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Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/22/2011 - Chillin' in the gringo end of town

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.

The lighthouse on top is El Faro, reported to be the second highest manned lighthouse in the world at 477'. There's a trail to the top and I guess you know we'll be hiking it.

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:

Scenery like this stretched all along the way from the anchorage to the marina.

And, what the heck is that thing between those two Moorish-looking structures?

Must be M for Mazatlán.

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.

So, here's why we're in a marina:
1.) wash the boat and ourselves
2.) have a good safe place to leave the boat while we explore Mazatlán and possibly the surrounding area.

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".


Anonymous said...

3 months! I can't wait to hear your take on Mazatlan. My favorite restaurants were Fat Fish for all you can eat BBQ ribs (popular with the Canadians) and La Puntilla next to the old harbor for great seafood (popular with the locals). Downtown is much more interesting. So much to see and do there. Have fun and keep your city radar on!

Lisa and Neil
S/V Gypsy

Tate said...

Awesome post Steve. I thought it was cool that you met Patrick from Deep Playa. I follow his blog too and I love his boat's name. Reminds me of Burning Man every time I read its name.

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon, Steve & Lulu: You had no comment from me regarding "Palapas" because I had not idea what that was - nor do I have any idea was a "pangas" is. I love your blogs - keep them coming. I hope you have a great Holiday Season. Love to both of you always - Nancy

Steve and Lulu said...

For (my dear aunt) Nancy and anyone else who's baffled:

Palapa: a building, usually open-sided, with a roof made of woven palm fronds. Well, not woven exactly, but laid up in such a way that they might as well be. Commonly used as bars and restaurants, particularly on the beach.

Panga: an open boat, usually made of fiberglass. They are anywhere from 16' to well over 25' in some cases. Used mainly for fishing but also used for other purposes such as whale watching tours. Almost always white on the outside and blue on the inside. Driven by large outboard motors. Most panga drivers only seem to know one throttle setting: FAST!

Hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steve & Lulu: Take care and my love to both of you always - Nancy