Log #63b Manzanillo to Acapulco

November 18, 2018 in Logs by Series, Series 63, The Logs

Log #63b Manzanillo to Acapulco

Acapulco Yacht Club

Nov.23, 2018

Hi Folks,

Attached is my Log #63b Manzanillo to Acapulco with some pictures of merchant ships encountered, a couple of large fish caught, an experience with a large snake, and coming alongside Acapulco Yacht Club with no reverse gear.

This is the first marina in which we have gone alongside since we left Barra de Navidad. We have been anchoring since then. We hope to depart on Saturday Nov. 25 for Huatulco, 240 nautical miles southeast of here. There are very few good anchorages on this coast, so distances between stops are large. Much of this coastline from Manzanillo down is also territory for drug gangs, and landing at isolated places is not recommended.

I don’t know when I will next have access to the internet for E-mail. I doubt if WiFi will be available in Huatulco. After that it will be another 265 nautical miles around the notorious (for bad weather) Gulf of Tehuantepec to Puerto Chiapas, our last port in Mexico.

Enjoy the log.

All the best,

Aubrey

*********************************************************************************************************************************

Log #63b Manzanillo to Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico

Nov. 19, 2018

Manzanillo is quite a seaport as there were a half dozen large tankers, container ships and car ferries at anchor and at least two or three per day entering or leaving port. One night I saw some strange lights on the far shore, and in trying to figure them out, realized it was a gigantic container ship at anchor in the arms of the bay. These are monstrous ships holding thousands of containers. We were to have a close encounter with one at sea as I describe later in this log. The car ferries are ugly ships, like a floating shoe box, but are designed to transport thousands of cars salt free across the oceans.

Notice on these two tankers below, the new (in the last decade or so) method for launching their lifeboats from the stern. The crew are strapped in the sealed life boat which is then launched into the water on its rails to bob to the surface and right itself before the coxswain starts the engine to leave the damaged ship. 

 

 

 

While at anchor in Manzanillo (19° 06.094’N, 104° 20.653’W), we were irritated by many jet skis which circled our boat as a turning mark.

We had alternator problems in that the alternator would not charge the batteries. An old alternator we had on board was not serviceable and so the mechanic arranged for a new one and after some problems had it installed. After he and his mentor left we had supper ashore. A nice shoreside table unfortunately was exposed to the few drops of rain we have experienced since leaving Barrra, and we retreated under a large umbrella to finish our meal overlooking the marina docks.

I re-varnished the hand rails on the cabin top and the lower hatch board, as well as the frames the boards fit into. It was a tricky job as the handrails had to be suspended under the bimini for three days in order to apply three coats of varnish. I would have liked to have applied more, but we wanted to head out. The day before we left an Australian boat, Nutshell, anchored nearby, and we had a good chat with Magnus and Wendy, arranging to take a taxi into town to a large grocery store, Soriana, for supplies. We were surprised as it was not as good as the Walmart we went to a couple of days earlier.

After we delivered them back on their boat, we had a quick supper of store bought barbecued chicken and then prepared for sea, as we wanted to leave by about 2100 (9:00 pm) for our next destination 194 miles SE. We have to calculate the anticipated speed of 5 knots to assess when we can leave to safely arrive in daylight.

As we were getting ready for sea, we started taking off the mainsail cover to raise the sail before we weighed anchor. I was on the port bow taking down the sun shades while Judy was undoing the sail cover on the starboard side, for the first time since we left Barra. She screamed, “Snake!”, and yelled at me not to come around the mast, but to go into the cockpit. When back in the cockpit, I saw a large boa snake, about 1.2 metres (about 4 or 5 feet) long, with a body diameter of about 10 cm (3 inches) coiled on the sail near the mast where Judy had exposed it when taking down the forward part of the sail cover. She had a long boat hook to keep it away while I went down to close the fore and main hatches so it could not slither into the boat. It tangled on the boat hook, but still grasped the main sail. I gave Judy another boat hook that she was able to use to get both ends of the snake off, and heaved it into the water. Whew! It was quite an unsettling experience for Judy, even though she is not usually afraid of snakes. Well done Judy!

It must have boarded us when we were in the lagoon at Barra, as this was the first time we had removed the sail cover since we were alongside at the marina in Barra de Navidad. I am just glad that we were doing this in daylight. To think of exposing it at night as we prepared for sea, or were at sea, is frightening!

We motored out in the dark at 2100 (9:00PM) into light and variable breezes, around a gigantic container ship anchored in the roadstead. It was not until 2243 (10:43 PM) that I was able to unfurl the genoa to get a bit of extra lift, but had to re-furl it by 2345 (11:45 PM), as what breezes there were were dead ahead of us. The rest of the night was uneventful, motorsailing with just the main up. The batteries were charging OK. The stars were out in all their glory.

About 0930 next morning, I had to alter course for a large container ship (MV Capella) that was on a steady bearing (a collision course), and had not responded to my VHF call. I don’t know why these bozos don’t respond, or are not monitoring Channel 16! Poor seamanship in my estimation.

 

 

 

 

We tried flying the genoa a couple of times, but we were too close to the wind, and motorsailed with just the main up the rest of the distance. I put a couple of jerry cans of diesel in to ensure we had enough without dragging up the dregs of the fuel tank, and possibly clogging the filters. At 0740 the second morning we were visited by a pod of dolphins to entertain us.

We were initially heading to Marina Ixtapa, reputed to be one of the largest marinas in Mexico. At 0800 we furled the main and called the marina. Sorry, the marina entrance was closed! We modified our course to cross Bahia San Juan de Dios, outside of the several islands and shoals, to go into Bahia de Zihuatanejo to anchor off the town affectionately known as Zihua or Z-town (17° 38.179’N, 101° 33.354’W). Judy wanted to go bird watching, and so next day arranged a panga trip around the shoreline of Bahia San Juan de Dios and its outlying islands to see a few rookeries and crashing waves on the pinnacled islands. We saw nothing new.

           Frigate Bird rookery

          Pacific surge crashing waves

However we motored into the marina which was about 50% occupied by long term boats, able to enter or exit only at high tide in very calm conditions. The short breakwater comes out directly into the Pacific swells, creating six and seven foot waves at the entrance, and causing severe silting for which a dredge is always in the channel trying to keep up with the sands pounded in by the surf. The marina is very extensive and modern, but the poor planning of the entrance which silted up restricts a more active use of its facilities. Even if it had 8 foot depth, a six foot surge would ground our 4 1/2 foot keel on the bottom in the troughs. Poor planning! Also there is a warning in the pilot book to not to let your dogs loose on the docks as alligators may snap them up.

We did not like the town, as we were not able to tie our dinghy at the town dock, which was used for frequent panga ferries across to the neighbouring beaches, even though there was a long beach in town. However we did not want to go through the hassle of landing our dinghy on a tidal sandy beach, and did not go into town.

The second day, a Saturday, we wanted to leave, and so I dropped Judy off at the town dock to go to the Capitania, only to find it was closed on the weekend. However, checking the weather forecast posted outside of the Navy office, the weather was OK, light and variable winds for our next passage of 110 nautical miles to Acapulco. In hoisting the mainsail, a shackle at the base of the mast fractured and we had to replace it with a jury rigged shackle. It was probably an original shackle which was 40 years old. We said goodbye to an American boat Moor Passages that had just arrived from Costa Rica, with Roy and Christina aboard, and exchanged boat cards before we weighed anchor and left by 1040 for Acapulco.

Again we motor sailed with just the main up, and flew the genoa for a few short periods. About 1600 (4:00 PM) we were favoured with a visit of a pod of dolphins. At 1800 (6:00 PM) just as I was about to haul in the lure I had been trailing the whole day, I got a strike!

 Action stations! It was a large fish which I had a difficult time hauling in hand over hand. Judy cleared the cushions from the cockpit and gave me a set of soft working gloves to haul the line in. It was a large Mahi Mahi, also known as a Dolphin Fish (not a dolphin). To haul it on board, I had to lower the life lines and heave it flopping into the cockpit. It hit Judy on her leg as she hopped up on the starboard settee. It was a beautiful colourful Mahi Mahi, much too large for us to eat, and we had no freezer ability for such a large fish. After taking a picture of it, I released it back. It was about 1.3 metres (4 to 5 feet) long and weighed about 25 pounds, the second largest fish I caught after the sailfish off Fort Lauderdale a few years ago, as shown below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Of course all this had to happen at sunset, so I cleaned the cockpit up in the dark.

During the night I tried to use the genoa for a short period of time, but furled it to keep motoring with the mainsail up. However in the morning I was able to unfurl the genoa and shut the engine off and actually sail for an hour before the speed dropped below four knots, when I turned the engine on again.  At 0800 we furled the genoa and the main to motor through the panoramic Boca Chica passage with its clifftop luxury homes and resorts.  It is on this west side of Acapulco that the dramatic cliff divers of Acapulco do their thing.

As we were motoring through the passage, I noted several fish splashes to port in the choppy waters. On closer inspection, we realized they were swimmers in the water. Not fish! Then we noted ahead and to starboard several other swimmers crossing the channel. We were in the middle of a major cross channel swim by 20 or 30 swimmers going from right to left in front and on both sides of us. I slowed down and had Judy on the bow spotting the swimmers so we would not run over them. They were oblivious to our presence, and I had to manoeuvre carefully to pass ahead or behind them as they crossed my course through the channel. No committee boats or any safety boats around to warn us! I hate to think of what would have happened if we had not noticed them in the choppy waters and thought they were just fish spawning.

Once through the channel we were into the open bay of Acapulco. Murphy’s Law, this was the most wind we had experienced since leaving Barra de Navidad, as we made our way through dozens of boats moored around the West End as we made our way into the Acapulco Yacht Club. After a few tries by phone and VHF, we were finally able to contact the club to identify it had room for us. I manoeuvred towards their fuel dock at dead slow only to find out I could not shift the engine into reverse gear! When Judy jumped ashore (of course there was no one there to help us) I told her to lash the line on a cleat to stop us crashing into the yacht ahead of us, even if it bashed our bow on the dock. There were no cleats on the dock! Fortunately I was going slow enough that she was able to stop Veleda with no damage to us or the boat ahead.

I had seven 20 litre (5 gallon) jerry cans filled with diesel while Judy went to the office to sign us in. We got a reduced rate for our home club membership in the NCYC at $1.00 a foot (US). We then went to a slip across from the fuel dock (16° 50.225′ N, 099° 54.269′ W), still without a reverse gear. Of course there was nobody around to help us in, and to make matters worse, again, there were no cleats on the fixed concrete docks!

Look Ma, no cleats!

More about our time at this luxurious Acapulco Yacht Club in my next log.