Puerto Escondido to Mazatlan
30 March 2011
Virginia and Dennis Johns
Tuesday, March 22nd Gail and Jan of Joy of Life (from Alaska) took us into Loreto for provisioning. We wanted to take them to lunch to thank them. After a ten minute drive to the "best" place around, we found it closed on Tuesdays! The next spot they picked was the 'campground restaurant'. We are fairly certain it is the same RV campground in downtown Loreto we stayed at with Darren on our land trip down here many years ago. We'll have to check our Baja campground book when we get back home - that would be pretty amazing. They also took us to a Mexican bakery. Dennis has become fond of Mexican baked goods so he was in heaven. That afternoon we went aboard Otter (the Island Packet one) where Randy and Gayle shared cruising guides and stories of their three years in Central America, Ecuador, and the Galapagos. They pointed out that it is 5 days to the Galapagos from Costa Rica and since it is about that same amount of time to make the passage as we had planned from Ecuador, a new idea is brewing. If we head over from Costa Rica to the Galapagos, we would have a better chance of getting there by early May before our cruising permit for that area expires. Then we can head "backwards" to mainland Ecuador, maybe go down to Peru, and then up to Panama and other areas we skipped by jumping off in Costa Rica. And it remains open then as to what point we would leave from to cross the Pacific to the Marquesas next season. But as always, plans remain flexible. The four of us then met up with Mary Lee and Lewis (s/v Merry Lee) for dinner. We had a great time. There were only a few customers besides us and we got a lot of attention from the owner/waiter. Pedro was a very charming man - well travelled in Europe and South America. Always multi-tasking, we ran back and forth to the laundry room during dinner as we were headed south the next day and wanted to get all clothes and towels clean.
Wednesday, March 23rd. Happy Birthday Virginia - a big one. Dennis announced it on the local radio net in the morning and she got the traditional radio clicks salute. We headed out of Puerto Escondido to Timbabiche. About four miles out of Puerto Escondido we saw two humpback whales breaching. Virginia got a bit of video on them, but it was so hard to predict where they would come up next that it won't be anything like the real thing. We got to sail some that day, but only to 10-11 knots of wind. The predicted 20-25 never materialized. About an hour after we anchored in Timbabiche, Manuel in a panga approached us selling langosta (lobster). We bought 4 grande ones for $100 pesos each and he threw in a fifth for a Coca Cola Light (Diet Coke); then we traded him 1 gallon of gasoline for his panga for a 6th one. Virginia haltingly told him in Spanish that it was her birthday and we would be celebrating with his lobster. We had leftovers for lobster cocktails a second night. We were the only yacht in that beautiful anchorage.
Thursday, March 24th we sailed, with spinnaker, to Isla Spiritu Santos, Bahia San Gabriel. As we neared the anchorage, we caught another Bonito (fish) - which supports our theory that the engine scares the fish away (but other cruiser friends of ours make the opposite claim, so who knows). We planned on making one more day trip south to Muertos and heading across to mainland Mexico from there, but the weather predictions were for good sailing conditions Friday and Saturday, with not much wind on Sunday. We decided to head straight across from Isla Spiritu Santos on Friday. Even though it would be a longer passage than from Muertos, we wanted to sail.
Friday, March 25th we started out at 3:00am for Mazatlan. We did get to sail, with spinnaker, most of Friday. That evening the wind died and it stayed relatively calm until we reached Mazatlan. But at least we got in the one day. We had a little activity that night to keep us alert - passed two large fishing boats and two cruise ships. We could see the glow of La Paz as we left and the glow of Guaymas to the northeast Friday evening.
Saturday, March 26th we arrived in Mazatlan at about 3:00pm, thus it was about a 36 hour passage. The channel was relatively narrow and shallow in areas; a dredge works constantly to clear away the sand that accumulates (sound familiar Santa Barbarians?) and was working overtime as a result of the tsunami impacts felt in Mazatlan. It was about mid-way to low tide and Dennis felt us plow through a shoal at the entrance. We met a very nice couple, Mary Lou and Joe Upton (s/v Anna), on the dock right next to us, as they returned to their boat from a bike ride.
Sunday, March 27th since we had mentioned enjoying bike riding in La Paz when we saw them ride up yesterday, they advised us this morning of a semi-organized "bike to brunch" ride happening today. Dennis had 30 minutes to assemble the bikes and off we went. We joined Mary Lou and Joe, and Darlene and Roy (s/v Scrimshaw) for the bike ride. It was quite pleasant and ended at a palapa restaurant on the beach. In addition to their cruising activities, Darlene and Roy also own a condo in Mazatlan so they spend a lot of time here and were a wealth of information about the local area. We took a bus into old town with Mary Lou and Joe that afternoon and the four of us spent the rest of the day walking tour of town. We went to the outdoor Mercado and looked at all the fresh fish, meat, and produce; a priest was saying mass right in the middle of one of the aisles for the benefit of the workers that couldn't get off to go to church. We toured the Cathedral, the beautiful plaza nearby, some quaint streets and courtyards, the malecon. We went to the rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Freeman and had a wonderful view out over the city as we sipped Limonade (limeade made with mineral water - delicious and so refreshing). Around 5:00pm we were headed back to the bus when we noticed a stage set up in the plaza across from the Cathedral. They were having a children's dance contest. It reminded us of Fiesta, slightly. They weren't doing flamenco, however; it was the type of dancing that the cheer squads do at college sports these days.
Monday, March 28th we made contact with Joyce and Scott Ross (s/v Life is Good) who were our neighbors in the Ventura marina. They have been here for a month or so and are soon headed south. We agreed to meet that evening for dessert and music at Tres Amigos rrestaurant nearby. Early in the morning we rode our bicycles to a bike shop for a lube and tune-up to protect them from the salty sea environment. Instead of the one hour timeframe we had been told to expect, he needed to keep the bikes all day as he was quite busy. So we hopped on the bus outside the shop and went into downtown again to do some errands: locate an upholsterer for a new piece of foam for one of our cushions, find a surf shop that had boogie boarding fins, etc. Once we finished those tasks, we still had plenty of time to kill so we went to the Aguamarine (Aquarium) which also has an aviary. It was quite nice and we would recommend it; unfortunately we did not have time to take in the seal show and the bird show which we are sure would have been worth the wait if we could have fit it into our schedule. We took the bus back to the shop to collect our bikes. As we were riding to the marina, enjoying the marked improvement in the operation of our bikes, Dennis caught something in his front spokes and went down hard. He didn't hit his head or break anything, but he has road burn on his hand and leg. It was amazing he wasn't hurt more. That man knows how to fall - just tucks and rolls. In the early evening we got together with Mary Lou and Joe aboard Anna to trade notes as we were cruising in opposite directions. We got some good hints about places south of here and we shared our experiences in the Sea. We were so surprised to have someone ask us for hints; the tables were turned for the first time. Guess that was a significant milestone in our cruising life. We took a taxi to Tres Amigos. Joyce and Scott brought 4 other friends and we had an enjoyable time visiting. They are headed to Isla Isabella next, as are we, but they are leaving Tuesday and we are waiting another day or so hoping for some wind.
Tuesday, March 29th was a day of chores, preparing for the next passage. Did laundry (actually just dropped it off at a service - getting lazy), provisioned at the local Mercado, took the bus into town for a few errands including using an ATM to get more pesos. Dennis tried to attend a Rotary meeting but got the run around (on his bike at night) about the location and never did find it. Virginia checked the weather forecasts and got caught up on Internet work.
Wednesday, March 30th we kayaked into the estuary. It was a nice leisurely kayak through a section of very large homes, a golf course where they had to stop playing as we kayaked by as they were hitting over the water at that hole, a preserve where we saw lots of birds. We took the bus into town to do a few errands at Home Depot and couldn't figure out which bus would take us back, so we hopped onto a Pulmaria (golf cart type open taxi). We did some overdue polishing of the stainless steel hardware and lifeline. Tonight around 6:00pm we are going to take a short jaunt out of this marina into Stone Harbor, the anchorage across from the commercial port, so that we can get an early start tomorrow morning without worrying about navigating the narrow channel out of the marina.