Acapulco” seems to have expanded quite a ways down the coast, as there were big resort hotels on the beach twenty miles further along.  Wednesday was the day for sea life.  Shortly after I came on watch at noon, I saw a whale.  He or she swam quite close alongside the boat for a few minutes and flipped its tail at me a couple of times.  It wasn’t a very big whale.  The underside of its flukes was white.  It didn’t have dorsal fins, but it did have dorsal lumps.  Too bad we don’t have a whale identification chart with us.  I don’t think it was a grey.

For most of the afternoon, we were surrounded by a huge flock of least terns feeding on bait fish that some larger fish had driven to the surface.  There were hundreds of them flitting back and forth ahead of the boat.  We all seemed to be traveling the same direction.  Later in the afternoon, I saw what seemed to be birds diving OUT of the water.  My first thought was that they were lost penguins, but they turned out to be bat rays leaping out of the water.  Maybe they were being chased by whatever was chasing the bait fish or maybe they were just feeling ebullient, but they sure looked cool.  I love rays.  They make me almost as happy as dolphins.  Scott took the helm at 4:00 and a couple of hours later we saw the first turtle we had seen at sea in a couple of months.

I made pork chops and bean tostadas for dinner.  Neither of us feels much like eating salad when we are underway and it’s a pain to make in a rocking galley.  Since we left Ixtapa is the first time we have double handed the boat.  The watch schedule is the same as when Cole was with us, but now we don’t have company to keep us awake.  I put the iPod dock up on deck so we could have music.  It helps me to sing along.  Scott is on from 8:00 AM to noon.  I have noon to 4:00 and Scott takes the 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM watch so that I can cook dinner.  With just the two of us, I am timing dinner so that I can eat just before I come on at 8:00 PM and it is still warm for Scott to eat right after he gets off.  I am on until midnight and then Scott comes back on until 4:00 AM.  I have the 4:00 to 8:00 AM shift.  The early morning watch is my favorite.  I get to watch the sun come up.

We had planned to leave at first light on Wednesday so as to make it to Bahia Dulce before the sun set.  We didn’t leave until 8:30 and then went slower than anticipated, so it was 9:00 PM or so when we arrived at Bahia Dulce.  The moon didn’t rise until midnight, so it was pitch dark.  Bahia Dulce is a shallow bay in a flat coast, so there aren’t many landmarks, even when it is possible to see.  At night, we just had to depend on the GPS and the depth sounder.  We headed for the anchoring spot recommended in the cruising guide and decided we would drop the hook in 30 feet of water.  It was too dark to tell how far we were from shore.  The bottom must have had steep ridges in it because every time we dropped the hook in 20 feet of water, we would suddenly find ourselves in 130 feet of water and the anchor just wouldn’t bite.  It seemed like it was sliding off into trenches.  After several attempts in that first spot, we motored west a half a mile and tried again, closer to shore.  The anchor still didn’t hold.  Then we went back to the first spot and tried closer to shore, but the anchor kept dragging.  By this time, it was midnight and a blood red moon was rising.  We decided that if we were going to be awake all night, we might as well be going somewhere.  We hauled up the anchor one last time and headed back down the coast.

Sunrise at sea is pretty magical.  First, the sky gets a bit lighter and then it turns pinkish orange.  Just as the colors start to fade, a brilliant orange disc rises out of the sea.  Sometimes, it disappears behind a layer of clouds, only to emerge a second time above that band.  As the sun rises five or so degrees above the horizon, the water turns to liquid gold.  This seems to be the time when dolphins come.  Thursday morning, there was a huge pod of them and they were very enthusiastic about the arrival of morning.  They were leaping out of the water and splashing all around the boat and off into the distance.  I think it is dolphins’ sheer enthusiasm for life that always cheers me when I see them.  We had just passed Tartar Shoal when I came on at 4:00 AM and we continued to coast along southeast towards Punta Galera all throughout the next couple of watches.  Scott saw a couple of dozen turtles between 8:00 AM and noon.

Punta Galera
I took over again at noon.  By that time, we could see Punta Galera, although it looked like an island from far away because it sticks up so abruptly from the low, flat beach.  I headed for the point and gradually the “island” resolved itself into the point with a lighthouse on it.  Eventually, I was able to see Rocas Galera on the other side of the point.  I saw one turtle.  I got Scott up again just after 2:00 and we rolled up the main, made a big circle around Rocas Galera so as to avoid the sunken rocks between there and the point, and finally anchored in 25 feet of water, just off the beach behind the point.  It was not a tremendously sheltered anchorage, but the weather was mild and it seemed prudent to stop there instead of continuing on to Puerto Escondido and arriving, once more, in the dark of night.  There isn’t much in Punta Galera.  It looked like there was a dive shop, a church and maybe a couple of surfer hotels and restaurants, all with palm thatched roofs.  We saw a few people on the beach and a couple of pangas, but it was quiet at night.  There is a panga harbor, but it isn’t sufficient for cruising boats to enter.

Now that we have the alternator fixed and the batteries are finally getting charged, being at anchor feels luxurious.  There was a nice cool breeze.  Scott had put the sun showers out to heat and I enjoyed my first hot shower since we left Barra de Navidad.  Normally, I am quite sparing in my water use when showering on deck, but I let that whole bag run dry.  The warm water felt SO good.  We were rocking and rolling quite a bit, but still managed to have a relaxing afternoon.  I cooked gnocchi with meat sauce and a salad for dinner.  Scott had been vainly looking for gnocchi in every Italian restaurant we saw, but I had found some in the Comercial Mexicana back in Zihua on my last trip in.

We didn’t pass the most restful night, however.  The anchor held fine, but we were rolling a lot and we were actually cold.  Admittedly, we only had a sheet and one thin cotton blanket, which Scott wrapped around himself, leaving nothing for me.  The last couple of nights, I have worn capris and long sleeves on my late night watches.  I don’t know if it has just been breezy or if winter has finally come to Mexico, but I think it has dipped below 70 degrees.

Tern Standing on Turtle
We hauled up the anchor and slipped out of Punta Galera just before 9:00 AM on Friday morning.  Seas were flat and there was almost no wind.  We decided to make another stop in Puerto Escondido, even though it was only about six hours away, so that we could once again anchor in daylight and enjoy the pleasures of being at anchor.  Now that we were nearing the end of this leg of our journey, it seemed a shame to hurry past places that I, at least, had always wanted to see.  I had been in Oaxaca with my mother about ten years before, but she didn’t like the beach, so we missed all the beach towns.  Once again, the weather was benign all day.  We saw turtles everywhere.  Scott even saw a pair of them mating.  Later in the day, I saw more leaping bat rays.

Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port) lived up to its name.  I couldn’t see it until we were right on top of it.  It’s a teeny tiny bay, only about a quarter mile across, although it is marked with a lighthouse.  The light wasn’t much help at 2:30 in the afternoon when we arrived.  It is tough to find a spot to anchor in Puerto Escondido because all the likely spots are occupied by panga and dive boat moorings.  There was just barely enough room for us between the last moorings and the rocks.  As it was, we had to anchor in 45 feet of water.  There is a bar further out towards the mouth of the bay where you can anchor in 45-55 feet of water, but it would have been even rollier than where we were, which was rolly enough.  We were, however, a very short dinghy ride from the shore.

Fool's Castle at Anchor in Puerto Escondido
The cruising guide mentioned checking in with the port captain and, since we could see his office and figured he could see us, we lowered the dinghy and headed over there.  There wasn’t much surf and we made a perfect beach landing right in front of the Capitania, but it turned out that the Puerto Escondido Capitania has been closed.  We dragged the dinghy a short distance down the beach and pulled it up in front of a waterfront restaurant where we at a late lunch/early dinner.  Scott had a thin (of course) slice of beef seasoned with chili and I had tiritas, which are usually (at least in Zihuatanejo) fried strips of fish, but in this case were raw strips of fish marinated in lime, onions and habanero chilies and served with cucumbers.  It took us over an hour to get our food because there was a large party ahead of us.  We drank a couple of beers while we waited.  My fish was very tasty, although it left my mouth on fire from the habaneros.  I couldn’t get Scott to taste a bite.  His loss.  I don’t eat sushi, but have no problem with ceviche-like raw fish.  It’s the seaweed, soy sauce and wasabi I don’t like.

After our meal, we went back to the boat and relaxed for a while.  I didn’t bother cooking dinner, since we had eaten so late.  It was a beautiful evening and we were up on deck having a drink before bed when we noticed that a dive boat had come in and moored very close to us.  Scott was concerned that we were going to swing into it, but we really didn’t have anywhere else to go, other than to leave right away, which didn’t seem like an option, as we were tired from an afternoon and evening of drinking beer.  Scott decided that we should keep an anchor watch and then he promptly went to bed.  I sat up and watched the dive boat for an hour and a half.  We came close to it a few times, but it appeared that we reached the end of our chain before we hit them.  Scott declared it good enough when it came time for him to take the watch and we both went to sleep.

We got up before dawn on Saturday morning so that we could make it to the marina in Huatulco before dark.  The closest we came to hitting the dive boat was when Scott pulled up the anchor and we started drifting straight for it.  I had to throw the boat into reverse to get far enough away to be able to turn away from it, but we managed to leave without incident.  The guys on the boat didn’t even yell at us.  We left the harbor at 6:45 and headed straight into the rising sun for the next hour and a half until we rounded the point and could head for Puerto Angel.  Puerto Angel is the furthest south we will get on this leg of our journey.  After that, the coast actually curves back north until after Huatulco.

Puerto Angel
Scary Approach to Marina Chahue
The morning was pleasant.  We saw a couple of whales breaching in the distance and then later just off the port beam.  Scott shucked off his clothes, figuring this was his last chance to get sunburned for a while.  We seemed to have left most of the turtles behind, although I did see a tern standing on the back of one later in the afternoon.  We passed Puerto Angel just after noon.  It’s a decent anchorage, but there didn’t seem to be much to the town.  They did have a nifty cell tower disguised as the largest palm tree you will ever see.  I had to roll up the headsail after we rounded the corner and started to head northeast, straight into the wind.  We passed Punta Sacrificios around 3:00 PM and then we started to see large swells coming from the Gulf of Tehauntepec.  It wasn’t windy, so there weren’t any waves, but the swells were ten feet or more and only about 5 seconds apart, which made steering interesting.  Fortunately, we didn’t have far to go.

Marina Chahue
Marina Chahue, in Huatulco, is past the commercial marina in Santa Cruz.  At first, it looks scary because you have to go around a breaking reef and it doesn’t look like there will be room until you get there.  Actually, there is plenty of room and the marina is tucked behind a cute little jetty and sheltered from the swell by a cliff.  The marina was a pleasant surprise.  The slip prices were low and we are pretty far from (American, anyway) tourist meccas, so I feared it might be pretty rustic.  Marina Chahue isn’t very big, but the docks are nice and, unlike the other Fonatur marinas we have visited, there are actually functioning restaurants with bars.  Both Crucecita and Santa Cruz are within walking distance.  The restrooms leave a bit to be desired and the showers are outdoors, but that is the only downside.  It turns out that Huatulco is overrun with Canadians and they support lots of new businesses.  The towns look new, clean and prosperous.  We will
be leaving the boat in Huatulco while we return to Benicia for a few weeks.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I called Andres about the air conditioner on Monday morning, but he never called me back.  It turns out that his cell phone was disconnected and, while I had his wife’s number and called her, she didn’t forward the message.  Monday was a wasted day except for a short run and trip to the bank in the morning.  I decided that, since there is nothing to do in Ixtapa except tourist stuff, we should just act like tourists.  We went out to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant.  Scott has chicken parmigiana (or chicken Oaxaca, as he called it) and I had squid in garlic sauce that was tasty, if not very Italian.  Ixtapa was quiet after the end of the holiday week.  We were the only people in the restaurant.

Tuesday, I was determined to accomplish something.  I called Andres again in the morning and just got a message.  I put a second coat of teak oil on the rub rail while I waited for him to call.  When he didn’t call me back, I had Scott write down everything that was wrong with the air conditioners and then I translated the document into Spanish.  I am getting very well versed in Spanish technical terms related to mechanical, plumbing and electrical items.  Once I completed the document, I hopped on a bus and took it to Andres.  I didn’t actually expect to catch him, but he was in his shop.  We reviewed the document together and he agreed to come out to the boat later that evening.  I continued on down the hill to the Bodega Aurrera (grocery store) and did some shopping for perishables before taking the bus back to Ixtapa.

Andres arrived just as we put the pork chops on the barbecue.  He couldn’t wait to get out of our hot boat, so he and Scott disconnected the air conditioners and took them back to his shop.  We had some trouble convincing him that, even though the electrical circuits on the boat are 110 volts, the air conditioners have capacitors that cause the compressors to see 220 volts.  The 110 compressors that he installed on Saturday night burned up at that voltage.  Unfortunately, he broke the hose barb off the water pump for the rear air conditioner in the process of removing it.  The hose barb was an integral part of the pump housing, not a screw in fitting.

Golf Course and Crocodile Sanctuary
Scott and I must have been on the same wavelength because we both suddenly decided we wanted to eat breakfast in the restaurant overlooking the golf course next to the marina.  Despite the sign advertising, “The best breakfast deal in Ixtapa,” it was expensive.  The food was okay, but the view was excellent.  We sat on the terrace and watched crocodiles disturb the surface of the water hazards.  I wouldn’t go looking for a ball in there.

Some people, upon arriving in a new town in Mexico, explore the shops, bars and restaurants.  Not us.  We make the rounds of all the machinists, auto parts, plumbing and hardware stores.  Wednesday was no exception.  We wanted to get the water pump fixed before the air conditioners were returned.  Scott removed the pump (A bloody pain – I did it once.) and we set off to find a machinist who could cut threads into the remains of the pump housing so that we could screw in a new hose barb. We stopped by Andres’ shop to drop off the controller for the air conditioners which he had forgotten and he gave us a recommendation for a machinist down the hill.  The machinist threaded our pump housing for a whopping 50 pesos (<$4.)  He also sold plumbing fittings, so we bought several items from him to replace the water shut off valve that had broken earlier.

We needed a new fluorescent light bulb for Scott’s trouble light, so we continued on to the Bodega Aurrera, but they didn’t have the right kind of bulb.  We crossed the street and walked back up the hill, stopping in every hardware store along the way.  Finally, we found a guy who didn’t have the bulbs, but ran out and got them for us while we waited.  He showed me a picture on the internet of frozen Niagra Falls.  It was just WRONG looking at that picture when it was nearly 90 degrees outside.

Determined to try to enjoy Ixtapa, I spent an hour at the beach before rushing back to wait for Andres, who had said he would bring the air conditioners back around 4:00.  We never heard from him.  I wasn’t too surprised, since I thought his estimate was rather ambitious.  Time management is not Andres’ strong point.
Thursday, I decided to do absolutely nothing and see if Scott noticed.  He didn’t.  I finished one book and read most of another.  I had had a sore throat since Sunday morning and hoped a day of rest might cure it.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any other symptoms.  I didn’t call Andres, either.  I was just hoping someone else would come up with a plan for a change.  I was tired of herding depressed cats through peanut butter.  It was starting to get to me.  At about 6:00, just as I had put a chicken in the oven, Andres sent me a text and said he would be there at 8:00.  A little later, he revised the time to 8:40.  At 9:00, he texted me that he was going to eat dinner and then come, but asked me to please let him come that night because he couldn’t come the next day.  Around 9:45, he texted me that he had a flat tire and couldn’t get there for another hour and a half.  We agreed that he would come early the next morning because he had to leave by noon to catch a flight.

I woke up to sprinkles and a rainbow on Friday morning.  It was after 11:00 before Andres finally arrived with the air conditioners.  He had overslept.  He and Scott hurried to connect the equipment so Andres could rush off.  He and his wife were going to Acapulco to visit the doctor because his wife has a brain tumor.  He only charged me for the difference in the cost of the compressors.  Unfortunately, they stopped working again shortly after he departed.  The new compressors, while larger, are still 110 volts.  They didn’t get as hot as before, but still aren’t what we need.  Despite having sunk 7300 pesos into this repair, I just don’t feel like Andres has the knowledge or mental space (now that I know about his wife’s illness) to deal with our problem.  Meanwhile, it’s hot and we’re stuck, waiting for a decision from our potential insurance company about whether they will accept the amended survey that Ingemar sent them.

Having spent years arguing with my insurer over surveys, I was not optimistic.  Scott still harbored a hope that somehow this new company would accept the original survey and insure us for the trip to Sweden.  My experience was that my survey had to be perfect before I could get insurance and it was almost impossible to obtain a perfect survey on a used boat.  I ended up having to remove perfectly serviceable systems because they had small imperfections that I couldn’t afford to repair.  It would take a lot of time and money to get a perfect survey on Fool’s Castle and Ixtapa wasn’t the place to work on it.  Scott was talking about hauling the boat and storing it on the hard until we can resolve some issues, but he hadn’t done any research on what that would involve or cost.  I felt like was trapped in an endless loop.  I was seriously contemplating leaving the boat for a few days and going somewhere else, just so that I could feel like I was accomplishing something.

The only things I managed to do over the weekend were to get the broken air conditioners stuck back into their compartments and battened down and install the remaining fan in the main salon.  It is tiny and only improves conditions in about two square feet, but it’s something if you sit right under it.  The switches on all the fans we bought in San Diego are flaky.  This one doesn’t work at all, so I had to rig it with a screw and a twist tie.  The pre-existing wiring is attached to the cabin lights circuit, not the fan circuit, so it is always on unless we want to stumble around in the dark.  Scott had a cold and did nothing except help me put the big air conditioner back into the cabinet, although he did take me out for dinner on Saturday night, which was a huge relief.  It was wonderful to walk a couple of miles in the cool evening air and not have to sweat in the galley. Of all the places I imagined getting stuck or leaving the boat for a few months, Ixtapa was not on the list.  However, stuck we are.  I want desperately to have the boat in a condition where we could sail away or leave the boat, depending on the answer we get from the insurance company.  Scott, however, was too depressed to accomplish anything at all.

Life in Ixtapa is extremely boring.  I get up earlier than I want to because I need to use the restroom and our holding tanks are full.  This means that I have to put clothes on and hike up to the marina office.  This can be an adventure because the restroom lights attract bees if anyone leaves them on at night.  One of the windows has a torn screen and they get in through that opening.  Two mornings out of three, there are dead and dying bees all over the floor and living ones clustered around the lights and windows.  I pick my way through the bees (carefully, since I got stung last week) and try to find a commode that is bee free.  There is no hot water in the showers.  Cold showers are more pleasant in the afternoon or evening, but I seldom get around to taking one if I don’t do it first thing.  The water isn’t freezing.  Beers straight out of the refrigerator aren’t freezing around here.  Last night, I drank one over ice just to get it cold enough to be refreshing.  Now I understand why people drink micheladas.  Beer over ice tastes better with Worcestershire and hot sauce in it.

By the time I get back to the boat, I am too awake to go back to sleep.  I eat a hardboiled egg and maybe make a cup of coffee.  I play games on my phone and listen to the very brief and uninteresting radio net at 8:30.  Maybe I read, study Spanish grammar or work on my blog.  The internet only works at the office and doesn’t come on until they open at 9:00.  At least it isn’t hot yet.  Scott, if he gets up at all, doesn’t move until 10:00 or so.  After he wakes up, I make myself a smoothie.  By then, I need to go back to the restroom, so I take my phone up there and do my internet business.  By noon, it’s too hot to be outside.  We hide in the boat.  Scott sleeps, reads, plays solitaire on his computer and checks his email for communication from the insurance company.  I fume at his lack of motivation, do whatever boat chores I can, play computer games, read, study Spanish and go up to the office to use the bathroom and the internet every few hours. 
We can barely move in the boat because the center cabin, main salon and dinette have tools, and boat parts scattered everywhere.  It is a good thing that I have lost a lot of weight because the stack of floor boards from the engine compartment would block access to the refrigerator and ice machine if I couldn’t squeeze between the sink and the mast, which I couldn’t at the beginning of this trip.  The mess depresses me because I feel like the boat has returned to the state in which I found it, despite having spent the last four months working on it and trying to make it habitable.

By late afternoon, it is 90 degrees in the boat.  We have screens on the hatches, but not for the big side windows, so we have to keep those closed or we would be swarmed by bees during the day and mosquitoes at night.  Our fans are totally inadequate.  By the time I’m ready to start dinner, I have to wear a bandana around my forehead to keep the sweat from running into my eyes and my clothes are soaked.  Cooking is torture.  The galley is the hottest part of the boat because it is small, poorly ventilated, and heated by the exhaust from four refrigerators, freezers and ice makers, not to mention the heat produced by the stove.  When dinner is ready, I have to clear the mess off the table in the main salon so that we can find enough room to eat.  Scott does do the dishes, but then he just goes to bed.  I sit up, sweltering and trying to amuse myself until around 10:00, when I can make one last trip up to the restroom and hope to sleep until 5:00 or so without having to go to the restroom again.
We still hadn't heard anything from the insurance company on Monday.  Scott didn't feel well and I was hot and bored and angry, so I didn't accomplish anything, either.  Finally, after it cooled down a bit, we walked into town and had dinner at Mama Norma's y Deborah.  Scott had a Mexican combo and I had chicken cutlets in an orange habanero sauce that was spicy, but good.  I resolved to have a more productive day on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, I woke up before dawn and decided that it was time to see what was at the end of the ciclopista where I had been running.  I had never made it past the 5km point.  I decided that I was going to alternately walk and run the entire path.  Since I had been sick and hadn't run in over a week, I took it slow.  I ran one kilometer and then walked the next.  The path runs for a kilometer from the marina to the crossroads just before the town of Ixtapa and then curves around and heads off along the road to Playa Linda.  At about 3.5 kilometers, it crosses the road and at 4 km it leaves the road and heads off into the jungle, roughly following the path of a large river through an ecological preserve.  The jungle in Mexico is not very tall.
Spoonbill Left of Center

At about 7km there is a nice rest area with a deck for viewing the numerous birds that frequent the river.  Despite entire schools of bait fish leaping out of the water, there were no birds near the viewing platform.  At 7.5 km I found the birds.  There were dozens of them in a mixed flock of several types of egrets, storks (I think) and roseate spoonbills.  I had seen the spoonbills flying, but not on the ground.  Their undersides are bright pink, so they are quite spectacular on the wing.

Crocodile Habitat in Playa Linda
I had my headphones on, but thought I had heard an intermittent growling noise. I figured it was probably some panguero's outboard.  However, when I got to the 8km mark and emerged from the jungle into the town of Playa Linda, I realized that I actually HAD been hearing crocodiles roaring.  Fortunately, although they were roaring at me, they were on the other side of a fence.  

End of the Ciclopista
Birds Roosting in Uprooted Trees
The path took a right turn at Playa Linda and followed the coast out to the end of the road where there is a nice RV park on the beach.  I left the paved path and followed some surfers out to where the river meets the sea.  It was a very beautiful place.  Many large trees that had been uprooted and carried downstream had grounded on the sandbars at the mouth of the river and made handy roosts for the many birds.  It looked like a long paddle out to the break for the surfers, however.

I made a U-turn and headed back towards Playa Linda.  By this time, it was 9:00 and it was starting to get hot.  I started alternating running and walking every half kilometer on the way back.  I actually encountered a young man who was running while carrying a surfboard.  I made a couple of side trips to check out the beaches.  They were very clean, beautiful and empty.  I could see Isla Grande from there.

Ecological Preserve
 I made it all the way back to the marina by alternating running and walking and was still able to run the last half kilometer, although I was pretty wiped when I got back.  Scott greeted me with the incredible news that our insurance as far as Sweden had been approved.  This was quite unexpected.  We still need to figure out how to pay them and get that handled, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Scott spent some time looking at the generator, although the necessary repair remains elusive.  We have made it this far without the generator, so we can live without it.  At least our alternator is now fixed and can charge the batteries.

I have decided to pretend that I am on vacation for the rest of our stay in Ixtapa and check myself into a hotel with a pool and air conditioning before I go mad.

Beach West of Playa Linda

Monday, January 6, 2014


About to Run My First Race
Cole and I got up well before dawn on December 31st to run in the Carrera San Silvestre.  I ran the 5k and he ran the 10k.  It was a very informal race.  Each contestant had a wrist band that determined the length of the race he or she was running, but we didn’t have numbers.  There were no age groups or anything.  I was slow, as usual, but was far from last and beat most of the people in my age group.  Cole achieved his goal of running the 10k in under an hour.  I tried to take a picture of him crossing the finish line, but only succeeded in spilling the plastic bag of water they had provided at the finish line all over my cell phone, which has been spastic ever since.

Scott and I headed back to Zihuat on Tuesday to look for refrigerant and diodes with which to build the bridge rectifier that had eluded us the day before.  We went back to Peregrino because Scott was pretty sure they had the diodes.  They did, but they were very puzzled as to what we wanted with so many (Scott had asked for 8.)  Eventually, the guy said, “I want to show you something.”  He rummaged around in the back and came up with a … bridge rectifier.  We bought two.  My faith that one can find anything, anywhere, in Mexico was restored.

We were not so lucky with the refrigerant, however.  The air conditioners on Fool’s Castle use R22, which has been outlawed in the U.S. for many years.  The refrigerant is still available in Mexico, but the hoses and gauges used to recharge the system and no longer available.  The current ones are a different size.  They are also quite expensive.  A set of hoses and gauges runs about 1,000 pesos.  The refrigerant is less than 250 pesos.  Eventually, we decided it would be easier and probably cheaper to just pay someone to recharge the system.  We tried to go back to an air conditioning repair shop we had seen on the way into town, but couldn’t find it from the opposite direction and just ended up coming back to Ixtapa.  We pulled the rear air conditioner pump out at the expense of gallons of sweat, only to determine that it was not the problem and had to be reinstalled.  Neither of us could bear to be in that tiny cabin for more than a few minutes, so we took turns working on it.  Scott eventually determined that the problem was some wires that had corroded and shorted out, destroying a capacitor.  Fortunately, we had seen just such capacitors at Peregrinos earlier in the day.

It was New Year’s Eve, so I made a nice dinner of steak with chimichurri sauce, baked yams and salad.  We learned that the tradition in Mexico is to eat twelve grapes in the last twelve seconds of the year.  This is made tougher by the fact that the grapes all have seeds.  We played cards for a bit after dinner and then packed up some fireworks that Cole had bought in the market in Barra de Navidad and a bottle of champagne and headed for the beach.  We didn’t know what to expect, but we figured it was the safest place to shoot off our bottle rockets.

Many years ago, I spent a New Year’s in Vera Cruz.  At 4:00 pm, the square was packed with revelers, but the city was deserted at midnight and we were never able to determine where everyone had gone.  I had always suspected that they were all at the beach.  There were certainly a lot of people at the beach in Ixtapa.  Everyone was launching floating lanterns and the sky was filled with drifting lights.  They looked like fireflies or colored stars.  There were hundreds of them.  The lanterns are made of lightweight materials like tissue or silk.  They are shaped like hot air balloons and an accelerant soaked cake is suspended from the bottom.  The fuel is lit and, once the air inside the balloon heats up, the lantern starts to rise.  It was fun watching people launch the lanterns.  We held our breaths when they failed to get lift right away and headed for the waves and cheered when they cleared the breakers and took off for the sky.  Lots of people had fireworks and the hotels put on quite a show at midnight.  The fireworks were shot low over the water and they reflected in the surf.  It was all pretty magical, even though our bottle rockets were underpowered and half of them were duds.  We drank our champagne, launched our silly fireworks and gawked at the floating lanterns and fireworks.  Our neighbors started a bonfire.  It was probably the best New Year’s Eve I have ever spent.
I made corn cakes for breakfast on New Year’s Day, did some laundry and scrubbed a section of the cockpit before it got too hot.  Scott planned to spend the day working on our electrical problems, which would pretty much render the boat impassable.  Cole and I decided to take an outing to Isla Grande for the day.  We took the bus from the marina to the center of Ixtapa (6 pesos) and then caught another bus to Playa Linda (another 9 pesos.)  There is a crocodile viewing platform next to the parking lot at Playa Linda.  We spent a few minutes there watching the crocodiles and turtles.  The turtles showed no fear of the crocodiles and even climbed right over their toothy snouts.

Lancha Pier at Playa Linda
Isla Grande
There is a Club Med and a few other hotels at Playa Linda.  There is also a touristy market and a few restaurants on the beach.  There is a long pier where we caught a launch for Isla Grande.  The boat ride cost 40 pesos (about $3) for a round trip.  It’s a short trip, but very scenic.  Both Playa Linda and Isla Grande are beautiful.  Isla Grande actually isn’t very big.  Some of the restaurants actually reach from one side of the island to the other.  The cove where the water taxis land was filled with anchored boats (day anchorage only) and the beach was lined with palapa restaurants.  The cove on other side of the island is filled with coral reef.  We brought our own snorkel gear, but the restaurants there rent it inexpensively.  Everyone there was Mexican.  We could have been the only North Americans there.  We have seen very few Americans or Canadians in Ixtapa at all.  There are more in Zihuatanejo.  Most of the people visiting Ixtapa seem to come from Morelia or Mexico City.

Snorkeling Beach at Isla Grande
The snorkeling was very good.  The water wasn’t as clear as in the Bahamas, but it was clearer once we swam out a ways from shore.  There were tropical fish everywhere.  The reef reached all the way to shore and the fish came all the way in, also.  Much of the reef was exposed after the tide went out.  We settled at a table at one of the restaurants and then went snorkeling for a while.  There were small, brilliantly colored fish that liked Cole and followed him, nibbling at his arms.  The corals weren’t as varied as I’ve seen in the Caribbean, but the fish were varied and plentiful.  There were also urchins with very long spines.  The water was warm enough that getting cold was not a worry.  The water was filled with people snorkeling.  I sometimes wonder if the fish aren’t so plentiful because they come to look at all the people in their colorful bathing gear.  It was very hot and the sun was so intense that I could feel it burning my arm after about five minutes.  We lay in the sun long enough to dry off and then retreated to our shady table where we had something to eat and drink and read in the shade for a couple of hours.

The last boats leave the island at 5:00, so everyone started heading for the dock about 4:30.  There was a long line to board a boat and then, once we arrived at the mainland, there was a long line of boats waiting to unload at the dock.  When it was our turn, the boat surged away from the dock just as I was about to step ashore, leaving me balanced on the gunwhale for an interminable moment until the helmsman could steer back into the dock and I could leap ashore.  Men here always seem to think I need help getting in and out of boats.  I know I’m mature, but I live on a boat with a big step up that I make a dozen times a day.  The bus back to Ixtapa was equally packed.  There wasn’t room for one more person to stand in the aisle.  The last couple of people to board were hanging out the open door.

We had bought a ham for Christmas before we realized that we would be in Barra for the cruisers’ Christmas potluck.  We baked it for New Year’s and served it with mashed potatoes, pineapple and salad.  It was a satisfying and very American meal.  It was the first time I had ever cooked a ham, but it turned out OK.  We had lots of leftovers for sandwiches.

Ciclopista in Ixtapa
Scott had spent the day reinstalling the alternator, but didn’t work on the generator because the heavy main air conditioner was out of the cabinet and sitting on the floor panel over the generator.
An alarm on the neighboring boat woke me up at 6:30 am on Thursday, so I got up and went running.  I decided to run the 10k course just to see if I could.  The path started out in the direction of the center of Ixtapa and then curved around towards Playa Linda.  At about the 2km point, I heard a pitiful meowing and turned around to see a black and white spotted kitten racing after me.  He was very cute and desperate for affection.  It would have been hard to leave him there if he hadn’t had a collar on.  He continued to follow me after I put him down until a bus came along and frightened him.  I’ve never been chased by a cat before.  At the 4.5km point, I saw two anteaters cross the path in front of me.  Their tails are bigger than their heads.  They look like cartoon animals.  At the 9km point, I ran into Cole coming the other way.  I made it back to the marina without trouble, although I felt it in my right calf later in the day.
Main Air Conditioner out of Its Cabinet

Scott and I went back to Zihuat after breakfast to buy a capacitor for the air conditioner from our new best friends at Peregrino’s and then look for someone to recharge our air conditioners.  This time, we had determined landmarks on the return side of the street, so we managed to get off the bus at the right place to get to Friotec.  A nice young man there agreed to come and look at our air conditioner later in the afternoon.

I spent the late afternoon in the office, working on my blog while Andres came to look at the main air conditioner.  It had an internal leak, so he took it back to his shop to repair it.  It is amazing how, after enduring weeks of sweltering heat, we are now desperate for air conditioning and reluctant to embark on any other projects until it is fixed.  Despite the heavy air conditioner being off the access hatch to the generator, Scott was not moved to work on it until the air was fixed.
Rear Air Conditioner in Its Hole Under a Bunk
Friday morning, I got up early and walked into Ixtapa to get money to pay the air conditioner guy.  When I came back, Scott worked a bit on the generator and I removed the rear air conditioner.  Scott determined that the problem with the generator had not been the bridge rectifier, after all, but he found a wire that was disconnected and decided to postpone inquiry into where it belonged, which involves running the generator with the floor open, until after the air is fixed.  He closed up the floor and we grabbed a taxi and took the second air conditioner into the repair shop.  Andres wasn’t there, but his assistant said he would call us later.

Cole, meanwhile, hitchhiked to Barra de Potosi, where he borrowed a machete and bushwhacked his way to the top of the mountain.  He inched his way up between two neighboring coconut trees and picked a big coconut, which he brought home and used to make a lime, avocado and coconut pie (paleo, of course.)

I walked into Ixtapa, again, on Saturday morning to go to the farmacia and refill my cholesterol prescription.  It was easy enough.  Despite the fact that the package said they required a prescription, the pharmacist handed the drugs over with nothing more than my pill bottle for a reference.  They were much more expensive than in the U.S., though.  While I had paid about $10 for 60 days’ worth (admittedly with insurance) of 40 mg tablets, it cost me about $20 for 30 days worth of 10 mg tablets.  I don’t know if this was just because Ixtapa is a tourist place or not.  I will have to try again in a week or so and see.

Our Dock in Ixtapa
Scott was depressed and frustrated because the new insurance company that we thought was going to be the answer to our troubles had rejected our survey as insufficiently rigorous.  Our friend and former crewmember, Ingemar, was our surveyor.  He had been hoping to work as a ski instructor over the Christmas holidays to make some money and then return to the boat after the New Year.  Because there was no snow over Christmas, he was unable to work and so is now planning to delay his return until after Presidents’ Day.  We may have to go back to La Cruz, the southern limit of our current coverage, until we can resolve our insurance problems.  We are still hoping that maybe we can provide them with enough documentation to satisfy their demands.  It would be a shame to lose Cole, but he might have to leave us in order to get to Panama by February when his friend is meeting him there.  If we have to go back, I will have to decide what I am going to do.  I could hang out in La Cruz, go to visit my cousin in Mexico City, travel in Central America, or just go home and deal with mundane responsibilities like selling my boat and extra car, hiring a contractor to build my house, and pruning my fruit trees.

We never heard from Andres on Friday, so I called him on Saturday morning.  He said he would be over in a couple of hours.  I killed several hours scrubbing stains off the hull and he eventually appeared with our small air conditioner in tow.  He and Scott reinstalled it in the boat, only to determine that a valve was blocked and it needed to be taken back to the shop.  Andres believed the main air conditioner probably had the same problem.  He left and said he’d be back later with both of them.

Typical Fonatur Tower
Andres returned just as I was cooking dinner and it was hellishly hot in the boat.  He and Scott worked to connect and test both of the air conditioners while Cole and I tried to stay out of the way.  It was 9:00 or so before he left, but both units were blowing air at that point, although the main one seemed to be producing more heat from the compressor than it made cold air.  The rear unit seemed to be working pretty well.  The temperature in the rear of the boat got down to 79 degrees.  We ate a nice dinner of carnitas tostadas and Cole’s yummy avocado pie, which tasted like lime pie, only creamier.  Unfortunately, the compressor on the main air conditioner seized after about an hour.  Scott and I went to bed, feeling grateful that it was reasonably cool in our cabin, at least.

Teak Rub Rail
I woke up about 1:00 am because it was stifling in our cabin.  I looked at the air conditioner control and the temperature was up to 86 degrees.  It was still blowing air, but was only making heat.  I turned it off and opened the hatches, since it was cool outside.  I took a walk up to the restrooms, just to cool off.

Sunday was a wasted day.  We didn’t want to bother Andres on his day off and I didn’t want to provision until I knew what was happening with our insurance and whether or not Cole was leaving us.  I spent the day reading and bleaching and oiling the teak on the rub rail.  There are a lot of bees around the Ixtapa Marina.  Dead bees litter the ground under the light by the restroom door each morning.  One night, someone left the light on in the women’s room and there was a big swarm of bees in there by morning, even though all the windows are screened.  We have had trouble keeping them out of the boat.  Once they fly in through the rear hatch, they only seem to want to exit through the non-opening windows in the main salon.  We usually end up killing them while trying to encourage them to leave.  I finally started keeping mosquito netting over the hatch, but we still got a bee in the boat on Sunday.  I value bees and hate to kill them, so I left him alone in the hope that he would find his way out.  Unfortunately, he landed on my arm while I was walking through the dark passage between the salon and the rear cabin.  Not realizing he was there, I brushed at whatever was on my arm and he stung me on the back of the arm.  Ixtapa is a crummy place to be stuck.  There is nothing here but tourist stuff – no laundry, no butcher, no real grocery store, and no cruiser community.  I can’t wait to get out of here.