Mazatlan to San Blas
01/16/2012, 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.
Hurry up and wait
Anyone following our Spot locations is probably thinking "why are they still in Mazatlan?"
Much of the work that I've had done in the past few weeks is in preparation for continuing south past Mexico and down to Panama. My current insurance only covers me to Acapulco, so it is necessary to switch companies to continue south and still be insured. I found out on Tuesday that the new company is going to require a Haul out survey. This means that I would have to have Si Bon hauled AGAIN and have a Marine Surveyor do a complete inspection of Si Bon. The Owner of the shop that did my Bottom paint and other work happens to be a Licensed marine Surveyor...and lucky for me he already has inspected and photographed everything that is required for the haul out part of the survey. So in a few minutes he will be here to do the interior inspection and hopefully we'll be on our way south tomorrow at this time, without having to have Si Bon hauled AGAIN. And yes, we are fully aware that not only is it supposed to be bad luck to disembark on a Friday...but tomorrow is Friday the 13....always a lucky day for both Shaybo and myself.
On another note, we have now decided that we are signing up for the El Salvador rally, probably today. This is exciting news for us as we have spent considerable time weighing the pluses and minuses of this rather big commitment in cruising. Although signing up for the rally doesn't really commit us to going to El Salvador....it doesn't cost anything to sign up and plenty of people sign up and don't end up going to El Salvador. We didn't want to be one of sign up and don't go crowd, once we sign up we want to be at least 90% sure that we would be ready and able to go. We both now feel that we're ready to move past Mexico and into other cultures.
Lots going on
It's been a busy week since my last post. Frank and Russ finally made it to Mazatlan on Wednesday...a day late. We quickly got into the Mazatlan lifestyle by first going to happy hour, then heading out to The Fish Market restaurant for some $1.75 fish tacos. On Thursday I gave them the deluxe tour of Mazatlan, with breakfast on the beach and a tour of Centro Mazatlan and the Mercado. We then walked through old Mazatlan before enjoying a beautiful sunset happy hour from the Shrimp Bucket restaurant. After Sunset we walked back to Plaza Machado and had a tasty dinner in the beautiful square while listening to music. We're pretty sure that is where Russ picked a traditional case of Mexican intestinal cleansing bug and the next day he spent as close to the porcelain throne as he could be.
Sharon arrived back in Mazatlan on Saturday afternoon and Russ was starting to feel much better, so we were able to have a nice day together on Sunday. Yesterday my buddies bid farewell and flew back to San Diego. As soon as the boys were gone Sharon and I got busy provisioning for our planned departure on Wednesday.
It's always hard leaving somewhere that you've become fond of....and I would say that both Sharon and myself have fallen in love with Mazatlan. Mazatlan is a great combination of old and new and of tourist and non-tourist Mexico. But it is time for us to move along, so tomorrow we will begin slowly making our way to Puerto Vallarta where Sharon's family will be meeting us the first week of February. We will be making several stops along the way and there should be some more great adventures to blog about.
For those of you that follow our Spot locations on Facebook, we will resume them starting today at sundown and each night thereafter.
A special thanks to the community of Mazatlan and to all of the wonderful people we've met here.
where are my buddies?
01/03/2012, me..Mazatlan, them...San Diego
Frank and Russ were supposed to be here by now......but slight problem, seems like sunny San Diego had some fog last night and into this morning, so they were unable to depart as planned. It just goes to show you that whether traveling by sailboat going 5 knots.....or by Jetliner going 500MPH, you must be flexible. Anyway they are now rebooked for manana manana (tomorrow morning), so hopefully they will be here by manana tarde (tomorrow afternoon). Speaking of delays....my 1000 mile service is finally done and other than not seeing the bill yet , everything is good to go. Also, our dodger (a large windshield/enclosure contraption), which has ALSO been delayed, should be back manna tarde, complete with all new windshields and, as an added bonus, a removable sunscreen.
So other than the fact that my good buddies aren't here yet...things are coming together pretty well. Most of the "things we need to do " list has been done, and hopefully tomorrow at this time I can turn my sights on showing Frank and Russ the town.
P.S. no picture today for the following reasons;
1. No Frank and Russ to photograph.
2. No repaired dodger to photograph.
3. Who wants to look at photograph of a greasy...although newly serviced diesel engine.
The Plan; update
01/01/2012, Marina El Cid, Mazatlan, Mexico
First of all HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE.
On February 22, 2011 at 0713 I did a post called "the Plan", that was about 1 week before I left San Diego. It is now January 1, 2012 at 0930, and I would like to update "The Plan". As you may already know, things have gone just about according to the original plan. I did take some time off Si Bon in the late summer and returned to the US to both escape the heat and visit family and friends. Oh and I also met, fell in love with and recruited as first mate, a wonderful lady named Sharon.
So where do we go from here? Well our new plan is to leave Mazatlan sometime around the 10-11 of January, we will work our way south to Puerto Vallarta where we will meet several of Sharon's family members including her Mom. While we are in Puerto Vallarta we will make the final decision on whether we will continue south to Central America or stay another season in Mexico before going south. I think at this point we have already made the decision in our own minds that we will be bidding farewell to the wonderful people of Mexico and continuing southbound. It looks like Panama would be a nice place to wait out the 2012 hurricane season. As always we welcome family and friends to meet us along the way and share in our unique lifestyle.
What a mess
A friend of mine once told me that " I'm not going out on any boat that has anything jury rigged", well I can tell you that that pretty much eliminates about 99.9% of all cruising boats. There always seems to be things that require that you become creative in getting around this or that, or simply making due with something that isn't working quite the way it was intended to. It is in fact said that the definition of cruising is " fixing your boat in exotic locations". I can tell you first hand that if you can't jury rig things while cruising, you had better stay home in the marina and wait for the $100.00 an hour marine repairman to come to you boat.
The last few days have been dedicated to "un-jury rigging" things, first on the list today was fixing the dinks fuel line.... 20-30 minutes, no problem. Next on the list was fixing the kitchen faucet, of which the water flow has steadily been decreasing to a dribble....not so easy. I first had to get into a space that is about 1.5 X 2 feet, I then had to take apart the plumbing system under the sink and remove the faucet. Please keep in mind that I don't know shit about marine, or any other kind of plumbing. Well after a few (a lot) of choice words, then soaking the faucet system in vinegar then putting it all back together not once, but twice, the F*#%ing faucet is now putting out water like a fire hose.
But wait there's more...that's not the reason for the total disarray of the boat (pic). The 1000 mile engine service is officially underway, this requires that several of the complicated engine systems are sent out for testing/repair by one of the $100.00 per hour marine repairmen. In order to access the engine compartment it is necessary to clear out our aft cabin storage area, which we affectionally call the " Bat Cave". So now most of the contents of the "Bat Cave" are scattered around the rest of our spacious living area...and since it is now 7:15 PM on Friday night...it looks like I will need to get use to this for a few days. Happy New Year to all and hurry back Shaybo, we miss you.
Disclaimer; although it may seem that I am complaining, I'm not. I wouldn't trade this life for anything and the fact that I fixed the F*#%ing faucet by myself gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction...so there!