46′ Sailing Cat, Mexico #132

Last month we had just survived an exciting Tehuanepec crossing on a brand new Leopard 46′ catamaran. With me was my right hand, Oc and our trusty third, ‘the commodore’.
We were headed for Acapulco to fuel. Running one motor as usual, we lowered rpms to get in after sunrise. The boat had an experimental square top mainsail. The square top trailed off the wind and luffed when reefed. Best not to put experimental gear on a cruising boat. The boat had stack pack style mainsail reefing, a joy to use.
As the CO2 content of the oceans shoots up, things like shellfish, corals and the base of the food chain are at risk. On the bright side, jellyfish love it. And which animal eats jellies? Turtles. We saw tons of turtles, aka Guatemalan speed bumps. We could avoid them during the day but at night they had to fend for themselves … thump. It was good to have them around.
I do enjoy the pre-dawn watch. We had a full golden moon setting on the port bow, my Pleiades overhead and the Southern Cross aft to port. There were no stars on the starboard bow, just the high darkness of land. There was a nice warm breeze running through the exposed cockpit.
As it was, we arrived while it was still dark. We rounded the corner and were treated to the ‘bowl of diamonds’ city-lights view (per Rains). I got the boys up to enjoy the spectacle and the arrival. We took a mooring off of the Club de Yates Acapulco. We had made the rough crossing with fuel to spare and minimal wear and tear. I went below for a cat nap while the boys stayed up on deck and chased down some coldies with good sea stories.
First thing in the morning we cruised into the fuel dock at the Yacht Club. As the boys topped her up I went in and asked about a slip and about checking into Mex. The office started the paperwork for us. Turns out we had the wrong zarpe. The zarpe I had was for a big power boat. That’s right, the drunk American dudes on the motoryacht (see last month) distracted our young agent with their pawing and she gave us the wrong zarpe. I should have checked. The good thing about using an agent is that the right zarpe got faxed over with a phone call.
I sent the guys to the bar and spent the rest of the day washing the boat and checking fluids, etc. We all met up at the pool later. I shot off an email to the next skipper before enjoying the sprawling pool. The challenging part of the delivery was over and I had to get back to the Caribbean to finish up a different boat. We walked over the hill for an awesome dinner on the beach, gourmet tacos, natural pina coladas and ‘cheers to us’ for our impressive sailing prowess ;).
The owner’s skipper got back to me in the morning with bad news. He was sick and could not come down. He didn’t seem right for the job anyway. I shot off some emails and got some responses. Two responded with “I’ll need to check the schedule.” Ya, I thought, you go do that. There are lots of part time delivery skippers. Full time skippers say, “Yep, where do you want me”. Lee Pearce of learntosailsandiego.com is one of those guys. Two hours after the search began, Lee had a plane ticket.
Modern phones make these kinds of fast foreign arrangements easy. Mine is a Droid but I hear the others work well too. I keep it in airplane mode so there are no accidental cell calls. I can do email, internet, phone calls etc, through wifi. In civilized, wifi is everywhere and almost always free. Oddly, Skype renders itself useless by mandating a cell data connection. No worries, Fring offers the same web phone service for pennies a minute. And then there are the awesome and cheap, Navionics charts that run with the phone gps giving you a chart plotter too. Tides, celestial … the list of things this freak device offers is nearly endless. And then there’s Google Voice that will transcribe your voicemails into text and email them to you.
I enjoy these beautiful stops and the crew deserves a good restaurante now and then (and I get paid by the day) but we were there to make miles, so at 1400 we pulled away from the dock. Even when cruising I don’t tend to linger in one place too long. I say leave a place while you still like it. Leaving Acapulco during the day gets you some beautiful scenery. Fun vacation homes crown the steep rocky shoreline. We stayed inside Isla Roqueta to enjoy the tourist beaches and maybe catch a glimpse of the famous Acapulco cliff diving.
It was an overnighter to Ixtapa. A quick tip on diesels. I had heard this from mechanics and the new Yanmars manual confirmed it: Operate your diesel at no less than 60% of horsepower. 70-80% are preferred. For these engines, 60% is max achievable revs under load minus 500 rpm. 70% is m.a.r.u.l. minus 400 rpm. If you have to run the engines light for a while, run them at marul minus 100 for a bit. Diesels love to be loaded and can experience glazing if run to lightly.
We rolled into the little entrance early in the morning. Oc, always impressing me, had his lines ready to go and, even more surprising, done the way I like them. Elsa and Erica run Marina Ixtapa and were professional, knowledgeable and helpful. Cost there is $1 a foot. A 50 cent bus will take you downtown, over to Zihuat, or anywhere else in the area.
We headed into town and made final arrangements for the skipper switch. Oc’s family had a beautiful condo in the hills, overlooking a sparkling, golf course-side pool. After the work was done we headed up there for dip and some homemade guacamole and salsa. Got the boat laundry done too. Oc’s expat neighbors, Scott and beautiful Georgia, own strip clubs in Canadia. They were great fun to hang out with. They had Harley’s and a boat in the harbor which they took out almost daily, and great stories.
The guys stayed at Oc’s while I enjoyed my last night spread out on the boat. At sunup, I washed down the boat, changed the oil and filters x2 and checked fluids. Around lunch I went over the boat again with the guys. Then I skipped town, headed to my next delivery, a Tayana 48′ on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. —
I’m not much for causes, but if you’ve seen what I’ve seen out there … . You all have been good about my including environment references in my pieces. I haven’t been getting the pro-pollution emails (kinda miss ’em). I think the corporate emailers have given up on me. I do get questions about what more we can do. As you know, cruising is about the cleanest way you can live your life. This month’s tip: mind your $s. Spend less with companies that don’t represent your interests. When convenient; shop local, recycled or more natural products. See you next month in el Carib. Quality, Balance and a Clean Wake.

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