Monday, March 9, 2009

Sailing south from Acapulco to Puerto Angel

It was hard to leave Acapulco where we watched the brave cliff divers plunge 130 feet or more off the limestone cliffs and enjoyed the comforts of the yacht club -- its swimming pool, fresh showers, and good company, but on Mach 1st, we pulled anchor and headed south. According to the weather forecast, a gale was blowing in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, but winds were calm up north. What we didn’t anticipate, was that even though the winds were calm, the gale had upset the seas, bringing huge confused waves to the Bays of Huatulco where we were heading.

Our sail out of Acapulco was a comfortable spinnaker ride and the first 24 hours went smoothly. However, on our second night at sea, the waves became choppy coming from both south and east and west. In the morning, after 175 miles of sailing, we pulled into Puerto Escondido to take a break from the confused seas caused by a convergence of the waves from the Pacific Ocean with the Gulf of Tehuantepec. After a short rest, we chose to continue 26 miles southeast to Puerto Angel. Jenny Lin, a sailing trawler, also anchored there, wanted to join us.

At first the rolling waves were bearable and with the light wind we opted to motor sail to keep our momentum forward and arrive before dark. To pass the time, we counted turtles along the way. They were all heading up the turtle channel to Playa Escobilla for the turtle arribada. That’s when the female Olive Ridley turtles arrive on the beach at the same time to lay their eggs. They come in the hundreds and thousands.

Soon the waves grew to about 10 feet and some of the waves bounced our 40,000 pound Kamaya up into the air and back down. My heart pounded and I watched the knot meter tick slowly by, like a kid in a classroom looking at the clock and waiting for the bell to ring. When is this going to stop?

This was one of the few times in our journey when I couldn’t wait to drop anchor and stop our movement. But not everyone on the boat felt that way. Maya was happily on the bow with her father jumping high into the air as the waves lifted us up and then down. She held onto the forestay and the jib and jumped into the air. At least they were wearing life jackets.

One wave broke on the bow and water flowed into the forepeak. I kept planning on going below to dog the hatches (what a funny expression!) but didn’t until it was too late -- water rushed down into the cabin and onto both the bed in the forepeak and the bunks in the kids’ cabin. Tim finally decided it was a little rough and lured Maya back into the cockpit. We slowly motored broadside into the waves to get into the tight anchorage of Puerto Angel. “Mom, we don’t have to stop sailing, I want to continue on … this is fun,” protested bold and fearless Maya.

“That was one of the roughest seas I’ve been in,” an old South African sea salt tells us. We later learn that the port captain had closed the harbor, prohibiting his fishermen from venturing out into the rough and uncomfortable seas.

P.S. For anyone heading to Acapulco, Eusebio Almanza, a sailor who takes care of a number of boats, including Andromeda, the 72-foot Swan docked at the north end of the yacht club, has a mooring. The Yacht Club lets you stay only one night gratis on their mooring if you come from a yacht club with reciprocal privileges, but they charge $120/day if you want to stay longer. Eusebio’s mooring is much more affordable. He didn’t charge us, but he wanted us to pass the word on about his mooring.


Anonymous said...

Ruby dooo....Thanks for your great blogs...been enjoying them all along! As I recall, watch out for the lows forming above South Texas as early indicators of the wind that may then be generated in Tehuantepec, growing from zero to 60+ knots in a matter of hours with very little notice...
sailors seemed to take one of two options, 300 miles out to sea or hug the coast all the way around the large bay...sailors out 300 miles were still badly beat up when the winds quickly built in the bay...we hugged the coast, where one gets minimal repreive from the land shelter...was beautiful as I recall with rays jumping by the many...the old fishing port at the border of Guatemala was quite a rustic stop, as I recall....then again, you've been through the bay since then...keep us posted!
- michael

Ruth said...

Thanks for reading our blog. We've been having a great adventure and will probably do the "one foot on the beach" approach as we sail the big Tehuantepecs. Rumor has it the Papagallos are blowing as well - even worse than the big T. Just spent the night patrolling the beaches and releasing sea turtles. Love, R and the Kamaya crew

Anonymous said...

when we sailed down, Nicaragua wasn't safe so went offshore...and had to fight the papagayos all the way back in to playa coco, or whatever that beach town is called at the Northerly border of CR...enjoy!!!

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