Posted by: Sailing Camelot | December 7, 2011

December 2nd – Topolobampo to Mazatlan

We went to bed at 9 pm last night, planning to leave by 4 am this morning. I’m still in bed but wide awake, thinking of getting up quietly without disturbing Tom, when I hear him “Hon? You awake? What do you say, want to leave NOW?”.  I guess our sleep patterns are all screwed up: it’s 2 am, and we’re both awake! No point diddling, we might as well go. Just let me get that coffee pot going, and I’m ready!

We leave the dock precisely at 2:37 am. It’s pitch black out here, the channel markers are all lit up but somehow it looks confusing. Some lights that are supposed to be red are yellow instead, adding to the confusion… Tom is concentrating fiercely on following the channel, carefully avoiding anchored cargo ships and the dredging barge. There’s nothing for me to do but keep my mouth shut and exercise my eyeballs in the dark… We’re quiet and a little nervous, not a word is exchanged for a long while. It’s dead silent around us as well, at least until a huge sea lion pops his head out of the water –right behind Tom- and lets out a noisy, heavy sigh. We both jumped about a foot in the air, startled and scared shitless. The feisty beast ends up noisily escorting us almost all the way to open sea.

Once we reach the deep waters, we turn left and exhale. Finally, we can let coffee flow freely!

There’s not going to be a chance in hell to sail, today. Oh, there’s plenty of wind blowing all right, but from the wrong direction – on our nose… So we resign to the hypnotic drone of our trusted engine, knowing that for the next day and a half it will be our soundtrack.

The sea is not cooperating, either. We get annoying waves at short intervals, making for a slightly uncomfortable ride. To complete the picture, the usually-cobalt-blue skies are grey with big ominous clouds and it’s a little cooler than what we like. What a gloomy day! We look at each other, shaking our head and muttering “this sucks!”more than once. It’s not always perfect…

It also gets dark around 6 pm, making for a long night. I take the first watch. I guess we’re in the middle of “Shrimp County” here, since for over 35 miles now I’ve been passing a long line of shrimpers. They’re much closer to shore than we are, all lined up like a platoon ready for inspection. How they don’t get their nets all tangled up in each others’ is a mystery to me… But hey, I’m fine as long as they don’t get tangled in my propeller…

I wake up Tom, partly because I feel I’m getting tired and partly because I’m bored out of my mind. Also, I’m approaching two big fishing boats and am uncertain on how to pass them: keep my course and go between them, or take a wide right and loop around them? It’s a simple decision, but when I’m tired not even that comes easy… So I take the cowardly route and wake up the Captain. Let him deal with that…

There’s something to be said about going to sleep in a pre-warmed bed! So comforting, it even makes you forget the excessive sea motion!

When I come back up a few hours later, I see that we’re smack in the middle of a fishing fleet – like the hole in a donut!

Tom sees my sleepy and worried face and quickly reassures me. Apparently, the fishing fleet is moving to a different fishing spot and their nets are not deployed while they move. So we travel in amicable company with these giants, invisible in the darkness but for their cluster of deck lights -as bright as street lights-. We march together at a safe distance of one or two miles from each other for a few hours, then they all slowly accelerate away from us.

All alone again we now entertain ourselves watching the lights on the coast, more frequent and intense, signaling bigger cities. Oh, joy! We also get rained on, pretty heavily. To distract me for the gloom, Tom shows me what a squall looks like on radar. It looks like there’s a big island in front of you! But it’s not land; it’s just the reflection of the rain.

Wait a minute… Does that mean that in about 4 miles we’re going to get even heavier rain? Oh, great.

It stays like this, gloom, rain, rain, gloom, until we arrive in Mazatlan.  Then the winds get stronger, the waves get bigger and a pod of whales decides to cross our bow on their way to breakfast. It’s been a while since we spotted whales, but they’re now back so we’ll have to resume “whale-watch” …

Finally we safely arrive to destination: El Cid Marina in Mazatlan. We’re both bone-tired, the trip of 248 miles lasted about 34 hours. I know, I am whining… But having spent a long summer island-hopping and traveling only short distances, it’ll take me a bit to get used to longer stretches again.

In any case, we’re going to stay in Mazatlan for two weeks.  We’re happy to be back here.



  1. Ahoy the Camelot, Merry Christmas. It’s time to update your blog.

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