Zihuatanejo is situated in a medium-sized bay. There were a lot of small boats anchored and 2 sailing boats. Across the bay, water taxis drove at short intervals to take people to a beach area. We had heard from another boat that you could take these water taxis to get ashore. It took a while for one to take notice of us, but this way we didn’t have to look for a place for the dinghy and you actually got ashore very comfortably for a small fee.
The town has many small shops. The harbour area looked like it was designed for cruiseship tourism. In fact, cruise ships used to come here, we just wondered where the ships would dock, or if people would be brought by the many small boats from anchored ships. At least there are no tourists in this part of town at the moment. On foot, it is easy to get to the central shopping area with more small shops and market stalls teeming with people, though more locals than tourists. The good thing about the town is that apart from the countless clothes shops, there are also many vegetable shops and some well-stocked tool shops or chandleries. As you can imagine, we always have something that needs fixing and anyway, Mathias becomes a shopping queen (or -king) in a tool shop. We got replacements for an awl that had gone overboard and a set of mini screwdrivers so I could have another go at repairing my still misbehaving Polaroid printer. By chance we discovered that a carpet shop was actually a weaving mill. They also made cushions and blankets, table runners and bags, all hand-woven by the 4th generation of weavers in the family. We liked this bay and stayed a day longer.
But one should gradually leave the area here towards the north to avoid the hurricanes. The trip along the coast once again offered everything from no wind to beating against fair wind. We passed two larger harbours. One even had a traffic separation scheme at its entrance. You always have to be careful when crossing one. The big ships are always moving very fast and even when we have the right of way, they are still stronger than us and should they not see us, we could easily get run over. We split the route into smaller sections again. It is simply more relaxing to be at anchor at night, even if it sometimes is rolly. Again, many dolphins accompanied us. They are clearly more intelligent than humans, they come swimming up, have fun with the boat and it doesn’t cost them a cent 😉
The next longer stay was Marina Puerto de la Navidad. We were very close to the marina when a tropical depression developed that threatened to become a storm. There were a few days of strong winds from the front in the run-up. We had the choice of sailing on to Vallarta, or sailing just a short distance and waiting out the headwind in Puerto de la Navidad. Since that was supposed to be a nice place, we decided to go there. Carry On had been told by phone that the marina was full, but the guidebook said to just sail in. That’s what we tried. The marina is in a lagoon and then a bit hidden around the corner. You have to stay in the entrance channel, otherwise it gets too shallow. We first moored at an outer jetty where it was easy for two to moor without help from shore. It turned out that the marina still had plenty of spaces as it is low season. We later relocated to a wide berth. The Carry On had also left Acapulco in the meantime and wanted to get as far north as possible, looking for a good place to hide from the forecast storm. They were in contact with us and sailed through several nights. They arrived at our place around 11 p.m. and we received them at the outer jetty. After that, they had us over until 2am before they could finally get some rest. The next day, the Carry On was also able to move to a safer spot in the marina.
In the meantime, the depression had evolved and become a tropical storm. This storm was now named “Dolores”. Storms with names should be taken seriously, they can sometimes become hurricanes. The insurance companies have a clause that damages from storms with a name are only insured if certain safety precautions are taken. So we watched the forecasts. At first we wanted to continue to Vallarta before the storm came ashore, but then the forecast of Dolores’ track was so unfavourable that we preferred to stay in the marina. We secured the SAN with 14 dock lines and tied extra ropes around the sail and tied down everything that could rattle. The storm was supposed to sweep pretty much right over us with winds of up to 60 knots. Fortunately it turned out differently and on the last day Dolores changed direction again. Hardly any wind arrived at our place, but a lot of rain. However, it was more like steady rain than a downpour. We were not angry about that, of course.
The Puerto de la Navidad Marina is attached to a resort hotel. You can use the pool and also go to the restaurants. It is a pretty complex with hardly any guests at this time of year plus Corona. That was good for me, I could swim my laps in the pool in peace without having to swim over people all the time. Most of the “swimmers” were only standing at the bar (accessible from the water) anyway, and only a few children were moving around. In the rain, I even had the pool to myself 🙂
The town at the other end of the bay was also easily reached by water taxi. Barra de Navidad is a small town with shops and restaurants, so we could always get fresh fruit and vegetables. If we ever want to leave our boat alone for a while, this marina would be a good place to do so. There were some American boats that were moored in the marina for a longer period of time to wait out the hurricane season. We somehow couldn’t pick up the local radio network. Until someone pointed out to us that it was on American channel 22. This is a simplex channel, transmitting and receiving on the same frequency. International channel 22 is a duplex channel, it transmits on that frequency, but the equipment uses a different frequency to receive. That’s why we couldn’t hear the replies. However, we have a handheld radio that can be switched to the American system. With this device, we were able to listen to the marina radio and finally understand the answers of the water taxis, at least acoustically. Nevertheless, the content was not always clear to us, as the answers were given in South American Spanish 😉
We tried the marina restaurant one evening. We weren’t quite sure if we were dress-code-correct because of our shorts. The waiters were wearing very neat uniforms with pastel-coloured flowered waistcoats. Then a Mexican family came into the restaurant after us and we didn’t feel out of place anymore: he was wearing swimming trunks, flip flops and a vest (or is that called a muscle shirt, even if it doesn’t show any muscles?). So people seem to be more relaxed in Mexico than in Panama. The Maritim in Travemünde can take a leaf out of their book. They didn’t let Mathias in at a conference once because he was wearing shorts. Although his shorts almost reach his knees and Mathias’ cycling legs are well worth seeing (he once got a compliment for them in a pub in Glasgow;)).
When Mathias presents the official papers here, he is often smiled at. “Dr Wagner” is the stage name of a famous Mexican wrestler. He had his prime time in 1961, but his son continued to wrestle as “Dr. Wagner Jr.” and a grandson as “El hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr.”. So a whole wrestling dynasty is called “Dr. Wagner” here.
You can tell we’ve made friends with Mexico. Let’s see what it’s like in the Sea of Cortez, where the climate is supposed to be less tropical. So maybe a few cooler days are in the offing? Although we shouldn’t complain about that either, during the rainy days in Puerto de la Navidad we had to put on a T-shirt….
Next time I’ll tell you where we were when storm “Enrique” hit the Mexican coast.