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.
12/08/2010, Mazatlan, Mx
Here we are enjoying beautiful weather, mid to upper 70s daytime with little humidity and perfect sleeping weather. So perfect in-fact that I have been sleeping in, regularly, and so much so that I have missed almost all of the morning local VHF and SSB/HF radio nets! We have gotten some 'must do' projects done on the boat so that we can safely leave on our next leg of this trip, which begins tomorrow (if I can get up for it) when we will head south the 130 nm to Mantanchen Bay, down by San Blas, which is one of those surf spots I used to dream of going to when I was a kid. But, boats being boats there is always something to fix, replace or add so no wanting for tasks to stay busy here. I mean as an example, how can two bilge pumps go out at one time? We had a situation where water maker by-pass brine water discharged into our bilge and when we went to pump it out the pump failed. We used the manual pump and it wouldn't work. OK, got the auto pump swapped out with a temporary until we get a new one and found that somehow the manual pump hose had a tear in it which allowed air in, breaking the suction, so of course it wouldn't work. All that is fixed now, but that's where our days go.
All that said we have taken time to get off the boat and walk. Yesterday we walked to the hotel district then down the beach all the way past the hotel district to the traffic circle where the road takes off to Mega and La Brochetta Restaurant, you know the one? Well it's a long way, trust me on that one. And, did you know that both the US and Canadian governments have consulates in the hotel district? I didn't. The US compound is on the inland side across the street from the Canadian one, which is beach front property next to the Ramada Inn; I'll bet they're best friends! Pretty cool duty! Today we took the bus to Centro, which is the central part of the city where the stores and typically the Mercado or 'central market' is located. No exception here and a pretty nice one too. We got some great pics of the guys cutting up a leg of beef, well cutting it from the torso, but it was all clean and sterile, post butchering stuff. Check out Marisa's photo album "Centro de Mazatlan."
My Brothers will know of this, but most of you will not. Our parents, our Dad especially, were Mexico aficionados. Anyway Mom and Dad were in Mazatlan in 1971 on one of their road trips south. I have this photo of them in front of a fish scale with two marlins that they caught that day. I'm not sure where this photo was taken, but it says Faro Lighthouse Fleet, Mazatlan Mexico, 1971. After walking down there today and having a beer at the La Mar Mariscos restaurant down by the old harbor I recognized the area in the photo as the old harbor. Pretty cool.
After that we walked back to Old Mazatlan and out along the Malecon along the beach to the traffic circle that took us to Mega! One last shopping to top off before heading south in the morning and then a $9 peso bus ride back home. My feet were killing me!
Oh, and for those of you wondering about C Monkey, we learned today that the little primate is doing well as a stow-a-way on So Inclined. Seems he heard they were heading to Isla Isabela to see the "boobies" and got the wrong idea. Check out the blog from So Inclined for full details!
After Mark left Friday afternoon the Sea Monkey went missing. Despite the fact that Sea (C-short for OYC) Monkey wasn't ready to leave the cruising life style he was upset that Mark did not buy him a ticket home. That's just like those monkeys! We went to "Gus Gus" restaurant Friday night here in the marina with the crews from Sirocco and So Inclined for a last dinner before they head south in the morning. We thought C Monkey went to find some Chiquitas to hang out with and console himself, but he could not be found aboard Pacifico this morning (Saturday 12/4) when we awoke and has still has not returned as of this evening. Despite the fact that we went to a party this evening we are getting a bit worried for his safety. We plan to stay here for several more days and hope he shows up before we sail.
Today, Saturday, we stayed at the boat and re-organized ourselves from a crew of three to two, took stock on provisions and did some general clean up along with just lazing around. I called Buddy at West Marine in Oceanside and ordered a couple of parts. He wanted to know if he should deliver them to the marina. I don't know Buddy, ask Ruth?
Late this afternoon we could hear music; it seemed like a party was going on so being curious we went to investigate. As it turned out there was a "customer appreciation" pot-luck get-together up on the roof top deck of the marina office that was sponsored by Rick from Marine Services of Mazatlan. Without any to-do we were invited to join in on the festivities; all you can eat fresh BBQ tuna and tuna balls (like crab cakes) and FREE Pacificos! How could we say no? They also had a musician playing oldies and Spanish classics. We enjoyed the evening and probably saved $200 pesos on dinner! Tomorrow it's more chores, the whale gusher manual pump needs to be rebuilt and it's time to clean out the bilge, a nasty job but nothing major.
We would like to get into town and see more of old Mazatlan before we leave and have started our route planning for the next leg down to PV. We hope to leave Wednesday or Thursday, more on that later. Where is that darn monkey?
After a tour of the Pacifico brewery on Wednesday morning with our friends from Sirocco and So Inclined (see their blogs for a description), in the afternoon the Pacifico crew continued being "turistas" by participating in an entertaining "Salsa y Salsa" show at the Hotel Royal Villas in Mazatlan. (Mark's friend Leonique runs the show & let us join in the fun at her cost.) This was very much a hands-on experience, where our two young instructors, Maaike & Stephanie, taught everyone how to use an authentic Mexican "molcajete" (stone mortar & pestle) to work in pairs to make seven different salsas. These covered the whole range from a spicy salsa roja, salsa verde and guacamole to a dessert-like salsa consisting of pineapple, cantaloupe, coconut & a creamy rum-based liqueur, served with ice cream. Plus we received a lesson in concocting an authentic Mexican margarita from one shot each of tequila & Controy plus fresh-squeezed lime juice, served over the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass. Our hosts supplied authentic chef's attire to everyone, so be sure to check out the photo gallery! What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see Dave in an apron & chef's hat (think "börk, börk, börk!")? If that doesn't ring any bells, check out this video:
Our young instructors provided useful tips such as how to slice open an avocado, a safe technique for slicing and removing the seeds from the hot Serrano chiles, along with a reminder to avoid touching your eyes, nose, etc (use your imagination here) after handing the chiles!
The house margaritas kept flowing throughout the show, so our instructors needed to periodically get everyone's attention by ringing a little handbell & have us all shout "Ole!". Since we were consuming the various delectable delights as we made them, by the time the food part of the show was over we were ready for a nap! That provided a natural segue to the second part of the show. Tables & chairs were cleared away and Stephanie did her best to instruct her students in the basic moves of salsa dancing. Rather than rely on traditional directions such as left, right, forward & back, she used more interesting points of reference such as beach-side, street-side, bar-side and ship-side (most folks came from a cruise ship). Don't know how successful Stephanie was in teaching her class of learning-impaired students, but everyone had fun! (Again, look at the pictures.)
After the show, Mark introduced Dave & Marisa to Leonique, who encouraged them to look her up the next time they passed through Mazatlan. We then hurried off to the Mega market in town to buy chili ingredients for our evening pot-luck with our friends on Sirocco and So Inclined. I bet you all didn't fully appreciate the rigors of the cruising life!
Mark is leaving the boat this evening to return home to CA, and so has passed the mantle back to "Chez Dave" and "Chez Margarisa". Although the Sea Monkey was originally slated to return home with Mark, he stomped his little primate feet and said he was staying with Dave & Marisa (he really does have a foul temper sometimes). So I guess you'll continue to read of his adventures in Mexico.
11/30/2010, Mazatlan, Mx
Hola from Marina Mazatlan
Plans are subject to change, no difference here either. We had intended to make a more leisurely run to Mazatlan via an East Cape anchorage or two but the latest weather reports we received on Sunday, 11/28 indicated a nasty northerly coming down the Sea of Cortez starting Monday night and continuing through Wednesday. Not wanting to run that gauntlet we elected to leave Cabo asap, which we did at about 1400 hrs, Sunday 11/28 and headed straight across the Sea to Mazatlan. We arrived last night, Monday, 11/29 at about 2200 hrs. We also didn't want to make night approaches to unfamiliar anchorages, but we did and thankfully are safe in a slip at Marina Mazatlan.
I'll have to talk about the sailing conditions a little bit here; we had about everything and it was great! We left Cabo with about 25 kts of wind from behind coming over the cape so pretty flat seas. We were making 7-8 knots under just the main so didn't bother to put anything else up; why bother? That's hull speed on this boat! That lasted several hours then died as expected and we motor sailed until we started to pick up some pressure coming down the Sea and had a great moon light sail on a beam reach, just about as good as it gets, and warm too! The sailing went like that through the day with the wind increasing until we had a steady 22-23 kts. The seas continued to build out of the north. That gave us quartering seas, that is with the waves reaching the boat at it's stern quarter on an angle, which kind of cork screws you around and is lots of fun to steer through.....We made good time and kept a steady course of about 74 degrees magnetic with a reefed main most of the day. It's hard to be exact as to times, because we have not been keeping regular watches. Our auto pilot failed on the leg down from Bahia Santa Maria and we have been hand steering, which can be quite a chore. We each take it as long as we can then ask for relief, usually one or two hours is about all you can handle. It's tough, but sure keeps you in touch with what the boat is doing. With one person steering and one asleep in the cockpit to assist as needed. We were all tired when we got in and that was another event in itself. With all that wind and wave action taking us to land we had to figure out how to get the sail in and under control before trying to enter into a little harbor entrance in the dark, which none of us were familiar with. We reviewed all the charts and pilot books and made the decision to take the boat behind the little island just off shore called Isla Pajaros to get into the lea of the island to be able to turn up into it to drop the sail then to motor back out and around to find the entrance. As it turned out that was a good call, because finding that entrance was tricky. It turned out that two of its three lights were out, it is quite a small breakwater and when you get into it the channel is very narrow and shallow on the shore side. The GPS chart is of little help as it shows that you are already on land; not comforting. Anyway, we made it and were welcomed at the dock by our friends from Oceanside who came down last month: Lee and Cathy on Sirocco and Mike and Bob on So Inclined. (check out their blogs) We were greeted with margaritas on the rocks aboard Sirocco and they were well received.
Today was spent, you guessed it, cleaning up the boat again, and laundry. Marisa really likes the new clothes washer device (photos to follow). It was really windy today and while sunny, it was unseasonably cool here today. We were glad that we made it in last night; it looks like "Victory at Sea" out there with a 30-35 knot northerly coming down as expected. This is a nice marina, clean and quiets unlike the rollicking tourist marina at Cabo and about 1/3 the price. There is a great little cantina almost at the head of our dock, we had smoked marlin tacos for lunch! Tomorrow we are going with the group to tour the Pacifico brewery which is here in Mazatlan. Then, it will be back to the boat and into that auto pilot problem and a few other repair and maintenance issues. Cruising: doing boat maintenance in exotic places.
Bienvenidos amigos de Cabo San Lucas. I'm still learning this system and am posting remotely so again no photo, but we will post an album soon. Honest. We had a pretty aggressive passage from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo, more wind than we expected, Mark said it topped at 30 on his watch, but mostly in the 22-28 range and kinda bumpy and wet too. Anyway, we made good time, departing BSM Thursday at 0530 hrs. and arrived arrived CSL on Friday at 1500 hrs. and sailed almost the entire leg, which by GPS was 197 nm considering the long jibes we put in. It didn't really get warm until we were about half way down from BSM to Cabo, BSM wasn't as cool as say Turtle Bay but it didn't start feeling like summer until about 40 nm up the coast, but we're here! Bill, we finally made it to the land of summer.
Did I tell you the man can cook? Mark prepared a turkey breast with real mashed potatoes, gravy,cranberry sauce and vegetable and a glass of wine for Thanksgiving dinner with get this, home made pumpkin pie. Yes, he made the crust and baked a pie while underway and it was lumpy and bumpy all the while. I thought I could cook underway, puts me to shame, I wouldn't even try some of the stuff he has pulled off. The biggest problem he had was trying to keep the pie crust from being broken up before he could get the filling into it. Did I share with you that he has been baking fresh bread?
OK, so we got into the Cabo before dark, tired and hungry. After projects and a few repairs of things that have broken, we cleaned up with long hot showers and then went to dinner at Edith's, my favorite place down here for that kind of "finer"dining. Today started with a not so early breakfast off the boat at Pancho's restaurant then back to the boat for boat clean up and laundry before walking into a ' more for the locals' part of town for street tacos at Taqueria Los Paisas; I'll tell you Terry they give "Street Tacos" at La Cruz a run for best tacos.
We are staying at the Marina Cabo San Lucas, a pricey kinda place so not one to spend too many days at, I mean I didn't want to buy a slip, just use it for a couple of days!! We will be out of here in the morning to make a passage of about 40 nm over to Los Frailes, an anchorage over on the East Cape of this peninsula. We will BBQ our last three steaks from home there and get some swimming in before heading out on Monday about 160 nm across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan on the mainland. Mark & the sea monkey have made their flight home reservation for this coming Friday from Mazatlan so we will stay there for a few days at Marina Mazatlan where we hope to catch up with Mike on "So Inclined" and Lee and Cathy on "Sirocco". That's about it from CSL, except to say that we appologize for goofing up on the blog. We didn't realize your "comments" were not being posted but sent to Marisa's secondary email address to be approved before posting. So, we have corrected that and your comments, which we greatly appreciated once we found them, are now public.
Pacifico has reached Bahia Santa Maria, near Mag Bay and only about 180 nm from Cabo San Lucas. We are anchored up in the n/w corner of the bay with several other boats, both sail and power.The winds have been mostly from the n/n/w of any where from 6-8 knots to 18-22 range, true. The ocean swell was behind us, mostly quartering and only about 4-6 ft. so not too bad. We made the passage from Turtle Bay in only 38 hours, which I thought quite decent. The wind is still blowing and the forecasts indicate it should continue all the way down, but getting lighter as we go. We don't have a specific plan once we reach Cabo, see how we feel, what the weather has in store for us and we will decide then. We have had plenty to eat, Mark is quite the chef, I had wondered why he was bringing all that food on board in Oceanside, now I know! We are making a few minor repairs, getting a good nap and plan to leave BSM later today without going to shore. Tomorrow, 11/25 we will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner while underway. Again, Mark has provided some special items to make it memorable. We are trying to hook up our Wi-fi booster here to pick up San Carlos but there don't seem to be any hotspots turned on as of yet. We can still check our weather via satellite phone data connection, but won't be sending out individual emails and this post will be sent remotely. In that case the next time you will hear from us we'll be in Cabo San Lucas. Hope all is well there!
Arrived today at Bahia Tortuga around 2:30 PM, after a 49-hour passage south from Ensenada. We motorsailed most of the way, but the wind pickup up yesterday afternoon & we were able to proceed under sail for most of the night. Lots of dolphins, a few whales, and an unusual bright white light in the pre-dawn eastern sky.
We passed outside Isla Cedros and inside Islas San Benitas in the early morning hours. Threw out a lure in the afternoon to see if we could get any strikes, nothing so far, but we're hopeful!
After eating dinner at one of the quaint little restaurants in town, we'll head back to the boat for a good night's sleep. Our plan is to depart tomorrow AM and head for Bahia Santa Maria, with the help of a fourth crewmember (who insists on monkeying around!).
Yesterday's departure from Ensenada was pretty uneventful, under overcast skies, calm seas & minimal wind. We wanted to make sure we got underway ahead of the minor storm system that was due to hit SoCal Fri night, though, plus it was time to get this cruise going for real! So far we've motor sailed until about two hours ago when we finally got enough wind to maintain our speed under sail at between 5.5-6.5 knots, but at least the engine has been taking us southward and we are now about twenty miles off shore entering Bahia Viscaino well below San Quintin. Our next way point is Isla Cedros before Bahia Tortuga. Last night we dined on BBQ steaks with baked potatoes, a veggies side, bread and wine while the full moon peeked through from behind partial cloud cover. Temps were in the fifties, so it made for comfortable night-watches, dry decks again and warmer temps. The two nights in Ensenada were good for catching up on lost sleep from all the long days and late nights of preparations getting ready to go and projects, but we are really on our way! Sometimes I have to pinch myself!!
We are still out in front of the weather system that is coming down behind us, but it is looming. The weather grib files indicate continuing good conditions for us through to Bahia Tortuga, although we may get a little wet, we'll see. It is clear out ahead maybe we'll get there first! Our watches are working well, Marisa takes 2100-2400, Mark 2400-0300 and I'm on 0300-0600 when Marisa relieves me. Mark and I have shared most of the cooking, most not all, and Marisa is jumping in there with the clean-up. We have had dolphin with us off and on for hours, several whale sightings, flukes and jumping to boot! We are healing at 15 degrees, I'm on watch sitting in the cockpit writing this with the nearly full moon rising over the Baja Peninsula and the sun setting into the Pacific. Mark is making a curry dish with fish and vegetables for dinner and Marisa is down for a nap. We got a little bit done on our projects today but not at the same hurried pace of the past weeks, maybe we are mentally entering manana land! We are settling into life aboard. Did I tell you what a great chef Mark is? This will be sent remotely from our Iridium phone so no photos, but soon.
We arrived Ensenada Wednesday afternoon about 3 PM, right on schedule. It was a nice trip down, but little wind so it was a motor boat ride. We needed the hours on the new engine to break it in and it gets it's first oil change anyway. We were tired, more from all the work getting ready to go than the overnight passage down. It was a nice ride, overcast but clear at sea level so a dry deck and warmer than we had expected. We got in and were met at the dock by Terry and Michelle. No sooner had we landed and were tied off than we were back into the unfinished projects, then dinner in town at Mahi-Mahi Restaurant then a good nights sleep. We were at the the Port Captain's to check in at 0900, it was a full house, didn't get out until after 1200, then back to the boat for lunch and you guessed it, projects. Mark and Terry pretty well got the solar panels figured out, seems the best way to hook this pair up will be in series. The mounts were done and I got started on the rest. The wifi system Mark found for us is great. We are out at the outter edge of the marina and have a full page of possible sites to sign on too. Oh, did I tell you that while we were coming into the harbor Mark was finishing the baking of a loaf of wheat bread? Too cool! What a team effort.
Thanks for those of you who came down to the dock to see us off. Sorry that we were not more sociable but were were down to the last minutes and trying to get everything on board and of of there by 7 PM, which if you didn't notice we didn't make. It was actually 845P before we cast off our lines and headed out, but what a good feeling. We were just glad that the conditions were benign, we had so hastily taken on so much stuff at the last minute that had there been any seaway at all we couldn't have departed until everything was properly stowed.
Today at the Capitain del Puerto we had the opportunity to discuss strategy and decided to stay one extra day here in Ensenada to allow us to finish the solar panel installation, organize and properly stow everything and a few other minor projects. The weather forecasts look good enough that we think we will make a straight run to Turtle Bay, about 280 nm. We'll leave tomorrow at noon with an expected arrival on Sunday afternoon, or that's the plan!
More soon and we will try to get some more photos posted