Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's in Topolobampo, Sinaloa

Our second attempt at reaching Mazatlan lasted for two days. Moderate southerly winds changed to NW as day one progressed with our main sail and jib pushing us southbound. The following seas hit at a higher frequency than predicted (sensing a trend?) and delivered uneven bashing that was unpleasant and jostling to the crew and the boat. As the NW winds increased so did the seas. Everything was lashed down and stowed. The hook holding our mesh bags full of veggies for our passage broke free and I caught most before we had a salon full of salad. That would have been a good video clip, I’d imagine.

The wish for ”following seas” as one heads out on a journey is no longer my idea of fun. I readily admit, I was not looking forward to two more days of the same. As we headed past San Ignacio Farallon rock outside of Topolobampo, the captain relinquished and we rounded to the south side to make our way in.

Crossing against the chop took six hours toward the entrance. As some know, it’s a very long and shallow way in to the harbor at Topolobampo. Following the buoys into the channel is critical and slow going. We followed large ship traffic past Buoy 11 and 12 in the main channel, then they continued N and we headed NW toward the marina. We stopped to enter additional waypoints, and suddenly our first dolphins snorted next to the boat to welcome us. In the darkness, surprise blows make you jump!

Through salty binoculars, we saw marina lights glisten in the distance at 11pm. It was at that instant we ran aground – aligned exactly between Buoy 7 and 8 in the inner harbor. Alone in the darkness, we had little choice but to drop anchor then fell fast asleep exhausted from the journey and dark passage into the harbor. We were gleefully awoken at 5AM to the boat tipped, then rocking gently – we were freed from the mud! We quickly raised anchor and made our way to the marina where we spent New Year’s cleaning the boat, doing repairs and resting.

I didn’t mind a stop at Topolobampo (the only other place I know that has 5 vowels, just like my home town of Oconomowoc!). We’d been here exactly two years ago with cruising friends, so are familiar with the town and its story []. New Years’ day found us enjoying fresh seafood cocktails at a street stand with a view to the bay. It was at the intersection of several streets so was reminiscent of Italy, great for people watching.

So we’ve decided to stay a couple more days until weather allows. We’ll bus to Los Mochis and El Fuerte then continue our quest south, into hopefully more mellow seas, the welcome sights and sounds of Mazatlan, and our friends who arrive from Canada – now before us – on the 4th.

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