A far from ideal stop in Mexico, and a far from ideal start to the final push. So much excitement I can barely put it into words.
Acapulco didn’t go to plan.
There were aspirations of arriving on Sunday night, walking into customs and immigration first thing on Monday morning, receiving all the necessary stamps, a quick refuel, top up the water tanks, maybe grab a couple of tacos, and off! We arrived on Sunday night. That’s about as far as the plan got.
Monday saw a protracted process of attempting to manoeuvre our way through the Mexican immigration and customs system. To try and drop half your crew off, not clear in yourself, and head off again in an expedient manner is deeply at odds to the way the system is set up, especially without prior arrangements. We made an arrangement to carry out the necessary inspections at the boat that evening, so sailed out of the marina to go and refuel.
Naïve that, thinking it could be that easy. I mean, why would anyone just sell you diesel without you first having to display copies of every bit of boat documentation, passports, and all the copies of immigration and customs paperwork. That immigration and customs paperwork that you’ve been trying all day to get and is still elusive. Despite our best attempts at persuasion, we obtained no diesel, and just ended up getting the boat thoroughly searched by a sniffer dog instead. Henry and I are in full agreement that a medium-sized German Shepherd is the perfect boat dog. We are currently in the market on that one.
Resigned to another unintended night in Mexico, we returned to the marina to deal with the continuing confusion between different governmental departments. It is at this point I should point out that I am eternally indebted to Renaud and Andrea for their tireless translation work over the last few days. As our incredibly useful Mexican and Basque onboard Disco, they dealt with every official, shop, marina, and enquiry we had throughout, and endured endless circular conversations and confusion as we tried to get things sorted. Without them there, I have no doubt that I would still be sat on a boat at anchor in Acapulco, my Q flag flying, mid-way through a full scale nervous breakdown.
After the same customs officials as earlier conducting more searches, immigration finally turned up at 10pm and stamped us into the country, informing us that his colleagues would be there by 9am to stamp us out again. We were also told that neither the customs or immigration officials were able to give us the mythical paperwork the fuel dock demanding. Sense of humour failure impending…
The next day we were stamped out of Mexico after less than 12 hours officially in it. After dealing with the fact that there was no drinking water at the marina and stocking up on supplies for the remainder of the trip, fuel dock round two began. Not a fun affair being slammed on and off a loosely anchored platform in strong tidal eddies for an hour. We took such a pounding that all our mooring lines are now irreversibly ruined, with them literally stretching several feet in front of my eyes, and melting into the cleats, winches and fairleads to which they were attached. Unreal, but what happens if you attach a 50-ton boat to a platform that is trying to catapult you off it. After some uncertainty and throwing all the paperwork we did have at the fuel office, we got diesel, the mythical paperwork requirement disappearing. Getting off our anchored ‘dock’ was a tad too exciting for comfort to revisit; however we were finally underway, to San Diego!
Then the engine packed up, just out of the entrance to Acapulco. The generator also decided to kick the bucket, leaving us with nearly flat batteries, and no means of power generation. We have spent most of the evening as a true ghost ship, no lights or power, only able to sail at the terrible angles the light wind allows, those being either back to Acapulco or out to the Pacific, with not a lot of San Diego in the mix.
Henry and I discovered a braided fuel hose that had been rubbing against a dissimilar metal in the engine room and failed. Trying to repair a braided fuel hose is new tricks to me, as it’s normally the sort of thing that only ever gets replaced. Not today. Once the whole length was removed from the engine room, some rubber fuel hose, hose clamps, Araldite, and a lot of manual fuel bleeding later, we had a working fuel system again. On the last amps of our start batteries, the engine caught, and I was able to surprise the large tanker that had been getting ever closer by simultaneously turning on my lights, appearing on AIS, and calling him on the radio to politely ask that he not run us over, and apologise for materialising so suddenly in front of him from nowhere. He was very helpful considering, and made a huge course alteration to give us a good amount of clearance. Good watch Sir.
Now the lights are on, the generator is being once again deconstructed, and we are finally heading in a worthwhile direction. We are a much smaller crew than previously, but are still managing to simultaneously carry out constant sail changes, helm the boat, cook meals, strip down generators, repair engines, keep the log running, and produce fresh coffee. There might only be four of them, but they’re doing me proud.
I’m back to the coffee and spanners.
Date: 14th March 2017
Position: 16°49.0N 100°20.5W
Wind: NW 2
With the support of our partner Weather Routing Inc.