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.

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