sailing homepage : trip reports : 6: zihua to la paz : mazatlan

Feb 22-27: Passage from Isla Isabela to Mazatlan, one final birthday party for Will, quality time in Mazatlan, Mari departs

We waited until 9PM before leaving Isla Isabela; the weather was cooperating and by the time we hauled up the anchor the water in the anchorage was smooth, the sounds of the surf crashing against the island had dropped, and the gusty winds had died down.

Outside the protection of the island the waves and wind were stronger, but much less than we had experienced coming to the island. We made good time motorsailing 20-degrees off the wind on a rhumbline course to Mazatlan. I took the first watch while Mari and Sara slept, and we traded on/off two or three times over the night. The waves and wind were almost completely gone by 4AM.

I never get tired of this shot


The best part of the day

The girls woke me at 5AM and were too tired to stay up for the sunrise. I love this part of the day, the colours are amazing, the amount of light is amazing, the surprisingly-long amount of time the horizon brightens before the sun finally rises is amazing. It's pretty cool to watch a sunrise nonstop from start to finish. I don't think I've ever done this before sailing.

Just a few minutes after the sun rose, I was treated to a wild and crazy show. Ten or fifteen large rays jumped out of the water all around the boat. They were jumping waaaay up into the air, flapping their wings, and bellyflopping back down. I ran for the camera but totally missed them.

Religious postcard


Tired but happy

The morning was enjoyable, Sara and Mari slept until almost noon and I finished off my book, "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time". Good read. We encountered some cloud cover, and saw a few shrimpers off in the distance, but there was nothing but tranquility for most of the day.

Moody water


Tug and barge

We motored into Mazatlan, past the main harbour, and all the way up through the offshore islands to the marina complex north of the city. We called Marina El Cid again, but they didn't have availability, so instead we stayed at Marina Mazatlan - a much superior hangout for about half the price! Awesome.

When we called them on the radio to ask where our slip was, they said they would meet us on the dock. I guess the sight of Sara and Mari on the bow brought all the helpers, because when we finally docked there were seven or eight marina employees helping. We've never had a reception like this, it was surprising and very nice.

Marina Mazatlan


Dressed to kill

We parked, packed everything away, had a wonderful shower with water pressure so high it felt like we were being powerwashed, and bought some ice-cold beers at the local super mercado. Ahh, this is the life!

We spent the afternoon laying around watching a few episodes of Grey's Anatomy, a TV-series Mari had brought for us on DVD. It was very civilized. Sometimes it feels strange to arrive in a new place, draw the curtains, and kick back with a movie or something, but hey - even explorers and adventurers need a little break every now and then.

It was still my birthday week though, so we got dressed and headed into Mazatlan to celebrate. Sara was still humouring me when I would pull the birthday rank - "get me a beer hon? it's my birthday!" - but I could tell it was starting to wear thin. This was the last gasp of my 30th celebration.

We explored downtown Mazatlan with the sole goal of finding a really good burger. For some reason burgers had come up the night prior, just when we were leaving Isla Isabela. We sat in the cockpit and talked about burgers for a good half hour. I really need to fix the stupid BBQ.

We found a great place, the "No Name Cafe". I let Sara and Mari order their burgers first, chivalry isn't dead, then had a last-minute change of heart and ordered the ribs instead. Yes, they were expensive. Yes, there was way too much food. My god it was good. Almost as good as my own secret recipe.

We had after-dinner drinks but were all wiped out from the overnight passage. I don't think we made it past 10PM before we went back to the boat and collapsed.



Old beggar

The next day, Saturday the 24th, was Mari's second-last-day in Mexico. We dropped off our laundry, had yet another shower in the wonderful cruiser's lounge (two showers in two days!), picked up some grande cervesas, and watched just one or two episodes of Grey's Anatomy before heading into town for a full day of exploring.



There are no child labour laws here

Sara and I have mastered the art of exploring the wild and dangerous regions of Mexico. First, have a beer before you leave the boat to boost your spirits. Get a bus downtown ('centro') and immediately find a bar to have another drink. You must keep your strength up. At the bar, or a nearby taco stand, get some food into your body to absorb some of the alcohol, you don't want to crash out early!

From there, explore block by block, stopping at as many bars and taco stands as necessary to maintain a perfect balance of beer and tacos. It's critical to approach exploring logically, to have a map or pay attention to street signs, you don't want to find yourself suddenly in a residential neighbourhood with no sign of either beer or tacos. If that happens, remain calm, don't make eye contact with anyone, just turn around and retrace your steps.

We're professionals, so sometimes we up the ante a little and mix in other food groups (ice cream or tequila), but we receommend you take baby steps. Sequencing is everything - don't just wade in and start ordering quesadillos and tostadas, remember to space it out and fit in the occasional margarita or liquado.

Central church


Very impressive

We hit the church (great icecream across the square) and park (taco stand in the corner is good), made it a block before we found where we wanted to have our dinner, and got only another block before we heard a rowdy noise coming from a nondescript bar.

Resting in the town square


Beautiful wrought iron

The sign said "ladies also welcome", so in we went! I think we were all expecting a strip club or at least a topless bar, but no such luck, it was just an old fashioned men's drinking establishment. Perfect timing, we needed another drink since the long walk from the town square.

More decorative iron bars


The local men's club

We had a couple more drinks, mixing it up a little (margaritas, cervesas, some tequila, and, uh, I can't remember) and thoroughly enjoying the entertainment. Sara and Mari were the only women in the place who weren't servers, and we were the only gringos in a bar packed with locals, but it was a ton of fun. $1 beers rule.

Thank goodness the next block was an indoor market - we needed a break from all the drinking. These places are cool, it's a large warehouse building broken up into a hundred small stalls. People sell everything here: produce, meat, cheese, beans, household goods, cleaning items, leather items, just everything.

Mmmm... cheese


Watermelon, grapes, and sour apples

Next we hailed down an open-air taxi - unique to Mazatlan, they're called pneumonias - and had the driver take us to the nearby hill overlooking the town and ocean. We made it just in time to look around and enjoy the sunset.

Northern end of the city


Southern end

Mari and Sara did a quick model shoot. Can't waste the light, you know.

I love this shot


Mari does too

We enjoyed the sunset and hiked back down to our restaurant and dinner. We were dining in an old converted house with open-air atrium. We ordered three entrees and shared everything. It was fantastic.

Sunset in Mexico!


Our evening entertainment

We headed back to the boat just after midnight, sharing a pneumonia with a pair of ladies - one of whom was from England and knows the town Llalellian near my family's farm in North Wales! It's a small world.

Mari disembarks Wanderlust



Mari left the next morning and we wasted the rest of the day vegging out watching Grey's Anatomy. By this time we were hooked, and we had just a few last episodes to finish before leaving to cross the Sea of Cortez.

It's been like this the entire trip: wonderful scenery and beautiful sunsets and interesting animals are ignored, shunned, and shuttered out of our lives. Call us boring, but we like playing cards, watching movies, and quietly reading with the blinds tightly drawn and hatches fastened closed. Time enjoyed isn't time wasted!