Leg 2-2000 San Diego to Acapulco
April 14, 2000 0400 26.51N, 114.45W
Log: 32,444 Baro: 1018 Winds WNW
25-31 Broadreaching @ 8-9kts
Racing Through the Night!
The nearly full moon just dropped below
the horizon leaving a million stars overhead and Mahina Tiare
surfing the swells under a full press of canvas. The sensation
of speed is unmistakable and addictive. We never expected this
much wind along the coast of Baja California, it's fantastic!
Upon request, our Leg 2 crew arrived
early Monday morning instead of our normal 12 noon time, so that
I could collect passports and taxi to the Mexican Consulate to
apply for visas. The consulate is only open until 1:30pm and even
though I arrived 10 minutes after opening it was filled with 200+
people snaking out the hall and down the stairs. I was able to
get the visas in an hour and outbound customs clearance in another
Meanwhile Amanda had been busy doing
safety orientation with crew and we were able to fuel up and set
sail by 1600 Monday. We chose Cedros Island, a 20x5 mile offshore
island 320 miles south of San Diego as our Port of Entry over
Ensenada, Mexico, just 60 miles south. We had an excellent forecast
of 25 knot following winds and wanted to get some miles under
the keel before stopping. Several friends in San Diego had also
said that it is frequently easier and quicker by many hours to
clear in at smaller ports in Mexico.
Our sail to Cedros turned was in mostly
12-15 knot winds except as we closed on the island the winds topped
32 knots, giving us a spectacular 9 knot surfing arrival.
Sam on bow lookout
as we approach Cedros Island.
As it was near dark when we reached the
settlement we decided not to go into the small man-made harbor
between two breakwaters even though it is well-described in Charlie's
Charts of Mexico cruising guide. Instead we anchored just north
of the harbor in 37' with an excellent sandy bottom.
Everyone enjoyed a night without watches
and first thing this morning Amanda dropped Mark and I on the
fishboat wharf and off we went in search of the Capitan del Puerto
to clear customs. Mark speaks much better Spanish than I.
Anchored off Cedros
The village of Cedros was dry and dusty,
with unpaved streets, abandoned rusting vehicles, but friendly
people. The port captain initially said that we would have to
sail to Cabo San Lucas, 400 miles away to clear immigration, to
which I said, no problema. I think that was a test, because as
soon as I said "no problema", he called the immigration
officer who said she would meet us at 1:30. He asked that we keep
one person aboard to watch the boat, but said it would be fine
for our crew to come ashore. Our crew found a small bakery with
tasty treats and pizza and took off exploring.
Checking into Mexico is a challenge,
because unlike most countries, it appears that cruisers are expected
to provide their own forms. Chris Frost, owner of Downwind Marine
in San Diego gave us sample forms which Amanda typed into her
computer, filling in the blanks. We got a couple of things mixed
up on the form, but got corrected with a little white-out and
the port captain typing in the right sequence of port names. The
young and attractive immigration officer arrived and stamped passports
as she breast-fed her giggling daughter who tried to throw everything
off the desk.
Before hoisting anchor, we had a quick
swim, scrubbed the prop and checked the bottom. We passed the
substantial salt works at the south end of Cedros and saw Baja
California for the first time as we passed between Isla Nativida
and Pta Eugenio.
The winds have steadily increased since
clearing land, and so has the traffic. Just a few minutes ago
we were tracking five fast-moving ships, all on the 12 mile range
of the radar. Of the 20 or so ships and boats we've passed since
San Diego, all but two have been displaying navigation lights.
Mike Barnett from Blue Water Insurance told us that many Mexican
fishing boats do not run nav lights at night.
Interestingly, we don't really know what
our next stop will be, and that is a first! Usually we have an
excellent idea of our stops, but sailing the coat of Mexico is
a totally new experience for us. We have pretty much decided to
skip Cabo San Lucas, a busy sportfishing harbor, even though we'll
sail right by it. Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Ixtapa have been
suggested as possible stops, but with 1100 miles to sail in 10
days, our stops will be few and brief.
April 23, 2000 0623 16.53N 100.12W
Log: 33,588 Baro: 1014
Winds: WNW @ 3kts Motoring under
a moonlit sky
Bound For Acapulco!
30 miles ahead lies Acapulco, described by friends as being similar
to Honolulu, one of their favorite "big cities". The
night is warm - 75 degrees and the humidity has doubled in the
past two days to 89%, but it is still comfortable. We have changed
time zones twice since San Diego, now it doesn't get light till
0720. Our passage from Cedros to Puerto Vallarta was smooth with
some motoring and winds up to 25 knots. After Cabo San Lucas winds
got lighter, the best sailing was at night. Each day become hotter
and our crew said, "Make sure your Leg 3 crew bring very
light long sleeved shirts and long pants for sun protection!"
Keeping everyone hydrated in the heat is a challenge, especially
for folks not used to drinking 2 liters of water on a daily basis.
Before arriving in Puerto Vallarta we
received a telex from Jim & Sue Corenman who were also arriving.
The last time we shared a harbor was Auckland, June 1994. Since
then they've completed a world circumnavigation on Heart of Gold,
their sexy custom Schumaker 50, winning races everywhere they
stop. Jim, along with Stan Honey founded SailMail, the non-profit
cruiser email system.
Jim Corenman - Co-inventor
of sail mail.
We tied up in the first-class Marina
Vallarta with 350 berths surrounded by restaurants, hotels and
condos. What a contrast to Cedros! We saw a few dozen cruising
boats but most of the owners weren't aboard. An exception was
Destiny, a Centurion 47 with JoAnne & Michael Gray who had
taken our Weekend Offshore Cruising Seminar while preparing to
depart from Seattle. They have been out two years and are now
getting ready to sail the South Pacific. They offered to show
us PV, so eight of us, plus Jim & Sue hopped on a packed bus
The Cathedral seen
through the arches.
We had arrived at a great time! Easter
week in Mexico is a major holiday and the waterfront boulevard
was jammed with Mexicans. Everyone was dressed up, musicians and
fireworks played on the beach and the waterfront restaurants were
packed with happy folks. Mike & JoAnne took us to one of their
favorites, an airy upstairs restaurant with a killer view of the
harbor. Dinner was great and very reasonable, the live music was
superb and our crew got the chance to ask tons of questions from
our friends of what cruising as a couple is like. After dinner
we explored the town, Amanda sidetracking us in to nearly every
art gallery and handicraft store and Jim pointing out the stunning
bronze public sculpture and avante garde architecture which this
town is becoming famous for.
Easter time in Puerto
It was midnight by the time we made it
back to the marina where people were still eating at the marina-side
restaurants and strolling around looking at boats.
The next morning we sailed to Tenacatita
Bay where we met Mark and Teri on Tauranga, a custom Laurie Davidson
52 who had taken our seminar in San Francisco. They told us to
take the dinghy on a river ride up the mangroves. We did and saw
lots of birds but missed seeing the saltwater crocodiles endemic
to the region.
The campground along the beach was overflowing
with hundreds of Mexican families having a blast. In the middle
of the beach was a tiny palapa, or outdoor restaurant serving
ceviche with octopus, fish and shrimp that was outrageous accompanied
with coconut drinks.
Saying goodbye to Tenacatita
Our next destination was Ixtapa. We connected
by radio with our old friends Dan & Debi Dinsmore on Andante,
who were 100 miles ahead of us making plans to rendezvous at Isla
Grande, just before Ixtapa at sunset.
Dan operated Seaworthy Marine for 17
years in Seattle, helping me with MTII and the commission and
outfit MTIII. Debi, as a yacht broker sold a 68' motoryacht that
Dan upgraded after which the owner asked them to run it for them,
for the past couple years they have covered 17,000 miles on it.
More recently they had a similar offer from Karl Buhl, whose HR
42 they are now running, with Karl joining the boat periodically.
This morning at dawn I made a rough 5
mile trip to check out and photograph Ixtapa Marina before we
sailed to Zihuatanjo and anchored off the bustling seaside town.
Again we met happy Mexican's enjoying
the holidays. After lunch at another great beach palapa, Dan &
Deb took us on a tour of the local part of town. The tourist shops
are only on the streets along the beach, behind that we found
a bustling, thriving and friendly town. We now understand why
Richard Spindler, publisher of Latitude 38 magazine says this
is cruisers favorite town on this Mexican coast.
The public market was fascinating, all
kinds of tiny stalls with every type of fruit, vegetable and meat
imaginable and lots of people. It reminded us a little of the
incredible markets in Papeete, Tahiti, and Suva, Fiji, except
without the flowers and romance of the South Pacific.
In the afternoon we raised anchor and
have since been sailing along the coast, in company with Andante
Sadly, there has been little wind, and
everyone says there will be even less from here to Panama.
CHANGE OF PLANS FOR LEG 3!!!
We will sail non-stop from Acapulco to
Cocos Island, 300 miles off Costa Rica! The more we study the
pilot charts and Cocos, the better this plan sounds. We should
have a beam reach with winds of around 10-12 knots and the chance
of higher winds when we pass (far out to sea) the infamous Gulf
Cocos sounds like a cross between the
Galapagos and Pitcairn Island; very isolated, lots of fascinating
endemic species and rugged tropical terrain. The outline of the
island is similar to Pitcairn Is and the only inhabitants are
Park rangers from Costa Rica. Cocos is one of the top dive destinations
world, famous for hammerhead sharks and great visibility. We've
seen ads for liveaboard dive boats that operate there, although
no one is allowed to stay ashore. The island is also riddled with
tunnels and holes from treasure hunters looking for the "Treasure
of Lima" From Cocos we will
sail to Panama.
It's now 0730, the sun, a fiery red ball
has just risen over the rugged coastal mountains and we have 11
miles to go to the harbor entrance. We have been diligent about
working through our teaching plan this expedition, but the afternoon
heat has meant that we often have class in the evening. All we
have left to cover is going aloft for rig check and servicing
winches. Following our Expedition Handbook that Amanda updated
and expanded this year sure makes teaching easier and retention
Ooops! I forgot to tell you who our Leg
2 expedition members are!
35, is getting ready to exchange the corporate software life in
Seattle for a cruise to Mexico and the South Pacific with here
husband, Scott and their 4 & 6 yr olds aboard their Island
Packet 37. She wants to learn everything!
48, is a mental health professional for King County, lives near
Seattle and is dreaming of cruising the South Pacific when he
and his wife, Beth retire. They presently have an Ericson 32.
(57) and Vicki (49) Howard sail their Catalina 30 out of Seattle and are
considering ocean cruising when Porter retires from 38 years as
a Boeing engineer and Vicki as a math teacher.
56 has owned a ton of boats, most recently an Island Packet 420
and sails out of Newport Beach, California. He is planning to
cruise Mexico and wanted to check it out with us first. Sam recently
retired as CEO of PETsmart, with 500 retail stores and it's been
fun to learn about the behind-the-scenes of retail marketing.
Our arrival in Acapulco was during the
busiest week of the year, Easter, when supposedly 80% of Mexico
City's population heads to Acapulco's beaches and nightclubs.
The city is jammed with traffic, the music never stops and the
party is rocking!
The Club de Yates had a berth waiting
for us and we ended up next to a 120' Jongert ketch and Chuck
& Jeanette Stockton's very handsome new Nordhaven 50 long-range
cruiser. It didn't take our Leg 3 crew long to find the pool with
adjacent restaurant & bar.
With Dan & Debi from Andante leading
the way, we found a neat waterfront restaurant with a fabulous
view of the harbor and reasonable price. Our entire crew walked
along the jumping waterfront until nearly midnight, then piled
in taxis and headed back to the Club de Yates.
We had been warned that the next morning
(Monday) was a holiday, as had been the entire previous week,
but were delighted when the yacht club harbormaster, Sr. Marquez
said that for $32US he would handle signing our Leg 2 crew off
the boat with immigration and our check in with Port Captain.
Several of our crew stayed to explore
Acapulco and Sam & Sandy invited us to join us for a swim
and incredible dinner at their hotel, the Las Brisas, overlooking
the spectacular natural harbor. On the way to their bungalow they
pointed out Frank Sinatra & Sylvester Stallone's houses. What
a contrast Las Brisas development, started in 1954 with it's private
roads and lush landscaping was to the rest of the bustling city
it overlooked! We all really enjoyed this wonderful quiet retreat.
Saying goodbye in Acapulco.
Sail on to Leg 3, 2000