Mazatlan, Isla Isabel, Matanchen and Chacala

Feb 2nd

Mazatlán was 100% worth the stop. We had been told by a few cruisers that we should bypass it, that we were not going to miss much. Our sail down was uneventful but we had wind the whole way which was good for an over night passage. We anchored behind Deer Island with the busy city of Mazatlan less than a mile behind us. Jess and Josh on Oleada beat us to the anchorage, so they let us know a good spot to drop our hook. As we were making our way between the islands and rounding into the anchorage, we turned on the engine just to set the hook as it was crowded. We were only about 50 yards away from dropping our hook, when our prop got fouled on some trash that was under water. It was times like these that Jon and I are happy we have practiced setting our anchor while under sail, cause you just never know when your prop is going to get wrapped up in an old large mesh bag that at one point held fresh oranges. Classic.

Behold, the engine stopping mesh bag.

Behold, the engine stopping mesh bag.

The water was clear-ish and warm as can be. Jon got in right away to check the prop and to see if we still had all the blades. For those of you who do not know, our prop is made by Kiwi Prop and has plastic blades designed to sheer off to save other more expensive parts on the engine and shaft. The prop was in perfect shape once Jon removed the tangled mess of the orange bag.

The next morning we headed into Sábalo Estuary and got a slip at Marina El Cid. I am just going to put this out there, the entrance into this little slice of heaven is 100% terrifying. I for sure thought we were going to get picked up by the breaking waves and get pushed into either the rocky reef of death to our STBD or go head into the large break wall of terror to our PORT. Jon was at the helm waiting for the right break in the swell to make a run for it, as I was mid-ship shaking with fear and adrenaline holing a camera to get “the shot”. Everyone HOLD ON! BAH we surfed in, making it past the reef of death, and the break wall of terror only to be met by the STBD break wall that looked to have only about 2 feet of water around it. Jon turned quickly to Port to avoid the shallow area to then came face to face with a huge dredger taking up half the channel. Holy cow, that got my blood moving. No need for coffee that morning. SV Oleada was not far behind us, as they hailed us to let us know we had disappeared while in the trough of the larger swell. yikes. We pulled up to the fuel dock to ask the marina if they had slips open ( as they did not answer any of our calls on the VHF). We hailed Oleada back and told them to pull up on the fuel dock as well. Jess and I headed to the office to fill out the paper work and  get our slips.

Jon was smiling once we made it through

Jon was smiling once we made it through

Marina El Cid was a luxury. Once we pulled into our slips, the four of us went up to partake in the Sunday Champagne Brunch, that yachters get a discount on, Score! Come to find out, it was a bottomless mimosa brunch, double score. We ate and laughed as we reminisced about the “bar crossings” we have had to do for the last few places we stopped, all agreeing that Mazatlan was by far the most terrifying. It was only later we realized that we came in at low low tide, highly not recommended.

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A look at the entrance, not during low tide and no swell

We took full advantage of everything the resort had to offer, mainly the pool and spa. Jon and I gave Prism her first fresh water bath since we put her away over 8 months prior. Ew. We also got to work on some of the other projects that needed some attention, like the varnish, touched up the paint on the mast, put the name on the dinghy, adjusted the rigging/spreaders and installed our lighting protection system.

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I think we were having more fun than the kids staying at the resort

I think we were having more fun than the kids staying at the resort

We are not 100% on this statistic, but we are pretty sure that there has never been a sailboat that has been hit by lighting that has The Millennium Falcon on their mast-head. Oh yea! Take that lighting!GOPR5131-1

 

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We stayed in the marina for a few days, Thank you to everyone who has donated to SV Prism, as you made it possible for us to get a slip for a few days. We would have never been able to afford it with out you!

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Early morning beach walks

Early morning beach walks

The marinas are located in New Mazatlan, putting Old Mazatlan aka downtown a good taxi ride away. Jon, Josh and I walked what seemed to be for days to get to the MEGA, but in reality it was only about 1.5 miles. We stocked up on food and booze, then took an open air taxi back to the boats.

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Jon and I were going to leave that evening at high tide, but the moon was full and high tide was at dusk making it impossible to make it to our next anchorage with any day light left. Plus the swell looked once again like death. I looked at Jon with the biggest ” please don’t make me go through that” eyes. It worked, we stayed one more night in the marina, and left the next morning at high tide. Once again, I did not need coffee that day, as we just made it out over a wave as it broke behind us.

Church

Church

No one had warned us about the tricky entrance, so If you are planing on going into Mazatlan and getting a slip, be prepared to go through this less than 100 feet wide entrance. I am sure its not always like what we experienced, but still a heads up.

Testing out the new dive compressor

Testing out the new dive compressor

We stopped again at deer island for breakfast, a quick swim and a walk on the beach, then it was off to the other side of Mazatlan. We anchored at the Stone Island anchorage. Known to most cruisers as the anchorage where stuff gets stollen off our boats. So Jon and I took the care of putting most things down below, or locking items to our pushpits. The water definitely did not scream “swim in me” so we didn’t get in the water much. In Shawn and Heathers book Pacific Mexico, it explains that dinghy landing is easy and you can take a water taxi over into downtown, which we did.

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Downtown Mazatlan has a very old time feel to it, especially the historical downtown square. It reminded me of New Orleans but without the smell of urine everywhere. Hearing the roomers that the mercado was something we could not miss, we search  the streets following a map a local gave us till we found the place. Huge would be an appropriate descriptive word for this indoor mercado. Taking up a whole city block I mean, I think its about the size of a costco. Inside were multiple venders selling all kinds of fresh fruit, veggies, cheese, meats, goodies, trinkets and so one. I bought was we needed and a little of what we didn’t, but it was so hard to say no. We started to head back to the water taxi area stopping at a little coffee/ gelato cafe that had wifi so we could upload another video. Jess and Josh met us for a smoothly, then had to head back to their boat (they were still in the marina).

 

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We didn’t have enough time to fully upload the video before dark, so that was 2 hours wasted, Jon was not in a great mood about that for the rest of the day. We went back a few days later, starting earlier in the day to do the whole upload (took about 6 hours).

using the slow internet

using the slow internet

We stayed in the stone island anchorage for about a week, doing more projects, like another coat of varnish. We made some new friends on SV Enchanter, having one heck of a fun night aboard their 55 foot sailboat. Oh man is 55 feet a lot of boat!

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Looking out at stone island

chasing birds on the beach, such a kid at heart

chasing birds on the beach, such a kid at heart

SV Oleada joined us in the anchorage a few days later, as we all got ready to make another over night passage to Isla Isabel. We left Mazatlan around noon, making the 98nm sail to Isla Isabel  what I like to call prefect sailing. We had very small long period swell, with a light breeze. Sailing a close reach till about midnight. Then the swell picked up but the wind did not, it became rolly and hard to sleep. By day break the winds had shifted, coming from the east stiffing up the boat once again. I wanted to try to get some more sleep, but Jon woke me a few hours before we got to the island. He reminded me that we needed to put up our extra bug screens. We had heard that the bugs could be bad at the island and we did not want another experience like we did at Isla San Jose last year. Just had quick as the wind joined us, it left us, leaving us about a mile out from the anchorage, with the swell carrying us back where we came from. Damn, so we started the engine, with both of us being sleep deprived, we just wanted to get there set the hook and take a nap.

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up goes the spinnaker

We could see right away why this island is nicknamed the Galapagos of Mexico, with the crystal clear water, 1000’s of birds, and huge pinnacle rocks. Breathtaking. As we rounded the corner leaving plenty of room between us and the reef, we found the anchorage to be even smaller than we thought and 4 boats already anchored in there, one of which was SV Oleada ( they had passed us during the calmer parts of the night). We did about 3 rounds in-between the boats, almost bailing on the anchorage all together because of the close proximity to the rocks and boats. We took our chances and prayed our anchor would not get fouled on a rock. Once we felt like we were set, I jumped in to see where our anchor had landed. We were lucky.. our anchor was buried deep in all sand. We also set a stern hook ( like the boat behind us)  in another patch of sand to keep us over the sand and away from the under water hazards. The water was so clear the day we got to the island, but we were so tired, to the point where I actually fell down the companion way, that we took a good 4 hour nap rather than donning our drive gear and experiencing the clear water. We figured it would be just as clear the next morning.

Jess paddling out to visit with some whales

Jess paddling out to visit with some whales

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When we woke the next morning, the water was no longer as clear as it was the day before. To say we were upset would be an understatement. It didn’t stop us from jumping in though. Josh from Oleada and I started the day with an anchor recovery mission. One anchor is one he say from the day before left behind by another boat. The other was off their boat as their secondary anchor rode had chafed through. The anchorage is in about 28-40 feet, luckily Josh is a great freediver, he had no problem diving down to attach a retrieval line.

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Isla Isabel is home to thousands of roosting birds, who are not afraid of humans. When we set out to  explore the small island, we were able to get up close and personal with not only the birds, but with the large iguanas as well! When we were in the Sea of Cortez, at Isla Espritu Santos out side of La Paz, we checked out a Frigate rookery, but this island blows that place away. The magnificent frigate bird roosts is the trees at eye level, while the boobys surround your feet along the beach trails.

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The little fishing village, tour guides and dive camp

A Brown Booby

A Brown Booby

Close up

Close up

Not to mention the views!!!! The island has a feel that you are really in the middle of no where! Huge pinnacle rocks lying just off the east beach are some of the most interesting rocks I have ever seen! We had been warned by other cruisers that the island is infested with bugs, and that the smell of bird poo would  make you retreat far far away. However, we did not get any of those experiences. Yes there were a few mosquitos we had to deal with on our hike, but then again we are in the freakin tropics, there are going to be mosquitos. Then there was the smell, but it was not enough to make us gag or pinch our noses, it was just a faint whips of bird poo, not too bad at all. The views and animals made this stop on our trip one we will never forget.

Hiking the trails on Isla Isabel

Hiking the trails on Isla Isabel

Shannon and Jess getting up close to some blue boobys

Shannon and Jess getting up close to some blue boobys

The huge pinnacle rocks at Isla Isabel

The huge pinnacle rocks at Isla Isabel

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Jon and I decided to make it a night sail to our next anchorage, so we got our stern hook up with no problems and followed the even easier process with our main anchor. We sailed by Oleada saying good night and we would see them the next day.

Ensenada de Matanchen was our destination, about 48nm south east. The sail was do-able fora single day sail, but it could have put us at the anchorage after dusk. Jon and I opted to do a slow over night, giving us plenty of time to arrive after sun up to avoid fishing lines and find the perfect spot to anchor in.

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Matanchen, for those of you who didn’t know… Holds the world record for longest wave ever ridden. We of corse busted out the paddle boards and made a day of surfing the gentle point break. We were out there all day, stopping only around noon for a beer and a quick snack to refuel the tanks. It was pure bliss, and the whole time I was thinking how much my brother Sean would have loved it.. But then remembered he is surfing his heart out in Bali, and these little knee high waves would possibly bore him. 🙂 By the end of the day, Jon and I had gotten the hang of it and were able to join Jess and Josh on party waves, with all four of us riding along. So cool!

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In our guide books, it says that we could not miss the jungle tour, so the next morning, being so sore that I could barely lift my arms, we all headed to find the tour boats. We all opted to do the full blown tour, which stops not only at the fresh water spring / restaurant but also stops at the crocodile sanctuary.

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Swinging into the spring

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The Buddy Boating Cruising Group

The Buddy Boating Cruising Group

An American Crocodile

An American Crocodile

the kitty wanted to play!

the kitty wanted to play!

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After spending just under a week in Matanchen, we left mid morning to make the afternoon sail to Chacala. We have been hearing amazing things about Chacala from other cruisers for a while now so we have been looking forward to it.

Beautiful SV Oleada

Beautiful SV Oleada

Feb 8th

The sail over was perfect, with wind on our beam and almost no swell! We pulled into the anchorage in Chacala about an hour before sundown, and grabbed the perfect spot! We were told by friends to set a stern hook right away to keep our bow into the swell that wraps around the point.

We have been in Chacala now for about 4 days, spending time eating, drinking playing on the beach and hanging with friends. Close Friends of Jess and Josh flew down and are renting a house for a week that is just a stone throw away from the boats. It’s pretty cool to hang in a house, not to mention they are pretty cool too!

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When we pulled into Chacala, we were the 2nd boat in, then Oleada was the thrid, the next morning we were the only 2 boats. It stayed that way for 4 days, now today (the 9th) there are another 5 boats anchored out with us. Wow, it sure does fill up quickly.

We had an amazing breakfast here

We had an amazing breakfast here

Buying fresh fruit and veggies off the Veggie truck

Buying fresh fruit and veggies off the Veggie truck

We will be in PV most likely In the next week in a half..ish. I have always heard such great things about Puerto Vallarta my whole life, but I am worried thAt it is going to be pricey as a boater… We will just to have wait and see!!

Oh and on the sad news side of things, the newest solar panel we bought while we were in San Diego has taken a turn for the worst. Jon spend the better half of a morning trying different ways to figure what was wrong with it. With no luck we are hoping that the solar panel place in PV will be able to give us some answers, or need be.. A whole new panel. Fingers crossed that it can be fixed.

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