Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rudders, bigger boats, and explorations in Mazatlan

It has been a while since the last post and time has flown by here in Mazatlan. Other cruisers told us that we would end up staying here much longer than we anticipated and they were, of course, correct. We have been working on various boat projects, have looked into moving up to a larger boat, and have managed to find a few hours to explore this part of Mexico. We have met some great people in our marina and enjoyed warmth and hospitality that seems to be part of any group of cruisers who stay in one place for more than a few days.

Big church in a small dusty village.

Fields and orange groves in Sonora state (north of Mazatlan).

First the projects... We had put off a number of projects that are easier done alongside at a marina. We repaired some gelcoat damage where the anchor chafed after it came unstuck during our crossing. We dropped the rudder out of the boat (a bit nerve-wracking because this leaves a 'hole' in the boat where you can see water sloshing around). We scraped off some epoxy barrier coat that had not set up correctly and re-epoxied the rudder before repainting it.

Apparently, the horses speak better Spanish than Chris. Our cruising friend Marv is on the right.

Next, we re-painted the blue stripe along the hull below the deck (the boot-top). Rani is sewing up some instrument covers to keep off the tropical sun and I am in the middle of varnishing the bits of wood on deck after scraping off the old varnish with a heat gun and scraper (fun fun fun!!!). Ladybug looks pretty smart!

Spear fisherman Oscar with a relative of yellow fin tuna called El Toro.

Before we left on this trip, we thought about buying a larger boat. We decided to do the trip on Ladybug because she was a known quantity and we felt she was more than adequate for a cruise to Mexico. However, we are enjoying this whole cruising thing and would like to stay out here a bit longer and possibly head offshore. A larger boat with more room below and one designed for ocean crossings would be nice.

View from the lighthouse hill out over the port and old town area of Mazatlan.

We have looked at some boats here in Mazatlan and on the weekend drove 800 kms north to San Carlos to see a few more. We are in the process of putting an offer on a boat and if this works out, will put our dear Ladybug on the market. The plan is to list Ladybug here and in Victoria and to leave her in Mazatlan until the end of April when we will sail her home to BC, if she does not find a new owner here. It has not been an easy decision to move to a bigger boat, because Ladybug has been such an excellent platform for our adventures!

Marina at San Carlos. I believe the hill behind is known as the Goat's Teats

Masks at market in Alamos.

Apart from looking at boats, we have done a little sailing with friends Marv and Ardy on Odyssey (the Peterson 44 we met on the crossing to Mazatlan). Their blog can be found here. We have explored the old town here and watched some traditional Mexican dancing. Old town Mazatlan has a couple of lovely European style plazas and some small
but good quality museums.

Alamos cobbled street. Note horses in background.

On our trip to San Carlos, we stopped off at an international music festival in Alamos. This town is lovely with narrow cobblestone streets, haciendas with beautiful courtyards, a market square and a beautiful setting in rolling hills about 50km inland. We listened to the Latin American String Quartet play Mozart (bet you didn't know he was a Mexican!) and enjoyed a colourful play in the square.

Play in square at Alamos.

Colourful pottery at market in Alamos.

Latin American String Quartet in Alamos.

Ardy and Chris on the Peterson 44, Odyssey.

Rani at the helm of Odyssey. Ardy's brother David in the background.

If the boat purchase goes through, we will probably be up in San Carlos for a couple of weeks and then sail the new boat back to Mazatlan. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A New Year in Mexico

Shortly after our Christmas post, we stopped off at the most amazing beach and dunes at Bahia Santa Maria (on the outside of Magdalena Bay). This is a several mile long sand spit, dunes, and beach with fields of murex and clam shells (see pictures). The dune formations are stunning and there are huge sand dollars on the beach, which we used as frisbees until I took one in the face (cutting open my nose - duh!).

Murex and clam shells.

Rob, Rani, and Jo exploring the dunes.

Back of a huge sand dollar - these make excellent frisbees, but a helmet is recommended.

Dune formations with Santa Maria anchorage in the distance.

Rani collected some attractive murex shells.

Rani and Rob (of Blue Moon) enjoying some sand skiing action.

Jo of Blue Moon with a perfect murex shell.

After returning to Man of War cove, we celebrated New Years eve at a Mexican dance with a very loud band that played waltzes and some more lively numbers. The Mexicans danced in waltz style to them all! A truly unique New Years, surrounded by strangers who at midnight gave us foreigners great big hugs to welcome in 2009.

On New Years day, we headed toward the entrance to Mag Bay and stopped at Belcher bay where Rani found her next vehicle (see picture) and we had a potluck with our friends on Blue Moon (see their boat below).

Rani's next SUV

Blue Moon motoring to Belcher Bay.

From Mag Bay, we sailed for Cabo San Lucas and after 2 days of sailing we rounded the end of the Baja, decided to skip Cabo and turned north into the Sea of Cortez. We anchored at Los Frailes ('The Friars') and spent a few days here snorkeling in amazing waters full of corals and brightly colored fish - the best snorkeling I have ever done! We saw dozens of rays jumping clear of the water (no idea why they do this) and had some great hiking along miles of beautiful beach and through deserts and dry gulches to a nearby beach and coral reef (national park).

Ray jumping out of the water at Los Frailes.

Another flying ray at Los Frailes.

Next, we sailed north towards Los Muertos, hoping to meet up with our friends on Blue Moon, but high seas and strong headwinds changed our mind and after 3 hours of beating up our boat, we ran off east on the 170 mile crossing of the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan. We arrived 33 hours later and tied up at the Singlar Marina north of the town, where we are booked in for a week's stay. Mazatlan has a lively old town, a great market, and all the conveniences. We have met or talked on the VHF to several cruisers we had not seen since California and even Oregon. Ken and Faye on R Genesis had us over to the El Cid resort where we enjoyed the hot tub and waterfall pool with swim up bar. Pretty decadent after a month in small towns and without seeing more than a handful of people at a time.

Dawn arrival in Mazatlan after 33 hour crossing.

Chris and Rani enjoy the pool at El Cid resort.

An iguana also enjoys the sun at El Cid.

Rani and Faye at El Cid.

We will probably be here a week or two and then head south toward Puerta Vallarta.