Huatulco and preparing for the Gulf of Tehuantepec…..

Dear F&F,
February 17, 2009

Our passage went fine. We enjoyed turtles, dolphins & schooling bait fish all the way down the coast. When Scott was on watch he had to slam the boat in reverse to avoid driving over a fishing lines strung out along several (hard to see from a distance) bleach bottles used as floats. Fortunately the panga managing the fishing gear frantically waved his arms & got Scott\’s attention that danger was ahead. Oy veh. Disaster averted. This happened 3 more times, but at least he was on his toes looking out for them.

Marina Chahue is a bit of a disappointment. We did not expect Ixtapa or Barra de Navidad. But we did expect perhaps a small Mazatlan. Enrique the dock master had been very responsive by email & we thought we had a reservation. Well…a reservation is not always a reservation! Especially when the place only has 5 spots where we could fit that have power & water. Enrique had no openings available at those 5. These are the main reasons to stay at a dock: in order to get good sleep, have power & water and accessibility to shopping and other services. It is a small place without many bigger boat slips. So we are way out by the entrance which has no power, no water & is VERY surgy. We made our own water on the way here, although Scott always likes to hose the salt off the boat when he has hose access. Oh well. We ran the generator to make our own power to run the air conditioner as it was over 90 inside & out & quite humid. We are still having an intermittent funky cut out with the AC when it is run by the generator IN OUR CABIN. On shore power no problem. Scott will research this more… So limited air conditioning tonight & it is staying hotter at night as we keep heading south.

This dock is right up there with Dock A at Paradise Village & El Cid Marina in Mazatlan for the surgy factor. We tied our lines every which way to get her to hold still but \”Beach House\” is dancing with the incoming swell. Oh well.

The GOOD NEWS is there is a weather window to leave tomorrow for El Salvador! So we will go to the office at 9:00 am. The dock master will drive us to the port captain to complete paperwork. Then immigration, more paperwork. Then customs will come out to our boat to make sure we are not stealing any national treasures. That we are indeed who we say we are. And then they will give us a \”Zarpe\” which is a document needed to leave a country. A much bigger deal than the normal check out procedure. Hopefully it will not take longer than noon.

The other good news is that we already tanked up on diesel. This was the procedure: we tied up to the \”fuel dock\” (think cement wall). The harbor master takes your credit card & whatever fuel jugs you have & drives to the gas station in town. He returned about 30 mins later with our jugs full plus 60 gallons in a barrel in the back of his truck. Their siphon hose reaches the tank opening of our boat nearest the cement wall. But not the other side. So we have to transfer fuel from the barrel into the jugs, from the jugs into our starboard tank. And repeat. Hot messy job, but we had 3 guys helping & got it done.

The other good news is that the DHL package I shipped here from LA was waiting for us & in good condition, so we can install our new bug screens in the 2 forward cabins when we get a chance. I also now have my new 6.5 mm custom wetsuit (which I threw in the box as padding).

We talked to a couple of other boaters here. People often leave their boats & take a bus to visit Oaxaca which is supposed to be lovely. We are not interested in land touring right now. It is hot & humid. Although Oaxaca is at 4000 feet so they said much cooler. If we were going to have taken the time to do another land tour it would have been to Morelia to see the Monarch butterfly migration. And that would have been best done from Ixtapa. But that was a 5 day venture & we are feeling the need to keep moving.

So we will head out as soon as they let us leave with our Zarpe document in hand tomorrow Feb 18. If all goes as planned 3 days & 3 nights later we should be in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. We will not stop with the boat in Guatemala. We will visit that by land with Carmina. We hope she will arrive about March 4. That will give us a week or 10 days to do a few projects, clean up, get the boat \”guest ready\” & also getting the boat prepared to be left alone. We have been told we absolutely will have power & water at the dock in El Salvador. You never really know until you get there. So right after one day/night/half day run. We get just 1 night sleep together, then head out on this 3 day/night passage that is well known amongst sailors. The Gulf of Tehuantepec. We are hoping for calm conditions & don\’t mind if we even have to motor the whole time. It can have wicked wind & waves, but the forecast is good for the next couple of days so we are going to go for it. Right after this \”weather window\” it is supposed to blow 30-35 knots out of the north with a wicked short chop.
Enrique told us that on average, two boats a year are lost in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. None so far this year�.and we don\’t plan on being the first!

My Captain is very tired & having some pre-passage anxiety, so went to bed at 8:30 pm. I will follow soon as it is 9:30 pm & need all the rest I can get. It feels a bit like the night before running a marathon or something. I did my carbo loading already. We just don\’t get to know exactly what the course will be like until we get out there.

So very soon it is ADIOS MEXICO! We are glad we stayed our first year but now are (really) ready to move on.

Scott & Cindy
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