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Saturday, March 10, 2012


Thermally enhanced Tehuantepec winds…
Steep waves…
Wind funnel blowing hard for hundreds of miles offshore…
No refuge…

Anxiety about crossing the “T-Pecker” haunted me several months ago and I tried not to think about it. Heather and Shawn’s glorious Pacific Mexico cruising book is sketchy south of Zihuatanejo and completely useless south of Huatulco. We have used their cruising guide religiously for a couple years now on the Baja and the Mainland. Venturing out in uncharted Heather and Shawn territory meant finding another security blanket.

And to tweak the anx… Weather Guru, Don Anderson, took a 2-month sabbatical from forecasting the weather on the Amigo and Southbound SSB Nets (yes, right during the time we planned to cross the T-Pecker!). I breathed heavily in a brown paper bag.

But, power cruising down from Guaymas to Huatulco in 20 days changed everything I felt about the T-Pec. I was completely confident in our decision making.

With Buoy Weather, Passage Weather, Santiago Solemate Stan’s Weather…
With Eric and Sheryl’s s/v Sarana Explore Central America Guides…
With the Rains Mexican Boating Guide and Charlie’s Charts
We were armed with knowledge and ready!

We were paid up in Marina Chaue in Huatulco until Wednesday, February 29. The forecast looked good for crossing and Saturday looked nasty.  So, we had a 3-day weather window and it would only be a 2-night crossing. We anchored out in a rolly bay just long enough to check the prop and to take a nice warm dip. Then, off we went!

Some people we know prefer to rhumb line down. Some people stay one foot on the beach. In hindsight, we should have taken the rhumb line. However, we stayed 10-12 miles off shore until we reached Salina Cruz. We saw gusts up to 20 knots from the north, but nothing to worry about. The first night was a piece of cake and we managed to sail some.

The second night, however, we had no wind and it was flat calm… which brought every panga fisherman out. I personally know one smart sailing family who hit a panga fisherman close to Guaymas. I say smart because they really are intelligent and sea savvy. The panga fisherman had no light and was sleeping in his boat! I didn’t want to experience the same thing, but what can you do…
pitch black, little boat doesn’t show up on radar, sleeping fisherman with death wish has no light?

Jim and I did night watches together for the most part the second night. We hailed the two boats behind us to warn them when we saw sight of pangas, some with bright propane lanterns. We’re thinking since this is also a problem south of here (friends of ours hit a panga fisherman in Guatemala, panga sunk, fisherman suffered broken his leg), that we will occasionally sound our fog horn. Perhaps we will wake a sleeper and save his boat and his life.

We made it to Marina Chiapas where manager and developer, Enrique, welcomed us with open arms. At this writing, the marina is free. However, there are API fees to pay. For 10 days in Chiapas, the API cost was 765 pesos… or $61US.

In between, we made a 5 day trip up to San Cristobal, Palenque, Misol-Ha waterfall and Agua Azul waterfall. WOW! More on that later with pics.

San Cristobal was not as exciting for us as Oaxaca. Perhaps it is because it was cold – 50* F at night and mid-60’s during the day. It would have been one thing if we had nice wool sweaters and heavy jackets – but we didn’t. Luckily, we were warned by some Canadians to take fleecy sweaters, so we had at least some insulation.

The native peoples (Tzotzil and Tzeltal indians) are more aggressive selling their wares in San Cristobal than in Oaxaca. They are also less gracious about having their photos taken, believing that you are stealing their souls. However, the Amber Museum was fascinating to me. And a delicious restaurant called Madre Tierra was very reasonable price-wise and had delicious entrees: lasgana, lentil soup, crepes filled with mushrooms, pizza… something other than traditional Mexican food was a welcome feast. The streets are heavy with people traffic at night and loads of folk art is available for buying. My biggest score was an amber necklace on a leather throng for 50 pesos – and yes, it is real, not acrylic. I had him put it under a black light to test if it glowed or not. It glowed a bright blue! There isn’t an insect in it (those cost bunches more), but I am happy enough ot take a little piece of Mother Mexican Earth with me.

Most interesting is that we went with 3 other boats: Serendipity, Swift Current & Taking Flight. Eleven of us managed to explore together and we are still talking to one another!

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