Rocketing Across the Gulf of Tehuantepec
10 November 2007 | 35 Miles From Huatulco, Mexico
Two days ago we said a final adios to the Mexican Navy and watched the sunrise as we left Puerto Madero and headed into the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Our weather window looked good, and we were excited to get down and dirty in the Gulf of Tehuantepec! While in Puerto Madero the Navy boarded Cisnectio on two separate occasions, both times with drug sniffing dogs. We hadn't set our anchor for more than 30 minutes when a boat came rolling in with about 6 Mexican Navy dudes. All had AK-47s or fully automatic weapons, which seem to be a weapons of choice in Central America. The dog however was armed with nothing but his cute little button nose. The first dog was a young black lab that looked at me as if he was thinking, "will someone just pet me for a bit?" I escorted the Naval officer and dog throughout the boat and helped with the inspection by lifting floorboards etc. I had difficulty restraining myself from petting the dog or rubbing his over-sized and droopy ears. The second inspection (which occurred the following day) was the same drill, although this time a chocolate lab showed up. He was just as cute although did a more thorough job than the previous pup, most likely because of his age and additional experience. Funny enough, the black lab seemed most interested in the places where we store our food. I, of course, don't blame him as that is where I would go too.
The first 18 hours of our trip brought very little wind, so we ended up motoring the majority of the time. It was quite hot, so we spent much of our time searching for shade and attempting to stay cool. I watched the movie "Rudy" and took a nap in hopes to rest up for a potentially rip-roarin' 48 hours the following day. At about 2 a.m. the wind picked up significantly so we raised the sails and instantly increased our speed. We actually ended up going too fast and were scheduled to enter the tricky part of the Gulf too early, so we heaved to for a few hours and waited until 6 a.m. to make our dash. I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and peeked my head out of the companionway to find the wind pushing upwards of 30 knots. Okay, "game on", I thought as I secured my inflatable life jacket and safety tether harness to my body. Once we trimmed the sails the boat took off with rocket-like speed. The boat heeled hard, water was flying everywhere, and we literally blew over the small wind waves at 9 knots. I was loving every minute of it and said a few "Yahoos!" under my breath....wouldn't want to sound like an amateur! We made excellent time even though we hit a few spots with no wind. Last night we pulled into a small protected bay towards the end of the gulf, had some soup, and fell quickly asleep. Today we are heading into Huatulco, which lay about 35 miles in front of us. We caught a giant Mahi during lunch time, so we are well stocked for the next 3 or 4 days. Chris and I rigged some additional lines and "teasers" in hopes to catch a big tuna. A teaser is essentially a large lewer that's sole purpose is to attract the fish. It slides through the water making an interesting action and, my favorite part, lots of little bubbles. Apparently the "big guys" are supposed to go for this. We will see!!
Crossing the gulf really wasn't as bad as I anticipated and we did it with flying colors. Proper planning and research truly pays off. Not once did I feel unsafe, nor did we have any problems or broken parts. We didn't see winds over 34 knots (sustained at 22-280, had very manageable seas, and did everything right. It was a very successful passage and I am proud to say that I have cross through the Gulf of Tehuantepec via boat. On an interesting side note, from what I have seen thus far, it appears we have entered an entirely different climate now that we are further north. The vegetation, soil, water, and weather seem to be drier and more desert-like. Large mountains line the coast and resemble that of the McDowell mountain range in North Scottsdale. It is truly beautiful. Too bad Scottsdale doesn't have an ocean, otherwise I could easily make it my permanent home. The air temperature and northerly breeze are far cooler than what we are used to. In fact, last night I had to sleep with a blanket, which is something I hadn't done since late July.