Late January, 2013 – After all the fun we’d had with our new friends on the luxurious properties of Villa Escondida and Las Palmas, we wondered if we would ever have the heart to leave Huatulco, Mexico. This little seaside community had enchanted us for three months.
For two of those months we had been anchored in Santa Cruz Bay.
We had been there so long that the exposed part of our anchor had become encrusted with barnacles. I guess that’s the cruising equivalent of putting down roots!!
As we began thinking about leaving, we realized we would have to spend at least one night at sea. Although there are a few marginal places to stay overnight along this coast, none sounded all that inviting until Acapulco, which is 210 nautical miles away. Traveling at an average of 6-7 knots, that’s a minimum of 30 hours “on the road.” Zihuatanejo was 140 miles further.
It is much easier to see at night on the ocean when there is a full (or nearly full) moon. Otherwise there is no horizon, and the ocean and the sky become indistinguishable. It’s very eerie.
Having a moon in the sky is also more comforting, as those inky black waves lapping the outside of the hull from the pitch dark bottomless depths can wreak havoc on your imagination.
So we had planned to leave when the moon was full, or as close to full as possible. That would be at the end of the month, which gave us plenty of time to prepare.
We slowly made the rounds to our favorite places to say “goodbye.” Over at Santa Cruz beach we enjoyed final beach-side beers served by two waiters we had befriended, Eugenio and Martín.
And after having watched the strolling guitarist-singers for months, we finally asked one to play us a song. We chose “Alla en el rancho grande,” after listening to an inspiring rendition of this song on a CD by our friend, cowboy poet Don Cadden.
The guitarist did a fabulous job and got a round of applause from everyone in the beach bar. I was so tickled to have captured it on video that I forgot to find out his name…
We walked the docks and got final pics of whatever we could think of — all those special things we’d seen day after day and wanted to take with us as images to reminisce with in the future.
One of our favorite hangouts had been in the middle of the charming town square in Santa Cruz where there was a little kiosk bistro calle Cafe Huatulco. It is a delightful place to while away an afternoon or evening, and during our time in Huatulco we had spent many an hour there.
So back we went to find a shady spot under the truly exotic and enormous trees for one last frappé ice-cream-coffee drink. Yum!
One of the crazy things about writing a blog is that sometimes you realize after the fact that a past post is missing something important.
And so it was with our pictures from Villa Escondida. One of Mark’s favorites that he took while we were there was of a little statue decoration in the house that I’ve added here.
This chubby lady must have just been to Cafe Huatulco and slurped down one of those tasty ice cream coffee frappés.
When we first arrived in Huatulco, around Halloween, we discovered that our 35 hour dash across the Gulf of Tehuantepec had fried the “smart charger” on our alternator. This little gizmo controls how much current the engine alternator puts into the batteries.
We learned the hard way that these smart chargers are extremely heat sensitive. We had made the crossing motor-sailing at a slightly faster pace than our usual cruising speed, and the ambient temperature in the cabin had been well over 90 degrees F the whole time.
To top it off, the original installation of the smart charger was right next to the engine in an enclosed compartment. That is a recipe for disaster!
Since we had already had the alternator rebuilt once, we decided to buy a new alternator / smart charger kit.
Bringing things into Mexico is not easy, and we went down various avenues to try to figure out how to get our hands on one of these kits. After four weeks of hemming and hawing, West Marine had told us it would cost $953 to ship the 20 lb. kit to Marina Chahué in Huatulco.
That fee didn’t include the purchase price of the kit, the California sales tax, or the Mexican import duty! Geez. For that price, rather than shipping the part, one of us could fly to San Diego, pick one up, and bring it back!! So much for working with West Marine.
We explored other methods, but each had its issues and complications. Then our hero and friend Ron from Las Palmas offered to bring one down when he flew back to Huatulco after a trip home. Wow. What a godsend!! We couldn’t believe our good luck.
Fortunately, Huatulco was an awesome place to hang around while we were sorting all these things out. However, after months of glorious fun visiting orchards, playing on the beach, making new friends and prancing around five star resorts like royalty, Mark finally got down to business and installed the new alternator and smart charger (he gave that little beastie a cool room of its own outside the engine compartment). So, very sadly, it appeared it was at last time for us to move on.
We checked the calendar again and suddenly realized the full moon was coming much sooner than we’d expected. Oh no! Suddenly the gradual goodbyes and leave-taking I had imagined got compressed into a few very busy days.
On our last day in Huatulco, we took some friends on a daysail out to the northernmost bay, San Agostín, where we discovered yet another snorkeling paradise on a sensational reef. What an amazing place these Bays of Huatulco are. We could easily stay for another month! But we had to go… Or did we??
Our friends caught a cab back to Santa Cruz while we prepared the boat for a double overnight 350 mile passage to Zihuatanejo, our emotions in turmoil.
“Well, now we’ve got to break down the dinghy and tie it on deck,” Mark said as the sun was setting. I made a face. He made a face back. Did we really have to go? There would be another full moon in a month. Why not stay four more weeks? We both sighed.
“All right, all right…” he suddenly said. “Let’s stick around another month.”
We both grinned, happy to abandon the dinghy breakdown project. We toasted our sudden and brilliant decision to stay in Huatulco instead, and went to bed planning to sail back to Santa Cruz Bay the next day. However, overnight we both changed our minds yet again. We could easily have stayed in Huatulco forever, but more adventures surely awaited us up ahead.
Next morning we broke down the dinghy and packed up the boat and began our 350 mile sail to Zihuatanejo. But, as so often happens in this crazy traveling lifestyle, we didn’t stick to our plans for very long. While underway we changed our itinerary one more time…