01/23/2012, Chacala, Nayarit Mexico
The 22 NM trip from Matanchen Bay was pretty uneventful. We motored down the coast about 2-3 miles offshore, other than a couple of fishing boats and a few whales in the distance, not much happened. Upon arriving in the small cove of Chacala we were able to practice deploying our stern anchor....something most sailors tell you you'll never need. The other boats in the anchorage all (accept one) had bow and stern anchors set. Keeping with the unwritten rule of anchoring the same as the other boats already in the anchorage....we, for the first time, deployed our stern anchor. Things didn't go exactly as planned, but after one failed attempt we were all set up bow and stern, thereby keeping Si Bow's bow into the waves and reducing the rocking motion of the gentle waves.
Chacala is the picture perfect anchorage that you've probably seen on travel brochures, or maybe a Jimmy Buffett Album cover....or maybe a Corona commercial. The beautiful white sand beach is framed by a rocky point on each side and surrounded by Palm trees blowing in the breeze. Add a few palapa restaurants and bars along the beach and there you have it...paradise.
We have spent the last couple of days lounging on the beach, swimming in the almost warm waters and wondering.....why are we leaving here????
01/19/2012, San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
San Blas is a traditional, non-tourist Mexican fishing town. The sleepy little town was once a burgeoning naval port for New Spain. San Blas was more or less founded in 1530 and became New Spain's Pacific naval port in 1768. San Blas went into a decline shortly after the Spanish-Mexican war, as most of the commerce and shipbuilding was moved to either Mazatlan or Acapulco. Today San Blas has a population of about 6,000, including a fair amount of ex-pats who have settled into the carefree lifestyle of this charming, although very poor town.
Since we arrived in Bahia Matanchen during the night, we were pleasantly surprised on Sunday morning when we looked outside to see a lush green shoreline, complete with a banana plantation and coconut groves. The climate is now much more tropical than the dry Sea of Cortez. Sharon and I have enjoyed strolling the streets of San Blas where the bicycle is one of the major modes of transportation by both young and old locals. During our short stay we have done a jungle river trip, visited the fort which was built in 1770, seen several churches and of course visited several of the local hora feliz's. Our current plan is to leave San Blas tomorrow morning and continue south....that is if I can pry Sharon out of this little place she has fallen in love with.
Jungle river trip
01/17/2012, San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
One of the must things to do in San Blas is the jungle river trip. This morning several of us from the small marina boarded a Panga and headed into the estuary. It was something right out of Disneyland....only the large crocodiles were real. This was our first real trip into an estuary and the three or four amazing eco systems that we past through were all beautiful in their own way. Along with all the Crocs, we also saw many different birds, butterflies, fish and plants. As we ate lunch next to a clear spring in the jungle, several pangas came in loaded with college kids from Mexico City.....who turned out to be some of the wildest of all of the animals we saw today.
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.