Subj: Nanjo Chronicals 2001 - Southbound (Part 2) Travels from January 2 to January 29, 2001:
Mazatlan is still our favorite Mexican port! We remained anchored in the old harbor for the three weeks we were there. Being at this end of town (vs where the marinas are) gave us better access to most of the services we needed. That being said, still we had to go to the marinas to get our propane bottle filled, copy charts and visit with our cruising friends. However, the times we went out to dinner, our marina-friends tended to travel in our direction, to eat in Old Town throughout the week or the Central Plaza on Sunday night.
We also met new friends in the harbor. Nancy quips that when we boaters develop a new relationship with the crew of a neighboring boat, it is like having an affair - in a very short period of time, the individuals try to tell the other everything about themselves - a veritable "speaking" frenzy. But friendships do bud, some easily, others gradually.
Although we love Mazatlan, we were driven to get the list of boat systems fixed as soon as possible. In addition, I needed to purchase a 9-month supply of glucometer (One Touch) strips and insulin from the ISSSTE farmacia, which had the best availability and prices last year. Some things proceeded well, while others gave us fits. Nothing seems to stay the same in Mexico, be it sources of medical supplies or laws and regulations and enforcement thereof.
ISSSTE didn't supply LifeScan, One Touch strips anymore. But, as always, it took almost a week to validate that. After looking for other sources, asking at every farmacia I could find, and having a doctor ask around as well, I still had no source for my strips after the first 10 days. Finally I found one place, a medical equipment store, charging more than list price. This exemplified the classic phrase, "Halitosis is better than no breath at all" and my budget was going to get hammered. But I kept looking. Next I found a farmacia that charged slightly less than list price. And on my birthday, I found that Commercial Mexicana offered a 20% discount. I was only able to purchase 5 boxes from Commercial, the rest from the farmacia. But I did have my supply.
As for laws and regulations, there has been an increase to the cost for cruisers to enjoy "paradise" - API (Port Administration) fees have gone up, but are still very low. However, now the Port Captain charges a substantial fee at check in and again at checkout. This fee is based on the size of boat you have. We have been charged the same amount in Zihuatanejo as well as Mazatlan, 141 pesos (282 - C/I, C/O). In addition to the charge, you have to go to the bank to deposit the funds, making for two visits to the Port Captain each time. But they encourage boats intending to merely stop for fuel or less than 24 hours to skip clearing in/out.
On the "bright" side, I was very fortunate to have Dream Weaver help transport our malfunctioning wind generator to Arizona and back. This saved me weeks of delay, travel expense and travel time (time that I couldn't be working on the other problems). Via Internet, I contacted Southwest Windpower, makers of the Air Marine generator. They offered to upgrade my unit for about $50 more than a repair kit would cost, but I had to return it to them. After several more emails, they agreed to send a replacement unit to Dream Weaver's Mother's house in Tucson before they received mine. Everything worked out fine and, in less than a week, I had my new generator back and installed. [As a note, this is the Model 403. It is a substantial improvement to the original unit we had. It is less noisy and produces more watts than the original.]
The other projects went rapidly. One morning, up the mast to install a new Windex (blown off during a Chubasco in The Sea) and to realign the anemometer (the one the boobie sat on). I rerouted the control lines for Steve; replaced the bulb in the running light assembly (it was green with corrosion and fell apart when I tried to clean it - a wonder that it worked at all); and a multitude of other things. I took off the bases for several stanchions and had them welded (these are used when I "prevent" the boom and had cracked welds).
I had another HbA1c taken and found that it was too high. I did some careful testing of glucose levels 2 hours after meals, using my One Touch glucometer, and found a significant spike of blood sugar after breakfast. So I have delayed eating fruit at breakfast, having it as a mid-morning snack instead.
Nancy and I had a thorough eye exam. Mine were healthy, for a 58 year old codger, showing no evidence of diabetes, let alone complications. Nancy's only had the usual wear and tear for the miles they have on them, but no problems. She did find why her glasses gave her problems - the magic-marker dots that the optician uses for checking alignment hadn't been removed before the coatings were applied, causing a smudge. These were glasses she had made at Lens Crafters in Santa Maria, when we were at Morro Bay. She has new, Mazatlan-made glasses, costing less than $100.
Ah, YES . . . And, Nancy and I hadn't had haircuts since October! You can imagine how much hair fell as we sheared each other's manes. Apparently I have improved my skills at this job, as the process included little conflict and Nancy was satisfied with the job. A far cry from the half-day, emotional drains of a year ago. In addition, no one asked Nancy if she had her hair cut. I may have to hang a barber's pole from flag halyard.
I began tuning in weather fax broadcasts and displaying them on Toshi (laptop). We were overjoyed that we were able to. Previously, electronic noise had prevented us. Now I was able to display readable faxes, even with the noisy refer on and using the inverter to power Toshi. However, I wasn't able to pick up New Orleans - the location that would provide data on the western Caribbean, useful when we crossed the gulfs of Tehuantepec and Papagallo.
We met Haley Kay, a boat just back from 10 years of cruising, most of the time east of Panama. They shared their knowledge and experience of Central America with us. They loaned us charts and cruising guides. These I copied for our use. The guide, The Panama Guide, is out of print, but is a "gold mine" of data for both sides of this popular cruising ground. Look for it in used bookstores!
A special item from Haley Kay was a brief Kuna Indian dictionary. This will be a great help when we get to the San Blas Islands. The Kunas are known for their molas (colorful, hand-stitched, muli-layered cloth designs). This dictionary will help us get to know the people we meet there and assist when we negotiate with them. That will be some time in the future, though.
Haley Kay continues to send us E-logs about their recent transit of Panama and answers to the various questions we think of as we proceed towards those waters.
Most of our buddy-boats from the summer seem to be staying in Mexico for another year at least: Gemini is going to skipper a mega-sailboat to the South Pacific. Dream Weaver is returning to the Sea of Cortez for another year. Both have spent months in Mazatlan doing major-scale boat projects. Loup de Mer will wait one more year before they follow us south toward The Canal. Reason is returning to The Sea. Cambria, who was going to head south with us this year, after spending two months in San Carlos to get a "new bottom", had their engine fail as soon as they returned to the water. We doubt they will try to rush down the coast to make it across Tehuantepec this year. Aeventyr and Aegean Odyssey are heading for the South Pacific. We haven't heard from Also II or Sailors Run.
Finally we had our work done. We had a good-bye lunch with Dream Weaver and went to the Central Square to "graze" on the delights offered by the street vendors with Gemini. We ate our last lunch at Mi Cocina with Julie and Tavo, had our last laundry done by Tavo's Mom, did our last e-mail at Tavo's Dad's Internet café and gave Julie and Tavo a house warming gift, since we would miss their party. There was much silence when they found out that Nancita and Juanito were not coming back next year.
We raised anchor slowly, Thursday, January 25th. Slowly, because the anchor chain had grown a beard of sea grass on the first 80 feet, requiring removal before it would pass through the anchor hawse pipe. Almost an hour later Nanjo was underway, departing on a nice WNW breeze. Our starboard beam reach slowly changed to a broad reach, where it remained all through the night.
We almost felt relieved to be underway. We were about a month behind a slow transit schedule. However, we had already seen most of these waters and anchorages last year. So we decided to bypass Isla Isabela. Then our progress eliminated stopping at Punta de Mita. Nancy had the watch and sailed Nanjo around Cabo Corrientes (reputed as Mexico's version of California's Pt. Conception) in winds over 20 knots, as I slept in the cockpit. As we passed Chamela, the wind rose back to 20 - 25 knots and we zipped the last 30 miles downwind to Tenacatita at a boat-speed of 8 knots, under just the main on the "preventer".
Saturday evening in the outer anchorage, there were just three other boats, compared to the 50+ vessels in the inner anchorage. The wind dropped and we settled down for some quality sleep after our 3-day, 2-night cruise.
Sunday, we met Twowowie, a Canadian sailboat anchored next to us. Then we had lunch with Loup de Mer (dinked up the lagoon from the inner anchorage) and Twowowie at our favorite palapa, discussing the transit to Panama and showing my copy of The Panama Guide. The palapa was out of lagoon crawfish (the size of small lobsters), so we had camarones instead. Later, we visited on Twowowie until dinnertime. All in all, it was a perfect slow-down day at one of our favorite places.
We meet more boats heading for Panama, or planning to, as we continue south. Everyone sharing and asking questions in preparation for crossing the two challenging bodies of water - Tehuantepec and Papagallo. The main concern is trying to catch a 3-day wind-window for the crossing of Gulfo de Tehuantepec. The winds there are "black" or "white", gale force or becalmed. We planned a mid-April crossing when records indicate more calms occur than at other times. But that was in the past, we had to prepare for the possibility of very high winds. All discussions dwelled on, and returned to, that event.
Crew of Nanjo