Friday, March 16, 2012

Onward to Mazatlan

When traveling by sailboat, the last thing one wants is a schedule.  Trying to arrive at a certain destination by a certain time will almost certainly lead to trouble with the weather.  The weather tells us when we can sail.  Unfortunately, with a plane to catch in mid-April, we find ourselves on a bit of a schedule.  The good news is that we have about six weeks to find weather windows for two overnight passages: the first from La Cruz to Mazatlan, the second from Mazatlan across the Sea of Cortez to Baja.
The weather forecast looked good for starting the trip to Mazatlan on Monday, March 5.  We were excited to be getting back on the road, and looked forward to enjoying the rustic charm of Mazatlan’s old harbor.  The easy access to old town, the Malecon (waterfront walkway), and the hike to the light house makes it one of our favorite destinations.  We met with Kevan on Sunday and agreed to start the twenty-eight hour passage at six o’clock the following morning.

By a quarter to six we had raised the anchor, lashed down the dinghy, and were drifting in the darkness outside the marina channel.  Right on time, Alex II’s navigation lights appeared from behind the jetty and we were on our way.  The dawn twilight found us motoring past Punta Mita.  Once clear of the point, we set a course for Isla Isabella and spent most of the day motor-sailing.  With a moderate breeze fifteen or more degrees off the bow, our boat speed held at six to seven knots.  Unfortunately, in the late afternoon the wind clocked around to our nose and picked up to a steady fifteen knots.  Our forward progress dropped precipitously as the wind and waves worked together to push us away from Mazatlan.  It was frustrating to have the engine burning fuel while we were creeping ahead at a miserably slow pace.  This torture continued until about three o’clock the following morning when the winds died and the seas flattened.  Even motoring is better than being stalled in rough seas.  Mazatlan here we come.

The morning brought a thick fog that limited visibility to about a mile.  The diffuse light reflecting off the calm water provided a crisp view of anything breaking the surface.  We saw several sea turtles and a few rays swim by.  Suddenly, there was a huge splash to starboard about a half mile away.  It was a whale.  We soon saw three whales launch themselves from the water simultaneously.  The triple breach was just the beginning of the show.  As we go within a quarter mile of the whales, the show intensified with repeated breaches and fins slapping the water.  It was the most spectacular show we have ever seen.

Alex II arrived at the Stone Island anchorage about eleven a.m. and we joined him there two hours later.  It was nice to have the first of two overnight passages behind us.  It was also great to be in Mazatlan again.

Mazatlan with the world's highest manned lighthouse
Ready for a dinghy ride?

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