El Faro de Maz

El Faro de Maz (Mazatlan Lighthouse) is currently the highest operating lighthouse in the world at 523 feet above sea level. It’s a steep gravel path and then 355 steps to the top.

The first time I climbed to the top was with my family and grandparents in 1999, when we were here on Synchronicity (I’m in purple, crawling up the stairs). I don’t remember how long it took, but I do remember that it seemed like a big hike.

El Faro de Maz - 1999


The second time I climbed El Faro was in 2009, when I dragged my beloved sister to the top (thankfully they’d done a little work on the stairs!). We were on a Mexican Riviera cruise, and were only in Mazatlan for one day. Since we’d done it before, we thought we’d give it a try again. It took us 3 hours to make it to the top (stopping every 3rd or 4th step for a break!), and about 45 minutes to come down.


Today, I climbed to the top for the 3rd time.

El Faro de Maz - 2012


It took us 20 minutes… with a little huffing and puffing 🙂

View of Mazatlan from El Faro de Maz hike

View of Mazatlan from the top

Stopped for a breath & a photo


Some of the steeper steps near the top


Happy smiles at the top

Happy to be at the top!


“The Cost of Cruising”

I love hearing about how other people manage their finances and what they spend their money on; so to be fair, I thought I would share our own little snapshot. These are totals from October 12th to January 1st, including the 3 weeks we spent working on the boat in the yard in San Carlos.

We’ve been tracking every peso and dollar since we arrived on Brio, but this is the first time I have done sub-totals. (Truth be told, I was going for the “ignorance is bliss” mantra, and was a little afraid to actually do the math). While I won’t claim our expenses are perfect or typical or in any way representative of what could be spent cruising, they are accurate and up to date for us.

Cost of Cruising (by category)

I really like Excel, so the categories are ordered by necessity and colour coded to match the “Overview of Spending” that I also created (below).

Although living in Mexico is extremely affordable (have you seen our total propane cost??), we are a little over the rough budget I had hoped for (of $1000/month). This is almost entirely because of marinas & restaurants ($500 on marinas = a big portion of our month!!). The good news is that we have complete control over both of these, and don’t plan on staying in marinas at all until we return the boat to San Carlos, so we should be able to stick to our budget for our last 3 months (and worst case… that’s what they invented Visa for, right?? ;).

I was also interested to see that we’d spent just over $2300 on upgrades to the boat. Given that this includes our 3 weeks in the work yard, launch, 2 gallons of epoxy barrier coat, 2 gallons of bottom paint, new batteries, a new toilet, new fans, and various tools & sandpaper… I was exceptionally happy with that number!

Last little note on the categories; travelling to and from Mexico is a big expense. The flights themselves are not the killers (ours were about $250 each), but the baggage fees (which we’ve had a decent number of!!), hotels, and taxis all add up quickly.

Cost of Cruising (Overview)

Anyways, I don’t know if this is boring or exciting for other people to read about, but I figured since I had such pretty little Excel charts… I might as well tell the world about our costs while I was at it 🙂

My hope is that by tracking our expenses carefully this year, we’ll have a better sense of what we need to continue to save for subsequent years… and will be able to continue working for 6 months and cruising for 6 months of the year. (Although to be fair, my consulting work is giving me about 20 hours of work a month… which in Mexico buys a lot of tacos!!!). The boat, and travelling to and from the boat, will continue to be large parts of our costs, but thankfully the affordable living & eating help make up for this 🙂

And at the end of the day, I am just thankful to be able to swing this in any way… coming home to Brio, with bags full of fresh local veggies and shrimp, and the perfect partner in tow… life seems pretty darn great.