Posted by: Sailing Camelot | February 27, 2012

Feb 21st – Las Hadas to Zihuatanejo

Oh, it feels so good to be at sea again! After a wonderful night’s sleep, fully rested and rejuvenated, we’re ready and eager to get going. It’s 8:05 in the morning and I’m slowly guiding a docile Camelot out of the anchorage while Tom is making a pot of coffee. It’s a sunny day if a little hazy, but maybe it’ll clear out later on.

The sea is mercifully calm today, although the wind is nowhere to be found. We raise our main sail, it helps to balance the boat while motoring and in case the wind shows up, well, we’re half-ready…

Merlin the Autopilot takes over, allowing us a very nice breakfast. As we chomp on our cereal, a pod of dolphins shows up in the distance. I’m anticipating a good natural show; it’s the best part of cruising for me.

We don’t have to wait long at all. We’ve just finished eating breakfast when I see something sticking out of the water in the distance. Sure enough, on the starboard side about half a mile from us there’s a couple of whales frolicking in the water. I fumble for my camera: better get ready in case they come closer.

 

These are definitely NOT rabbitt ears sticking out of the water...

 

Some instinct tells me to look ahead instead, and wherever that came from I’m really grateful: right in front of our bow, no farther than 300 yards, I spot a tiny dorsal fin and two huge pectoral fins sticking out of the water. It’s a Mama Humpback Whale lying on her back with her calf swimming above her belly.

 

When you see this ...

 It looks like she’s guiding her baby within the safe confines of her fins, almost like an embrace. Tom slows down the boat, slightly altering course to avoid spooking the whales. You do NOT want to get close or -worse- between Mom and Baby… While Tom keeps a watchful eye for signs of danger, I start jumping all over the boat aiming for the best angle to shoot a series of pictures. All that prancing about cost me an expensive pair of sunglasses (my favorites, too!)… I watch them slip off my face, roll down my chest, bounce off the deck and very gently splash in the ocean. I’m so stunned I can’t even find my voice to utter the string of profanities swimming in my head (which is probably a good thing). Nothing I can do, so I keep shooting pictures!

I’m rewarded with a few really good ones, but I spend a good portion of the day cursing the nasty habit of sliding my glasses on the top of my head when I’m using the camera. Damn it! I got to get better at this…

Expect this...

 

... Then this...

 

... and definitely get out of the way for THIS!

The rest of the day is uneventful, bordering almost on the boring side. No more nature shows. I’m a little disappointed: this time last year, right in this stretch of the ocean, we were seeing turtles all around us. This time we see only one, and it disappears underwater before I can even see it properly. No pelicans flying overhead, either. How odd…

There’s still no wind, the engine keeps droning on. It eventually gets dark and we start our night watches. I take the first one, and sure enough things finally get more interesting. There’s a steady stream of tankers, cruise ships, huge cargo vessels going up and down the coast. We’re in the neighborhood of Lazaro Cardenas, a commercial port drawing a lot of traffic.

All the activity at sea keeps me awake and interested. I take note of which ship is going to come closer to us, how much time before that happens, the vessel’s name in case I have to hail them. For fun I check their destination and their Estimated Time of Arrival: some are heading for Panama, some for Japan, some even for the Soviet Union! Most of these crews are going to be at sea for many weeks. The one bound for the Soviet Union will get there mid-March!

 I’m not clairvoyant, people… I just use my electronics to the full extent of their capacity! I can gather a lot of information using our AIS (Automatic Identification System).  And no, I’m not wiping the smug grin off my face…

A cruise ship passes by me pretty close; it’s four stories high and lit like a little town! I’m imagining people aboard having fun. This is how I spend my night watches… Watching!

I’m getting tired, yawning more frequently and at shorter intervals. I’m really relieved to see Tom popping up in the cockpit, ready to take over. After a brief exchange of information I head for my lovely bed. I think I fell asleep before actually lying down on it!

I must have been sleeping like a log, because I was still deep in dreamland when Tom comes to gently wake me up! “Baby” he says “I’m getting tired, I can’t stay awake any longer”. Shoot! He let me oversleep, four hours instead of the usual three. And he also made a fresh pot of coffee for me! What a guy… I jump off the bed and groggily take my place. Everything is quiet, the heavy traffic has moved farther at sea; not much to do but let my mind wander, drink coffee and eat chocolate. I observe that the night gets darkest just in the hour before daybreak, funny how I never noticed before…

We’re getting close to another traffic spot, by seven in the morning I’m dodging tankers again. I can barely see this huge behemoth on my right (900 feet long) but it’s too close for comfort, so I alter course a little to put some more distance between us. But wait! I can’t move too much because I have another one close by to my left! Damn it if they’re not sandwiching me… I spend a good and tense ten minutes waiting for either one of them to pass on, and end up getting a lot of big waves form their proximity. “Well, good morning to you, too! Big bullies…” I know they can’t hear me, and I seriously doubt they even see me bobbing wildly in their wake.

The sun finally appears, and at the same time so does Tom. So nice to have company!

We should be arriving in another three hours or so. We start seeing far away in the distance a few sailboats traveling in the opposite direction and occasionally cross paths with one close by. We’re pleasantly surprised by a couple of radio calls coming from the closest boats: one from the sailing vessel Mazu and one from the catamaran Just in Time, both heading north. They’re friends we have sailed with last year, and it’s nice to chat with them for awhile, catching up with each other. The funniest part is they both said they recognized us by our flashy orange dinghy cover! I guess we couldn’t travel incognito if we wanted to…

Entrance of Zihuatanejo Bay

 

Houses perched on Zihuatanejo's Hills

 

Soon we approach Zihuatanejo, we’re both relieved to be almost at destination. We enter the wide bay; it’s crowded with boats at anchor, both wandering sailors like us and local fishing and commercial boats. Regardless, we find the perfect place to drop the anchor.

Pretty Neighborhood!

 

Playa La Ropa - Zihuatanejo

It’s 14:45. This trip lasted almost 31 hours, all of them motoring with the current against us. Bless our engine, it must be tired, too!

After settling Camelot for rest it’s finally our time to relax. A cold beer for the Captain, a Diet Coke for me, we toast the completion of yet another safe trip. Believe me, we never take it for granted!

The rest of the day goes by in a haze of laziness interrupted only by dinner preparations. We turn in for an early night: it’s amazing how tiring it is, traveling long distances with short stops and barely enough rest before starting the next day all over again! Not that I’m complaining: this is the life we chose for ourselves, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

We’re going to spend the night here and most of the day tomorrow, before leaving for Acapulco.

My favorite house on Zihuatanejo Bay

 

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Responses

  1. Those whale photos are amazing. Were they worth the lost glasses? I can’t answer that for you but its a lot better than losing the glasses for nothing! A couple of weeks ago I lost a pair off the side just because I bent over the wrong way forgetting they were tucked into the collar of my shirt! Grrr.

    Anyway, beautiful pics.

    • Yes, Tate, it was worth it. I can always buy another pair of glasses, but these pictures? Not sure I’ll have another charce! Hopefully some big fish is seeing better and looking cool with my shades


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