S/V INTREPID II - Cape Dory Intrepid 40

My photo
Intrepid II is a Cape Dory Intrepid 40 sailboat, hull #2, designed by Chuck Paine and discovered by the Captain in Blue Hill Maine in 2006. The crew are Kelly (Captain) and Carol (Admiral and Blogger). In 2009 INTREPID II embarked on her West Coast journey from Victoria to San Francisco, the Baja Sur Peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez. In 2010/2011, we sailed ifrom Guaymas, south to Bahia Banderas and back. In 2011/2012 she left Guaymas, headed south to La Paz, spent three weeks at anchor on our northward journey and rested on the hard in San Carlos. Her 4th, 5th and 6th seasons were Boat Projects related. Season 7 - we are hoping to cruise again at long last.

March 29, 2011

Puerto Escondido - Monday March 28 & Tuesday March 29

Scallop shells on San Marte beach
INTREPID II left peaceful San Marte shortly after 07:00 am, spotting SV Juniata already on her way; one boat remained behind to enjoy the anchorage.  Skirting well outside the reefs, we headed north, to light swell and light winds. No point in raising the main at that moment as we were not rolling.  We had lost our sailing tracks from last year on the chart plotter, but verified some additional GPS way-points.  This passage had several rocks and spots to avoid as we headed towards Puerto Escondido.

The treat of the day was a long line of dolphins heading south east in front of us.  They were too far off to get good pictures or video, but none the less a highlight.  Not enough wind to raise the sails even a few hours out, so we continued motoring through the passage between Los Candelaros which are three stubby chunks of rock between Punta Candeleros and Isla Danzante.  The wind and chop picked up slightly here.  Gap winds and currents caught INTREPID II as we turned from west to north west again towards the "hidden harbour".
Nearing Punta Candeleros
Approaching the fuel dock we viewed a yellow panga and a dinghy effectively blocking our plans to tie up right away and take on fuel.  Singlar Marina staff did not come back on the radio to assign a mooring.  We successfully picked up #106, near the SW end of the mooring field; there is an element of chance in this maneuver. With our dinghy in the water and outboard motor attached, we headed for shore.  There was still no one in the office, so onward!  We strolled to the works yard and enjoyed meeting Janice and Jay and boat dog Buster as they worked on putting SV Ceilidh to bed.  Both are Sonrisa net controllers and we have heard their voices over the past two seasons.  Often they have relayed our check-ins as well.  The nearest tienda is a short hike out of the marina complex and down the road and although there was not much fresh produce left, it was a chance to stock up.  The owner, Fernando, was gracious enough to drive us back to the marina.  Muchas gracias!

On our return we finally checked in at the marina.  Constanza efficiently updated our information from the previous year and contacted Singlar Guaymas for us to confirm they still are expecting us to arrive in mid April.  She stated there was a chance the fuel dock was low on fuel.  They would try to save us some, so we thought it best to head over asap.  That meant tying the dinghy to our mooring to save it, motor to the fuel dock,  hover until one boat left and we were able to slide in.  Then we waited while a power boat took on copious amounts of diesel.  Eventually we had our 60 gallons on board, topped up the water in our port tank and headed back to the mooring.  Time to relax a bit.  We treated ourselves to a ride ashore once more as the water was calm to dine at the Puerto Bello restaurant overlooking the bay.  They served excellent food, if a bit pricey; good service and very enjoyable.  A quiet night and no need to maintain an anchor watch.

Tuesday morning.  I am aiming to complete blog updates.  We will head north again, possibly to Isla Coronados for a night, then on to Bahia San Juanico to wait out more northers.  The forecast states to expect them tomorrow instead of Thursday.  We may experience blustery conditions as we move north.

Hope all is well with everyone.  Fair winds to our cruising friends.

Bahia San Evaristo - March 21- 26

Fisherman netting bait fish at dawn - San Evaristo
Quietly motoring in to Bahia San Evaristo, with the small fishing village we visited twice last season, we had a choice of anchoringspots.  The Captian chose one just south of the small headland on the north side.  We left the dinghy on board for the afternoon, showered, tidied up and touched base by VHF with the folks on SV Star who are long-time cruisers who know the area well.  Cathy advised the local tienda was quite low on provisions, so not to rush in until Wednesday.  
Burros grazing on scrub

New cantina under construction - looking good

Boats came and went. Some from Isla San Francisco followed us in and we met the SV Sunnyside folks, Terry and Patricia and Fred on SV Aunt Sur.  Wednesday was calm enough to go ashore to the tienda for fresh produce and bread, milk, tortillas, treats; then walk the beach to the cantina.  Progress is being made on the new and improved palapa cantina.  We were pleased to renew acquaintances with Senor Augustine and his family who offer cruisers meals later in the day and a chance to stock up on cervezas when they are available.  We indicated our interest in having dinner at the cantina later in the day.

Returning at 17:00 (5 pm), we were served a tasty meal of fresh yellowtail, rice and beans, salsa, tortillas and warm cervazas, as there was no ice.  It was a breezy and convivial meal.  As the sun set, we quickly said our farewells and headed back to our floating homes.

Thursday was another breezy day.  A good reason to stay on board and attend to chores, including Kelly trying to solve radio transmission challenges.  We are told our transmissions are coming in quite garbled on the Sonrisa net.  Friday was calmer, so back to the beach for a walk; the school was closed, as was the tienda.  We admired the 'catch of the day', yellowfin jack which were being unloaded from two fishing pangas.  Unfortunately  none were for sale; we understand the fisherman are part of a cooperative and these fish were spoken for in the La Paz markets.

Catch of the day - yellowfin
Hopping into our dinghy, we toured the bay, admired some boats anchored in the north lobe and stopped by for a quick visit on SV Aunt Sur.  Thanks for your hospitality Fred; we enjoyed hearing of your journey to Hawaii and back.

Satuday morning (March 26) we raised anchor and motored out into San Jose Channel to be greeted by the cheerful sight of a small ray jumping into the air towards us.  Pangas were motoring up towards Nopolo.  We spotted a sailboat to starboard, coming our way from Isla San Francisco. Checking in with the Sonrisa ham net, we learned that SV Juniata was behind us, heading in the same direction.  Nearing the north end of the channel, we were hailed by crew of a southbound vessel which had lost its transmission.  They were under sail and using their dinghy when necessary to steer the boat.  Their request was for spare gasoline for the dinghy engine.  We advised that our fuel supply was limited as well with no spare fuel cans, but would relay their request.  The SV Juniata crew made contact and advised they could assist.  Juniata to their rescue!

INTREPID II encountered considerable swell and north east winds as our journey progressed. The swells topped out at 4 feet at times but we could not shut off the motor to simply sail.  Highlights on this journey were two large humpbacks surfacing 60 yards off starboard, heading south; a solitary orca doing the same, not 40 feet off the boat.  Kelly spotted two additional humpbacks as they blew in the distance.

Passing them by, we admired the stark red rocks surrounding Los Gatos anchorage.  We sang a Happy Birthday greeting in absentia to Jack, our great-nephew, who was 2 years old that day, far away on the east coast.  Nearing Bahia San Marte, an anchorage new to us, we kept a lookout for the various offshore rocks and reefs and set waypoints accordingly.  This quiet bay, around the corner from Aqua Verde, was empty and quiet.  A rare experience.  We appreciated the opportunity to have our choice of spots out of the north wind and swell.  By the time we had freshened up ourselves and INTREPID II, we were joined in the anchorage by SV Juniata.  A quick chat with its crew on the VHF and we were all ready for a long rest.

As we had experienced dragging anchor in San Evaristo (the Captain will eventually update his page on that topic), we have been trying to get our GPS anchor alarm to work. It basically wakes us up almost every hour even though we are not dragging.  But better safe and sleep deprived.  So it was nice to stay put for the day, row ashore to walk the sandy and rocky beach and stretch our legs.  There are steep cliffs and arroyos around the bay and apparently goat trails across the ridges, which we did not attempt.
San Marte anchorage
It was a treat to finally meet Marcia and Dave of SV Juniata.  Marcia is the net manager for the Sonrisa Ham Net and often relays our check-in if we are not clearly heard by a net controller in La Cruz or elsewhere.  We shared stories on board their boat later that afternoon, then had an early night. It was time to leave next morning towards Puerto Escondido.

Los Muertos to Isla San Francisco - Sunday March 20

Leaving Los Muertos at dawn

Full moon - at dawn
INTREPID II headed out of Los Muertos anchorage Sunday morning, March 20, at 06:00 am and motor sailed northward all day.  It was a pleasant passage through the Cerralvo Channel and a smooth passage along the east side of Isla Espiritu Santo.  While the dawn was breaking to the east, we looked to our port side and a gleaming Full Moon was still apparent.  Last evening it had been 14% fuller than in over 18 years; a definite 'howl at the moon' event.  We learned a short while later, over the Sonrisa net, that the fireworks we heard late at night were coming from the very "swoopy" looking power boat nearby with eight guys on board. They weren't the least bit concerned about their neighbours.

We'd left the anchorage quite early to take advantage of the tide flowing northwards up Cerralvo Channel and this worked to a point.  We had our main up but motored sailed in fairly glassy seas. SVs Allymar and Shemaya had left just ahead of us, bound for Isla Partida.  We kept company for a time and enjoyed a radio chat comparing notes on the conditions.
What will these clouds bring?
Our passage along the east side of Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida were easy going, although we had considerable cloud cover and the sky and sea tones were more muted.  We mulled over the events of a few nights ago, when the strong winds drove us back and southward and were grateful they were not in evidence again.  The Instant Weather Forecasting booklet we consult authored by Alan Watts didn't include this current combination of clouds. The skies kept us guessing, but nothing came of all the swirls and whispies.   There was some swell as we crossed over near Los Islotes at the north end of Isla Partida towards Isla San Francisco and a fair bit of boat traffic in various directions.  Traffic seems easier to track in daylight hours.  Kelly spotted a whale in the distance and shortly after a 'herd' of black tip sharks.  We counted 7 or 8 swimming in close proximity; not a common occurrence for us.

Ensenado de los Muertos located below Isla Cerralvo - Isla San Francisco is tucked under Isla San Jose (with thans to Avalon Travel site)

Still smiling - a smooth passage
The Isla San Francisco anchorage was crowded. INTREPID II was the 10th boat in a mix of power and sailboats, but we located a secure spot on the south side.  Yet again we were forced to enjoy another spectacular sunset before dinner followed by a well earned sleep.  Monday morning we raised anchor and headed out on the 9 nm run to San Evaristo.
Just another spectacular sunset over the San Jose channel

March 19, 2011

Anchored in Bahia Los Muertos (change of plans, of course)

Nearing Los Muertos - Friday am - a welcome sight!
Hola...running on battery power at anchor so this will be short and sweet.  We left El Cid marina at 1700 hours Wednesday afternoon (16th), with the help of many hands on the dock.  Thanks to all our cruising friends who saw us off and wished us fair winds.

We motored with the main up into chop for a time, then settled into fairly calm seas and wind on the nose as anticipated.  There was no opportunity to raise the jib to have any positive effect the whole trip.  Beautiful sunset, almost full moon lighting the way and a fairly cool and damp night watch.  St. Patrick's Day dawned bright and clear and the wind continued on the nose, but not too strong.  Seas were rippled, at times a long, low swell....nothing too hard to take.
Sunrise - St. Patrick's Day
We succeeded in checking  in on the Sonrisa ham net and heard about fog banks ahead from SV Juniata, who were about 5 hours ahead of us. We too encountered the fog for a time and watched the radar closely.  An eastbound freighter finally appeared off starboard and the fog lifted. The day passed quietly.  Dolphins at times, a huge whale crossing our bow from starboard to port, a few seabirds from time to time.  A lovely sunset over Isla Cerralvo in the distance.

Sunset over Isla Cerralvo - Thursday evening.
Radar was checked periodically and we had a small cruise ship of sorts about 12 nm ahead on our bow, then passing to port, possibly heading down the coast to Cabo San Lucas or over to Puerto Vallarta.  This was followed by a fishing boat lit up, but without any proper running lights, which headed in the same direction.

INTREPID II was on track for Isla San Francisco and all was well until the seas started to build extremely quickly around 12 midnight. The wind rose equally fast and we were suddenly hobby- horsing into large 'bufaloes' - short, steep waves.  We were seeing 4 feet at 3 - 4 seconds.  Of course it happened just after the Captain had finished his watch and headed below for some well earned rest. All hands on deck!

Our position was still east of the tip of Isla Cerralvo and over 50 nm from our destination of Isla San Francisco. It would be a long bashing trip if these winds increased and kept up all night.  After falling off and doing some quick calculations, the Captain asked for input.  He suggested plan B which was running down to Los Muertos, about 5 hours away and would put us in the lee of Isla Cerralvo within an hour or so.  Go for it!

Conditions eased somewhat once we changed course.  Seas were still 3 - 4 ft. and off our starboard quarter.  We caught our breaths and debated whether we should turn back to determine if this had been a brief blow.  However we chose not to second-guess ourselves and continued towards Los Muertos.  By now neither of us had had any of our 'naps'. We were running on adrenalin.  I did go below to catch a few minutes sleep around 4:30 am, only to have the Captain call out: "get on the radio to contact a fishing vessel who was on a collision course".  No answer of course.  Kelly had taken evasive action after following all the right-of-way procedures and using practical judgment. We ended up dodging and going around the vessel with considerable "editorial commentary" between ourselves.  Finally INTREPID II made her weary way into Los Muertos at 07:00 hours. 

A welcome anchorage!

March 14, 2011

Time to say adios to Mazatlan

El Cid resort statue near our 'back door' to the bus stop
INTREPID II has had a lively time this past week in Mazatlan: arriving in thick pea-soup fog after an overnight passage from Matanchen Bay; being welcomed by our cruising friends at the El Cid marina dock and caught up in the Carnaval festivities for Saturday and Sunday; fireworks, street parties, lovely buffet meals and a comfortable seat for the colourful parade.  It was a great start to our stay.

Once we moved to dock B, with ready access to the resort grounds and the very good bus service, we explored Old Towne once again, caught up on boat chores, visited a huge tent of arts and craft from a variety of states in Mexico and purchased a few mementos.  There were leather goods, embroidered clothes, hand woven wool rugs, health products, leather shoes, pottery, jewellery, wooden carved goods. All manner of crafts as well as ice cream to enjoy while considering what to purchase or just to admire.

Captain considering purchase of baskets from of Michuacan
We both got 'presentable' again with a visit to a hair salon, rode the green bus to the Mega grocery store for provisions and sampled a few cervezas and margaritas.  It was hard to resist heading up to the comfortable chaise lounge chairs by the pool to read and sun tan.  We did that twice.  How decadent!

No one anticipated the events of the Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11. Cruisers all tied on extra lines and stayed close by to observe the water for surge and current, as we tried to assure family and friends we would be fine.  The port was closed until early afternoon when the port captain advised the red flag could be lowered and boats could once again head out.  We've had swirling current in the marina for days after.

A few days ago we started monitoring the wind and weather forecasts as well as the tides to determine a likely time to head out.  We decided a few more days would give us a better chance to leave early morning at high tide.  Now the time seems to be at hand.  One more day to fill water tanks, change filters, stow gear, calculate mileages across the Sea to possible anchorages such as Los Muertos, Isla San Francisco, the east side of Isla Partida, La Paz.  Winds are forecast to be from the west and northwest, the direction in which we will be headed. Our hope is to sail and we will pick our destination based on favourable wind direction or the path of least resistance.

At minimum we will be travelling for 33 hours (estimating our speed at 5.5 to 6 knots) and always attempt to reach an anchorage well before nightfall.  Our SPOT messages go out to our family and a small group of friends to advise we are underway and when we have reached our destination.  It is a good communication tool when we have no access to phone or Internet.

Baja California Sur here we come again.  Looking forward to visiting new places and revisiting last year's favorite spots.

March 11, 2011

Awoke to tsunami warning - Friday March 11

We are currently watching various news updates on the computer about the horrific 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami which has levelled parts of Japan. Hoping that the rescue efforts already in place can somewhat mitigate the devastation we are seeing.

We were woken by a neighbour who was up preparing to head back home for a few weeks and had turned on his radio and tv.  The Port Captain has closed the port, as a matter of course.  Cruisers have to sit tight at the dock and monitor the coming impact.  Everyone is busy putting out extra dock lines, ensuring all is secure inside and on deck and checking that, if we rock and roll from additional surge and current, spreaders won't knock into each other.  Marina El Cid is just inside the breakwater and regularly experiences some surge and current, so most boats are well secured in any event.

On the 08:00 am cruisers' net we heard that a few boats had already left as planned for their crossing towards La Paz.  Being out in deep water is a good thing to minimize any tsunami impact.

This event put us in mind of our departure from La Paz in late February 2010. An earthquake had struck Chile and there were tsunami warnings for the Pacific coast areas.  We were ready to leave Marina Palmira and did so, just before the port was closed, staying well away from the shore and watchful of any increasing waves.  Nothing of any note occurred and we were grateful for that.

Hope all is well wherever you are.

(PS:  Happy Birthday Bonnie!)

March 9, 2011

Cathedral and Olde Town - a busy Fat Tuesday!

Fat Tuesday - Mardi Gras - Shrove Tuesday....
We enjoyed pancakes for breakfast to commemorate this last day before Lent in keeping with Carnaval tradition.  In the early afternoon we hopped a green bus (9 pesos each - 80 cents).  Half an hour later we arrived at the Municipal Mercado on Serdan in the heart of downtown Mazatlan.  The last day of Carnaval - would there be any bargains?  The best we could find were 3 ball caps for 100 pesos.  Kelly picked out a Pacifico logo and a Carnaval cap and I chose a blue Carnaval one; not really my style but a fun souvenir.

It seems sales were slow in the market as we were "encouraged" at every booth to buy something. Nothing appealed.  We headed across the street to the peace and quiet of the Cathedral, a lovely structure which we'd seen briefly in December.  It is slowly being restored with donations and fund raising.  We spent a few quiet moments inside thinking of and thankful for the family and friends who keep us in their prayers and thoughts as we continue this journey.
Cathedral arches and ceiling

Ceiling medallion closeup

Cathedral carvings
The streets were quiet as we walked 6 or 7 blocks towards the beach and malecon with no festivities taking place at that moment.  There are steep staircases off some streets as this part of Mazatlan is built around several hills.  Once on the malecon, where we'd waited for the fireworks, we found a shop with more colourful Carnaval shirts featuring not the Muses, but a Jester's cap.  They still don't cater to Damas styles, so I passed on buying anything.  The ladies in the small grocery/gift shop were so helpful and agreed that the festivities could be a bit hard on one's hearing.  they had to endure the sounds it every night.
Old steps and greenery

Our next stop was into an older hotel which had a tree growing in its courtyard, near the Shrimp Bucket restaurant. It had a Kerouac quote from his novel On the Road, in Spanish, near its door.
Commemorating Jack Kerouac and his visits
Our meanderings took us back towards the Plazuela Machado, stopping at a lending library along the way to add to our onboard library and chat with the friendly fellows who work there.  Carol picked up brochures for the upcoming Art Walk self guided tour this Friday.

A nice cold Pacifico hits the spot!
The Plazuela is a pleasant green rectangle, with a gazebo and surrounded by restaurants, cafes, a few hotels and bed and breakfasts, and is located next to the Angela Peralta Theatre.  We chose a spot on the shady side to enjoy some refreshments and people watch.  Young children amusing themselves while parents chatted, a sweet dachshund patiently waiting to continue his/her walk, friends playing backgammon.  A quiet time before the final parade and festivities of the evening.
A pina colada - more my taste!
Vendors were setting up nearby with masks, jewellery, treats and snacks as we walked back to Juarez to catch our Sabalo-Centro green bus.  Not too long to wait and we were on our way back to INTREPID II.  Happy hour was underway with an invite to join folks on board SV Optical Illusion; then a treat of fresh shrimp for dinner.  The water taxi driver, Gilberto, had sold us a fine looking bag of large shrimp and Kelly always does an excellent 'camarones en ajo (garlic)'.  Finally, yours truly worked on downloading pictures and some editing while the Captain joined a friend to watch a movie poolside....quite the full day!

Carnaval - "Return of the Muses"

Mazatlan Carnaval 2011
Our Dolphin Tales friends ensured we wouldn't miss out on Carnaval activities when we arrived in Mazatlan and we thank them for their generosity.  We enjoyed the fireworks and the Sunday parade, along with the crowds, incredibly loud music and overall excitement and colour of the annual celebration.  This event leading up to Ash Wednesday and the observance of Lent is held in many places throughout the world.  Mazatlan has celebrated 'officially and unofficially' according to a local newspaper, for 200 years.  The theme for 2011 is 'Return of the Muses', a reference to the nine Muses in Greek mythology.  This Carnaval is focusing on four very attractive 'goddesses' who are on posters, the entrance ways to the cordoned off areas and adorn souvenir shirts.

Kelly at entrance to Carnaval area - the day after parade- no crowds!
Saturday's fireworks extravaganza was called 'Combate Naval' to commemorate the ship to shore Battle of Mazatlan of 1864 between the French and Spanish.  Nine of us rode an open air truck taxi from the hotel into the Old Towne, paid our 25 pesos each to go through into the pedestrian only area of the malecon and found a restaurant for dinner at sidewalk tables.  The restaurant was experiencing electricity problems, so we dined by candlelight and street lights while anticipating the coming displays.
Waiting for fireworks - view south
Our ever-resourceful friend Debbie determined we could buy seats under a canopy and right in front of the beach for $3 US, which we did. After dinner we were well positioned for the pyrotechnics from the offshore barge and the beach.  We were actually brushing sparks off our jeans on one occasion (shades of the San Blas fireworks).  The offshore barge display started first, with the beach based display joining in accompanied by full orchestration.  The effect was much like the Symphony of Fire displays we enjoyed while in Vancouver, at English Bay.
Combate Naval at last - but none of our photos do it justice
Mazatlan has had recent shooting incidents which some cruise lines used to halt stopovers in this port.  The police and politicians have responded with a much more obvious security presence with foot patrols, helicopters flying overhead and Navy boats making passes back and forth along the beach.  While we were in these very crowded areas all seemed well.
Navy boat patrolling beach at sunset
As anywhere, after the fireworks ended it was difficult to find rides back to the marina.  Our taxi truck could not return to our drop off point, so we headed towards the bus stops on Juarez and eventually rode another truck taxi back home, leaving the after hour festivities to more resiliant carousers.

Sunday afternoon we again joined cruiser friends to head to Hotel Aqua Marina for an elaborate buffet meal in a banquet room overlooking the malecon, then made our way to assigned seats on bleaches in front of the hotel and across from the beach.  So nice to see over every one's heads and be sitting down! 
Waiting for Carnaval Parade

Pre-parade view from Aqua Marina looking down malecon
The parade was colourful, with floats representing various mythological and other themes.  Marching bands, dancers, the Pacifico Light float, horses....everything imaginable.  When it ended, we headed for the buses home and with a few detours were delivered back to the marina in about 40 minutes.
Pacifico Light float
Dragon float
Japanese mythology
Egyptian theme
Reina de Juegos Florales (Queen of Floral Games)
Rey de Alegria (King of Joy)
Great float - not sure of just what!

Marina El Cid

Welcome news for us.  The weather forecast was favourable for a Sea of Cortez crossing, so several cruising boats headed out early Monday morning, allowing us to move INTREPID II over to Dock B and settle in for the week.
View from bow on Dock B looking towards resort grounds
The short move still proved a bit stressful, as the wind was up, the dredging crew had dropped a float with poly-pro line trailing out right behind INTREPID II and the channel was busy with traffic.  However, the Captain met these challenges admirably and with several folks standing by on the dock and the neighbouring boat, we eased into our new slip and tied up.  We heard it took two dinghies assisting the boat which left to maneuver out due to the current earlier that morning.

Sunscreens keep cockpit cooler
We can now come and go without waiting for the water taxi and have access to the resort amenities, including pools, chaise lounges, cafes and a quick walk out to the main avenue to catch buses downtown.  While boat chores and exploring the area will take up some of our time, it was nice to stretch out in the sun and read for a time; felt like a vacation!  While not as warm as further south in La Cruz, we are glad we have our sunscreens in the cockpit to provide a bit of privacy as well as keeping things cooler.

Being at a marina rather than at anchor gives us a chance to sleep without listening for anchor noise or wind picking up or rocking to the swells coming in. The trade off is this is a sport fishing centre and the crews are up early, running diesel engines, getting the boats ready to head out.  They have a tendency to stand right outside the boat and chat - even at 6 am, so no sleeping in.
Looking up to pool area - Kelly waving
View of resort from our stern
The grounds and amenities here are well maintained and it is a pleasant place. We are told that many cruisers head for Marina Mazatlan further into the estuary, but we never received any response from them to our inquiries.  There is no potable water at those docks. The cruising friends we know from home and the new folks we've met have made us more than welcome in our latest destination.  We've also met some cruising cats and dogs and spotted an iguana by the upper pool.
Iguana by pool

March 6, 2011

Mazatlan - We have arrived and Carnival is in full swing!

A quick update:

Pool area at Marina El Cid 
INTREPID II is hanging out on dock D at Marina El Cid.  No cruisers left the marina as planned and we therefore don't have the reserved spot on dock B just yet.  No electricity or other amenities on this second class dock and we need to hop a water taxi to cross the short expanse of water to the main marina.  The taxi stops at 6 pm which puts a damper on evening activities.

However, we are well and had a good voyage up from La Cruz on Wednesday to Chacala.  One night of rock and rolling there, but fewer boats than on our way south and we could tuck in much better. On the way we took the time to motor through the anchorage at Jaltemba, near Rincon de Guyabitas. It does seem a fair weather anchorage with too much swell to be comfortable, so on up to Chacala as we expected.
Isla la Pena at Jaltemba
Just another fabulous sunset - Chacala

Thursday was a foggy day as we headed up to Matanchen Bay.  The sun did come out along with some wind but not enough to sail, so the engine stayed on.  We had a reasonable afternoon and evening as we got ready to head north to Mazatlan.  Kelly braved the less than warm water to check the zincs, which were in good shape.  The water was too murky to see what was blocking the boat speed indicator from turning and a bit cold to stay in too long.  About half an hour after he got back on board and cleaned up, we spotted a black, rounded fin in the water zipping back and forth very near INTREPID II.  No it was not a dolphin!  This fellow was not coming up for air and our best guess was a black tipped shark.  A bit surprising and a little disconcerting considering the lack of clarity in the water.  Good thing the Captain didn't stay underwater too long.  Later the no-see-ums got us again in spite of our efforts to use mosquito coils, bug spray and our screens.
Light fog heading towards Matanchen from Chacala

Kelly checking zincs and keel - Matanchen Bay
We awoke to a foggy Friday in Matanchen, with over 20 fishing pangas in the bay along with another 5 boats at anchor.  Quite the crowd.  The fog started to lift as we prepared to leave and checked in to the Sonrisa ham net.  Anchor up and off we headed.
Sailboats heading out in formation in fog from Matanchen
The winds were either on our nose or light enough that at tines we could not keep the jib rolled out. The main stayed up for drive and stability. North of San Blas we passed by the rock outcrop Piedra Blanca de Tierra on which stands a statue to the Virgin Mary.  This statue had been the intended focus of the panga procession in early February coinciding with the feast of San Blas, which instead had to take place due to heavy seas in the more sheltered estuary.
Piedra Blanca de Tierra near San Blas
The sun set just after 18:00 hours and the moon set right after, so we had a dark night ahead.  Stars would come and go as clouds moved across the night sky.  There was some phosphorescence in our wake, but no dolphin visits.
Perfect sunset en route to Mazatlan

Our radar was in use all night and into the morning.  Pin pricks of light would materialize eventually into lights of trawlers or shrimpers, but we needed to know what vessels were out there well before we could see them clearly.  The night air was damp and the bimini and dodger were heavy with condensation.  We went from wearing light fleecies to wind jackets to our foul weather gear to stay warm and dry.
Cockpit at night - chart plotter glowing
Close to 5:00 am as the sky was becoming lighter we were in thick fog with 1/4 mile of visibility. Kelly slowed the engine down and at one point, nearing Mazatlan harbour, he was monitoring 18 boats on the radar screen, all moving in varying directions.  A bit stressful after a long night of little sleep.  By 7:30 am we still could not see even a glimpse of the city of Mazatlan.  We had passed the harbour entrance, so it was time to take down our main and prepare the fenders and dock lines.  Carol checked in to the Sonrisa ham net 'vessels underway' section to advise INTREPID II had journeyed this far.  It's always comforting to connect with cruising folk 'out there' over the ham net.  The VHF local cruisers' net came on at 8:00 am, so we announced our imminent arrival, assuming we could spot the breakwater entrance.  Someone advised it was sunny and clear in the channel and marinas which was a good sign.

Marina El Cid was not responding on the radio, but our Dolphin Tales amigos advised us they'd be waiting for us to tie up at the fuel dock.  Thanks to Debbie and Lynn, as well as John who also came to assist with taking lines.  We found there was no room at the inn as no boats had left yet as planned (or as understood by marina staff).  The fall back position was the temporary space on dock D - so we made a u-turn from the fuel dock and slipped into our temporary spot.  Next agenda item was sleep, which we managed for a time, in spite of the dredging machine working just beyond our stern in the channel.
Channel needs frequently dredging 
Water Taxi needed to connect to marina amenities
Later we hopped on the water taxi to check out the showers, got ourselves clean and presentable and sat beside the pool with margaritas to toast our stay in Mazatlan.  We were invited to join a group heading out to watch the fireworks.  Who really needs sleep?  Just above our heads at dock D a wedding celebration had begun, so there was a further incentive to head out.  With 7 other cruisers we hopped a little shuttle truck and eventually reached the Carnaval zone along the malecon.  People wandered everywhere waiting for the fireworks which didn't even start until 11:00 pm.  They were worth waiting for.  A great display of pyrotechnics up close and impressive.  All us sleepy cruisers made it back by 1 am.

Hola to our family and friends - hope your weather is improving back home.  Thanks so much for your thoughts and good wishes on these last few passages.