2008 April 29 to May 7

April 29 Tuesday
We arrived tired but happy with the way the passage from Isla Isabella went. I already mentioned this elsewhere, but we were amazed & thrilled that we were able to hire a boat washer right after we docked at El Cid Marina. The 2 man team did a great job of removing the unwanted reminders of Isla Isabella’s bird population.

We had been warned that El Cid was the most surgy of the docks, but also the only one with a hotel (and swimming pool) affiliated. Since I love to swim so much we always favor the marinas where I have pool access. At least until we get somewhere that has nice beaches. I would be happy to swim in the ocean. But so far all the beaches of Mexico that we’ve been too have pounding surf, strong currents & undertows. Pretty to look at, and ok for boogie boarding, but not really for comfortable swimming.

April 30 Wednesday
One of the main attractions for Scott in Mazatlan was having a consultation with Bob of Total Yachts to discuss our transmission oil (leaking in salt water) problem and potential solutions. Via email, a Yanmar mechanic in New Zealand had proposed a header tank be installed. This would keep positive pressure on the drive seals and prevent water from leaking in. Bob agreed this was a good idea, but has never installed one. He suggested Scott try to get more detailed info from the chap in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Bob inspected our transmission oil & said Scott has done a good job of staving off a serious problem by his frequent changing of the oil. He said we can wait and schedule the job in October when we return, no panic to do it now. That was a relief to hear.

Scott’s former patients, Bev & Don Anderson, take their annual vacation at a time share in Mazatlan. They have been following us on our website & were eager to see us & the boat. We enjoyed having them & their friends, Diana and Leon Easley from Milwaulki, Oregon onboard.

The pool is filled with guests enjoying the water until after 8 pm. No way to do laps or exercise. By the evening, the water is pretty murky from the days sunscreen & trash from the pool bar. I do swim but am not thrilled with the experience.

May 1 Thursday – Labor Day Holiday in Mexico
Norma that works at the laundry in the marina does side jobs of boat cleaning. She & I worked together for 4 hrs. Not quite Eva & Eloisa, but we did our best. It always feels so much better when the boat is clean inside & out.

My favorite grocery store chain (so far) in Mexico is “Mega”. It is large & has just about everything you could want. Ok, no pine nuts, rice wine vinegar or fig newtons, but plenty of interesting food & nice produce to make me happy. Pineapple, papaya, mango, plums, tangerines, bananas. Broccoli, red & yellow peppers, jicama, carrots, onions. Yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, and a couple types of queso (cheese).

We didn’t really grasp that May 1 was a holiday where a lot of businesses are closed. It is “Mexican Labor Day”. Before grocery shopping we stopped at DHL to ship our non-transmitting SSB/Ham radio in for repair. We had to return the next day as they were closed.

The surgiest marina in Mazatlan lived up to her reputation. We did the slam dance for 2 days. It was uncomfortable onboard, tricky getting on & off having to time your step from the ladder on or off till the gap was minimized. What was really unnerving was walking towards our dock with groceries in tow and seeing Beach House literally “dancing” in the slip. We had entirely enough of that. Scott pulled out our extra heavy long spare anchor lines & tied her up every which way. That stopped 90% of the
motion. What a relief! Note to selves: tie the heck out of the boat when at a dock.

May 2 Friday
First order of business was going to DHL. Since we will likely be having our radio shipped back to us in Mexico, it was important to have all the proper documents showing that we were sending it for repair. We do not want to pay import duty when it is returned to us. Paperwork included copies of our passports, FM-3 visas (temporary resident status), boat importation document and a letter in Spanish from the El Cid Marina Dockmaster verifying that we are in their marina with our boat and that we were
sending our radio in for repair. Everyone in the marina office & DHL were very thorough & helpful, because they are familiar with this situation.
*Note: the day we departed the package was still sitting in Guadalajara. Sending & receiving things from the US is a lengthy & expensive process. One-way shipping of our 20 lb box to Washington State cost $145.00, $20.00 of which was insurance.

After DHL we took a taxi into “Old Town”. We enjoyed a nice lunch on the plaza, visited the Catholic Cathedral (wedding party exiting) and most interesting was the Angela Peralta Opera House that was recently restored to its former glory. SEE PHOTO GALLERY (will post from La Paz).

May 3 Saturday
We walked 20 minutes to check out the other marinas. Elvira, Dockmaster at Marina Mazatlan was very friendly & showed us what slip our boat would be assigned when we return in September. It was good to see Carol & Dick from sailboat Tanoshii. They had been in the Grand Bay Hotel marina at the same time as us. Bob of Total Yachts was assessing their propeller problem, so we didn’t stay long. We met another cruising couple from sailing vessel Prism using their laptop at the upstairs cruisers lounge
(to get internet access). Otherwise it was pretty quiet over there. Supposedly Mazatlan has not had a direct hit from a hurricane in 37 years, so quite a few boats stay year round. You could take the view that “they are due” for one. Or concur that it is a safe bet as a rarely struck area.

After visiting Marina Mazatlan, we decided to have lunch at what everyone had told us was the nicest hotel in town. We had looked on the website for Pueblo Bonita at Emerald Bay and it indeed looked very lovely and luxurious. I enjoy being out at sea, in nature, and am not a big shopper. But I have a fondness for fancy hotels. And I like to stay at the nicest one I can find.

The taxi pulled up to a big gated entry. The guard asked if we were guests of the hotel. We said no, we wanted to have lunch, see the hotel & make a reservation for October (when we haul out). “Do you have a reservation? You must have made a reservation 24 hrs in advance.” For lunch? “Yes, for lunch. We are a timeshare, it is private.” We would like to make a reservation. “But you don’t have a reservation, so no, you cannot have lunch.” After having our taxi move out of the driveway to allow other
traffic in, many calls to his front desk & exasperation that we didn’t just go away, the guard reluctantly let us in & told us to go directly to reception.

The grounds are as lovely as they looked on the website. The place was busy with a wedding party having their photo shoot, and a deep line at the front desk. A bouncer-looking guy met us and was quite distraught that we had been let in. No you cannot eat lunch, absolutely not. Since he could see we were not going to be that easily shooed away, he just waved us off to go look around on our own & then instructed us leave. “No you cannot make a reservation. They left at 1 pm”. It was about 3 pm.

What made this ridiculous policy unbelievable to us, was that several people had told us that they will pay you cash (up to $200) to listen to their timeshare marketing schpiel! Oh well. We were just as happy not to have endured the marketing campaign and were really put off by their behavior. But the fact remains that it is THE NICEST hotel in Mazatlan and amazingly costs only $125/ night (plus taxes, plus fees) in October. After spending hot & sweaty days at the shipyard supervising the work that
will be done, it will be a relief to return to the beautiful hotel.

May 4 Sunday
Mostly on email & Skype doing business. We ordered things we need to have shipped for me to pick up when in LA. We bemoaned the state of the real estate market with our agent, Greg Manns of Coldwell Banker. We reviewed common area bills due with beach neighbor Celeste. The property suffered quite a bit of storm damage in February. Friends Linda & Martin are handling things there for us, for which we are incredibly grateful.

May 5 Monday
Cinco de Mayo is not a big holiday in Mexico. We asked the gals at the hotel front desk what was going on in town, or at the hotel. They shrugged & said “nada”. Banks were open & it appeared to be business as usual all over town. May 1-4 had been a long weekend for many. Our hotel had 2 weddings on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. The weather is ideal.

We took a taxi to the lighthouse. The sign claims it is the highest manned lighthouse in the world. We aren’t so sure about that statistic, but we enjoyed the hike to the top. The view was great & we happened to meet 3 US Navy men up there. Bart, Allen & Rob came down on USS Antietum from the base in San Diego. (photos to be posted in La Paz).

Mazatlan’s main harbor anchorage is free & well protected, but unfortunately down-wind of a super stinky sewage treatment plant; very unfortunate. Past the anchorage is the commercial & industrial dock where the boat will be hauled out on October. With our view from the light house we got a good idea of its location. About 30-40 min drive from the fancy hotel, but we will rent a car, so no problem. Mazatlan is a big city with a very long coastline.

We looked in town at a couple of not-Cindy-preferred hotels, had lunch & took a walk along “the worlds longest malecon” (which is very likely true). Malecon would translate to boardwalk. Except think cement sidewalk up above the beach, not boards down on water level. The “Malecon” in Mazatlan appeared to be about 5 miles long.

May 6 Tuesday
Another business day for us. I figured out in the past couple of days that I could swim in the morning without too many people yet in the pool. If I can get in the water, it doesn’t matter what happens the rest of the day – I am so happy in the water. We are kind of done here and antsy to get off the dock. We will leave tomorrow if the weather looks good for crossing the bottom of the Sea of Cortez.

May 7 Wednesday
Scott hired a diver to clean the bottom of the boat. He arrived promptly at 7 am. Since we anticipate motoring a lot, if not the entire 165 miles, we wanted clean propellers to start out with. The prevailing wind is predicted to be in our face 10-15 knots, hopefully less at night.
We wanted to hose off the evidence of the birds of Mazatlan, but the water was off at our dock.
We tanked up on diesel at the fuel dock, hooked our hose up there and took the opportunity to hose off the dirty girl. It was hectic at the Harbormasters office who handles day charter tourist bookings. There was a long line of people needing to pay her. Knowing the boat taking the tourists needed to fuel up too, I went to the front of the line & told her we were stuck at the fuel dock until she took my money. Suddenly I got to be next! Eight nights at the dock with electricity = $440. Plus 285 liters
of fuel $190. Not too bad.

And so we are off on our next adventure. We are hoping Los Frailes will not disappoint us. It could be our first Mexico diving site. That is why we are going there. It would be a shorter & potentially less rough trip, or at least a shorter rough trip, if we skipped it & headed straight for La Paz. But we can’t stand to think of what we might miss. So off we go. Auto pilot is steering 279 degrees and we are slogging into short period swell of 5-8 ft. This is our modified version of the “Baja Bash”.
When boats leave to go back to the US at the end of the Mexican cruising season, they often have to motor straight upwind and against the swell too. This is the most uncomfortable direction for us to travel. We should be at Los Frailes anchorage just after sunrise tomorrow. Ah the life of a sailor!

Scott & Cindy (23d-19min N x 107d-09min W)