Thursday, February 28, 2008
For Teresa, who was asking me for my impressions of La Cruz. And anyone else who's curious.
It's our last day here, and as always I feel a little melancholy, even though I know we’ll be back in a few weeks. We have, after all, credit for a night’s stay here at the marina since we paid for a week and we’re leaving two days early.
So I took a walking tour through town, camera in hand, and took a lot of photos. Some I shot because they appealed to the eye, others because they meant something to me. A lovely chica who served me good coffee and pastry, a friendly woman who sold me bacon, kids who trailed after me as I walked down the street. A little dog that desperately needs tender loving care. (I thought about dognapping him, rushing him to the groomer and paying whatever it would take for a bath, trim and a physical, but we won’t be here tomorrow so I couldn’t deliver him back where I think he belongs. Besides he’d probably bite me, he has quite an attitude.)
The big white house with the palapa roof has a For Sale sign on it. The little, lowslung house with its own private jungle just appealed to the introvert in me. The staircase belongs to La Cava de Martinez, a family restaurant, and its colors caught my eye. How I'd love to go wild with color like that! I also shot the cruisers’ hangouts Philo's and Anna Banana's, and Le Reve, the French restuarant with a Huichol art gallery inside. The exterior of the Brittania pub and Cascadia restaurant (a colonial architectural gem). A lady deep in puppy love. A cascade of bouganvillea on Calle Coral.
Can you tell I'm smitten with La Cruz?
We'll be away from cyberspace for a few days, sailing south. Hasta luego!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The last few days we've been searching for a few necessary items for the boat: a dock cart or dolly for lugging fuel and water and a couple of water jugs being top of the list. Our search took us to Home Depot, Walmart and Sam's Club in Puerto Vallarta today, and as we sat in the food court at Sam's Club, looking across the street at the enormous cruise ships that resembled condo towers, and feeling like a fish out of water, I decided I didn't care if I never saw Puerto Vallarta again.
One thing I have enjoyed in our shopping trips is the bus troubadors. I remember them from ten years ago, and they've probably been around for decades before that. They get on the bus, usually with a guitar, and sing two or three songs, make their pitch for donations and jump off again. They take requests, if someone wants to hear a favorite tune. One fellow a couple of days ago had a high-tech twist to his act: he brought a boombox which he carried under his arm, and it played the accompaniment to each of his songs at the push of a button, so he had an entire orchestra backing him up. Not a bad voice, either. Today's troubador was a young man who sang one song in English..."May you have the time of your life..." He had his own pitch in Spanish, but at one point remarked in English that "You are welcome to applaud." So I did.
Yesterday we shopped at a vast Walmart-style chain store between Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta that could be a classic example of how wrong a store can go, even with support from Costco, big bucks from wealthy Mexican conglomerates, a gung-ho marketing team...everything required except some common sense at the managerial level.
They called it the Hyper Mega Market, attempting to boost its size and importance up from the typical Mega store. The term Supermarket doesn't mean much in Mexico, since grocery stores the size of walk-in closets feel free to call themselves supermarkets.
The Hyper Mega Market did one thing right: they created some shaded parking in their lot. But it went downhill from there.
As we walked in, I suddenly realized I was famished (a very bad way to shop) and voila! A food court right in front of us. No lines, in fact only a couple of customers, and they had chicken bakes, a Costco specialty we favor. Also pizza, but not much else on display. Two women in charge. One seemed to disappear as we approached, and the other looked like she'd like to. We told her in Spanish we wanted two chicken bakes and a bottle of water, and she looked blank. We pointed to the chicken bakes on display, and she seemed to notice them for the first time. She explained that we had to pay for them in advance in the grocery line, specifically Caja 4. In a cooperative mood, but crosseyed with hunger pangs, I lined up at Caja 4, the busiest in the store, with three heavily loaded shopping carts in front of me. After waiting about 30 minutes I was able to pay for our lunch. They weren't the chicken bakes we were used to, but at that point I was beyond caring.
There's a lot of merchandise in the Hyper Mega, but if you're looking for something exotic like cornstarch, you're out of luck. The paper coffee filters probably don't sell really well, because they're not with the coffee, but way above eye level in the paper towel section. We saw shelf after shelf with only a few items, as though the stockers were on strike.
This mismanagement isn't exclusive to Mexico, I've seen similar disasters in the States. But that's no consolation. I'm still looking for my cornstarch.
In the evening we and our Canadian friends watched "Captain Ron," the cruisers' cult movie, and then all six of us went to La Reve, a French restaurant with an extensive Huichol art gallery and live music. Kristina and Nacho had been playing Bossa Nova, and were packing up to leave when we walked in, but after the Capt looked over their CDs and decided to buy one, they decided to play a few numbers for us. Their songs were all Brazilian tunes we hadn't heard and we enjoyed Kristina's confident, lilting voice, often joined with harmonies from Nacho. After five tunes they started to pack up again, and the Capt went over, got into a conversation with them, and came back to announce that when we come through La Cruz again, we're going to do some music with them. Whoa! How about the fact that although I know some Jobim songs, I sing them in English, and Kristina sings in Portuguese? And I don't know any of her songs. Oh, well, it might be fun anyway.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I was hoping to visit a fellow blogger in Yelapa, the last stop in Banderas, before going south, but "Sol Mate" investigated the Yelapa anchorage yesterday, and it doesn't sound promising for an overnight. There's not much of a dinghy landing, anchoring has to be done very close to shore because it's very deep there, and although two moorings were available, they were iffy at best.
If I can get on again later, I'll post photos of this amazing marina. It's obvious they're going for the high-tone crowd and we were just lucky to get in during the early-promotion phase.
Yesterday my big project for the day was clipping both dogs. It's my third time, and I think I'm getting a little better at it (or else they are).
Tonight we're hosting a little birthday party for the Capt (not that birthday, the other one), with a showing of "Captain Ron," popcorn and (shhhh, don't tell him, it's a surprise) birthday cake. Then we'll all troop over to La Reve to check out their live Bossa Nova music.
Today it's off to Mega for meds, coffee filters and a few other items we can't find in the local tiendas.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
We had a stern anchor and a bow anchor to hoist yesterday morning when we finally left Chacala, promptly at 8 am. Chacala is still my favorite spot, so far. What makes a favorite anchorage? For some it's isolation, for others it's wildlife, or scenic beauty, or internet access, or shopping! Exotic strangeness or a feeling of coming home. I guess it's the latter that makes me love Chacala.
After an easy day of sailing (well, easy for me, not so much for the Capt) we arrived at La Cruz anchorage in Banderas Bay at sundown and had just enough time to deploy our flopper stopper before dark. A flopper stopper is a wonderful device, a very simple looking object that when suspended from the boom off the side of the boat (port side in this case) takes almost all the rock and roll out of anchoring and leaves you feeling almost like you're in a parking lot. We have two, in case extra balancing is required.
Our flopper-stopper. Note that the flaps are simply heavy flexible vinyl. Such a simple device, such miraculous results!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
GoogleEarth view of Chacala Bay. The three white blobs are boats at anchor. The cluster of white blobs are fishing pangas at their dock and the dinghy landing is in the little notch to the right of it
So we decided to hire a water truck to deliver ten five-gallon jugs to the dinghy landing and we'll offload them onto the dink, probably five at a time, take them to the boat, raise each with the jib halyard, and thereby fill the tank. A laborious and time-consuming process, but we may have a couple of days ahead with no water access, so if the watermaker isn't going to do the job, we have to.
Yesterday we took the combi (Andee always called it the collectivo), a passenger van, to Las Varas. While we waited for our ride, we met a gringo from Illinois who was having funds wired to him in LV, and a family from Virginia with nothing but US dollars, looking for an ATM. The drive took us up a short dirt road to the main highway, where we turned south and rode for about 20 minutes through jungle and farmland into a considerably bigger town than I expected.
As it turned out, no joy for the Illinois fellow, who could never find the location, Casa de Oro, where his cash was waiting for him. He had that "stuck in a foreign country with empty pockets and a wife waiting in the hotel" panic in his eyes when we parted company. Someday a Mexican ATM may rob me blind, but until then I'm going to enjoy the convenience and avoid complicated arrangements like wiring funds and money changers.
We stopped for carne asada (grilled beef) tacos at a spot where there was a butcher shop (carneceria) on every corner--"the beef should be fresh," concluded the Capt. The tortillas were made fresh for each order, and were large and delicious; I could have made a meal of them. The dining room was clean and cheery with yellow walls, and an array of photos of old-time revolutionaries and their hard-eyed women caught my eye. The waitress was a very friendly chica about the size of an eight-year-old who was delighted to have a chance to practice her English on us.
Then we wandered the streets looking for veggies (a fairly easy quest), chicken which I bought at a polleria, cheese and a bakery, which turned out to be impossible. We saw one that was closed, got directions to another four blocks away and finally decided it wasn't worth the trudge. Finally Jim crossed the highway to fill the jerry jug with gasoline for the generator while I waited for the return combi.
Back on the boat, I tried something new with the chicken, a recipe yet to be named. I had bought chicken milanesa, which is breast pounded very thin, usually used for sandwiches. I breaded a couple of pieces lightly, without going through the usual egg and milk dip, and browned them on the griddle, then rolled each around a piece of cheese, smothered the rolls with sauteed onions, carrots and bell pepper, and poured mole sauce over it all. Simmered it until the cheese melted, topped it with a dollop of crema and served it over rice. Muy rico... Sorry, no photos, we were too hungry.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Chris, Teresa and Steve are a family from WA State volunteer as English and PE teachers at Chacala School
I was there yesterday at the invitation of Teresa, a volunteer English teacher who has visited here the past two years from Seattle and participates in an after-school enrichment program. I was asked to “enrich” the kids with a talk about our life on the boat, our travels and for thrills, the saga of '07 when we tried to sail from La Paz to Maz and ended up swept down to PV. Chica went along for show & tell.
After I ran out of tales, the kids wanted to see the boat, so about a dozen of us traipsed down to the malecon and the more adventurous of them scrambled out onto the rocks. At a count of three, we all yelled “Hellooooo, Jim!” and the Capt obliged by waving back at us from the boat.
Teresa's son Chris is a WSU student and marine reservist who served in Iraq. He is taking a semester off from school to teach P.E. to the kids in Chacala and having camping and exploring adventures with Teresa. I felt a twinge of envy when she described their recent two-day jungle safari--it's been decades since I had an experience like that with my son.
Then came the best part: Teresa invited me up to her house for flan and coffee! Although she’s given up sweets for Lent, she made a flan especially for us, and such a flan it was! Not just that it was sweeter (which it was) but also richer and more flavorful than any I’d ever tasted. (Of course, she may have a culinary edge, being Cuban.) She promised to email me the recipe, and prepared a slice for me to take back to the Capt.
Her husband Steve also teaches English at the school. Since the sessions are considered enrichment instead of formal classes, he didn't need a teaching certificate. And without this family of volunteers, there's no English instruction at Chacala school.
I told Steve and Teresa I've been thinking of volunteering in English classes when we get back to San Carlos, and they shared some of their strategies. Since we talked, I’ve been thinking about whether I have the ability to hold the interest of a classroom of students. I watched Teresa manage the group of kids during the program and wondered if I had the confidence to maintain order and keep everyone focused as she did. I need to sit in on a class or two and learn more. I do know one other English teacher who worked with teenage girls in Japan, which must have been a real challenge. Maybe she has some tips.
Walking back to the dinghy landing Teresa gave me a quick tour of the part of Chacala I hadn't seen, including the church, the new construction on the hillsides where people from the US and Canada are putting up houses on lots that were $35K last year, now $65K. We passed the house where our mutual friend Andee lived until she died last month, and saw that the plants she had lovingly tended were looking neglected and abandoned.
One more day in Chacala, then we sail south to La Cruz. On the beach this evening we met Dennis and Joan from "Traveler," who are also heading for La Cruz, possibly tomorrow. Dennis blogs on his own website, http://traveleratsea.com. I also heard from our friends on "Sol Mate" who are already at La Cruz, staying at the marina. They confirmed that yes, it's $10 a day to dock a dinghy at the marina if you're not staying there, but that people are landing from the anchorage on a beach nearby. We may meet up with "Sol Mate" at La Cruz, or a few days later at Nuevo Vallarta marina.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
My interest sparked by the Huichols I met Sunday on the beach, I went yesterday to photograph some examples of Huichol string paintings and beadwork in a shop in Chacala.
Then a Coke at a palapa while we watched kids working on their soccer moves along the shoreline and gazed out at the boats in the sunlit water. A little band of musicians trudged by in all their finery, looking for a venue to play, and I complimented them on their fancy shirts--black with murals of cowboy paintings around their middles. They seemed a little tired and discouraged, lugging their instruments around hoping to find someone who’d listen and maybe pay a few pesos for the privilege, and having been in their position I could relate. A few minutes later, we found them on the street in front of the local beer distributor, performing a couple of their songs.
Andee always blogged about the street scene in Chacala and she never failed to find something interesting going on. She had made friends with the locals and freely photographed them up close, sometimes devoting a whole blog to the faces of Chacala, from babies to elderly abuelitas. I still feel hesitant to photograph people and usually try to get permission either verbally or with a gesture with the camera. With the Huichols I wondered if I was expected to offer them money and if so, how much? But so far it seems to be only an issue for me, and everyone else seems perfectly happy to allow me to snap away.
This afternoon I’ll visit the school, where Teresa, a volunteer, has asked me to give “a talk” about our life at sea, and maybe she’ll tell me a little about her contributions to Chacala.
Tomorrow, we take the collectivo to Las Varas to buy gasoline and refill my prescription (she said optimistically).
Monday, February 18, 2008
“Another day in Paradise,” says the Capt as he settles contentedly into the cockpit with a giant mug of coffee.
Chica rode the kayak with me all the way to the dinghy landing this time, with the Capt and Sofia in the dink following us. The landing turned out to be fairly easy, because a couple of little boys ran up to us and I handed my painter to one of them so he could steady the kayak while I climbed out. Again Chica was a trouper, patiently waiting until I could scoop her up and carry her to the sand. But once Sofia had arrived, Chica became a wild thing, running circles around poor Sofia, racing into the water and swimming! Her first swim!
Yesterday was Sunday, and the beach was jumping, with music, wandering sellers of jewelry, hammocks and carvings, kids, dogs, young lovelies in bikinis... A couple of Mexican women had set up a little stand and were turning out intriguing pineapple drinks with all the accoutrements: jicama sticks, umbrellas, flags...which were hand-delivered to customers lolling on the beach. The customers would take a sip, look at each other and say, "Otro día en paradiso."
Two guys from Petaluma who had spied the hailing port on our vessel, (also Petaluma) charged over to meet us, but we didn’t really have much to say to each other.
A friendly vendedora wanted to show me every string of beads she had, rattling off her sales pitch: “all organic, no plastic, very cheap.” In Spanish, of course, but I got the gist. I succumbed at last to a string of green beads I couldn’t resist--$12. Guess I’m just another weak-willed turista with pesos burning a hole in my pocket...
On the way back, we came across four men in Huichol Indian costume, sitting on the rocks with one shy little woman. They had a stand-up bass and I took them for musicians, wondering if they were really Huichols or just trying to appear colorful. But they were agreeable to having their photo taken, so I snapped a couple of shots.
Jan Goldy in San Blas told me Huichols have an interesting marital custom: when a couple marries, the bride commits herself to spending the rest of her married life decorating the groom. She embroiders his white pants and shirt in great detail, and then he may go on to have face painting applied on what skin is left exposed. On their feet they wear huaraches and on their heads, big straw hats trimmed with feathers and ball fringe around the brims. The more elaborate and colorful the husband’s getup, the more status is attributed to the wife.
Huichols are known for their symbolic yarn paintings and fine beadwork on gourds, jewelry, and mandalas, called nierikas, which were originally created for ritual purposes but now are sold in Chacala and San Blas. At least a quarter of the Huichol men are said to be shamans and much of their life centers around peyote ceremonies. They believe they evolved from wolves. Lots more here about the symbols used in their art.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
With a few days anchored in Chacala Bay while we wait out some 30-knot winds, it’s time to tackle some projects on our never-ending list. One of mine was to acquire a lighter, cooler straw hat, and I found one that appealed to my inner Texas Gal when I was shopping with my “Sol Mate” friend. Fits perfectly, really knocks the sun off, and makes me wish I had my cowboy boots. Not that they’d be much fun to wear walking in sand, which one does a lot of in Chacala.
The Capt found a worrisome faulty connection to the alternator that had brought down our electrical charging system to unacceptable levels. This is a system that requires constant vigilance, to keep the juice flowing unimpeded from the solar panels, the wind generator and the motor so we have the benefits of lights, water pump, fans, watermaker, computers, guitar amp, even an icemaker! Then he fulfilled one of his to-do list items, installing pegs in the bathroom for hanging towels. Gracias, mi capitan.
We took both dogs ashore for a little run, a shower for the Capt and a few provisions--in particular a special order of oatmeal I’d requested at Jorge's store (he had only 3-Minute and I wanted whole oats). And there was a big bag of oatmeal waiting for me so I bought the whole thing. On the beach I toasted my friend Andee with a Coke while I waited for the Capt, and watched a crowd of gringos and Mexicans playing in the water and strolling on the sand. A fabulous people-watching spot, Playa Chacala.
Back in my galley I was starting to cook chilaquiles for lunch when I heard someone calling my name, and the Capt said a woman was swimming around the boat looking for me. It turned out to be Teresa, a mutual friend of Andee’s, out for a dip with her muy guapo son Chris, stopping by to introduce herself, tell me she has been following MY BLOG (oh, joy!) and invite us to give a talk at the Chacala school where she volunteers every year when she’s here in town.
technos--bed and breakfast owners-- with travelers seeking affordable accommodations, had been taken over by a couple of locals who have their own inns--I hope they’ll manage to be as evenhanded as Andee was. I've noticed at least one other couple donated a trashcan at the entrance to the dinghy beach. I'd like to find what I could contribute on short visits, since we're always on the way to someplace else.
Next on my project list is to find someone who’ll sell us a quarter-block of ice, and figure out how to get it back to the dinghy dock.
Friday, February 15, 2008
As we entered the harbor two black skipperkies--Danish water-loving dogs that are said to be perfect boat companions--raised a ruckus from a nearby boat when they saw our two white Maltese on deck, and Sofia and Chica yapped right back at 'em. It's going to be interesting when we run into these folks with all four dogs, on the beach.
With our Canadian friends from “Sol Mate” we dinghied ashore and trudged up the beach to Chico’s for dinner. Next time I’ll have fish, it was much better than the overcooked shrimp in diablo sauce. It was one of my wishes, to wander through Chacala at night, and I’m glad I did. We had first thought to eat at La Brisa, but as the proprietor Brisa (an enterprising chica with excellent English and Spanish, a hard worker and savvy businesswoman) explained, there was a special Valentine’s dinner going on and unless we felt like spending 225 pesos for dinner we’d have to wait about 40 minutes for bocadillos while they served the other customers. Not being up for a formal dinner, we kept going to Chico’s.
Tomorrow I'm going to get bold enough to climb the steps and shoot closeups of the multitudes of flowers along this wall, where we walk into town. I think it's a b&b, not a private home
But no more trips ashore in the dinghy after dark. Early this morning a fisherman rigged a gill net in the approach to the dinghy landing, and his first catch was our dinghy. With both dogs aboard looking longingly back to shore, and me standing on the beach unable to help but reluctant to walk away--what if a dog jumped off and needed to be fished out?--the Capt hung off the side of the dinghy and pulled all the little nylon fibers off the propellor blades, one at a time. These nets are impossible to see in the water in daylight, all the more invisible at night.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
From the deck we can see a string of palapas along the beach. Yesterday I went ashore with the dogs and S., “Son of Sol Mate” who’s visiting from Vancouver. We had a Pacifico mini and a bowl of chips at one
of the palapas, total price $1.40. We didn’t have small enough change to pay for it, and she waved it off, “no problemo, otra vez.”
Today on the Morning Net, hosted as always by Capt Norm, we heard about Ismael, who owns another of the palapas and provides cruiser services such as water and fuel delivery, dinghy security and rides into town. We didn’t find him there when we landed after breakfast, but Rosario, his manager, was more than helpful.
Norm had said in his broadcast that this was the worst year for tourism in San Blas in over 40 years, and that there was a lot of resentment toward gringos on account of our reduced numbers. Anti-tourist graffiti had been seen in town, he warned, and we should be careful. Whatever that means. We found everyone we encountered to be enthusiastic and friendly. Maybe we just look like big spenders (joke).
I explored the town with the crew of “Sol Mate” while the Capt puttered on the boat, his way of relaxing. I came back to find 12-volt outlets installed on each side of the V-berth, so we can use a 12V reading light and fan in the berth, easier on the batteries. He had packed away all our fleece and extra-warm clothes, an act that signifies we are now in the tropics. He installed the teak bookcase that has been taking up a lot of space on my side of the berth, and continued to go through bins and baskets and lockers full of stuff we’ve collected over the past 13 years, consolidating, sorting and examining.
Meanwhile, in town we looked for the Huichol Indian artists, and found some people from Guerrero selling wood, but no beadwork or string pictures. We had showers at Hotel Maria, a very pleasant and attractive inn off the Plaza with very clean showers, towels included, for $2.50 each, and promised to recommend them. I peeped into a room, and found it basic but comfortable: TV, private bath, two beds. We had lunch on the square: big plates of enchiladas, tostadas, chilaquiles and tacos. At the Mercado we sipped liquados (smoothies) of banana, orange and papaya, and took photos of spectacular vegetable stands bursting with color. Veggies as art. We walked miles! It was a pleasure to see this little town through the eyes of our Canadian friends, who appreciate the Mexican culture, do their best to communicate in Spanish, and seem delighted with all San Blas has to offer instead of seeing only dirt and poverty.
So far, I have only a few no-see-um bites around my ankles. At Hotel Maria we met a woman from LA with so many bites on her arms, she had to see a doctor and get an antiobitic shot.
“Sol Mate’s” crew wants to take the jungle boat tour tomorrow, including a visit to a crocodile farm and a river ride that I took back in 1965. The Capt and I have elected to stay here in town, possibly go in for a few supplies. I think I’ll paddle my kayak around the quiet and peaceful bay and see if I know any of the folks on the other dozen boats parked out here. Next day (Thursday) we head for Chacala, a quick daytrip of only 21 miles.
The church at San Blas -- Longfellow's last poem was about the Bells of San Blas, although he never visited here.
Tropical decor at Hotel Maria, where showers in clean facilities are 25 pesos and you get a serenade by four parrots
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Dawn at the old Maz anchorage. When the wind's off the sea, you can't smell the sewage and it's a lovely place to hang your hook. Unless you smell the rendering plant
Chica and Sofia cozy up to the Capt on the helm as we make the short but choppy run to Mazatlan Marina
Today we're hoping to visit the Mercado in Old Town, which would have been a short trip from the anchorage but oh, well...
Tomorrow we sail for San Blas. Time to dig out the no-see-um repellent!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
The breakwater at the anchorage is bristling with cement "piloncillos" (piloncillos are those sugar cones you see everywhere in Mexican markets)
Our concern that we’d arrive at Mazatlan anchorage in the dark went the way of the usual worries. Not only did we arrive at dawn, but the entrance is very easy. We did have to watch make way for a cruise ship. The Princess Dawn gave an imperious five blasts of her horn just as a pilot boat approached with a man on deck frantically waving at us to change course.
Once Her Majesty had swept by, we entered the harbor and found dozens of sailboats anchored, some of which I remembered from other ports. Lots of big sailboats that would have had to pay major bucks at the marina for an end tie were here instead, since they have all the house systems they require and don’t need no stinkin’ marina.
Our friends on Sol Mate are still a couple of hours behind, so I’m waiting to greet them. We’re “parked” near the Club Nautico, the closest thing the anchorage has to a provider of services for boaters. I’m wondering if they have decent bathrooms and showers. Are there water taxis? Where’s the nearest laundry? How much has the place changed since I was last year, about ten years ago? Are we walking distance from Old Town (probably not). I’m trying to suppress my growing desire to jump in a water taxi, go catch a pulmonia and do some exploring. I can sympathize with Sophie, who’s so anxious to get to land when we’ve been out several days, she’ll stand in the bow of the dinghy watching the shore and howl. Maybe we could howl in harmony if I could figure out what key she’s in.
The girls dealt with the constant motion by keeping a low profile and sleeping. This is Chica's first long passage and she's been handling it like a true salty dog
The Capt put in some time improving our SSB radio before we left, and now we can hear the Oracle, Don from Oxnard on the Summer Passage Net, relating his wisdom on the weather for the day. If we stay close to shore, we’ll have no wind until late this afternoon, he reports. Well, we’re not in a hurry at this point anyway, since our nav system says we’ll arrive there in 20 hours, well after daylight, at our current speed. It wouldn’t do to get there in the dark, we decided after looking at a closeup chart of their narrow channel into the anchorage.
I’m looking forward to staying in the harbor this time, because it’s close to Old Town, which I prefer to the touristy Gold Zone near the marinas.
Sol Mate against a wall of fog that enveloped us much of the afternoon
Position: N 26 46.34" W 110 32.58"
Leaving San Carlos promptly at 2 am, we crept past the Mohawk, the rock formation at the opening of the anchorage and turned south. Destination Mazatlan.
It’s been a remarkably calm ride, these past sixteen hours , with almost glassy seas. The morning was partly cloudy, then clear. And then we headed into a low fog bank and had to depend on our radar for at least three hours. We could see our buddy boat “Sol Mate,” but, otherwise we had the Sea to ourselves.
We’ve kept our VHF radio on channel 18, and check in now and then. “Sol Mate” reported they saw a large pod of dolphins this morning, but we were below putting the boat in order and missed it.
Around 3pm I looked out and the fogbank was off to the west of us, with Sol Mate silhouetted against it. We’ve had enough wind to power the mainsail most of the day, but we’ve been motorsailing since we left San Carlos. We’re on a course of 135 degrees, making an average of a little over 5 knots. We had been at about 4.5 knots, but the Capt figured out at that speed we would be passing Topolobampo at sunset. Because of the rat’s nest of fishing nets around the channel mouth at Topo, we didn’t want to be passing there in the dark. I’ve heard from two different cruisers who had to be led through the labyrinth of nets by pangas because they were trying to get through at night. One had a net caught in his propellor. So we increased our speed and now expect to pass Topo around noon. Amazing the difference a half-knot can make.
We’re traveling without refrigeration this time, as our unit failed and it would cost more to fix it than we paid for it. We’re using a Coleman Extreme cooler with a five-pound bag of ice and several containers of frozen food, and so far the cooler has maintained 32 degrees. If we never had to open it, we could probably maintain that temp for a couple of days at least, but we do have an icemaker on board, so we will try to augment our supply since we’re motoring anyway and we have plenty of electricity.