The first stretch in Mexico on the way north held small obstacles. It was a swell event at the time. This meant that very long and high waves build up across the Pacific. At sea they don’t bother much, except that their direction doesn’t always match the wind direction, but on land the waves cause heavy surf and thus the small bays only allow rough anchoring. The first stretch of coast was very straight, we anchored one night just off the coast (hardly any wind), another night we sailed through. The task was to cross the bay of Tehuantepec. This is the area where wind effects can occur, bringing up to 50 knots of wind and high waves. I reported on this when describing the Papagayo winds. The phenomenon dies down a bit at this time of year and the winds don’t last as long. We had been waiting for a weather window. A Tehuantepec wind had just passed. However, these winds are often followed by a period of almost complete calm. It might have been better to take advantage of the residual Tehuantepec wind, which was forecast at only up to 16 knots. Because at this time of year, the density of thunderstorms takes over the danger for the sailors. So we often found ourselves fleeing from a squall, trying to avoid thunderstorm fronts. At night, the sky shines brightly, either over land or further out at sea. By now we have developed a routine of turning off the fuses when a thunderstorm gets too close. Mathias then sits at the helm with his fingers in his ears and waits for the lightning to strike.
Due to the low wind activity we were able to cross Tehuantepec Bay and did not have to stay as close to shore as possible. Most of the distance was done against the wind, our satellite track shows that we were often tacking.
Once we came to a small bay where there was already a boat we knew. We just fitted into it. It was a nice little bay, but unfortunately there was no mobile phone reception and Mathias was supposed to have a business call the very next day. So we sailed on. We entered one of the bays with the swell, which had a difference in height of 4-5 metres (according to the depth gauge). The surf was correspondingly raging. We looked for a spot between rocks, hopefully far enough away from the surf. The first time, the anchor didn’t hold. Everything up and try again at another spot – after 1.5 hours we were finally in a position where we felt safe. When it was already dark, the Carry On came into the bay, they had seen us on the AIS. They tried to anchor at the old spot, but gave up quite quickly and preferred to go out again. They spent the night heaved to and drifted through the night.
There was either a lot of wind or not enough, rarely a good middle ground. On the other hand, we were able to observe lots of animals. Turtles are often seen here and dolphins also like to swim a little way alongside the boat, especially swimming just in front of the bow or across the bow. Once I saw a whole field of turtles through which we sailed, another time we disturbed two who were mating. But they are very relaxed about boats. Sometimes we almost ran over the turtles before they decided to maybe dive or swim away a bit.
Flying animals were also our guests. However, we were not very enthusiastic when a swarm of wasps tried to build a nest on our vegetable net. They were first scared off with “Anti Brumm” and then chased away.
There was also some breakage. In 10-15 knots of wind, the traveller of the genoa sheet suddenly tore loose, or rather slipped off the rail at the back because the stopper broke off. We fixed this quite quickly by attaching the traveller trolley to newly fitted eyelets using rope (on both sides). The bimini tent also had a few rips, which had to wait until we arrived in Acapulco.
Once the wind blew from aft and we decided to get out a parasailor again. However, the preparations for pulling the sheets and hoisting the sail without a hitch took so long that the unusual wind had shifted back into the normal direction before the sail was ready for use. Still, it was a good exercise, obviously we were a bit rusty. On this trip we were at sea for 8 days without shopping, but we still had fresh food on the last day, we are gradually learning to store it efficiently.
The next longer stop was in Acapulco. Originally, we didn’t want to stop there at all, but then it didn’t fit any other way because of the miles. The place does not have a good reputation. It is said to be a dangerous place. Especially a small bay on the side should not be approached. So we drove into the main bay in front of a marina where there was supposed to be an anchorage. However, the anchorage was full of mooring buoys and we wondered if there were a number of wrecks on the bottom with all the boats and if it was even possible to anchor here without the anchor snagging on something. One spot looked a bit freer. But we were quickly informed by a man in a panga that this was the entrance route for a ferry. The man introduced himself as Vincente and offered us one of his moorings. Because he also mentioned the connection to the Panama Posse (a loose sailing association of ships travelling between the USA and Panama), we knew we could trust him and the price for the mooring was also OK (300 pesos, about 12 euros a night). So we went to a mooring for the first time with our boat. This turned out to be a good decision, we were able to tie our dinghy to a small buoy at the jetty for shore leave and were also well looked after in other respects. Before we left, a catamaran arrived that could not enter the marina because of an engine problem. They anchored near us, but needed a diver on departure because their anchor had wrapped itself around a cable. Clear recommendation: Use the moorings in Acapulco.
We only wanted to go shopping and continue the next day, but then the Carry On came into the bay and after that two more German boats. In the end, we stayed there for 12 days. It was nice to socialise again and there is always enough to do around the boat. The underwater hull was due again, the bimini had to be repaired, I made a start with the covers for our seat cushions. We even went ashore once without going shopping. 🙂
Our mooring operator, Vincente, tried to get one of our gas bottles filled for us. They are aluminium gas cylinders, which you don’t just exchange, but usually have them filled up. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and he brought it back. The adapter set we brought with us, which was supposed to be usable worldwide, didn’t fit. How many different systems can there be for this? We still have one opened and one full bottle, so we’ll see when we can fill them.
Then there was the matter of the Quebrada cliff divers. An attraction not to be missed. There, a group of young men jump from 30m and from 41m from the cliff into a gorge, into which the surf also comes in. At first I had tried to book a tour that included a visit to the divers. For that, I used the chat help to find out if they could arrange a pick-up from the marina near us. It took me about two hours to explain this and to communicate an address. Despite the effort, I ended up failing with the payment function. By the time the German credit card payment could be confirmed via the app, the booking page kept kicking me out of the process. Admittedly, I’m a slow typist, but I had the pin ready, the app open and you should also be able to use Touch ID. Of course it didn’t work, thumb too wet? I gave up at some point, totally frustrated. It saved us a lot of money. It turned out that Quebrada was very close and could also be reached on foot (info from neighbouring boat). Three of us set off one evening. We went up the mountain by taxi for 50 Pesos (2€). The entrance fee to the show area would have been 50 Pesos. We decided to go to a bar-restaurant for 230 Pesos entrance fee including a drink. There we could sit nicely before the jumpers arrived and there was live music.
For the show, well-trained Mexicans in short swimming trunks walked down the steps to the visitors’ platform. There they climbed onto the rocks and jumped into the surf-bubbling water to swim to the other side. They also wore Corona-appropriate mouth-nose protection, which they wrapped around their wrists before jumping off. On the other side of the small bay, the cliff divers had to climb onto the rocks and up to a platform. Then the real show began. First one climbed onto the rocks and dived down with a somersault and finally a header. That was really exciting. You could imagine how much concentration and courage it takes. Next, two jumped at the same time, one of them standing on a particularly pointed ledge. Finally, one remained on the upper platform. He did not climb down any further, but only onto the rocks in front of the platform at the top. He would dive from up there! He concentrated for quite a while and the tension built up. Then he too dived down in an elegant arc into the small bay and landed in the roaring surf down there. These cliff divers were also really good swimmers. They had to carefully climb back out over the rocks on the visitor platform side.
The restaurant we sat in was one of the structures from the 1930s. In the 1960s, Acapulco was frequented by the Hollywood jet set. In the entrance area of the restaurant there was a signature wall and cardboard figures of Johnny Weissmüller (Tarzan) and Elizabeth Taylor. Brigitte Bardot spent her honeymoon with Gunter Sachs in Acapulco.
According to Wikipedia, the population of Acapulco was 5000 in the 1940s, then rose to 50,000 in the 1960s due to the Hollywood boom. In the 70s and 80s, various hotel buildings were added and today the population is 650,000 in Acapulco and over a million in the region behind the hills. In the area where we stayed, the tourists or people on the beach were almost exclusively dark-skinned Mexicans. That was good, because according to the internet, Acapulco is one of the most dangerous cities in the world (murders per number of inhabitants). But the dangerous spots are not where families go to swim. To be on the safe side, we only went ashore in the light of day and in the early evening and felt safe. In any case, Acapulco was better than its reputation.
Until 2003, the old VW Beetle was still produced in Mexico. You often see it on the roads. They are even used as taxis.
I felt transported back to my childhood. Back then, a (naturally) red VW Beetle was our family car. Towards the end of its life we shipped it to Florida (at that time that was cheaper than a rental car) and went on a round trip. Without air conditioning and with 4 people plus luggage, at that time such a thing was still possible 😉 When we drove up to a hotel, the staff looked sceptical. First, 4 people and a few pieces of luggage came out of the mini-car, then my father opened the front flap and revealed the big suitcase. Now, at the latest, people wondered where the little thing had its engine? At the end of the trip, our Beetle was shipped to the Bahamas. There, my brother and I had our first driving lessons on completely empty roads in a developing construction area. You only had to be careful when driving through a puddle, sometimes there was a shower from underneath because the bottom of the car was already rusted through in some places.
The supermarket in Acapulco had a lot of choice 🙂
While the debate is still going on in Germany, in Mexico there are already warning labels “too many calories, sugar and fats” on certain products. That’s why I only dared to buy one package.
An article about Mathias App has been published on Blauwasser.de:
Greetings from the sea: