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Our morning view to the east as we departed Bahia De Los Muertos
K off watch in
the aft berth
J on watch as we
approached Mazatlan

 So we're off to Mazatlan!  Again, we amaze ourselves with the lack of time it takes to prepare
to depart (35 minutes including dinghy on deck).  Shortly thereafter we discover the tortilla
disaster ( our introduction to Mexican tortillas was in Turtle Bay, and quite honestly we are
amazed at the stuff we've been subjected to in the US).  We continue to motor until winds hit 14
true.  Up go the sails, off goes the engine and we continue at 8 knots average for the next 20
hours.  We had adopted a new night watch strategy - first watch  was Justin and Katherine (7 pm
til 10 pm).  Second watch would be Maureen (10 until 1 am).  Next up was David  (1 am til 4 am)
then the kids again (4 til 7).  David and Maureen retired attempting sleep as the kids began their
first watch.  David instructed them to watch the wind indicator and if the winds hit 18 knots we
would get up and take down the spinnaker.  M laid in her bunk watching the race repeater (cute
little thing that shows true wind speed/angle etc.) and notes that the wind speed was hitting 21
knots regularly.  She gets up about 8:30.  It's not his watch, but David immediately comments "Is
it time already?".  He had been tossing and turning listening to the sound of the spinnaker in the
building wind, though he didn't have the benefit of the "cute little thing" on the ceiling to tell him
what's going on.  
Special editors sailing note:  Since we are heeled over on this passage D doesn't
get to snuggle into his regular berth with M  :(  note #2-M also has master duke cuddled in...)
 M answers with the current time, but that the wind is up to 21 knots regularly and maybe we
should take down the spinnaker.  D gets up  and asks J about the wind conditions ...  J responds
by reading off the apparent wind indicator, not the true wind indicator (in these conditions
approx. 6 knots less than true).  No worries, M is wide awake and sends K down to keep Duke
company in her bunk.  D, J, and M discuss the situation and wait a few minutes.  The officers and
crew note that the wind has changed direction (about 30 degress), and maybe a little trim is all
we need.  We trim, plus the wind subsides slighty, and we decide to leave the spinnaker up and
carry on at our current rate.  YEA YEA zooming along, and D can climb back in his bunk :).  Justin
is encouraged to be "slightly" more aggressive, and attempt subtle trim changes independently in
the future while on his watch.
 Around 11:30 M is up on watch alone and notices a layer of orange lights just on the horizon.   A
quick check of the radar shows nothing.  A second look at the horizon suggests it's getting
bigger, really fast!  Still nothing on radar,  so what cruise ship with christmas lights doesn't show
up on radar?  Now it's huge, and right THERE, but not on radar (about to hit the panic button, call
all hands) - but could it be??? yes, it's the moon!  Bright orange, a perfect half circle rising on its
back.  WHEW- another disaster narrowly averted!  M stands down from her Mayday status.
 All in all, we have had the best sail of our Baja journey while we have been crossing The Sea Of
Cortez.   190 miles in 30 hours, the furthest offshore we had been to date - the best conditions,
we had a blast (other than no tortillas, man life sucks...)  We pulled into Mazatlan the day before
Christmas eve- life was good!
 Maureen has the helm as we head toward the channel north of Mazatlan harbor that will bring us
into the marinas.  Once again the guide book suggests not to attempt this at night if you are
unfamiliar with the channel (this is excellent advice for
this marina entrance).  As we get closer I
still haven't quite identified the entrance between the breakwaters and crashing waves.  
Eventually breakwaters become clear and I know where I'm going.
 A big yacht is coming out, so I slow down and we pass left to left (ok, so these people are still
civilized).  I enter the channel which appears to be about 20' wide (I'm sure it's more than that,
but ... ) when suddenly a big sport fishing boat from aft passes us on the port easily going twice
as fast as us (so much for the civilized aspect!).  As I'm fishtailing through the narrow channel,
breaking into a sweat and watching the depth gauge, another boat is on our tail.  By now I'm
looking for frozen beers to start chucking at anyone who even THINKS about getting close, not
to mention passing!  As the second fishing boat passes from aft on our starboard side (albeit a
little more slowly), David is happily positioned by the mast and calls back "you ok?".  "Oh sure,
just fine" I reply with just a tad of sarcasm and panic in my voice.
 Having just run the gauntlet, and getting a glimpse of the narrow slipways in the marina, I  hand
the helm over to David.  There is a little bit of confusion as the crew attempts to spot the slip.  
Left or right of the big Island? Hmmm - where are the dock numbers?  I guess 7 is after 6 even
though 5 followed 3 not 4.  What about slip numbers? does 18 follow 16 or 17, wait 18 is over
there, no no no that's 19.  As the crew stands at the shrouds, dock lines in hand we make a
perfect entry into our slip (hang around these cruiser docks for long and you will see some scary
landings).  The onlooking helpers step back, they didn't need to throw their bodies between their
boats and ours this time.  We hand over one dock line just to make one dockside volunteer feel
wanted.  Actually it's great when the neighbors rush over to help catch you, but once again our
practice - practice - practice time in SF Bay is paying off.         -M