Sail Away - Prairie SeaShell Sea Stories by Lynn & Don Campbell
Mushroom Rock at Puerto Ballandra
Finally we're sailors! We made it to Mazatlan, almost exclusively under sail.
Our first stop was only an hour or so outside of the channel to LaPaz, but it was a good stop over to get an early start in the morning. Puerto Ballandra was a very picturesque little bay with a big tourist attraction ... Mushroom Rock.
Apparently when a tropical storm knocked the mushroom off of it's stem a few years ago, they brought in a barge with a big crane on it and scaffolding etc to reattach the mushroom with a stainless steel rod down thru the stem.
We watched people come an go all day, bring a picnic lunch down to the beach, take a picture in front of Mushroom Rock, a quick swim and then on their way again. We did go in for a dip, but the water is still too cold for my liking!
We left Puerto Ballandra at 5 A.M. and were accompanied by a school dolphins. Our next excitement for the day was the Mexican Navy hailing us. They crossed behind us, fairly close, I guess trying to read the name of our vessel. We have discovered however, that Mexicans have a really hard time pronouncing Prairie SeaShell, so they were hailing us by giving us Lat & Long positions in Spanish.
When I finally realized it was our Lat & Long they were giving I responded, fully expecting them to ask to come aboard to do one of their routine checks. They didn't however, they only wanted to know if we had heard a MayDay today. When we told them we hadn't, they apologized for disturbing us and sent us on our way. That was easy!
Next stop, Bahia de los Muertos, and that should be easy too, because we have already been there on our way to LaPaz. But, before we arrived, another first for us, a school of Manta Rays jumping right out of the water, one was only a few feet off the bow. I didn't even know mantas would jump out of the water, but they do, and they make a big splash, almost as big as the pelicans diving for fish.
We left Muertos around 9 A.M. after having to pull up the anchor by hand. The anchor windlass seems to have gone on strike ... another thing to add to our "To Do" list. However, for all his hard work, Don was rewarded with a sighting of a whale spouting and then surfacing right in the bay. It couldn't have been in more than 30 feet of water.
The crossing over the Sea of Cortez was good, we made lots of water along the way, as we have been told that the water at the docks in Mazatlan is not potable. By 9 A.M. the next morning we were half way there, and we had been able to sail most of the way.
We picked up a hitchhiker, this time an injured booby. He did some fancy acrobatics on our port rail, then made himself comfortable on the forward deck and slept for a few hours.
He slowly made his way down towards the cockpit, poked his head in, as if to say good-bye and thanks for the ride an then flew off, his broken leg dangling behind him.
We arrived at Marina Mazatlan about 8 A.M. the next morning after having enjoyed a beautiful sunrise as we approached the harbour.
The marina office was not open yet, but we were greeted by B.J. & Merry from s/v Willow who filled us in on many of the happenings around there, including a cruisers dinner that was being arranged by the girls in the office, to watch the Carnaval Fireworks.
Liana, the office manager, is originally from Edmonton. She came down here 6 years ago for two weeks ... and she is still here!
Gigante garden center
Over the next few days, we checked out the supply truck, went to the Mercado, the Home Depot and did some grocery shopping at Gigante and of course, I had to have a quick peak in their garden center.
The supply truck comes right to the marina, three times a week, and has a nice assortment of veggies, fruits, tortillas, buns & eggs. His prices are not terribly out of line and it sure is nice not having to carry all the groceries from town.
The main Mercado downtown is quite nice, neat & clean. We had lunch upstairs in one of the little restaurants overlooking the street. It was very good and very reasonable and the bus service back to the marina is really quick, and all of about 40 cents.
Mazatlan main street
One of the many street vendors selling fruit, nuts & treats, a lot of it, we don't even know what it is! We will get adventurous soon and try some of it.
We did buy a jicama from our veggie truck and it is delicious. Looks like a turnip, has the texture of an apple and it's a little sweet. Great with a veggie dip, or with a caramel dip for dessert.
Salvation Army dance show
And now the Carnaval events begin. First was a performance by the Salvation Army Children's Home.
The home is located in a nearby town, El Venadillo and the children came here to the marina to perform. They put on a spectacular show, with about 5 costume changes, a very well done event.
Apparently much of their support comes from these performances as well as from many of the Canadian & American retirees who live here.
Salvation Army dancers
Dancers from Salvation Army children's home
El Venadillo Children's home
Dancing in costume
Next event was the Fireworks and Cruisers Dinner. A fleet of taxi's arrived to take us all to town, to the Capo de Leche restaurant.
The dinner hall was on the 2nd floor, and it was all decorated up with colored table cloths, chairs covered in white cotton with fancy bows and lots of rolls of paper streamers to throw around the room.
We had a very "gringo" roast pork meal. Because there was an overhang on the balcony, we couldn't really see the high fireworks, so we went downstairs out on to the street where there was standing room only, shoulder to shoulder.
Another big part of Carnaval is the Battle of the Bands. At one end of our balcony we had what sounded like a German Band, at the other end was a rock and roll band, in the middle there were two small marching bands competing with each other, as well as loudspeakers announcing who knows what, and to top it all off, we had a dance band in the hall. Needless to say, it was hard to hear yourself think, so we didn't really carry on any great conversations with the other cruisers!
It was also no small feat getting all of us out of the restaurant and back to the taxi's. Fortunately Liana & Carmina from the marina were with us and they knew their way around the back streets to get us out of some of the crowds.
We got back to PSS (Prairie SeaShell) after 1:00 A.M. ... a very late night for us, but we still took a few minutes to admire the sparkling water. The phosphorescence twinkles a turquoise color all around the boats.
The following day, we took a long walk down the beach, something we really haven't done much of since we arrived in Mexico.
Child Princess of Carnaval 2007
The next of the Carnaval Events was the Baile Infantil. This was another dance performance by kids up to about 15 years old from the many different dance schools in the area. Lots of gorgeous costumes, but unfortunately there were so many kids that each dance was only about a minute long.
We sat with a family whose oldest girl had performed for the last 6 years (she showed us a picture of herself in the local newspaper) and now her younger sister was performing. The Queens & Princesses of the Carnaval were there in their very elaborate dresses, wearing 12" tall heels. Not sure how they could walk in them, or for that matter, how they could see where they were going past their 2" long eyelashes.
We got downtown early on Parade Day and were able to get a seat right on the Malecon. The parade consisted of about 30 floats, including a Harry Potter and Narnia (they are just as popular here as at home) lots of loud music and a few dancing horses right at the end.
Now that Carnaval is over, it's going to be back to boat chores. Think the problem has been solved with the anchor windlass, the hot water is hooked up, so it's on to making screens in the bimini windows.
The weather here has been great, and gets better everyday. It's easy to get around and there are lots of services and activities right here at the marina. Think we'll stay a few more weeks before we head back up into the Sea of Cortez where we hope to do some diving.
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