Mazatlan to San Blas
16 January 2012 | San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
As we exited the harbor entrance from Mazatlan we had our sails up within minutes and were on a broad reach doing about 5 knots in about 8-10 knots of wind. We set a course towards Isla Isabela, which is about 18 miles off of the coast of Mexico. Isla Isabela has been called the Galapagos of Mexico by both the National Geographic magazine and by Jacque Cousteau. Most of our fellow cruisers, and the cruising guides call it a small, rollie, rocky, non-protected, anchor eating island, which is only suitable as a VERY calm weather anchorage and then for only for a small number of boats. Never the less we felt that we needed to check it out for ourselves. We sailed through the afternoon and through the night and finally at about 4:30 Saturday morning the wind died out and we turned on the iron sail. I was on watch when just after sunrise while looking behind us I saw a monstrous animal surface quickly and then disappear. I grabbed my camera and aimed it towards where I saw the huge creature....suddenly Sharon appeared in the companionway and asked what I had seen, I informed her that I thought it was a Humpback whale...and a big one at that. We didn't have to wait very long before we began seeing water spouts EVERYWHERE. Humpback whales are one of the largest animals in the world and can reach 50 feet and weigh 35-45 tons....and we were right in the middle of their breeding grounds. There were several times that we had to take evasive measures to keep from hitting one of these huge, playful beasts, including one time that one was literally right up against our hull.
Upon arriving at Isla Isabela we were kind of surprised to find both of the very small anchorages packed with other boats, forcing us to attempt to anchor between another boat and a large rocky point of land. Neither Sharon or I felt comfortable with where we were, so we raised the anchor and went with plan "B", which was to go straight to the San Blas area.
Unfortunately with all the screwing around at Isabela, we were now going to be coming into San Blas during the nighttime hours. Most sailors, including myself, will tell you not to come into an unfamiliar port at night. Just south of the San Blas harbor entrance is a large bay called Bahia Matanchen, although not our ideal situation, we felt that we would make an attempt at entering Matanchen and if at anytime we felt it wasn't right, we would turn around and spend the night at sea, waiting for daylight. As we made our way past San Blas harbor we came across what can only be described as a minefield of Panga fisherman with their drift nets and long lines out just waiting to get caught in our prop or wrapped around our keel. I said a special thank you to the man upstairs as one by one the Panga nets began to blink with small lights and several times the fisherman themselves warded us away from their net/lines by directing us with their flash lights. As we entered Matanchen, we were both keep busy watching the dark sea and keeping an eye on our ever dependable radar as we felt our way into the large, peaceful bay. We dropped the hook at about 2030 hours, which was about 31 hours after leaving Mazatlan.
After spending yesterday in Bahia Matanchen, we have now crossed the sandbar into the estuary of San Blas where we will spend the next few days before continuing south. Tomorrow we are planning on a jungle river trip and should have a story or two to tell about that.