Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo to Acapulco
01 May 2011
Virginia and Dennis Johns
Friday, April 22 we decided to calculate how many miles we've traveled thus far (if our Hercules system computer had been operational when we left, it would have accumulated the miles for us but the 20+ year old gear decided to act up rest just prior to departure). So after manually adding up all the legs between anchorages and marinas we discovered we passed the 2000 mile mark on our leg on the way to Manzanillo.
In Ixtapa we met the crew of HappyNow: Dudley, Phillipa, and her sister Gill. They started their circumnavigation 11 ½ years ago and will be completing the route when they hit Cabo later this month. They are from San Francisco. Their cruising days are drawing to a close as they will take their Island Packet back to the Bay area with plans to sell it. Gill lives in Australia and over the years has joined them on the boat for several weeks at a time. We had dinner with them and they shared their very recent information on cruising and touring Central America as well as some of their experiences in other parts of the world.
Saturday, April 23 we took the bus into Zihuatanejo and did our touring. We went to the anthropological history museum (fortunately they provided a guide book in English for us) and walked the malecon with its lovely bronze statues and artisans selling their wares. We ate lunch in a palapa in the sand on the beach and watched the families playing in the water. Our waiter advised us that many of the families were camping on the beach for their spring break vacation -no frills camping as there was no vehicle access to the beach and most just had an umbrella, ice chest, and BBQ. The beach had a palapa set up with books, games, and art activities for the children. Our waiter spoke English quite well and explained that he had worked in San Pedro and lived in Long Beach for a few years, but then moved to Georgia where rent was lower. He said he was now making much less money, but glad to be back home with his "town, people, weather". It was very hot that day, 92 degrees in the late afternoon when we got back to the boat so likely warmer than that when we were doing our touring.
Sunday, April 24 - Happy Easter. Went aboard HappyNow to see their nightscope -very cool, gotta get us one of those (one more piece of 'safety' equipment). Treated ourselves to both lunch and dinner off the boat. For dinner we bicycled into Ixtapa central and had dinner in a restaurant playing Spanish MTV music videos - fun to listen to their popular music.
Monday, April 25 we took three round trip bus trips into Zihuatanejo. We thought we'd get an early start at 0730 to do some errands before the heat set in, but the shops weren't open at 0800 as we expected - not until 1000. So we walked to a nearby grocery and lugged several provisions back to the boat. Went back into Zihua at 1000 to the machine shop to have some brass fittings braised (for the bbq propane project we've mentioned), but had no luck at the plumbing store (still looking for final parts to set up our watermaker differently) so we did part two of our provisioning. After lunch on the boat, the marina suggested yet another plumbing store so we headed out again and had success. We decided on this trip to try and find "Rick's Bar", reportedly a cruisers' hangout. We circled the block it where it was supposed to be but could not find it. There was an empty spot for lease on that block, so perhaps places turn over pretty fast here as well.
We actually enjoyed riding the buses Ixtapa to Zihua. Although they were referred to as 'city' buses, they must be individually owned by the drivers. We suspected this in other parts of Mexico, but it was even more apparent here. The drivers decorate the inside of the buses with their personal things: religious items, items made by their children, radios or stereo systems. We included a photo of one in Zihua who actually gave his bus a name and the decorations inside carried on the theme. Also, they use young boys as facilitators. They stand at the door and keep an eye out for possible passengers and yell out to those on the street to ask if they want a ride, as they are willing to stop anywhere for a passenger. Sometimes to hurry things along they don't collect fares at the door, the boys come down the aisles later and collect. They were all so helpful and friendly. There was never much traffic so the transit time was short, the fare is ridiculously low, always less than US$1, and they had so many buses that we never had to wait more than a few minutes.
Tuesday, April 26 we took an early morning bike ride along the Cyclopista, a very well maintained and wide bike path. We made a loop where the first part had some challenging sections with some hills. When we got to Playa Linda and the cocodrilario (crocodile preserve) in the estuary, we hit an easier section with families with young children on bikes and many joggers. The path wound through the expansive estuary and it was like a jungle river tour on bikes. It was very fun. Later that morning we said goodbye to HappyNow as they headed north. That afternoon, Dennis took the bus into town to attend a Rotary meeting only to find that they had cancelled it 'for the holidays'. We biked into Ixtapa for dinner again. This time we hit a restaurant advertising a lobster special and 2 for 1 beers. It was a 'sports bar' and had several large screens showing the Stanley Cup playoffs -quite a contingent of Canadian fans were present wearing jerseys of their team. The lobster was very fresh and delicious -one and a half tails apiece and 4 beers for a total of $30. Our hostess had lived in Florida for 10 years - must have been as a child as she was in her early 20's. Virginia deftly rode her bike back to the boat after downing 2 beers -just a sailor on shore leave these days.
Wednesday, April 27 we fueled up and left at high tide (1030) to go over the bar. We liked this Ixtapa Nautica Marina. The staff were very friendly. They had dock help walking around with bright yellow shirts and caps all day long to assist as needed. Their showers/restrooms were cleaned several times each day. They had potable water. The only down side was that we had to be located quite a distance from the facilities given that it was Spring Break and the marina was busy with lots of large power boats on which families were staying for their vacation. As we motor-sailed along we passed nearby Brainstorm, a Catalina 40 headed north. It has been unusual for us to see many other boats when we are on a passage. A big ocean out there!
We caught two large yellowtail tuna! Again, they came on the lines at the same time so we had quite a challenge to manage it all, and we didn't - lost one off the swim step. They were both so large that we probably wouldn't have had room in the freezer. But that's the second time we've lost one so we'll design some mechanism (probably a net) for helping us maneuver the boat and deal with them individually. And we caught them while we were motoring this time, so that blows the theory about the noisy engine. We saw lots of turtles and a pod of dolphins. Since it was calm we were able to stop at Papanoa and avoid an overnight trip. We anchored behind a breakwater in front of the naval base. The marines (young boys) were doing on the water maneuvers, such as circling a buoy as close as they could in a large panga-type boat. We ate fresh bbq'd tuna while we watched children playing on the beach at water's edge at sunset.
Thursday, April 28 got underway at 0645 for the last leg to Acapulco. At early light there were quite a few pangas out fishing already so we had to dodge them. This was a record day for wildlife viewing. We saw many sea turtles and hit one -bumped him off to the side and he swam away. We saw several pods of dolphins and two whales. We had planned on anchoring in Bahia de Puerto Marques just southeast of Acapulco, but the swell was headed directly into it and we saw no other boats anchored there so we went on into Acapulco. We anchored behind the mooring field in the west corner near the marinas. Roberto from the nearby dive shop came out to see if we wanted to rent their mooring ball near us. We were already anchored, but thanked him and said we might move there later in the evening if a problem developed -the anchorage was quite deep, 50-70 ft. Indeed we did move to the mooring ball but not because we dragged. The local tour/party boat, Bonanza, liked to use the spot where we were anchored as his thoroughfare and asked if we could move over slightly. So the mooring came in handy. As we ate dinner in the cockpit we listened to music from the various clubs and party boats.
Friday, April 29 - Happy Birthday Kathleen (the 'other' grandma). Roberto came by to collect for his mooring and to offer us a spot on their shop's private dock for $.60US/foot/day. We had checked with the marina earlier in the morning to find that they would charge $3.15US/foot /day so his was a good deal. He didn't have showers and restrooms, but could provide electricity and water. We decided to go for it as he was being so helpful. It was our first attempt at med-mooring. It was exciting and required us to change the lines several times with the tide changes. Roberto and his cousin, Luis, stayed at shore late into the night, standing by to help us. Roberto, Luis, and Dennis took a car into town to refill our propane tank. We walked to the Port Captain to check in but they were closed until Tuesday and we'll be gone by then most likely. Dennis asked Roberto where we could go dancing and he directed us to Paradise - a bus ride away in Acapulco centro. But later that night Roberto said he had second thoughts about sending us into town late at night as the dancing doesn't start until 2100 or 2200. He recommended we stay 'around here' and just go on the party boat, Bonanza, for their 2200-0100 tour of the bay as they had two floors of dance music, with different music on each floor and it would be 'very safe'.
Saturday, April 30 was spent the morning on boat projects. In the afternoon we walked into the zocalo (old town area near us). We toured the fort (Fuerte de San Diego). It is a huge structure - a classic pentagonal fortification with 5 corners and lots of cannons overlooking the harbor. We spent a lot of time in the central plaza - touring the large Byzantine style blue-domed Nuestra Senora de la Soledad cathedral, shopping in the artisan market booths, sitting in the shade in the very crowded plaza people-watching. We ate dinner in a restaurant overlooking the plaza where we could feel the ocean breeze and listened to the live bands playing on the stage that is set up every weekend.
We plan to be here one more day, leaving on Monday headed for Huatulco, where we will check out of Mexico. We'll stop at Puerto Escondido along the way to break up the long trip.