Week 4 22 – 28 January 2018 Marina Chahuè, Huatulco — on route to Panama 251nm
22 January Monday Bahia Chahué – Marina Chahué 1nm
Slept very well in the bow cabin with the big hatch open to windward while Moon slowly turned into the wind on anchor. Had even to use a blanket in the early morning!
After breakfast we had a morning swim before we motored into the marina. They claimed fully booked, but we had to take on fuel and went in to the fuel dock in the marina.
Not a floating dock, but with our fender plank between the fenders and the rough concrete covered with barnacles, because it was low tide, we had no problems tying up.
The fuel pump was showing 17,30 pesos a liter and now was the big question how much the marina added. Took some time to get the pump running. Got some explanation about pressure.
But after an hour we got 625 liter and it all summed up to us having saved 200 US$ compared to the cheapest price we have seen on our way south in Mexico! Compared to the most expensive (Turtel bay) we saved almost $500! Our big tanks are really a good investment for several reasons.
Now we also could confirm our mileage consumption. We had full tanks leaving San Diego and have used the engine 265 hours since then and that gives us 2,5 liters an hour, and that is less than half a liter per nm. Moon can with that calculation cover more than 1500 nm under engine. This confirm our previous experience and extra good to know that nothing in efficiency has changed what we can measure after our misfortune this summer, filling the engine with sea water…
When fueling was done, which was performed by the English spoken marina manager, we were shown a slip in the marina, now empty.
Ten minutes later Moon was secured and we could start preparing a late lunch, happy to have full tanks, well covering the 1300 nm to Balboa, Panama, and a slip in the marina for the coming week.
We have to prepare Moon for the passage and look for a weather window passing the 200 nm bight east of Huatulco. Strong winds from the Gulf of Mexico are strengthened passing Mexico between high mountains and becomes 40 – 60 knots from north into the famous Golfo de Tehuantepec.
The marina manager recommended a web site that gave the information. Guess if that was one of those Annika already uses to look for weather?
We changed oil and all filters to be prepared for the Canal. Oddly enough the marina was not allowed by officials to take care of filters or used oil. We solved the matter by carrying the used oil to Panama and got rid of the filters in different garbage container in town…
Our fresh and nice temperature down in Moon on our anchorage have now changed to very hot and fans are running all the time. With shore power that’s not a problem, but the noise is.
When the sun was close to the horizon we had a shower and walked in to town.
Found a big supermarket that had “everything”. The assortment was not really the local Mexican but more for gringos and so were the prices. But as we have to stock up, the most important was finding things to buy.
Back in the Marina we sat down in one of the three restaurants, the local Italian one, together with the crew from a neighboring boat.
The night became unfortunately as hot as we had expected in spite of fans and no blankets!
23 January Tuesday Marina Chahué
Woke up early to have a long walk before the sun heat the air. Coming back to Moon we had breakfast before our “duties” started. Some e-mail and weather check before we started to wash clothes, most of the laundry was sent in to town for a bargain price. We need to speed up to be ready to leave Thursday evening if the weather window is still valid.
All stainless got some TLC using our Japan household wonder liquid. Cleaned the deck from salt and dirt. Sealed a small leakage in the through deck fitting for the chimney.
When temperature was down a bit we walked in to town to see if there was an old town centre.
Found the square with the church in the old town, almost as passing an invisible wall from the more touristic parts of town. On the way back we bought fruit and vegetables for the week and chicken to make conserves using the pressure cooker.
Shower in cockpit and a salad dinner when we came back to Moon in the dark.
24 January Wednesday Marina Chahué
Another incredibly hot night with little rest made us skip the morning walk.
After breakfast it was work as usual.
When we filled the day tank the last time at sea, the filter got clogged because the main tank was close to empty and the little dirt became a “high percent” due to very rolly conditions. With exchanged filter and full main tank, a tank that had been “sitting still” since Monday noon and emptied of one liter from the bottom, we could easily pump clear diesel to the day tank. But we will buy 30 micron filters in Balboa?
From the day tank the diesel passes three filters before it reaches the high pressure pump on the engine. We are so surprised that the very advanced day tank system didn’t include more than a coarse strainer between the tanks!
The rest of the day was devoted to food preparations. Annika made four jars of chicken conserves, using the pressure cooker. Very nice because that bring less heat into the boat compared with normal cooking.
Changed the fan in the bow cabin to one Calframo that is more silent. We have now in total four fans helping us to be able to live downstairs?
Took a short walk when the sun was almost set and finalized the day on one of the marina restaurants.
25 January Thursday Marina Chahué
The new fan in the bow cabin made us sleep much better. Took along walk before breakfast and then more boat work. Checking the impeller for the sea water cooling system in the engine was all good, important if we have to use the engine at higher revs than normal in the Canal not to have the engine overheating. Had the marina manager to order and prepare for checking out on Friday.
Late afternoon we walked to the old town for some photo, last minutes shopping and eventually dinner.
We had a beer in the town square at six o’clock, but we were not hungry enough in the heat for dinner. Did some shopping and walked home to Moon and made dinner in the “cool” evening after a well needed shower.
26 January Friday Marina Chahué
Before the office time in Sweden was over we made a couple of calls to our insurer to get our sailing area changed for Panama and Caribbean.
Then we called the Panama Canal and got confirmation of our booking, the “ships number ” to be used during all communication and acceptable location in Balboa for measuring the boat to establish the cost for transiting the Canal.
Nine o’clock when the marina office opened we were at the door, starting the procedure to check out. After having paid the marina fee, very reasonable, they produced a document to be shown to the harbor master.
Had to walk to the nearby next harbor, Santa Cruz, where the cruise ship goes to get to the harbor master office. Only four km but hot hot. Umbrellas were needed.
The harbormaster did want to see our immigration papers, but we tried to tell him that our information was that we had to have papers from Harbor master to show Immigration to get our clearance. OK who are we to argue, especially as they didn’t speak English? At least we got a recite showing that we had paid the fee, and thought that might help.
Walked almost back to the marina where the immigration office was.
No we had to show them our clearance from the harbor master!!! Talk about Catch 22!
At least the lady called the harbor master office and we got her phone number and name on a paper and walked back the 3,5 km, now even hotter!
Back at the harbor master office they seemed a bit embarrassed and soon we got our papers. Luckily we checked the information written, and found that they had mixed date of arrival and departure!!
New papers, fortunately they use computers and the new paper came within minutes.
By now we were exhausted and in need of beer and lunch. Plenty of restaurants open because of a cruise ship on the wharf.
After lunch we walked to the “local” immigration office open only when a cruise ship is in town, only fifty meters from the harbor master office. Why couldn’t they inform us earlier about that, not having to walk those extra seven km!!!
OK now we were in for a big surprise. The immigration was the one to give us a Zarpe, the ship document about our clearance from Santa Cruz to Balboa.
As we always tell us when in contact with “officials”; expect the unexpected. Never think ahead that you know what will happen!
What about Customs?
They will come to the boat one hour before leaving the marina tomorrow morning.
We now have our papers and if they don’t show up we will not be bothered. (How wrong didn’t that turn out to be!)
Back in Moon we had an emergency shower to cool down our heated minds and bodies.
Then we made Moon ready for early departure before dinner. Tied to a dock for a week, the boat becomes more a home than a boat, so of course there are items to take care of before Moon can cope with rough sea. Rough sea state we were sure to have for at least the first 24 hours across the bight.
27 January Saturday Marina Chahué – on route to Panama.
Customs came 7 o’clock as scheduled. But didn’t want to check anything as we had expected, only wanted copies of all document we had got yesterday from the other offices. How unexpected wasn’t that. Of course we didn’t have any copies.
Marina office was two hours from opening and we had no copy machine. We suggested photos, but he just shook his head and spoke almost no English!
Finally Annika went t our neighbor and he could help us with very poor copies, but they were copies!
The customs guy stamped our immigration paper and took the copies that were hardly readable and left. This country is full of regulations that are hardly to be understood by any foreigner. This is not the whole picture, even the Mexicans seem to not understand…, especially some officials?
Never expect to know what will happen?.
After this stressful start of the day we retrieved our lines and got slow and nice out of the slip and motored out at sea.
Outside the piers we got a long swell against making the first hour a bit tiresome before we reached the “blow hole” from the mountains.
Slowly the sea rose together with the strength of the wind. We started to try to go 45 degrees to windward, but as the sea state became steep and high we had to increase the wind angle not to have these wave mountains in our nose. We had 1,5 knots following current, making the waves even steeper. The wind and waves didn’t come from the same direction making it difficult to speed up.
Moon was fighting the sea with a fully reefed main and full cutter and a half reefed yankee, still doing more than seven knots through water, giving us eight knots ground speed.
But it was a roller coaster or a washing machine to say the least.
After some hours we had reached the point where the wind spread out more and we could sail 60 degrees to the wind, giving us better conditions. But the sea state was still horrible confused with high steep swell in at least two directions. Probably one of the worst conditions we have experienced, almost as horrible as when we left a fjord in NZ with the tide and against heavy swell from Tasman sea!
To make thins doable we made a curve out into the ocean and then back when the wind came from a more favorable direction and reached our designated waypoint on the other side of the bight. The second half of the crossing became slower due to counter current but that made the sea state much easier to handle.
The whole day as long as we had sunlight we amused ourselves hand steering Moon through the high sea, both for fun and for better speed. The wind vane nor the auto pilot could see the mountains rushing towards us and thus not minimize the effect when they hit the boat. We could try to change course to avoid running straight into the steep swell rather climbing it more from the side. Most of the time we succeeded, but it was not always a success as the waves were very unpredictable in both directions and gap in between. Moon took on some water but more or less never “green water”, only splash water. As wet as green but not the same force or amount. Especially when the water hit the cutter, although it is high cut, it still collect the spay and if that instead is green water the stress on the sail and rig will increase tremendously.
Just before darkness the wind turned more to northwest, giving us much better conditions during the night. Such a difference to have the swell slightly from behind! Now the autopilot steered Moon through the dark ours, not so dark as we had only two days to full moon and lighted up our trip until four o’clock and that was almost exactly when the sea state became quite ok! Talk about timing.
28 January Sunday on route to Panama.
The sea calmed down completely just before sun rise and we were pleased to notice that the grib file had been almost spot on. At sunrise we had to engage the engine for two hours in a following high swell and half a knot current against.
Now we took the opportunity to flush down the cockpit clean from all salt after the extremely splashy 24 hours. It’s good to have a water maker!!
We had lack of sleep after this intense 24 hours so Björn slept the until noon while we sailed 120 degrees off the wind making five knots on almost flat water.
At lunch time we started the engine and after lunch Annika had a long rest. The big problem is the temperature down in the boat. Water temperature 28 degrees, no cooling wind and no clouds to shade the sun works together creating up to 35 C degrees down below. Not easy to sleep without fans running all the time.
We don’t look forward to the heat in Panama, but hopefully it’s a short punishment?
Now we have almost two days to prepare for the next blow hole across Central America. It’s supposed to be easier than the first one.
Annika & Björn