The Lady Arisha team shared with us their impressions of visiting the Mexican town of Masatlan. After reading the article, you will learn where to get up for repairs and where it is more profitable to stock up on food and water, which marina is cheaper and which is more comfortable, where to listen to jazz and where to sing karaoke.
If you gather in Masatlan by sea, then know: the place is noble! Mexico attracts hundreds of yachts from the cold shores of North America, Canada and the USA. It has a lot to offer to those Americans who love comfort: good yacht service, very reasonable prices, and most importantly - endless warm summer! For long-haul cruisers, this port is a favorite stop for fuel, clean water and provisions on the way to Panama or across the Pacific Ocean. The city has everything you need for a yacht brotherhood: marinas, prepared piers, workshops, clean water and fuel. In addition, there is something to see.
How to pass.
You can go to Masatlan from the sea on both sides. One entrance leads to the main port, which is a haven for fishing trailers, an industrial place and a center for specialized shops with yachting and fishing equipment.
Here you can find batteries for yachts and repair a radio station, as well as stock up on fishing gear and even buy an echo sounder. Prices compared to America and Cabo San Lucas are very nice, three times lower.
When entering the port, you should navigate to the island of Isla Creston, on top of which there is a lighthouse. On the left, just behind the breakwater, there is a place for anchorage opposite the Nautico club. From a dozen yachts are tied to the local buoys. In the yachting language it is called mooring and means that the yacht will stand far from the shore and the ground will have to go on a small rubber boat, the locals call it dinghy. There are no additional services: no water, no electricity.
However, it is very far from the center and it is very inconvenient to get there. Although the locals said that sometimes there is a bus. There is also a port captain and a migration department nearby, where you can make a check-in or check-out (checking documents at border crossing) if necessary. In practice, however, it was only within the Pacific Ocean. To move to the islands or Australia, an international check-out would have to be made at the nearby major port of Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas.
Through the second entrance you get to the marina, where you can stand up straight to the pier and connect to clean water and electricity. From the fishermen's port you can walk one hour along the coast, past three small islands: Isla Pajaros, Isla Venados and Isla Lobos, along the city's waterfront, which stretches for 17 kilometers. It must be said that the second entrance, like the marinas themselves, is brand new and built especially for cruisers. That's why there was no new entrance on the electronic map of the carplotter. But one of our crew members was already in Masatlan 4 years ago, when he was choosing a boat with his father, and he knew that there is a very beautiful round marina.
Sometimes the entrance depth is directly critical - at low tides it drops to 3 feet (1 meter). Three times a day the entrance is cleaned with a special machine and blocked for the duration of cleaning, which should also be remembered.
Since inside the marina the distance between the shores is very narrow, there is little room for maneuvers and turns on a large yacht. It is necessary to ask for any marina on channel 16 and specify the possibility of entrance and its depth. However, unfortunately, it is not always the marina workers who listen to Channel 16 properly and do not answer right away.
When you enter the port from the open ocean, everything around is visually compressed at an incredible speed, as if a magnifying glass was brought to the eyes. And watching the shores sailing a couple of meters away from us, it seems that squeezing in this narrow channel on a huge dish is simply impossible! All the neighbouring ships are standing in such dangerous proximity that the entire crew are watching every movement of the yacht very closely.
We came on Saturday and got up on the nearest pier. Despite the weekend and the absence of the bosses, the guards politely helped us with water and electricity connections, and gave us electronic cards - keys to enter the pier and to use showers and landrymats (washer/dryer). And the guys went on a reconnaissance trip to all the marinas to compare prices for parking.
There are three complete marinas in Masatlan by lots: Masatlan Marina, El Cid Marina and Isla Marina. They are all located in an artificially created bay which is completely closed to the waves.
Marina Masatlan: for the budget-conscious
The most places and the most adequate prices for parking were in Masatlan Marina. It is more focused on cruise yachts and permanent residents who have been living here for years. This confirms the fact that 80% of the inhabitants of the Marina are elderly Canadians. They have grown fond of this coastal city and bay, choosing it as a wintering ground away from the snowy and cold Canadian shores. And every December they migrate south, where their boats are parked and become home for the next six months. There are hardly any family or yachtsmen with children at the marina. Since any marina is exclusively a captain's club and the ticket is a yacht or catamaran, there are no casual people in the marina.
The price of one day for an average yacht of 30 feet is $10-12 per day. Our yacht is 3 times bigger, so the pleasure cost $30 per day. For comparison, Cabo San Lucas, where we left 5 days ago, cost us $120!
By services: marina has showers, wai-fi, laundry (200 pesos/7$ for washing and drying up to 10 kg) and 5 restaurants. There is also a yacht sales office and a shop with surfing equipment. There is a repair dock - Masatlan Marina service in walking distance - here you can repair the engine and find any spare parts, call an electrician or craftsman to sew and repair sails and tents. Also Englishman Mike - round the world and traveler - will agree at a reasonable price to repair or replace any refrigeration equipment on the yacht. Nearby there is a beauty salon and a Red Cross point, where qualified medical care can be provided.
So be ready to wait for an indefinite amount of time waiting for a miracle, even if you promised that everything will be ready tomorrow. Mexicans are basically southerners and they're in no hurry. They have an even more magical «Aurito», which means almost never! A Canadian couple next door on a new yacht, lightning has destroyed all the electronics. Mexican craftsmen have been fixing electronics for eight months.
Cultural life in the marina is saturated. Firstly, near the office there is a large library of sailors, where you can not just read books, but also exchange them, taking something as a memory. Bookcrossing is also welcome here. Each new ship is happy to carry the volumes read and leave them for other travellers. For those wishing to learn Spanish, which is their native language in Mexico, there are classes on Sundays. Every Saturday early in the morning from 7 to 8 there is a swap-meet, in the middle of a flea market. All marina residents can go out with a tray and try to sell unnecessary yachts at a reasonable price. On Wednesdays, a large group of marina dancers gather at Gus-Gus Cafe for many years in a row. Traveling yachtsmen and their wives learn Irish dancing and salsa together. And on Thursdays, karaoke nights. So you can successfully diversify your life without going outside the marina.
Marina El Cid: for a comfortable holiday with the kids.
For lovers of more comfortable rest in all-inclusive format, the neighboring El Cid marina will suit. It is a complex that offers a combination of hotel and marina for vacationers. All tourists live in comfortable rooms, and yachts quietly sway on the pier, under the windows of captains. It is possible to use at least every day two pools with warm water and sunbathe on sun beds, eat in restaurants and drink tequila in the local bar. Nearby there is a huge golf course and courts for playing big tennis. There are many couples with children in this marina.
But the cost of this comfort is quite high: for a 30-foot yacht - $ 18 per day only for the parking of the boat itself, the cost of the hotel is paid separately. Also included in this price is a free place for one car and a daily boat, which takes everyone to the beach, which is allowed only guests marina El Cid. The marina also has a dock for refueling yachts.
Marina Isla: expensively-rich.
The third marina is Isla, which means island. It really has a round shape and is on a separate island in the middle of the bay. This marina is considered to be the most expensive place for yachts. Apart from the basic package of any marina (showers, laundry and wi-fi), it differs only in the presence of separate houses-hotels available for accommodation. There is also a popular restaurant on the island with its jazz orchestra.
The cost of parking the yacht in it is incommensurably high - $44 a day! For us it is still a mystery why.
Food, water, repair.
All marinas are on the outskirts of the city. There are three ways to get to the centre on the famous Malecon (one of the longest promenades in the world, 17 km long): by bus, which leaves directly from the marina, by taxi and by the unusual Pulmoniya car (open taxi, which can only be found in Masatlan. Made on the basis of Volkswagen Beetle and golf car). Bus fare is from 6 to 10 pesos ($0.4-0.6), depending on air conditioning. Taxis and Pulmonaria take 50 pesos ($3.3) to the centre.
The cheapest way to replenish your provisions is at the vegetable base, which starts at 5am. Or Mexican supermarkets: Mexico and Soriana. Drinking water in 20 litres bottles is brought directly to the marina. But it is better to order it not in the office (there it costs 25 pesos per bottle), but closer to the center of the water delivery firms (price 12 pesos per bottle). Filling gas cylinders for cooking is possible through the marina office - 150 pesos ($10) per bottle. Everywhere better to pay in the local currency - pesos, as each store and company transfers dollars at an unfavorable rate for tourists. The best rate is offered by Banorte Bank. Only one place in the city can refuel scuba tanks.
Masatlan hosts three major annual cultural events that are worth visiting. The second most beautiful and largest carnival in Latin America after Rio is held here annually in early February. At the same time, one can witness the completion of the annual San Diego - Masatlan Yacht Regatta, which finishes at El Cid Marina. And since Mexico is very religious, another wave of tourists comes in the week of All Saints on the eve of Easter in March.
Masatlan is a very cozy, colorful and truly Mexican port. Here you can see Mexico in all its glory, take a soul on a real ocean fishing, and most importantly, it has everything you need for yacht tourism. This is especially important when starting across the ocean or when traveling towards Panama.
Learn more about the family of travelers on their blog familysail.ru.