View of old Mazatlan from El Faro.

View of old Mazatlan from El Faro

Mazatlan doesn’t have any good close anchorages except in the old harbour which has the sewage treatment plant  in front of it, with predicable results.  Most of the boats head for the Marina’s just north of town where a dredged harbour is home to numerous facilities.  We stayed at the El Cid Hotel marina which gave us among other things swimming pools to play and lounge in.  For 5 days we were in with the docker cruising set, who could always be caught drinking cocktails by the pool.  Actually even though we did a little of that our boat needed a clean, re-provision and we had a mission to check out Mazatlan’s old town.  Needless to say we were busy!!!  Provisioning was easy because large stores were a quick bus ride away and here we found our favourite Mexican beer, Pacifico for 167 peso’s a flat (24 beers), this coverts to about 75 cents a beer Canadian, so we filled Josh’s closet!!

We hit the old market which was a hub of activity and then wandered around this very beautiful old city.  Lots of the old building was now being restored as homes and small businesses.  The other amazing thing about Mazatlan is the size of their malecon was many miles long.  It ran from the Golden Zone all the way to the lighthouse at the harbour entrance call El Faro.  We were tourists for a few days hiking around town to get a feel of this older tourist destination, ate some of the best gourmet tacos we have ever had, climbed El Faro and ….   With our window for crossing the Sea narrowing we headed out thinking that a little more time in that city would have been great, but the call of the Baja peninsula lured us away.

North to Mazatlan


Time had come for us to head up into the Sea of Cortes, we were looking forward to venturing to new cruising ground. The trip north we divided into three steps; the first two were shorter, day trips, the last would take us over night.  The prevailing wind is from the NW but a southerly would mean a sail, which is what we hoped for, but alas is was maybe a 30% sail.  We left Punta Mita with Josh looking longingly at  his favourite surf zone leaving all the great times we had in Banderas Bay behind. Chacala was the first stop which is a lovely coastal town with an open roadstead anchorage, that meant stern anchors were absolutely necessary!  We loved the town and surrounding country side, hiked up to the top of a nearby volcano who’s caldera was intact and the surrounding slopes were all cultivated in Guaba plants, had beer on the beach and took in beautiful sunsets.

On our way to Isla Isabella

Bella Via our way to Isla Isabella

Jack and Monica on Bellavia were our traveling companions to Chacala and our next stop Isla Isabella.

Anchorage at Isla Isabella

Anchorage at Isla Isabella

Isla Isabella is part of the Mexican Park reserve system and is a breeding ground for Bobbies and Frigate birds as well as others I’m sure.  The island  was not exactly a “protected anchorage” but well worth the stop and the conditions were very kind to us.  I have never been so close to wild birds before in my life and all those baby birds were a joy to see.  Isla Isabella is also a volcano and the short hike to the caldera was amazing.  It was time for our good friends to part ways, they heading to San Carlos via the islands north of La Paz to store their boat until the following year; we headed north to Mazatlan.

Back in Banderas Bay

Hiking up the main road out of town!

Hiking up the main road out of town!

A convenient southerly wind carried us on a 16 hour, overnight passage from Tenacatita, around Cabo Corrientes and into Banderas Bay where we would rendezvous with sister Wendy and her husband Wayne.  We dropped anchor around 9 am in Yelapa (on the far southwest side of Banderas Bay). Yelapa is fairly open to swell so it quite a rolly polly anchorage. Though we were tired from being up all night, it was evident that we were not likely to be sleeping much, so we decided we might as well go on a big hike up to the waterfall. We waited for Mark and Dee on Speakeasy, fellow Canadian cruising friends, to pull into the anchorage so we could share the waterfall experience with them. Yelapa is wonderful! There is no road access so local transportation on land is primarily by mule and horse along cobble and dirt trails that are lined with beautiful flowers and foilage. To get to the waterfall you walk partway through town, then cross the river and hike along the river through jungle for about an hour until you get to a spectacular swimming hole and waterfall. We enjoyed the experience so much that we quickly put it on our list as a ‘must do’ with Wendy and Wayne (which we did about a week later).


While in Banderas Bay we stayed in Marina Vallarta for 3 nights in order to make for easy accessible visiting with Wendy and Wayne who were staying in an all-inclusive in the hotel zone.  We enjoyed the location even though marinas in general are not our favourite. Ted is always great at making the most of marina experiences: boat cleaning, boat projects, boat refit shopping….It was a great place to be to enjoy lots of fun experiences with Wendy and Wayne as well as Dave and Consuelo (Waynes cousin and his lovely Mexican wife) who shared with us some wonderful Mexican experiences we never otherwise would have had: a home-cooked Pollo Mole, snuggling with Mexican rescue dogs on the couch,  local oysters, enjoying the beach mexican style (just bring lotsa cervezas in a 5 gallon bucket of ice and hang out in the shade, swim in the surf, sit on the beach, repeat!), local market shopping, and in general wonderful friendly laid back energy!

Other Banderas Bay highlights included: La Cruz Sunday market, prawns from the fish market, Taco’s on the Street, joining in the Banderas Bay Regatta on Iolani, surfing and beach walks at Punta Mita, potlucks and visits with fellow cruisers we rejoined since Tenacatita….and eventually goodbyes to Wendy and Wayne and dear cruising friends as we all dispersed into our  varied directions  and journeys.

Banderas Bay Regatta


Hughs 48

The winning crew!!

Barry and Syliva have raced Iolani constantly in the San Francisco Bay and were loving the chance to take a break from cruising to race in the Banderas Bay Regatta.  This is supposed to be a “cruisers” regatta but we all know what that really means  “no holds barred” racing.  We joined the crew as deck slaves and what a great time we had and yes Iolani won her class!!!   I was part of the forced crew and josh was part of the genoa trim team – this means lots of grinding on winches.  I must say the crew did have a lot of experience, and we were all motivated by Barry’s polite (not) reminders whenever anything went wrong!  Like all famous captains our reward was beer and food!  Actually the real reward was the racing which was so much fun for me a Josh!

Mind of its own???

Maybe it was aliens setting it off as it sat mounted by the companionway.

Maybe it was aliens setting it off as it sat mounted by the companionway.

We had a mic failure on the way to San Francisco which was sending out Distress signals causing the US Coast Guard to contact us wondering what was going on. This was solved by unplugging the mic and replacing it.  In Banderas Bay how ever our EPIRB decided that we were in imminent danger and was turning on, then off, then on ….   This engaged the full Canadian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre which manages rescues of Canadian Vessels world wide.  Lucky our Winlink  map on our website had us pegged at anchor in Punta Mita which would be an odd place to set off an EPIRB – we could swim ashore if we had too – so the the Mexican Navy was put on stand-by while they contacted us and we figured out what was going on.  Josh sitting in companionway saw the errant EPIRB go off, flashing lights again, so with screw driver in had we took the unit apart to unplug it.  The whole event was a little stressful but it is good to know that if we were really in danger, the rescue network really works!  Mark and Dee from the catamaran, Speakeasy, were traveling back to Victoria  so they offered to return the faulty unit.  Kannad the manufacturer decided to replace the unit in time for the Speakeasy crew to bring us the new unit, so all will end well!

Blue Bay

Boats at anchor in Blue Bay

Boats at anchor in Blue Bay

This beautiful anchorage in Tenacatia Bay is known to capture cruisers and hold them for weeks and we were no exception.  We departed and returned numerous times, truly enjoying every stay.  The cruising community had elected a Mayor – Robert and Virginia on Harmony who have returned every winter for many years.  They provide, with the help of Chris and Heather on Legacy, daily activities such as beach bochi, Mexican train in the palapa, swim to the beach at 1:30 and of course there is always beer in the palapa no matter what one does with the day.  The weekly Friday mayors raft-up with potluck appies and theme sharing is always fun and a great way to meet the cruisers anchored in the Bay.  We would fish, surf, paddle board, beach walk, took a dingy trip into the mangrove swamp, swim, beers on the beach, play bochi ball, happy hour with cruisers and talk about everything under the sun!  Then  it would happen all again.  We made such good friends, here and are sure to keep in contact with many, some living on our own Vancouver Island – just another example of how small the world is!


La Manzanilla

Passport 47

Adesso at anchor in front of La Manzanilla

Hiking up the creek bed.

Hiking up the creek bed.

This little beach town across from Blue Bay in Tenacatitia   was one of or favourite stops.  Oddly so did quite a few Canadians escaping the cold in our home province of BC.  We met so  many friends from Cortes Island here as well, just a little mind blowing, walking the beach and seeing so many familiar faces.  Aside from Sue wondering if we should retire here the big draw was the hike up to a waterfall.  We took a few fellow cruisers up to splash in the fresh coooool water, on a hot day, it just doesn’t get better.  Hikes in the jungle are full of new plant, animal and insect life that is just amazing to see. What a planet we live on and reminder for us to take care of it lest we lose all this beauty.




We have not had that may injuries this trip.  The usual scrapes that often take a long time to heal if they are on the feet, as they often are.  Sue even had to take antibiotics for a toe issue that got quite infected.  Josh on the other had did get stung by a ray not once but twice.  These stings are very painful as the tail of the ray has a barbed hook that jabs you if you happen to step on them.  The word at the beach is “shuffle your feet”!  The remedy for a ray sting is get hot water – VERY hot water , on the wound right away and keep it there for as long as you can stand.  The picture shows Josh getting the hot water treatment but by now the beers that you get in sympathy have numbed the pain.

Josh with his foot in a buck of hot water.

Josh with his foot in a buck of hot water.

La Manzanilla Storm

We have had the odd bit of crazy weather in Mexico but the storm in La Manzanilla tops them all.   Water has been warmer than usual and the ITC zone has been spinning disturbances off for the last month.  The latest, moved through our area while we were visiting La Manzanilla and it was quite a light show.  I was hoping that the steel boat anchored close to us would draw any lightening strike first!   The local cell tower was close as well so I suppose that would get hit first.  It took a couple of hours for the front to move through and though the rainfall was less than when we were in Melaque the electricity was astounding.  I have never seen the like of this in my life.