Sailing Mango

Passage To Mazatlan

We left La Paz for Mazatlan on December 13th under full sail. After a couple hours of tacking towards San Lorenzo Channel, which is about ten miles north of La Paz, we turned on the engine. The current was against us, and we wanted to pass through prior to dark. About an hour passed the channel, off went the engine, replaced by the peace and quiet of an easy sail.

Unfortunately we have no working autopilot. Fortunately we have kids. Adam is doing day watches, Emma does both day and night, the same as me and Kristen. Adam has been sleeping in the cockpit, like a dog, and is helpful at night, either waking up the next watch if it is difficult for the on watch person to leave the helm, or helping with the dogs. We are doing two hours on and four hours off at night, which has been working well.

Biscuit and Annie are useless at watch, other than warding off dolphins. The way Biscuit nervously paces the deck, whines and leans over the edge when the dolphins are near, I assume the next time they are with us he will jump off the boat to be with them. Won't he be surprised.

Kristen plopped down on the couch across from me this afternoon while I was dozing. She said, "Adam's up there all alone. Hope we don't hit anything."
"Yep." I said, then went back to sleep. There is not much out here. We haven't seen a single boat, and only heard radio traffic twice.

Yesterday evening I had the six to eight watch. It was quite dark when I saw what I though, just for an instant, was a fishing boat. It was the rising moon, shimmering on the horizon wearing the most amazing orange and red. As it climbed up into the sky it very slowly cast off it's colors until it was chalk white, replacing the phosphorescents in our wake with reflected light, changing in color with the moon as it rose. The night is incredibly bright.

As I came up for my midnight to two am watch, the sea was nearly flat and dolphins where swimming with us. Their visits are always special and amazing, as they swim around the bow of the boat, dart back just behind midships, and then turn around and jump forward to swim in the bow again. Over and over they do this, sometimes swimming a boat length or two away, then as fast as you can imagine, they are back and up close to the boat. I had to urinate, so out of respect I did this over the rail towards the back of the boat. I hope the dolphins weren't pissed.

We arrived today at the El Cid marina around two in the afternoon. The entrance to where all the marinas are located is narrow, and the charts indicate that the channel is shallow, about 10 feet at mean low tide. We naturally timed our arrival for low tide so that we could artificially elevate our stress level since the sail over was so calm and relaxing.

There was a dredging barge at the entrance, taking up half of the channel, or so it seemed. Just as Kristen was making our entrance, a party-ma-ran, a trimaran with a bunch of gringos, came around the corner out of the channel, and we had to abort, taking a 360 turn so the trimaran could leave. They motioned "all is clear, mate!", so we slowly entered the channel while I called out the depth in feet, "11, 10-11, 10, 10, 9, 7, 6, 6, 6, 8, 11, 13, I think we are clear!" Now, our depth-o-meter is about two feet under the waterline, so we had some margin.

Coming into the marina was equally fun. Imagine driving a 30,000 pound whale in a narrow channel with maybe three feet under your belly, with little boats darting in and out of here and there just to amp you up. Furthermore the whale drives like those early remote control cars. You can sort of turn left and right while going forward, but going in reverse you can only turn one way. Then we have more fun turning into the narrow little channel between piers, maybe sixty feel wide, knowing that if you time the turn of the whale wrong, you are into stress-con level four, doing thirteen point turns to recover. If you are lucky, you don't hit anything, or anyone.

The final joy is that for some reason our slip numbers are never labeled. This has happened time and time again. So today we just pulled into what we thought was the right slip, and we got lucky.

So now we are plugged into shore power for the first time in nearly two months, making our batteries happy. We took dinner by the pool after swimming and hot tubing, and plan on more of the same tomorrow with some friends we met on the way down to MX from San Diego.

The moon, with a bit of the mast and deck in the foreground.


One of several pools at the resort.