Sunday, March 27, 2016


March 13, 2016

I dragged myself out of bed at 04:30 and got Don up by 04:45.  We had stowed the dinghy upon our return the previous night, so all we had to do was make coffee and pull up the anchor, which we managed to do smoothly despite pitch darkness making it hard to see hand signals.  We headed out of Zihua Bay by 05:15 and cleared the mouth of the bay by 05:30.

It was very dark, so we gave the islands off Ixtapa a wide berth.  We rounded Punta Ixtapa at dawn and headed for Lazaro Cárdenas.  A power plant was pouring a cloud of yellow smoke into the morning sky, but all was quiet.  It was Sunday and there wasn’t any ship traffic.
Dawn off Ixtapa

Don took the helm at 09:00 as we passed Lazaro Cárdenas.  It wasn’t windy and there was no swell to speak of, but we were only making 4.5 knots, instead of our usual 5.5.  We suspected this was due at least in part to a dirty bottom, since it had not been cleaned since La Cruz.  We started to worry that we would not make Caleta de Campos before dark.
Lazaro Cardenas

I came back on deck at 13:00 and the wind had picked up.  We were making good time, but heeling a lot, so we put in a reef.  We sailed for a couple of hours, enjoying the quiet, but had to turn the motor on when we dropped below four knots.

Don came on at 17:00 and I made hot wings and a mango jicama salad at 18:00.  By this point, it looked like we wouldn’t reach Caleta de Campos until midnight, so we decided to head straight for Las Hadas.  I took the helm while Don did dishes and then he was ready for a nap.  Our watch schedule had decayed.  I took a few minutes to put on warmer clothes and prepare for a night watch and then took over at 20:00.  My watch passed uneventfully.

March 14, 2016

I started the day with the 04:00 – 08:00 watch.  It was quiet and we were making better time, but the autopilot couldn’t seem to counteract the weather helm and I had to correct the course every few minutes.  Don had set the timer on his phone to go off every 16 minutes and the first time it went off I wondered how the cricket got on the boat until it dawned on me it was the alarm.
Sunrise off Punta Negra

It began to get light about 06:00 as we rounded Punta Negra.  The sunrise was spectacular.  Don took over at 08:00.  I made bacon and eggs and coffee and then napped for a couple of hours until I took the helm again at noon.  With just two people aboard, afternoons are often the only time we are both awake.  This is handy, since it is also usually the time with the most wind and the most active sailing.  Don stopped the motor and checked the oil while we proceeded slowly under sail.  Then we spent a very pleasant afternoon, companionable motoring up the coast, letting the balmy air caress our hides until we spotted the evil, pollution spewing power plant that marks the entrance to Manzanillo Bay.  We were racing the sun to Las Hadas.  It turned out to be a tie, as we dropped anchor right at twilight.

Awful Power Plant in Manzanillo
At Anchor in Manzanillo Bay

March 15, 2016

Our long passage behind us, we took our time getting up and drinking our coffee.  Most of the other boats in the anchorage left before us.  We finally headed out about 10:30.  I tried to practice the guitar during Don’s watch, but the motor was so loud, I couldn’t hear well enough to tune the guitar.  I did play for a while to toughen up my fingers, but I have no idea how it sounded.  I came back on deck when my watch officially started at noon.  The weather was slightly overcast and cooler than usual, so we passed another very pleasant afternoon motoring up the coast, about a mile and a quarter off the beach.  We passed the Manzanillo airport, halfway between Manzanillo and Barra de Navidad and then rounded Punta Graham and sailed into Bahia de Navidad.

We arrived at the marina about 15:30.  After checking in with the office, I headed straight for my first real hot shower in almost two weeks.  Shortly after I returned to the boat, I was visited by my friend, Karen, who had been living in Barra for almost four years.  Her daily photos of sunrises in Barra had sustained me during the time I was stuck at home and terribly away-from-homesick for Mexico.  We wandered back up the dock so that I could visit her cat, Bubba, a gorgeous Maine Coon who took his job as watch cat very seriously.

Comet in Barra de Navidad

After my visit with Karen, Don and I caught a water taxi over to the town of Barra de Navidad for dinner.  We ate at Loco Loco, fondly referred to by cruisers as, “Pizza in the Tree,” because of its second floor location adjacent to a large Huanacaxtle tree.  The ambiance of the place surpassed the quality of the food, but the pizza was decent, if a little bland.  We liked the Italian style thin crust.  The cabernet was thin, but it was nice to drink wine for a change.  After dinner, we walked around town for a while and had ice cream at the Thrifty ice cream store.  After picking up a few supplies at a convenience store, we took the water taxi back to the marina.
Barra de Navidad

March 16, 2016

I had lain awake until 3 AM the night before, so didn’t get up until after 08:30.  We passed a leisurely morning, drinking coffee and surfing the internet.  Karen stopped by for a visit.  Eventually, Don left to go check in with the port captain while I stayed behind to practice the guitar and work on my much neglected blog.

Karen fixed us up with Beto, one of the water taxi drivers who also cleans boat hulls.  He was due to come at 16:00, so I hung around the boat, writing and editing photographs, until Don came back and then headed up to the hotel lobby where the WiFi was fast enough to upload photographs.  Beto came and did a nice job of cleaning our very dirty bottom for $1/ foot.  Karen visited me in the lobby and we talked for quite a while.  Then I finished my blog entry and returned to the boat about 20:00.
Water Taxi in Barra de Navidad

Don and I decided to go to Barra and eat dinner at one of the Taco places we had seen the night before.  We took the water taxi across.  I had looked for my fleece before we left, but couldn’t find it.  The night was balmy, however, and I didn’t need it.  We ate at El Pastorcito, where we got a plate of five (small) tacos al pastor for 40 pesos.  It was your usual tacos on the street sort of place, but the food was tasty and plenty filling for under $4 per person including beer.

After dinner, we went for a walk around town.  As we were headed back to the water taxi dock about 22:00, a woman approached us on the street.  She asked us if we had eaten at Loco Loco the night before.  When we said yes, she reached into her bag and produced my missing fleece.  No wonder I couldn’t find it.  I had left it at the restaurant.  As that fleece was the only warm clothing I had with me, I was overjoyed to see it again and amazed that she had tracked me down.  Her kindness brought tears to my eyes.  Some people worry about my safety in Mexico but, actually, my experience is almost always that strangers go out of their way to help.

March 17, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day was supposed to be our last full day in Barra, so we used it to do boat chores.  Don   cleaned the paddle wheel on the knot meter, which had become fouled and hosed off the anchor chain which had developed stinky growth while we were anchored in Zihuatanejo.  I hosed off the boat and we filled the water tanks.  We kept a couple of collapsible water jugs and a sun shower on deck to use for shower water.  These had grown a lot of algae on our trip south, so I cleaned them as best I could and then covered the filled jugs to discourage further growth.  I spent part of the afternoon uploading photos to my blog until the WiFi quit on me.

In all of Mexico, only the little towns around Barra de Navidad have San Patricio (St. Patrick) as their patron saint.  Rumor has it that several hundred mostly Irish immigrants deserted from the American army during the Mexican American war of 1846 -1848, upon discovering that the Mexicans were fellow Catholics, and fought on the Mexican side, forming the San Patricio battalion.  The celebration of St. Patty’s also commemorates these heroes and lasts a week.  Barra had been quiet all week because everyone was in Melaque.  We decided to go over there and see what the fuss was all about.
We left about 18:00 and the water taxi was filled with green shirted cruisers.  In Barra, we met up with another panga load from the lagoon.  We all took the bus to Melaque and there was a party atmosphere on the bus.  When we got to Melaque, eight of us headed for the beach in search of beer.
Waterfront Restaurant in Melaque

 We had a beer and watched the sunset from a waterfront restaurant and got to know the crews of Nimue, Tango, and a catamaran from Hawaii.  Then we all trooped back up to the square, where we encountered the lagoon contingent eating dinner at a burrito restaurant.  The food looked good, so we decided to join them, setting up a second large table and completely overwhelming the friendly, but non-English speaking staff.  I was kept very busy translating until all our orders were placed, but everyone on both sides took the confusion with good humor.  The food was very good.
Sailors Eating Burritos in Melaque

The square was packed with revelers.  After dinner, we mingled with the crowd for a bit and then headed to Mamita’s, an upstairs bar overlooking the square.  Mamita’s seemed like it might have normally been a gay bar, but that night it was packed with Canadians and Americans in Irish regalia taking advantage of the view of the proceedings in the square.  Our group stayed for a drink, but we all started to flag around 23:00.  We took taxis back to Barra and missed the fireworks at midnight, although we heard them about the time we got back to the boat.
Tara Dancing with a Leprechaun

The St. Patrick's Day Crowd in the Square at Melaque

March 18, 2016

We had planned to leave on Friday morning but, when it came time to ready the boat to go, neither of us really felt like going, so we decided to remain another day.  I took the opportunity to use the WiFi in the hotel lobby to complete another blog post.  Then I visited with my friend, Karen, for a while.  Karen had finally succeeded in getting her engine to run, an agonizing project that had already been going on for some time when I first met her two years before.  We were in a celebratory mood.
Don and I then decided to go up to the pool bar for a margarita before dinner.  Fortunately, they were only open until 18:00 because two of their margaritas were enough to render me nearly useless for the rest of the evening.  I did manage to cook some nice tuna steaks in garlic and soy sauce and make us a salad before I fell asleep on the settee.

Pool Bar at Grand Bay Hotel in Barra de Navidad

March 19, 2016

Having goofed off the day before, we were well rested on Saturday morning.  It wasn’t very far to Tenacatita, so there was no rush, but we stowed the dinghy, topped up the water tank, and left by 11:00.  Our first stop was the fuel dock.  Since Hurricane Patricia carried off half the fuel dock, there was only one spot that could accommodate a deep draft boat.  That spot was occupied by a panga as we approached.  The deep water channel to the fuel dock was not wide, so we slowed to delay our arrival until after the panga had departed.  Just as they pulled away and we powered up, another panga swooped in and took our spot, requiring some rapid reverse on our part.  Fortunately, he didn’t take long and we managed to finally gain the fuel dock before running aground.

Yacht Anchored in Tenacatita
We had to wait for 15 minutes or so until the diesel pump was available.  The diesel pump had been on the now absent part of the fuel dock, so diesel was provided via a very long hose from the gas station above.  The fuel dock was a very busy place.  Apparently, the gas station was out of gas, so they were pumping gasoline into five gallon buckets, carrying them up the hill, and pouring them into the tank above.  In total, we spent about an hour getting fuel, but we were in no hurry.  We finally set off for Tenacatita just before noon.

It only took us a few hours to motor across Bahia Navidad and around Cabeza de Navidad to Tenacatita.  We dropped anchor next to a very large sailing yacht by mid-afternoon.  Dinner was chicken adobe over rice with salad a nice bottle of Chilean cabernet.  It was a pretty evening, if a bit cool, and the yacht with its four spreaders well lit made a beautiful sight.

March 20, 2016

Dawn in Tenacatita
Sunday started slowly.  We had coffee and I hard boiled some eggs and parboiled potatoes at the same time.  Then I made fried potatoes, bacon, and scrambled eggs for breakfast.  We spent the majority of the day listening to music on public radio streaming on Don’s phone.  It irked me no end that he could stream radio, while I got no signal at all.  Both of us should have been roaming on Telcel. 

About 17:00, we dropped the dinghy in the water and went ashore. The usually quiet beach and campground were crowded with families for Easter week.  We decided to eat an early dinner at the restaurant there.  Don had a stuffed fish fillet and I had lobster.  I couldn’t resist half a kilo of lobster for 180 pesos (about $10.). It wasn’t the best lobster I had ever had.  There were two lobsters and the tails were small, but they were still a nice dinner.
Restaurant and Campground in Tenacatita

The real problem with our choice of dinner location was that we were eaten alive by noseeums.  They didn’t bother us much at the time but, by the next day, I was covered with red welts and itching like mad.

March 21, 2016

La Manzanilla
We got up at 7:00 and, after drinking our coffee, set off across the bay to La Manzanilla, towing the
Crowd in La Manzanilla 
dinghy behind us.  We anchored off the beach in La Manzanilla by 9:00.  La Manzanilla was crowded with both Mexican and North American tourists.  We wondered how all these people found La Manzanilla, since we had never heard of it before sailing south.  There were snorkelers in the water and we had to be careful to avoid them when we took the dinghy ashore.

We landed the dinghy fairly successfully, although a wave did splash us from behind.  We pulled the dinghy up onto the beach in front of an attractive blue house and then walked up into the town.  We took a short walk around the town and eventually ate breakfast at Chuy’s Restaurant.  We were the only customers, but had tasty pancakes and French toast.  Two cute little cinnamon colored Chihuahuas gave us puppy dog eyes, but weren’t too rude about their begging.

Chuy's Restaurant and Gift Shop

After breakfast, we walked to the crocodile enclosure and then back to a grocery store near where we had parked the dinghy.  We purchased vegetables, beer, and soda and then returned to the dinghy.  We had waited slightly too long to return to the boat and the surf was bigger than we would have liked.  We had a hard time launching the dinghy and were both wet to the waist and splashed from head to toe by the time we got away.

Crocodile in La Manzanilla

Grocery Store in La Manzanilla

We motored across Tenacatita Bay and around Punta Hermana.  We passed Los Frailes and then rounded Punta Farallon to head into Bahia Careyes.  Punta Farallon is marked by a lighthouse and a giant concrete bowl on the point.  This bowl is called the Copa del Sol.  At certain times of the year, the sun appears to set into this bowl when viewed from the shore.
Copa del Sol

We wanted to check out the anchorages that we had skipped in the past.  Careyes is surrounded by

Villa in Careyes

Castle in Careyes
fabulous cliff top villas with fantastic turrets and palapas.  A resort cascades down the cliff to the beach.  The anchorage is tucked behind a rocky island.  The bay has three small lobes, the two best of which are blocked by panga moorings.  The remaining lobe had room for one boat.  It would have been possible to tuck behind the island, but the whole area was affected by surge.  We enjoyed looking at the architecture and then moved on, as it was only about 14:00.
Resort at Careyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    From Careyes, we rounded the low, rocky Punta Etiopia and ducked into the Paraiso
Paraiso Anchorage
anchorage.  The beach was occupied by one small, seemingly abandoned resort.  It was a pretty spot with room for one or two boats and was quite calm.  It was tempting to stay but, as it was still only 15:00, we elected to put a few more miles behind us and continued on to Chamela, tucking ourselves under the bluff to the left of the palapas on the beach.
We had a celebratory beer and then I made tacos with guacamole for dinner.

March 22, 2016

Our plan was to leave for La Cruz in the mid-afternoon so as to round Cabo Corrientes in the early morning hours when it would be at its flattest.  We got up late and were just drinking our coffee when John and Julie from Myla arrived in their dinghy and offered us a ride to shore.  Don wasn’t awake enough yet, but I jumped on the chance to get some exercise.

Church in Chamela
Landing the dinghy was much easier with three people and we got ashore without even getting our shorts wet.  We went for a long walk along the beach to the church.  We must have walked at least five miles.  Having left in a hurry, I hadn’t had time to put on sunscreen and got rather burned on my chest and shoulders.  The church was Moorish in style, with freshly whitewashed stucco, red tile roofs, and lots of elaborate tile.

It was 13:00 by the time I got back to the boat.  We noshed on leftover guacamole and chips and then Don made oatmeal.  By the time we got that cleaned up, it was time to pull up the anchor and go.  Myla left at the same time.  We motored out of the bay and then started motorsailing north.  We had about 10 knots of breeze to start, but it built up to 14 by sunset and we had to tack back and forth to keep up our speed.  When my watch ended at 16:00, I went below to stay out of the sun.  We were too full for dinner.

We had a beautiful full moon for our trip north.  It was nearly as light as day.  We motored steadily north, the miles slipping easily into our wake.  There was enough wind to give us a little drive, so we tacked north to keep the sails full.  Myla was ahead of us.  Strider slightly behind and outside of us.  It was reassuring to see their running lights.

Full Moon on the Way to La Cruz
March 23, 2016

Don took the helm at midnight.  All was calm. A sailboat had passed us going south.  The moon was bright and puffy clouds made
Moon with Clouds 
interesting patterns in the sky.  I made myself a snack of warm tortillas wrapped around cold leftover steak and beans and was asleep by 00:30.  At 2:30, I was awakened by a screeching sound.  Don took off the engine cover and reviewed the situation while I tried to pretend everything was okay.  Eventually, he shut off the motor and we started to sail.  By 3:00, I had to get up to help tack the boat, as the jib sheets tended to foul on the dinghy riding on the foredeck.

I got myself organized and came back on deck for my watch at 4:00.  We were still a couple of miles short of rounding Cabo Corrientes and making about 3 knots in 8 knots of breeze.  I sailed successfully until 5:30 and had started rounding the cape when the wind died and I could make no headway and, indeed, had no steerage.  We were about a mile from shore and just bobbing in a total calm.  Don came back on deck to try to help, but we made no progress until 6:30 when it began to get light and the wind started to fill in.  Finally, we were moving at a knot or two, but we could not hold a course and had to tack back and forth.

The last 28 miles across Banderas Bay took us all day.  The wind continued to build and at one point we were doing 7 knots and feared charging into the La Cruz anchorage out of control.  We rolled up the jib and reefed the main, which got us under control just in time for the wind to die.  We ghosted into the anchorage, barely able to steer, and dropped the hook under sail about 15:00.

Lights of Vallarta
We believed that we had lost the propeller but, when Don dived under to look at it, it was still there.  It appeared that the transmission had failed.  We were tired from sailing for 24 hours with little sleep, so we decided to relax and worry about the transmission another day.  We were almost out of provisions, but had enough left to make spaghetti and salad which we paired with our last bottle of wine.  It was a beautiful night to be at anchor with a full moon, the lights of Vallarta, perfect temperature, and no bugs.  Under the circumstances, we were quite content.


Friday, March 18, 2016


March 4, 2016

We were anchored a little bit closer to the large power boat next to us than we would have liked.  For some reason, that boat did not swing in the same direction that ours did.  For this reason, Don decided to sleep in the cockpit to keep an eye on the situation.  It started to rain at 3:30 in the morning, but I had to wake Don to get him to come in out of the rain.  It rained for some time and, though Don tried to tuck them under the bimini, our cushions and laundry all got quite wet.

I got up about 8:00 and made coffee.  In the process of trying to spread the cushions out to dry, I knocked over a full mug of coffee and made a huge mess in the cockpit.  I had to dig the bucket out from under all the fenders and lines in the lazarette and wash the whole cockpit down with sea water.  I was not going to get my peaceful cup of coffee in the cockpit.

All my banging around in the cockpit woke Don, so we decided to head to shore to take care of errands.  We took the dinghy into the beach.  Between the municipal dock and the pangas pulled up on the sand, there are a couple of guys who assist with dinghy landings and launchings and watch the dinghies for tips.  We arrived without incident and left the dinghy in their care.  Our first mission was to check in with the port captain who was conveniently located right at the head of the municipal pier in contravention of the usual Mexican practice of hiding the port captain’s office a mile inland in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  Checking in went smoothly. Then we went in search of a laundry, since I was on the verge of needing to buy more underwear.

We found a laundry on a side street a block up from the cultural center and then stopped in a nearby café for breakfast.  I had eggs benedict, which was poached eggs atop ham lunch meat and toast, smothered in hollandaise sauce. It may have only been an approximation of eggs benedict, but it was tasty and filling and cost less than $4.00.  We met a couple from Oregon in the restaurant.  They were in town buying items for their house near Caleta de Campos in Michoacan.  We had considered stopping there on the way down, but had passed it by because we had heard it was dangerous.  We asked them about it and they assured us that it was fine and invited us to visit on our way north.

Sea Fish Anchored Next to Us
After breakfast, we stopped at the Casa de Cultura to look for information on the Guitarfest.  They didn’t have any, but told us that the opening concert would be there the next night at 18:00.  We explored the mostly touristy downtown until we finally found a hair salon where I could get a much overdue haircut for just under $3.00.  Don, who also needed a haircut, was skeptical.  I, however, was quite pleased to be rid of all that hot hair.  Zihuatanejo was much warmer than La Cruz.

Our missions accomplished, we replenished our supply of adult beverages and returned to the beach where our dinghy awaited us.  We got away from the shore uneventfully and returned to Comet.  One of our neighbors had departed, so we hauled up the anchor and moved into the empty space.  Then we settled in for some serious relaxation until dinnertime when I made chicken in green mole over rice.

March 5, 2016

Don Getting a Haircut
We were on a mission to get Don’s clothes to the laundry before ten so we could pick them up at the same time as mine, so we got up early and headed for the beach after coffee.  We landed smoothly, unloaded a big bag of trash, and went to drop the clothes off at the laundry.  Don was feeling brave, so he stopped into a nearby barbershop where he got his first Mexican haircut from a friendly barber named Abel.  Abel and I chatted in Spanish while he worked on Don, who left the shop looking quite stylish.

Hill Above Playa Madera
Playa La Ropa
We decided to take a tour of Zihuatanejo’s beaches.  We walked across town and then crossed the bridge over the river.  From there, we followed the walkway around the rocky shore to Playa Madera, stopping at Bistro Del Mar for a tasty breakfast.  The atmosphere was beautiful and prices were reasonable.  After breakfast, we climbed the long, steep hill on the way to Playa La Ropa, stopping frequently to enjoy the view and the fantastic architecture of the fancy hotels along the shore.  We were hot by the time we got to Playa La Ropa, so we stopped into Paty’s for cold drinks under and umbrella by the beach.  We could see Comet riding at anchor in the distance.  We took a collectivo back to the center of town and then returned to the boat for a couple of hours before that night’s big concert.
Bisto del Mar
Walkway to Playa Madera

Guitarfest’s opening concert was originally scheduled to be held on the beach in Ixtapa because it has drawn as many as 1100 people in the past.  This year, they had had to change the venue to the cultural center because of high surf on the beach.  The cultural center only held 500 people and we didn’t have tickets, so we were a bit concerned we might have to listen from the bar across the street.  It was important to see the opening concert because all the artists played a short set and we could get an idea of who we wanted to see later.

We arrived at 5:00 when the doors opened and there were only about 15 people ahead of us.  Not only did we get tickets, but we got third row center seats in the shade!  We passed the hour before the show started drinking beer and talking to the other patrons.

The concert was a delight of cross cultural musical cooperation.  There were artists from Mexico, the U.S., France, Brazil, India, and Iran by way of Canada.  Musical styles varied from blues to new age, folk to flamenco, although it was interesting how much American music had influenced everyone.  Adam’s Family and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.  The Andrea Perrone Duo from Brazil did a fabulous version of Summertime.  One of the most entertaining acts was Lipbone Redding, a guy from North Carolina whose guitar playing was really only accompaniment to his amazing talent of being able to play the trumpet without actually using an instrument.  He played percussion with his foot, sang like Louis Armstrong, and played the harmonica to boot.  He was a riot.  We also really enjoyed the Croweaters, a duo from San Francisco.  I was quite impressed with José Luis Cobo and his original Spanish guitar numbers.  He not only played beautifully, but had a fantastic voice as well.
Jose Luis Cobo
Manan Gupta, from India, played the theme from the Ada
Maneli Jamal & Lipbone Redding

Perhaps the best parts of the concert were the jams that occurred afterward.  The Croweaters jammed with Axemonkey, which really livened up her instrumental music with their vocals.  We didn’t know what to expect when Maneli Jamal stepped onto the stage with Lipbone Redding.  Maneli’s style was so light and fast we weren’t sure how that was going to work with the profusion of sound produced by Lipbone.  The result was extraordinary.  They played St. James Infirmary, Maneli’s guitar chops allowing Lipbone to concentrate more on the harmonica and his uncanny vocal talents.  Then they did a number where Lipbone would sing/play a melody and then Maneli would kill it on the guitar, no matter how wild it got.  We really got to see his sense of humor and it was a lot of fun.

Though it was nearly 23:00 by the time the music wound down, we stopped at a local taqueria for dinner.  The place was frequented by Mexican twenty somethings and they looked at us a bit askance, but served us great tacos.  Two tacos, arrachera and shrimp, and a beer set me back just over $3.00.  Zihuatanejo prices were generally slightly lower than prices in the Puerto Vallarta area.

March 6, 2016
We were tired after our exertions of the day before, so spent a quiet Sunday lounging around the boat and listening to music.  I crawled into the chain locker and replaced the port running light bulb, which had burned out during our trip south and Don filled up the dinghy gas tank.  We swam and I finished the portrait of my friend Jan Miller that I had started in La Cruz.  We thought about going to town for dinner, but the swells were big and landing the dinghy looked tricky.  Instead, we made guacamole and had soft tacos filled with leftover rice and green mole.
Magic Lady, Another Nauticat 43

Jan Miller

Originally, we had been the farthest boat from shore.  As the swells increased, boats began moving away from shore, one by one, until we had lots of neighbors.  Magic Lady, a Nauticat 43 like Fool’s Castle, anchored next to us, giving me a chance to contemplate their tropical modifications.  They had clearly lavished a lot of time and money on the boat and it looked great.  I wondered if they had made alterations to the refrigeration, as well, as ours could never handle the hot weather in Mexico or El Salvador.

March 7, 2014

After our usual leisurely morning and early afternoon, we took the dinghy to shore to retrieve our laundry.  We took it back to the beach and left it in the dinghy for Alfonso and José to guard.  We explored the center of town a bit, looking for the Guitarfest venues and then stopped into the last palapa restaurant on Playa Principal for drinks.  We sat there, enjoying the view, and eventually ordered dinner there.  I had a filet mignon and shrimp for a mere $150 pesos (about $9.)

We had gone into town late because we planned to go to that night’s Guitarfest concert.  The acts playing that night were Shai Sebbag, Mark Glasmire, and Lipbone Redding.  Shai Sebbag is a French guitarist whose original music has lots of Slavic and Middle Eastern overtones.  It was very hypnotic and relaxing.  While it was not a style of music that either of us normally favor, we both enjoyed his set.
Shai Sebbag

Mark Glasmire is a singer songwriter who looked like he ought to be playing Bruce Springsteen, but sounded more like John Denver.  We hadn’t been too impressed with him during the initial concert, but came away from his set with an appreciation of his songwriting ability, if not his performance style.  He has had some records that did well in the charts, but his songs have been recorded by many other artists.

Lipbone Redding

Everybody’s favorite act was Lipbone Redding.  With his hilarious stories and foot stomping tunes, he soon had the whole crowd going.  It is impossible to be bored when Lipbone is on the stage being a one man avalanche of sound.  I bought one of his CDs.  Check him out at

March 8, 2016

Rainy Zihuataejo
A storm was predicted for late Tuesday and Wednesday, so we decided to head into the marina to charge batteries and spend the rainy days where we could get off the boat.  We hoisted the dinghy back onto the cradle on the foredeck and left about 10:30 and started motoring out of the bay and around the point towards Ixtapa.  I tried to call the marina on both my American and Mexican phones and got a message that the number was out of service.  By the time Don got through to them on his phone, we were nearly at the mouth of the channel.  Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us enter, deeming the surf to be too high.  We had to turn around and head back to Zihua Bay.  At least we had charged the batteries a bit.  It started raining before we made it back to the anchorage.  We returned to our previous spot and anchored in the rain.

It rained off and on for the rest of the afternoon and poured during the night.  The windows and the sail track above my bunk leaked and everything got rather damp.  I made spaghetti for dinner.

March 9, 2016

We couldn’t go anywhere because the swell was too large to launch the dingy, so we spent the entire day on the boat watching rain squalls come and go.  We read, surfed the internet, and I even played a little guitar.  We were getting very low on provisions, but Don made us oatmeal with nuts for brunch and I managed to scrape together burritos made from leftovers and an envelope of chilorio for dinner.  Fortunately, we hadn’t planned to go to that night’s concert.

March 10, 2016

It felt very liberating when the rain clears and the swell abated enough to launch the dinghy.  We decided to take the bus to Ixtapa because Don had never been there.  We dropped Don’s clothes at the laundry and then walked up to the main drag and caught a bus to Ixtapa.  We got off the bus at the craft market at the near end of Ixtapa and ate lunch in a restaurant mostly frequented by locals.  I had an excellent chile relleno.
Ixtapa Marina

After lunch, we walked the mile or so past all the fancy hotels to the marina.  Don didn’t feel like he had missed anything by not staying there and I had fairly unpleasant memories of having been stuck there, sweltering, for a month in January of 2014.  We were glad to be anchored in Zihuat Bay, even though it got a little claustrophobic when we were stuck on the boat.

From the marina, we walked across the road to check out the gorgeous beach.  The swell was still large and they were flying the black flag which warned swimmers to stay out of the water.  A new hotel was being constructed right next to the walkway to the beach and they were planting mature palm trees using a backhoe to lift them.  The backhoe blocked our path, but it was interesting to watch the process.  When they began lifting a tree, the backhoe rocked onto one track and it looked like the palm was going to win the contest.  It settled back onto both tracks, however, as the tree lifted and swung closer to the body of the backhoe.
Beach at Ixtapa

We tired of Ixtapa pretty rapidly.  Don commented that, if all you ever saw of Mexico was Ixtapa, you’d have no idea that it was any different from Miami or Waikiki.  We grabbed another bus back to Zihuatanejo and stopped at the Bodega Aurrera to replenish our supplies.  We bought more than we wanted to schlep, some took a taxi back to the wharf for a very reasonable 30 pesos (about $1.75.)

Neither of us was hungry, so we passed on dinner and just hung out on the boat until it was time to go back into town for that night’s concert.  That night’s lineup began with The Croweaters, a duo from San Francisco who played a set of mostly rarely heard Beatles tunes interpreted in interesting fashions.  They did, however, play the ever popular in Mexico Eleanor Rigby, which lent itself well to a complex guitar arrangement.
The Croweaters

Next on the bill, was the crowd favorite, Lipbone Redding, who always played a rousing show.  People were dancing in the aisles.  No one at the festival drew a bigger crowd.

Manan Gupta
Last, came Manan Gupta, a rather morose young Indian man who had followed a girl to Mexico and gotten dumped there.  He was very interesting to watch, as he had long, spidery fingers and often played from the opposite side of the neck favored by just about every other guitarist.  He also had a very percussive style, although totally different from Flamenco.  Lipbone was a tough act to follow, however, and I felt a bit sorry for him.
Manan Gupta's Unique Fingering

Returning to the boat by dinghy late at night is always an adventure.  Alfonso was waiting to launch our dinghy and we got away without having to wade beyond our knees.  The air was quite cool after the rain and the water was warmer than the air.  Motoring through an anchorage full of swaying masthead lights is a bit like sailing through a field of stars and can be a mystical experience if you are dry and comfortable, which is not always the case with travel by dinghy.  We were lucky that night, however, and we had a pleasant ride home.

March 11, 2016

I got up earlyish and dived straight into the water for a much needed swim and subsequent shower.  We had not wanted to swim during and just after the rain because the local streams washed debris into the bay when it rained.  After three days without a shower, I definitely didn’t want to be seen in public until I had washed my hair.

We ran the motor for a couple of hours to charge batteries and I charged my computer from the inverter while the motor was running.  I worked on my blog for an hour or so and then made tortilla Espanola (a sort of crustless quiche with potatoes, onions, and peppers) for breakfast.

Don’s leg had been hurting for a few days and he didn’t recall banging it on anything.  Sailors always have unidentified cuts and bruises because boats bite.  However, Don had had cellulitis in September of 2013 and it suddenly occurred to him that his current symptoms were the same.  We hopped in the trusty dinghy and headed for the medical clinic that Don had seen near the wharf.

Clinic Waiting Room  
Doctor Morelos Martinez didn’t speak English, but his staff was friendly and he was very thorough.  With me interpreting, we managed to tell him that Don had been prescribed Keflex the last time.  After asking a lot of questions and examining Don carefully, he gave him a prescription for the same antibiotic.  The doctor visit cost 300 pesos (under $18), less than my co-pay at home.

             Next, we set off the find a pharmacy.  Our first stop was a pharmacy advertising generic drugs.  We got the Cephalaxina (Spanish for generic Keflex) for 65 pesos or about $3.50.  They did not, however, have the Warfarin that Don also needed to refill.  We returned to the pharmacy where we had bought Vick’s Vaporub the previous week, but they didn’t have it either.  Don had heard something about a shortage of blood thinners in Mexico and we were starting to fear we wouldn’t find any.  We tried a third pharmacy a couple of doors down.  A very helpful clerk looked in her computer and determined that they had some in stock, but she must have searched for fifteen minutes before she found some filed under the brand name of Coumadin.  That cost 367 pesos (about $18.)  It was too bad they didn’t have it at the Farmacia Similar (generic pharmacy.)
A Mexican Pharmacy

My Pina Colada

Don at the Arcadia
All that drug shopping had worked up an appetite, so we stopped for gelato on the way back to the beach.  We didn’t have anything better to do, so we had cocktails at the Arcadia, anther of the palapa restaurants near the river.  I ordered a pina colada for a change.  It was large and frosty and, with the weather still cool after the storm, I had to sit in the sun to avoid getting chilled.  We sat there for about an hour and then decided on a whim to try to get into the supposedly sold out Guitarfest dinner show at Kaukan.  We had been skipping the expensive and sold out dinner shows, but that was the last one and we decided we should experience it.  We grabbed a taxi for the ride up the hill to Kaukan, which was on the cliff overlooking Playa Madera.  We got there early and, after only a little pleading, they agreed to sell us tickets.
Kaukan Restaurant

Sunset from Kaukan
            The venue was a restaurant on the roof of a timeshare.  The view was spectacular and, even though there was no shade, the cooler than usual weather made it quite pleasant.  We had drinks and listened to the sound check.  We both took lots of pictures and Don made a video.  We were they only cruisers present.  With show, dinner, and drinks coming to about $40 per person, notoriously cheap cruisers went to the 100 peso concerts at the Casa de Cultural, which were also accessible by dinghy and a short walk.  The other patrons at Kaukan were part time residents and some vacationers.  Everyone else at our table was from Minnesota.

Roberto & Mehida at Kaukan
            The concert that night was Roberto and Mehida, a brother and sister from Michoacan, and Maneli Jamal, a very well traveled young man of Iranian descent, currently living in Canada, although he grew up in Germany and Texas.  His parents had been forced to flee Iran and he was actually born in Belarus because, as his parents sheepishly told him, he was an accident.

            Roberto and Mehida played mostly Mexican songs, which I felt were underrepresented in the festival.  They did play a nice version of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend.  Maneli Jamal was probably the best guitarist in the festival and his original music was very beautiful and full of emotion, but I didn’t buy his CD because, while I really enjoyed listening to him play, I feared his music would just fade into the background without words or catchy tunes to draw me in.  What we most enjoyed was when he exhibited his amazing improvisational ability while jamming with other musicians.  Both Axemonkey and Lipbone Redding joined him on the stage for a tune or two.   It was great watching the women seated next to us watch Lipbone for the first time.  They were astonished at the, “horn section,” that came out of his mouth.
Maneli Jamal & Lipbone Redding at Kaukan

Our neighbors at the table were just in Zihuatanejo on vacation.  They were interested in going to the concert the Casa de Cultural, but didn’t know how to get there.  We offered to share a cab, so we all piled into a taxi after dinner for the short ride across central Zihuat to the show.

The Andrea Perrone Duo
The first act playing that night was the Andrea Perrone Duo, a sort of Brazilian Indigo Girls.  We had heard one of them sing previously and been very impressed, but were pleasantly surprised when the very stoic guitarist joined in with a pleasant alto.  They played a variety of American and South American songs and finished with a spine tingling rendition of Summertime.
Jose Luis Cobo

None of us much liked Nick Vigarino’s music.  Although he was amazingly proficient on the guitar, his style was so aggressive and repetitive that, after listening for long enough to determine that he really did have only the one trick, we all left.  Our new friends caught a cab back to their hotel and we walked back to the beach, glad to be leaving before the crush of departing dinghies after the show.
Nick Vigarino

March 12, 2016

Don needed to go the the port captain’s office before 14:00 to check out, but we were still waiting for Ishmael to return with our propane tank and we wanted to order another ten gallons of diesel.  Ishmael operates a service which delivers fuel, water, propane, and beer right to your boat.  They monitor channel 65 for orders.  Knowing that Saturday port captain’s hours could be unpredictable, we decided that I would stay on the boat while Don went to shore a bit before noon.

Don in His Trusty Dinghy

Shortly after Don left, Ishmael’s boat arrived to pick up the water bottle they had left the day before.  They didn’t bring the propane tank, but I did managed to order the diesel.  I hung out on the boat and caught up on my blog entries, which were rather behind due to a dead battery on my laptop.  I hadn’t wanted to run the inverter to charge it because, having been at anchor for so long, our house batteries were running low.

Don came back a few hours later, having retrieved his clothes from the laundry and the propane tank from Ishmael’s base near the foot of the pier, next to the tourist office.  We did what we could to prepare the boat for sea, as we planned to attend the closing concert of Guitarfest and then leave before dawn so as to arrive in Caleta de Campos before dark.

The closing concert started at 19:00, so we left the boat at 17:30 and ate a leisurely dinner at the café near the Casa de Cultural where we had eaten breakfast on our first day in Zihua.  Zihuatanejo means, “Place of the Goddess women,” in Nahuatl.  Even the locals call it Zihua.  Gringos sometimes call it Zihuat or Z-Town.

Each remaining act played a set at the closing concert.  Shai Sebbag and Mark Glasmire had left earlier.  Lipbone Redding played a set with local guitarist Carlos Uribe, whom he had met in a bar.  Axemonkey played with Manan Gupta and Roberto and Mehida.  Maneli Jamal and even Nick Vigarino shared the stage with others.  The final number was a big jam with nearly every musician there doing Roy Rogers’ You’re So Down Home, which, even though it was originally a slide guitar number, was ironically the only song Nick Vigarino played without a slide.  The concert ran until midnight and we still needed to buy beer.  It was 00:30 by the time we said our farewells to Alfonso, the dinghy minder, and returned to the boat.
Final Guitarfest Jam