Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sailing from Barra de Navidad to Zihuatenejo

It’s often mentally difficult to pull the anchor and continue on our way, especially when you have to leave friends behind, a school that the kids have been enjoying going to and a real live French baker who delivers fresh baguettes and chocolate croissants to the boat. But Tim and I promised that after we finished our taxes and my article for the Gorge Guide, we would head south. It helped that the water quality had deteriorated rapidly and turned a chocolate brown color.
So we headed out the bar, not the kind that serves drinks, but the one with sand that piles high and if you’re not careful, you can run aground, which we did once when we came into the lagoon about a week ago. Kamaya came to a skidding thunk; fortunately, we were able to reverse off the mud. This final exit, we safely navigated our way out of the Barra de Navidad lagoon and sailed about 20 miles toward Santiago Bay, just north of Manzanillo. The wind was perfect for our spinnaker and we arrived just at sunset.

Along the way, the ocean bubbled with foam. It looked a little like an ebb tide line that we see in San Francisco Bay, but the color was dark on both sides. We later learned from another sailor that the water turns murky every year; however, this year it had changed a little sooner. Apparently, the ocean is suffering from an algae bloom where high concentrations of algae/ phytoplankton congregate and deplete the oxygen from the water. Sometimes the result can be toxic for the fish and other marine life. According to Wikipedia, scientists no longer call this disease “red tide” because the color is not always red, but can be brown or dark green.
The next morning we motored to Las Hadas and anchored in front of the Moorish style hotel, famous for the set location of the movie, 10 starring Bo Derek who jogged gorgeously along the beach. Well, even though Bo wasn’t there when we arrived, we enjoyed the pool and journeyed into Manzanilla to stock up on food: vanilla and strawberry yogurt, mangos and bananas, cheese, chicken and cereal, and lots more.
We pulled anchor at 4 in the morning for the Zihuatenejo area, 180 miles south, hoping it would be an easy and quick overnight sail. But we were wrong. At first, the wind came lightly from the south and the swells were all mixed up, so we found ourselves beating at a rapid 2 or 3 knots (we could almost walk faster!). Then the refrigerator turned off, clogged from the nasty water, so we thought we’d have to feast frenetically on all our newly purchased cold food before it turned bad. In the evening, the wind grew a little stronger and Tim and I didn’t want to change jibs in the middle of the night. The angle of the waves occasionally snapped the jib and this might have been the reason why we heard a big “pop”: the stainless ring holding the jib sheets broke, forcing us to change to the smaller rainbow jib.
Fortunately, the wind changed direction, coming from behind and Mr. Fixit Tim figured out a way to fix the fridge. The water turned a translucent blue, the turtles and dolphins showed up and we were back on track. We hoisted the spinnaker sailed about 7 to 8 knots into Isla Grande, just in time for sunset. Isla Grande just off of Ixtapa is a tourist spot with clear water, restaurants and mega motor yachts. After cleaning our bottom, well not my bottom or Tim's but Kamaya's bottom, we pulled anchor and sailed the short distance to Zihuatenejo.
Before arrival or shortly thereafter, its mandatory to learn how to spell “Zihuatenejo” and I think we figured it out. The name comes from the Nahuatl Indians and means “place of women.” In this place for women, we can now feel the heat of the tropics. The kids slept outside our first night, and the once sleepy fishing village is now a bustling tourist town with fine restaurants, delicious gelato ice cream and lots of trinkets.
So I apologize for writing a more or less “we did this” type of story. Now that I just learned how to spell Zihuatenejo correctly and the kids have finished school, we’re going to town for relief from the hot sun in a hopefully air conditioned movie theatre. We’re hoping to see Inkheart by Cornelius Funk. All of us have read the book, eager to see Dustfinger and Capricorn.

Photo of Kamaya sailing into the Sunset taken by Ewout Mante, Captain, SV Bravado now en route west

1 comment:

Behan said...

Hey Ruth- I might have to bus it to Zhuat for sprouts! We were bummed to see you heading out as we headed into the Barra lagoon last week. That's as far south as we'll get this year- we're back in La Cruz and plan to work north...eventually! We visited the school too and loved it. Keep us posted! Any chance you'd come north too?

Looking Back

It took me more than seven years to turn our blog into a hard covered bound book. At first, I was leery of wrapping up our adventure because...