Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 5, 2015 - Ensenada de Matanchen

Matanchen and San Blas was a fun stop at a fun time, the end of the holiday season.  We arrived on January 1st in the afternoon, arriving and anchoring way out in the bay as we wanted to keep away from the Jejenes (no-see um bugs) and mosquitos.  Our transit from Mazatlan to Isla Isabel had us arriving at daybreak. Well, we did slow down to make sure it was daylight when we arrived.  Steve and I switch off on overnight passages with an average of 3-4 hours each shift.  Seems I typically get the sunrises, which I can say bring a sense of joy at their splendor and relieve a sense of anxiety that comes with the possibility of hitting something that does not show on radar in the dark.  I have come to enjoy the overnights, even with the sleep deprivation, as they are calm and serene with everyone asleep, some alone time, and time to read a book or listen to an audio book.  Most evenings the stars and the moon shine above and there are no other boats on radar within our typical 16 mile radius setting.  I am not worried about other vessels, everyone out here has lights so even if not on radar (infrequent) you see lights, my worry is more about some sort of debris in the water, coming up on some type of pots or long line fisherman on my watch!  We have several nautical guide books that we refer to before any passage so we are prepared ahead of time about the water depths, and any hazards that may exist to navigation on our passages.  And, obviously, we inspect the charts for the area we will be travelling.  There are two very small anchorages at Isla Isabel and each had three boats.  We circled around the eastern area and the southern cove and were not happy with the area so we made the decision to head on to Matanchen with hopes to discover Isla Isabel and the unique sanctuary that it is on our way back north.  The bottom is very rocky and has "swallowed" more anchors than any other area in Mexico, from what we have been told.

Isla Isabel - photo from the east, Las Monas - two rock formations in the foreground

Since we arrived at Matanchen in the afternoon, we decided to stay aboard and not go to shore until the next day.  There were two other sailboats that afternoon that we missed the chance to introduce ourselves to as they left the following morning.  We were then the sole vessel in the bay, and there were few boats arriving or departing during our stay.   So we had, I guess you could say, felt a little lonely there.  One afternoon we were returning to the boat and stopped by a sailboat that came in and we introduced ourselves. They too are headed south, a couple from Denver.  Bought their boat in La Paz 5 years ago.  They have been sailing the Sea of Cortez for fall/winter/spring since and going back to Denver for the summers.  They are now full time cruisers although similar in age and expecting they will have to go back to work sometime.

Matanchen has been beautiful.  The temperatures have been in the low 80’s daytime and 70 in the nighttime.  A bit warm for us but we are surviving.   The locals in town are wearing jeans and sweaters! The biggest change for us is the high humidity.  Just moving you are sweating, it is so high!  The water has been about 78 degrees and over 80 at the shoreline.  The beach is wonderful and easy to dinghy in, no breakers to cross.  So of course we had some beach time.
Kevin and Cindy playing where a stream enters the bay
Matanchen Bay looking south


Cindy's creation

Kevin's creation

The line of restaurants/palapas was interesting.  People pull their cars in, which is in the shade, and they have tables just in front of them on the beach side, also in the shade.  These people just seem to spend the day there.  It has been quite busy since we arrived since it is the end of holidays and also the weekend.  Monday after the holidays, was quite different and so very quiet, we don’t understand how they could stay in business.  The beach is lined with the restaurants, one after another, and the workers vying for you to come to their restaurant.  Seemed that no one would arrive until around noon each day when it would then become quite busy.  The scent of burning coconut leaves help keep the bugs away.  They would be burning them along the roadway behind the beach.
Cindy and Kevin out near the water. 

Looking down the beach

Getting ready to dinghy back to the boat

a Restaurant area in the morning before people arrive

We took a taxi into San Blas on Sunday.  We walked around the town and had a late breakfast at a wonderful restaurant, Ofro’s.  As we were getting ready to leave, the owner approached me and gave me his business card and wrote his personal number on the back and stated to let him know if we needed anything at all.  They are very nice here.  We went into the Municipal Mercado and got some vegetables, fruit,bread, and on our way out a man with a bucket of fresh strawberries was walking in so we purchased some.  We had them last night and they were great, it is Kevin’s and my favorite fruit.
San Blas Town Square
Town, bustling on a Sunday morning

After walking in town and doing a bit of shopping we headed outside of town and toward where we would catch the taxi back to Matanchen.  We walked to the old fort which was a mere 10 pesos per person to enter.  The old fort, named La Contaduria, was built in 1770 to protect the town as they had extensive trading at the time with the Phillipine's and as well the accounting office.

The walk up the road to the fort

The view from the fort 
The view of San Blas from the fort

Behind the fort is an old church built in 1769 and was active until 1872.  At that time the bells from the belfry were removed and it was the inspiration for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write the famous poem, The Bells of San Blas.
Our Lady of the Rosary, built in the 1769.   
On the final day we went to shore one last time and took a Jungle tour through the La Tovara Nature Preserve. It is an easy walk from the park/beach in Matanchen.  This is a tour of the lush mangroves surrounding San Blas.
The Panga tour boat, we had 8 people

Standing on one front leg.  On the way back he had both out!

The mangroves are home to American Crocodiles.  We saw many on our
jungle tour.  The average male is 13' and 850 pounds!

How many iguana's can you see?  There are actually 7 in this tree!

La Tovara, springs, restaurant

To end this post, a few pictures of us at the boat and some of the fun.  Of course there are quite a few sunset photos as they are spectacular here.
Rays were abundant in the bay
This Frigate or Man-O-War bird was on our stabilizer pole
Steve going out to set a stern anchor

Steve resetting our main anchor float that was stuck about 2 feet under water.
Looking west/southwest to the open ocean...

Another spectacular sunset in Mexico.

Pelicans flew by quite close as the fish liked to stay in the shade our our boat.
They were hunting and would circle around and around, occasionally diving
in for a fresh seafood dinner. 

We thought this one might have been after Steve, nope just on the same path
around our boat looking for fish!

Some of the fish we netted one night (we throw them back).  

Looking down from boat deck.  Three fishing with nets.
Cindy has this long fish with teeth in her net

another long fish.  This things will jump right out of the water.  Kevin and
Steve saw one skipping across the water one morning, and it traveled at least
100 feet before going back into the water.

From the Jungle tour.  I like this one of Kevin.
Zappa trying to stay cool

our new hammock

new hammock, hard to get a turn on it


  1. Hi Tony!

    I assume you meant to say "Happy New Year Steve". Or is this some sort of test of my foreign language skills? :-)