Thursday, April 14, 2011

La Cruz to Mazatlan

Our trip to the States was a whirlwind of activity including administrative chores, visiting friends and family and shopping for boat parts. We spent a total of 9 days in McCall, Seattle and Los Angeles and found the weather to be rather depressing. After so many months of sunshine south of the boarder, we were unaccustomed to the overcast skies and cool temperatures in the northwest and were soon anxious to get back to the boat. Upon returning to La Cruz, we quickly set about readying “Blue Rodeo” to continue our migration north. Our friends from the boats “Swift Current”, “Pacifico” and “So Inclined” were ready to depart and we were looking forward to traveling as a group with them. We quickly provisioned and completed a few boat chores before setting out for our first stop, the small but bustling resort town of Guayabitos. Departing Banderas Bay, we were treated to a great view of a small humpback whale calf frolicking near it’s enormous mother. By afternoon, were anchored in the scenic, but somewhat rolly, anchorage just off the town. We stayed two nights there and enjoyed walking the beach and a dinner ashore with our friends. The town was alive with tourist activity, most of them Mexican, and we were entertained, but a bit annoyed, by the outboard- powered pangas pulling banana boats (long, inflatable banana-shaped tubes ridden by soaking-wet passengers) as they screamed by our anchored boats. We were close enough to shore that the loud music and announcements from activity leaders at the pools of the nearby hotel soon had us longing for the quiet and solitude that we’d find at our next stops. Many beachside resorts here are suffering greatly from the poor US economy and the exaggerated fears many from the States have regarding travel in Mexico. It was nice to see that, although it wasn’t quite business as usual, this area appeared to be doing fairly well. Our next stop was Matanchen Bay. We had stopped there on our way south and, once again, spent two nights anchored in the beautiful area. One day, we took our dinghy ashore with friends and visited the town of San Blas, finding it to be very quiet this time of year. San Blas/Matanchen Bay is famous for it’s pesky mosquitoes and, despite being anchored well offshore, the noseeums (nearly invisible relatives of mosquitoes) found us aboard that night and ate us alive. By the next day, we were suffering from their numerous nasty bites. The morning of the third day found us headed for Isla Isabel. This would be our second stop at the island and we were looking forward to seeing what had become of the blue-footed booby eggs we had seen there in December. We dropped our anchor at a spot next to the rock pinnacles off the east side of the island after threading our way into the shallow water through the usual maze of fishing nets rather poorly marked with plastic floats. As we anchored, Howard and Lynn, our friends from the sail boat “Swift Current”, took some excellent photos of us next to the rocks. The next day, the “Swift Current “ crew, along with Mike and Karen from “So Inclined”, joined us for a dinghy trip to shore and a bird watching expedition. We were delighted to see all of the down-covered chicks, most peeking out from under their mother’s feathery skirts. They were at the awkward stage of having grown almost as large as their protective mothers but were still lacking feathers and looking somewhat gawky. We got quite a few chuckles out of watching them. Later that day, we snorkeled and swam and Mark finished the boat bottom cleaning that he started a few days earlier and replaced “Blue Rodeo’s” sacrificial, below-water zincs. Plans were made for a “first-light” departure for Mazatlan the next morning and we finished the evening by watching a few episodes of “24”, the TV show that Mark hates but can’t stop watching.

The next day, after a pleasant, 13 hour sail, we motored into the Stone Island Anchorage just south of Mazatlan Harbor’s main entrance. We dropped our anchor in the fading light and watched with interest as swells, rolling in from the southwest, formed breaking waves in the shallows not far from us. “Swift Current” had already arrived and, after dark, we were joined by “Pacifico” and “So Inclined”. The next morning we awoke to see two surfers riding waves close to our boats. After a quick “pow wow” with our boating friends, we raised our anchors and motored about 7 miles up the coast to the narrow entrance to the channel leading to Marina Mazatlan. With a fairly large swell still sweeping -in from the southwest, we had to time the arrival into the mouth of the entrance because large waves were occasionally breaking all the way across the channel. It was rather sporty as we watched “Swift Current” abort one entry attempt and finally make it in after being lifted several feet by an overtaking wave. Taking advantage of the same lull in the waves, we followed close on their heels and managed to make it in without incident. We would later find out that a dredge is often working in the shallow, narrow channel, making entering even more exciting. After checking-in to the marina, and giving “ Blue Rodeo” a thorough fresh water bath, we joined the gang for dinner at a harbor-side pizza restaurant. Our group had decided to take a highly-recommended bus/train trip inland to see the spectacular Copper Canyon, a natural wonder much larger than our Grand Canyon. The next day, we would travel by bus to downtown Mazatlan where we would do some site-seeing and purchase bus tickets. That day ended with hurried packing after a peel-and-eat shrimp feast hosted by Mike and Karen aboard “So Inclined”.

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