Friday, February 27, 2015


We arrived at Bahia de Puerto Marquez just after sunrise

Finisterra departed from Marina Ixtapa at 0815 on Sunday, January 25th, bound for Acapulco. The wind was very light and we motored all morning, helped along by a half knot current. By early afternoon a light breeze came up out of the northwest and we were able to sail on starboard jibe until late afternoon. This put us about 20 miles offshore so we jibed to port and began angling in toward the land in hopes of picking up a land breeze after sunset. By midnight we were a couple of miles off the beach in the vicinity of Punta Apusabalcos. There the sea breeze died and the land breeze failed to show up, so we motored the last few miles to Acapulco. Rather than heading straight for the city, we anchored in beautiful Bahia de Puerto Marquez, which is a good sized bay near the entrance to Bahia de Acapulco.

Bahias de Acapulco and Puerto Marquez
Puerto Marquez is undergoing something of a transformation. The area was hit by torrential rains and floods in 2013, suffering a direct hit from tropical storm Manuel in September and a near miss from Hurricane Raymond a month later. The waterfront was devastated, with many buildings damaged or destroyed. When we arrived, some of waterfront restaurants were open, but the place was clearly still suffering.

On another note, there is a new marina under construction here. You can see it in the lower right corner of the bay in the photo above. We explored it in the dinghy and it looks like it will accommodate around 100 boats. That should be great news for the locals as well as the cruising community. The marinas in Acapulco proper are not very cruiser-friendly.

We were sitting in a little waterfront cafe when we met this charter captain preparing his boat to take some customers out for a sail on the bay. He wanted to know if we had any blocks we could give him. Unfortunately Finisterra's blocks are a little too big for his yacht.

With no West Marine store nearby he had to use the materials on hand to rig his yacht.

I had to admire his workmanship

With his customers outfitted in regulation safety gear, the skipper set off on a three hour tour of the bay. Fortunately the weather stayed calm and the tiny ship made back to port safe and sound.

After a couple of days in Puerto Marquez we headed into Acapulco and took a berth at Marina Acapulco. It's not much of a marina and most boats are med-tied there, but we were able to secure a side tie for a couple of days. It was the most expensive marina we've been in this year, with the least amount of amenities. It did have a beautiful rooftop pool but we were told it was for members only so we always waited until afternoon to use it.

This is from the US State Department:

Travel to Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo only by air or cruise ship, exercise caution, and remain in tourist areas.  Travel in and out of Acapulco by air and cruise ship is permitted for U.S. government personnel.  U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling within Guerrero state by land, including via the 95D toll road (“cuota”) to/from Mexico City and Acapulco, as well as highway 200 between Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than two blocks inland...

We have been hearing and reading these warnings for the last five years. While in La Cruz a couple of months ago we talked about visiting Acapulco with some of our Mexican acquaintances who said we were "loco" to be visiting the city. But when we arrived, the place appeared to be peaceful.  We walked a couple of miles to the Port Captain's office and later shopped at the local supermercado and saw no signs of violence. One evening we walked a mile or two to the famous La Quebrada cliffs to see the divers. We watched from the Las Perlas restaurant which gave us a perfect view of them. It was quite a spectacle to see them diving from a height of 115'. It was late when we finally left the restaurant so we grabbed a cab back to the marina. I knocked on the massive steel gate and a man opened a small opening in the gate and checked to make sure we weren't bandidos before letting us in. Everywhere we went the town looked under-used. There were a few people on the miles of beautiful beaches along hotel row, but they all appeared to be Mexicans. In fact, there was an eerie absence of gringos everywhere we went in town. We even stopped at a McDonald's, certain that we'd see a few gringos enjoying a Big Mac & fries, but nope, not a one to be seen.

La Quebrada

The divers. 115 feet above the water. They offer a prayer at the illuminated shrine before each dive.
He did a beautiful forward flip in a pike position.

The next day I was chatting with a local who was working on a large yacht in the marina. The conversation eventually turned to the lack of tourists in this beautiful city. He said that the hotel occupancy rate is only about 20% these days because people are scared of narco-violence. "So, is it dangerous here or not?", I asked. "No, it's good here." , he replied. "See those hills over there, behind the city? That's where the killing is going on, not down here in town." He went on to say that the narcos are busy killing each other and don't have any interest in boaters.

The vibe we got from wandering around the city was not the relaxed and open feeling we always get around Puerto Vallarta. However, I do think it's probably pretty safe in Acapulco as long as you take the usual precautions...and stay out of the hills behind the city.

It was in Acapulco that we had to make a decision whether to continue on to El Salvador or spend another season in Mexico. After weighing to pros and cons, we decided in favor of Mexico. So a couple of days later Finisterra departed from Acapulco and headed northwest toward Zihuatanejo.

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