Weather Window

The saying goes, “sailing plans are written in the sand at low tide”. For the past ten days, we have been hunkered down in the protection of Marina Chahue waiting for our window to cross the notorious Tehuantepec Bay. The recommended route is to sail with “one foot off the beach” along the curve of the bay where the wind hasn’t yet built into huge waves.

Valentine’s Day in the Bay of Tehuantepec! Typical winds range from 20-100 knots and effects are felt 600+ miles offshore.

We have been glued to the twice-daily weather updates. Tehuantepecers begin when cool upper atmosphere air falls rapidly, heats and expands, and creates a high-pressure system over the four corners region of the US. This air gets pushed towards the SE, intensifies over the Gulf of Mexico, and screams through the gap between two mountain ranges before reaching the Pacific. After this blows for a few days, there is typically a day or two of low wind that allows safe passage. A few days later, this high-pressure system funnels over another low-altitude region on the north side of Costa Rica and creates a similar effect called the Papagayos.


The marina has taken on a summer camp feel as many boats gather and go about daily activities together. Most are eyeing a window on Wednesday afternoon. The marina entrance is shallow, so we will all parade out at high tide after receiving our “zarpes” – official exit paperwork from Mexico. From there, we will sail 250 miles along the beach to clear out of the danger zone. Then we hope to ride downwind on the building breeze of the next Tehuantepecer all the way to Playa del Cocos, Costa Rica. Tonight we pick up another crew for the journey – my skipper from Brooklyn’s 115 sailing club, Carla.

The extra time here enabled mid-way maintenance and relaxing time ashore for our first wedding anniversary. It’s wild to think that only a year ago there were no vaccines and so many boat projects left for us to do. We are feeling really lucky for all the adventures of the past 12 months and excited for what’s to come. Saying goodbye to Mexico is bittersweet – this country has been a fantastic home base for the past 100 days. If you’d like to watch our progress or say hi via satellite phone, follow this link.

Published by Ash

Knitter, sailor, and sewist on the move from San Francisco to the Chesapeake Bay aboard a 36' sailboat named Azimuth.

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