The Comforts of Solitude

After weeks of entertaining guests on Milagros, we finally found ourselves alone again. The sudden solitude was a welcome change. We have come to peace with our decision to turn around and are confident that setting our course back north was the right decision. Our trip back to the Sea should be filled with adventures, discovery of awesome new places, a lot of animal friends and welcomed solitude back to our lives with open arms after a busy couple of weeks.

The marathon of visiting friends passed as quickly as it came. After Juli packed his things and we said goodbye to him at Mazatlán airport, we returned to Milagros, which layed anchored in the old port of Mazatlán again.

Home alone

Being back on the boat alone again was weird, but nice. For the first time in a long time, we had the whole boat to ourselves. Having all those friends over was great and we’re already looking forward to welcoming folks back aboard Milagros – but now we were been able to stretch our feet again, and immerse ourselves in our little everyday rhythm that we’ve built up on the boat over the years.

Something’s different

One morning, we experienced Mazatlán from a side that we hadn’t seen before. As always, we woke up early in the morning at first sunlight. But this time something was different. It was extremely quiet and only the occasional horn blast from large boats echoed through the area. I had to put my head through the hatch right away and check on the situation.

Cruise ship in the fog

And I was amazed: We were sitting in dense fog. We hardly saw the boats next to us it was so dense and Milagros was covered with thick drops of dew. However, the Mexican sun had already risen and quickly put an end to the spectacle. The fog cleared, revealing an impressive scene. With a deep, loud horn blast, a huge cruise ship pushed through the port entrance and the remaining clouds of fog and past our friends on SV Munday’s Off into Mazatlán harbor.

Back at the Kraken

We also visited the «El Kraken» football stadium again. The local football club had a home game against Monterrey. It was our third visit to the stadium already! We should have gotten a season ticket right away. So, we headed back out to cheer for the purple heroes. Instead of Florian, Tyr and Onno were with us this time around. Before kick-off we made ourselves comfortable in a restaurant near the stadium.

A stroke of luck

The restaurant we chose randomly should turn out to be a stroke of luck. We were received super friendly by the owner, who explained to us that in addition to various barbecued meat, the owners also served their own homemade cheese. Of we ordered a mixed meat platter with the cheese.

Filling our bellies

We were amazed when not just one, but two table grills filled to the brim with pork, chicked and beef seasoned with different BBQ sauces were placed in front of us. Wow! We enjoy the game satisfied and with full bellies where Mazatlán was defeated by Monterrey (as expected). In general, it was more of a Monterrey home game. The stadium was filled with black and white jerseys, and the Monterrey fans were LOUD.

Topolowhat? Topolohow?

Soon it was time to look for a weather window for the onward journey. A larger hop of about 200 nautical miles (370 km) was pending. The next destination was a small port town called “Topolobampo”. That would be yet another tongue twister for our good friend Hürzi, who has contributed a blog post about his visit on Milagros. At that time, he had a hard time pronouncing “Zihuatenejo”. Before leaving, we had to fill our diesel tanks, as we expected to be motoring during night time.

Topping up the diesel tanks in a different way

Getting diesel was a bit more complicated here in the Mazatlán harbor than anywhere else. We had to pack our diesel cans in our dinghy and cruise across the harbor to a dock where taxi boats took day trippers to a secluded beach. There had to be a gas station somewhere over there, Google said. So, we first did an on-site inspection, because here in Mexico you never know if the places that are marked on Google Maps actually exist. And indeed: there was a gas station with diesel, gasoline and even propane gas.

The viking rushes to help

We summarily recruited Tyr, who accompanied us on our drive through the harbor and helped us haul diesel. Under the incredulous eyes of a few dozen Mexicans, we docked our dinghy, got the diesel we needed at the gas station and were promptly given a ride back to the dock by a friendly local. Back on Milagros we filled her belly.

All the better!

Topolobampo is about 200 nautical miles north of Mazatlàn on the mainland of the Sea of Cortez. Unlike the much-visited Baja California Peninsula, only a handful of sailors lose themselves on the mainland because the general consensus is that there isn’t much to see, which is simply not true. All the better for us, so we could explore the area undisturbed. What is true is that on the mainland, the distances between the anchorages and cities that you can visit by sailboat are bigger.

Let’s gooo!

So, to our great joy (not) there were two nightly sails to be done. But you can’t always choose, so we had to bite the bullet. It is important that we have to jump over our own shadow from time to time. Our theory is that all we need to do is experience a few great night shifts for our attitude to change. Let’s do this!

Goodbye Mazatlan!

Unlike our last visit to Mazatlán, Burrito (our engine) started without a murmur and we were soon on our way. We expected southerly and easterly winds and no wind at night for the entire trip. The trip started with great sailing. Bye Mazatlán, it was fun! Vamos Maza!

The weird waters of Mazatlán

Along the way we noticed the same phenomenon as during our crazy crossing from La Paz to Mazatlán with Flo. The sea was choppy, with waves hitting the boat from different angles and at irregular intervals. Milagros’ movements, while weird and unfamiliar, were not uncomfortable. The wind also did what it was supposed to and pushed us towards Topolobampo.

Managing night shifts

We also managed the night shifts well. The moon was shining brightly in the sky, which helped a lot, our surroundings weren’t just pitch black. As expected, we had to cover part of the nightly route under engine, which at the same time always means that the sea calms down. Only having to deal with the noise of burrito, we could sleep without being constantly pushed around.

Sea creatures everywhere

The second day was peppered with great encounters with sea creatures. A humpback whale surfaced right next to the boat to take a breath, sea lions were haning out the waters everywhere and could hardly believe their eyes when they saw Milagros passing by them, dozens of sea turtles were on the move.

We’re too early

Since we wanted to take advantage of a window of good wind, we left Mazatlán a little early. It quickly became clear that we were a little too early to enter the channel to Topolobampo. We had to actively waste time. In the early morning hours of the second night, a light wind picked up. So, I could enjoy beautiful and very slow sailing on my shift while Patricia could snooze. When fog came up, the scenery turned into a dreamland.

Magical, foggy night time sailing

The moon in the sky lit up the whole sea of fog, the sea was smooth as glass and the light wind pushed Milagros very slowly but steadily. We sailed absolutely silently through the fog at a snail’s pace. Nocturnal bird calls, which we normally never hear, rang out from the humid environment. Light rippling on the hull, no noise from the wind blowing around our ears, no creaking and squeaking from the cabin, no rushing of the waves. It was pure magic.

Buying time

Although we only made slow progress during the night, we were still too early. When it was Pati’s turn for her shift, we just decided to drift for a few hours and wait for the first light of day. It was my turn to take a break and I didn’t wake up until we were slowly but surely moving toward the entrance to Topolobampo Bay.

Through the canal to the marina

The small town lies inland in a beautiful bay at the end of a man-made excavated canal. Large container ships and a ferry pass through the sandbar, so the canal is well maintained and buoyed. So, it was easy for us to find the way. The night before we radioed back and forth Tim from SV Coconut, who was also on the way from Mazatlán to Topolobampo right in front of us. He found a place in the marina there, told us that there was free space, and so we spent two nights in the pretty little marina of Topolobampo.

Exploring Topolobampo

As soon as we arrived, we set off to take a closer look at Topolobampo. With almost 6000 inhabitants, it is a tranquil town, but it has a large port where big cargo ships can dock. The houses painted in many different colors are particularly beautiful to look at – they reminded us of our great visit to the mind blowing Iztapalapa district in Mexico City together with Nic and Janine from SV Rua Hatu.

Tacos at Don Gato

After indulging in tacos at Don Gato (which are probably some of the best we’ve ever had), we just walked around town, following our noses. This under the curious gaze of the inhabitants of Topolobampo; apparently not many foreigners stray into the city. Topolobampo is very pretty and definitely worth a visit. Unfortunately, the ugly side of humanity showed itself, too.

Ewwwwww

At the very end of town, a river of sewage pours straight into the waters in front of the town. In general, Mexico, like so many other countries on the planet, has a problem with the treatment of its sewage. In many places, these flow directly into the sea, often completely unfiltered. The kind of mess we are making of the only freaking planet we have leaves us speechless over and over again.

Discovering yet another new to us anchorage

Back on the boat I discovered an anchorage just at the entrance of the canal in our navigation program that looked promising and which we had overlooked in the planning. “Hook’s Anchorage” was its name. What a salty name for an anchorage – of course we had to check it out. Said and done.

Hook’s Anchorage

After two nights in the marina of Topolobampo and far too many days in the filthy but fun old port of Mazatlán, we were finally back in a real anchorage. We made the best of it relaxing, exploring, dinghying into the nearby mangroves and planning for the next leg which would take us to our final destination for the season – back to Guaymas and San Carlos.

Plastic everywhere

But here, too, we were caught up in the grim reality of the state of our environment. The long, beautiful beach was covered in pieces of plastic of all sizes. A particularly large number of the bottles were marked with the famous red caps of a well-known beverage giant. We didn’t let that spoil our mood because we had the whole sandbank to ourselves. So, we enjoyed long walks every day, the peace and quiet and being alone. We just love having anchorages all to ourselves.

Someone wants to move in with us

Apart from us and our floating home, there was only the animal world, which wanted to make Milagros its home. Pati was busy reading in the cockpit, when suddenly our solar panels started making a racket. After an initial startle, she set out to find the source of the riot. The culprits were small birds that seemed to be busy scouting a possible nesting site under our solar panels. They flew in and out and landed on the mounting plates on our railing. We let them have their way because we had to move on anyway, which would not leave enough time for nesting. And they were cute, too, those little guys.

The last crossing of the season

The days passed and soon it was time for the last passage of the season. We wanted to pay a visit to the kingdom of El Mero, where we tackled some projects before being southbound at the very beginning in the winter of 2022. There we had to prepare for the haul out of Milagros. This last crossing of another 185 nautical miles was relatively uneventful with changing wind forces and a few hours of great but uncomfortable sailing in the last part before we finally turned the corner back into the kingdom and anchored there, under the eyes of many old acquaintances and a few new faces.

Preparations for the haul out

Instead of docking at the old El Mero docks, we decided to anchor further out. This enabled us to dismantle our sails and make initial arrangements for getting out of the water. We had big plans. Our choice for the time at the Boatyard was «Gabriel’s Yard», where Iñaki and Carmen did their big refit of Anila. They didn’t leave the best review, to put it nicely. Now we wanted to take a close look at the situation ourselves. Exciting times are ahead!

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1 Comment

Kathrine Waldmann

Hallo zämme, wie kann ich euch ein Bier spendieren, ohne eine Handynummer von euch? Twint wäre am einfachsten, oder? Ich bin die Mutter von Melanie (mit der du, Patricia zur Schule gingst…) und Patrick (er ging mit Carmen zur Schule). Lese gerne euren Blog, auch wenn ich mit Segeln nichts am Hut habe. Herzliche Grüße, Kathrine

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