When I told the founder of my company, Peter, that we would be making the crossing from La Paz to Mazatlán the following weekend, the silence on the other end of the phone was palpable. Peter cruised Mexico (and then French Polynesia) in the past, and mostly has great things to say about it. But the crossing from La Paz to Mazatlán, he said, was the roughest patch of weather they encountered (later, after we’d made the passage, he admitted that they had caught a rogue wave and been knocked down).
In the days leading up to our passage, we were a bit concerned. The wind did look a little heavy, and the last time we planned to leave La Paz the Port Captain closed the port due to high winds and delayed our departure several days. Keith and Ed were flying into town to crew for us, and I had to fly out of Mazatlán for a work trip, so a delay was not something we wanted to deal with. That being said, a cruiser’s worst enemy is a strict plan, and we were prepared to bail on our departure date if anything about the conditions seemed dangerous.
We left La Paz early in the morning on Friday, January 12. The wind was light and we felt very comfortable with the conditions for our day sail to Bahía de los Muertos. Ed had arrived late the night before (after a long airport fiasco and lost luggage) and Keith had flown in on Thursday. Ed’s seasickness set in early. He assumed it was black coffee on an empty stomach. A couple of hours in, his seasickness still hadn’t subsided, which was suspicious. A few hours after that, it was clear that whatever Ed had was not seasickness.
It took us 8.5 uneventful hours to reach Bahía de los Muertos (map). We dropped anchor in a nearly empty anchorage (a big change from the first time Philippe and I anchored there with a dozen or more boats). Keith, Philippe, Yuki, and I went to shore for dinner at the great restaurant right on the northern shoreline. Ed maintained his fetal position on the settee. The next morning, Ed was feeling a bit better and our whole group went in search of the famed “resort”. After wandering around the beach for a bit, someone pointed us in the right direction. In addition to great margaritas and food, the restaurant has an infinity pool, waterslide, shuffle board, and pool table. The second floor is full of old trains and train track. It’s incredible, albeit in need of a little attention. We were lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Jules, who has been hired to repair and maintain the train collection. Apparently, the restaurant owner is a successful San Diego businessman who built the building solely to house his trains. There was supposed to be a giant mountain in the middle and track running along the outside. When he got quotes for the work, however, he decided that his train building wasn’t worth the investment, so he used the upstairs for trains and built the restaurant downstairs. Sadly, the marina environment is tough on everything, trains included. Over time, things have gotten a bit rusty up there. Jules has gotten some trains working again, though, and turned on some tracks so that we could watch the trains chug along the ceiling above us.
We headed back to the boat in the evening and left for Mazatlán around 5pm (map). We were aiming to reach Marina El Cid around the 7am high tide on Monday. We doubled up for four hour watches again. Our first night was great. There was no moon, so the stars were incredible. We had a number of tiny squid on deck, and were delighted by what I think must have been thousands of dolphins swimming near our boat. They weren’t as playful as some of the schools we have seen. They spent more time in the water than jumping out of it, but the sun was high in the sky and you could see them all gliding and darting under the waves. I don’t think it matters how many times I see them, they will always feel magical.
Shortly after waking up on Sunday, I knew something wasn’t right. I crossed my fingers it was some mild seasickness, but as the hours progressed I knew I was fading. By the time my watch ended at noon, I was sure I’d caught Ed’s stomach bug. I tried to rouse myself at 4pm for my next watch cycle, but everyone knew it was a lost cause. Keith and Philippe were champs and sailed through the night with some bouts of relief provided by Ed. I slept (feverish and fitfully, with several strange dreams) for 19 straight hours.
Calm conditions forced us to run the motor from late Sunday night into early Monday morning, but for the most part we had great sailing weather. We arrived in Mazatlán a little ahead of schedule, got some fuel at the fuel dock, and checked into Marina El Cid. Our initial assigned slip assignment only put us a few inches above ground at high tide, so we had to reassess and ask for a new slip where our keel would be safely above ground at low tide.
We spent Monday relaxing by the pool, playing with Yuki (who is always thrilled to be back on land) and exploring the resort. I flew out for a 10-day work trip on Tuesday, January 16, so Philippe, Ed, and Keith got to enjoy a few days of guy time on (and off) the boat.