South of the Border, Down Mexico Way

The crew of Ocean Watch make some pit stops.

Low on fuel, /Ocean Watch/ enters the famous Mexican port of Acapulco.

Low on fuel, Ocean Watch enters the famous Mexican port of Acapulco.Herb Mccormick

We hadn't planned on stopping in the bustling Mexican metropolis of Acapulco, and for that matter, a quick layover a bit further north in the over-the-top resort town of Cabo San Lucas hadn't been in the cards, either. No, when we left Costa Rica headed north aboard our 64-foot cutter Ocean Watch, now putting the finishing touches on our circumnavigation of North and South America (www.aroundtheamericas.org), the idea had been to blast directly to Puerto Vallarta (P.V.), and from there to make a straight shot for San Diego, California. But as all offshore voyagers know, sometimes you have to be flexible.

Ever since departing Peru, due to the effects of the ongoing El Niño event persisting off the coast of South America, the generally reliable tradewinds had been literally non-existent. Our 135-hp. Lugger diesel is very fuel efficient, but even so, with no breeze whatsoever, it was clear we'd need to top off the tanks to make P.V. in time to keep to our rather ambitious schedule. Acapulco was right along the way.

Herb McCormick| |North of Acapulco, the Mexican coast at sunrise is stark and dramatic.|

The Yates Club de Acapulco - with a fuel dock, nice bar and restaurant, and palatial pool and shower room - proved to be an oasis in the heart of the lively city. The members there were friendly, too, and one of them volunteered to take us on a tour of the local attractions, including a drink at Hollywood legend Johnny Weissmuller's grand hotel, the Flamingo - "Casa Tarzan," the actor's old pad, remains on the premises - and the sunset show by the famous cliff divers. It turned into a pretty humorous stop.

From there, P.V. was an easy hop, but after a few days there, our plans to continue straight on to Southern California were again thwarted by the weather. This time it wasn't a lack of breeze, but way too much. With the diesel again working overtime as we punched to weather in staunch northerlies - and with heavy north winds predicted right up the coast of Baja California - we decided to again pull off "the Interstate" to take on fuel. Cabo San Lucas was the call.

Herb McCormick| |The famous Arch Rock at the entrance to Cabo San Lucas is an iconic landmark.|

The famous Arch Rock at the entrance to the harbor is an iconic symbol of the place; less attractive are the cruise ships, the jet-skis and the ubiquitous, over-served tourists stumbling to and fro. After topping off the tanks at the swanky marina, we dropped the hook in the beachfront anchorage outside to wait a few hours for the wind to subside. That evening, a few of us succumbed to temptation and took the inflatable ashore for dinner, where we paid $20 for the privilege of tying up the dinghy in the same place we'd dropped hundreds of dollars for diesel just a few hours before. Anyway, we found Cabo substantially less charming than Acapulco.

Two days out of Cabo, with the northerlies still shrieking down the coastline, we ducked into a bay in the lee of a small village called San Juanico to again wait for winds to abate. At this rate, we may never make it out of Mexico, but it won't be for lack of trying.