Cabo San Lucas

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  Part 4
Fairwell to Land's End.
Cabo San Lucas to Manzanillo

May 13, 1999: We depart from Cabo San Lucas for the 700 nm voyage to Acapulco. At least that was the initial plan.

Steve hunts the boat.

We planned to get to the fuel dock at 7:00, take on fuel, then get an early start fishing. After fishing part of the day, out toward where the marlin were found the previous weekend, we'd turn southeast for the 58 hour trip to Acapulco. We knew the plan was starting to break when Steve couldn't remember where he left the boat.
Then the fuel dock didn't open until 7:30. Then we got just outside the inlet only to remember some forgotten shore side errands. We're getting good at returning to the dock. By 11:00 we were finally underway.

14 Yellowfin

Things started looking up. By 1:00 we had 8 nice yellowfin tuna in the boat to 25 pounds, and hadn't left sight of the harbor. We were busy for that two hours, then decided to track back to the arch at Lands End and run it again. This time fishing was a little slower, but by 3:30 we had added another 6 tuna. We brought our bow around to southeast and headed across the Sea of Cortez. We also began to batten down the hatches, as a brisk wind and a confluence of currents made sloppy seas.

Wade watches the lines

We'd lost an air conditioning pump and the bait well pump, along with all the live bait, to the cavitation caused by the heavy rolling. Later that evening the table on the aft deck would suicide over the railing and onto the fishing deck. We had glass everywhere. I also started plotting RBL bailouts to Matzalon, San Blas, and Puerto Vallerta, 250 nm into the night.

Porpoise audition for the big show
Porpoise jump off the starboard quarter
..and another one off the beam...

We set then next waypoint to the north end of the Isles Tres Marias, keeping us out of the beam sea and helping the bailout situation if the seas rose. As the night wore on the wind quieted, and we awoke to smoothe seas and a beautiful day to be on the ocean.

Water temperatures warmed from the 72F at Cabo San Lucas to 80F down the chain of islands. We crossed a large pod of porpoise feeding, and the presence of the boat seemed to inspire their antics. Besides their usual riding on the bow and stern waves, several decided to audition for Sea World with leaps and flips. They really skyrocketed out of the water, either solo or in groups, daring the others to "top that".

The warm clear waters were short lived. By the next afternoon we'd pulled even with Puerto Vallerta (still 50 miles east) and the water turned gray and chilled back to 64F. We'd clearly left the effects of the Sea of Cortez and were back into the cold Pacific. Gone were the porpoise, the warm breezes, and the fair seas. We did see a skyrocketing mako, though.

Later that afternoon the owner called. He wanted to bring a party and meet us in Manzanillo, then accompany us the rest of the trip to Acapulco. We'd been planning to pass nearby anyway, so stopping was an easy adjustment.

At dusk a watermain broke under the lazerette, pumping most of our fresh water into the bilge. The break was eventually closed and we slowed down to give the watermaker time to make a little more water. We dropped anchor in the basin at Manzanillo at 4:30 a.m.


The two sides of Bahia de Manzanillo are a contrast in styles. The east side has the busy seaport and the town of Manzanillo Viejo, with its colorful houses clinging to the side of the steep hills running down to the harbor. The town, while clearly poor, is bustling and full of life. The harbor is busy with pangas bouncing around the bay, and big freighters waiting time at the docks. Train whistles, bus engines and horns of autos scrambling around on the streets add to the south of the border music that fills the air.

This time we couldn't raise a water taxi so we rigged the outboard to the dingy and all went ashore, Steve to clear us into the port, Cisco to translate, and me to stand guard duty on the dingy.

Colorful houses cling to the hill over the harbor.
Boats are color coordinated too.

Las Hadas Hotel and Marina

Las Hadas Hotel

The west side of the Bahia de Manzanillo is the site of several luxurious hotel and condominium complexes. After clearing in and taking on fuel on the harbor side, we moved over to Las Hadas Marina, part of the Las Hadas hotel, condominium and shop complex. Las Hadas hotel is where the movie 10 was filmed. This is clearly the wealthy side of the bay. This being the hot season, the shops, resturants and discos were almost vacant.

Anchoring here is Mediterranean style. There are no pilings. The anchor is dropped and the stern is backed perpendicular to the dock, with only stern lines being set. Since there are usually boats on either side of your assigned place, it's an adventure.

We needed 3 tries in the brisk wind and poor anchor holding ground.

The Diving in Manzanillo

Starfish on the jetty...

The water was marginally warm enough to dive (73F) and almost clear enough at the jetty dockside, so the next morning I took the opportunity to get underwater.

The first chore was to rescue Steve's sunglasses from the clutches of a bullseye ray. They had gone overboard during the scurrying of tieing up the previous evening, and had to be retrieved. I then went forward to check the anchor line, finding it taut on a big cube of concrete, good for holding but troubling for weighing anchor later.

Armed with the TRV900 in it's new L&M housing, I headed for the jetty, both inside the harbor and through the inlet and around to the outside.

I'd already learned I'd made an error in judging the visibility. About 10 feet down the water was filled with suspended matter.   Finding the anchor was an exercise in chain following, in murk so bad the chain was invisible a body length away.   Near the jetty wasn't as bad, at shallower depths.

and more starfish....

They were easy to sneak up on.

This low visibility problem made it tough to photo fishlife, since you get inside their comfort zone before you see them, and they immediately flee. Being the stealthy sort underwater, I did manage to sneak up on some starfish and snap a few photos in the murk. Seen but not photographed was another interesting species from these parts known as a spotted puffer. This fish has two phases, a purple with white spots phase and a bright golden phase. Both phases were visible on the breakwater, hunting back in the rocks.

I also managed to get a picture of a giant damselfish, a blue fish about a foot in size.   Fortunately it doesn't behave like its diminutive relative, the bi-colored damselfish, which agressively defends it's little algae farms.   If it had, I'd have some big holes in my neoprene.

Conspiciously missing were any edible fish or lobster which I guess have been fished out by the industrious fishing pangas from the east side of the bay.

Giant damselfish.

We awaited the arrival of the owner and his party.
We were 1100 miles from San Diego, 300 from Acapulco.

To be continued...............