Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gentlemen don’t sail to weather


The marina we stayed for a few days in Nuevo Vallarta (Paradise Village) is on a narrow estuary. The sign up above is on the canal going up into the mangroves.


I’m OK with the No Swimming regulation.




Chris had to take off for a month in Africa for work. She’s in Malawi and Tanzania this time. Our friend Bill came down from San Fran to help me cross the Sea of Cortez back to La Paz – and to get in some offshore sailing.

matzatlantripIMG_6577 Bill shows up


And Chris takes off for the airport and a two day flight to Africa.


Bill and I left Nuevo Vallarta in the afternoon for a short sail to the anchorage at Punta Mita. Got in a little whale watching on the way. Then it was off to San Blas in the morning. We arrived at San Blas at a minus tide. I called the marina there to see if we could get a slip for the night. The plan was to fuel up the boat, grab dinner in town and then head out early in the morning for Mazatlan. If we could get the boat to Mazatlan then we’d have a decent angle to the wind to cross the Sea – hopefully with a good sail. The marina took probably 15 minutes to get back to us on the radio to let us know that they did have a slip available. This is really a small marina with only one row of docks, so I’m not sure what all the calculating was.  So I told them that we would take the slip for tonight. They responded that I should take it in the morning because the entrance was too rough given the swell and minus tide – duh. Why didn’t they just start with that? We headed the 3 miles over to Matachen Bay (above), anchored and got a pretty sunset with minimal bugs.

Next morning we did a quick run into San Blas for fuel and started toward Mazatlan. This was an overnight motor/sail. We arrived in the morning around 10am. The view was – actually there was no view. It was a 1/4 mile or less visibility in thick fog. It looked like we were approaching San Francisco. We headed into the Marina Mazatlan (expensive). Grabbed showers and then took the bus into old town. Call me jaded but Mazatlan is a dump. The only entertaining thing we did was head to the old market. I wanted to get some shrimp tacos. Mazatlan is supposed to be the headquarters for the Mexican Pacific shrimp fishing fleet.

matzatlantrip-1  We wandered the market looking for a shrimp taco stand. Lots of skinned cow heads, tripe and various stuff I stay away from – no shrimp tacos. We broke down and asked for directions. Bill’s Spanish is really good, so the directions were easy to follow. It doesn’t matter who you ask in Mexico for directions. They will always happily give them to you – even if they have no clue what you asked for or no idea where the place may be. We followed the directions down a few aisles in the market. “Oh no, no shrimp tacos here”. “Go down two aisles and around the corner where the fish are”. OK, we follow these directions and end up where we first asked. Another round of direction asking and we are taken to a small food stand that really does know where the taco restaurant is. She sends around just one more aisle and we are home at a busy little sit-down on a stool type restaurant. We ask for shrimp or seafood tacos. “Sorry, no tacos only tostadas”. Bill objects to the waitress, “But, but, tostadas are made out of the same ingredients as tacos.” She then walks him over to the sign on the wall: Tacos Only on Sunday. Now it was obvious why we couldn’t have tacos – it wasn’t Sunday. I ordered what I thought was a Shrimp Tostada. Turned out to be a Shrimp salad tostada. As most of my traveling fans know, I’m a wimp when it comes to eating weird stuff in weird places --- I like  simple things that don’t stare at me, like pasta. All I could think about while eating this tostada was I have to go offshore for two days in the morning – I better not be sick. Afterwards, Bill & I both agree that the tostadas won’t get gourmet recommendations from us.

matzatlantripIMG_6595      Next day we waited for the wind to pick up and headed off around noon. Here’s Mazatlan in the background. I went over all the safety issues with Bill. Then explained to him that the crew does the 8-hour night watches and that the captain shares the day watches with the crew. He seemed happy with that.

matzatlantripIMG_6614 We had what could only be described as a fantastic sail across the Sea. We set the sails off Mazatlan for a starboard tack, close hauled. They stayed that way for the next 30 hours - all the way across. The seas were small, the wind was 7-15kts, the boat sailed beautifully. Normally you do just about everything you can to avoid sailing to weather, this time it was just sweet.

matzatlantripIMG_6648 Bill driving.


Bill stumped as to how much of the packet of hot sauce he found in his peanut bag to put on. Tough decisions to make while on your watch.


Bill driving – again. The boy likes sailing.


We sailed all the way across to about 17-miles off Punta Arenas. Here a little bird of some sort fluttered onto the boat. He/she spent the night on deck under a sail bag. Unfortunately we had to do a solemn funeral in the morning for the little guy.

We spent the night at the anchorage in Muertos and bashed up into headwinds all the way to La Paz the next day.


That brings me to the reason we headed to La Paz in the first place. Bill brought down the replacement injector sleeves the old green engine so desperately wanted. Here’s the head pulled ready to go to the shop to be made beautiful.


The body awaiting the return of her wayward head.



  1. Hey Paul,

    Tell Bill that those little hot sauce packets in the peanuts are scientifically designed to deliver exactly the right hot sauce:peanut ratio. So always use the entire packet. Anything less simply won't do.


  2. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore.
    Dream. Discover.

    Mark Twain

  3. Mark T expressed it about as clearly as can be done. As I used to continually say as a youngster, 'You only go around once in life, burn yourself out before you're thirty' (Meghan and Derrek, only kidding on the 30 thing)


  4. Hey there Uncle Pablo and Auntie Chris: to help you identify the bird in your photo, I'll clue you in to Carrie's term that she uses quite frequently: LBJ aka "little brown job"... She's a wildlife biologist so I believe her!!!