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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Whales and Dolphins and Gunk

Here's some video footage shot during our various legs from Zihautanejo to Manzanillo where we stopped in the commercial port of Lazaro Cardenas (fantastic anchorage by the way) and Caleta de Campos.

Our new camera has been really nice for getting closeup photos, but shooting video on a boat is proving to be really really hard. I think the dolphin footage came out ok (it was pretty calm) and the whales were good because they were so close, but the sea was starting to build up and it was tough keeping the image stable.

Anyway here it is for you to enjoy without all the sleepless passages and crappy headwinds.

{GMST}19|06.078|N|104|20.621|W|Nice Anchorage|Las Hadas{GEND}

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Lefts for Me

The swell was up. We left our super calm yet pungent anchorage in Lazaro Cardenas for surf! Caleta de Campos is supposed to have a nice left break that peels. Since it was only about 35 miles away it seemed like a good roadstead anchorage to try for a couple of nights.

Our trip up was very calm, unusually calm. In fact I even wrote a java program while on the way up here. How geeky is THAT?

We did get to see turtles, dolphins and a strange sludge/slime barrier that we drove happily through. I'll post a video of the adventure when we get internet access again.

Stoked to see a ripping peeling left wave as we worked our way into the bight all I could see were close-outs. That bites.

So we are out of here in the morning. It is a beautiful little spot with a cool beach, but the surf is closing out everywhere. If we wanted to get to shore we'd have to swim it. I know this was a hot "secret" spot for waves, but it isn't working for this swell direction now. Bummer.

{GMST}18|04.375|N|102|44.97|W|Rolly|Caleta de Campos{GEND}

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lazaro Cardenas and the Whale Backstroke

In a typical fit of indecisiveness we changed our plans. We stopped at Isla Grande just outside of Zihuatanejo to clean the bottom of the boat. The idea was to depart again in the evening. However the wind was a headwind and we both felt like resting instead. So we settled in and had a beer. Not more than 5 minutes later the wind shifted favorably offshore and stayed there all night. Figures. We didn't feel like changing our plans again and going.

So we got up early in the morning and the offshore breeze was still blowing. We set sail and sailed along at 3 to 4 knots until it died at around 9am. Instead of doing the long passage, we decided to go somewhere new and unusual -- a commercial port.

Lazaro Cardenas pumps tons of products in and out of Mexico, including lots of oil. There is an old abandoned basin just inside the entrance surrounded by mangroves and out of the ocean swell.

We mananged to squeeze in between a procession of ships and anchor for the night. It's very calm an quiet with a nice odor of oil, yum.

We did see a large pod of spinner dolphins and got some video (no spins caught on film) and also there was a giant mama humpback and her baby doing tricks: breaking, fin slaps, spy hops and sounding. At one point it looked the momma whale was doing the back stroke with both fins rotating around and around! The calf of course kept trying to imitate her...sadly not much of that duo was captured on video either.

{GMST}17|55.875|N|102|09.814|W|Breathe that freshly oiled air|Lazaro Cardenas{GEND}

Monday, December 06, 2010

In Zihuatanejo guided by spinner dolphins

We finally had a nice calm night passage. It took us about 26 hours to get from Acapulco's Bahia Marques to Zihuatanejo ("zee-WAT-en-ay-ho"). Before we left we took some photos from around the town and then on our passage I tried to take some video of some of the things we typically see.

Fish balls are a common occurrence in healthy marine zones. The water froths, fish leap and birds swoop. Often you'll spot a large predator in the water which usually is the cause for all the turmoil. There was a large fish ball off our starboard side so I got a short shot of it.

Also I got really lucky and caught two spinner dolphins leaping out of the water and spinning. The film is really jerky due to the boat's motion, but I put the clip at 1/3 speed and you can clearly see them leaping and spinning. A rare sight for land lubbers.

So now we are in Zihuatanejo! There are only 8 other boats here and 3 of them are leaving today. In the glory days of the '90s there would be almost 100 boats here for Christmas as this was the place to be. The town has great food and lots of artists and we look forward to going ashore and seeing how things have changed in the past 3 years.

{GMST}17|38.157|N|101|33.228|W|Great sopes, yum.|Zihuatanejo Again{GEND}

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The diamond town surprise

Yesterday we had to rebuild our raw water pump because it had been leaking and I also noticed our fuel filter was allowing air to leak into the fuel supply. Luckily our fuel system is self bleeding or the air would have caused our engine to die -- probably at the worst possible time.

Lucky me, I had spares for everything that was broken (including a new racor bowl and drain plug). As I was tearing things apart I found both engine drive belts needed to be replaced too! Well I have a few belts too fortunately.

To prove the cliche "Cruising is doing boat maintenance in exotic places" wrong we decided to see what was here in Puerto Marques and the nearby Acapulco suburb, Diamante (Diamond). The beach here is nice with lots of friendly people and latino hipsters (even though we are outside of Acapulco by a few miles this place still has an urban flavor). We walked about 1.5 miles to the diamond town (a heavily yuppified area) and had a pleasant shock. They had built a new Walmart, Office Depot, Sam's Club, Costco, Mega Super and a mall with a multiplex cinema. We've been wanting to see the latest Harry Potter film but it wasn't playing in English in Huatulco. Low and behold, this cinema had 1 theater playing it in English at an 11:30am matinee! Holy crap!

For those of you surrounded by 10 million consumer options, you're probably wondering what the big deal is - but for us it was an amazing treat. While we impatiently waited for 11:30 am, we scored some delicious SOPES (de Rajas (grilled poblanos peppers and onions) y de Champinones) in the food court. Then we paid our $2.80 each and had the entire theater to ourselves.

In our opinion, this film was well done and finally stuck pretty closely to the book. And they really got creative with the tale of the Deathly Hallows -- brilliant stuff. Of course you've probably seen it and know this.

Anyway our heads are still reeling from the surprise sensory overload of seeing the film on the big screen. Then we did some shopping and found Dr. Pepper and real Ginger Ale! Truly a mind blowing day at Diamante.

And here's the thing: no one really even knows about this place. The guidebooks have the anchorage location wrong and from reading what both books have to say, it appears they've never really been here. The government is rebuilding the town waterfront with new beach restaurants and a public pier. It is going to be great when it's all done. On the other side of the cove, it's all natural jungle complete with the songs of various birds. The anchorage is very calm -- probably the best we've been to in southern Mexico and the provisioning is fantastic too. Not to mention English movies on the big screen! LIFE IS GOOD.

{GMST}16|47.74|N|99|50.45|W|Calm anchorage and great provisions|Puerto Marques{GEND}