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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The End

San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Our passage from Mazatlán to San Carlos was about as perfect as it could be.  We had some light west wind on the first day, then nothing but south and SE winds from then on, albeit not quite enough for us to make significant progress with under sail for the most part.

Leaving Mazatlán in our wake

We did manage to do a bit of close-hauled sailing on the first day, and a little broad-reaching on each of the other two days, for a grand total of about 7-1/2 hours out of the 70+ hour total passage time.  Because the wind was primarily on our ass, having our usual double-reefed mainsail up was not helpful, so we just motored under bare poles for most of the trip.  Whenever the wind got up to 10 knots or more, it made for some very rolly conditions, which had the predictable affect on my crew - Sue had a hard time of it, especially on the second day.  All in all though, we far preferred these following seas to the usual bashing into them that we have experienced over the last couple of months.

As we approached San Carlos, there was a distinct fog bank.  Fortunately as the sun rose, it burned off before we were affected.  Our entrance and mooring at our assigned slip was relatively uneventful.

Distinctive formations that let you know your nearing San Carlos

For three days we frantically worked on preparing the boat for an extended stay on the hard, in a hurricane zone.  All the sails were removed and cleaned up somewhat.  We dismantled the Bimini over the cockpit, deflated and bagged the dinghy, removed and stowed the big solar panels and gave the interior of the boat a bit of a cleaning.  I disabled all but one 50-amp solar panel and overfilled the batteries in a vain hope that they will survive for a while on their own.

Yesterday, the boat was pulled out of the water and transported to the Seca work yard out in the desert.  And there it sits...

Tomorrow, we will start our journey back to reality in Canada.  Susanne is pretty excited at the prospect of seeing her friends and family again.

Goodbye Mexico - It’s been fun!

{GMST}27|56.903|N|111|3.16536|W|San Carlos, Mexico|San Carlos, Mexico{GEND}

Sunday, May 6, 2018

One Last Leap

Marina El CID, Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico

Tomorrow, it appears that our wishes may have come true.

We have waited patiently for something other than a NW wind to bash our way up the Sea of Cortez.   Tomorrow our weather app tells us we will have some light west winds followed by at least two days of southerly winds.  It remains to be seen if there will be enough wind to actually sail with, but at least it should be a more comfortable passage.

We have a long way to go, 385 nautical miles according to my plotted route, so we cannot dawdle if we want to make it in no more than 3 days.  We have a slip reserved at the San Carlos marina for a Thursday, May 10th arrival and a haul out scheduled for the following Monday, May 14th.

Meanwhile, here in Mazatlán we have really enjoyed ourselves,  making several trips to and from the town center and the spectacularly revamped Malacon.  We have found a few great restaurants and are probably overindulging a mite.  Oh well, a long passage at sea should cure that!

We are as prepared as we can be for this passage.  We had a diver clean the bottom of the boat and the prop.  We provisioned at the new, nearby Walmart store.  We have added some time to our local phone. 

There is a low, slack tide at around 9:30 AM tomorrow morning, which should allow us to get out of here.
BTW It is really starting to warm up here - summer is coming fast!

{GMST}23|16.124|N|106|27.846|W|Mazatlan, Mexico|Mazatlan , Mexico{GEND}

Monday, April 30, 2018

Mazatlán in style

Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico

As planned, we left La Cruz last Tuesday morning.  The passage to Mazatlán was an awkward one for us; the total distance is just over 170 miles, too far for us to do in one day and too short for two days - we usually plan on an average speed of 5 knots, which works out to about 125 miles per day.  Ideally we would have liked to leave the marina in the evening but the local thermal winds blow from about 11AM onward every day, making early morning the easiest time of day for maneuvering our uncooperative boat.  Thus, we left at 10 AM, with the plan to just go very slow.

To get out of Bandaras Bay, we needed to go directly west.  Since we had a lot of time in hand and an entire afternoon of moderate west winds in the bay, we elected to sail close-hauled, tacking back and forth with our usual disappointing upwind performance.  We sailed about 20 miles in about 5 hours, gaining only 5 miles towards our destination.  We motored for the last few miles before turning north, when the winds disappeared for the day.

We motored slowly through the night and well into the next day.  The seas were quite calm and we were treated to a stream of turtles sleeping on the surface.  Around 1 PM a west wind came up, building throughout the afternoon to around 10 knots, then dying off around 8 PM.  We were able to sail for about 6 hours on a single port tack, close hauled as always, drastically reducing sail to keep our speed to less than 4 knots to avoid arriving at Mazatlán in the middle of the night.

For the rest of Wednesday night, we motored at very low RPM to time our arrival at the Sabalo estuary breakwater at high slack tide, at 7:30 AM on Thursday morning.  This meant passing by the busy Mazatlán shipping port in the dark, but this was no big deal with both our AIS and radar systems now working.  The sun was just rising as we approached the estuary.

As expected, the winds were calm and there was no current to contend with within the breakwater.  The only hazard was the pipe for the dredging machinery that is parked in the channel, but there was sufficient room to squeeze by.

We tied up the El Cid fuel dock, where we waited for the marina to open at 8:30 AM.  We topped up our tank, then decided on where to put the boat.  In the past, when we stayed in Mazatlán, we took a slip at Marina Mazatlán, which is what we anticipated doing this time as well.

We had met a nice couple back in La Cruz, who arrived here in Mazatlán a few days before us. They had emailed us that the El Cid  marina was not as outrageously expensive as we had imagined, and the facilities were wonderful.  They were right and here we are!
Note: We had no significant equipment failures on this passage - things are looking up.

This is a small marina, part of the very upscale El Cid resort.  These are the best maintained docks we have ever seen and the washrooms and showers are excellent.  We get to use all of the hotel amenities including two large pools, one heated and one not, plus a hot pool, a private beach and many different areas with lounge chairs scattered about.  They have a laundry service and small supermarket on the premises.  There are a couple of reasonably priced restaurants at which we get a 20% discount.  They provide a free shuttle bus to their other property in the gold zone, which we have utilized to get into the busier, touristy part of town, making it easy to go out for meals or nightlife if we so desire.  Even at the full-price daily moorage rate of .75 per foot per day, this is a bargain!  It gets cheaper the longer we stay.

Yesterday, we made the journey to the El Faro lighthouse at the other end of town.  Somehow, in spite of all the time we spent here 7 years ago, we never got around to it.  It is a fairly steep 30 minute hike up the hill, but worth it for the great views over the town and harbour.

Most of our time here has been taken up with hiking, swimming, eating and general lounging around.  Looking at the weather forecasts, it appears the next potential window for heading to San Carlos won’t be until next Sunday or later.  For this passage, we would really like a good 3 day window, maybe even with some south winds for a change, as it is about 375 miles without a lot of good anchoring possibilities along the way.

{GMST}23|16.124|N|106|27.846|W|Mazatlan, Mexico|Mazatlan , Mexico{GEND}

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Forced relaxation in La Cruz

Marina Riviera Nayarit, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico

Nothing ever happens in a hurry when you are talking about boats.  Oddly enough, it was not the radar that held us up - Peter (the electronic fixit guy) had it solved in no time at all, even coming into his office on a Saturday to work on it.  Not only did he find the problem but he actually had the part (an errant circuit board) in stock - working like new now!

The headsail, on the other hand, proved more troublesome.   It was not only the webbing on the head of the sail that needed repair, but also the same situation on the clew, and the UV strip needed restitching as well.  Still not really a big job but Mike (the sail guru) is not one of the best time managers around, tending to react to everybody’s requests simultaneously, achieving very little on any given project.  Our sail was promised for “tomorrow” pretty much every day for the last two weeks.  But staying a couple of weeks here is not exactly a hardship.

We have had the time to explore some more of La Cruz, Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta, as well as a surprisingly enjoyable evening in the nearby town of Punta de Mita.  Great food at lots of great eateries, and some entertainment thrown in for good measure.  All in all, a place you could get sucked into staying for an extended amount of time.

Puerto Vallarta

La Cruz

The sail loft

Punta de Mita

Of course, we still have a long way to go to get to San Carlos and we need to get moving again.  We got our sail back today and I should have it back on it’s furler tomorrow morning (the wind here in the afternoon makes it awkward for dealing with sails).  Tentatively we are scheduled to leave here next Tuesday - my weather app tells me there will be a reasonable break in the NW winds for the couple of days it will take us to get to Mazatlán.

{GMST}20|44.876|N|105|22.825|W|La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico|La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico{GEND}