While Costa Baja Resort in La Paz is woefully lacking in tourists (except during Christmas and Easter), El Cid seemingly has no trouble keeping rooms filled to capacity. People are everywhere…in the pools, walking around, dining in the restaurants, frequenting the coffee-shop. Seems like every half hour, yet another tour boat heads out to sea: to the nearby island for snorkeling or beachcombing, whale watching tours, sunset cruises, banana-boat rides, mini-speed boat rentals. A pontoon boat leaves every 15 minutes, ferrying folks back and forth across the channel to the beach. While busier than we expected, this is a resort geared toward families, newlyweds and retirees, not spring-break-drunken-teenagers. So the people here have been great, just a lot more of them than we are used to.
One day nearing dusk, we heard (and felt) a professional photoshoot (wedding pics) going on in front of our boat. We “felt” it because the model was leaning on our boat. They didn’t ask. We were on board, but I don’t think they knew. Not cool. You just don’t lean on a stranger’s boat (unless you are talking to the owners), just like you don’t lean against someone’s house or motorcycle or car. But they weren’t hurting anything… so we didn’t protest.
Of course I didn’t think of this ‘til it was too late… I totally should have photo-bombed them…slowly and stealthily raising my head up through the forward hatch, eyes wide, hands against my cheeks, mouth forming a big “O”…you know, the classic Home Alone face. Darn it! Life is full of missed opportunities.
Poolside bingo occurs nearly every day at noon. From our boat, I can hear the game captain announcing each letter combo over loudspeaker in English, then in Spanish: “B5” / “bay cinco”, “M21 / “em-ay veinte y uno”. On the bright side, it is a good way to subliminally ingrain Spanish numbers into my brain. After that, the pool-party music starts. “Celebration” and “Macarena” again, yippee. Thankfully, the beat dies after 5pm. Unless there’s a wedding. Or fireworks. Or both. But then the real racket begins…the surge.
Say No to Surge
Bingo aside, Marina El Cid has numerous great attributes, but the single biggest downside is the surge. Since the marina is so close to the mouth of the breakwater, we get an unimaginable amount of surge due to the tide rushing in and out of this shallow area… not to mention all the tour boat wake activity. Indigo is constantly in motion, pushing and pulling against her lines… lurching this way and that. Sometimes I feel we may as well be at anchor. At Palmira we bounced up and down when it was windy; here we move side to side, all the time.
So we’ve frequently been waking up to groaning and moaning and grinding (and not in a good way).
At first, we kept Indigo secured well away from the dock, as per usual. But the resulting motion and creaking noise of lines stretching beyond their ability was too much to endure. Regular lines always loosen over time – but here, the forces of nature slim that time-frame down to nothing.
Wanted: “Surge Protectors”
After a few days, we began to notice something: people who have been here awhile use ratcheting tow webbing to wrench their boat super-snug against the dock, more-or-less minimizing the irritating movement and preventing line noise. We’d never seen tow-ropes used anywhere else. Usually you don’t want to be locked tight against the dock, grinding your fenders against the hull paint – eek, makes me cringe.
Throwing away conventional practice, we have tightened up to the dock as much as human strength allows…and it has helped tremendously. Still, last night at 3am, Brian wheedled me out of bed (I was already awake) to adjust lines that had loosened just enough to cause a most-unsleepable-through line squawk. We are now contemplating getting some of these…surge protectors.
Additionally, I am soaping ropes every few days. Don’t laugh. Seriously, it’s an actual thing. I don’t know if anyone else has already named it, but if not, there it is. Rope-soaping is necessary to solve certain squeaks. On the sage advice from my boater friend and former boss Cindy, I keep a bar of Irish Spring handy to smear all over parts of the lines or chafe guard that rub against our hawseholes (holes in the sides of the boat through which we tie the boat to the dock). This immediately ceases the maddening creak of rubbing lines, minimizing sleepless nights, and thus irritated mornings… until it wears off in a few days. I should start soaping other boats’ ropes…as a courtesy.
On top of the surge chaos, there’s the bilge pump that goes off multiple times a night in a nearby boat making a distinct mechanical “er, er, er” sound exactly 38 times (yes, I counted) before it stops and starts up again a half hour later. Then there’s our neighbor’s boat hired hand who loudly rummages around in the dock box at 5am before washing the boat down every other day. And the dock ramp, a mere 4 feet away, which grinds the metal ramp on dock concrete every few minutes as the tide pushes it back up against the dock - like a slooowwly dying mechanical bull. Add to that the booming fireworks that occurred every night from Christmas to New Year’s…ay caramba! Not much REM sleep!
Marina Life = Noise
I have finally come to the realization (after all this time)… marina-life is LOUD! It’s too bad I can’t tolerate ear plugs.
- At Cabrillo Way Marina in San Pedro the wind noise and banging halyards defied belief, add in the occasional gunshot;
- At Spring Cove Marina in Maryland we had the transient party power boaters who wanted the entire town to enjoy their poor taste in music;
- Cabrillo Isle Marina in San Diego was directly across from the airport – enough said;
- Cabo San Lucas had its 6am refueling panga pandemonium and nightly pirate ship dance-fests;
- San Carlos had its daily drunken-singing-bachelorette-party-sunset-cruises and a boat who only listened to 80’s TV show themes …”Come and knock on our door…” (I secretly didn’t mind so much);
- At Palmira we endured the pterodactyl macaw and Taylor Swift enthusiasts;
- Costa Baja had the Fun Baja tour boats flitting in and out all day, plus competing restaurant musicians;
- Even our awesome and typically quiet Camp Pendleton Marina had military amphibious vehicles raising a ruckus in their high-powered speedboats (OK that IS their JOB); but let’s not forget the civilian jerk with the excruciatingly loud personal hovercraft. And I must not fail to mention a certain someone yelling "Tack!" all weekend-long through her bullhorn at the poor sailing students:)
- I have no illusions about our own contributions to the typical marina melee. We were the cause of many such annoying disturbances ourselves while getting the boat ready to leave. Between the sawzall, electric drill, and circular saw... the banging and hammering and tinkering noises... not to mention all the expletives launched at some such uncooperative boat part...I'm surprised we weren't yelled at through the bullhorn! (and probably deserved it!)
Happy with Our Stay at El Cid
Other than the surge and the busy activity of the marina, we’d definitely stay here again. The hotel is lovely and clean; the semi-tropical grounds are well maintained; we have magnificent beach access; the restaurants are very good; there’s a bus stop right out front; the dock water is potable (not always available in Mexico); the pool is warm and sparkling and the hot tub is HOT. Plus, we get free access to massive fluffy pool towels. And the internet ROCKS (for Mexico) - El Cid DOES have the corner on the market so far.
Major plus: the bathrooms. It’s ridiculous how much a hot shower and clean restrooms make me happy… not to mention reliably flushable toilets (you don’t realize how much of a luxury that is until you come to Mexico).
After being here for two weeks we found out there’s even a TV cable plug-in at the dock box. What? You mean we can get ACTUAL LIVE TV… like, in English? Next trip: Home Depot to buy a cable cord so Brian can catch up on his news shows. On second thought, maaaybe we should remain in our blissful head-in-the-sand, mostly news-free universe.
And now for another nap. I sleep better to the thumping beat of The Macarena than the erratic whine of The Dockline Grind.