S/Y Nereida sails around the world

Solo RTW Sailor Jeanne Socrates' Adventures On, and Off, Nereida

18th Aug Whales ... and diesel...
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
Tuesday 18th August 2015 - Bahia San Francisquito

Forgot to mention the whale that surfaced twice and spouted beside the boat as I was approaching the entrance to the bay here yesterday .... What a great present that was! Been a while since I last saw any whales - Banderas Bay in February, in fact.

More than made up today for the lovely day yesterday - looked for the spilt outboard fuel in the bilge ..... and found instead a vast amout of diesel down there and also under the engine. Grrr!! Eric came over to help me and it turned out that the diesel filter was so rusty it was leaking - it hadn't been changed for ages ... if ever...! Promptly changed the filter and started the engine after some priming - that part went well.

Spent the rest of the day siphoning fuel out of the bilge using a small electric pump which needed to be primed every time to get it to pick up the fuel from deep down and into one of three 2 litre old plastic milk bottles I had in store, ready for oil changes etc. To prime the pump, I had to suck on the tube until the diesel was almost to the end and then quickly place the tube end down into a bottle and be ready to switch off the pump when the bottle was almost full - not always judged too well!. A smelly procedure, despite my carefully cleaning the diesel from the end of the tube with paper tissue each time before putting it between my lips..

Mid-afternoon I took a break and went snorkelling around the southern rocky entrance point to the bay - a good variety of fish by the rocks and it was nice to lose the diesel smell for a time.

Back to work.... The good news was the diesel was looking really clean - so I filtered it back into my main tank - just under 6 litres at a time.... eleven trips up to the cockpit with three bottles of fuel each time, with the tube finally beginning to suck air around sunset - a good time to stop, ready for a change in procedure tomorrow. I checked the fuel tank level - I'd replaced 65 litres and there's still more waiting to be dealt with...

By sunset, I was more than ready to stop - over to 'Scoots' to join with 'Azul' for a combined meal and R&R I felt I'd well-deserved!

The boat 'Tony Reyes' had come in Monday night, towing about eight small open pangas and clearly with a lot of people on board. They went off in the small boats morning and afternoon and seemed to be Mexicans taking 'gringos' out for fishing trips - from the cheerful noise coming from the 'mother ship' later in the evening, they seemed to be having a good time and the boat took off overnight - to another fishing venue or back home? There are a lot of fishing charters in the Sea of Cortez but the size and numbers of the sport fish many are looking for.have dropped dramatically recently - this area and further south is suffering from over-fishing, with long-liners, big nets and 'hookah' divers contributing to a more general problem (previously plentiful squid and scallops have disappeared in many places). Maybe the Mexicans will manage to regulate the fishing before it's too late? I hope so but don't have much confidence in it happening soon enough....

Monday 17th August - a lovely sail past wild coast
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
17th August 2015

There was strong SW-WSW wind, up to 20+ knots, overnight which combined with an unusual NNE swell to make for bumpy conditions until around 5am, when it died away, but the anchor held fine. Lightning seen well away to the SE late in the evening died away without causing a problem.

Soon after sunrise, Garth took off for Santa Rosalia to get ice for his fish and reported flat calm out at sea, so he was able to make good speed. I raised the anchor and set off N after a relaxed breakfast, watching several rays jumping nearby. The NW wind increased from 7 to 12 knots, with NNE swell continuing to give a bumpy ride, and then died down as it veered to the NE - we were motoring but soon the wind had veered to the SE and increased to 12-14 kt. We had a delightful lazy sail under genoa alone, happily reaching 6.6 kt SOG on a broad reach - an unexpected present! The pleasant sail continued until the headland off Bahia San Fransiquito was in sight several hours later.

Having anchored not far from Eric and Vandy on 'Scoots', I cooked us a lovely evening meal of dorado under a clear sky full of stars with a setting crescent of moon - nice to celebrate the day with friends!

This is a lovely protected anchorage and I expect to stay for several days. One unpleasant but urgent job on Tuesday is to clear away a lot of outboard fuel in the bilge that I suddenly realised was the reason for the constant smell I've been vaguely aware of - from a damaged plastic jerry can whose contents leaked into the cockpit locker a while ago - nasty ....and possibly dangerous! After that, I'll be free to explore the area - already I've seen a ray jumping close by!

Sat/Sun 15/16th August 2015
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
Anchored off Pta Trinidad around 4pm, after escaping from Caleta Sta Maria with boat covered in film of fine gypsum dust... They'd started up at 10.30pm and stopped around 6.30am - an eight-hour overnight 'workday', presumably to prevent problems from working in the heat of the daytime sun.

I'd closed all hatches to try to stop the dust getting inside the boat and was delighted to see a heavy rainshower in distance as we left around 7am... I tried heading S toward the raincloud, but it slid inland so I soon got back on course NNW again ... Shortly afterwards, had to close all hatches again as rain started. It had spread our way and we had lovely heavy rainfall, but mainly on our starboard side. Promptly headed us out to sea to get the rain cleaning both sides of the boat, which it did nicely! I got busy with a cloth, once the rain had stopped soon after, giving all glass and coachroof a good wipe down....

Had a nice sail for two hours, running under genoa until speed dropped from around 5 kt initially to below 1 kt as the wind died, at which point the autopilot had trouble keeping course - so back on with the 'iron sail' for last part of passage to Trinidad - a rocky headland, jutting out to give good protection from the prevailing SE swell on its NW side. I dropped the hook well off to NW - but rather too far off, as it turned out... I should have done so much further in towards the beach W of the promontory and would have had better protection from the swell.

By midnight, the lightning all around was spectacular, mainly from NE to S. There was clearly bad weather not so far off, but we were spared most of it - some strong wind (and rain) but my anchor was well dug in to withstand both it and the swell that built up. I was rocked to sleep very well, alhough a motor yacht that came into the bay disturbed my sleep several times, first trying to anchor badly far too close to "Nereida", eventually giving up and heading back out to sea again... Back in shortly afterwards, to head nearer to beach (had me worried they were either going to hit rocks or get into the really shallow water well off the beach), gave up and headed out again, but came in yet again, before eventually settling for the night. They were clearly not liking the good-sized swell which always affects light motor yachts more badly than heavier sailing yachts, whose mast also helps to damp the motion. I'd seen the boat in Santa Rosalia and gathered the crew were on a 'National Geographic' mission, making a feature film about the Sea of Cortez squid. Clearly they had no decent skipper on board and were not used to anchoring, because they made a right royal mess of all their efforts and certainly got far too close for comfort to both me and to Garth's panga 'Tunaholic', much closer in to the beach!

'Tunaholic' had unexpectedly come in soon after I'd anchored, with several freshly-caught dorado, several pieces of which were beautifully cooked that evening in coconut oil and coated in breadcrumbs. Before that, I had a wonderful time snorkelling on the rocks around Punta Trinidad - even more variety of fish than I'd seen previously, including many boxer fish, a puffer fish and several flounder-like bottom fish, with lots of the larger fish in small shoals. I was thrilled, soon after my arrival and regularly after that, to see several good-sized black and white rays jumping out of the water, landing flat with a big splash, often close together. I also saw them swimming together on the surface, with their wing-tips showing just above the water.- this looks like their home ground. This entire section of coast is mainly deserted and most of it is really wild and unspoiled. I'm constantly amazed at the wonderful life in the sea here, most of which seems be perfectly accessible without the need to dive.

Sunday 16th August

No question of moving on yet - I needed to catch up on sleep, after the 'anchoring dance' of the motor yacht 'Sun Dance' the previous night (!), and I want to enjoy just being here and snorkelling on the rocks nearby again. The predicted good wind for today seems to have vanished with the overnight strong weather - I'm seeing a mere E 4-5kt and mainly clear sky, so it would be a motoring day if I moved on .... Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll move on N to Bahia San Francisquito, a very protected anchorage from all wind directions, where friends on 'Scoots' are possibly still at anchor, although they might have already made for Bahia de Los Angeles. (In readiness for a small celebration tomorrow, I've put plenty of fruit juice, some beer and a bottle of white wine in my little fridge!)

I've tried to improve my sun-awning/bimini arrangement, using some spare battens for support instead of the boom, in the hope that I'll be able to use my mainsail sometime soon, if the wind looks useful. Garth will head S tomorrow to his home base at Mulege, stopping in Santa Rosalia for ice - the fish he's caught over the last week won't keep in this heat without it and he's running short. It's been nice to have had company at times over the last few days and he's very knowledgeable about all this area.

Tues/Wed 11/12th August 2015 Isla san Marcos ... BEES!!
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
Tuesday 11th August - Safe arrival just before sunset at N end of Isla San Marcos ... Mananged to drop hook in sandy area and miss nearby rocky seabed, but in shallow water with interesting rocks nearby. Decided not to anchor in original destination - in fading light, was too difficult to be sure of anchoring safely, with rocks on both side and only small area to anchor in.

(Turned out the inverter on board was causing my earlier computer charging problem - now resolved, so computer OK for now, but seems engine was not charging batteries properly - problem still to be looked at ... Maybe all got too hot, with engine running in daytime air temp of 100F/38C???)

Surprised to find a panga (typical small shoal-draught Mexican fishing boat) inshore with friend Garth on board, who I know from San Carlos. He knows the area well, having lived (and fished) here for a long time and it was nice to have company over a meal of freshly-caught dorado!

Wednesday 12th August

Garth took me out on a fishing trip in the bright sunshine in his panga with its big outboard engine. He put out 4-5 lines with big lures, two on outriggers, as we sped through the deep water, hoping for more big fish - but no bites today.... Compensation was snorkelling on the NW coast of the island - lots of fish of all sizes and starfish seen, many like the ones seen in Bahia San Pedro on Monday. Several of the large Cortez damsel fish and another even larger yellow and black damsel fish were seen inshore but I didn't see any Moray eels - Garth said he spotted one in the rocks just offshore.

Lunch-time was noted for BEES...!!! They came looking for fresh water - and, unfortunately, found some in Nereida's galley .... so we were swamped with hundreds of them, around the sink in particular. When I went to make tea later, they appeared in the boiled water poured from the kettle. They also found their way up into the tap openings - anywhere with fresh water, including the squeegee cloth I use for washing the dishes - about fifty of them just on that! I put the bowl with it in out on deck and escaped to the aft cabin, closing the door firmly, after managing to put seawater (which they don't like) into the two plugged sinks without being stung....

After a good siesta, found only half a dozen bees left and quickly got rid of those. Clearly, any jobs involving use of fresh water will have to be done at night, when the bees aren't around....

Later had more unexpected company - Vandy and Eric on 'Scoots' had come over from the marina at Santa Rosalia, 11 mls away, I'd come across the Sea, expecting to meet up with them soon - but not here!

A brilliant sunset and a beautiful clear starry sky completed a good day, made even better by a night dip in the sea with myriads of tiny pinpricks of phosphorescence as I moved around. So far, I've not seen any of the meteor shower predicted for tonight - but I'll keep looking.

Monday/Tueday 10/11th August 2015
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
From Bahia San Pedro to Isla San Marcos (Baja Sur)

Monday 9th August

Had a lovely and productive day in Bahia San Pedro - such a protected and peaceful place.

I began the day tidying up generally in the galley and cockpit areas and then got out some silicone sealant to stick down some loose lengths of foam strips acting as gap-fillers - a simple, quick job that's been overlooked for far too long...! I checked over details of my proposed passage & landfall tomorrow, with a back-up in case of need, and looked over the Google Earth photos of the area that I'd loaded onto my iPad.. Very useful, in view of the inaccuracies in several of the available charts - especially the paper ones which are really bad.

In the early afternoon, with a nice breeze blowing to offset the hot sun, I plucked up my courage and went off around the bay in the dinghy - but I can't say I felt too comfortable, expecting the outboard to die at any moment, despite its recent service... I made sure I went upwind first, with oars at the ready, so that if the worst happened, I'd be drifting downwind back towards 'Nereida'! All went well, so long as I didn't slow the engine too much, at which point it definitely tended to die.... it doesn't like a slow idle.

The rocky base of the nearby steep-sided promontory turned out to be a marvellous snorkelling area - full of many different fish, from tiny vivid blue jewel fish through many different middling-sized ones, including several 'rainbow' fish, to small shoals of much larger fish in the deeper water - I spotted a parrot fish and some groupers and I'm sure if I'd put out a line, I'd have caught something. I'm missing a book to identify them and also wished I had a camera to take photos - it was impossible to remember the details of such a variety. The boulder-strewn seabed was rather grey and uninteresting, but I caught sight of one small deep red fan and two different starfish, their five arms either grey with a brown longitudinal stripe or beige covered in yellow spots. In the shallower water, it felt as though I was in a very warm bath ...!

I hoisted the engine up onto 'Nereida', ready for our crossing with the dinghy in tow. I'll see how that goes - I would nomally put the dinghy on deck, but I'm expecting the sea o be fairly calm with little wind and I'll be using a long bridle. We had an onshore breeze Monday afternoon, but that died away completely by around 5pm and could well be absent out at sea.

10pm Noticed sky getting hazy from the N where lightning could be seen inland frequently. Closed the wide-open hatches as a precaution - a 'chubasco' could bring very strong wind and very heavy rain, along with plenty of lightning, ...but not usually for very long. We've plenty of chain out and the anchor is well dug in, so if one comes along, we hope we'll be OK.... Fingers crossed - this is the chubasco season!

Tuesday 11th August - up early (5am) to cross over to the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez - wanting to make sure of arriving in good daylight into an unknown anchorage - always a good policy! Glad to say, I slept well, with no chubasco making an appearance, and we were underway, with anchor stowed, by 5.40am

A bumpy crossing, with beam seas from SE of just under 1m (2-3 ft) but quite close together. Wind came up nicely, so full genoa was unfurled and tensioned for a close reach, but we motor-sailed to ensure arrival in good light. My sun awning (bimini) is tied over the boom and raising the main would lead to all kinds of complications so, for this short passage, I left it alone - it's a problem I've been trying to resolve for some time, without success, the issue being the mainsheet traveller track being aft of the cockpit.

Posting this early because computer playing up - not accepting charge so power getting low .... grrr!!!

At 1850GMT(1150PDT), Isla Tortuga is 14 ml ahead and Isla San Marcos is 30 mls off - ETA around 5pm if we keep up present speed of ~5.5 kt. Wind slowly dying so may well end up under motor alone to anchor well before dark.... Too many rocks around to take chances. Keeping AIS on 'transmit' for present.

Sunday 9th August - from Bahia Algodones to Bahia San Pedro
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
Sunday 9th August
I'm writing this at anchor in peaceful, deserted Bahia San Pedro, with the call of an osprey coming from the rose-coloured sandstone cliff face close by and the promise of a lovely sunset..
Despite the Mexican holidaymakers' partying going on until 3am this morning, I'd enjoyed a brief sleep in the open of a cool cockpit under a beautiful clear night sky - a crescent moon between Orion and Taurus (the Bull), the little Dolphin near to Cygnus (the Swan), and Vega... even a sudden meteorite heading S . But clouds gathered over the morning and by midday, the sky was totally overcast, there were nasty-looking dark grey clouds over the mountains inland and the wind had got up to well over 20 knots. It was time to organise the anchor-chain snubber I'd been promising myself to make - it was badly needed in the increased swell which was making the chain snatch at the windlass - not good! I found a length of plaited Spectra (Dyneema) and tied it to the chain, which was then released some more, taking the load onto the rope tied off on a bow cleat - instantly, the boat's motion felt better, with the added benefit of no more risk of damage to the windlass.
By 2pm, the beach on Bahia Algodones was coming to life again as the wind lessened and the sea calmed down somewhat... The music was getting louder - not helped by someone making a dismal karaoke attempt.. It's amazing how well sound travels a good distance across water! The thought of another noisy night was enough and I quickly raised the anchor and moved away while there was enough daylight left to make landfall safely a short distance up the coast....
So here I am, revelling in the thought of taking to my dinghy tomorrow to explore this lovely area... The coloured sandstone of the headlands has been carved by the wind and is full of holes for birds and animals to nest in and I gather this area is good for diving (there's a wreck off one of the entrance points) and for fishing, with sport boats regularly making the trip from San Carlos..
I'd made a similar late decision to move the previous day. Much as I loved Martini Cove overnight and in the early morning, when it was deserted apart from 'Nereida', it became overcrowded on a holiday weekend. In fact, when I first went to raise my anchor, I realised it was impossible - there were three small boats over the spot where I reckoned my anchor lay, so I had to wait until they had all moved away before motoring north against a slight headwind to Algodones Bay (where the flming of 'Catch 22' had taken place). The Algodones beach is where people drive out to from San Carlos to watch the sun set over the inshore islands as they sip a beer or Margarita and it certainly lived up to its reputation - the sun went down in a blaze of orange light in a clear sky yesterday.


Martini Cove is a misnomer - or Party Cove -

Thursday 8th August - escape from the marina!
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
8th Aug 2015: Lat: 27-55.91N Long: 111-03.62W - Anchored in Martini Cove, nr San Carlos entrance

Up at 6am and away by 7am! Having been frustrated since Friday, with work delayed to Monday and then finding my dighy outboard motor was refusing to start, giving a further two days of delay, I was determined to get away - to anywhere, so long as we weren't tied to a dock any more!!

So I headed to pretty Martini Cove, close by the entrance to the Bahia San Carlos, where I spent the day with frequent dips in the sea - a delight I've been missing for a long time. In between that and lazing around, I tidied up the lines and fenders and tried to erect a bimini for sun protection - another item that's been on my list for far too long and is still not dealt with satisfactorily. With temperatures reaching over 40C/100F for quite a time over most days now, it's important to keep the cockpit shaded.

It was great to find radio propagation away from the marina was excellent - in the morning I spoke to lots of ham friends in the southern USA and this evening I checked in, as usual when at sea, with the Pacific Seafarers Net.

I'm not planning to go far for a day or so since I keep finding items I need to organise urgently - a snubber for the anchor chain and a dinghy anchor, for instance.

I decided by early afternoon that Martini Cove is a misnomer - it should be named Party Cove - that's what the many small boats bringing Mexican holidaymakers were doing - often very noisily... but good fun to watch them enjoying themselves!

I re-anchored with difficulty in near-darkness, after most of them had left....it didn't feel safe being rather close to the rocky, steep-to shoreline with an onshore breeze by sunset. It wasn't easy finding the right spot but we do seem to be OK now - I like keeping the plotter on showing our track as a check that we're not dragging the anchor or running into trouble. I should be able to sleep better now.

Leaving San Carlos
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
Sunday 2nd August 2015 - about to leave San Carlos to explore Sea of Cortez

I'm writing this from the Embarcadero in Marina San Carlos, where I just indulged, unusually, in a lovely full breakfast in company with a lot of Mexican families, down with their children on holiday. They make frequent day-trips out on the charter boats here, with their return around sunset made clear by lively music, often to the accompaniment of the entire boatload of people joining in the songs, whose words they all seem to know perfectly! For Mexicans, men and women equally, I believe life without frequent singing and dancing would be unthinkable, they love both so much.

After a lot of boatwork, despite the present hot and humid conditions, we're about to get away sailing - it will be great to be at sea once more and away from the dock! Project for today is to inflate my dinghy to check for no leaks, hopefully, and also confirm my little outboard is working OK. I'm hoping to anchor a lot in some of the many lovely anchorages in the Sea of Cortez, especially over on the Baja (west) side of the Sea - lots to explore and enjoy, while keeping a careful eye on weather, in order to avoid any hurricanes that might threaten - none at present!

Temperatures are above 100F/38C regularly over the middle of the day - and don't drop down much overnight, so my new fans are constantly in good use! There's very little wind except most afternoons when an onshore breeze, sometimes very strong, gets up for just a couple of hours, before we're back to a flat calm, making for lovely reflections at night!

I'll need to fuel up, there's so little wind to rely on for sailing - but distances between possible anchorages are not far, so I should have plenty for the next few weeks. My solar panels have been putting plenty into the batteries - fans and LED lights take very little power. The main problem comes when I start using my SSB/HF radio - transmitting takes a lot of power, unlike receiving, so my little genset will come in handy to top up when needed for emailing or voice contact with radio friends. There's no Internet out at Sea so my Pactor modem for emailing and weatherfaxes via my radio and computer will be made good use of.

Any good photos I take will have to wait to be posted - there's only very occasional Internet access onshore since the Sea of Cortez has very few villages along its coastline.

Bye for now..... Hasta la vista...!

Wednesday 3rd June 2015: Landfall in San Carlos, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
The friendly little swallows on the boat opposite me in Isla Mazatlan had fledged their nestlings . The closed stern barbecue conveniently had a hole at one end that was just the right size for them.. It seemed the right time to leave Mazatlan to head north again - the prospect of sailing overnight in the bright light of a full moon was appealing...

The hurricane season has started up with a vengeance - Andres obligingly turned out to sea, as expected, but was very early and increased to well over a hundred miles per hour... To my surprise, Blanca was hot on his heels and looking quite threatening, as I made my way up to the Sea of Cortez, in a good southerly swell. I'd spent a pleasant couple of evenings before leaving, firstly with cruiser friends and then with Osvaldo (skipper of 'Romance') and his family..

I was sorry Eduardo (skipper of 'Mi Casa') hadn't taken up my offer of a farewell 'cerveza' on my last afternoon. Both he and Osvaldo had been very keen to help me in whatever way they could, but Eduardo clearly didn't realise just how early I wanted to leave ..... By 7am, I was well underway, avoiding the dredger in the shallow entrance channel and hoping not to run into difficulties with the big swell over the entrance bar. The waves were crashing heavily into the nearby shore, coming from the S as a result of the hurricanes not so far away. Eduardo had appointed himself my Press Agent and I'd had two newspaper interviews and one TV interview by the time I had left - a severe test of the minimal Spanish I've been working hard at trying to improve.. Fortunately, Eduardo was close at hand with his good English, to translate when needed. My time in Mazatlan was made very enjoyable by the many friendly people I met up with (a wedding party included!) and I hope to return there soon.

My passage N was, as expected, full of motoring in increasingly calm seas with a diminishing S swell and occasional light breezes from just about every direction as the heat of the day caused an onshore sea breeze and; later; offshore land breezes. The mainsail had been raised from the start but I was only able to enjoy the peace of sailing a few times in all, with quite a nice downwind run under poled-out genoa, goosewinged for a few hours.
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Dolphins came by several times and. in the heat of the midday sun, I enjoyed a brief dip in the sea and a delicious deck shower within sight of San Carlos entrance and its familiar, distinctive, twin peaks . Other boats were only seen on arrival - surprisingly, I'd had the sea, sun and stars to myself for three days!

Now in harbour, I'm trying to find the cause of a major problem I had on passage - the toilet kept back-filling with sea water ... I had to turn off the outlet seacock to prevent the boat from flooding... Quite a worry, but a relief to see the water level in the bowl stay low in the end... I'm still trying to figure out what's going on. The other smaller problem was finding the motor stopping unexpectedly when I reduced power quickly (I was very gentle coming in to dock!). Luckily, there are two good mechanics here in San Carlos, so that problem should be easy to fix.. The other nice thing is the friends and acquaintances that are here - it has felt like a bit of a 'homecoming' having been here for most of last year when I met so many people - but I hope not to be on the hard again this time.

Blanca is still a worry and several boats have crossed over from the Baja peninsula to escape the very strong winds and heavy rain expected - far more so over there, to the West, than is forecast for here (Historically, San Carlos has been a good 'hurricane hole'). With any luck, Cabo San Lucas and the Baja won't be hit too hard. We were expecting some strong weather here also but the last I heard, Blanca will move out into the Pacific soon and not cause so much trouble on land as had been feared. ... Fingers crossed!

Arrival in Mazatlan: 9 May 2015
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida

Report from Mazatlan: 19 May 2015

La Cruz de Juanacaxtle was left behind early in the morning on 8th May, with the idea of stopping at anchor overnight close to the small island of Isla Isabela - a bird reserve where frigates and boobies nest and lizards abound.  But my alarm failed and I left two hours later than intended - which meant that by the time I  got close to Isabela it was too dark to anchor - it was just not a safe option with all the rocks around.

I had the engine running and although I'd raised the main hopefully before leaving, there had been almost no wind all the way so far.  Speaking to the Pacific Seafarers' Net, I decided to cut the engine, hoping to reduce the noise on frequency - it made no difference!  I debated going a good distance off and trying to heave to (but little wind for that to work) or maybe I could just drift around until first light, when I'd be able to anchor and spend the day snorkelling and relaxing.

But the engine refused to start from the cockpit and made very unhappy noises each time I tried...  Eventually, I persuaded it to start but the incident made me feel it would be best to push on to Mazatlan overnight so problem could be looked at. Still very little wind so little chance to sail....

Fairway buoy, well off Mazatlan Harbour entrance channel, seen in the distance in second photo:m 20150508 143006 m 20150508 143041

Distinctive hill at entrance to Mazatlan main harbour:

                                          m 20150508 143946

Plenty of small islands along the coast, with shallows inshore, heading north of the old town:

m 20150508 144034 m 20150508 144817

                          m 20150508 145122

Small, but hard ....a lurking rock to be avoided!  View looking back to Mazatlan harbour entrance and old town:

                                                      m 20150508 145543

As I got within sight of the newer (small boat) harbour entrance mid-afternoon, having passed the old Mazatlan Harbour (used by larger vessels and the ferry over to the Baja peninsula) an hour or two earlier, the engine failed again, close to the rocky lee shore of Isla Pajaros with what was by now an onshore breeze blowing... My suspicion was lack of fuel, having heard the engine noise varying in pitch not long before - but, on checking, there was plenty in the tank, so I then suspected dirty fuel/clogged filter.  No time to investigate ... The genoa was quickly unfurled (the mainsail had already been dropped ready for entering harbour under motor) and I was able to sail gently away from immediate danger. Nice to be a sailboat, not a motorboat, in such situations!

The anchor was dropped not too far from where I could see the breakwater marking the entrance channel.  I changed the fuel filter (TG for an easy switch-over Racor system!) and tried the engine again, connecting the house batteries to the start battery for extra 'oomph'.... Initially, it still wouldn't start properly but eventually it started and kept going... (I'd begun to wonder if injectors were a problem) Friend Randy ('Spirit of Hanalei') had come out with two helpful Mexicans in a panga to give a tow but instead was able to escort me to a berth.

The engine instrument panel had failed, along with its start switch, so it was good to be able to use a switch I'd installed on the start motor to avoid using a screw driver across the terminals(!). The Maztlan Port Captain had not been helpful over radio when he'd been asked for assistance, so I was lucky to have been able, quite by chance, to contact Randy on VHF radio (nice to have that working well now!)... and to have sandy shallows nearby to anchor in safety. (Was told early on that the tide was too low to enter over harbour entrance bar, so I had to wait two hours anyway) Would have been a difficult, although not impossible, unfamiliar marina berthing under sail with the strong afternoon onshore thermal wind. (There's little or no wind overnight, when it gets quite cool, nor in the mornings.)
Nearly forgot to mention that the main GPS had stopped working most of the way - but immediately worked fine when at the dock. (Why....?)  AIS was playing up all the way also - kept switching itself off - seems like an overheating problem.  Very frustrating since it was now supplying the missing GPS info to the instruments - so position info kept going down...  Nice to be well offshore then!  Another, more major, problem was that my small laptop refused to start up halfway through the passage.  It had been fine when I had sent out emails and got weather info via my lovely fast Pactor 4 modem and my HF radio but it then doggedly played 'dead' - and has done so ever since...   I'm trying to get a replacement battery, hoping that is what it needs...
Not surprisingly, I took Sunday off to go in by bus with cruiser friend Joy to explore and visit the indoor market:
m 20150510 135129
which is not far from the Cathedral:
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Old Mazatlan's 'centro historico' is lovely, although many lived-in buildings with beautiful facades have ruined places just next door.  This one makes a feature of the overgrown building which has only been partly restored - for use as a lovely, well-shaded restaurant, complete with hanging vines and a photo of the original owner of what was once a grand mansion with a typical big courtyard behind the immense heavy wooden front doors....
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It's a lovely restful area -  on a Sunday, at least!         m 20150510 162725
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Since then I've been busy with boat jobs, trying to shorten the list in between struggling with the poor Internet connection to get my website up to date and deal with emails etc.  (This update has taken most of today!)
My main worry was the engine and what also seemed to be both a charging problem and a start battery problem.  I kept a careful eye on the batteries, which were well down on arrival, and once they were reasonably well-charged (by just solar and wind since shore-charger has been dead for a long time now!), I was able to start the small generator to give them a real boost.  The start battery held its charge fine for several days, so I finally tried to start the main engine - using the cockpit switch... and it ran, first time of trying...!   The other good news was it was charging OK...  it didn't falter or stop... and I didn't have to use the switch on the start motor in the engine compartment...   Can't see why a clogged filter should have resulted in so many other problems - but I celebrated that night!!
In between, I topped up the fuel tank from the jerry cans and then gave the cockpit and the area all around a good clean - floor, drains, sprayhood(a.k.a. 'dodger') and windows are now all thoroughly dust-free.  The sun has been getting very hot by midday, so I've rigged a sunshade over the cockpit, but the nights are nice and cool, after the usual strong afternoon onshore breeze.
Saturday's major job was persuading the life raft to move along the stern rail, away from the stern light and Hydrovane control line.  Took the energetic and noisy use of a rubber mallet along with a lot of determination not to give in - but eventually won the day and got it to move to a better position.  Went on to replace a third reef line, wired some shackles, and re-ran lines through mast-base sheaves to & through a turning block and clutches.  More work on replacing lines is needed.
Also had help from a friendly Mexican boat nearby... "Si quieres ayudar..."  said Oswaldo - so, needing some muscle, I took him up on his offer and they willingly helped with a problem I'd had while working on re-fixing the hard sprayhood to its steel support using some spacers.  Ended yesterday by replacing some bungy on the H'vane control line...  Nothing very exciting but all useful work that has been on my list for quite a time - so it was a satisfying weekend's work.
Went and had a good pizza with friends last night - made a change from Mexican and they do them well here!
Spanish is improving with use - nice to be able to chat to people, even though it's limited still.
Hope to get a few more things done over the next few days before heading further north - hurricane season is about to start up, so I need to get 'Nereida" out of harm's way..

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