We’ll take that as a victory
Sailing to Mazatlan under clear moonlit skies with the wind behind us and the crew only lightly seasick is regarded as a good couple of days at the Jamala office.
We sailed almost from San Francisco to Mazatlan. Only as the wind dropped approaching the Mexican mainland did we need to fire up the donkey so we could arrive in time for high water. Having heard salty tales of boats being grounded and pounded or, in nasty conditions, rolled in the entrance to the marina, our goal was to get to that entrance half an hour before high tide. That was easy. The tricky thing was contacting the marina office.
When I made the reservation, the staff member told me to radio on channel 16 to get entrance and berthing instructions. We would have had more luck conducting a séance. Eventually, I gave up on the radio and phoned them. After questions on length, draft and beam followed by a pause for what sounded like muttering in the background, we were assigned a berth on the end of A dock.
Exercise your glutes
The entrance does seem to deserve its reputation. Sands are constantly shifting here, so much so that there’s a dredger permanently stationed nearby. It’s unnerving to steer between a mess of rocks and temporary markers on one side and an array of pipelines on the other.
As our buttocks relaxed, entering the marina area, we saw Seabiscuit, who we last saw in San Diego, parked up nearby. That was a pleasant surprise. And so was the sight of two dock hands coming along to help us tie up to the dock.
Our berth assignment was a good one. Good for us because it made for easy parking. And there is plenty of depth there, which isn’t the case everywhere. Later in our stay, we found one boat near us at a jaunty angle and another berth with just one foot of water at low water.
As we finished tying up the boat, Dave and Belinda off Seabiscuit walked over to say hello and invited us for drinks and Ceviche later with the crew from another Baja Haha boat.
We need to step up the fishing game: that mahi-mahi ceviche was lovely. And so was the company that evening.
Also, that afternoon, another couple of Amel owners, Peter and Rosa, came by to say hello. We exchanged contact details to meet when the Jamala crew felt less dopey.
Christmas at El Cid
Marina El Cid is also home to a hotel and several timeshare apartments. And, being parked in the marina, we could use all the hotel facilities – such as the pool and hotel wifi.
On the way to the office, we came across this haul of fish. It’s certainly a good place for fishing here. Every day there was something on display.
Preparing for Christmas, we cleaned and polished the boat, and Maria decorated Jamala with Christmas lights donated to us by Dave and Belinda. Then, she made mince pies every bit as good or better than any “finest” range from a supermarket.
Dave and Belinda came over on Christmas Eve for a gin and tonic treat. And we spent Christmas Day lounging around at one of the pools with the iguanas before dinner of roast lamb. It’s incredible what Maria can do in that pressure cooker.
Names names names
Here’s a confession: I have to try very hard to remember names. Over the years, I have adopted several ways to help join names to faces. Repetition is one of the techniques. But this screwed me up. First, in my defence, we didn’t spend much time with the other cruisers on our dock. They all knew each other and spent most evenings in each other’s company, so we didn’t have the chance to get to know them. Secondly, an inflatable Minion that I thought was Kevin, took pride-of-place on a boat on which Stuart, the person, was onboard.
So, inevitably, as I walked down the dock to put our waste in the bin, Stuart said Merry Christmas, Allen. And I said, Merry Christmas, Kevin. So if you ever read this, Stuart, that is my defence laid out. Sorry about that.
Boxing day in Mazatlan
Pulmonias are unique to Mazatlan and look like the odd love child of a golf buggy and a car. I suspect their name comes from the chance of getting a lung infection when travelling in them at night. It gets cold here when the sun goes down.
Dave and Belinda picked us up in one of these on the way to Mazatlan centre. The driver dropped us off near the cathedral to start our city tour.
The highlight of the day’s sightseeing was the cliff divers. The clavaderos are either as brave as Rambo or as mad as Rampton. There isn’t much room for error when flinging yourself off the cliff. The guy in the picture below is the head of sales and marketing. He stands at the top of the launch area to attract attention, looking like he is about to hurl himself onto the rocks.
After the crowd’s assistants collect enough money, the real clavadista takes over. In this case, a young guy with a tattooed face, who said he had only been doing it for ten days.
I don’t know how it’s possible to practice this. I doubt there’s a safety net for the beginners. And I’m sure my half-arsed attempt would lead to a beach clean up. But, this young fella executed his dive perfectly and came away intact, around $20 richer.
Sights of Mazatlan
Of course, there are many more things to see and do in Mazatlan. But these are some of the sights we spotted along the way from the cliff divers to the market:
Want a video game fix? Maria spotted these machines outside:
Unfortunately, the market was closed. So, we decided the next best thing would be beer. Google maps suggested a cerveceria up the road from the market. It was correct, there is a beer shop at the brewery, but it’s more like a local shop than a bar. And after one more failed attempt to find a pub, we headed to a restaurant instead.
Our choice proved to be a lucky one. The place was unassuming on the outside but had a lovely courtyard on the inside. And they sold beer.
The food was good, although the choice of dessert could have been better, and the company was fabulous.
As night descended, we stepped out of the restaurant into a transformed plaza. The place was buzzing with people and stalls selling jewellery, clothing and souvenirs. Mazatlan is a good place from where to buy crafts. The choice is good, and even Maria judged the prices as too reasonable to haggle.
Afterwards, we got another pulmonia back to the marina. Unfortunately, this time it did feel like we would catch pneumonia.
More boaty stuff
The day after Boxing Day was back to work. And for us, that meant working on the upholstery for one of our saloon seats. We had already cut the pattern, so this was just a not-so-simple matter of joining all the pieces together and topstitching the material. Like many boat-related things, it’s often the dread of doing things than the actual doing.
It turned out better than I dreaded.
On 28th December, Peter, who we met with his wife Rosa on 22nd December, picked us up in his dinghy to take us to the marina where their boat La Querida is moored. Maria was beyond pleased with that. The last time we walked those streets, we came across this bunch of thugs:
La Querida, we think, is an excellent name for a boat. I don’t think there is a perfect translation to English, but a close one is Mistress, which gets most of the attention.
We had lunch together at a nearby restaurant where we had too much fun and drank far too much wine. Then we went back to La Querida for another. Sadly, Peter and Rosa are giving up sailing. But, fortunately for someone, their boat is for sale. She seems in excellent condition.
End of the year
On the 29th, we took the water taxi to the beach club across the water, also part of the hotel complex. A beach wedding had just taken place there, and we thought a) how lovely, then b) hope the music doesn’t carry on until 2 am like the last one (it didn’t).
Then, after more upholstery, some boring stuff, we walked to the other marina to meet Belinda and Dave at a sushi restaurant for a pre-new year dinner.
Our low-key new year celebration involved sparkling wine, chocolate cake that Maria made in the bread maker – and fireworks. We were so pleased with ourselves, staying awake until after midnight to watch the marina’s firework display, that we stayed up until 1 am. That’s quite an achievement when sailor’s midnight is at 9 pm.
Now the diet starts.