November 26,2014-Fantastic Days of Sailing to Zihuatenejo
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Coming out of Huatulco we found a light sea breeze just as when we left Chiapas, and, from my perspective, this was expected; it’s a daily occurrence on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. There had been talk of storms going around the marina, but it was just that, talk.
What was worrying the other cruisers in Huatulco was that the first really big blow of the season was pumping up in the Tehuantepec with 50 knot winds and 25 foot seas and it was being called a “storm”.
Some thought that heading out when a storm was going on, even if it was seventy five miles away, was foolish.
But I was looking for some breeze up the coast and the forecast promised a couple of days of it. Anyhow, if there was some wind or swell in the Gulf it should be from behind, helping us. And 28 miles down the coast we’d turn the corner at Puerto Angel and after that anything coming out of Tehuantepec couldn’t reach us. We dismissed the worries of the other cruisers and left as planned at noon.
We set sail close hauled on starboard tack, standing out to sea to clear the headlands to the southwest of Huatulco. Then we tacked and the wind lifted us around and we found we could carry our course right up the coast. It was great sailing; winds around 10 knots and flat water. In fact, it was two fantastic days of sailing up the coast as far as Acapulco and beyond, some of the best ever, long beautiful sunny days with steady wind and Wings speeding silently along.
We loved it.
It was good sailing but I wondered how many of the other cruising sailboats would have thought so.
When we go out we put up our sails and then we look to see which way the wind is blowing. If it is from astern, terrific, but if it is a beat we just sheet in and resign ourselves to a day or two of tacking. People with a different view of cruising come out of the marina with the motor on and just turn onto their desired course. When they then look aloft and see that the wind is right on the nose and they say, “Can’t sail in this stuff,” and they switch on the autopilot and motor for two days.
Having the right boat helps. Wings, with its big sail plan and deep keel, can really go to weather. Actually we think we can go just about any direction we want in whatever conditions we encounter, not that we’d want to, but we can. On this trip it was easy sailing. We were close hauled, 44 degrees off the wind, going 5 knots in six knots of breeze. And that’s with the cruising sails; with the racing sails, well, who knows. At other times, on other passages, we’ve faced strong winds and big seas. The sailing has been tough but the boat can do it if the crew is willing. Usually we have been. This time we didn’t need to be tough, it was a piece of cake.
So we sailed up half of the Mexican coast. The Mexican Riviera they call it. Past towns like Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel. On the morning of the second day we spotted Acapulco when the sun’s early rays glinted off something that could only be a high rise hotel. We might have gone into Acapulco, but the marinas there quoted us high prices when we inquired by email before leaving Huatulco. That, and the wind just didn’t seem to want us to go there. All day it blew us offshore, away from Acapulco. We might have tacked and gone in but for the marina rates. Instead we caught some good wind shifts and made tracks north. By dusk Acapulco was far astern.
Now we have reached Zihuatenejo and are anchored in that beautiful harbor. Z-town, we’ve been here before. It’s nice to be back after 16 years.
In a day or two we’ll sail on north to the next Mexican port of call.
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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Zihuatenejo