Time to return to mazatlan, slipped out of the marina in the early hours to accompany the good ship "Interabang" with Derrick and Tricia aboard. I'm back to single handing again. We make good progress and by daylight have exited Banderas Bay and made the turn north. There are a number of boats out, some going to San Blas and a few heading North. Candace and Norman on Kylami are also heading in our direction. We make further progress mixing sailing with motor sailing most of the day. The afternoon sees the breeze come up, on the nose of course and by 5.00pm it's time to take in a reef in the main and shorten the headsail. It's gotten lumpy and uncomfortable, every 3rd wave plummets my speed down to 3 knots. Normal routines take over, eat , drink, pee, check radar, check chart plotter, look around, call up Interabang. Darkness falls and the gap extends between us. Alex II is coping with the Seas a little better because of the 62HP engine !
By Dawn I am 12 miles ahead, Kylami is 6 miles ahead of me. Getting closer to Stone Island anchorage the fog sets in and I have to approach using the radar and chart plotter, can pick up lots of small targets on the radar and these turn out to be Panga fishermen , I pass close by and ask for directions to the entrance which should be close by now, they point over their shoulders and five minutes later I am in the anchorage. Interabang arrive a few hours later. Next day with bright sunlight I make the 1 hour motor up to Mazatlan Marina. I settle into the marina and start the normal clean up , repairs and projects. Taking a day off I met up with Derrick and Trisha and we walk up to the top of the lighthouse in the Old Harbor. Apparently it is the tallest manned lighthouse in the world. It was quite a walk but the views are fantastic. The other side of the Harbor you can see Stone island anchorage. A popular spot for boats going south and heading north. It saves having to go into Mazatlan marina ( which is about the worst marina on the mexican coast).
Have been in Mazatlan for a couple of weeks, the main reason for coming back early is the potential sale of Alex II. I accpeted an offer in La Cruz and the paperwork is easier to do when the buyer, broker and seller are in the same location. Getting close now to closing the deal.
This years plans appear to have been unduely effected by weather. However, this has meant an unplanned and extended stay in La Cruz. If you are going to get stuck anywhere this is the place to get stuck in. The anchorage is full, the marina pretty full and the social life active. The village has changed but still has the uniqueness which makes it so special. Fresh tuna for sushi from the market, Tacos on the Street, Sandra's on sat or sunday nights. A choice of music venue every night. The sunday market, dockside gatherings, projects galore. A chance to polish the hull and topsides, clean the bottom, fix all the items on the list and then invent some more. Expeditions to Mega, Home depot, Sams club and of course Zaragoza, the most expensive marine store ever. Above all it has meant more time with friends both old and new and that is the the biggest benefit of this extended stay. Soon it will be time to move north and begin the summer adventures in the Sea. I am looking foreward to meeting up with friends in La Paz and the Loretta fest. Preparations begin for the 5 month venture into the more remote parts of the Sea of Cortez, where internet access is not readily available. I have been busy downloading films , TV series. music and books onto my new hard drive. These external hard drives are amazing and so far I have copied from various boats 200+ films, dozens of TV series, 1200 books and enough music to play for six months continouly without repeating a song.I have sold of one of my Shade Trees as I will only use the shade cover from the mast back to the aft of the boat. I intend to shut off the foreward V berth of the boat. Have started to stock the boat wth dry goods and am now thinking about sleeping arrangements in the cockpit. From what I understand it may be more comfortable to sleep in the open air, perhaps in a hammock, rather than down below in the heat of the summer. Last summer was hot as hell in Mazatlan but tied to the dock I had the comfort of Air Conditioning. At anchor this will not be the case and I will have to rely on Sea breezes. However, being further north and away from the mainland the temperautres should be slightly less and the humidty much less so my train of thought leads me to believe I can cope with the heat. They say " life long friendships are built in the Sea"
So just need to complete the 185 miles to Mazatlan followed by the 190 to Meurtos and then 45 to la Paz and it's plain sailing from that point onwards, mainly made up of short day sails. I am looking forward to the 350 mile trip up the Baja to the Bay of LA, which is my intended base for the summer.
One of those days which does'nt go to plan...................................
I had a nice easy start to the day as we took off south towards Chamala, an easy 45 miles ride down the coast. Lifted the anchor at 7.30 am motored out of the small Ipala anchorage, raised the main with a single reef and waited for El Tiburon , a lovely Tayana 47 to do the same. They soon caught up and off we went followed by another boat from the anchorage. We set lines out the stern to catch a Tuna. Darryl had the audacity to announce today he was going to catch a fish , instead of letting them fall off the line as he normally does.
30 minutes later the plan somewhat changed. El Tiburon announced they had engine problems over the radio. I circle them a few times, with no wind at all. Then they announce they think the engine has seized. Discussions then take place over the options, can't sail anywhere as there is little or no wind. Tow them back to the anchorage................possible but only a temporary solution, go south but Manzanillo is the only place where any work could be undertaken, or tow them back to La Cruz. Only issue with that one is "Cabo Corriantes" and trying to get round mid afternoon, when he winds come up.
First issue , get a tow line aboard. I continue to circle and make up a bridle for the stern of Alex II. Darryl joins a few ropes together, makes up and bridle and I make a slow pass, as I approach their bow Darryl throws me a line. This is quickly fixed to the bridle and we have an unbillical cord between the yachts. We see off in the distance a yacht with both sails up and heading north. We try and call him on the radio to see if there is actually some proper wind further out. Unfortunately he does'nt respond. Darryl suggests we head offshore to give us some sea room and also to see if there is any wind. We slowly, at 2-3 knots get 6 miles offshore and no Wind. We decide to parallel the coast and make for Cabo Corriantes which we estimate t o get to around 2.00pm. This is actually the worst time to try and round the Cape. Anyway we plod along, sea state is OK , some swell but after a few adjustments and putting some anti chafe measures in place we make headway. After 5 hours we draw parallel with the cape and think , Ok once we get into Banderas Bay the afternoon wind should come up and we can probably sail back to La Cruz.
Not today, no wind at all. In some ways this is good because the calm seas make the strain from towing much easier for the boats to deal with but it does mean motoring. I gradually increase the revs to get us up to around 4.0 knots and about 1.0 knot of drive from the main sail, so we are managing between 4 -5 knots. However, this means we are going to hit the busy La Cruz anchorage at 8 -9.00pm. As we get closer we start calling for help. Several boats respond and some are relaying to others. Ben on a yacht called Jace offers to guide us in through the darkness and then jump in his dingy with a strobe to pinpoint the "hole" in the water we are going to anchor El Tiburon in. There are 50+ boats in the anchorage and we are aiming for the outside. The background shore lights make it difficult to spot the anchor lights until we are in pretty close. I switch on the radar and pick out the targets. Ben on Jace flashes his cockpit lights and now we have a target, we edge closer. The plan being to swing around the back and approach the anchorage up wind and on the outside. Ben is now in his dingy and strobing the spot. We slowly make the turn. Engine revs are knocked down to idle , El Tiburn has no brakes. We close up on Ben and El Tib grinds to a halt in the exact spot, drops his anchor and is safe and sound . I make one more circle and drop anchor next to them. Ben zooms over in his dingy and hands me a beer !!!!
After 12+ hours of towing , I was shattered, not really from the activity but from the mental strain of the whole thing. I grab some food, have a shower and sink into my bed. Next morning, Darryl arranges for a Panga to come out from the marina and tow him in. I am circling in my dingy just in case a push is required at the right moment. Within 20 mins El Tiburon enters a slip at the dock with a number of helpers and onlookers. Needless to say the whole thing had been followed the previous night on the VHF radio by most of the anchorage and marina.
So that's 2 boats rescues in the space of two months...................it's time for some plain and simple cruising.
I slept soundly all night and for most of the next day !!!!
Obviously Darryl and Sarah were grateful for my assistance and asked if there was anything I wanted. I settled on a tube of Wasabe. ( scarce in these parts ). Actually they also took me out to dinner and refilled my diesels tanks.
So I am back in La Cruz and planning to head south again , maybe in a week
PS. I asked Darryl how long it took him to undo the knot from my bridle to his tow line.............after 12 hours of pulling a 47 foot boat , it had pulled pretty tight..........................he answered with a smile 30 minutes !!!
A welcome return to La Cruz, familiar sights and a great marina. Unloaded and said goodbye to Helen and Lars. They proved to be excellent crew, had some great stories and took their watches seriously. I would welcome them back anytime. Walking the docks it was nice to see so many people I had previously met from La Cruz, Mazatlan, Marina Palmira and some from last year who return to this wonderful spot again this year. La Cruz has changed, more restaurants, more bars , more shops. I guess it is becoming popular. Frankly I think this is the best spot on the mainland. A few jobs undertaken on the boat and Julie arrived on schedule from Oregon. We had a great week, went exploring to Sayulita , a great surf come hipped hang out. The byus ride there was fairly quick but interesting, basically up a mountain and then down the other side. The beach was lovely and great surf. A very popular spot with the gringos. Next was an explore of Bucerious, the next village from La Cruz. We found some great places, even a french bakery!!
We had some long lunches and some really nbice evenings out with friends from other boats, "Tacos on the Street" was visited a few times and we also went on a margarita challenge to see who could find the best margarita's being served. Sadly the week passed quickly and Julie flew home to icey conditions in Portland. She will cpome back for the Lareto festival in early May. A few evenings out with friends then followed and a spectacular night at "The Kliff". This is a famous restaurant the other soide of PV, the evening was organised by Larry from Panta Rei. Nine of us pilled into a taxi bus and made the 50 kms journey to Mismaloma. The restaurant was perched ( litterly) on the side of a cliff, mulitple levels and lots of spteps connnecting small dining areas overlooking the bay. The food was fantastic and the views to die for. During the course of the meal, whales were breaching in the bay not more than a 1/4 mile offshore.
I was brought down to earth the next day when the macerator pump stopped working and on removing it , the back siphon which it has set up dumped the contents of the holding tank into the bilge, 25 gallons of pee was then deposited on the dockside by the automatic bilge pump !!! After washing everything down and throwing disinfectant everywhere I tried to rebuild the macerator for the third time. To no avail........next morning oit was off to PV to buy a single diaphram waste pump/. I have given uo on impeller driven pumps. New hoses, new clamps and by 6pm that evening all was in place and miraculously working. It actually owrks much better, is really quiet and should not give any issues for years to come. Or so I am told by other people who have converted to diaphram pumps!!!!
Have been eating some really fresh prawn and fish lately, the fishermans market is within the marina, fresh every day straight off the boats. Bought 1 x kilo of jumbo prawns and I x kilo of fantastic tuna loin for 240 pesos, about 23 kiwi dollars today !!
A few boats are heading south on Tuesday, I may well go with them. I intended to wait for Johnny and Jerry, but they may be a while before they are both ready to leave Mazatlan. Jerry is bringing down a load of parts for me and 9 months worth of medication and Johnny ( SV Wideopen) is returning from Australia where he underwent cancer treatment for a growth in his nose. All went well thankfully. Billy his australian cattle dog has been looked after by Don and his wife on TJ Wazoo. Had my fill of marina's and am looking forward to swinging off the hook in Ipala, chamala, tenacatita and Barre de Navidad for a few months. At Some point I have to backtrack and return to La Paz to meet up with Rock n Roll before proceeding up into the Sea of Cortez for the Larreto fest and then beyond into the summer cruising grounds. It's a long way to sail.....around 650 miles from Barre de Navidad.
So everything is set to leave at 5.00am on Thursday and tackle Cabo Corriantes, the weather looks good and hopefully I can make it around the point before 10.00am, the winds tend to come up mid to late afternoon. I managed to go around Corriantes in both directions last year without getting bashed and hopefully it will be the same this year. Will duck into a "cut in the coast line" anchorage called Ipala for some sleep and then make the 50 mile sail to Chamala with another early start the next morning. Alex II has been readied once again for single handed sailing.
After a quick stop in mazatlan, ribs at Fat Fish was the main reason for stopping, we were off again whislt the weather gods were in our favor. A short jaunt down wind to stone island to anchor overnight, then a leasurely start at 9.00am to La Cruz. Winds were light moving to moderate as the day progressed. We made good progress, reefed the main overnight and the wind kept blowing. At daybreak we were only 3 hours from Punta De Mita. A fast easy sail. We actually tied up at the slip at 11.00am. So 190 miles in 26 hours , pretty damn good. Old friends, from Sea Bourn were waiting to handle lines as we edged into the slip. What a difference from la Paz ( cold ,windy and a bit junky) to a tropical La Cruz, warm wind, sun and a balmy atmosphere.
It's good to be back, this has got to be close to paradise. Banderas bay as we came through looked wonderful and we were greated by a couple fo breaching whales. Our buddy boat El Tiburon, a beautiful Tayana 47 stopped at Punta De Mita and came into La Cruz the next day.
Had dinner with some friends from Mazatlan and the people on the boat next to us at "Tacos on the street" as good as ever. Meet up with the folks from Seabourn and collected my medication which I purchased in Canada and had sent to their home in Colorado. They kinding brought it down for me. Tonight it's going to be Tacos again with Daryll and Sarah from El Tiburon. But first a beer with Bob a buddy from mazatlan, which is where I am off to right now..........cheers !!!
Time to make the trip back to the mainland, have been waiting two weeks for a weather window and it finally arrived. The day before I am due to leave I spot a notice at La Paz marina with two people wanting to crew to the mainland. I send them a quick email, we meet in the evening and by 8.00am Helen ( british) and Lars( swede) are waiting with their bikes on the dock. They are currently cycling from Canada to Panama. If you think that is tough, they have also cycled Africa, Australia, south america, china , India. Check out Helens blog............www.helenstakeon.com and Lars www.lostcyclist.com ( click on links on sidebar )
Off we set with Bikes strapped to the stern, a brisk day is ahead of us. We get to the ceralvo channel and the wind is up, 15-20 knots and some seas. however it is on our beam, so we fly. At times doing 9 knots and winds gusting to 28. By 6.00pm we are in the anchorage at Meurtos. During the trip i hooked a big Dorado, probably around 30lbs...........got it to within 15 feet of the boat and it dived and tore out the hook. Spent the night at Meurtos with the intent of leaving the next day, check the weather and decided to stay one extra day. We left in the early hours and had a fabulous sail across, completeing the 190 miles in 28 hours , maintaininmg a speed of 8 knots all the way. Had another big fish on, this time a 200lb plus marlin. I saw him approach the lure and I tried desperately the get the lure out of the water. I did'nt want to hook a marlin. Bang he took the lure and the reel started to spin at an enormous rate, we slowed the boat, I tried to wind on some tension but before I knew it I was quickly running out of 50lb line on the reel and then I managed to slow the reel down by finally increasing the drag.................bang again the the line snapped. The Marlin must have been pretty angry as it leaped clean out pof the water twice and swam off into the distance with all my fishing line and tackle. Lars and Helen were great as crew and decide dthey would like to stay on for the leg tfrom mazatlan to La cruz. We have exchanged a lot of stories about sailing and cycling. Fortunately they are both avid photographers so I have some photo graphic evidence of my catches which got away.
We arrived Mazatlan and stayed a day before setting out again for La Cruz. we decided to stop at Stone island due to some local adverse weather south and will leave on the final leg in the morning.
I need to meet a friend from Portland on Friday at the airport in PV. Julie is coming down for a quick holiday so I need to get to La Cruz ASAP !!!!