Posted by: Sailing Camelot | March 12, 2012

Mar 8th and 9th – From Huatulco to Puerto Madero/Marina Chiapas

At 5:30 we leave Huatulco and the safe haven of Marina Chahue’, part of the exodus that sees at least eight boats leaving in a staggered formation.

A deceivingly beautiful start of the day...

We’re the third boat to leave, so we’ll be right in the middle of the group. If there’s safety in numbers, then we should be just fine.

We soon get a taste of things to come. The wind is still blowing strong and angry –from the wrong direction again!-, rendering the sea choppy and hard to deal with. By daylight the waves get really tall and at closer intervals. Camelot is doing her best, aided by the strong engine, but it’s slow and agonizing going.

We’re hobby-horsing like crazy, with big waves breaking on the bow and flooding the deck. I don’t like this Blue Rodeo one bit, but we grit our teeth and get on with it.

It lasts about two hours, then it magically quits. Like it never happened! The sea is a glass mirror, you’d never guess that there’s still a 2-knot current against us, slowing us down. But hey, that’s nothing!

I welcome the peace and to celebrate our newly-found balance prepare a lunch fit for a king. It’s amazing, you’d think that our stomachs would be turned inside-out with all of that, but instead we’re ravenously hungry!

We even get to turn the engine off and sail for a little bit, but we’re going too slow for Tom’s taste… Screw it, let the engine rule…

It’s all peaceful and quiet around us, such a clear and brilliant day. We see clearly a massive blue whale about a mile away, and I mean massive, we estimate about 65 feet! When it finally dove, just the tail looked as wide as our boat.  At a mile’s distance! I’m very relieved it didn’t get any closer…

Here they come!

At least these guys don't scare me...

That spurs me into getting my camera ready, and not a moment too soon.  The dolphins arrive in droves, jumping and gallivanting, pushing each other to obtain the prime spot in front of our bow.

Quick! Get to the bow!

Playing on the bow wake

 They swim fast! Some of them are light grey with tiny spots like a Dalmatian and they’re bigger than the ones I’ve seen so far… I spend a good hour perched on the bow to enjoy the show, and even notice some of them turning sideways to look up at me! They give me sheer joy.

A Dalmatian Dolphin?

The calm sea is also peppered with Leatherback Turtles; there are dozens of them bobbing all around us. The water is so amazingly clear that I can see a multitude of tiny jellyfish below the surface.

Leatherback Turtle

They're pretty elusive creatures

Then I remember that the Leatherbacks absolutely love jellyfish, it’s their favorite food. It also improves the turtles’ fertility and hardens the eggs’ shell. Truly Health Food for turtles… Good to know that those stingy little buggers are good for something other than giving us a rash…

I certainly don’t feel sorry for the jellyfish when I witness a turtle chomping on one. It goes like this: Turtle bites on Jellyfish, Jellyfish expands like a balloon then explodes, Turtle happily munches away.

Chomping on a Jellyfish

... And pop goes the Jellyfish!

Around sunset a few Devil Rays briefly splash loudly about, a perfect end to a day that started a little abruptly.

I'll never get tired of sunsets...

Amazing how the colors change within a few minutes

The night is illuminated by a full moon so bright that the contours of the sea are easy to see.

Occasionally we check in with the other boats via radio, to make sure everyone is okay. So far so good, everyone’s happy. We’re miles apart from each other, so we don’t really see any other boat for most of the trip.

I’m lucky enough to be on watch when day breaks. It’s absolutely spectacular!

It's a Brand New Day!

Such beauty... Must be a good omen

To enhance the already marvelous experience, there’s a pod of dolphins jumping high out of the water.

Maybe it’s their way to welcome the new day?

Where there's one Dolphin...

... There are plenty more!

My version is a couple of mugs of strong coffee. Welcome, New Day!

It is a very lazy day, we entertain ourselves with some reading, some games and (in my case) a lot of photography.

We’re still motor-sailing to maintain a decent speed, but it looks like we’ll be arriving well after sunset. I’m not happy about that, and Tom isn’t thrilled either. It is strongly recommended to avoid arriving in an unknown location in the dark, and we respected this rule since we left over eighteen months ago.

Ok, well, I guess it’s time to break the rule. According to my chart plotter, we won’t be at destination until 20:30… In the meantime, we enjoy yet another late-afternoon dolphin show.

What comes up...

... Must go down

Lead the way!

At dusk we start seeing a multitude of lights peppering the sea. We’re closing in on our destination and getting closer to shore: those are navigation lights of the shrimpers, big fishing boats dragging nets behind them. Thankfully, they’re illuminated like little villages…

From then on, the peace is over. The Dodge-The-Shrimper game begins, and colorful cussing ensues. There are so many of them, and going in all directions! Tom gets a good workout, steering the boat like a skilled Formula Uno racecar…

Finally we came in sight of Puerto Madero and are guided by the sea buoys lights indicating the way in. Funny enough, there also are two huge and very bright white lights flashing intermittently every second. They are meant to help keep incoming vessels in the middle of the deep channel, but they effectively render us blind!

It’s a little tricky, but Tom gets us safely into the basin while I practice deep breathing. Another few turns, some dodging of a working dredge, one wrong turn, much swearing and two corrections later, we finally arrive at the Chiapas Marina.

Some friends are already standing at the side of our slip, ready to catch our lines and help us ease in. God bless the sailor’s spirit! With their help we settle Camelot in, and within minutes beer cans pop open to welcome our arrival and to celebrate our safe crossing of the blasted and intimidating Tehuantapec Bay.


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