Monthly Archives: January 2015

“The time to hesitate is through” (The Doors)

The key to crossing the Tehuantepec, we learned, is to wait for a two to three day weather window, based on low winds in the Gulf of Mexico and the resulting calming of the T-Pecers.  Variations on the crossing strategy, include “one foot on the beach” (hugging the shore) to the “rhumb line” (straight shot across).  Our original plan was to arrive in Huatulco and wait for our crew to arrive from the States in early February and to wait again until a weather window opened.  As we approached Hualtulco, our single side ban weather reports and advance news from our friends on Meridian  (already in Huatulco) suggested a window would open as we arrived in Huatulco.  Although tired from our three nights at sea, we took stock of ourselves, our provisions, and vessel preparations.  We reviewed our safety equipment.  Our conclusion, begin the crossing with Meridian and three other vessels if the weather window opened.  Two days later we arrived at Puerto Chiapas.  Twenty knot winds made for a delightful sail our first night out, but we otherwise motor sailed most of the way with calm seas.  We had an informal radio check with MeridianConfidence, Sea Swift, and Marova every three hours through the night watches.  Arriving an hour before sunset, we savored our crossing.  The physical and psychological barrier lay  behind us and Central America, with its different cultures, climates, and anchorages waits less than 20 miles down the  coast.  As a footnote, a one hundred foot vessel, professionally crewed, had not waited for the window.  The T-pecers tore a winch off its decks, shredded sails and snapped its boom.  A day after our arrival, the window closed.  The crossing remains lit up.

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Our safety gear is all together and ready if needed.

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Google earth shows tracks from a six vessel crossing in 2011.  The bottom most track is the rhumb line strategy.  The top most track is the more conservative one foot on the beach.  Most of the vessels in our group  followed the straightest route across.  We opted for a route that stayed closer to the shore, just in case winds kicked up.

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Calm seas bring broad smiles as we cross.

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The crews of Confidence, Elizabeth Jean, Marova, Sea Swift, and Meridian celebrate the crossing.

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This frame from Saturday January 24’s Passage Weather report shows 30 to 40 knots of wind lighting up the Tehuantepec.

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“Hesitation increases in relation to risk” Ernest Hemingway

Bahia Tehuantepec, a 250 mile crossing between Huatulco and Puerto Chiapas Mexico has been on our mind for almost a year.  Last spring as we moved south from Banderas Bay to Ixtapa, we knew that the next steps south would soon bring us to the Tehuantepec.  What we read and heard from others gave us pause.  Gale force winds, known as Tehuantepecers, or T-pecers.  High seas.  Worsening conditions further from land as the wind waves built over a longer fetch.  Maybe we could return to Banderas Bay for the summer, we thought, enjoy Mexico a bit longer and hit the Tehuantepec early in 2015.  Hurricane season, rain and humidity also entered our calculation.   So, we declared victory on season 1, stored Elizabeth Jean for the summer.  But we continued to think about the Tehuantepec and searched the accounts for keys to a successful crossing.

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The Tehuantepecers howl down from the Gulf of Mexico, across the narrow isthmus (a runner up in the search for a canal route) that separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

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The Sierra Madres funnel the winds from the Gulf through Chivela Pass and blast them into the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

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Winds in the Gulf of Mexico fire up Bahia Tehuantepec.  The winds fan out into the Pacific after crossing the isthmus.

 

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“We’ll beat the birds down to Acapulco way” (Frank Sinatra)

After our daughters returned to their respective lives in the U.S., we switched into travel mode and covered the 190 miles from Manzanillo to Ixtapa which we visited last April in an overnight passage.  Two days later we moved 10 miles down the coast to Zihuatanejo where we anchored for two days and enjoyed this charming seaside town.  Elizabeth Jean metaphorically tugged at her anchor and we heeded her call to move.  After three days and 190 miles, we pulled into beautiful Acapulco Bay.  When local fishermen protested our choice of anchorage (it was their evening set net site) we decided to splurge and spend a night at Acapulco Club de Yates.  Ashore, we visited the cliffs renowned for their cliff divers.

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The coast road from Manzanillo to Acapulco.  Zihuatanejo is a little less than half way between Manzanillo and Acapulco.

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Zihuatanejo’s town square, adorned with bronze figures, overlooks the anchorage.  The town’s proximity to the anchorage makes Zihua very cruiser friendly.

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Eulalie admires the holiday sand castles.

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Sundays brings local crafts, foods and entertainment to the square.

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Enroute from Zihuatnajeno to Acapulco we spent the night anchored off this shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the village of Papanoa.

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This Olympic Flame memorializes the 1968 Olympic Games sailing, hosted by the Club de Yates.

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The Club hosted our pool side rejuvenation.

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VW bugs dominate the Acapulco cab fleet.

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Eulalie looks out at the Acapulco cliffs.  Divers pray at the blue shrine before launching.

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Time lapse photography captures a graceful dive.

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The Miramar Hotel provides prime seating to view the diving.  Carved walls record famous visitors to Acapulco’s signature event.

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Frank Sinatra apparently made good on his pledge to come to Acapulco.  Whether he beat the birds, we do not know.

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12th Man South of the Border

Our home town team, the Seattle Seahawks, has enjoyed remarkable success since we left Seattle.  Coincidence? Well let’s hope so, or our friends will probably not let us return.  We arrived in Cabo San Lucas last year during the playoffs which were broadcast from dockside sports bars.  In La Paz we shared the Superbowl romp with Seattle cruising friends.    We caught much of this season’s end while in Barra de Navidad.  Zorro’s in Zihuatanejo provided cheap drinks and a screen for the first play off game.  At sea during the game against the Packers, an osprey sang out to us upon our arrival at Bahia San Agustin providing a tantalizing sign that our team would be back for the Superbowl.  While we didn’t travel so far just to watch football on Sundays, we have enjoyed the connection that game time has provided to fellow Northwest cruisers, U.S. culture, and our hometown.  Go Hawks!!

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We happened upon this sign of the 12th Man while walking in Tronconnes last April.

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Game day margaritas at Ramon’s, Barra de Navidad.

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Apropo, home port Seattle, flies her 12th Man flag off Zihuatanejo.

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Taima, the Seahawks’ seahawk.

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“I love the java jive” (Manhattan Transfer)

As recounted in our daughters’ post, our exploration of Colima included a tour of two coffee farms.  We learned that volcanic soil, high elevations, and organic growing practices resulted in exceptionally high quality beans.  We also experienced coffee prepared the old fashioned way, roasted over an open fire.  For Seattle coffee aficionados (some might call us snobs), enjoying cappuccinos while viewing the volcano’s changing moods was a treat.

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The beans.

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The roaster.

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The grinder.

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The coffee bar.

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The view.

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Senor Iguana: a haiku for Beth and Jean

When Beth and Jean were younger we traveled to Costa Rica.  Hummingbirds abounded and in one park there were so many that Eric began speaking for them, interpreting the dazzling birds’ bids for our intention.  Older now, but not so wise that they have stopped believing that animals can talk under the proper circumstances, Beth and Jean asked Eric to again speak for an animal that frequently crossed our paths.  The following haiku honors our fanciful guest.

Senor Iguana.

Guapo, inteligente,

Y muy modesto.

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“Kids say the darnedest things” (Art Linkletter): Guest blog from Jean and Beth Laschever

Our daughters Elizabeth and Jean provided the materials for this guest blog.  Text is by Jean; photos are by Beth

We arrived on the afternoon flight into the Manzanillo airport on Sunday December 21.  Mommy, Daddy, and their driver Arturo greeted us at the airport.  After a 45 minute drive to the Grand Bay Hotel near Barra de Navidad, we dropped our bags in an incredibly luxurious hotel suite (the result of an upgrade).   Continuing directly on to Ramon’s for margaritas, guacamole, quesadillas, we watched the Seahawks’ commanding  35-6 victory over the Cardinals. GO HAWKS!

Over the next few days, we enjoyed shopping and street tacos in Barra de Navidad, bike rides to the Grand Bay’s playa, kayaking around the Laguna de Barra de Navidad, and pool-side lounging at the hotel. On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a fancy Italian dinner at Mar y Ter, complete with Christmas lights and live music. On Christmas morning, creatively wrapped presents from “Santa” awaited us and we then headed to a potluck for all the cruisers in the area. It was nice to see that our parents had found their “people.”

On the 26th    we bused to the inland hilly region of Colima for pre-Colonial ruins, active volcanoes, and coffee plantations.  Our second afternoon, we ventured to the base of the Volcan del Fuego, guided by local expert Jupiter.   Jupiter’s exciting stories of close encounters with this very active volcano entertained us while we shot dramatic pictures of the volcano blanketed in evening lenticular clouds. Our 11am departure from Colima landed us back at Ramon’s for the last Seahawks game of the regular season, an exciting 20-6 victory.

On Tuesday the 30th we helped our parents bid farewell to this month-long marina home and continue their journey south. We spent a peaceful evening and morning on the anchor in Ensenada Carrizal, enjoying a morning snorkel among thousands of beautiful tropical fish.

A short afternoon passage took us to Bahia Santiago. We enjoyed a fresh fish dinner aboard Elizabeth Jean. the previous post from our illustrious father that will recount the humorous tail of how we “caught” this tasty Dorado.) We toasted the beginning of 2015 as hundreds of  floating paper lanterns filled the sky and fireworks sprouted all around the bay.

We concluded our visit with pool-side lounging at the Las Hadas resort and a fancy seafood dinner at Bistro Marina. We especially enjoyed the flambéed fruit with ice cream that was prepared table-side and the 2 for 1 happy-hour mango margaritas. We wish our parents the best of luck on the next leg of their journey and eagerly look forward to future holidays at sea.

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The first of many rounds of margaritas.

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Kayaking in the Barra de Navidad lagoon.

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Beth during spinnaker run from Barra de Navidad to Ensenada Carrizal.

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Elizabeth Jean at anchor in Ensenada Carrizal; photo taken from dinghy Schooner on the way back from snorkeling.

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“Eat dessert first,” Ernestine Ulmer

On New Year’s Eve we not only resolved to eat dessert first, we did so.  We arrived at Santiago Bay in late afternoon.  By the time we had anchored, sun was setting.  We had no clue where the New Year’s parties were, but took a chance and dinghied towards some palapa restaurants in a far corner off the beach that were lit.  Wrong move.  The lights were only to shut things down.  A taxi  lingered outside, but was full.  Our Spanish did not yield a clear answer as to if and when anymore taxis would be coming.  We walked towards town, twenty minutes ahead on a dark dirt road.  Daughter Jean suggested a “kill time” by which we would turn back if more promising prospects did not emerge.  Kill time came and we turned back.  It was beginning to seem as if the Grinch had come late to steal our New Year’s Eve celebration.  As we approached the palapas (still lit for shut down), Jean suggested we ask to see if they would sell us some raw fish.  Good idea.  “No,” came the quick reply.  We walked on.  Jean, known for her persistence, suggested we seek a second opinion.  “Si,” was the answer on our second attempt.  Our benefactor led me across the dusty street to his out building and opened an ice chest big enough to stuff, well at least 4 forty pound dorado (mahi-mahi) and several lobsters as big as my fore arm.  We opted for dorado.  An ice cream freezer chest strategically flanked the area where I was paying for the fish and we couldn’t resist.  No way these puppies would survive the dinghy drive back to Elizabeth Jean.  Without hesitation we implemented the time tested recipe for managing life’s uncertainties and ate our dessert first.  We steamed the dorado with mushrooms and artichoke hearts.  Not the New Year’s Eve we had expected, but one we won’t forget.

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