Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 20: Mexico page 105 of 109

Suka In Acapulco, Mexico


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From within the harbor a faint solar glow to the east silhouetted the hills. What a long night it had been. The incessant motoring, the vigilance of coastal navigating, and the ponga dodging had fatigued us deeply. We were ready for a long rest. When Ray shut off Perkins, the silence rang in my ears. With Suka tied to a buoy, our world was now still and secure; at last we could sleep soundly. Even so, I awoke a few hours later feeling not much rested but too excited about being in Acapulco to sleep any longer. Outside, the sun was not yet over the hilltops and the city was bathed in an early morning pastel light. The nearby beach was already bustling with activity as a few industrious Mexicans, intent on earning American dollars, prepared to hustle fishing excursions to tourists. Business seemed to be prospering. The rattle of tired diesel engines and honking horns wafted our way from what appeared the downtown area.

I brewed coffee and when Ray awoke I suggested we go ashore. We dinghied to the docks of the prestigious Acapulco Yacht Club, and found it surprisingly accommodating to visitors. The grounds were clean and quiet and the tranquil ambiance appealing. Anxious to see some of the city, and hungry for genuine huevos rancheros, we set off on foot from the yacht club in the direction of town. The day had already grown hot by the time we reached the waterfront, where fishing boat owners were broadcasting their bargain excursions. "No thank you," I thought sardonically, "another boat trip is the last thing I want right now."

After dining on zesty Mexican food, we browsed and window shopped, and leisurely returned to the yacht club. To enter the club from the street was to enter a cool, lush, and quiet park in the middle of a hot and fumy city. At the club's front desk we learned that use of a buoy was not expensive. When we paid for it we were issued membership cards, and granted guest privileges. The facilities were lavish and accommodating, and I felt conspicuous wearing tattered tennis shoes and faded shorts and shirt, yet no one seemed to notice. We sat in the shade by the swimming pool, and ordered cold drinks. What a life! The pool looked inviting, so I made a quick dinghy trip out to Suka to fetch our bathing suits and more appropriate clothing. After a prolonged stint of lounging pool side, we used the club's showers, then strolled around the docks, gazing at monster power yachts kept spotless by many hired hands.

Early the next morning we moved Suka to the fuel and water dock, where we scrubbed the topsides while waiting for the señor to arrive. Sooty exhaust had blackened the transom, so working in the dinghy with soap, scrub brush, the trickling hose, and a generous application of elbow grease, I worked until Suka's stern was once again sparkling white and her varnished name boards glistening. Then I scrubbed at the stubborn algae growing at the waterline, and removed the tell-tale signs of our bountiful fishing, dried to the hull.

The señor finally arrived, and at a mere 25 cents per gallon we topped Suka's diesel fuel tanks, filled the jerry jugs, and wished we had the capacity to carry more.

For me, happiness was walking into Camacho Supermercado with a supply of pesos and a long shopping list. In a welcome contrast from Costa Rica's high prices and limited supplies, Acapulco's many and modern supermarkets were well stocked with inexpensive domestic and American merchandise. The colorful display of fresh, healthy produce was a sight for vitamin-deficient eyes. Leaving me comparing varieties of avocados, Ray wandered off toward the books and magazine section. During our voyage I had learned to appreciate such a mundane chore as grocery shopping. Knowing that many weeks could pass before I would find the opportunity to stock up again, and that the produce would have to keep for many days unrefrigerated, I meticulously scrutinized each onion, potato, tomato and so on for blemishes. And I chose fruits and vegetables in varying stages of greenness, to be used as they ripened.

During the voyage we had delighted in sampling unique, regional foods: fragrant cilantro from the markets of Central America, colorful plantains from the French Polynesian islands, guinea fowl eggs from the supermercado of Fortaleza, abundant papayas from Tonga, even fresh conch meat sold in the market on Bonaire. Not only were the unfamiliar foods intriguing, but the currency was often unusual; even the shopkeepers faces were engaging. Market day was an opportunity to see a land's abundant yield, and the inhabitants who labored for and depended on it. That day, Ray and I walked out of the Camacho Supermercado with four sacks of groceries each, and still I had a pocketful of pesos. Food and commodities were inexpensive.

During our last two days in Acapulco we prepared Suka for the next leg to Manzanillo. We changed the engine oil and replaced the oil filter, we went to the grocery store two more times, and I packed the aft cabin wall to wall with fresh food.

Despite the incredulous comments of our new acquaintances at the yacht club, that we could not leave on Thanksgiving Day, we said goodbye, and wished them well on their southward journeys. With the sun laying low in the evening sky we motored out of the bay, feeling more than a tinge of sadness to be leaving Acapulco so soon.

During the two day voyage to Las Hadas we enjoyed fine weather. I noted that there seemed to be a characteristic meteorological pattern within a few miles of shore. The late afternoon winds would veer and head us, until before dark we would be tacking. Around 10 or 11 p.m. the wind would have veered enough to allow Suka to reach along close-hauled on the starboard tack, and for the remainder of the night she would enjoy easy motorsailing at an agreeable pace in light airs. Mid morning the wind would begin blowing off-shore, and as the day wore on it would continue veering. Presumably this cyclic effect is the result of convective on-shore and off-shore breezes precipitated by the differential solar heating and cooling of land and sea. This time of year anyway, this convection seemed strong enough to counter the prevailing off-shore north-westerlies, for typically we experienced the swell coming from that direction, despite what our local breezes were doing. On a few occasions we experimented by moving several miles farther out, but found only stronger headwinds and headseas.

Five miles offshore, these fishermen paced us for a worrisome five minutes. They were selling drugs.


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Anchoring in the otherwise empty bay fronting the extravagant Las Hadas Resort Hotel, we ventured ashore to idle away a few hours posing as guests seated at the pool and nursing iced drinks. The next day we rode a taxi into Manzanillo and were successful at checking-in and out with the maritime officials, although this proved something of an ordeal in its duration and complication. Back at the hotel we learned that its marina was low on diesel fuel, so the following day we relocated Suka to Manzanillo Harbor and anchored in front of town. We paddled ashore, then Jenny returned aboard to watch Suka while I rode a taxi to an outlying station far out of town, to fill our four large diesel jugs. After returning aboard and emptying the containers into Suka's tanks, we repeated the process a second time.

Las Hadas

Jenny adding a little color to the otherwise drab landscape.

Late afternoon we sailed away a few miles to a beautiful, secluded anchorage by the name of Ensenada Carrizal. The place was scenic and tranquil, but its isolation imparted the sensation of having placed ourselves in an ideal setting for a scuttling. The danger was probably imagined; yet I was not inclined to test the odds, and rather than endure the night reacting to every noise, I decided to depart.

We continued throughout the night, and at noon the following day we entered Bahia Chamela. A swell working into the bay disturbed this anchorage considerably, so after a three hour nap we returned to sea, and motorsailed onward, holding the shoreline close abeam.

During our travels along the Central American coast we were witnessing a gradual but dramatic change in scenery. The lush, impenetrable jungles of Panama and Costa Rica had given way with the passing of latitude to the barren and seemingly lifeless land of Northern Mexico. Farther on, we were to see the shores of the Baja peninsula like a moonscape, nearly void of greenery at this time of year.

Map: Anchorage at Ipala.
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The following afternoon, after a wild and bumpy night of progressing slowly, we ducked into the last possible anchorage before addressing the open-water passage across the Sea of Cortez. This was Ipala, and we found it empty save for a few local fishing prams. Even though Suka was the only yacht, unlike at Carrizal I felt little danger of foul play here, largely because of the proximity of the nearby village. Jenny dove overboard with carpet and putty knife in hand, and scrubbed the hull below the waterline. She reported that the lush green scenery was not the only variable of change with our passing of latitudes; the water was growing decidedly frigid. Scrubbing Suka's bottom was normally the skipper's job, but at the time I was racking through yet another enervating 12-hour relapse of malaria.

We departed early and followed the coast to Cabo Corrientes, then struck out across the Sea of Cortez, hoping we had gone far enough north in order to keep the gulf-spewed wind off of Suka's nose. The seas were remarkably calm - to within about half way across the gap, then during our second day they roughened. Close hauled to a zephyr broad over the starboard bow, we progressed favorably. At one point we hauled in a big dorado, larger than any we had caught, but on wrestling it near, we saw the dorado's mate, perhaps, as large and swimming at its side. The sight was so touching that we both agreed we did not need the fish. So with a pair of pliers I reached over the gunwale, grabbed the thrashing hook lodged in the fish's mouth, and wrenched it free.

Offshore rocks.

Approaching Cabo San Lucas.

Cabo San Lucas

Early the morning of our third day at sea, our destination hove into sight and before long we had entered the inner anchorage at Cabo San Lucas. The annual migration of yachts from California was on, and sail and power yachts of every size and description were here in phenomenal numbers. We had not seen anything like it.

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We lightered ashore our supply of diesel jugs to take care of our first priority. North-bound against wind and current, we would be needing plenty of fuel. The walk to the pumps proved miles in length, and in the process we found that our sea legs were not strong legs. So for the return trip we hailed a taxi, then rowed out and emptied the four 5-gallon fuel jugs into Suka's tanks before returning on a second fuel run.

We spent two days relaxing aboard, wending the dusty streets of Cabo while inspecting the gaudy wares of the merchants, and frequenting the little taco stands. One afternoon we suffered, as my journal whimsically states, a brush with the mighty Mexican margaritas. Innocently enough we had sauntered into a small but lively cantina, and thirstily ordered the drinks. It seems that the Cabo San Lucans were fiercely proud of their unsparingly virile margaritas, and as we later staggered the short distance back to the dinghy, the world reeled. Jenny is something of an abstainer by nature, and she was now so sick that I had to use my utmost strength and fortitude to cavalier her back aboard. The next day we were beside ourselves; so much so, in fact, that we abnegated alcohol from our lives once and for all. (To this day we don't drink booze.)

Feeling rather uninspired of the world at large, and this time not from the malaria, I slipped overboard and scrubbed the prop. Then we departed.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 105.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
> GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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 1981 Baja8 Ed 
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