27 January 2011
It's Thursday, January 27, 2011 and we are at anchor in about 16 feet of water off Playa Madera in Bahia de Zihuatanejo having bypassed Isla Grande. On our approach to Isla Grande yesterday morning we observed that it was pretty windswept and rolly and made the decision to keep going to this, our southern most destination of this voyage. The bay here is a little rolly and we have the 'flopper-stopper' out to minimize its affect. It is warm here, clear and sunny. Marisa says, "muy caliente." This portion of bay is fed by an estuary on the north side behind the pier and the water here is a bit murky, although people do swim in here, the swim beaches we will dinghy to are in the southern part of the bay off Playa de Ropa. This is a very pretty bay, large enough for the occasional cruise ship to stop in and tender their passengers to the cement pier but there is no marina or commercial service except for the pangas and sports fishing boats anchored near the pier. There are quaint, small to mid size hotels here, but no large ones, they are all up in Ixtapa.
We got some sleep yesterday then hooked up with the crews from Cloudy Bay and Blue Rodeo to walk a little of the town last evening and found a nice little restaurant for tacos; three for $58 pesos including a beer, not bad. They had a tray out front advertising their offerings; octopus, lobster and local fish on ice. At the conclusion of our meal we were invited to write our names on the wall inside, which is the photo posted with this blog. The owner said he opened up about four months ago, I wish them well. It seems busier here than some of the other little towns we have visited, but still slow. The immediate area at the pier is nice, but touristy with lots of shops selling the usual stuff and little cantinas. They have modernized their streets with interlocking brick paving, decent curbs and sidewalks and the architecture is by design and with a color scheme. We found the 'real town' adjacent to and inland a bit from this area and it's pretty nice too, actually from what we saw of it, it's a typical Mexican city, but cleaner and lots of stores and services. We will be spending several days to two weeks here and in this area with the Sail Fest activities running 2/1-6. We will meet with the event organizers today to see what's up and how to get involved, and we want to see more of this area, including Ixtapa. It all sounds like fun.
On our recent posts we had a couple of comments. Mike, Marisa's brother, answered my question on the AIS system. Thanks Mike. I also have a program downloaded that tracks commercial ships worldwide by GPS, but we don't use it. Is it any wonder the pirates' in the world can find their targets? (FYI our AIS is a receive only) Also, Ted asked about laundry. We have a hand washer device that we use in a 5 gallon bucket, but it's a lot of work and uses a lot of water so only when we are at a marina with dock water. The preferred method here on Pacifico is to take it to a local service were for about $100 pesos you can get a couple of weeks worth done. Here in Zihuatanejo Ismael and his wife Hilda offer a pick-up service. They were actually just here in a panga and took four bags from us, everything since the first trip to Barra, which they will return tomorrow, washed, dried, folded and in plastic bags. They charge by the weight, usually about S12-13 pesos a kilo ($.50 US a pound). They also deliver bottled water, beer, propane and about anything else that you'd want that comes in bulk; enterprising folks down here. This is a land of small business people since there is no government support or welfare, if you can't find a job, make one.
We will be going ashore today to check in with the Captaina del Puerto, whose office is at the foot of the pier and to register with Sail Fest. The Mexican Navy also has a post here and a cutter stationed at the north side of the pier. We were not intercepted by them on our way down, probably too small a fish to bother to catch? Anyway, it's not a problem. I was boarded once when doing a deliver north with Terry several years ago. All they wanted to do was check our papers, all was in order and they left.
A little on the history of this place: FYI this area was used by the Spanish to build their famous Manila Galleons for trade with the Far East in the 1500-1600s. The area was apparently heavily forested with oak, walnut and cedar. After that it was just a quite fishing village until the Mexican Government began to develop the tourist destination of Ixtapa just a few miles to the north in the 1970s. Zihuatanejo has a population of about 70,000 today, although you can't tell that from the bay and anchorage. It looks like a small sleepy little beach village with a few hotels and beaches with the majority of the community lies nestled in the valley inland from the coast.
That's it from Zihuatanejo for now. We will post more on this area as it happens, and I'm all caught up on my blogs! Yeah, there is free wifi here!!