Thursday, November 21, 2013


Tina Abrams
Our new crew member, Tina, arrived around 9:00 Sunday morning and we were away from the dock by 11:30.  Just in case Scott has to go home for some reason, I am learning to dock Fool’s Castle.  She is a bear to dock because she has such a high stern castle that the stern blows off, rather than the bow as in the case of most boats.  Combine that with her strong right prop kick and backing up becomes an adventure.  I had successfully put her into the slip in Mazatlán, but now I was charged with backing her out and getting the bow faced outward before I ran out of space.  Everything went well as I backed her out of the slip, but when I went to shift into forward, the gear shift lever stuck.  Scott had to run below and put her into gear from the other steering station.  I managed not to hit anything, but we definitely stirred up some mud at the edge of the seawall.

Islands Off Mazatlán

I had been asleep when we came into Marina Mazatlán, so enjoyed seeing the luxurious Marina El Cid on the way out.  We saw several Ha-Ha boats tied up in there.  There are numerous small islands and rocks off the coast of Mazatlán.  It was very scenic as we sailed out of the marina district and turned south towards the commercial port.  Tina is from Hawaii, but came to Mexico to have some major dental surgery and go sailing in the Sea of Cortez.  She is catching a ride to La Cruz with us to meet the skipper who will take her back north.  She has been living in an apartment near Olas Altas and enjoyed seeing the other side of the islands that she has been seeing from land.

Carlos and Scott
Once we got past all the islands, we turned south to chart a course between Isla Isabela and the Tres Marias.  The Tres Marias are prison islands and we could not approach closer than 20 miles.  We did not want to go inside Isla Isabela because the area in not well charted and is shallow and full of crab pots.  Tina was really enjoying sailing the boat, so I got a little break from driving on the first half of my watch.  We saw a whale breach in the distance.  We sailed south all day and night, passing Isla Isabela late in my 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM watch.  We saw many shrimp boats lit up like Christmas trees.  Lined up across the horizon, they looked like targets in a 1980s video game.  It would have been nice to stop at Isla Isabela, but we would have had to negotiate a small, strange anchorage in the dark and continuing on to San Blas allowed us to arrive in daylight and then have a reasonable distance to travel on to Puerto Vallarta, allowing us to arrive there during daylight, also.

The Castle in San Blas
Morning saw us off Piedra Blanca del Mar, which looked like a giant iceberg.  I spent the time before my watch fitting all the hatches with screens and working on repairing the hatch covers.  Without a sewing machine, restitching all the shock cord channels on the hatch covers will be my new hobby for a while.  We came into San Blas on my watch.  After rounding Piedra Blanca de Tierra, the port captain sent a panga out to guide us over the bar.  We continued up the estuary to the San Blas Marina.  The marina is very nice and quite inexpensive.  We got a slip for about $18 for the night, including port clearance, power and water.  The showers and restrooms are gorgeous and the whole facility was designed to be lovely, but the marina raised the rent a couple of years ago and now the pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant, shops and bar are deserted.  Chuck did some research and determined that this is an inexpensive place to haul out or leave your boat long term.  It’s far enough up the estuary to be a decent hurricane hole.  You don’t want to swim here, though.  Chuck saw a crocodile swimming in the marina.  The only downside to this place is the mosquitos at night.

Plaza in San Blas
After we moored, we took a walk into town to buy lettuce and tortillas for dinner.  I found an ATM and we managed to buy replacement dividers for navigation for a whopping 32 pesos at the local papeleria.  San Blas is small, but has a nice church square and basic shops.  There are a few inexpensive looking backpacker hotels and numerous small restaurants that look inexpensive.  It would be a great place to hang out on a shoestring.

Mosquito Net
Empty Marina Buildings
I wanted to BBQ in the cockpit, so I strung up the mosquito net that I had brought along for the purpose of creating a bug free outdoor space.  It worked pretty well for mosquitos, but didn’t keep out all the no-see—ems.  Still, we managed to cook steak fajitas without getting eaten and had a cool(er) place to hang out.  I tried to go up to the deck where the wi-fi works, but couldn’t stay long because of the bugs.  Unfortunately, the wi-fi doesn’t reach the docks here.

San Blas Boatyard and Town
Tuesday morning, we wanted to leave while the tide was high because we had touched bottom coming into our slip and knew it would be somewhat tricky getting out because our prop would cause the stern to go in the direction opposite the exit.  Before we could leave, however, we wanted to fix the transmission linkage that had caused the boat to stick in reverse when we were leaving Mazatlán.  Scott and Carlos determined that the shifter cable was sticking and Carlos set off to try to find a replacement in San Blas.  Everyone kept telling him that he needed to find “the guy in the blue Blazer”, but when Carlos finally tracked down the vehicle, he had taken some tourists out fishing for the day.  Carlos then looked carefully at the cable and realized that the end was bent just enough to bind on its metal sleeve.  The guys who were helping him look for blue Blazer man helped him locate a vise and tools and the whole repair ended up costing us 45 pesos and an iced tea for Carlos.  Meanwhile, Tina went for a walk and met a local woman who wanted to practice her English.  They hung out for a while and Tina came back with five frozen fish that the woman gave to her.
Me in the Engine Room

Leaving San Blas
We finally pulled out of San Blas at about maximum ebb, but we had enough water to spin the boat around without touching bottom.  We motored out of the estuary and then raised sails and headed for Punta de Mita.  We sailed all afternoon on a nice reach, but were unable to round the point before dark.  Both Chuck and Carlos had been around the point before and they convinced Scott to go between Punta de Mita and the Tres Marietas.  I made chicken breast strips cooked in wine and lime juice with baked kabocha squash (Even Carlos ate some!) and then poked my head up just in time to see the lights of Sayulita.  I slept most of the way into La Cruz, but I hear we got a little closer to land than we had planned and found some pretty shallow water.

Carlos Got Very Comfortable with Us

Carlos had called ahead and arranged a nice slip for us, so we had a place to land when we arrived and the security guys met us to take lines and give us keys and internet codes.  There are a number of other Ha-Ha boats here, including the flagship, Profligate.  This is a very nice marina and, while it is pricier than San Blas, has very nice amenities.  There is an air conditioned clubhouse with nice restrooms and showers and even a small pool.  The landscaping is lush and tropical and it feels like a good place to spend some time.

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