MONDAY, March 20, 2006

​Jacaranda Passage Notes #6: Floating Army Helmets

Our last note left off in Barra de Navidad in the lagoon awaiting the arrival of zee French baker. Departing Barra early in the morning in company with Jack & Hermy on IWA we closely followed our chart plotter track to insure we did not run aground since the narrow channel in and out of the lagoon is unmarked. We had almost run aground going into the lagoon as we got off the intended track and quickly saw the depth sounder register 6. We draw 6 feet! Luckily Carmen and Arne aboard GWENAN OF CAMBRIA were right behind us and we ended up following them in.

Our plan was to go nonstop directly to Zihuatanejo about 217miles SE (a three day and two night sail). The trip down was a real mixed bag with winds from many directions and some light patches. Once again we had to motor much more than we liked. On the way down IWA showed us her backside and we never did see her front side until we entered the harbor. Jack & Hermy had her moving very well, kindly keeping us in sight the whole way to tease us. On one part of the journey we passed dozens and dozens of sea turtles floating on the surface - there were so many that we had to occasionally alter course to avoid them. They looked like army helmets bobbing around. As we passed close by they would look up in amazement and then start to dive but by then we were already abeam of them and quickly left them astern.

 

While I was off watch Linda noticed what looked like hundreds of white Styrofoam packing peanuts floating on the water, initially appearing as if some container had fallen off a ship and broken open until she captured one in a bucket. It turned out to be a finely crafted bubble sail and when she carefully turned it over she found a small lavender sea snail attached on the underside. The bubble sail gave the snail transportation via the wind and current. As she tried to pull the snail away from its semi clear sail, it exuded a dye that turned her fingers bright purple.possibly a deterrent to other sea creatures that might be tempted to snack on packing peanuts.

Approaching Zihua, IWA was about 3 miles ahead of us. We had been keeping a vigilant eye on the radar most of the night as there were a number of freighters and fishing boats passing by. Just before sunrise our screen showed that IWA and a very large cruise ship were converging at the entrance to the bay. I kept saying to myself gee, that is looking like a collision course. Sure enough, IWA got a call from them on the radio: Sailboat on our port, what are your intentions? Hermy replied, We are headed into the Bay The cruise ship responded So are we, do you see us? The massive, towering cruise ship was lit up like a Christmas tree and couldnt be missed. Hermys amazed reply was Of course we see you! She kindly offered to move aside and let them enter the bay first.

 

Zihuatanejo is a beautiful bay with five gorgeous palm tree lined sandy beaches and a very colorful Mexican resort/fishing town. Its very warm and tropical here and we are about the same latitude as Hawaii. 50+ boats were at anchor. Many remained from the February Sailfest, an annual cruiser charity event that attracted more than 100 boats this year and raised $57K for the local schools. We saw many boats that we knew and met many more that we had only heard on the radio checking into the daily nets.

We met a local Mexican, Antonio, who came fishing with us early one morning. Trolling in the bay Linda and Antonio hooked up 2 fish at the same time. Unfortunately Linda lost her fish but Antonio was able to land a 20lb crevalle jack. Twenty minutes later Linda hooked up again and this time it took her almost 20 minutes to land an even larger jack. At one time the dingy was being towed around the anchorage as Linda fought the hard fighting fish. These jacks put up a great fight but are not to our taste buds so we gave them both to Antonio for his family.

 

Linda and I were just about ready to leave the boat on a windy afternoon to head to the airport to met Joe (Lindas youngest son). I had been watching a parasail speedboat trying to launch a tourist off the beach and they were having difficulty because of the strong breeze. It took 2 speedboats tied together to get the guy up and then the first boat cut himself free. I figured this was not a good sign and watched as the boat started around the bay with the guy up in the air about 10-15 stories. It came pretty close to an anchored boat about 150 yds away and was headed towards us. I kept an eye on him as he came around us but luckily he was not too close. Our friends on LAST RESORT who were anchored next to us were not so lucky. When the parasail speedboat tried to circle around the bow of their boat he got dragged down closer to them and the line from the boat to the chute got caught in the mast and rigging.

The guy up in the sky attached to the parachute quickly dropped in the water. The speedboat driver tried to power the line off the mast. Before Steve and Susan could cut the line it ripped the spreader off the mast and bent their radar mast and destroyed a couple of lights. Luckily no one was hurt and after cutting the parachute towline free someone picked up the poor tourist in the water. So the parasailing boat not only had LAST RESORT screaming at them but I am sure when they went to retrieve the guy in the water they got a sound thrashing from him as well. The harbormaster is the cousin of our Mexican friend, Antonio, so we got him involved and the end result is the owner promised to pay the $900 in damage. Steve and Susan have $200 in hand with a promise to recoup the remainder in a few days dont hold your breath. Bad news is that LAST RESORT was planning on leaving this week and now will have to wait for parts and make the necessary repairs. Luckily their spreader is a stock item from a rigging shop in the US, unlike our spreader that would have required a custom one to be manufactured.

Joe arrived on time having a good flight from Boston. It was great to see him; we were worried about him being on a rolly sailboat at anchor but he did great and only needed a couple of seasick pills the first 2 days. The next evening we went up to the Blue Mamou blues club where the band invited Joe to play a few songs with them. He rocked!

David, Lindas oldest son, arrived a few days later coming down from SD using Spring Break to forget about his last semester at SDSU. We went from the airport (by local bus - 60 cents versus $35 for a cab) to town, had dinner and then back up to the Blue Mamou to listen to Joe jam with the house band.

The following day Antonio took us along with his family about 1 hour south to their familys watermelon ranchero. They live in a lush green valley and were in the process of harvesting tobacco. David and Joe got his kids playing baseball using a grapefruit and a palm frond. We had an enjoyable day coming back to Z-town loaded with watermelons, green coconuts, corn and chilies. Those chilies would later cause David undue caliente (heat) as he and Antonio munched on them while in a local restaurant. In fact Davids face turned red, veins stood out on his forehead and beads of sweat ran down his face. Now he will be more careful when he say he wants hot! Antonio said these family chilies were a 5 on a 1-10 scale.

Friday night we went up to Ricks Bar for Open Mike and Joe played for a couple of hours making $45 in tips! It was St. Patricks Day so of course there was green beer. Rick kept plying Joe with tequilas and beer that somehow ended up in front of Dave. Last night we went back to Ricks Bar for an encore where Joey again jammed to a crowded house and closed the place. Nonstop music for 3 hours had the joint jumping and put an additional $55 bucks in Joes pocket. It was so much fun!! Imagine going on vacation and going home with more money than you arrived with!

The boys left this morning to head back to the US, Joe to Boston and Dave to San Diego. The week has flown by and Linda and I will need a vacation from a vacation. Clubbing with the boys every night and not getting to bed until 1-2am or later is a total contrast to our normal cruising lifestyle of being in bed by 9:30. It was so great to have the boys onboard and we look forward to having them visit again. The sun showers, sleeping in the cockpit, getting wet in the dingy every time we motored to shore added to the whole package!

We should be heading north tomorrow. Our friend Trish is arriving in early April for a week in Puerto Vallarta. We have reserved a spot in Marina Vallarta and will use that time to give the boat its first fresh water wash down since our departure in early December. Plus projects awaiting a calm spot and the use of a dock will also be attacked in earnest. Trish will be staying close by the marina in a small condo and we are both looking forward to her visit.