Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Passage to Mazatlan

Dawn off Mazatlan

While we were in La Cruz I was able to dig further into the charger/inverter malfunction and confirmed that the charger part of the unit stopped working. This is a big deal because though we have solar panels on the boat, they are not sufficient to keep the batteries charged over the long term. The charger/inverter, a Newmar 1800, has been in the boat for about nine years so I can’t complain too much about it.

Charger/inverters are not easy to find here in Mexico and it was beginning to look like we’d be stuck in La Cruz for a few more weeks while we went through the hassle of shipping the unit back and forth to Minnesota for repairs. But as luck would have it, John Pounder at JP Marine in La Cruz happened to have a brand new Magnum 2000 in his shop that had recently become an orphan. It was ordered for a boat in Puerto Vallarta that burned up before the unit could be installed.  It took about three hours to replace the unit and another couple of hours to wire in a new remote display at the chart table. Total cost for the new unit was about $2,400. We’ll take the old one home, have it repaired and then sell it.

With that little project completed we were ready to leave La Cruz for the last time this year. Finisterra cleared the breakwater at 0810 on March 31st, bound for Bahia Matanchen, the correct pronunciation of which is Ma-tan-CHEN. We arrived late in the afternoon and dropped anchor about ¾ mile from the beach. This area has always been known for its vicious noseeums and, more recently, dengue fever carrying mosquitos. The best defense for these pests is anchoring well out in the bay, screens on hatches and ports, and DEET laced insect repellant. We spent a peaceful night at anchor and the next morning took the dinghy ashore and hitched a ride into the town of San Blas. It’s the holiday season in Mexico, with Semana Santa (Easter week) followed by Semana Pascua (Resurrection week), so the town and beaches are full of Mexican vacationers. We wandered around the town for a few hours watching the festivities, then got back aboard Finisterra around noon.
Matanchen Bay. San Blas is surrounded by one of the largest mangrove ecoregions in Mexico, encompassing 770 square miles of what we might call swamp land. No wonder the place is full of no-no's and mosquitos.

We departed Matanchen at 1330 on April 1st and headed out around the rocks that lie off Punta Camaron before heading northwest toward the beautiful city of Mazatlan. There was only about three knots of wind all afternoon and most of night as we motored over glassy northwest swells. A big waxing gibbous moon was already well above the eastern horizon when the sun set so it was a beautiful night on the sea. We arrived the following day at the anchorage off Isla de La Piedra at 0830 and anchored a couple of hundred yards east of the Escollera de Las Chivas in about 15 feet of water. People call this place Stone Island anchorage.  The last time we anchored here, the place was deserted and the palapa restaurants that line the beach were mostly closed, victims of a combination economic recession and narco-violence. Since then the cruise ships have returned and the restaurants are packed with Mexican vacationers, and a few gringos as well. 
Finisterra at anchor off Stone Island.

We spent a couple of days anchored off Stone Island and hiked to the top of Isla de Las Chivas, which is actually not really an island anymore, but is connected to the mainland by the "escollera" or breakwater that was built years ago to make Mazatlan a suitable deepwater port. There was just enough of a south swell running to make beach landings in the dinghy dampish at best so on Saturday, April 4th we got the anchor up and motored around the small islands that lie just offshore from Mazatlan to the El Cid marina where we will stay for the next couple of weeks.

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