Mazatlan

Posted by John

The crazy thing about staying for a few weeks at a resort hotel in Mazatlan is that every day all around us people are on vacation, but for us it’s just another normal day.

We have things to do while everyone else sits by the pool, goes fishing or for a boat ride. There are even staff-led activities for those who just can’t stop watching the clock (I wonder if anyone actually shows up for aerobics at midnight—oh, we know what they mean). Everyone else gets their rooms cleaned and beds made, but not us. We brought our house with us and tied it to the dock. On the other hand, most people are here for a week and then go back home. We’re still here.

Early each week a new crop of kids (or adults) discover the lizards on the rocks.

We came to Mazatlan for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that it felt like we were moving forward from Baja California. From Puerto Escondido, we considered going back to La Paz for a while. There was plenty of good internet access available there. The phone always worked. There were banks and stores; everything we needed. We already knew where most of it was, and most of it was either within walking distance or a cheap taxi ride away.

As much fun as we were having just dinking around with Joe and Cathy in the dry, dusty remote places with the cactus, weird rock formations and sudden, swirling winds, we had a few things to take care of if we were going to actually take the next step in our planned journey.

From Mexico to French Polynesia is not a trip down the coast. It is a month at sea crossing the Pacific. Once started, there are no harbors to pull into out of the weather; no evenings at anchor to relax and regroup while the boat is not in motion. There would be no internet and no cell phone during the crossing, and availability of either at the other end can, we’ve heard, be iffy. We had things we needed to do before we could just take off, such as fix what was broken, both on the boat and at home, as well as find insurance.

The problem was, going back to La Paz felt like, well—it felt like going backwards. We’d already been there and done that. The next logical step, therefore, was to move onward to the Mexican mainland.

Mysticeti (yellow kayaks), with hotel curving around behind marina.

Mazatlan is a much bigger city than La Paz. Whatever we had found in La Paz, such as the Bagel Shop, English language bookstore, marine parts stores and pizza delivery must certainly have counterparts in Mazatlan. The problem we found when we got here, however, is that the city is more spread out, and the places we were looking for were not easy to find. It takes time to learn your way around a new place.

We’ve learned that you can buy produce from the produce truck, fish from the fish truck and donuts from the donut man.

One thing Mazatlan does have, which factored into our decision to come here, is an airport with direct flights to the USA. We had already decided that someone had to make a quick trip home to get our remaining ducks in a row there before we headed out over the horizon. We also made a decision to send the wind generator mounting adapter we ordered, as well as the replacement boost pump for the water maker, to our Seattle mailing address instead of taking the risk and expense of trying to ship them to us here. And once that decision was made, the door opened for all the other things we wanted to get from there as well. Julie went home to get stuff done and bring stuff back while Robyn and I stayed with the boat.

To avoid potential import duty on the things she was bringing back, the El Cid Marina office was nice enough to type up a letter with copies of all the paperwork to show that the boat parts were for a “yacht in transit” and already covered by our boat’s Temporary Import Permit. Going through customs at the Mazatlan airport with two fifty-pound bags of miscellaneous boat parts attracted a few extra customs agents to come have a look, but the letter did what it was intended to.

By the time Julie came out of the customs area of the airport terminal, most everybody else waiting for arrivals from her flight had already met their passengers and left. But then, finally, the doors opened and there she was, accompanied by a worker with a hand truck loaded with her bags. If I’d known there would be hand trucks, I would’ve thought of more things to ask her to bring back.

Once we got everything back on the boat it was just like Christmas; so many new things.

So, left alone for a week in a foreign country waiting for arrival of the parts we needed for our projects, what could Robyn and I do? Well, it was Carnival time, and there were parades. Who doesn’t like a Carnival parade?

We didn’t know what most of the floats were about. But we certainly thought about Julie at home driving around in the rain and snow, especially when we grabbed an open-air Mazatlan Pulmonia to zip us back through the crowded streets after the final Carnival parade.

We are currently working on a few different projects. We can keep track of the time of day by the aerobics music or bingo calls or volleyball shouts coming from the pool area. After three weeks we’ve finally learned that boaters in the marina get issued a different color of pool towel than do the regular guests (who knew?). With the new boost pump in the water maker, we are contemplating a couple of changes to the plumbing (should’ve brought more valves back from Seattle). The wind generator is all ready to be hoisted back up the mast, and we’ve gone out and ordered new solar panels to replace the well-aged ones we have. The wind generator and new solar panels mean some changes to the electrical system. We’ve already converted our water heater to run on 12 volts DC instead of 120 volt AC shore power, primarily to act as the “dump load” for excess power, but I really don’t see how we’re going to have any excess power to worry about. I’ve recently learned that there is supposedly still several bottles of Red Hook ESB ale stashed away in a compartment somewhere onboard, although the Mexican Indio beer is a new favorite. And, we signed up for the “Pacific Puddle Jump,” run by the same organization that did the Baja Ha-Ha. The Pacific Puddle Jump is less of a “follow the leader” down Baja thing, and more of an assistance with the paperwork getting into French Polynesia and bond-posting thing. There is no strict schedule, and boats leave from many locations at different times.

So, with all that, from here we plan to move farther down the coast, to La Cruz, or Puerto Vallarta. We heard there is a Costco there, which is always handy for stocking up for a month at sea. Then we plan to head west, sometime in April, as soon as we are ready.

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