2-26-2002 3:00 pm Moving south from Zihuatanejo to Acapulco
|N 17 29″10′
||Sunny Hot and clear Air 94F Water 83F
||Sailing at 6 knots with one knot of current against us. SOG 5k
We spent 2 weeks in Zihuatanejo (man will I be glad to not have to spell that any more). We planed to check out on Friday morning and leave Saturday but we took a walk with a group of cruisers in the morning and when we got back we found a big list of problems. Our dingy motor (the little 4hp Johnson) started overheating. Our water maker wouldn’t make water and the bottom was terribly fouled. I decided these things had to be dealt with before we left and there were just no enough hours in the day (actually the port captain’s day) to get checked out after I fixed them all. I didn’t want to check out first in case we needed more time to fix the problems or get parts so we just decided to stay until Tuesday. I took the dingy motor apart and checked the water pump but all looked well. I thought it was pumping fine but wanted to check that one impeller blade wasn’t broken. It all looked ok so I decided that the problem had to be calcium carbonate buildup in the head. I filled a bucket with vinegar and ran the motor in it for a while. I kept vinegar in the motor for the rest of the day and the night by running it every little while and tried running it under load the next day. It seems to have helped as the motor doesn’t seem to overheat. The water maker wouldn’t run right then it stated making water but only about half as much as it should. After messing around with it for a while I figured that the electric pump must have something in it’s valves and let it just run as well as it could for a while. It seems to have mostly cleared it’s self as it is now making almost as much as it should per hour. By this time the port captain was closed so our decision about checking out was truly made and I decided to wait till the next day to clean the bottom. That night we had to mess with our masthead LED lights. On a recommendation from the people at Deep Creek Design, the manufacturer, I went up the mast armed with some fine sand paper and lube and cleaned the connections on the devices. I spent the rest of Saturday cleaning the bottom (I am very disappointed with the Mexican bottom paint we had put on in San Carlos) and generally hanging around the boat. That night it looked like the tri-color was working again but the anchor light was not. Sunday morning it was back up the mast to replace the anchor light with an incandescent bulb. The anchor LED light must have been hit the EMF of a lightning storm that went through Zihuatanejo when we first arrived. It was toast. 3 of the LEDs were visibly blackened and when I applied power just 2 of the 10 or so lit and started blinking. Got to hand it to the guys at Deep Creek though. They say that a new one will be waiting for us in El Salvador when we get there. That is 2 failures of that light on the trip so far. I hope they get the bugs sorted out soon.
The walk we took with the walking group this morning was in a park in Ixtapa, the resort side of Zihuatanejo. We saw alligators, turtles and birds and then had a nice breakfast before heading home.
We checked out of Zihuatanejo Monday morning. This is always a major pain to do in Mexico. And one of the reasons we are happy to be going south. But here in Zihuatanejo it is the worst I have had to deal with in Mexico. The process takes a minimum of 3 hours and requires taking a taxi or walking about 5 miles. The Port Captain requires you to fill out a form in Spanish and seems to take great pleasure in making you wait in line for the answer to what goes in one field at a time. When I checked in a fellow cruiser was also checking in who spoke Spanish well. I suggested that he translate the form so th Port Captain could post it. We went up the window and got a blank form for this purpose and Neil of Tranquilo made the translation and gave it back to the Port Captain. He accepted it but didn’t post it even though there were many cruisers currently still struggling with his form. When I checked out I asked for the translation and he said he didn’t have it. He had to admit that he had it but I guess he just threw it away so he could keep playing his little power trip on everyone. He seems a really nice guy on the surface, very friendly but not at all concerned with providing any service whatsoever. When you finally fill out the forms to his satisfaction you have to wait for them to finish all your paper work and then they give you the forms to take to the bank. Most other places in Mexico they just give you the bank paperwork and send you on your way while they do the rest. After the bank, which means another 20-30 minutes of lines, you have to wait about 20 minutes for them to find you paperwork and give it to you. Started the process very early. I was at the immigration office, the first step in this maze, when they opened. When I left the Port captain the first time I was talking with some other cruisers who had submitted their paper work and were setting and waiting. When I came back from the bank, about an hour latter, they were still there waiting. This system is ridiculous and expensive and seems to serve no useful purpose. Just another example of Mexican government gone out of hand and a people who don’t seem to care. Even the Northern Mexicans don’t expect much of the Southern Mexicans.
Today we finished making the boat ready for sea and headed out after lunch. We will be passing Acapulco tomorrow and may duck in for a day of rest or push on for a port further down the line. I expect we will give it a pass as we don’t want to pay the 30 dollars and loose 2 days checking in and out just to be able to sleep well for the night. We have 3 sailing days until we reach Huatulco, the last port we will likely stop in in Mexico. We may spend one night at a little Bay called Chacahua, which has no port captain, if we arrive in the vicinity during daylight hours.
We didn’t get around to writing an entry about Zihuatanejo so I will talk about it a bit here. Maybe we will write more latter and stick in in. Zihuatanejo seems to be one of the sticky bays in Mexico. Boats show up and get stuck. I know boats that have been there for more then 7 weeks. While you are there there are lots of things to do. When we were sailing down we crossed some friends from last year headed north saying they had to get out of there so they could get some work done on the boat before they crossed to Polynesia next month. It is hard to get work done in Zihuatanejo because it is such a nice place. There are lots of little restaurants and not all of them serve Mexican food. There are tons of tourist junk shops, we have to admit we bought a couple of little ceramic turtles with heads that bob up and down for the office. There is a Comercial (a modern air conditioned supermarket) and lots of little corner food stores. The is a bar called Ricks that caters the cruisers, he is very helpful and loans his bar out for many events like cruiser meetings, fist aid classes, Spanish classes, etc… One of the only bad things about Zihuatanejo and why you shouldn’t jump right on a plane and come out here is most all of the cruisers are getting sick here. Birgitta and I both were slightly sick for most of last week. Some friends of ours were sick enough to require a hospital stay. While there the doctors said that they wouldn’t eat out in Zihuatanejo as the food safety is poor. That is a big difference between the US and other places. Not only so we have great food safety but if a doctor thought that someplace was substandard I think that they would try to do something about fixing the situation. Here I guess it just means more business for his clinic. And an “Oh well it is just not my problem” attitude. More is the pity as the hamburger that made me sick was one of the best I ever had. Made on a cart on the street it had avocado, onion, tomato, 2 types of cheese, fried ham, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and … Oh yea, a hamburger patty, a real one bigger then a quarter which is really something down here, on a nice toasted bun. All for the whopping price of about $2 us. That and a dollar beer made a very nice cheap dinner. If it wasn’t for the sickness it would have been a great deal.
While we were in Zihuatanejo I decided that the 7.5 hp Honda engine I bought in PV was just too big for the porta boat. I tried to mount wheels on the little folding boat but it was just too flexible. The strong point of the porta boat is that it requires very little power and I decided to play to it’s strengths and go back to the 4 hp Johnson. I found that without wheels I couldn’t comfortably drag the little boat up the beach with the big heavy 4 stroke motor. Too bad though, because the bigger motor burns so much less fuel then the 2 stroke Johnson. I will try to sell the Honda. If I still have it when I get back to the states I will think seriously about getting a small aluminum boat to use as a dingy. I really don’t like deflatable boats and the porta boat will probably need replacing by then as it will be nearly 10 years old and has been used a lot. It is getting a bit too flexible. Though the reinforcements I added in PV for the big motor will likely add years to its life. A new dingy will take a lot of thought as to carry a non-folding 10 or 12 foot little boat I will have to change the sail plan on the yacht a bit. I will have to loose the club foot I use on the stay sail. Well I will have a lot of time to think before I get back to the states. I don’t think anyone sells aluminum boats in central america so my earliest chance to get a new one will likely be Florida.
One of the best things about Mexico is the fresh squeezed orange juice. I bought a little hand squeezer last year but it was too much work to use. While in Zihuatanejo I decided that since we were likely going to try to settle on Florida when we get back to the states in 2003 or so I should buy a GOOD juicer. Well I got one of the ones that the juice stands down here use. It is made of aluminum and stands about 3 feet tall.
It squeezes ALL the juice from a half of an orange in about 1 second. Two oranges make a big glass of orange juice and oranges are only 2 pesos a kilo. That is the same as 10 cents a pound. I will have to take a picture of this thing and post it on the web. It is not the kind of thing one expects to see on a boat but we might get a house sometime and something like this would likely cost 100s of dollars in the states. I paid $35 for it down here. It is all hand made out of aluminum. Even the nuts that hold it together were sand cast and ground and polished by hand. You can tell because the holes aren’t even close to being in the center but that just adds to its charm I guess.
Last month I broke Birgitta’s electric mixer/blender. (It turns out that it isn’t strong enough to crush ice.) We have a friend, Terry Montoya, in Seattle who is looking for a new gear right now. In the mean time, since Birgitta really misses her hand blender for making soups, we bought a new hand blender. It doesn’t have mixer attachments but will fill in the blanks while we wait for the new part. I believe it was a bit cheaper down here then it would have been in the states. So we both got ourselves new gadgets in Zihuatanejo.
I just made some popcorn for Birgitta. She denies it but I think she is getting her sea legs. After only about 6 or 7 thousand miles. She (and I) have felt queasy at sea this year, especially in the sea of Cortez. But she hasn’t thrown up this year