Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chacala to Mazatlan

Our short stay at Paradise Village was rewarded with some good marine supplies and galley provisions. We departed without experiencing the Crocodile Slide (it was closed for repair) but still felt the stay was worthwhile. We returned to the marina at La Cruz for fuel and water prior to departure north.

The weather looked acceptable when we headed out the next morning for Chacala. It was a sail/motor experience and we arrived late afternoon to a strong surge within the anchorage and a fresh on shore breeze. There were about 8 boats already there so we picked a spot which was a little more exposed than ideal. Setting a stern anchor took care of the roll issue. We took the dinghy to shore for breakfast and some espresso the next day. The town was not as busy as during the Xmas holiday, but there were lots of families enjoying the beach. We stopped at the espresso bar and learned that the owner was a good friend of the family that owns “Senor Moose” in Ballard. This is one of our favorite eateries in Seattle for Mexican cuisine. It is a small world! We decided to leave for San Blas the next day.

San Blas was a quick 39 mile run that was unremarkable. We had skipped this stop south bound because of the reputation of jejeneys and some theft problems in the anchorage. This time we opted to go into the secure marina as we heard good things from other friends that stayed there. The marina was very clean and had 24 hour security. The breakwater entrance was shallow but with enough draft to allow us passage. We decided to stay two nights so we could do the “Jungle Tour”, tour the fort and see the church that inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write the poem, “The Bells of San Blas”.

Town has been going through a reconstruction as the community is targeted by the government as a major tourist stop. Most of downtown is being rewired with underground electrical, new painting in traditional colors and re-plastering. Everywhere you go you see people working. We hiked all over town and up to the fort and church. There was a lot of damage from hurricane Kenna back in 2002 which is being repaired at this time. The views from the hill were well worth the hike.

The jungle tour was the high point of our stay. We asked for a cab from the marina to the estuary. One of the marina workers jumped into a car which had lights on the top and official lettering (think black police cruiser with light bar on roof….). He told us to jump in and he would take us to the tour office. I felt like I had been arrested. He took the back roads and deposited us at the tour office with minimal delay. This was a panga tour up the Rio Tovara winding through mangroves, sugar cane and ending at the head waters at a spring fed pool. Paul and I were the only ones in our panga. Our skipper’s name  was Pancho. He knew all the hiding places of the wildlife. The water was incredibly clear, the birds were everywhere and the crocodiles were really scary! Yes, there are wild American Crocodiles everywhere along this estuary. It seems funny, but the tour information says to bring your bathing suit. HA! The end of the estuary is a forked backwater. One side is a crocodile hatchery where they are working to help restore the species. The other fork has a swimming hole at the spring head and a small eatery. There is a chain link fence that keeps the crocs out so you can swim and relax (yeah, right!) Paul wanted to swim and he said it was wonderful in the mineral rich water. I opted to watch the fence for any minor movements that might indicate an unwanted visitor.

The stay at the marina was great. We had minimal bug activity and were really glad we stayed for the two nights.  Next stop Mazatlan.

From San Blas, the run to Mazatlan took 24 hours. It was a motor experience which means we had minimal wind and soft seas. Night passages are always a bummer as you arrive early morning feeling tired. We are now back at El Cid Marina. We have jumped into the pool, made plans to have burgers with some friends tonight and spent the day generally relaxing. 

Janet stopped to pose for a picture with some of the locals.
The old San Blas church was across the
street from the central square.
The remains of an old church at the fort.
The bells toll no more in San Blas.
Beautiful downtown San Blas.  The population used to be
100k, but is only about 30k now.
The San Blas fort.
Paul was pretty amazed about this part of the fort.
The San Blas community center.
Our ride for the day.
There were a lot of birds.
Old shacks.
Baby crocodiles.
A wild jungle cat.
Really big crocodiles.
Crocodile hatchlings.
And Paul wanted to go swimming.  They said there was
a fence to keep the crocodiles out.
All courtesy of Pancho, our tour director for the day.