We stayed longer than planned in the Banderas Bay. Besides the Fradolin, the Limelight was also there, they had problems with their engine and had therefore postponed their departure for French Polynesia. Mathias met Swiss people who already knew him through the Anchorchaincalculator app. Time passed with a few repairs, there is always something. Twice I went with Doro to the nice Sunday market, where you can buy great bread: comes from Chile, is like German wholemeal bread – many Germans emigrated to Chile.
Here is a list of our works:
The rear attachment of the batten on the mainsail bag had come loose again. The batten gradually wiggled out the back again. This time we strengthened the bag even more and Mathias got a sunburn when he hung on the back of the boom for 2 hours and fixed the pocket to the bag with the awl.
After Maika had brought the new drill for Mathias, his fingers itched. He absolutely had to drill the boat 😉 He did this sensibly by moving the pulley at the winches to a different point. The new position is of course much better than the old one. 🙂
Mathias also had to go up to the top of the mast, the anemometer was stiff. Maybe it had been measuring inaccurately for a while.
The film about the whales was edited.
The instrument panel on the navigation table has been worked on. It now has beautiful ventilation grilles on both sides.
The sewing machine was also used. We used a gym bag as a cover for the electric motor, the ribbons always got tangled up, that was annoying, so a sewing project was started. It took me a whole day, but now we have a nice red cover against UV radiation for the motor-battery and the control unit. It can be folded halfway back so it can be used while driving. I was quite pleased with myself at the end of the day, even if my sewing work lacks a bit of polish, the cover has turned out practical.
Once in the swing of things and the sewing machine out, we also taped and sewed the small tear in our spinnaker and got the parasailor out of the bag. We almost didn’t find the sail tape I had brought from Hamburg because we had lost the original one. I was sure I had put the tape rolls away with the sewing things. But there I couldn’t find them. The boat is not thaaaat big… Then I remembered that I had accumulated a pile of hand sewing elsewhere (not one of my favourite chores). There I found the sail tape and the repair of the parasailor made good progress. What’s missing now is the replacement of some of the strings on the wing. This is a fiddly job, the biggest challenge being where and how to spread the sail. Maybe we’ll have to wait for a meadow in a windless marina for that.
In the marina in La Cruz we saw the racing yacht “Badpac” again. She had caused us so much trouble near San Diego because her AIS and lights were not working properly. Mathias spoke to someone on board, but didn’t get the right person. The one he spoke to felt “offended” and said that everything was fine on board, but wanted to pass the comment on to the owner. How he could be sure that his AIS signal was seen by others, he did not tell us. The boat had participated in the second race of the San Diego Yacht Club season. This race goes from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta. For several days, the racing yachts with their black sails could be seen sailing across the bay in the afternoon in the good wind. The Badpac was taken out of the water, the mast was laid and then a road transport came and picked her up. Obviously the boat is only used for racing and not sailed back. Generally, yachts that participate in a race sometimes sail according to their own rules. For example, one evening we heard a radio conversation on channel 16 in which a racing yacht radioed a container ship and asked it to change course because the yacht was in a race. We had no way of knowing what the rules of the road were in this situation, but normally you talk differently to the captain of a container ship. After all, they can’t just change their course abruptly.
As luck would have it, our departure day was on the same day as the Limelight. The Limelight had gathered some crews for the last evening to say goodbye. We met in a German restaurant (Black Forest) that has been run by a German couple for over 20 years. Now they want to sell and retire. It was a nice evening, but it took a bit of getting used to the fact that in the middle of Mexico most of the people at the table spoke German 🙂
Our first destination was Zihuatanejo. Although we are now travelling in the “right” direction along this coast, it is still not a sailor’s paradise. There was hardly any wind for long stretches and “drifting” was the order of the day. The lowlight was an etmal (distance covered in 24 hours) of only 53 nautical miles. Good etmals start at 120-140 nautical miles. Only shortly before the bay did the wind gods favour us and we were able to make reasonable speed at 6-8 knots.
In Zihuatanejo we stayed for three nights. One day we strolled through the town, bought fresh fruit, went out to eat and visited the weaving shop again that we had discovered during our last stay, and of course stopped at a marine supply shop and also at a shop that sold household cleaning products and the like. The second day became a boat day: programming, NXP work, laundry, baking, so nothing exciting.
There is also a seasonal algae problem here. The foam does not come from our washing machine.
From Zihuantanejo we continued under the usual wind conditions from “nüscht”(nothing) to “n’büschen”( a little bit). A Spanish racing yacht came out of a bay under motor and sailed in front of us. The single-handed sailor then set his beautiful blue spinnaker. We couldn’t let ourselves down. We got our red one out and are now so practised that it doesn’t take too long to get it up. But the racing yacht still went about 1.5 knots faster than we did. Let’s face it – we are just a fully loaded touring boat. But the speed of just over 5 knots, which we were now making, is something to be happy about in this area, as there is seldom a reasonable wind blowing here. We wanted to anchor at a point where we had already been 10 months ago on the way up, but during dinner we realised that it was quite rolly and that this time we would be better off on the other side of the peninsula (near Puerto Vincente Guerrero), so we moved again. Here we lay in a bay where there was no algae plague, the water was nice and clear and not so cold any more. A perfect opportunity to take care of the hulls again and especially our sacrificial anode on the propeller. On the last dive, there were only remnants of the anode around the fastening screws. When Mathias sent me down to clean the spots, I could only see the screws. So it was high time. We know from bitter experience that next in the corrosion chain are the screws that hold the propeller blades in place.
The journey on to Acapulco got off to a brisk start, with a rare 20 knots of wind. Overnight, of course, little to nothing again. We arrived in Acapulco at noon on Easter Sunday. Over Easter it is “Semana Santa” here, many people are on holiday. So there was no one there to help us moor to a buoy. There were enough buoys free, we chose one with space all around and a small side buoy pulled through the eyes of the mooring ropes. The mooring ropes hang under the buoy and are therefore difficult to fish up with the boat hook. You have to be able to get close enough with your boat hook. This time we tried the reverse approach method. That worked fine. From the helm, the buoy can be seen all the time and from the rear platform of the side hull, the boat hook is almost level with the water surface. You need a mooring line that is at least twice the length of the boat. It is attached to the cleat at the front, led backwards, pulled through the buoy ropes, led forward again and then the boat can be turned and the line brought to length.
In Acapulco at the buoy we spent two nights. The day in between we took the dinghy to the marina. It costs 300 pesos (about 15$) for one night at the buoy and also 300 pesos if you want to park the dinghy in the marina for a day. Since the supermarket is right opposite the marina, this expense was worth it. So we did the obligatory shopping, and because of the short distances we could also stock up on drinks. In the afternoon, we went ashore again.
After Acapulco, we made another anchor stop in Huatulco Bay before crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec. On the way to Huatulco, we approached a huge area of weather lights at night during my watch. It was very far away and we were moving slowly, so no need to wake up Mathias. Stupidly, it didn’t occur to me to turn on the radar to monitor the rain fronts. The front hit us by surprise after all. Mathias woke up to the rain hammering into his cabin skylight. The wind rose quickly and we hurried to take in the genoa and reef the mainsail. For this, the preventer had to be taken off, which meant I could save myself showering that day. Maybe we couldn’t have avoided the front anyway, but we could have planned the encounter better. Now I’m going to remember the benefits of radar surveillance for a while. This thunderstorm is the harbinger of the thunderstorm season, which lasts from May to October. Last year in Costa Rica we had a small or large thunderstorm almost every day in some areas and it’s no better in Panama.
The Gulf of Tehuantepec is the place where strong winds from the Atlantic are bundled and spill over into the Pacific. There can be gusts of up to 50 knots and the waves are correspondingly unpleasant. Smaller yachts should stay as close to shore as possible. You don’t want to be caught in weather like this. So you look for a weather window when it’s not blowing. The other side of the coin is that it can be dead calm in terms of wind, so it’s more like “nüscht” than “n’büschen”. We have never sailed so much and for so long at a stretch under motor. But drifting was not an option, as the next strong wind was announced, so we should make it to Chiapas in two days if possible.
Only shortly before Chiapas was there a bit of wind, so we quickly took out the spinnaker to be able to say that we had sailed the Tehuantepec with a spinnaker 😉 The pleasure lasted 2 hours, then the wind direction didn’t fit anymore.
After that, there was some good sailing wind (about 13 knots). The destination, the Marina Chiapas, is quite sheltered in a side arm of a side channel of the port of Chiapas. Here you can clear in or out of Mexico. We arrived in the afternoon and after docking, the port police and a military detachment came to check and record the data. It looks more dangerous than it is. The people are very nice. The next day we reported to the marina office, arranged to start the check out process on the following day and booked a taxi for the afternoon. Chiapas is not really a town, the port is remote. The nearest town is Tapachula. There are Collectivo buses, but not directly to the supermarket. The taxi ride from the marina costs 300 pesos, so it’s affordable. Of course, we ran out of fresh fruit and ice cream. Also, it was time to spend the last pesos (we don’t know yet if we’ll stop at the Atlantic side of Mexico again), so a shopping trip is always a good idea 😉
In the Marina Chiapas we met a two-man crew who had just returned from their circumnavigation. They had landed here again after a year via French Polynesia, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Panama Canal. Together with them and the three-man crew of the “Mare Presto” we spent an evening by the pool. It was nice, but alone with 6 men – I miss Doro from the Fradolin. 😉
We were in Mexico for almost a year. Before Covid it wasn’t even on our plan, but who hasn’t changed or adjusted their plans lately. The Fradolin was still on land during our trip from Banderas Bay to Chiapas and they were slaving away on the boat, but now they too are back in the water and want to continue on to French Polynesia.
We look forward to visiting Costa Rica again and perhaps meeting the Carry On.