We ended up staying at the El Cid Marina until after Mardi Gras. As Easter was early this year Mardi Gras was very early February. We had never been before and had been told it was an event not to be missed so we stayed put at Marina El Cid in Mazatlan. Although I am not crazy about staying in marinas the El Cid Marina resort although noisy is a good place to be. You do have to get used to daily bingo and water exercises with the musica blaring at a volume so loud the speakers are vibrating, and not only is the music loud but it repeats....the same songs being played over and over. On the weekends there are weddings...often with loud music often a live band..... sometimes great and worth listening to sometimes not so great. Fireworks are common fun to watch but often exploding right above the boats...not so good. The surge or ocean flow coming through the Marina entrance can be very strong at times when there is a a big southwesterly swell. This makes for a lot squeal and creak as the docks and dock lines and fenders are pulled and relaxed with the ebb and flow of the water. Some of the cruisers have even resorted to using chain and trucker web tie downs to keep their boats winched tightly to the dock to minimize the movement. Overall in spite of the negatives the plusses far outweigh..... and over time you adjust .....go with flow and are grateful just to be here....weather perfect, pools to swim & cool off, exercise, and play volleyball, beaches to walk along, good restaurants and most importantly friends to be with and enjoy. Mazatlan is a great place, fun, interesting and entertaining with much to see and do..I think one of our favourites...Usually Mazatlan is a little cooler Jan & Feb....compared with Puerto Vallarta and points further south. Highs here during the winter are in the 70 and lows in the 50 to 60 degree range. The locals wear winter jackets, sweaters and wool toques! Cool fogs and strong northerly winds are not unusual however this year Jan and Feb have been particularly warm actually I would say perfect....although we did have a couple of cooler windy days there were only a couple. As a result I spent a lot of time in the pool and at the beach. At first we kept busy with minor boat maintenance issues, a new bob stay fitting, fridge repair, caulking failure of the coach house eyebrow as well as putting the boat back together so she would be ready to sail. That was followed by a new sink pump install, an upgrade of our water maker, new cockpit cushions and a redo of our sun awning for shade cover while at anchor. Once the projects were completed we were able to have more R & R time. We were here long enough to also check out Mazatlans' many fine restaurants, markets, beaches and theatres! We discovered that going to the movies here in Mazatlan was another must do.....fully reclined leather seats with individual night tables with a low light and buttons to call a steward who takes orders and delivers cocktails, popcorn, meals! All this for less than 6 dollars Canadian...you can't beat it. We didn't make to the last baseball game of the season here as the Mazatlan Venados did extremely well and went on to win the Caribbean World Series....tickets were in high demand and lineups were extremely long! We did however get go to the Naval fireworks....fabulous
..and the burning of bad humour (an effigy of Donald Trump)
....it was more like an explosion than a burning...it was good we weren't any closer than we were.
The following day we all went to the big Mardi Gras parade and it too was a must do ....enormous crowds all well behaved...beautifully dressed women, lots of young people wearing unique cleverly designed costumes, truly amazing colourful floats.....it was an experience not to be missed..The theme was a neptune fantasy.... we had reserved chairs right at roadside which made you feel part of it all as the paraders would encourage us to stand up an dance with them as they moved along.
(I will post more of the parade pics later as internet very slow here) Once carnival was over many of our cruisers friends started thinking about heading south and we decided to take a test run with them for part of the trip and then head back to Mazatlan....just to check that all our boat systems were working well.....a little shake down cruise. The weather for the passage looked good for travelling either way north or south so we decided to take advantage and tag along at least as far as Chacala....at least that was the plan. There were three us travelling "Dodger Too","Tarry a Bit" and ourselves. Our passage to Isla Isabela was uneventful other than we needed reduce speed as both of our friends thought they had a engine or a propeller problem which turned out to be a non issue...thank goodness. We got to the Island in the AM and dropped the hook in beautiful crystal clear powder blue 80 degree water.
Sea birds of all kinds nest there ....it is the Galapagos of Mexico! The folks on "Dogger Too" went off to do the island hike, while Dick & I decided to attempt to go ashore in the dinghy to take photos of the blue footed boobies. Here they are doing their mating dance! Notice how she is checking out his feet!
Mister frigate bird...they are rather large but their nest are surprisingly small.
We did manage to get into shore without getting too wet however coming back to the boat was a different story. We were swamped by at least three if not four breaking waves....Dick rowing for all he is worth with half the ocean in the dinghy with us. Somehow we managed to get past the breakers eventually and we very slowly made our way back to the boat.....we had forgotten the all important bailer! I tried to use my hat but it was pretty much a hopeless endeavour. Once the camera had been safely stowed back on the boat we both went for a lovely long swim. The swell was a bit rolly so it was decided we should head for Mantenchen Bay an anchorage which would provide better protection about 40 nautical miles way. I hated to leave as it was so so beautiful however we weren't ready to say goodbye to our friends and our favorite anchorage of Chacala so we pulled the hook and carried on.....We arrived in Mantenchen Bay in the dark around 1900 however it is a big bay with lots of room, sandy bottom and we all have electronic safe anchor points that we had used before so not a problem. The next day we realized another cruiser friend who we had met the previous year was there and advised us against going on to our next and favorite anchorage....Chacala, as the swell was large and problematic requiring both stern anchor and flopper stoppers..... So we disappointedly stayed another night in Mantenchen....still another fabulous sunset...(I have watched the sun set here many times but I never get tired of the image)
In the AM we said goodbye to our friends as they headed for Puerto Vallarta and we decided to head back north to Mazatlan. We have a good trip back north ...no surprises, which is always good when it comes to boating. Back in Mazatlan, and rested up we started getting ready for our big trip across the sea to La,Paz. Our weather window at first looked good and then not so good so I was a bit undecided..but ultimately we decided to go and it turned out to be the right decision. A little note here about sailing weather: When looking at weather for a two day passage you need to consider sea state...swell and interval (time between the swells) as well as surface wind waves or chop. You also need to consider wind direction and maximum expected strength... over a two to three days period and in the different locations as you move over the 235 sea miles. All is well when all the sites are in agreement....problem comes when they are not. Crossing the Sea of Cortez in not to be taken lightly...it can get nasty....much like Georgia Straight only the sea is a much wider body of water .....instead of 4-5 hour passage you are at sea for two days and two nights usually. Usually in Feb-March the prevailing wind is from the northwest and strong afternoon winds last until after sunset although tend to diminish by late afternoon although not always. La Paz and the Baja Peninsula is northwest of Mazatlan. If you are motoring your sailboat into 15 knot north westerly breeze it will feel like 20 knots or more and it can be uncomfortable ....you might say why are you motoring....you can sail but not directly as the wind is on the nose so instead of taking one and half days it could take three....and during that time the weather you based you trip on could change for the worse. When the wind is 20-30 knots Seas can be as high as 10 feet in 4-6 second intervals (very ugly). For long passages ( distances greater than 100 nm we sail if I we can average 5 knots. At times we will sail at 4 knots if we think we can make it up during the night when the seas are flat otherwise we motor sail or motor. We had a lovely trip across the sea and although the wind did pick up in the afternoon of the first day at sea we were comfortable. By supper time the wind had diminished and the seas flattened and the rest of the trip was a motor boat ride with a little motor sailing in the afternoon of the second day. The trip was a record for us as we completed the trip and dropped the hook at Bonanza Beach in 38 hours. It was dark dark as we approached the anchorage about three miles away and our depth sounder was giving us misleading readings...one minute ten feet the next 40 feet....although we knew where we were (lat & long) the depth sounder readings made us feel uneasy so. ......we dropped the hook twice actually in the middle of the ocean......what probably was in about 1000 feet of water. When we realized the anchor was straight down we pulled it back up a gingerly slowly carried on. Finally we got a reading of 400 feet which steadily decreased and as soon as we were at 30 feet we dropped again...set the hook and went to bed. We woke up to the most beautiful, peaceful picturesque morning.
Went for a kayak ride, walks on beach and just relaxed. We stayed a second night and then headed through the Lorenzo channel in another beautiful anchorage Balandra
where we came across a sailboat anchored there who we knew had had engine trouble. We decided to follow them into La Paz and when the wind died we towed them the rest of the way into the anchorage. We are very happy to be in La Paz where we can reconnect with cruiser friends we haven't seen in a very long long time....let the party begin!!! We plan to stay here a week, get our engine looked over by our friend and mechanic extraordinaire Rob, get our upgraded water maker up and running and make sure all is well with the outboard. With those chores behind us it will be time to head out to the islands north of here to play for next couple of months...can hardly wait.