From Mazatlan toward Mantanchen Bay
14 December 2010
Passage from Mazatlan to Mantanchen Bay and San Blas.
Sorry for the delay in getting this out. We are having difficulty finding wifi connections that can be connected to without pass codes so this one is being posted late.
We made the passage from Mazatlan to Mantanchen Bay the night of Wednesday, 12/8 in 22 hours, arriving at about noon on the 9th. This passage was uneventful, with light winds and calm seas. We had a brief spinnaker run before the wind clocked aft behind us. We kept coming up to try to keep an angle to sail but before long we were headed to the Marquesas, not Mantanchen so we gave that up and turned on the "iron gennaker." The passage was quiet, only a few cruise ships passing in the distance heading to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. We were visited by a large bird, not a frigate, but possibly a "boobie" trying to land on our mast head. This sounds innocent enough but they can damage the wind instruments sited at the top of the mast, not good. We were able to defend our territory with a high power flash light. The first time he came in to land when the beam hit him he bombed us, it was a narrow miss landing in the water along side. By the end of his second or third pass he was out of ammo but still made 10-15 passes before giving it up. Other than that it was a beautiful starry night. We motor sailed most of the way to make good time and meet our friends from Oceanside aboard Sirocco and So Inclined. They were waiting for us at the other end and we were looking forward to seeing everyone in a new place. That part of the coast, from Mazatlan down to Mantanchen Bay, appears to be flat, swampy marshland with long, fine unmolested beaches, heading south then south east for miles before taking a more easterly tack at Piedras Blancas. We continued on, passing the entrance to the estuary at San Blas just before noon. San Blas is historically significant as the prominent West Coast port for "New Spain" in the late 1700's. There are still the remnants of the old Spanish fort above the entrance. Mantanchen is a big beautiful bay, albeit surrounded by swamps, from Punta Camaron just below San Blas. It is from that 'point' as I understand it, is the record for the longest ridden surf wave, or so the hype goes. I can believe that in the right conditions it would be a long wave. The surfers have to have cars parked down the beach to get a ride back to the point. It's that long. Of course while we were there the waves must have been six inches, but you could see what it could have been with the right swell coming in. OK, so we get into the bay, anchor and take a nap. Our friends stop by on their way back from the beach and we are invited to a pot luck spaghetti dinner aboard Sirocco that evening. Jumping into that event it was great to see and to catch up with our friends from Oceanside. It is decided that with their departures in the morning, we will all catch up again in Puerta Vallarta where we all intend to spend the Holidays. Marisa and I spent three days at anchor, taking the dinghy around the bay and to the beach for dinner at Ismeal's pallapa cantina, fantastic food! We met fellow cruisers, Mark and Anne aboard "Blue Rodeo" and were invited to join them on the La Tovara jungle river cruise the following morning. For that we set an alarm for 0530 hrs to meet on the beach at 0645 hrs. What a surprise when we woke up to fog. Heavy fog had come in and we couldn't see shore. I had taken a bearing to the point the night before in case we had to get out quickly and used that bearing to guestimate a course to the beach, and in the event we didn't find the beach a reciprocal course back to the boat! All that said it worked well and we landed not far from Ismael's, where we had decided to meet. Ismael is cruiser friendly and watches the dinghies because petty theft is a problem in that area.
We were met by Mark and Anne and also cruisers Howard and Lynn on "Swift Current" out of British Columbia. Together we walked the short distance to the entrance of the Tovara River cruise and boarded our panga operated by Jose, a young local with English skills but quite the master with his panga in the narrow mangrove channels. We were treated by a number of local bird sitings and two crocodiles in the wild on the way up to Tovara Springs. We then took a break for a cold one before heading to Camalota Springs where a "cocodrilario" or crocodile refuge where we saw a number of the beasts as well as several other species of native critters! After all that, we caught the bus to San Blas where we had lunch and walked the town and all the way down to the marina on the estuary. Mexico's Fonatur has built a marina at San Blas. It's located on the dredged estuary but is surrounded by mangroves, so not some place we would want to stay.
We or I should say Marisa decided that we had seen enough of Mantanchen Bay and that we would leave the next day. The "no seeums" or locally "jejenes"were eating her alive. We found that one must be off the beach by 1630 hrs. (4:30pm) when these critters and a few mosquitoes as well become active. Anchored as far out as we were, the jejenes were not so bad but the mosquitoes could get to us. All Marisa's' handy work making bug screens was coming in quite useful. She could stay below where it was relatively bug free but warm. Welcome to the tropics! Actually, this part of the coast is noted for this because it is so swampy, which is why there has been no real tourist development, such as big hotels, etc. coming into this area of the coast.