Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mazatlan to La Paz via Muertos

WORKNOT on the Move Starting in Mazatlan MX 

Mazatlan Marina was welcoming as usual; the entrance to the harbor seemed a bit easier as this was our 3 trip into this harbor.  On the first trip it seemed very narrow and threatening.   Still with some current and wind it could be a real challenge.

The Malecon in Mazatlan is one of the longest in the world at 13 miles with great sunsets and dozens of hotels and restaurants. 
Along the way there are several statues, a bronzed beer making kettle from Pacifico and palapas for dining.  The ever present Pulmonia make getting around Mazatlan easy and fairly inexpensive compared to the cabs of  Puerto Vallarta.   Still the bus systems are the best, 10 pesos to go downtown or 100 pesos in the pulmonia.


This busy commercial port is home to over 350,000 people.  Popular as a vacation spot for Canada, USA and Mexico there is lots of noise, action and local restaurants and bars. 

The large Catholic Church downtown is a remarkable piece of architecture.
Part of Mazatlan's restoration program. The Cathedral Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción is the world’s only Roman Catholic Church with the Star of David displayed in each of its 28 stained-glass windows.

Construction began in the year 1875 and was completed in 1899. Restoration began several years ago and work continues.

Interior shots were not allowed during mass but more information can be found at

The commercial port has a large fishing fleet presence along with cargo ships and ferries.  
The yacht harbors are north of here but some anchorage is available for those willing to chance the constant traffic, noise and dirt. 

 The Mexican Navy also has a large group of ships located there.

We left Mazatlan for our crossing to the Baja Peninsula (Muertos) on 4/10/14 with an expected run of  186 miles or 26 hours.  Weather was forecast to be very calm and light winds, full moon and mild southerly swell.  We were not disappointed and crossed without getting any spray on the windshield.  Something only big boats normally get to boast about. 

Departing at 8AM from Mazatlan Marina (23.16 X 106.31.27) we arrived at Muertos at 9:17AM.  Burning 111 gallons of fuel over a 26 hour run averaging about 7.5 kts @ 1400 RPM.  
Engine room temps slowing climbed to a peak of 107F.  Vast improvement with the installation of the additional fan.
Fishing was slow but about 1/3rd  way across we saw a huge school of dolphins approach the boat.  We turned to follow them slightly north as they were jumping and going wild.

 Notice how calm, 2:24 in the afternoon about 75 miles offshore.

 Our reward was a yellow fin tuna.  Very tasty.

Muertos was calm and pleasant.  This is our third trip to the anchorage and this time we took time to go ashore and visit a very nice restaurant on the edge of the bay.  The entire area is large homesite development that suffered like so many more with the general economic decline a few years back.  A few houses have been built but mostly it someone’s dream to develop this location about 40 miles for La Paz.   The developer renamed it from Muertos (bay of the dead) to Bay of Dreams.  It will likely be a long time coming. 

There is an active fishing operation taking charter fishing folks to the nearby islands and some commercial fishermen harvesting sharks and Mahi Mahi.
The sharks were quickly gutted, fins harvested and put on ice for transport to La Paz for shipping. 

The fisherman sharpened his knife after each shark and was able to completely  gut and behead them in under 5 minutes each.  Small slits were cut in each side of the belly to make handles to carry the sharks to the truck.  Very efficient. 

Muertos includes a very nice palapa in need of some more customers.  We met the folks running it and they are very proud of their business.  Great food and a view that is priceless.

Departed Muertos on 4/13/14 at 8:45 am for an easy 55 miles to La Pazb.  (24.18.597 X 110.21.442)  We decided to stay at Marina Cortez, downtown La Paz rather than Costa Baja which is a long bus ride from town.  This is virtual marina in that is does not have any pilings.  Its anchored to the bottom and has a floating seawall.

La Paz harbor is a long , shallow body lying mostly east and west.   Currents can run up to 3 kts and we were near a full moon which enhances the effect.  With all this known we made our way to Marina Cortez at what was believed to be slack tide.  

I have been around boats most of my life and have a fair amount of time with twin screw power boats.  Moving to the Nordhavn, single screw boat was a big challenge for me as handling a heavy, low powered, deep draft boat in wind and current is always tough. 
WORKNOT has a bow thruster, 24 Volt twin prop but it is not capable of turning the bow against high forces.  Something a twin screw boat can do in almost any conditions and our last boat, a Grand Banks was very well behaved.  My confidence in handling WORKNOT had, (operative word had) improved over the past year and it has now be reset.
  • First of all the tide chart on my chart plotter was off the mark and gave me the tide outside the harbor.
  • Second, the marina lies well beyond the seawall protecting it from the east and there is no seawall to the west.
  • Third, the dock sent 6 guys to the end of the finger to help us get in, I even commented, why so many guys?  PAY ATTENTION GALE
  • Forth, we were approaching the dock from the east and the current was moving from the east.  This puts the boat in motion with the current.  Preferred is to fight the current so you can use power in forward to set the desired speed.

The saga ended with me making a very poor landing, avoiding damage to the hull only due to the effort of the 6 guys the marina wisely sent to assist.  Even on the second try they were critical to getting to the dock without damage. 

As it turns out we were landing at the highest current of the day and I misread the water.  With no pilings to watch, the current tattletales were not what I expected.   Just after we got tied up a sailboat approached the dock and ended up turned 180 deg and backed into the slip to keep from hitting the boat next to him.  Again the 6 guys plus me helped prevent an expensive landing.

So, the ego has been reset, will be very watchful of conditions and remain intimidated by my single screw, 80,000# machine.  A little respect is good thing!

Marina Cortez a bit more peaceful.


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