Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Mazatlan: Back in the tropics

We arrived at Marina Mazatlan Sunday morning, after first running the gauntlet of the crazy narrow opening into the estuary, its small breakwater proving only a small area free of breaking waves (but less than a boat length away the swells were crashing on the rocks). Going past El Cid Marina, the surge was still remarkably strong.

* A warning to other boaters: make sure no boats are coming out as you come in: it IS that narrow.

Marina Mazatlan is well up into the estuary and far from the madness. Marina staff were waiting for us to tie up. First impressions are reasonably positive (especially of Loli in the office).

Visited downtown Mazatlan (easily done by AC public bus) yesterday. Oh Toto, we're not in Kansas (I mean, La Paz) anymore. Frantic, big, interesting. Much more humid. We both noticed women dress differently here than La Paz (tighter, shorter skirts or shorts); didn't see any of the joggers we would see in La Paz. Overall impression: La Paz is a nicer place to be if staying longer.(That is, we made the right choice by staying in La Paz this Winter.)

We are now preparing Pelagia to be left in Mazatlan for the Summer (emptying interior of non-canned food items; cleaning all cupboards etc ; removing sails and canvas; etc).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Almost there (Mazatlan)

After a couple of relaxing days at Ensenada Los Muertos, we left at about 4pm for a 2-night passage to Mazatlan. We HOPED for some winds....

We are currently (Sunday April 27) 15 nm from Mazatlan's marina district. The passage has been easy but relatively little sailing due to lack of wind. Oh well.
At 4/27/2014 1:01 PM (utc) our position was 23°19.21'N 106°43.91'W

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hasta Luego La Paz... on our way to Mazatlan

It wasn't easy to leave La Paz and our friends (human and non-human) at Marina Palmira. All had really grown on us. The infamous "La Pause" bungie cord caught us and we kept returning to our "home".

But it IS getting hot (30-35 degrees C) and we are looking forward to coming home to Vancouver. We have a reservation at Marina Mazatlan for the summer, and a flight home May 8th.

We are currently anchored off Playa Bonanza (Isla Espiritu Santo) -- yet another beautiful anchorage. Water temperature is now up to 25 degrees C.

Anchoring off Playa Bonanza

Playa Bonanza

We will likely head down to Ensenada Los Muertos tomorrow (we were last there on Dec 8th!) -- 42 nm; 7-8 hrs.
At 4/22/2014 10:57 PM (utc) our position was 24°26.28'N 110°18.52'W

Saturday, 5 April 2014

"Final" two weeks back in La Paz

We have returned to La Paz for our "final" visit (at least, for this cruising season). Will be here until approximately the 20th of April, when we will watch for a weather window to cross the sea over to Mazatlan. Pelagia will be at Marina Mazatlan for the Summer.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Back in Bahia de La Paz area

After Puerto Escondido, we headed up to Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen. A nice anchorage, but we found ourselves bashing to get there. After a couple of days, we decided it was time to turn around and head south. We spent another couple of enjoyable days in Agua Verde, then headed down to Isla San Jose. We had hoped to sail but lost the wind after 9 miles of sailing. We made it to Isla San Jose where we spent the night behind the beach at Mangle Solo -- reasonably calm.

Next morning -- yesterday -- awoke to freshening northwesterly winds. Put the sails up proceeded to have a rollicking sail in 20-25 kn winds all the way to El Cardonal on Isla Partida. 33 nm sailed, averaging 6.4 knots. The radio was alive with "these winds weren't forecast" etc... great winds for us but not for the many trying to head north.

We will be back at Marina Palmira in La Paz by Sunday.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Puerto Escondido: a strange, sad place

We had read much about Puerto Escondido; much of it not very positive. However, another boat's recent post (Cadenza's PE report)] put PE's negatives and positives in perspective, so we decided to give it a try.

First, the good things:
- a well-protected harbour (from all wind/wave directions)
- availability of fuel
- availability of water
- availability (limited/pricey) of provisions
- a decent (albeit not cheap) restaurant (Portobello)
- borderline cell service (only at north end of mooring field, near the "windows")

We arrived to find the outer basin ("the Waiting Room"... more on this below) and middle basin ("The Ellipse") filled with boats on moorings. Turns out most of these are live-aboards. We had read that the waiting room bottom was filled with junk so were were going to give it a pass (even though it is only $1/day to moor). We headed into the main/inner basin. To our surprise, it was almost empty. Moreover, we had expected it to be filled with mooring buoys, but most were missing.

Inner basin: Looking south towards marina
Rules for the inner basin stipulate that one has to pay the same rate whether one takes a buoy or anchors. Previous reports had indicated that the mooring buoys were suspect, although the new (2013) edition of Rain's "Boating Mexico" suggested they had all been redone. This was clearly NOT the case. Most of the buoys did not have pendants (one is not supposed to tie to the ring on top of the buoys) and the numbers on most buoys were barely or not readable. We tied up to a buoy with a pendant (#40), and pulled back hard on it (it didn't move), and then dinghied in to the Fonatur office. (Later, we were told we should move to "better" -- ?? -- buoys #62-64; which we did, putting us at the far north end.)

The staff in the office were friendly. The charge for a 40-ft boat was 177 pesos/night (~$15/night). So, what do you get for this? The bathrooms, although perhaps once quite nice, but no longer: the showers had partially working doors, the faucets wobbly, cockroaches, and only cold water. Some toilets did not flush and there was no toilet paper. [While we were paying for our mooring buoy, land-based tourists came into the office because the guard at the gate would not let them drive out without proof they had paid (10 MXN each) for using the toilets. They complained about the sad state of the facilities and bargained it down to one person per car.] As with other Fonatur marinas, there was a small lap pool and (cold) "hot" tub. These pools were pretty dicey as the tiles were all coming off with lots of sharp edges -- we didn't want to test them out.

Oddly, behind the marina there are wide boulevard-like streets in wonderful condition (with painted lines, sidewalks etc), but nothing else -- guess this is another one of those non-realized housing developments. There is also a new marina ("Marina Puerto Escondido") with several side ties just past Fonatur -- it didn't seem too active, no obvious office/building, and its website indicate prices were a whopping $2/foot/night.

The "waiting room"? Well, it turns out the gringo liveaboards get upset whenever any cruiser tries to anchor there, and they try to chase them out -- we heard from two different boats who had this happen to them over the past week. So, the "Hidden Port Yacht Club" is not a very friendly place. The morning net (VHF 22, 8am) sounded friendly, but when we called in asking for information (e.g., what about the bus into Loreto?), we got only unhelpful replies. [FYI: One CAN flag down inexpensive La Paz-to-Loreto busses out at the highway, about 2 miles away. The schedule is in the Fonatur office; the first bus goes by ~12:30pm, and often after that. Taxis, when available, are said to be 500 MXN each way -- a rip off for the 15 mile journey!]

We did have a good meal in Portabello's restaurant (excellent margs, albeit pricey) and the internet for the marina worked while in the marina (not out on the buoys). Fuel and water (water: 1 MXN per 10 litres) was available at the fuel dock. The marina had a reasonably stocked tienda; 1.5 miles away at a nearby hotel was an even better store. Both, however, were quite pricey.

Overall, we found Puerto Escondido to be a very strange, sad place. Good harbour and a decent place to fillup with fuel and/or water. But a place for an extended stay? Not for us!

* Update: just heard that Pedro is closing Portobello's Restaurant and the Tienda for the Summer season 

* Update 2015/2016: apparently,  ownership (or,  at least,  management)  of the marina is no longer by FONATUR.  Big,  hopefully positive,  changes are coming to PE.