Normally, we prefer to anchor out rather than tie up to the dock in a marina. It's cheaper and much more private. Plus, we're reasonably adept at anchoring so there's little stress, unlike when docking in a crowded marina. However, once in awhile, for one reason or another, you just have to bite the bullet and take the slip. We got so salt-encrusted on our way over from La Paz that the boat really needed a fresh water bath. We were sorely in need of showers ourselves.
We called our friend Mike (s/v Tortue) to see if there were any slips open where he was at, La Isla Mazatlán Marina. Turns out that by the next day there would probably be an opening and, sure enough, there was.
So, Tuesday night was our last night with this kind of sunset:
By 1100 Wednesday morning, we got confirmation that slip was available so we upped anchor and headed out. We rounded La Isla Crestón which guards the port side (going in) of the canal to the old harbor.
Continuing on, we could have passed between these two rocks, Hermano del Norte and Hermano del Sur. There's maybe 1/4 mile between them which should be more than ample.
But I'm very cautious when it comes to tearing out the bottom of my boat so, even though the charts showed no obstructions, I opted to swing around them. Added maybe 15 minutes to the trip which, it turned out, mattered not one whit. Besides, they look a lot closer together from this angle:
Only one scary thing happened during the trip. There had been a tour boat sort of paralleling us along the beach for awhile. All of a sudden, he changes course and is headed directly for us. I'm watching, thinking, "this ain't right", but his relative bearing is not changing which means a collision is pretty much guaranteed. According to my reading of the rules of the road, he had the right-of-way since we were both motoring and he was approaching my starboard (green light) side. I slowed down but it didn't seem to matter. He was still headed right for us. I had nowhere to go to starboard as it got really shallow fast in that direction. I can't believe this. He's still headed right for us. I pulled out the air horn and let out a long loud blast, scaring the crap out of Lulu in the process. No matter, still he came but at least now I KNEW he knew we were there. And then, he turns to pass across our stern. The tourists waved and took pictures. I guess that's all he wanted but it would have been nice to maybe give me a heads-up on the radio before scaring the crap out of me. Then again, maybe that was part of the plan, too. Anyway, I was so shook I didn't even get a photo.
When we were almost ready to enter the channel that leads to the marinas, we got a call on the VHF from Patrick on s/v Deep Playa. He'd left the anchorage before us and I asked him to let me know if anything came up that we needed to know. He called to report that the dredge was working in the channel and it would be at least an hour before we'd be able to enter. We both chose to drop anchor in the lee of Isla Pájaros and wait. Another boat, s/v Serenity, chose to just mill around under power slowly while waiting.
While we were stopped, we had a parasailor fly over a couple of times. On this one, we could hear one of the passengers yelling, "MMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!" Must have been having the time of her life.
Finally we got the word on the VHF that the channel would be open for a few minutes, long enough for the waiting boats to get in. We hoisted the anchor and headed in behind Deep Playa and Serenity. The rest is just details. The channel is narrow and narrower still when half of it is taken up by a dredge. Our slip was sort of hard to find but, with some marina employees giving us directions from the dock, we managed to find it. And, even better, we got docked without much, if any stress.
Wednesday night turns out to be Jam night at the little palapa at the top of the stairs. After showers, we headed over to listen to some blues, drink a few brews and eat some wings.
The plan is to spend 2 months in the marina, exploring the area, and then to move to the old harbor anchorage and spend a month or so exploring Old Mazatlán. By then it'll be getting nigh on to time to head back to La Paz.
Oh, and the thing about the "gringo end of town". Mazatlán is divided into 3 zones: Viejo (Old) Mazatlán, Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), and Nueva (New) Mazatlán. The Zona Dorada is where the marinas are located and caters to tourists, although obviously not all tourists are gringos. The anchorage, where we'll spend our third month, is located in Viejo Mazatlán.
Today we washed the boat and the engine room and started getting a beginning lay of the land.
Oh yeah, I must mention that no one commented on my reference to "palapas went screaming by" in my blog entry a day or so ago. Lulu caught it. Obviously I meant "pangas went sceaming by".