Anchored in Acapulco

At anchor, Acapulco

At Anchor in Acapulco

Arriving in Acapulco harbor at 10:00 last night, we were finally anchored by 11:05 pm – exactly 36 hours after leaving Huatulco on Monday morning.

The 235-mile journey was pleasant, with seas less than 3 feet, winds less than 5 knots, and lots of wildlife for company. [Read more…]

Leaving Huatulco for Points North

Underway for Mazatlan…

After almost exactly 22 months, we finally threw off the lines and left Huatulco yesterday. We’re sitting in the pilothouse enjoying the second day of a pleasant 235 miles of our first leg to Mazatlan – hoping to either anchor in Acapulco if we need rest, or complete another 110 miles and drop the hook in Zihuatenejo for a few days.

Last night was magic…only one ship came up on the radar, the sea was like glass, and we got “torpedoed” by iridescent dolphins more than once. This morning there was a spectacular manta ray ballet, and we watched dozens of them leaping by twos to flap up to 10 feet in the air and land with a thwap. [Read more…]

Thoughts on Huatulco as We Prepare to Leave

Marina Chahue
Huatulco, Mexico

Huatulco Highlights

As we prepare to leave, I thought I’d better jot down our impressions of this great little spot, for those that are following our journey and hope to call in here one day.

Marina Chahue? Meh. Serviceable. That’s about the size of it. The showers and bathroom, in the words of a couple of ladies just finishing up a circumnavigation, are the third worst in the world.

The dust blows everywhere, 9 months a year. The surge at the dock eats lines. No pool. No restaurant. No shop. No amenities. Just a place to tie up, unmetered electricity and good potable water, and friendly security guards and staff who speak little to no English. [Read more…]

…And We’re Back, After a Year of Procrastination

After a year of procrastination, we’ve finally upgraded our website platform from Front Page 2003 to Word Press! Those of you who’ve been waiting for new content have probably already given up on us — but we’ll try to be better at staying current, honest.

All of our original cruise logs are still on the site in their original format, and can be reached by follwing this link:  Emma Jo Cruise Logs 2007-2010.

We’ll try to be better at updating the site, and we’re going to structure it so that the latest blog posts will appear on this page and titles and tags will show up in the sidebar over there on the left.

We’re both well and healthy, and sitting at Marina Chahue in Huatulco, Mexico.  We’ve been here over a year, and will probably head north to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan in early 2012.

Ole’s Off Again, Leaving Me to My Own Devices

Marina Chahue
Huatulco, Mexico

A bit of a sad morning — I had to say goodbye to Ole as he’s off to work again.  This time might be a bit longer separation, as he’s been asked to take on a special project in the Miami office until September.  I know I’ll be fine here on my own:  the town is charming and has lots to offer, the weather is great, and the security can’t be better.  I certainly have projects to keep me busy, from varnishing the interior of the pilothouse to recovering the wall in the master head and stateroom, as well as writing projects I want to take on as an income supplement. [Read more…]

Getting to Know Huatulco — And Battling Bureaucracy

Marina Chahue, Huatulco
Mexico

It’s been an interesting week getting to know the marina, the neighbors, the town of La Crucecita, and the reasons for Mexico’s reputation as the “land of mañana,”

Marina Chahue is fairly new and modern, with limited cruiser amenities, lots of surge, and a staff who, though friendly, have limited facility with English. Patricia in the office has been most helpful, understanding my poor Spanish and responding with her equivalent English. I think we’ll get along fine. Our challenge is in securing Emma Jo in the slip, fendering her against the almost constant surge, and making sure we have enough lines out. Many of the boats here seem to stretch their lines across adjacent slips to dampen the movement, and when our delightful neighbors have gone, we’ll do the same. We’re about a mile or so from town, so weather permitting we can walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and beaches. [Read more…]

Hola, Mexico!

Marina Chahue,
Huatulco, Mexico

Well, we made it, voyaging 522 miles over 76 hours across the dreaded and respected Gulf of Tehuantepec. It was the longest passage Ole and I have made together, requiring three overnight runs and constant monitoring of weather, and I must say, we picked a superb window.

Crossing Tehuantepec with Hitchhikers

We left Barillas Marina at 6:50 in the morning, and were guided out to the ocean waypoint by their panguero. The sea state was fairly calm, consisting of loooonnnnnggg 12-15 second Pacific swells of 4-6 feet, with the wind picking up each afternoon, peaking just before sunset, and subsiding throughout the night. We never had wind over 15 knots (actual), and it was mostly from the west or southwest. Occasionally the wind and swells competed with the current, resulting in a chop that reached 3 or 4 feet on top of the swells, but none of it was overly unpleasant – we just spent a few uncomfortable hours bucking like a bronco from time to time.

We had three scheduled “bailout” ports along the way in case the weather turned, and as we approached Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala, Puerto Madero and Salina Cruz in Mexico, conditions looked great to just keep going. The challenge was to make sure we each got enough rest – sleeping 6 or 8 hours through the night is impossible on this kind of passage – so we just took turns standing watch, spelling each other with naps as needed.

Gertrude and Heathcliff, the Hitchhiking Boobies

We were joined by a couple of hitchhikers who jumped aboard somewhere around Puerto Madero and stayed with us for two days – we christened them Gertrude and Heathcliff…and in spite of arm-waving, horn blasts, and fierce yelling, they sat and shat all over the fly bridge, making themselves quite at home. I had to remind myself of “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” though, and not get too tough with them lest we anger the Tehuantepec weather gods.

Conditions were so favorable, we arrived at Marina Chahue in Huatulco and were alongside at 12:45 (our time) in the afternoon, in good enough shape to meet the neighbors, have a beer or two, and stay up until 10 pm. It’s now just past noon on Monday, April 19, and we’re still waiting for the officials to clear us in. They were going to come yesterday (but it was Sunday) at 3:00 pm, they were going to start coming at 11:00 this morning, but we haven’t seen a soul yet. Aah, Mexico!

Visiting Don Miguel and the Spider Monkeys

Barillas Marina, El Salvador

Based on what we’ve been able to see in the weather forecasts, we’ll leave from here tomorrow and try to make Huatulco in one go. We calculate it should take us between 72 and 84 hours, depending on conditions.

We’ve enjoyed our time here in Barillas, even though we’re a bit remote. There aren’t too many boats here, so the social life is quiet. But it’s been blessedly calm, with refreshing afternoon breezes and tide swings to change the scenery four times a day. [Read more…]

Big City Trip — San Salvador

Barillas Marina, El Salvador

Yesterday I was up at 5:00 a.m. for a private car ride into San Salvador, hoping to get new visa pages and a printer, and see a bit of the countryside. For $100, a private car and driver was available for the day, and Francisco, my driver, was very accommodating and helpful.

He dropped me off at the US Embassy, a beautiful property on the edge of the city, and after just an hour and a half, picked me up again for a visit to Las Cascadas, a huge, modern shopping mall with an Office Depot! Found a great new Epson all-in-one wireless printer, some replacement business card blanks, extra ink cartridges, helped along with Francisco acting as my “business manager,” not uncommon in Central America. Once we finished with my business, Francisco had to stop at Barillas’ city offices, so I enjoyed the drive through the city and a pleasant wait with the security guard.

San Salvador is a beautiful old city, sitting on the shoulders of a volcano, with clean streets, fairly uniform sidewalks, and a look of prosperity about it. After the 13-year civil war that finally ended in the 90s, the country is united, prosperous, and proud of its democracy. And clearly, the US interests prevailed, rightly or wrongly, evidenced by the Burger Kings, Office Depots, shopping malls, and English signage. The city seems clean, tidy, well-organized and fairly safe, and like any other Latin American city, full of armed security guards everywhere.

Making Pupusas

I told Francisco I’d treat him to lunch if he found us a good local place to eat, so on the way out of the city, along the freeway, we stopped at a rest-stop equivalent lined with Pupuserías – little entrepreneurial shops specializing in the local comfort food pupusas. These are like empanadas, though made with rice flour, stuffed with everything from cheese to beans to flowers and herbs, made to order, and accompanied by a relish made of cabbage, carrots, citrus and jalapeno, all eaten by hand. Francisco and I each ate three, topped off with iced hibiscus tea, and the total bill was about $5. What a country. He explained to me that this place is known locally as the “pueblo de pupusas” or “pupusa town” because there are over 200 separate vendors in this one little stretch of freeway rest stop. Delicious!

The other task while here was to find a cheap Salvadoran cell phone so Ole could communicate with Independence of the Seas more cheaply than with our US cell phones (at $3 per minute for incoming calls, a 30-minute conversation costs a fortune!). No luck in San Salvador finding any phone less than $45, so we stopped in Usulutan on the way back to the marina and found a $20 phone, a $20 card, and back in bidness. There are now regulations all over Latin America, though, that require any cell phone to be purchased and/or licensed by a legal resident of the country, ostensibly to keep track of illegal transactions of one sort or another. So part of Francisco’s service was registering the phone in his name and handling the finances. It didn’t seem too far outside the bounds of custom for this type of transaction to take place.

The local philosophy seems to be “when the door is closed by some legal restriction, use the window.”

 

Visiting Usulutan for Groceries

Ole decided to order a cleaning kit for the water maker, which is coming from the States. We opted to order it here because the marina is proud of being able to import boat parts duty-free. The fridge was getting low on fresh produce again, so I joined the other cruisers in a van trip to nearby Usulutan, the county seat for the district of Jiquilisco, where Barillas is located. Half the ride into town was leaving the property via a dusty dirt road that passes through the cane fields – the town itself is just 15 minutes once the van reached the highway. [Read more…]