Sunday, March 16, 2014

Burning the Candle in Mazatlan

It felt a little strange to wake up in Mazatlan in the same slip in the same marina between the same two neighbors that we had left eight weeks earlier. We hated leaving La Cruz but, at the same time, it was fun to be back in our old neighborhood, reconnecting with old friends who were still there and hearing the news of others who had moved on. And, as always, there were interesting and fun new people to meet as well.
We had returned to Mazatlan for a couple of good reasons. One was our trip back to the States. Mazatlan Marina doesn't have the same strong surges that we had experienced in La Cruz so it seemed like a better place to leave the boat alone for three weeks. A second good reason is that we plan to return to Baja when we get back to Mexico and Mazatlan is our preferred departure point from the mainland. The third reason was our desire to enjoy Carnival in Mazatlan.
With only a week before our scheduled flight to Seattle, and a lot that we wanted to accomplish, we were prepared for a hectic few days.

Mike has a project list as long as his arm and there was a lot of prep work to be done and measurements to be taken so that he could buy the necessary materials and get some of the work done in Seattle. My tasks were easier, cleaning and preparing the boat for our absence and packing my suitcase.

Wednesday night live music and dancing at "Gus Gus", a restaurant at the head of our dock, is a tradition that we never miss plus there were all of the Carnival activities that we wanted to see. We were definitely burning the cande at both ends and ran out of steam before the week was over.

If we are in Mazatlan for Carnival next year we plan to reserve a balcony room in one of the many hotels overlooking the parade route along the waterfront. The most daunting issue for us was transportation. Taking a bus from the marina to Mazatlan itself is cheap, fast, and easy. Getting home again was another story. The best activities don't even begin until after the buses have stopped running.

With hundreds of thousands of people competing for taxi transport home, there were some cruisers who walked 8 miles in the middle of the night all the way back to the marina without catching a ride. We weren't that unlucky, walking probably 3 miles after the fireworks before finding an available cab and leaving the parade early to avoid the hordes.
Sometimes being on semi-permanent vacation is exhausting.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

La Cruz - Mazatlan - Seattle

From the north end of the malecon (boardwalk) in Mazatlan
Now that I am in Seattle with fast and reliable internet access I will attempt to catch up on our recent travels.

On the afternoon of February 22 we left Marina La Cruz. We had been there for 6 wonderful weeks and enjoyed it thoroughly. Best of all were the visitors who joined us there. First came my friend, Margaret, from Cape Cod and then my cousin, Frances, with her husband, Mike, from Iowa. What fun to share our Mexico experiences with friends and family! Another high point for me was twice weekly salsa dance classes with Hugo, a professional dancer from Cuba who is without a doubt the best dance teacher I have ever had the privilege of working with. Every Monday and Friday I took a beginner's class as a leader followed by an intermediate class as a follower. I've never before learned so much in such a short time and it was very hard to leave Hugo and my fellow students.

But that's what cruisers do; somebody is always leaving and you get used to saying good-bye. It is a small and tight knit community, though, and it is delightfully surprising how often we meet up with old friends in new locations. I've also learned that there are always great new friends and wonderful new experiences ahead of me wherever we go.

Banderas Bay is sailing heaven and the day that we left was no exception. With 15-18 knots of wind from the northwest, temperature in the low 80's, humpback whales splashing and breaching near our boat, and a kite boarding friend sailing out from shore to wish us "fair winds and following seas" we felt truly blessed and grateful for this life that we are living.

This was our view for the better part of two long boring days at sea.
The second day was hot, windless and boring. We both got sunburned and were relieved to finally reach our day's destination of Chacala. Mike put on his swim trunks and jumped in to clean the boat's water line. A local boy of about 9 or 10 came over on his stand up paddleboard and I enjoyed chatting with him in Spanglish. For dinner I prepared the fish that we had caught along the way and we spent a peaceful and relaxing evening on anchor.

The third day our goal was Isla Isabel and again the air was still and hot. It was a long slow day. When the afternoon wind finally did pick up it was dead on our nose and created a choppy sea that further slowed our progress. Close to the island Mike saw a young whale that swam toward us and under the boat. The whale moved about 300' away and put on quite a show for us, breaching repeatedly and splashing the water with his tail. I couldn't help but be a little nervous, though, wondering where his mother was. We didn't arrive at the island until after sunset but we had been in that cove before so we knew where the rocks were and were able to safely navigate and set our anchor.

The fourth day was the worst with a full day and night of beating into the wind and waves. It took us 29 long hours to reach Mazatlan, 5 hours later than we expected and at a very low tide. With our boat's 8'3" keel we are always very aware of water depth so we entered the channel slowly and cautiously and made it safely to our marina slip with about a foot of water to spare.
A glimpse of La Volante Frances Jane at Marina Mazatlan

Naps were the first order of business followed by a hearty lunch, re-connecting with old friends as well as making new ones, and planning the week to come. By no coincidence we had arrived in Mazatlan just in time for Carnival.

Carnival Sculpture on the malecon