Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta
12 February 2013 | La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Tempting as it was to stay in Mazatlan for the famous Carnival, we were keen to continue our jouney south. "Never start a voyage on a Friday" is the sailor's warning; however, this was the first weather window in some time, so we headed out for the overnight passage to Isla Isabella on Friday, Feb 1st. Friends waved goodbye to us from the point, as we squeaked past the dredge again. Ted didn't mention to me that the chartplotter was again doing its best rendition of a 1950's TV screen - ie. scrolling black lines to totally blank screen - until we were out of the harbour (hmm.. not an auspicious start). There didn't seem much point in going back to Mazatlan, however, as we knew that Raymarine's solution was to ship the unit to them in the USA. We just hoped the chartplotter would fix itself, as on the trip south from Ensenada. We hung out at Isla Venados (Deer Island) until mid-afternoon, so our timing would be right to arrive at Isla Isabella in the daylight. People had warned us that we would encounter a number of fishing lines in the area all down the coast and it is common for them to have little or no markings. The last thing we wanted was fishing line tied around our prop or rudder. With the later departure, we lucked out with winds up to 17kts and had a beautiful sail through the night under glorious stars and a nearly full moon. At dawn, just as we approached Isabella, the chartplotter became fully functional again (hurray!). Sea and bird life abounds here and we were treated to whales, turtles, frigate birds, pellicans and boobies as we neared the island. Many people have lost anchors here as the bottom is full of big lava boulders. We dropped anchor near Free Spirit, and hoped that we might hit a patch of sand; but when Ted dove on the anchor, both the anchor and trip line were hooked under a big boulder (... that Friday curse again?). Oh well, we would deal with it in the morning - now we needed to launch our kayaks and head to the island to visit the blue-footed boobies. As we paddled in, the air was filled with frigate birds, several types of boobies, gulls and pellicans. Every available perch had a bird of some type on it; and, as we approached the downwind side of the island, the smell of guano filled the air. We left the kayaks at a fishing camp and picked our way carefully through the long grass - the boobie nests with eggs can be anywhere and we looked pretty funny as we picked our way through the nesting area. It was fascinating watching the interactions of the birds, both in the air and on the ground. The wind was calm next morning, so we took the opportunity to try to retrieve our anchor. Luckily, knowing which direction we had to pull, after a couple of tugs the anchor released from under the rock (Yeah!). The morning was glorious, so we just floated on a flat sea and watched the whales put on a spectacular display all around us - breaching, lob tailing and generally enjoying themselves - while we ate breakfast on deck. Next stop was Matanchen Bay (near San Blas) - a lovely bay, but unfortunately a recent boarding incident has caused cruisers to be pretty wary and many are avoiding it altogether. Next day, we took an interesting boat trip up the Rio Tovara to see the bird life and crocodiles; and then a brief tour of the town of San Blas. San Blas was the base for Spanish fleet in the 1700's, so there is lots of history there. We were intrigued with the connection to Canada - the early Spanish exploration of the West Coast was made in boats built in San Blas (one painting showed Saturna Island with Mt Baker in the background!). Additionally, several Gulf islands bear the captains' names - Quadra, Galiano and Valdes. Our next stop was Chacala, a picturesque Mexican seaside town with little tourist development. Reunited with our friends on Traveller, Evergleam and Free Spirit, we spent a lazy few days there. Then on to our current location in La Cruz in Banderas Bay, which offers good restaurants, lots of live music, a nice marina and close proximity to Puerto Vallarta. We anchored out for 3 nights, but the big swells made sleeping pretty uncomfortable, so we moved into the Marina on Monday. Our plan is to do some land trips and shopping here and then head further south in about a week.