Sailing South

S/V Mariah with Trish & John Billings

15 January 2017 | Tropical Mexico
27 November 2016 | Mazatlan
25 May 2014 | Mission Bay, San Diego
04 May 2014 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
05 April 2014 | St. Maarten
17 February 2014 | Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, DR
31 December 2013 | Thompsons Bay, Bahamas
20 December 2013 | Long Island, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
11 November 2013 | Marsh Harbor, Abaco
31 October 2013 | Grand Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
21 October 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
15 August 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
17 July 2013 | Charleston, SC
14 June 2013 | Hilton Head, SC
14 May 2013 | Key West
18 April 2013 | Key West
25 March 2013 | Venice, FL
06 March 2013 | Orange Beach, AL

Tropical Mexico

15 January 2017 | Tropical Mexico
Trish Billings
January 10, 2017

Well, we ended up not hauling out in Mazatlan. As it turned out, the haul-out operator was sick that day and we were anxious to get moving, so we left Mazatlan bound for Isla Isabella, home of the “blue-footed boobie.”

It was an overnight trip and we arrived too early the next morning as it was still dark. So we did “donuts” for about an hour and when the sun came up, we entered the small bay…which was filled with other boats and too rolly for us to stay. We did see a few “boobies” flying around, but still disappointed that we couldn’t stay on this Jurassic Park type of island. Maybe next time…

We continued our journey to San Blas where we stayed one night in Matanchen Bay and then came into the marina. San Blas is both good news and bad news…it is a lovely, quaint, untouched town of very few tourists (just us and other inhabitants of the marina). It has the charm of the Mazatlan Mercado that we liked so much. We just love the local shops, each about the size of half of a one-car-garage, selling all variety of items at very inexpensive prices and the small restaurants or “tacos on the street” vendors making everything you could want in the way of Mexican cuisine. Even churros cooked right there on the street. Greasy and yummy!

As we were walking down the cobbled street, I happened to look inside one of these so-called garages and saw a mirror and a chair. I gestured to the man sitting outside if he cuts hair. He nodded. I asked “quanto es? (how much?). He said 30 pesos ($1.50). I sent John in for his monthly haircut! He got a charming haircut suitable for a 10 year old boy, so adorable.

The bad news about San Blas is that is a haven for mosquitoes and no-see-ums. This is why there are no tourists here. They are brutal. I had to keep myself covered in Deet bug spray, especially at dawn and dusk. When the marina decided to re-fill their swimming pool, we decided to stay here to get our boat bottom painted. Due to the bugs, prices are very low for everything in San Blas, including pulling the boat out to paint. We did the painting ourselves, but hired the security guard to sand it for us. It took him about 8 hours and he charged us $35. It turns out that as a security guard, he makes 80 pesos a day ($4.00), so $35 was a bonanza for him.

While in San Blas, we met some wonderful people who have their boats in the yard and are working on them while living on them (on the hard). This is the best part of cruising…meeting fun people along the way that you just “click” with and become life-long friends. Larry and Mel are a fun couple who have spent years here in Mexico. Their next adventure is to buy a canal boat to cruise the French canals. Wow!

After leaving San Blas and the no-see-ums behind, we anchored in a lovely town called Chacala. The main town is made up of about 2 streets deep and 4 blocks long. There are “palappas” along the beach that serve great food and drinks. The dinghy landing beach is a short walk from the town along some rocks at the end of the beach. We met a fun couple at the anchorage here, Dan & Debbie on S/V Caper. While in Chacala, I got a bladder infection and, because there is no doctor or pharmacy in the town, I had to take a taxi to the closest town, Las Varas. This involved about a 30 minute taxi ride in a van for 30 pesos ($1.50). On the way to Las Varas, we were the only passengers, but on the way back, the van was FULL. A 9-seater van carried 16 people, including 2 children sitting on the floor. Seat belt rules just don’t apply in this situation.

From Chacala, we went to La Cruz, a marina just north of Puerto Vallarta. This is a happening place. All the cruisers were there for the Christmas holidays with many going home for some part of December and leaving their boats in the marina. We met up with many of our HaHa friends and even met more.

For some people, these marinas are the GOAL. They get there and just stay all season, enjoying the group activities organized by the “cruiser-mayor.” Many do go further south to Barra Navidad and Tenacatita, but many just stay put and enjoy the warm weather and social life in the marina.

In every place we’ve been, we have found the Mexican people to be amazingly generous. One afternoon, we had an appointment with the local doctor in La Cruz, Dr. Hector Pimienta (Dr. Pepper) at 4pm. We arrived 15 minutes early and the doctor wasn’t in yet (siesta time). So, we went to a small restaurant on the adjascent corner and ordered a couple of cokes. Of course, it’s Mexico time and it took almost 15 minutes to get the cokes, by which time, the doctor had arrived. So John called for the check, we took a couple of quick sips of the cokes and left to go to the doctor. We were gone about 25 minutes and when we came outside, found that our cokes were sitting right where we had left them. So, with a smile and a wave to the waiter, we sat down and finished them.

Another time, we needed to go to the hardware store. We didn’t know where one was and we needed a specific plumbing part. So we got a taxi driver who asked his supervisor where he thought we could find the part. The driver took us to a “hole in the wall” store where the proprietor immediately offered us each a shot of Tequila before doing business. Then, he looked at what we needed, found it and charged us 15 pesos (seventy five cents US). Meanwhile, the taxi driver had waited to see if we got what we needed and took us to another hardware store in the next town for another part. He parked, walked us to the store and waited for us to complete our business (no Tequila this time) before bringing us back to the marina. The whole thing cost us $10US. And we found this kind of treatment everywhere we have gone. The people are seriously LOVELY.

It is now January and we have decided that we really need to see the Sea of Cortez. We have been told that many people go there and never return. We are hoping to find clear water, non-rolly anchorages and Bahamas-type conditions. We are really looking forward to that as we haven’t even gone snorkeling so far on our trip. We just haven’t found clear water on the tropical side of Mexico…too many river mouths fouling up the water. We have been warned by our cruiser friends that it’s really cold up in “the Sea” right now. I asked, “What’s cold to you?” They respond, “72 degree water. Very cold. Why would you want to go there?” Then I asked, “When does it warm up?” They answer, “Around May.” Well, we have to be returning home in May for a June arrival, so off we go to see the freezing cold Sea of Cortez. Fortunately, we have the most amazing “Weather Window” and full moon to get us there (flat seas, 4 knots of wind and moonlight to see us through the nights).

See ya there!
Vessel Name: Mariah
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan 41
Hailing Port: San Diego
Crew: John & Trish Billings
About: John & Trish hail from Mission Beach in San Diego, are avid body surfers and dinghy sailors. They are in their first year of full time cruising.
Extra: We are cruising the East Coast of the US until November when we will head South again.
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Mariah's Photos -