In Ensenada, Mexico, we waited for Maika to come and visit us. She had a flight to Los Angeles, we hadn’t booked a connecting flight yet, because we couldn’t know beforehand whether we would be travelling with her in the USA or Mexico. Flights from LA to Ensenada all went via San Diego, bus connections took a long time and involved waiting in Tijuana in the middle of the night. In the end, we decided to use a shuttle service offered by the marina. The Marina Coral in Ensenada is very well adjusted to American tourists. Although they also take North American prices, the assistance came in very handy for us.
Together with Maika, we wanted to get to know the surroundings of Ensenada. There is the Guadalupe Valley, a wine-growing area where 90% of Mexican wine is grown. We had a car with a driver who took us to some stops in the area. First we looked at a wine-growing museum and learned about the history of wine. Then we visited a winery. Since the main attraction there was a wine tasting, Maika and I tried it. None of the wines convinced us, but we are not at all connoisseurs and had to judge according to our individual taste. As I had hardly had breakfast in the morning, the alcohol was noticeable. The winery also made cheese and we ordered a cheese platter with Manchego cheeses. That fixed the alcohol problem and the cheeses were very good. A tour of the production facility was not possible right now, but we were still shown the tanks where the grapes are processed in season.
The next winery was a mini-estate founded as a one-man operation 20 years ago by a Swiss engineer. He still grows the wine today with only a few employees. The place looked very homely. Here we found a red wine that Maika and I liked. The last stop was to find something to eat. We asked the driver to recommend a restaurant that was not too posh, as we had experienced that the simple restaurants served the tastier food. He took us to one that looked quite unassuming from the outside, where the food tasted good and the portions were huge. At the end of the day, we went to the supermarket to do some shopping, the next sailing trips would again be long and without shopping facilities.
Maika had brought the necessary parts from Europe, now Mathias could modify the 220V system so that solar energy could be used to heat the hot water. It should be possible to switch between marina electricity and solar power inverter as the source for heating. We didn’t have that before because there was hot water after using the engine and it could also be generated with shore power. Since the turbo broke down, however, the water no longer gets really hot and we don’t use shore power at all. The solar power is also sufficient in the marina and there are often only problems with shore power connections anyway. The conversion has proved very useful. During the day there is often an abundance of electricity, the energy from which can now also be stored in the hot water heating system, and we now enjoy the luxury of hot water for the showers at all times. 🙂
On the second day with Maika, after another shopping trip, we headed south. The wind was ok, but there was still a high swell from a strong wind that had passed through. This meant that all three of us got a bit seasick at the beginning. In addition, there were the night watches, so it took us a while until we got used to sailing again. After three nights at sea, we arrived at Bahia de Ballenas near Abreojos. I had emailed two companies in advance that offered tours to the whales. One of them said it could work. But then they couldn’t find a boat that would pick us up. Normally, the tours are organised by car from the other side of Baja California. Only authorised tour boats are allowed into the lagoon, so that not too many people disturb the whales. Grey whales come to the San Ignacio Lagoon between November and April to mate and calve. The shallow water is probably better for the calves, plus the lagoon is protected and warms up nicely, which is certainly good for the calves until they have accumulated enough fat. Because the previous contacts had not worked out, Maika and I went ashore in Abreojos and asked around. According to the guidebook, there should be tours from here. But that must have changed completely because of Covid. Maika changed her Portuguese a bit and we made ourselves understood. With our combined efforts we were able to understand the answers. Only one tour company emerged that would be suitable for us. We had to drive further into the bay to the entrance of the lagoon. There was just a little mobile phone reception when we sat outside at the helm and every now and then you could reach someone on channel 68 VHF radio, but only speaking in Spanish. With much back and forth, we managed to arrange for a boat to pick us up from the SAN on the third day after arrival.
The tour only lasted 2 hours because the length of stay in the park is limited, but it was an unforgettable experience. The whales have become accustomed to the boats, they also like to scratch themselves on the boats from time to time. If you splash your hands on the water, they come to the boat and let you touch them. We tickled a calf and the mother. We saw a whale very close to the boat that obviously enjoyed the sun shining on its belly, another whale responded to our splashing with its fin and several times we could see one swimming directly under the boat. Really great, we were glad to have made the enormous effort to stop here. However, I would recommend other sailors to rather organise the tour from Loreto or Puerto Escondido over land, that way seems to be easier nowadays.
Click on the picture and you will get to our video of the tour on YouTube:
While we enjoyed this great experience, Mathias guarded the SAN, which we did not want to leave at anchor all alone. Heroically, he used the time to clean the water filters of the toilets. You have to dismantle the toilets for that. What wouldn’t you do to make your daughter’s stay more pleasant 🙂
From the whales we went on a longer trip again, this time with calmer seas.
Finally we were able to sail properly again and even set a spinnaker 😎
On the third night we reached Cabo San Lucas. A party place full of US-Americans, yachts of all sizes at anchor and a cruise ship (which fortunately only came when we were already at anchor). The sea bottom drops off quickly, so you have to anchor quite close to the shore. It was a bit difficult in the dark, but worked out on the second try. When we woke up in the morning, we realised that we were parked right in front of an aisle to the beach that had been left between the bathing zones. Great, we could save ourselves the dinghy ride through the hustle and bustle at the marina and Mathias dropped Maika and me off at the beach.
We wanted to stroll through town and then to Walmart. The detour through the city somehow led us back to the starting point and we traipsed through the heat along a large road to the Walmart, which was a little out of town. Once there, we had to take a break. For the way back, we preferred to take the bus. In the evening on the SAN, loud music came from several beach bars and there was also dancing on some of the neighbouring ships. A somewhat different kind of anchorage 😉
Because we had to drop Maika off again in Mazatlan and wanted to take another look at the city beforehand, and because the best wind was supposed to be now, we didn’t stay long in Cabo San Lucas. We continued across the Sea of Cortez.
The crossing was pleasant and smooth. Hardly any waves, between 9 and 15 knots of wind, only one night crossing – that’s how it should be. We arrived in Mazatlan in the afternoon and first anchored and cooked ourselves a nice meal.
It was not until the next day that we entered the marina. The entrance is narrow and shallow. So it is better to wait for a high water level and the tide to turn so as not to have too much current. We arrived a day earlier than announced and at first it didn’t look like there would be room for us at all. Mathias then went around with the harbour master to look for a place that would be big and deep enough. Finally, we moored next to the fun catamarans on the opposite side of the entrance channel. We always have to use the water taxi from there, but it goes back and forth all the time and serves as a bridge substitute for the resort guests. Parking at the mooring was not so easy, it gets shallow quickly, so we wanted to moor forward, keeping the propeller and rudder blade in deeper water. We couldn’t quite get to the jetty against the wind, all the pulling and even pushing of the water taxi didn’t help. So I guess we were stuck in the mud somehow. When the water rose again, Mathias was able to pull us over to the jetty.
Mazatlan is a large city with good bus connections and the Pulmonias, small open taxis that are not expensive. The old town is partly well preserved and has been transformed into an artists‘ quarter. The bus terminates at the central market, everything else is within easy walking distance from there. The beach promenade is also worth seeing.
Our first day was spent entering the marina and getting to the difficult mooring. The formalities were not so easy either. Maika had no entry stamp and therefore no Mexican residence card. The marina put us in touch with an agent who was able to get this card, which was good, because now she wouldn’t have any problems when leaving the country again.
We spent two days strolling through the city and visiting the market. We ate again in the small restaurant near the Opera. They even had a tostada with vegan toppings and the food is delicious.
On the second day, Maika had to do another Covid test because she had to fly back to the USA to catch her flight home from LA. She was able to do that at the marina’s resort hotel. The morning came all too soon when we put her in a taxi and she headed back home. She had to spend another night in LA, as the flights from Mazatlan do not leave daily and only at noon. It’s just not that easy to travel halfway around the world.
Immediately after the taxi left, we checked out of the marina and took advantage of the still favourable water level to sail out. We anchored briefly at the islands until Maika told us that everything had worked out and she could take the plane. Then we set off for Banderas Bay. It took us just as long to sail 169 nautical miles as it took Maika halfway around the world. But there was a lull again and for part of the time we drifted along at 1-2 knots.
Back in Banderas Bay we rest, do some repairs and meet the Fradolin again. The Fradolin is still on the hard, they had come out of the water shortly after we left for San Diego. The Fradolin is to be repainted all around and most of the work will be done by the two of them themselves. Quotations from companies were far too high. It looks as if the many US-Americans are spoiling the prices here, too. In any case, they have done a lot of work and still have a long way to go.
But it’s not all work:
Genoa slider repaired during the trip. It was broken and the individual parts, except for the roller, were lying around on the boat. This construction holds for now. However, we always suspected that the rails and the slide were designed rather small and plan to renew them. Mathias now found out during his research that the existing size is recommended for monohulls up to 44 feet. No wonder they can break out on a 51 foot trimaran. The sail is even bigger than on a 51-foot monohull and the forces are certainly higher than on a 44-foot boat.
We have three large gas bottles on board. Two of them have been used up. We mainly use gas to power the oven. Larger items that don’t fit in the tube solar oven, or when we don’t want it to take so long. We cook almost exclusively with the induction plates. Our gas bottles can be refilled and we also have an adapter set on board that should fit anywhere in the world. However, despite careful consideration, we had bought the adapter set for the wrong direction. This seemed to be fixed now, as Maika had brought us the second set for the other direction from Germany. In good spirits, Mathias approached the person in charge here. He picked up the bottles. But! Mexico has connections that didn’t fit! There was the idea of connecting a hose in between. But suitable gas hoses were not available either. Mathias spent a full day getting things and looking for a solution. But regrettably we had to give up. With the new adapter set, maybe it will work in another country……
As a tip: Mathias says that filling would have been possible with a gas hose that can connect two German bottles and both adapter sets. We were missing the hose.