Shifting northward


My first week in Mazatlan had been taken up mostly with exploration. I’d used the anchorage at Club Nautico as a convenient and inexpensive base while old Mazatlan enchanted me with her golden evening light. Daughter Emily was to come to Mexico on December 30th for a visit, though, and I thought more convenient access to restaurants, groceries, and showers ashore would make a better welcome for her, so I moved Mabrouka up to Marina Mazatlan on Christmas Eve. What’s more, Jim and Karen had invited me to enjoy Christmas dinner aboard their lovely Hans Christian, Apropos, so there I was with two reasons to take the two-hour motor to the north side of town.

The trip was my first extended daylight exposure to the near coastal waters we’d sailed across from La Paz and my enlightenment was not altogether reassuring. Our one AM landfall from Ensenada des los Muertos the previous week had been abbreviated by a brief jog upwind while we took down sails, and now I was seeing how disastrous that could have been. I know we were well enough out to sea for the maneuver, but the bright light of day showed me several small, un-lighted rocks awash far enough from the coastal islands to be an unexpected surprise at night. I could well imagine a ragged sailor, worn to the nubbins by a rough crossing and in search of more shelter to douse his sails than we needed, coming to a shocking halt on top of one of these.

I did have reason, though, to worry a little about clearing the marina entrance this day. I’d heard much conversation by local and incoming cruisers on the morning radio net about the dredge that is often working just inside the jetty. Apparently there is a standing problem with the channel silting up. None other than my friends Jared and Amanda on Friday had had a gut twisting experience there. As veterans of several Pacific Northwest bar crossings, they were prepared for some swell at the entrance, but were unnerved when the outflow for the one that rose behind them was enough to draw them to a stop, even though they were gunning their engine to full power to outrun it. At the same time, their depth alarm began to sound, warning them they were at the edge of their comfort zone for water under their keel. They survived, only to be confronted by the dredge with its suction pipes restricting the channel. With no where else to go, they just had to tighten up their little sphincter muscles and slip between steel hull and rocky shore.

Their tale ended well, but provides the only real drama I have to interest readers in my own dull entry to Marina Mazatlan. I’d timed it for high tide, the swells were not running large, and the dredge was not working. I found the approach to be as expected from having read and reread the guidebook. Though I’d heard only silence in response to my earlier radio requests, the marina had finally answered about a half mile out with a slip assignment, so I motored Mabrouka at least semi-confidently between the jetties, past the El Cid Resort Marina and the slumbering dredge parked along one side of the narrow channel toward Marina Mazatlan deeper inside the lagoon. I was greeted at slip 26, dock 3 by white-shirted security guards who took my lines, hola-ed me to their marina, and handed me a magnetic gate card.

There was enough left of the day for me to reward Mabrouka for her fine service crossing the Gulf of California with a full rinse and rub down.

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