Captains Corner

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We Are Back To Boating!!!

It’s December!! Almost 2012, unbelievable. Jewell and I are getting ready to head back to Huatulco, Mexico to move The Elysium to El Salvador (approximately 270 miles). We’ve been away from the boat for eight months.

As you know, nothing is easy. A few months ago we received a panicked call from Lucio that smoke was coming out of the transom. It was another battery charger that burned out and also burned out TWO of the beautiful new AGM batteries that last forever. Ha! We have in our possession one new battery charger (one week’s salary) and unfortunately are still waiting for two new batteries (two weeks salary) to arrive in Huatulco. So first they have to arrive and then, get someone to install both on the boat, we’ll be in good shape. Pray.

Once again we will need to get decent weather to get through the Tehuantepec. Three days of calm weather. (If you remember from previous blogs, we couldn’t get good weather in April so we remained in Huatulco.) The minute our weather men give us the OK, we’re off.

Many of our friends are already in El Salvador. We’re planning a New Year’s Eve party. By that time, we’ll need all the Tequila we can swallow.

Aggie will not be joining us for this trip. We doubt if her bladder will hold out for 35 hours….and it is way too stressful worrying about her exploding. We’ll take her back to El Salvador with us for the trip to Costa Rica (we will stop frequently).

I’m sure this season will be full of Lucy and Ethel (oh, excuse me, Jewell and Deborah) antics. It’s fun. How lucky are we!!

Happy Holidays to all. Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year. Perhaps we’ll see you in Costa Rica.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The End Of The Season

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to El Salvador. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men!!!   In order to get to Central America, you must travel through the “Tehuanapec” pass, which is approximately 120 miles long and takes you to the tip of Mexico and into Guatemala.  This pass is considered one of the most dangerous areas of water in Northern and Central America.   When the Gulf of Mexico is turbulent, it stirs up the Tehuanapec, they call it a T-Pecker when it blows and there is a very good possibility you could hit 20 and 30 foot waves.  After the mere 12 foot wave we encountered in Ixtapa, the decision was made to wait.  We waited and waited and waited but could not find 3 days of good weather that would assure an easy passage before May 30th (which is the start of hurricane season).  So, damn it, The Elysium is still in Mexico.

This is what our weather guy sent to us for these particular days.

BUOYWEATHER.COM Virtual Buoy Forecast
  Location : 15.75N  94.25W            
  Model Cycle: 2011 MAY 03 18Z         
  UTC - 7 Hours        

This does not count for the wind waves which are averaging 5-7 feet.               
                  WIND                  SEAS
DATE   HR  dir/deg  range(kt)   dir/per   range(ft)
----  ---  ------------------   -------------------
5/3   11   NNW 344  17 - 23     NNW  6sec   8 - 10
5/3   17   NNW 349  22 - 29     NNW  6sec   6 - 12
5/3   23     N 354  21 - 29     NNW  6sec   7 - 13

5/4   05     N   1  18 - 30     NNW  6sec   7 - 11
5/4   11     N 352  18 - 35     NNW  6sec   9 - 13
5/4   17     N 357  20 - 27     SSW  5sec   9 - 14
5/4   23     N 353  16 - 22     SSW  5sec  10 - 15

5/5   05     N   1  15 - 21     SSW  6sec   7 - 11
5/5   11   NNW 347  12 - 25     SSW  6sec   9 - 10
5/5   17     N 352  13 - 22     SSW  6sec   9 - 15
5/5   23     N   5  13 - 30     SSW  5sec   8 – 13

This means the waves are around 12 feet PLUS 5 – 7 feet which equals about 20ft waves on the minimum side.

The plan is to move the boat on November 1 to El Salvador (just for a few weeks), then to Costa Rica and then Panama (just for a few weeks to a month in each port), and THEN through the Panama Canal.  From there, we will take a “left” and begin our circumnavigation of the Caribbean by first visiting Belize, Honduras (the Barrier Reef there), and other wonderful places.  We will then continue north to the point of land on the East side of Mexico that is close to Cuba, and travel to Cuba (which is approximately 100 miles).  We’ll follow the coast line around Cuba and then North to the Florida Keys.  Then start down to the many wonderful islands on the east side.

While in Huatulco, we took the skiff into a really pretty cove called Maguey, with white sand beaches and water so clear we could see the anchor.  We took a panga to shore and had lunch and drinks which were served in huge coconuts.  There were 15 restaurants in a very small stretch of beach.  It is just amazing how they crammed them all in.

A few days later we took The Elysium to a bay called Organo, another white sand beach with crystal clear blue water.  We anchored and felt like we owned the whole bay.  The only boat there until  . . . . . the booze cruisers came in and really churned up the bay.  We were so disappointed but within a couple of hours the bay was ours again.  The best part was we did not have any cell service.  When we needed to make a call we had to take the skiff about 2 miles out into the open ocean.  We wound up spending 4 glorious days there. The last day we were there a dead sea turtle washed up on the shore.  We swam in to see it and were able to see just how big they are.  All and all it was a little peace of heaven on earth.  

Deb tethered to the boat so she does not float away!

Beautiful Organo Beach.

The Elysium anchored in the bay!

Closer shot of The Elysium

The Sea Turtle.  May he rest in peace!

The last week we were there, some of the boats from El Salvador were on their way back up and stopped in Marina Chauhe' pronounced (chow way), which was where we left the boat for the summer.  We met some really nice people and the day before we were leaving invited two couples to the boat for cocktails.  By the end of the first hour, we had 17 people on board.  And to top it all off, it was about 98 degrees and 98% humidity outside so we all had to stay in with A/C on.  

Not quite 4 hours later there was not a drop of liquor left on the boat, and several people ransacked their own boats for more Vodka and tequila.  Every instrument we had on the boat was out and being played.  All the wigs and hats that Kristen and Graham provided several years ago were on people’s heads.  Needless to say, we had a party.  I’m pretty sure that never before have these boaters run into crazies like Jewell and me.   

They had a great time, as did we.  It was a fun farewell to the season. 

Some of the crazies!

Capt'n Deb and the washboard.

The rest of the crazies.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Huatulco, Oaxaca Mexico April 2011

I’m wondering to myself if we have enough to blog about.  Let’s see.  We almost got killed on the skiff (no kidding), Aggie’s ears got glued, we came very close to running over 6 pangas in the middle of the night, a Manta ray tried to jump into our skiff, a small Mexican boat filled with people (including children) tried to run us over and it cost a small fortune to move the boat 440 miles South!!  Hope I got your attention.

Our names have changed from Lucy and Ethel to Crazy and Crazier!!  Let me explain:  The Marina in Ixtapa (where the Croc tried to eat Aggie) is through a very narrow passage, which is about 25 yards wide, and is so shallow you cannot get in unless it is high tide.  Because it is so narrow and shaped like an hour glass, there is lots of wave action and it is difficult and dangerous to enter.  How dangerous can it be, you ask?  Very!! 

After our initial one week stay, we made the decision to leave the Marina and anchor out and never return to that Marina again.  However, we needed fuel for the skiff.  The fuel is in the Marina.  When we arrived the waves were about 3 or 4 feet high.  Nothing really, and we surfed right through the passage on a wave, fueled up, and left. 

Arriving back at the opening, we were now looking at 4 and 5 foot waves coming at us.  We needed to go, or stay until about 9 at night when it calms down (it was 10 in the morning).  We went forward over the first wave, about 5 ft. high.  Then the second, about 7 ft. high.  Then Jewell started screaming….turn the boat, turn the boat.  There was a 12 ft. wave coming straight at us and about to break on the bow of our 11 ½ ft. skiff.  I couldn’t turn fast enough.  I only got a 150 degree turn in when the wave hit the back of the skiff and carried us, sideways towards the rocks.  The skiff was up on one side (I’m not kidding!!!!).  Jewell quickly put her entire weight (and thank goodness she’s not a lightweight) onto the port side of the skiff to try to keep it from turning over.  We missed crashing into the rocks by about 5 feet!  After crying, cursing, and shaking we decided to try again.  We waited.  Saw nothing more than 3 to 6 footers.    We started out again and literally flew over the top of a 6 footer and, by the skin of our teeth,  with the entire skiff out of the water, we landed with a bang on the other side.  Never to step foot or hull in that marina again.

What the wave looked like coming up behind us!

Aggie’s ears.  She needed to be groomed.  They bathed her, cut her hair leaving large holes in her fur, cut her paws so she looked like…well…like a dog with no fur, and they put cute little pink ribbons in her hair.  WITH GLUE!!  This was a month ago and the glue is still in her hair.  

Jewell was on the boat, at anchor, for two weeks.  I was in L.A. and Miami (at the ICA show).  The anchorage got very rocky and Jewell moved the boat by herself.  She’s now a captain, crew, electrician, mechanic and first mate all rolled into one!!!   She set the anchor, not once, but twice.  What an accomplishment!!!  Even chose to set a stern anchor also!

Boat at anchor in Zwat.
Stern anchor buoy so we know where we put it!

The day after I returned we left for Huatulco, a 45 hour run.  At about 1 in the morning we spotted lots of lights in front of us.  They were small fishing panga's, with nets out.  We put on our search light, honked our horn several times, pulled the boat back to a speed of 3 knots and weaved our way through.  It was treacherous, but no one died.

On the way South, Aggie heard a pod of dolphins long before we saw them.  She was going crazy, barking, running, jumping and then two minutes later we saw the dolphins, Hundreds of them.  We never get tired of the sea life.

In Huatulco we were in the skiff and a manta ray, with a wing span of about 15 ft. jumped out of the water, his wing hit the side of the skiff, and he got us soaking wet.  It was frightening but exciting.

Huatulco is quite beautiful.  It’s quaint, but growing with American and Canadian tourists and expats.  There are 9 bays and 13 gorgeous beaches.  And it’s hot!!  Too hot.  We’ll be leaving here on or about May 4th for El Salvador, where we will leave the boat for the summer.

Adios, all.