A Sail to Mazatlán and the Power of the Wind

January 9th, 2006 by David
They let me steer

   In all, I spent 5 days in La Paz before successfully hitching a ride on a sailboat to Mazatl├ín. Sean and Adrian, a couple from the San Francisco Bay area, generously let my bike and me aboard their 38 foot sailboat, the Tiki Iti.

   We took 4 days to sail the roughly 250 miles to Mazatl├ín. The first two nights we anchored in protected coves along southern Baja, and the second two we sailed across the Gulf of California without stop, rotating shifts at night to keep watch. Highlights included swimming to an isolated island’s shore, catching fish for dinner, watching dolphins play in the bow wave of the boat (see movie below), and feeling deathly seasick.

At anchor off Los Muertos in Baja
Dolphins playing at the bow
Sean and Dinner

   The trip gave me new appreciation for the power of the wind and ocean. The first day winds blew at 20 mph and water sprayed across the deck as the truck-sized boat bobbed like a cork in a bathtub.

The 38 foot Tiki Iti in transit
Using the power of the wind

   Indeed, wind power will be a major energy source if we are to fight climate change. Already, many wind turbines produce electricity more cheaply than fossil fuels. There is huge potential for wind energy in the world, especially in certain places such as the north central U.S. and parts of nothern Europe.

No wind at Sunrise

   The major problem with wind power is that the wind doesn’t always blow. On the last two days of our voyage, the wind nearly died, and we used the diesel engine on the boat for many miles. For wind turbines, this problem can be solved by connecting the power grid to wind turbines across a continent, as although the wind may not be blowing near Chicago, it may be blowing off Cape Cod. Electricity grids, however, are highly regulated by the government, and switching to wind power will require action by the government. In other words, you need to make your representative do something if you want wind power.

Adrian, Sean, and the Del Fuego (my bike) aboard the Tiki Iti

   A special thanks again to Sean and Adrian, who not only agreed to share a small space with a stranger for 4 days, but were great boatmates and also took great care of me during my seasickness. I am now in Mazatlán, a large Mexican city that is both a major port and tourist destination. From here I will head inland to Durango and the center of Mexico.

13 Responses to “A Sail to Mazatlán and the Power of the Wind”

  1. Eugenia Corbett (Lamet) says:

    Hi David,

    I wanted to write because I have been checking out your website and the links to anti-global warming campaign sites and I believe what you are doing is fantastic! The amount of information you are able to convey even via this site’s journal entries is impressive and eye-opening and what interesting people you are meeting. What is the most unusual Spanish word you’ve learned? I’ll be keeping up with your updates…safe journey!

    Eugenia (from back in Amherst)

  2. David says:


    Your whole trip looks awesome so far, but I am so jealous about your most recent adventure! The pictures of your sail look amazing! Every entry highlights a new incredible interaction or experience, and I’m finding it all really informative and well presented. Stay safe and keep up the good work!


  3. Steve (Venice, CA) says:

    Hi Dave–keep up the mojo. I’m glad you didn’t take the road to Tepic South of Mazatlan–enjoy the mountains, and maybe you can check out Copper Canyon near Durango. It’s supposed to be impresionante. Que le vaya bien. — Steve in Venice, CA

  4. Paul Sterbentz says:


    It looks like Arnold’s Solar Initiative is going to pass – that means at least $5 billion on California’s rooftops and about 6 less power plants. In time, this may help drive down solar panel costs to the point where a equatorial country could sell clean electricity to the United States for a profit – PEMCO maybe?. Excellent site, Dave. Stay safe and enjoy the ride!

    Paul at Carnegie

  5. Sandy McNiven says:

    Hey David,
    Becky and I are so impressed with your trip. The journal entries are wonderful and the pictures you take are breathtaking! All our best to you on this wonderful adventure!

  6. khand and Sylvia Smullin says:

    hey buddy, we’re sitting here in GLORIOUS Jersey enjoying the cold rain. Do you want to swing by here on your bike? Right.
    In any case, keep up the great work. Hope that fancy bike seat is working out well for you, and be sure to enjoy the transition to the Southern Hemisphere night sky as you head south.

    Kevin and Sylvia

  7. Lara says:

    Hi David,

    Your trip sounds amazing so far. Missed you this Christmas and New Years, but I was on Maui. Talk about water and tourist issues. Limited water, uncontrolled building, and outdated water systems. When I lived there we had water rationing every summer. One summer I drove to the drier side of the island to work at a hotel whose theme was something like “water flowing” and there was water everywhere. The rooms in that hotel started at $375 a night, and it just kept making me think about the shorter showers I was supposed to be taking. It was a beautiful hotel and I never would have thought twice about where the water came from if I hadn’t lived on another part of the island. After all, in my experience water has always been free (or at least close to free). Anyway, just wanted to let you know I’m reading your post and finding it all fascinating. You are an inspiration, and, you might actually “edumecate” me some about climiate change. I guess the next question is if the government is not going to take action what can I as an average citizen do in my daily life to not contribute too much to climate change. Frankly it feels a little hopeless. Take care and enjoy your trip!

    Love, Lara

  8. Mike says:


    I would love to get your impression on the effects of tourism in areas like Mazatlan on global warming. I know they are indirect but in many cities like Mazatlan, the city is pressured to keep up in a way that is unsustainable for the local resources. Meanwhile the culture of tourism doesn’t necessarily promote awareness of local resource constraints.

    Any observations on what people can do to curb the impact on local resources and maybe even climate change when they visit these wonderful cities in Mexico would be much appreciated. Keep up the good work. I wish I was down there with you.

    If you get a chance to, bike down to the old town of Mazatlan. It is very beautiful.

  9. steve stewart says:


    My friends Sean and Adrian gave you a ride across the sea. Your trip sounds fantastic, great cause as well. Solo cycle touring is a blast – I have over 15,000 miles logged over the past 20 years. Put the Great Divide Mt. Bike route on your list as well as New Zealand. Again, kudos to your cause.

  10. Kate Tribbett says:

    I just set the photo of the sunset as my wallpaper on my computer. To remind me how lucky you are. :) It looks like you are having an awesome time. It almost makes me feel guilty for missing you. Be good. All our love, Kate and Eric

  11. heather says:

    Absoultely amazing video of the dolphins and breathtaking photos of the sunrise!! They certainly capture the beauty present in those moments — thanks so much for sharing!

  12. David says:

    REPLY TO MIKE: I tried to answer this in my post on home schooled kids at the Mazatlan Marina. The two cyclists that I have been riding with, Gregg and Brooks, have visited Mexico before they biked it, but only to the resorts. They confirmed what I said in the post–at the resort it was super easy to be completely disconnected from the people of Mexico. However, as much as I don’t like this, the resorts definitely bring in money for the people of Mexico.

    As for resource use of the resorts, I am sure it is at first world resource-use-standards, and I think that what needs to be done there is the same as what needs to be done in the first world….use energy and water more effeciently and find better sources of energy.

  13. Nick says:

    Hi David.

    People like you we need in baja. I saw you on T.V. and i do not know if the regional television from my state supported you when you were here. if you come to baja again do not hesitate to e mail me.

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