Friday, April 24, 2009

Back in Mazatlan

Well we finally returned to Mazatlan, our friends who run the Singlar marina, and little Ladybug. First a bit about our sailing (my friend Jamie Orr has pointed out that we have remarkably little about sailing on this blog!)

We sailed south from La Paz with our friends Marv and Ardy, who are cruising on a Peterson 44. Our first stop was Caleta Lobos, which we reached ahead of Odyssey by about an hour. The winds were light and in our face, so we tacked across La Paz Bay with our big genoa and main (reefing the main as the wind built to around 20 knots). Our Monitor windvane steered the boat without a problem, so long as we made sure to keep the weather helm light (i.e., by reefing the main and letting it out on the traveller). We made up some score cards from sheets of paper towel to greet Odyssey as she came in to anchor. I gave her a 5.7 (the Russian judge) and Rani, a 5.9 (Canada) for her anchoring drill. Marv and Ardy are a good team and make it look easy.

Odyssey got us back the next day by beating us into the anchorage at Los Muertos by an hour and rating our less than well-oiled anchoring drill with their own score cards. The trip to Muertos began early in the morning with a few hours of motoring, but around mid-morning, a wind filled in behind and we were soon rolling downwind with partly furled jib winged out on a pole and the main on the opposite side. Again, the wind vane steered her quite well although she wandered a bit as the larger waves twisted her off course. We had winds well in excess of 20 knots - the most we have experienced with the new boat. She does seem to be a bit more solid and comfortable than the Cal, although there is surprisingly little difference between the two.

Los Muertos is a great anchorage, with the best snorkeling I have ever done on a small coral reef just off the large beach. In the crystal water, we saw many schools of colorful fish darting amongst corals and rocks, waving fronds of seaweed, and sea slugs on the sand bottom. Later, we enjoyed touring a very upscale Hacienda/hotel with stables, pools, 18 hole golf course (a bizarre contrast in this arid dessert) and a huge room full of model trains. Suites go for around $2500 US a night, so we limited ourselves to a beer each and had supper at a restaurant at the far end of the beach. The next day I baked a banana loaf and some fresh bread for our crossing. We said our goodbyes to Odyssey for this cruising season and look forward to seeing our friends again in the Sea next season.

The crossing from Muertos was much slower than our last crossing of the Sea (53 hours - about 20 hours more than last time) due to light winds that had us close hauled nearly the whole trip. The wind vane once again did an decent job of steering despite some big cross swells, but was no help during the periods of motoring (7 hours total) that we were forced into when the wind disappeared completely. We saw a few grey whales in the distance but there was surprisingly little wildlife on this crossing. We arrived late at night and had a stressful entrance through the narrow shoaling breakwater entrance, although it helped that we have been here before! We will investigate installing an autopilot to steer our new boat while under motor.

When we reached Mazatlan, we received a warm welcome from the staff at the Singlar Marina where Ladybug has spent the last few months. We are now tied up beside Ladybug and are beginning to load our possessions on the new boat and clean up Ladybug for the trip up north. There is another couple here who plan to sail to Vancouver via Hawaii in the next 2 weeks and I will compare notes with them on the crossing. Rani flies home to BC in a week.

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