Friday, March 25, 2011

Mazatlan, Mexico

     I have been in Mexico a little less than a month now.  Stops have included Santiago Bay, Melaque, La Cruz, San Blas and now Mazatlan.  I had thought more than a bit about what it would be like to cruise Mexico this time around.  It is nice to see how places like San Blas still remind me of the artwork found in that old classic travel guide, People's Guide to Mexico.  Other places like Banderas Bay have changed substantially.  There is now quite a marina planted right at the base of town in La Cruz!

     In 2007 when I was in Neiafu, Tonga, I met another male singlehanded sailor also in his thirties who upon meeting me, displayed the not so uncommon alpha male behaviour of having to assert himself as the more seasoned of the two of us. Within minutes, there was mention of an 80 knot experience, successful navigation of the pass at Mopelia and a visit to Beveridge Reef which he bragged was not in the pilots. While continuing to list his exploits, most of which involved unnecessary exposure to danger, what struck me the most was his use of the words, "real cruising.” 

     I have heard California sailors say that Mexico is not "real" cruising.  It is not far enough away!  You can hop from marina to marina and never anchor out! There is no doubt that the San Francisco Bay Area based sailing magazine, Latitude 38 has transformed the cruising landscape here with events like their Baja Haha which now boasts hundreds of participants.  Other events like Sail Fest and the Banderas Bay regatta are equally popular so, yes, one can spend the entire season occupied within this world.  Mexico is not on any of the regular circumnavigation routes so there isn't much diversity within the cruising community.  I have seen one European boat since I got here... My visit to La Cruz confirmed that for many, cruising is the experience of other cruisers.

     I guess what it comes down to is that people cast off the lines for different reasons.  There is a big difference between chasing a dream and pursuing a well defined goal.  I feel this difference when I listen to some sailors talk about boats.  They talk up the virtues of one design over another until it becomes obvious that the boat is less a boat and instead some manifestation of their alter ego.  What are you gonna do with the boat?  This part is always assumed when it shouldn't be.  For me, I knew enough that when I first saw Pelican, it was without a doubt not my "dream boat" at all.  I too had my own ideal vision and having already cruised a Pearson Vanguard, I knew a lot of the Alberg 35's negative qualities.  Unfortunately, I also knew what it was capable of.  It was almost like a test to see what my priorities were.  Do you want to cross oceans visiting remote places or do you want a nice boat to go yachting in a relaxed sailing destination like Mexico?  I had to make a choice and the one thing I am very glad of is that what I thought to be true turned out to be.  You don't need your dream boat to cross oceans and see the world.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Making it official

(Click on Map for larger view.)

I keep the record of my journey up to date on the map above.  The March 2011 post follows below,

Well... I guess I will do this now and get it out of the way. Mainly so I can start sounding like an old salt and laying down the wisdom! Actually, it does feel nice to say I made it around the world singlehanded.

I missed my goal of putting less than 500 hours on the engine. Final tally from when I first bought the boat in Seattle, WA to here in Manzanillo is 680 hours. I will say that I would have made that 500 hour mark if I hadn´t done four months of backpacker charters in the San Blas. Had to use the engine there to stay on other´s schedules so I easily put over a hundred hours on the engine in those four months.

Right now I am working on getting the boat to somewhere in the Sea of Cortez and pulling it out of the water. The boat is now for sale but it is hard to sell a boat in Mexico so one plan is to refit the boat and sail it across the Pacific again to Australia or New Zealand. The boat is worth more in those places and of course this would be a great excuse for visiting the South Pacific again. Now that I have already done the South Pacific once, I know where to go. I would completely skip the much overdone ¨milk run¨route. On the other hand, if I sell the boat now, I would be that much closer to the next adventure... I could of course do the bash and get the boat to California but it is probably not much easier to sell a boat up there.

Anyways, we will see. I will keep the blog going with more reflections on the trip in the coming weeks. There will not be as much sailing anymore though. This last passage was it for awhile. La Paz is now hundreds of miles away and no longer thousands...