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Arrival in Mazatlan - Mon 20th Feb 2017

Monday 20 February 2017

Had an absolutely wonderful sail over from San Jose de Cabo! With full genoa and two reefs in the main, we made 6-7 knots of speed in a good N wind despite the 2m swell on the beam that was constantly rolling us about. Not long before dawn, the wind had finally veered from the unexpected Southerly that had appeared on Sunday morning in San Jose whose harbour entrance had finally been left behind in the early afternoon bright sunshine.

My main worry was the timing of our entry over the entrance bar at Mazatlan, Having been there before, I knew how nasty it could be in the wrong conditions but I was relieved to find that there would be a prolonged stand of high water around the time of our expected arrival. That meant we were more likely to be able to enter safely, given the swell which was not likely to die down in the good wind we were enjoying, although the water was shallow for quite some way off the harbour entrance, which would help.

With our excellent speed over the day, I reckoned we'd just get there around sunset but it would be touch and go. Daylight would be helpful to see the narrow shallow winding entry channel clearly, as well as for negotiating the bar just before. My back-up plan was to anchor a short distance off in a popular anchorage between the shore and an island close by.

Of course, we were making such excellent speed under sail as we closed the coast that I had to plan ahead carefully - the sun had already just set so daylight was beginning to fade. I hoped to remember where a possible berth was that I'd been told was free - was it a port or starboard tie? I seemed to remember port. but wasn't completely sure.

Put out fenders and lines to port in the rough seas and hope for the best - worse case scenario would be to back off and change them all over. (Otherwise, put out fenders and lines on both sides - time-consuming - so that was a no-no!) I seemed to remember there was a problem with a lot of shallows around the marina area, so preferred to ready the boat for docking in advance of my arrival.

Ease the genoa sheets and furl in the full genoa - flapping madly - heart in mouth - would it furl in OK in view of previous problems? Easy, easy. No problema! It came in smoothly - big relief!!

Head upwind, with mainsail halyard prepared so it was free to run through the clutch. Drop it. Run forward to finish the job and secure the halyard and headboard.

Twilight. Head to the winking red and green lights at the harbour entrance - at speed, heart in mouth again - heart rate definitely well up! (Remember it's 'red right returning' here) I reckoned it was better to head to and over the bar fast, to maintain steerage in the beam-on seas, than to go slowly - I could always quickly ease off the engine revs the moment we were safely over.

We were swung about a lot as we got close. Light was almost gone.. Stay in the middle, keeping a constant eye on water depth, and don't get taken too far off to starboard where it shallows fast (I spotted a small winking white light warning of the edge of those shallows - I'd forgotten that was there). Stay in the middle.. We were over!

Follow the winding channel. eye on depth all the time. dark now. Head up and around to La Isla Mazatlan marina - watch out for several unlit tall piles looming up out of the darkness to starboard. I'm trying to remember where I'm supposed to be headed. Going very slowly now, to be safe.. On approaching the docks, I began to call out for help - to find the right berth and to get in safely in the darkness. There were lights inside some of the boats so, hopefully, people were on board. Suddenly, I saw people moving - and calling back to me - great! Approached the dock - port tie! - people there to help with lines. Thank you! My friends Gillian and Al, from my visit here two years earlier, had told people to expect me - so they were listening out - thanks again! Roberto, of 'Destiny' informed me we'd met at Svenson's in Alameda . ten years ago! Marie and Guy, of 'Notre Reve' invited me over for a celebratory drink when I was ready. I happily accepted and later spent a few hours relaxing with them before crashing out in my bunk to make up for lost sleep.

Plans while here are to climb the mast today (Tuesday) to investigate the problem at the mast head and also see what is catching on the genoa top furler to make it misbehave as it has been recently. and deal with a few other problems, if possible - plans put on hold while I relax over a very late, leisurely breakfast, before checking in with Marissa in the marina office.

This morning, the sun is shining brightly, a small flock of the many waders in this area are flying overhead, it's getting very warm - welcome to Mazatlan!

Written by : Jeanne Socrates