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Ixtapa to Acapulco

After 4 wonderful and relaxing weeks with both friends and family visiting, we finally tore ourselves away from Ixtapa and headed towards Acapulco on March 28th.  An easy 110 mile overnight passage (mostly motoring) found us arriving at Club de Yachtes the following morning in time to fuel up and med moor on one of the outside docks. 

Club de Yachtes is the oldest yacht club in Mexico and one of the few privately owned marinas on the Pacific Coast.  Rates are high ($1 USD per foot per night plus 15% tax plus whatever electricity you use plus fees for checking in and checking out of the port) but the facilities are reasonable.  And besides, there are few other choices.  The only other small-boat marina in Acapulco is reportedly literally falling apart.  We did not check it out ourselves, but other cruisers who did told us that what slips were still usable were completely taken by local boats and the marina supposedly doesn't take in transients anymore.  Anchoring out is a possibility, but the water in the bay is too deep for anchoring in most places and the remaining, semi-protected anchoring spots are severely crowded with private mooring buoys and large tourist-centered sunset and dinner cruise boats.  Additionally, horror stories of snagging anchors on abandoned junk on the bottom of the bay here are near legend among the cruising community, so you take your chances if you decide to anchor.  There are a few private mooring buoys supposedly for rent and Club de Yachtes manages a few (for a flat fee of $22 USD per night, which does give you the right to land your dinghy at their dingy dock and use their pool and other facilities).  Many cruisers just pick up a mooring at random and hope no-one comes to kick them off.

The docks at Club de Yachtes are all non-floating, naked concrete affairs.  None of this pull up to the dock, side-tie, fender stuff that is the norm in the states.  No, here its all med-style mooring, but most of the slips do have bow buoys with bow lines you can pick up prior to backing stern-to up to the dock.  The idea is to keep enough tension on the bow line to hold the boat just a foot or two off the concrete dock, close enough to step on and off but far enough away not to bash your stern into the naked, unyielding and unmoving concrete as the afternoon cross winds come up or the constant surge from the ocean swell relentlessly stretches and works at the lines.  The only space they had for us was on one of the outside docks, usually taken by a 100+ foot power boat.  This gave us a little more breathing space with respect to getting in and out than most of the spots, but we had to attach own own lines to the lines leading from the bow buoy to give us enough slack to back into our spot.  It worked, but Melissa was a nervous wreck by the end of it and promised never again to stress about mooring in a normal slip!   Few cruising boats stay more than a few days in Acapulco it seems, although we did meet one couple heading to the South Pacific who had left their boat at Club de Yachtes (with someone paid to watch it and check the lines regularly) for a month while they flew home to the states.  They incurred no damage other than that done to their pocket book.

Being on the outside of the marina put us about as far away from the pool, main gate and other facilities as is possible while still being in the the marina, which made provisioning a little more difficult, but also had the disadvantage of being a rather exposed location.  The wakes from jet skis, water ski boats and all the other traffic on this busy end of the bay kept things interesting during the day.  A nice 15kt wind would come up in the afternoon directly off the port beam, threatening to push us into the boat next to us and at night, the constant working of the lines from the swell caused so much creaking and groaning that it would wake us up at times.  We had a ridiculous number of stern lines rigged in an attempt to minimize the movement and the forces on the boat and on the stern cleats from the constant swell were probably higher than we have experienced in any other marina.

Many cruisers seem to avoid Acapulco because of the mooring hassles and the lack of convenient anchoring or inexpensive marina facilities, but for all our complaining, we really enjoyed our time there.  Med-mooring and expense aside, Club de Yachtes was no worse than many other places we have been and considerably better than many.  The grounds are beautifully manicured, the pool is nice if nothing special, the rest room and shower facilities are immaculate (complete with attendant and towel service) the yacht club restaurant and bar looked good (although we did not get a chance to check it out in our limited time there) and the marina itself is conveniently located to taxis, buses, banks, Wal-mart and one of the must-see attractions in Acapulco, the famous cliff divers, which we ventured out to see Wednesday evening.

The cliff diving is quite impressive.  There are several 'shows' each day, mostly in the evening after sunset.  Each 'show' consists of a handful of divers in Speedos first walking through the crowd holding torches, climbing down the audience side of the cliff wall and then climbing up the opposite cliff wall before diving into the water from different heights, usually either 25 or 35 meters above the water, with the final dive of course being the highest.  The water is not that deep and the waves coming in get concentrated by the narrow opening between the two cliffs, so the divers must time their dives so as to hit the surface at the right moment when a save is there so as to have enough depth to not hit bottom.  This can take several minutes for each diver to time the waves (or perhaps stele their nerves) looking down from the cliffs above, which of course adds to the crowd's anticipation and accolades for each dive.  The dives themselves take only a moment, but they are an impressive demonstration of practiced, ritualized insanity none-the-less.  At least one diver we saw did a perfect 1 1/2 gainer flip while executing his dive from 25 meters.  Lots of ritual and showmanship involved and well worth the minimal entry fee.

Acapulco is a huge city of over a million people and one could spend months here seeing all there is to see, but we were eager to be heading south.  With provisioning, home school, pool time, boat maintenance, various errands and sightseeing, our three days and two nights there flew by.  We did manage to find a guitar for Kelsey (and Dad) in a local music store, but had no luck attempting to replace our broken Cannon A85 camera, the victim of a loosely capped water bottle in the back pack.   (We foudn plenty of camera stores, but not the exact camera.  It has to be the same camera so as to fit in the waterproof case we have for scuba diving.) 

On March 31st, we departed in the afternoon for the 230 mile passage to Hautulco.

As always, click on the images to see a larger view.


Coloring Easter eggs on the dock in Marina Ixtapa.

Kelsey the artist at work on a masterpiece!

Roma, Mel and Bad Aunt Janice. We're pretty sure it was Janice who managed to slip a raw egg in with the rest of the eggs being colored!

Post Easter Egg Hunt booty.

Mike and Janice on s/v 'Ayu'. It was very hard saying goodbye to such new, dear friends. They headed home to SF and shipped their boat to Seattle.

RJ and Kelsey and a perfect Pacific sunset enroute to Acapulco.

Houses along the cliffs outlying Acapulco.

Wow. Nice Acapulco pad!

Entering Acapulco Bay.

Club de Yachtes, Acapulco. Note all the boats med moored. Our slip was on the right among the big power boats.

Sula med moored at Club de Yachtes, Acapulco. Many of the large power boats who were are neighbors would go out for the day. We are all alone here!

Steve, Mel and Roma waiting to watch the cliff divers.

Cliff from which the famous divers dive. The lighted area is 35 meters above the surf and has a little shrine where divers pray before diving.

"A bowl full of diamonds" is how many crusiers describe the view of Acapulco Bay at nighttime. Seen here from Club de Yachtes.

Acapulco's buses are works of art. Each one has a very intricate, airbrushed scene often accompained by bright neon and loud music!

Another of Acapulco's rolling works of art. Each one is an original.

Sunset leaving Acapulco enroute to Hautulco.


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