Manzanillo to Isla Ixtapa (Isla Grande)
26 January 2011
Under way at 17° 59.832'N, 103° 06.623'W Course 097°M, speed 5.8 kts
We are underway, having rounded Pta. Tejupan we made the course change to take us more easterly in our voyage down Mexico's Pacific Coast. We left Las Hadas last night at 2230 hrs, dodged three freighters or oil tankers getting out of the bay and haven't seen another vessel since, although there are several identified on our chart plotter by our AIS system. AIS is a very cool thing. The big ships now all have to have a VHF transponder that constantly sends their course and position information. Our system receives it, coordinates it with our GPS and tells us who they are and where they are going. More importantly their speed, course and how close (CPA) they will come to us and how long until that occurs (TCPA). VHF radios are only supposed to be line of sight, maybe 25 miles, but we are picking up signals from vessels almost 50 nm away. If anyone can comment please do. Tonight around midnight we will pass by the port city of Lazaro Cardenas, a big and important port city, busier than Manzanillo. We can already see the ships traffic outside of us and at the port, literally dozens of them, looks like Long Beach on a busy day.
The Mexican Navy's reconnaissance aircraft made a fly by this morning, I waived and he dipped his wing tips. This was a single engine, prop driven performance type aircraft and at a low altitude and slower than a jet. I'm assuming we may be boarded by their navy along this coast before we get to Ixtapa. The word is that this is common place in this area and not a big deal, very professional and all they look for are your papers to be sure it's you, your boat and that you've checked into their country. Speaking of that, we just got buzzed again, it's 1730 hrs now. I guess they are keeping track of us.
We are motor sailing under a prevented main, dead down wind or DDW and making decent time. I don't want to hurry, our ETA to Isla Grande is 0700 hrs, tomorrow, half an hour before sunrise down here so we will have day light to get into the new and unfamiliar anchorage. The wind is light, 6-7 knots true so we could sail, but I've found that being out of marinas for a month now our batteries are not keeping up. We use the Honda generator to top off the batteries in addition to the solar, but I need a long slow charging cycle to get the batteries back up. Hopefully this will do it, we don't plan any marina stays soon. We have a long period following sea of 4-6 foot, so it's easy on the boat and an easy ride; the waves are like gentle hills and they just pass under us without too much rolling, not sure Marisa would agree with that?
We have been a safe distance off the coast to avoid fish nets and long lines and are now about 14 miles off. I can see that the coast here is pretty sparsely populated and that steep hills come up from the sea cliffs. This reminds me of the Big Sur area, green coastal mountains coming out of the sea and no one is there.
Our goal is to get to Isla Grande, also called Isla Ixtapa, which lies just off the coast from Ixtapa and about 10 nm above Zihuatanejo, our destination. There is a 'cruiser event' called Zihuatanejo Sail Fest 2011, if you care to Google it. It starts about the first of February and all proceeds benefit a local orphanage charity. We are going to see what's what and enjoy the festivities, maybe jump in; we'll see what's going on when we get there.