Ahoy from Acapulco, Mexico!
When I last wrote we were in the small village of Papanoa, where we spent the night so that we could make the passage to Acapulco during daylight. The next morning we were up at 5:45 AM and and just as we were about to pull up the anchor, Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon" came blasting over the water. We couldn't figure out what was happening until we spotted a local fishing boat working the waters with speakers blaring. They had quite the good sound system and we just hoped that the locals who were trying to sleep didn't attribute the music to us. Then again, we've heard this behavior many times and just don't understand the mentality.
The passage to Acapulco was uneventful with glassy seas for most of the day. It was interesting to watch the water color change as we moved along. The water switched from a greenish color to a very clear, blue color that I often associate with the Caribbean. Lovely! As we approached Acapulco it was very clear that it was very different from Papanoa, as the hills surrounding it were packed with homes and high rises. At about 6:30 PM we dropped anchor near our friends from sv Wild Rose at an island named Isla la Roqueta. This is directly across from the mainland and the small beaches are packed with palapa restaurants and as the goes along, lots of tourists brought there by water taxis to play in the nice clear water. We checked out the snorkeling in the area and didn't find anything of interest.
After 2 nights anchored at Isla la Roqueta we moved to a mooring ball located near the marinas in the old Traditional section of Acapulco bay. Ours was located mid-bay, but the one that Wild Rose got was quite close to the shore where they were doing road construction, so they decided to move into La Marina. I was quite happy with the mooring ball, but getting to shore turned out to be a bit of a pain as there are no dinghy landing facilities. As a result we had to pay the owner of a dock $50 pesos/day ($4 USD) to land there and its not in the greatest neighborhood.
One of the first things you need to know about Acapulco is that it's a large city with over a million people living there. As soon as you enter the bay you see how large it is as the bay is surrounded by high hills which are packed with buildings. The western end of the bay, which is the older Traditional section, had\s much smaller buildings and is where I think many working class people live. You'll find the shoreline filled with charter boats and fishing pangas. To the east of the Traditional zone, you find the Golden zone which contains huge hotels and then past that you'll find the latest set of developments in the Diamond District.
On our first day there Sue & I headed into the city by foot to explore. Our first stop was at the Fuerte (Fort) de San Diego, which has a great view overlooking the bay. It was easy to see, but we couldn't figure out how to get into it as the bridge which connects the cruise ship dock to the fort was closed and upon further inspection, it didn't look like it had been open in years, which turned out to be correct as no cruise ships have been to Acapulco for several years due to security issues. We kept walking down the malacon and found another entrance, but it was across a major road with no working cross walks due to the fact that half of it was completely torn up due to road construction. Luckily a motor cycle cop saw our predicament and stopped the traffic so that we could get across. Once we made it we really enjoyed the fort and the views that it provided as well as an art exhibit by Casiano Garcia.
After touring the fort we kept walking eastward along the malacon towards the hotel district. There are throngs of people and it's noisy and dirty. We finally stopped at a beach side restaurant where we watched fishermen pulling *huge* nets out of the ocean by hand and then collecting the fish once they had the nets ashore. I've never seen anyone do this before. After lunch we headed back to the boat having decided that seeing Acapulco on our own wasn't going to work, so we found an English speaking tour guide who came highly recommended in TripAdvisor.
The next day our guide, Sebastian, picked the four of us up at 9 AM and we began a rather full day of site seeing. We started out at the Flamingo Hotel, which was a Hollywood hangout in the 40s and was owned by John Wayne and Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) which had beautiful views looking out over the Pacific. Then we headed to the east end of the bay and up 1847 feet to the Chapel of Peace, which is wonderful and has amazing views of the bay. Unfortunately Acapulco has a constant smog layer, which really diminishes the view. After that we did some shopping and then we headed to watch the cliff divers. I was hoping that since it was my birthday that they would let me jump too, but alas they didn't want to lose any tourists that day. Even though I didn't get to show up the regular divers, it was amazing to watch these guys dive from 125' up into the surging sea.
That evening we discovered another downside for being in the Traditional zone...none of the better restaurants are located in the area and a taxi downtown adds a lot of cost. The next day we decided that we had had enough of Acapulco and headed just a few miles west to Bahia de Puerto Marques, which is part of the Diamond district. We pulled into an anchorage on the northern side of the bay, where we were the only boat. Apparently we were quite the attraction as within a few hours we were surrounded by 6 mega yachts and quite a few other large motor yachts and a ton of jet skies and run-abouts who decided that flying through the anchorage towing people behind them was great fun. Ah, Mexico on the weekend!
Tomorrow we're going to escape the smog and crowds and head to Huatulco, which is 239 nm away. We're planning on stopping in Puerto Angel on the way, which is 206 miles away, but we can make that in 35 hours. We'll depart at 6 AM and we should be in by 6 PM the following day if we can make 6 kts.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
We anchored at Isla Roqueta at N16-49.454/W99-54.411 in about 25' of water with good holding. This is just to the east of the western-most restaurant. Just to the E of this is a 22' section, but it's rock and we couldn't get the anchor to set. We snorkeled in the area, but didn't find anything interesting. Lots of smaller jellyfish, but they didn't sting. Your mileage may vary,
We obtained a mooring ball from Roberto, who's quite a character who likes his beer. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and his cell is 744-431-7245. There doesn't seem to be any set price for the mooring, so make an offer. A smaller Canadian boat paid $50 pesos, we paid $100 and another boat paid $300. The mooring is located at N16-50.510/W99-54.283 and is attached to the prop shaft of a large wreck which is upside down. He has only 1 mooring, but can obtain more. I dove the wreck and while the visibility at the surface was probably 15-20', it was 3' at the bottom. Don't waste your air. Roberto will meet you with a boat and show you the mooring. He will also show you where the dock is located. We paid $50 pesos per day to use it.
We used Sebastian for our tour guide. His web site is www.AcapulcoForAll.com, e-mail AcapulcoFor_all@yahoo.com and and his cell phone is 044-744-204-3032. The fee for the Acapulco city tour was $125 USD for 2 and $150 for 4. He speaks very good English. He has multiple tours, but most of them seem to be oriented to tourists who fly in and are in the hotel zone and haven't spent any time in Mexico. As a result a cruiser who has been down here has probably seen much of what many of the other tours have to offer. He did a very good job with the city tour, but perhaps there was a bit too much emphasis on shopping.
SV Wild Rose pulled into La Marina, which is a nice, modern facility, but with limited transient spaces. The cost was $13 pesos/ft + 20 pesos/day for water + 3 pesos/KW. They appeared to have good security.
There is an excellent grocery store located directly across from the road entrance to La Marina. Sue said that it was the nicest speciality grocery store that she's seen down here.
In Marques we anchored at N16-48.552/W099-50.951 in 25' over sand with excellent holding. Quite the zoo on a weekend. Anchor further E to avoid the bright shore lights, but with more swell.
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