Chasing Hurricane Season to Mazatlan

Trip Start Dec 01, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Mazatlan Marina

Flag of Mexico  , Pacific Coast,
Saturday, May 5, 2012

We left La Paz around noon under somewhat gloomy and gray skies. The weather forecast was for sunny skies, 10 to 15 knots of wind or more from the northwest for the 2 day trip. We were excited to finally get some sailing under our wings. Or not. What we got was under 7 knot westerly’s with a 2-4’ southwest swell and overcast for most of the 290 miles. Not great for fossil fuel conservation or sleeping. As we looked back at La Paz I saw lightening in the cloud cover. A little ominous, but we knew the Pineapple Express was sharing a little weather with the Baja and we had nothing to worry about. The sun sunk below the hazy curtain and set La Paz on fire. It was an uneventful trip and the lack of drama was beginning to look like a curse, what was I going to blog about?

There were signs of sea life along the way, although they were not buying from Ashika. I dropped my best “Mexican flag” lure right off the bat, thinking we are cruising the best fishing grounds in North America, the islands off of Baja. I pulled in seaweed over and over again.  There were lots of flying fish doing their skipping- soaring- crashing- back- into- the- sea- thing, but only the occasional dolphin sighting. We would see large areas in the distance that would be teaming with fish, birds and dolphin, apparently feasting, but we continued on with only these distant and brief glimpses of ocean life.

We had a couple of breaks from the constant drone of the diesel engine.  When Dois couldn’t stand it anymore and he was sure there was enough breeze to sail, he would put the sails up turn off the engine and then we would stop. We would float around for a few minutes until he couldn’t take that anymore and he would take the sails back down. But it kept him busy. We mostly motorsailed with the main up to try and stabilize Ashika from rolling, but our success was minimal.

Ginger has become quite the boat dog and communicator.  When we take her to and from the kayaks or dinghy, we count down and she jumps on 3. When we ask her if she wants to go for a walk, she runs over and tries to get Daisy going because Daisy can’t hear us and Ginger knows we don’t go without Daisy. When Ginger is looking for treats she throws herself into the lie down position to show what a good dog she is. She has also developed what we call “the 3 pat”. When she would like some water or a wants us to do something for her, she will raise her paw and tap you very gently 3 times. It’s oh-so-cute and usually gets her whatever she wants. 

The sun greeted us through the haze the morning of May 4. We arrived at the entrance of Mazatlan’s City Harbor at dawn after 41 hours of motoring. The southwest swell had been relentless and there had been no escape from the continuous roll. I found it easier to sleep in the salon, but Dois kept at it in the full berth until he looked like one of those freighters had run over him. We were tired.  We decided to go into the inner City harbor to drop the hook and call Marina Mazatlan for information on entering the harbor, another 7 miles north.

I dislike the entrance to El Cid and Mazatlan Marinas immensely. It’s narrow, has a dredge taking up 1/3 of the already too narrow breakwater entrance and you need to call and find out if they are dredging before you approach because that closes the entrance to the harbor. There are waves at the entrance, sometimes breakers so you have to be sure you know when high tide is and what the current swell conditions are. We called and were told the dredge was not working but we were behind the tide by about an hour, so we upped anchor immediately and headed north.

The last time we stayed in Maz we had surfed in through the entrance and then watched boats surf in the next day doing 15+ knots, so I was anxious.  When we arrived, we had to wait for 2 charter catamarans coming out so by the time we got to the channel entrance high tide was old news. Did I mention the rip tides?  The entrance is kind of a relaxed Z and there are rip tides at each turn. We took the first wave into the meager entrance and sped up. We don’t know how fast because neither of us could tear our gaze off of the rocks less than 20 feet away on either side of the boat. We could never make this entrance if another boat were negotiating it out.  The second wave pushed us the rest of the way in whether we wanted to go or not and we sailed on through, past the menacing rips and past El Cid Marina at an acceptable 7 knots. Whew.

It didn’t take long to tie up, plug in, turn on the new air conditioning and check in.  I know what you’re thinking; Paleeze, air conditioning? Yes, well, when you are in that “climacteric” time of your life and planning on spending the summer in the tropics, come see me and we’ll talk. Anyway, we turned on the air and slept for a couple of hours before being awakened by Ginger’s “3 pat”. I knew right away what it was because the whole aft cabin was alit and a few moments later the
terrifying crack and roll of thunder. It was a thunder and lightning storm coming right at us and Ginger wanted me to do something about it. As the storm drew closer, the lightening would explode all around the boat, a cannonade explosion practically pealing the paint off the walls. You could smell the ozone in the air. Being in a marina feels safer than being out in the wide open
sea where you are the only target, but it was difficult to express our safety to our frightened little dog. And the hugeness of the thunder cracking all around us was indeed a worry. The only comfort we could offer Ginger was the cuddling and constant rubs and reassurance, but as the storm grew, so did the “3 pat”. Each strike would throw her into a new round of “3 pats”. Soon, it was  “3 pat” “3 pat” “3 pat” “3 pat” “3 pat” “3 pat”, no longer gentle but she was still counting 123, 456, 789, 123, 456…. just insisting that we DO SOMETHING! MAKE IT STOP! And then it did.

One moment the heavens are raining hell down upon us; howling wind to 30 or 35 knots, blasting a lightening barrage, booming, crashing,discharging, pealing, rumbling, roaring thunderbolts and thundercrack. The next moment we are in complete tranquil peace and quiet. The heavens closed up the gates and that was it; 30 minutes of hell, over. I believe Ginger thinks we turned it off… bless her little pea pod brain. Daisy slept through the whole thing. Deafness has its advantages.

The hurricane season officially begins 10 days from now and we still need to go about a 100 south to our chosen hurricane hole in Puerto Vallarta. We’ll spend a few days renewing here in Maz land and then point theboat towards Paradise.

Keep those cards and letters coming!

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